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Messages - litespeed

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General Discussion / Bicycle Friendly States
« on: January 09, 2007, 10:08:34 am »
"Wide shoulders with good pavement along many roads."
This is far and away the most important thing for good bicycling. States in the middle of the country - Texas, Colorado, Minnesota, Wisconsin, etc. - tend to be good in this regard. I would also add New Jersey and Oregon. Bad states are Iowa, Virginia and Mississippi.
Well marked highways are a big help when bicycling. States in the deep south and New York are poor at this.
For camping you can't beat the "wide open" states like Colorado, Utah and western Oregon and states with good, well run state parks like Florida, Oregon, Virginia, etc.
Good rural roads in northern New England make bicycling a pleasure(except for the hills).
Passable, cheap motels are always good to find. Best for this is western Texas. Worst is California.
Light traffic always helps. The most deserted highways are probably in western Oregon.

General Discussion / Where this year?
« on: February 18, 2007, 02:13:32 pm »
I'm going to make a third attempt at a Great Parks tour in Utah and Colorado this year. I got hit in Louisiana (rebroken left collarbone) in 2004 and, after recovering, did a 48-state circumnavigation instead. I barely skimmed the area due to poor planning last year. As soon as I clear up some code enforcement problems at my home here in Florida I'm off to those wide open spaces out west. I can't wait.

General Discussion / inconsiderate drivers
« on: December 23, 2006, 08:28:23 pm »
In many years and some 25,000 miles of bicycle touring around the country I have only had a motorist give me a hard time once. It was on winding, narrow Route 1 north of Fort Bragg CA. A woman pulled alongside and railed at me for "causing people to get killed". I smiled politely and said nothing. I quit arguing with women 30 years ago.
I consider myself an ambassador for cycling so I go to great pains to stay out of motorists' way and be courteous. If I top a hill and see that it's clear I wave a following car on. At stoplights I ask, with gestures, if the car alongside wants to turn right. If so, I move over and wave them on. If I hear air brakes or an air horn behind me (18 wheeler) I get off the road (if possible. It usually is). If I'm on a bad, shoulderless, heavily trafficked stretch of road where I can't avoid interfering with traffic I get a map and try to find another route or get up on the sidewalk (if no pedestrians. Usually aren't. Americans don't walk much). If a motorist is waiting to pull out of a side street and there is time for them to go before I get there I wave them on. I try to avoid large towns and cities during rush hours. I often give a friendly wave to motorists, especially truckers and cops. Insisting on "holding your ground" or maintaining your "rights as a vehicle" just makes motorists mad at all of us. The golden rule applies. Besides their vehicles are much bigger than ours.

This message was edited by litespeed on 12-30-06 @ 6:58 AM

General Discussion / A Wacky Idea
« on: February 21, 2007, 11:42:20 am »
biker_james makes a good point. I have met a few people who have "redirected their addictions" as he puts it. I know a dedicated triathlete who had been a hard drug user and dealer. And a few ex-smokers who took up some athletic pursuit in place of cigarettes. But, in the end, it is their decision. All you can do is point the way and be prepared for a low success rate. Good luck.

General Discussion / A Wacky Idea
« on: December 30, 2006, 11:15:18 am »
Good luck. When I got out of the army I drifted around the country for a couple of years, staying in rented rooms and working out of rent-a-drunk labor pools. I was always able to get work, usually instantly, because the guys sitting around with their bottles in little brown paper bags would rather whine about their "bad backs' than work. Nowadays they all claim to be "bipolar". They drank and/or used drugs because it felt good and they didn't work because it didn't feel good. And, when speaking candidly, they would readily admit it. Most of them never get their act together (steady job, home) because they die first. Living on Twinkies, rotgut wine and crack and sleeping under bridges is not a healthy life style, to put it mildly.

This message was edited by litespeed on 12-31-06 @ 5:14 AM

General Discussion / Bicyle (no-motor)home
« on: December 19, 2006, 12:21:16 pm »
Fine. I admire anyone who spends their life on a bicycle or boat. I spent a few years bumming around the country and a year or so on a boat before settling down. I often think about selling everything and heading off on my touring bike for good and not just for the summers. But, like most people, I love to travel but I also like to come home.

I've met Tom Snyders, the traveling comedian ( a few times in my travels. I also met a little bearded guy named Dwayne (or Duane) on his Cannondale in Oregon in 2003. He apparently lived on his bike and had been all over North America. At least.

General Discussion / Merry Christmas
« on: December 20, 2006, 10:47:04 am »
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year with plenty of tailwinds to you!

General Discussion / Overnight Bike Theft
« on: December 02, 2006, 08:42:44 pm »
My rule is that if I can't see my bike for more than a couple of minutes I lock it up - unless I'm in a motel room, of course. I use a big Performance cable lock with the four digit combination. It's a bit heavy but the peace of mind is worth it. It automatically coils up into a neat little bundle about 4-5" in diameter. I keep it in my handlebar bag. It is long enough to usually go around a picnic bench seat and through both wheels. If not I go through the rear wheel. If there is no picnic bench I can always find something to lock it to like a tree or fence. I place my tent just 3 or 4 feet away and aligned so I can see my bike unless it's raining and the flap is zipped down. My loaded touring bicycle is the most valuable thing I own that isn't real estate. In many tens of thousands of miles of bicycle touring no one has ever tried to steal anything from me. But if I were to travel to a country where petty thievery is common, like San Salvador or Costa Rica I would find a way to lock my Ortliebs to my bike.
Actually, I worry more about supermarket or restaurant parking lots than campgrounds. There I lock my bike to a lampost, shopping cart pen or railing.
The best thing touring cyclists have going for them is that people either think you are nuts or envy you. In either case will they not rob you.
One final point: I once travelled a couple of days down the California coast with a guy named George, a highly experienced, bearded touring cyclist from Houston. He had NEVER locked up his bike. No kidding. He didn't consider it necessary. He never had any trouble.

This message was edited by litespeed on 12-4-06 @ 3:24 PM

General Discussion / Lower back pain survivors???
« on: November 28, 2006, 06:09:12 pm »
As a lifetimne backache sufferer I am able to get rid of ALL back pain by doing 100 slow crunches once a day. It builds up the stomach muscles which are the key to avoiding backaches.
You lie on your back with knees forming a pyramid and hands behind your head. Slowly lift your shoulderblades off the ground twisting alternatively to the left and right and slowly recline. Do it at your normal breathing rate - breathe out while raising and in while going back. It's a lot harder than it sounds but if you're in halfway decent shape you should be up to 100 within a couple of days.
This takes a fair amount of self discipline. Frankly, I haven't done it much in the past few years but bicycling, for some reason, doesn't bother my back.

General Discussion / Florida to New York
« on: November 28, 2006, 05:53:20 pm »
The Adventure Cycling maps are widely used but I've never gotten used to them. They take a lot of attention and will cost you an hour or two a day. Also they meander a lot. From my house on the west coast of Florida to Dobbs Ferry NY, where my brother lives, is 1150 miles by the shortest driving route. I usually log about 1450 miles bicycling it. It would be 1850 miles using the Adventure Cycling route. But you would probably have good bicycling roads and few unpleasant surprises using their maps. If you are on a leisurely schedule you might give them a try.

General Discussion / Florida to New York
« on: November 20, 2006, 02:23:52 pm »
I have bicycle toured from my home in Florida to the Northeast three times - once up the coast and twice inland. Hugging the coast in 2002 was very pleasant except for US17 between Hardeeville and Charleston SC and the hair raising Charleston bridge. But they were working on 17 so it might have shoulders now and the bridge can be avoided. Don't miss the Wright Memorial in NC.
   To cross the Chesapeake Bridge/Tunnel just go to the toll office and ask for a ride. It's free but they prefer that you call in advance.
  In New Jersey you can just go straight up US9 to South Amboy and take the ferry to 34th St. in NY. Up to Tom's River it is a very nice ride with huge shoulders and lovely little towns. After that it gets busier and more freeway-ish but is not a problem.
   If you go up through central Georgia I recommend US41, 129 and 441 but skirt around Macon. This will take you right up to Asheville NC or Great Smoky Mts. Nat'l. Park. The Biltmore Estate is not to be missed.
   In Virginia stick to back roads as the major highways are heavily trafficked and have no paved shoulders. Avoid US15 in Northern VA at all costs. SW Virginia is brutally hilly.
   The roads in Maryland and Pennsylvania are very good with wide shoulders. In PA good, cheap places to eat abound. Also there are plenty of ice cream and fudge places. Gettysburg and Hershey are well worth a day or two each.
   For your first tour I suggest you go up the coast. That's what I did.

This message was edited by litespeed on 11-20-06 @ 2:24 PM

General Discussion / Lazy North Americans?
« on: November 19, 2006, 11:43:17 am »
I live in Florida and would love nothing more than to see the price of gas go to $10 a gallon. It would thin out the auto traffic nicely. I drive about 4000 miles a year but would probably do about half that if gas were really expensive or the roads were more bicycle-friendly. Most of my driving is for building supplies (You don't haul cement or lumber on a bicycle) but I could get smaller stuff and groceries on a bike without much effort. I ought to put an plastic crate on the back of my old Trek and use it for small stuff like groceries.
    If everyone spent 3 to 6 months a year (or at least their vacations) bicycle touring around the country as I do it would make the US a better place.

This message was edited by litespeed on 11-19-06 @ 7:43 AM

General Discussion / Do I really need to carry a spare tire?
« on: December 19, 2006, 11:57:58 am »
"Just to clarify for others.  You do not have to carry the exact same spare tire as you run normally."

If you're doing some serious touring in the middle of nowhere, such as Nevada, and destroy a tire it would be best to have a good sturdy spare tire - the same as you're using. A doubled-over and taped-together tire forms a circle about a foot in diameter and can be stuffed into a rear pannier without taking up too much space. Put the tire in first then other stuff. This avoids having to wait for a new tire to be ordered in the next good bicycle shop which might be hundreds of miles off. A light folding tire might not make it under a heavily loaded touring bicycle or heavy rider or both.

General Discussion / Do I really need to carry a spare tire?
« on: November 13, 2006, 05:05:24 pm »
After a few years of touring around the country, including a circumnavgation of the US in 2004, I finally cut a tire badly last year. I had never carried a spare tire but always plenty of tubes. Anyway,I was only about 200 miles from home and heading west. I was able to patch up the tire somewhat and with much stopping to pump it up,made it 30 miles to the next KOA. I had two tires at home    so the easiest and cheapest thing to do was to rent an SUV, throw in the bicycle, drive home and get them. If I had been way out I probably would have had to wait for a shop to order one for me as I use Continental Top touring 37's and no shops carry them except in Missoula MT. I now carry a spare tire doubled over and taped up in a rear pannier. By the way, I tried a folded up dollar bill. It didn't work worth a d*mn.

« on: November 06, 2006, 08:57:22 pm »
212 over Beartooth Pass is reputed to be an epically difficult climb. The highway was closed a while back due to slides but I suppose you'd know if or when it reopened. Avoid 191 between Bozeman and West Yellowstone - tight, shoulderless two lane road hugging the river with fearsome truck traffic. Yellowstone can be very crowded between Memorial Day and Labor Day but you can usually get a tent spot in the campgrounds even when they say Full. Don't miss the Western Art Museum a couple of miles north of Jackson. The building alone is worth a trip. There is a fine little campground on a river near the visitor's center on the north end of Jackson. Handy to everything.

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