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Messages - litespeed

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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.

General Discussion / i would love some advice
« on: October 24, 2006, 11:44:07 pm »
I agree with valygrl that you might consider doing the west coast for your first major tour. It is epically scenic with plenty of tail winds and you'll meet lots of other touring cyclists. Or even the east coast if that's where you live. 60 days is a bit tight across the country unless you do the southern part or have little trouble with 100+ miles a day. I'll admit, though, that my trips across the country have always been under 60 days - usually well under.
A very important thing is good, sturdy wheels and, even more important, good tires. I use Continental Top Touring tires. I replace them every 2000 miles and rotate them halfway - 1000 miles out. And don't forget the tire liners. I use Mr. Tuffy's.

General Discussion / Trailer vs Panniers
« on: October 21, 2006, 06:55:01 pm »
Every one I have met in my travels with a bicycle trailer has the same complaint: "I'm just carrying too much stuff". BOB trailers make it too easy to throw in extraneous gear. I use Ortleib panniers and very sturdy wheels (Ultegra hubs, 36 spokes, Rhynolite rims, 37mm Continental Top Touring tires). My panniers are usually about 2/3 full (Although I'll admit my bike fully loaded is heavy - about 80 pounds). In over 20,000 miles of loaded touring around the country I have never had a breakdown - just the occasional flat. And on my last trip out west I went almost 5,000 miles without a flat. BOB trailers seem to do all right on straight pavement but when the surface gets rough they seem to come undone - lose pins, break joints, etc. Also they use Wal-Mart size tires and seem to suffer a lot of flats.

This message was edited by litespeed on 10-21-06 @ 2:58 PM

General Discussion / Help needed in Tucson
« on: October 10, 2006, 01:00:56 am »
No problem. Just go to any storage outfit and rent their smallest unit  usually about 5' by 8' or 10'. It's a one month minimum and will cost you about $30. You'll need your own padlock. Just put your bicycle in it the day before your flight and get a motel that night. When you return go straight to the storage unit and ride off on your bike.
   On my tours I bicycle tour a month at a time, flying home for two weeks and returning to continue my travels. I get free plane tickets so I can afford to do this. Last year I did three stages: Home in Florida to Lubbock TX to Wichita Ks via Utah and on home.

General Discussion / going south
« on: October 10, 2006, 12:44:56 am »
In my loop around the country in 2004 I had fairly good weather from Florence OR to San Francisco in late September and early October but very rainy, stormy weather in late October from San Francisco to Guadalupe. I don't recommend bicycling the Pacific coast after the end of September. The wind was never a problem but the rain sure was. Another problem is pesky bums and winos in the parks and campgrounds in coastal southern California. Some of the state parks actually lock up the restrooms/showers to keep them out. They get worse the farther south you go. That's the reason I left the coast and cut inland at Guadalupe.
    If you decide to go south east of the Sierra Nevadas be ready for long stretches of nothing.

General Discussion / Loaded Weight
« on: September 15, 2006, 04:28:34 pm »
Your load sounds plenty light to me. I have logged some 25,000 miles around the country. I don't carry any food or cooking gear and the total weight of my bicycle fully loaded was 78 lbs. at the end of my 5,000 mile tour out west this summer. If you're having tent problems you might consider sticking with North Face. I've always used their smallest model (Canyonlands and Particle 13) and never had any problems. Above all, don't skimp on equipment. Get the best.

General Discussion / Pacific Coast Route
« on: September 09, 2006, 12:19:08 am »
I've never heard of an organized ride for the whole Pacific coast but check the back pages of Bicycling Magazine. Might be something. Whatever you do get your trip over with before the middle of October. That's when the storms start.

Pete Wilford
Holiday FL

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