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Messages - zzzz

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Routes / Re: Sierra Cascades; desert heat in July
« on: October 26, 2014, 12:27:23 pm »
I just rode most of this route (Canadian border to LA) this last 8/30 - 9/28.

I can't speak to your original question about the heat & water because I think you were referring to the last 250 miles that I missed and because I was fortunate enough to encounter a rare late September cold snap when I came thru SoCal, mornings in the high 40's & highs of 65°±. Although I will say (particulerly in SoCal) there were several stores marked on the map that were closed, do not put yourself in a situation where your well being counts on the next place on the map being there.

But I would like to address a couple of other things. You say this is your first major trip, I have no interest in dissuading you from this route but it is a tough one. All the climbing can feel pretty relentless after awhile and the pavement on a lot of the descents is crap which can make them pretty intimidating. Actually, a lot of the pavement is crap period but it's scarier at 40 mph than it is at 7 mph. Which is to say I hope your competence as a cyclist is very high and your fitness level is high.

The other thing I will bring up, since it sounds like you have some flexibility, is to leave in the spring from the south. As I'm sure you're aware California has been going through a record drought for years now. As you go through it the entire state feels like a tinder box. Short of a very wet winter and spring this year it's likely to still be ready to burn next year. And September is prime forrest fire season. This year for much of August the "Hat Creek" fire was burning, when you go down 89 north of Lassen you will be riding along it's path for miles. In late August and early September there was a big fire just south of Yosemite. There was the huge "King" fire right when I was coming through Tahoe in mid September. You get the idea. I have perhaps never been so lucky in my life as to the way I threaded the needle on missing the effects of these fires. I had some smoke in the afternoon in Sierraville north of Truckee and some smoke in Yosemite when I dropped down into the valley. In both cases in the morning it was gone. You should not count on being so fortunate.

If you can leave in the spring from the south, keep an eye on the snow pack in the southern Sierra's over the winter, I would think Ca DOT has a web site listing when the passes are open and I would leave in mid April if you can. The rivers and creeks will be charged, the waterfalls in Yosemite will be flowing and you'll beat (at least some) of the crowds there and by the time you get north it will have warmed up.

Good Luck,


General Discussion / Re: Touring Bicycle
« on: October 25, 2014, 10:04:45 pm »
If "ozroller" is evaluating himself accurately as a strong climber and he's packing light he should be fine w a 30x30 (27" gear) and certainly w a 30x34 (23.8"). Just make sure you take a drive over to Colorado and test how it all feels with accurate weight in your panniers before you leave on a long trip. Loveland Pass should tell you everything you need to know. Or since Kansas is a big state you can go the other way and spend a couple days going up & down in the Ozarks. Be very honest w yourself after your test, pulling too high a gear can lead to issues w your knees.

I fancy myself a pretty good climber and I pack light and I just take my regular road bike. My low gear is 34x28 and it's served me well and I've gone up plenty of long and steep stuff (SC, all of the GPN & 1/2 of the GPS, WE, & the TA between Missoula & Co. and then again east of the high plains to the Va. coast).


This can also be over analyzed.

To the OP:

A lot of issues with fit don't come up until you spend a fair amount of time on the bike, you're on a tour, or you're riding more than 100 miles a week. Or when you've gotten old and creaky.

Are you still young and spry, say under 30? I started w a hand-me-down bike that was 2cm shy of my ideal size when I was a teen and raced & rode it for several years w/o incident for 1000's of miles a year. Even now, if we have visitors who ride, I will give them my bike and I will take my wife's, which is also 2 cm short for me, raise the seat and go and it is never a problem, even on a 100 mile ride.

You've gotten different advice here and it may be correct for you. But FWIW here's my opinion.

You said there were a few 58's to choose from. Go ride them and see which one feels best and buy it. If you have a pal you can take along and knows enough to be of help evaluating the bikes and getting your seat height right, take them with you. Proper leg extension is very important. If you're feeling cramped in the arms and shoulders, get a longer stem. Then go ride it for a year or two (or more) until you have some experience to draw on and you know what you want.

Unlike a frame thats too big for you, there are riders that actually prefer a frame size thats technically a little small. Also, really tall frames can start to have some handling issues.

Maybe you'll love riding, and if you do you'll want to step up the quality in your next bike anyway. At that time you can worry about things like crank length and frame geometry and really dial in the details to get a bike that's your ideal set-up. If it turns out that ridings not for you then your investment in tight times didn't brake the bank.


General Discussion / Re: Knees.... not the bees knees...
« on: October 14, 2014, 11:04:05 pm »
The way I read the original post was that she started the ride w/ cleats and then stopped using them when her knees started to hurt. Although if she was clipped in that would certainly narrow the possibilities as a maladjusted cleat is more likely to put your knee in a bad way than the seat height being off.

Not to make this a chorus but the advice to see a doc is spot on. If you're on a 2 or even 4 week trip and somethings hurts and you decide to bull through it, that's one thing. You're on a 10,000 mile trip, that's completely different. That's a bad sign that you were off the bike for 6 weeks working and the first day back riding your knee was hurting.

The other point I'll make is just how subtle these things can be. I was having some small amount of foot pain shortly before I left for my trip in September (also in the Sierras). I went to a podiatrist and he thought it was too close to my leaving to do anything permanent to my insoles so he put a little piece of adhesive foam, maybe an 1/8" thick under my insole where he thought it would help. I went riding and it felt good. A week into my ride my knee started hurting in a way it had never hurt before. The only thing I knew that was different was that 1/8" thick foam. Pulled it out and the pain went away within a couple of hours. If you make a change to your position, ride with it for a little bit unless the pain is getting specifically worse. Be very cognisant of changes that made things slightly better (or worse) and slowly dial it in.

I'm sure this is very frustrating for you. Good luck getting it right.



I flew back home to the east coast today after spending September riding the SC from north to south. In the end I got 2200 of 2388 miles done but I needed to get back to work on 10/1. I can confirm that it's a difficult route.

I do have my opinions about both the SC and your proposed alternative as I've ridden much of that as well but the big question in my mind is whether your new touring partner is new to cycling or just new to touring? If she's new, or even newish, to cycling than the route is simply too difficult. If she's been riding for awhile and is a capable rider than you have a choice to make.

If you're still considering the SC, let me know and I'll write out my thoughts on the route while they're still fresh. I believe with your more open timetable there are ways to make the route less intimidating.


General Discussion / Re: Riding on the US Interstates
« on: August 27, 2014, 05:13:56 pm »
You are right. I missed your point. I thought you were saying that it's safer to ride on the interstate as opposed to the idea it should be a choice. Since I wouldn't do it I don't have a strong opinion one way or the other.

And you're also right about the RV's. The 2 really close encounters I've had on tours have both been RV's. Small sample size but that's still 100%.

But do you really want to stand by the statement that in 4 continental crossings you've never once had a truck slow down when overtaking you? Riding a bike exposes you to a certain amount of danger that you would not face in a car, as your fellow Aussie's recent death all to clearly illustrates, but let's not make it out to be worse than it is.

I'm going to make up some numbers here but they represent what it feels like to me out on the road after 40 years and well over 100k miles on a bike. Probably 40% of the time I'm passed and there's a bad sight line or oncoming traffic ahead the car eases off the gas 50-100 yards behind me to assess the situation for a safe pass (AKA: the proper way to pass a cyclist). Then there's another 50% who stay on the gas till they're quite close and then hit their brakes hard when they realize they can't see around you or somebody's coming the other way (AKA: the stupid way to pass a cyclist). Now that still leaves a 10%± group of drivers that stay on the gas despite the fact they can't see what's coming the other way or there's not enough room because of car traffic ahead (AKA: the should be considered criminally negligent way to pass a cyclist) and that's plenty bad enough.


General Discussion / Re: Riding on the US Interstates
« on: August 27, 2014, 07:29:50 am »
I have to agree w/ the 2 previous posters, I don't believe interstate highway access is the answer. There are too many people hit every year on the shoulder of the road when they've stopped their cars for repairs for me to think that this is a safe place to be.

I would like to see two changes to improve rider safety in this country:

1) I think people should have to undergo a driving test every time they renew their driver's license. And it should be difficult to pass. This can be done in a driving simulator (which can be very sophisticated these days) and it should include a number of scenario's involving pedestrians and cyclists. I'm sure all of us see behavior from cars on a regular basis that is shocking in it's ignorance considering the driver is piloting equipment that is so easily lethal.

2) There should be real consequences to hitting someone with your car. If the driver is at fault in a serious accident their license should be pulled for a long time and except for their work time they should be under house arrest for a long time as well. They've KILLED or SERIOUSLY MAIMED someone. There should be dramatic consequenses for that, not dismissed as "no criminality intended". Right now, if your not drunk, and it's not a hit and run, and in some jurisdictions if you're not texting, you get a free pass for killing cyclists and pedestrians.

Now, the guy who hit this poor women was reported as drunk and it was a hit and run so everything he did was already illegal as well as immoral. And you go thru life and see bad stuff happen to good people who deserved a better fate. It's cold comfort but hopefully justice will be served and 1 more a--hole will be off the road. And the rest of us left will carry on just a little more sober in the knowledge that what time you have here is precious.


From the outside or inside?

General Discussion / Re: Busiest ACA or other trail intersection?
« on: August 25, 2014, 10:07:13 am »
These folks are a commercial enterprise which you indicate you may, or may not, be what you eventually want to shoot for but they are similar to what you described. You may want to talk w/ them:

As for location, have you thought about someplace w easy on/off access to the GDMR ?


General Discussion / Re: Help me decide on this last minute tour.
« on: August 25, 2014, 04:47:30 am »
I'm not going to try to talk you out of Colorado, it's a beautiful state w lots to see. But if you want to see Glacier at some point in your life I think early September is the best time to ride GTSR, at least from my experience.

I rode it last year on Sept. 6 and started at 7 am on the east (less spectacular) side. Traffic was almost non-existent. There was 3, maybe 4 small patches of construction and that actually worked in my favor. A couple times as a cyclist they just waved me thru and where I was stopped for a couple of minutes the few cars that were there passed me right away before I even had much of a chance to get rolling. I don't think I got passed by 20 cars on the entire ascent. I did stop several times on the way down the west side to soak up the views but while I was rolling I don't remember getting passed by anyone on the steep part. By the time the road was starting to flatten out at the bottom I could see traffic was starting to build going up, I think it was probably around 10 by then.

Compare that to the nose to tail traffic jam that any video you pull up on you-tube for GTSR has and it felt like I had the road all to myself.


General Discussion / Looking for Bike Shop in LA
« on: August 23, 2014, 09:49:54 pm »
Hello All:

I start the Sierra Cascades route in Bellingham on 8/30. On 9/30 I have a plane ticket from LAX back home. I'll need to drop my bike off at a shop in the LA area for them to ship it back (I got a hardshell box, it doesn't come with me on the plane).

I'm sure there are 100's of bike shops in the LA area that I could look up on the web but I'd like a recommendation from someone who knows the business who can speak directly to the fact that they did a really careful job packing your bike. And if they are located within 10-15 miles of LAX, so much the better.



General Discussion / Re: Help me decide on this last minute tour.
« on: August 23, 2014, 09:34:05 pm »
Take a look at the route thats shown on the 2 Great Parks North maps. I started at the opposite end than you would be last year in Jasper and rode down to Wyoming and the scenery was spectacular.

If you start in Billings, make your way to Missoula (I think there are a number of attractive options for that) and then pick up the GPN route. It goes thru Glacier NP / Waterton NP, Southern BC, then back over into Alberta and up the rockies. Once you get into Lake Louise you pick up the Ice Fields Parkway which is just incredible.

The 2 GPN maps total about 750 miles + whatever you add between Billings and Missoula to make your distance what you want. But the clock is ticking, as others have mentioned GTS closes for road work in mid-Sept and the end of September is getting pretty close to winter in Jasper.

I believe ACA prefers that pics not be attached directly to a post, if you want to see 3 or 4 of my best from my trip send me an email at


General Discussion / Re: brooks saddle break-in how long
« on: July 25, 2014, 09:43:28 am »
I bought a Brooks Swift about a month ago and have about 400 miles on it now so this isn't a long term review.
It was pretty comfortable straight out of the box but it has not "disappeared" underneath me yet, I suspect another 400 for full break-in. I have had it on mostly 20± mile rides so far but also a couple of 80± milers.

Make sure you get the saddle dressing gel that Brooks sells as that helps w/ break-in (Proofide) and use as directed.

I have the Swift on one of my bikes and the Brooks Cambria (got that in May and it has about 2000 miles on it) on the other and I'm still trying to make up my mind as to which I take on my upcoming tour in September.


you could have worked that Louis Jordan angle a little more fully....

Is you is  or is you ain't a lady...
Maybe, lady?I'll be riding with someone new,
'cause if you're a lady, I'll go riding too!

Of course if Apsiaki is under 50 it's likely to go right over her (or his) head and it will just be assumed you have lousy grammar.

(Preemptive aplogies to anyone who finds this sexist or a desecration of one of the great R&B songs of all time)


Routes / Re: East to West or West to East
« on: June 30, 2014, 02:34:51 pm »
All this is interesting but kind of academic. Since this is a touring based forum, it doesn't really matter what direction the wind is blowing on any give day because whatever way the wind is blowing, you're still going to ride in the direction your route goes.

Two years ago on the WE the wind picked up around lunch time and I had a 40± mph tailwind from Carson City almost all the way to Fallon. There was a fully loaded couple going the other way. They looked miserable but what are they going to do? I thought about waving "Hi!" but I thought they'd just give me the one finger salute.

I have mused while touring that some day I should try to take a tour that I'll just ride in whatever direction the wind is blowing that day just to see where I'd end up. And while I'm at it, maybe I can figure out how to go down hill all day also.


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