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Messages - litespeed

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General Discussion / What Touring bike would you suggest?
« on: November 04, 2008, 11:40:45 am »
I agree with windrath. To the best of my knowledge international flights will let you bring along a bicycle and gear for free or little charge. If you are at all mechanically inclined you could check your bicycle as baggage and assemble it here. There is nothing like having your own familiar ride as long as it's in good shape.

I have shipped my beloved touring bike and checked it as luggage many times. I have disassembly and packing (or unpacking and assembly) down to an hour or so - maybe a bit more. Not hard once you get the hang of it. Make sure you have spacers for the fork dropouts. Any plastic pipe or tubing will do.

This message was edited by litespeed on 11-4-08 @ 8:47 AM

General Discussion / Favorite book
« on: September 27, 2008, 09:38:54 pm »
As an ex-touring sailor I'm happy to re-read "Sailing Alone around the World" by Joshua Slocum or "Tinkerbelle" by Robert Manry anytime.  

The best tough guy/mystery/noir novels are the Parker novels by Richard Stark (pen name of Donald E. Westlake, one of the finest writers living).

For light reading I love Carl Hiaasen's books, especially since I live in Florida.

There are plenty of good (and plenty of bad) books by touring cyclists. Every touring cyclist is different but there is always something to learn.

General Discussion / Injured Cyclist
« on: July 16, 2008, 01:02:15 pm »
I had my right foot badly crushed when I was 23 (1963). About 8 operations. I was in casts for months and in pain for years. The doc put me in walking casts but I kept pounding them to rubble. They might have something sturdier than just plaster nowadays. Ask your doctor about a good walking cast. You might be able to rig up something you can bicycle with.

You probably already know about showering with a plastic bag and elastic bands to keep the cast dry.

General Discussion / Where to camp
« on: July 16, 2008, 12:50:35 pm »
KOA's are often located near train tracks or freeways. The only one that bothered me was the one in Scottsbluff, NE. A train every few minutes plus a crossing requiring blasts on the horn. Still, I got my sleep. The only things that really bother me at night are drunks and barking dogs.

You might consider crossing Lake Michigan on the ferry from Ludington MI to Manitowoc WI. It's a huge, well-appointed ship and, believe it or not, runs on steam. A very enjoyable ride.

My favorite campground of all is the municipal one in Reed City MI. It's on your route. It's a delightful facility and well worth a stop.

General Discussion / Where to camp
« on: July 14, 2008, 03:40:53 pm »
In order of preference I like KOA's, state parks, municipal campgrounds and private campgrounds. There are also campgrounds owned by water districts, the Forestry Service, etc. For KOA's pick up a catalogue at any one of them or go online ( and ask for one. Good road maps or road atlas's (Rand McNally is best) indicate campgrounds with little green triangles.

The upper midwest - Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan - is the best. Plenty of the towns have their own campground. Lots of bicycle tourists camp in the wild but I like my shower and a bit of security.

KOA's are always quiet at night. State parks and private campgrounds are occasionally noisy on the weekends, especially if they are near a big city.

On your route campgrounds abound.

General Discussion / WHAT IS THE BEST VALUE PANNIER.- help
« on: May 20, 2008, 11:18:25 am »
After a rainy tour around the country in 2004 I got thoroughly sick of fooling with the rain covers on my otherwise excellent Bruce Gordon panniers. I bought a full set of yellow Ortleibs including handlebar pack. They are simple, extremely convenient (pop off with just a yank on the carrying handle) and totally waterproof. I've put about 10,000 miles on them. It's hard to beat German ingenuity. Also I was surprised at the low price. I bought them through REI which has excellent customer service. This message was edited by litespeed on 5-20-08 @ 7:20 AM

General Discussion / Maps: opinion on ACA maps
« on: February 09, 2008, 12:27:20 pm »
I agree with biker_james on the usefulness of tourist centers. Never pass one up, especially if you are entering a state. The have the best maps (and they are free) and they are usually very helpful with information.

I don't use ACA maps - find them difficult to read and the information is often out of date - but there are definitely times when I should have used them instead of winging it.

I always pack a Rand McNally road atlas - much superior to other brands but not easy to find. I tape the edges of the cover and the binding with clear packing tape to make it hold up better. Also, whenever I stop for the night I mark my cumulative mileage right where I am on the map. It's a good backup record of my travels.

Except for the northeast maps are available most anywhere they sell gas and have an attached store. Truck stops are the best. Wal-Marts are also good for road atlas's and maps.

This message was edited by litespeed on 2-18-08 @ 8:50 AM

General Discussion / Highway question
« on: February 19, 2008, 10:58:25 pm »
It was late in the year - November - so I wanted to travel as far south and as low an elevation as possible in order to stay as warm as possible. I regret that I didn't swing south through Alpine and Del Rio but I was pressed for time - had a plane to catch in San Antonio. Next time....

General Discussion / Highway question
« on: February 18, 2008, 01:34:05 pm »
I've ridden interstate shoulders all over the west, mainly in the southwest. It's generally all right everywhere except where the traffic is heavy - near cities or heavily used corridors like Phoenix-Tucson.

Montana is no problem as there are no large cities and the interstates are lightly used.

I have used freeways where it wasn't really legal in order to avoid a long detour. A good example of this is in New Jersey where US9 uses the Garden State Parkway for 2 1/2 miles over the Mullica River near New Gretna. Cops passed me both times I've done this but didn't stop.

I've been booted off freeways a couple of times but with my dumb, innocent, polite demeanor the cops just checked me out and sent me on my way.

From El Centro CA to San Antonio TX I traveled on I8 and I10 about 80% of the time. Generally not very scenic but usually the only practical choice.

General Discussion / One way rental
« on: January 25, 2008, 02:14:57 pm »
Right. I missed your address there. Have you talked to Qantas about taking your bikes with you? It's one of the world's finest airlines. A lot of international airlines take bicycles as regular luggage.

General Discussion / One way rental
« on: January 24, 2008, 02:13:32 pm »
With four of you it might be worthwhile for you to rent a small U-Haul truck, throw all the bikes in the back and take them wherever you want. U-Haul is everywhere. And you can often get a big discount if they have a surplus of vehicles at your starting point and a shortage at your destination.

General Discussion / Solo touring and protection
« on: December 25, 2007, 11:50:22 am »
In my opinion most problems with motorists occur when you are on a heavily traveled two lane road with no shoulders. Then you are getting in their way. I try to avoid major cities and I don't hesitate to ride on a sidewalk where feasible to get out of heavy traffic. The trick is to be courteous, alert and avoid inconveniencing motorists. I have hardly ever been yelled at by motorists.

General Discussion / Getting in shape
« on: December 01, 2007, 05:02:46 pm »
Here's my training program: I work around my properties when not touring - mowing, trimming trees, mixing concrete, painting, etc. I do a leisurely, flat, unloaded 60-75 miles every Sunday morning. When it comes time to tour I load up my bike and take off.

General Discussion / Southern Tier in late fall - weather?
« on: October 11, 2007, 10:50:05 am »
I don't use ACA routes so I hit no passes. I followed interstates 8 and 10 more or less (using the shoulders, frontage roads and nearby highways) from California to San Antonio. I avoided the interstates around the major cities, between Tuscon and Phoenix and around the Rio Grande, of course. From San Antonio I cut south to Victoria and Galveston. Then up through Louisiana and along the coast to home.
I believe the ACA route goes through Del Rio. This would probably be a lot more scenic and interesting than I10 but with more climbing.
Keeping your route as far south as possible is a good idea that time of year but I'd advise sticking to the ACA route as far as Texas.

This message was edited by litespeed on 10-11-07 @ 6:51 AM

General Discussion / Southern Tier in late fall - weather?
« on: October 10, 2007, 05:30:00 pm »
I did it, more or less, in November-December 2004. El Centro CA to Florida. Cold wasn't a real problem but it was a rainy year. And, since the jet stream ate Texas, I had a lot of NE winds in my face.
It's certainly not the best time of year for it but it's perfectly doable. You will probably have some cold weather here and there but it shouldn't be real bad - maybe dipping to freezing in the morning a time or two. The only cold weather I had was just below freezing in the early morning in Mobile. Other than that cold wasn't a problem.
The best roads you'll have are in Texas and the worst are in Louisiana.
Don't hesitate to ride the shoulders of the interstates out west if it's convenient for you.

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