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Messages - John Nelson

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What about May?
There's no magic date when it shifts from bad to good. As you move from April to May to June, the odds get more in your favor, the odds of comfortable temperatures, clear roads and open facilities. It's very hard to say more because you've given us none of the details about your trip. Camping, solo, tight budget, tight schedule, risk tolerance, etc., etc., etc. If you have enough time and money, you can make January work.

General Discussion / Re: Flying with a bike . Help!
« on: November 20, 2015, 11:31:54 am »
just deflating the tyres.
... and deflating the tires is the least important thing the airlines should care about. I never do it. It accomplishes absolutely nothing except making your bike more vulnerable to damage.

Gear Talk / Re: Lightweight Slip-Jaw Pliers?
« on: November 17, 2015, 01:30:09 pm »
OTOH, I have a hard time imagining carrying slip joint pilers on tour.

General Discussion / Re: Getting in shape for touring
« on: November 09, 2015, 08:24:49 pm »
It is possible to do a bike tour with no physical preparation at all ... if you have the time to start slowly. If you want to do high mileage days right from the start, then you need to train, or you need to be young. The better trained you are, the better chance you'll have a good time. I'd spend a few months doing at least a third of the weekly mileage you expect to do on tour. Be sure to include as many hills as your tour will, and ride at least some of the miles fully loaded.

It's not complicated.

General Discussion / Re: Flying with a bike . Help!
« on: November 09, 2015, 04:31:27 pm »
Before you book your ticket, be sure to ask them how much they charge for the bike. It's not unusual for the bike to cost more than you.

Also, the smaller the plane, the more limited the cargo capacity is, so if you're on a small plane, get there early.

Routes / Re: Bicycle Route 66
« on: November 09, 2015, 10:15:33 am »
I think Jenn's rationale is a compelling reason that you would want to choose one direction or the other. If you start in May, I'd probably go west to east. If you start in September, I'd probably go east to west. If you start in June or July, then you're just crazy.

But there are no hard and fast rules. You can cross the Mojave Desert in the middle of the summer if you tolerate heat well and carry gallons of water. I loved the Mojave, especially the area around Amboy. I started in Chicago this August and went east to west. East to West seems more natural, as Route 66 is better known as the route to California, not the route to Chicago.

Wind is highly variable (in most places, but in Wyoming, you can pretty much count on a westerly), so I would not use wind direction to pick my route direction, but I do believe (and my wind studies bore this out) that winds on Route 66 slightly favor a west to east direction. Again, I would use other factors to choose my direction. See the link below for the results of my wind studies on four ACA routes.

Route 66 is a great route. You'll love it!

Gear Talk / Re: Front rack that will work without eyelets
« on: November 07, 2015, 01:30:36 am »
It's not generally advisable to put a rack on a carbon fork.

Routes / Re: Trans Am Yellowstone bypass
« on: November 07, 2015, 12:03:28 am »
Starting the first week of May in Yorktown is perfect. Eight weeks to Astoria is doable, but ten weeks is more fun. Shortcuts usually increase traffic and/or miss scenery. But it's your trip, so do what makes you happy. If I wanted to cut time, I'd take a bus or rental car from Walden to Dubois--the most desolate stretch of the TransAm.

Bikes and Beyond in Astoria will do a good job of shipping your bike home. Take a bus from Astoria to Portland and fly home from there.

Routes / Re: Trans Am Yellowstone bypass
« on: November 05, 2015, 07:50:29 pm »
Skipping Yellowstone won't save you any time, but you can save time by not going up to Missoula. But then you'd miss the absolutely stunning Lochsa River valley.

Gear Talk / Re: Shoes/pedals for a cross country ride?
« on: November 04, 2015, 11:13:00 pm »
You're talking about making tradeoffs. The stiffer the sole, the better for cycling. A sturdy shoe can be good for walking too. I knew I guy who toured in work boots. That's not such a bad idea, although a bit heavy for some.

Food Talk / Re: Eating well on tour.
« on: November 03, 2015, 09:32:03 pm »

General Discussion / Re: Dogs n' bears
« on: October 30, 2015, 06:07:04 pm »
I don't think you need to do anything special about dogs. Keep your wits about you. If you can't outrun the dog, stop and use your bike as a shield. If a pack of dogs attack you at the same time, you're screwed.

Bear protection depends on where you are going. In the lower 48, you're generally okay by using proper precautions with food.

Gear Talk / Re: Packs and pack weight for long tours
« on: October 26, 2015, 10:09:16 pm »
I'm going in another direction from this race to the bottom. My total weight is 80 pounds. That includes my bike and everything on it, except me. Including food, water, my helmet and bike shoes. The panniers alone weigh almost 9 pounds. Believe it or not, despite everybody posting here, my setup is no heavier than the average cyclotourist. I meet many carrying more than me.

I'm not sure you'd want to cross the Mojave Desert with an ultralight load. I carried 24 pounds of water.

I don't see the point. I have put as much as three gallons of extra water inside my panniers, and that's enough for me. I can also strap water to the top of my panniers if I need to. The advantage of cages is that the water is more easily accessible, but when I'm carrying a lot, I don't need it to all be so easily accessible. If my regular water bottles run dry, I don't mind stopping for a few minutes to get out my spare water and refill them.

Of course, this assumes that you haven't already stuffed your panniers 100% full with other stuff. But I think that's a good idea in any event.

General Discussion / Re: Cost of a cross country USA trip?
« on: October 21, 2015, 06:06:15 pm »
The most expensive camping I found was private campgrounds in New England during the peak season (especially Maine). The woods in these areas are often so dense that I don't even know how you'd walk through them, let alone push your bike through them to set up camp. Public campgrounds are usually cheaper than private campgrounds, but you can't always find one. Occasionally you find a private campground with a discounted rate for cyclists.

The cheapest camping is city parks. On the TransAm, there are many city parks that are listed as okay to camp in. I sometimes also camp in city parks that are not listed for camping, and I've never been chased away. City parks often have showers (associated with the swimming pool), and bathrooms that they'll leave open overnight if you ask them too. They will also usually turn off the sprinklers for you if you can find somebody to ask. If I can't find somebody to ask, I often pitch under the pavilion as that's usually safe from sprinklers.

Hiker/biker sites are wonderful, but they exist in a limited number of places. They are plentiful along the west coast, and some (but not all) national parks have them. Of course I'd like to see more of them.

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