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Messages - litespeed

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General Discussion / Re: Self Contained Touring in Northern Minnesota
« on: February 05, 2013, 01:39:37 pm »
Minnesota and Wisconsin are fine bicycling states. Good shoulders on the roads, plenty of trails and campgrounds, lots of state and municipal parks with camping spots, lots of services and a bike-friendly populace. Also, the state parks have a policy of always finding a spot for bicycle tourists, even when full.

My only quibble is that there are often frost cracks on the highway shoulders every ten feet or so but this is hardly a major problem.

Routes / Re: Pedal to the Midnight Sun info...
« on: January 17, 2013, 11:41:59 am »
Tom Snyders, "The Bicycling Comedian", has biked Prudhoe Bay to Tierra del Fuego in stages. His website is You can e-mail him at He has toured all over the world and can give you tips. I met him three times while cycling up the east coast one year.

Gear Talk / Re: Bike Rack Advice
« on: December 07, 2012, 02:40:00 pm »
Another strike against putting a bike on a roof rack is that I have read that the high winds involved can blow the grease out of the headset and other junctures if they are not shielded. Frankly, I don't know if this is true or not. It might just be a myth.

I'd add Gorilla Tape - sold in any hardware store. It is a sort of super duct tape - very strong, durable and so sticky that it is hard to peel off the roll and requires some care in applying. It is great for patching tents, sleeping bags, the bags they come in and attaching most anything to anything.

I'd also add a small multitool, mainly for the pliers. That rare stuck valve nut can be a real problem.

Gear Talk / Re: Bike Rack Advice
« on: December 02, 2012, 11:18:48 pm »
Since I am hopelessly absent minded I refuse to even consider a roof rack. My sister, and ardent outdoorswoman, used to insist I should get a roof rack for my bicycle. I told her of my reservations. She confessed that she had torn the seats off a couple of bicycles on low branches.

Since I won't own anything but a minivan (hopelessly uncool but, in my opinion, the greatest invention since the zipper) a rack is not necessary at all. I have a sturdy cargo trailer that serves as my pickup truck.

Gear Talk / Re: sleeping bags
« on: December 02, 2012, 11:04:40 pm »
I pack two sleeping bags and use them in combination or individually as needed. One is a very lightweight bag that packs into a bag a bit smaller than a football. The other is a Mountain Hardware "40 degree bag" that is, frankly, only good down to about 50 degrees. Below that I use them both with the lightweight bag inside. Below freezing I also put on plenty of clothes and zip up the tent good and tight. If it is very warm I lie on top of both of them. I use a shorty Thermarest pad.

General Discussion / Re: Tales of Calamity and Woe
« on: October 31, 2012, 07:25:57 pm »
I once had the cogs in my rear wheel go out just after leaving Reed City, Michigan on a Sunday. Suddenly I was pedalling and going nowhere. Fortunately I had met a retired couple in town. I called them up and wound up staying with them for a couple of days. He took me into Big Rapids on Monday for new innards for my wheel. I still correspond with them.

On the second day of TOSRV South (Tallahassee to Albany GA and back) my Modolo stem broke right off. I came down hard on the post and fortunately didn't crack my sternum. I have heard that it can be right painful. Support provided me with a bike for the rest of the ride.

In Lancaster CA an incompetent bike mechanic didn't pin a new chain correctly and got the chain length wrong. It came apart as I was leaving the KOA the next day. Fortunately the buses there have bike racks so I was able to return to the shop and get a new one from the guy who owned the shop.

Peugeot once made a frame of aluminum with the joints pressed together - no welding or gluing. It was an interesting idea - get the tolerances tight enough and the aluminum will weld itself - but didn't work out. Mine failed at the front of one chainstay. I took a couple of spills before I figured out what was going on. I gingery pedaled back to my van and discarded the frame when I got home.

Connecting ACA Routes / Re: Niagra Falls to NYC
« on: October 19, 2012, 12:42:10 pm »
Erie Canal Trail to the Hudson River. Get a copy of "Cycling the Erie Canal" from Parks and Trails New York. I recommend taking 9W down the west side of the river. It is lightly traveled as most of the traffic is on the interstate. Then cross over the George Washington Bridge to the city.

When I lived in Hoboken my ride of choice was to go north on 9W.

The quickest route? That's easy. Just ride 190 to where it joins I-10 then ride the shoulder of the interstate to Fort Hancock. It would be a good idea to get off there and take 20 into El Paso to avoid heavy interstate traffic around the (relatively) big city.

I did this in reverse a few years ago - left El Paso on 20 then I-10 to Kerrville where I took local roads into San Antonio.

Routes / Re: Trip from DC to Mobile, Alabama
« on: October 13, 2012, 01:08:04 pm »
Here's a thought: You could go a few miles west from DC to Front Royal VA and get on the Skyline Drive/Blue Ridge Parkway. At the end at Cherokee NC you could head west over the pass to Gatlinburg TN and on to the northern terminus of the Natchez Trace just south of Nashville. You could ride it to the end at Natchez and double back to Mobile. This would put you on very scenic, bicycle friendly roadways for 80-90% of your trip.

The Blue Ridge involves a lot of climbing and would be chilly in October. Also it requires a lot of planning, camping and packing your own food.

I haven't done either of these scenic roadways because they were never on my route but for your route I would certainly consider it.

Gear Talk / Re: Panniers - dry bag vs. traditional
« on: October 04, 2012, 06:42:38 pm »
I started out touring with Bruce Gordon racks and panniers but after a rainy tour around the 48 states in 2004 I was thoroughly sick of messing with rain covers. So I got Ortlieb panniers and handlebar pack and have used them ever since. They look as good as the day I bought them and have never leaked a drop. I am also a real fan of the very convenient attaching/dismounting system. I don't miss the lack of compartments as all the things I need during the day are right at hand in the handlebar pack and in the clear plastic map holder on top.

The Bruce Gordon racks, by the way, have done fine duty, only coming off the bike once for a paint job.

General Discussion / Re: Overcoming butt pain
« on: October 02, 2012, 04:03:45 pm »
I don't know if it would work for everyone but I wouldn't use anything but a Terry Liberator Y Gel saddle. The Y is the guy's saddle. The X is for women. I position the saddle as far forward as possible, level and fairly high. The only time I get any butt pain at all is after 80 miles in one day and, even then, just a little bit after a rest stop.

Routes / Re: Outter Banks direction of travel
« on: September 14, 2012, 10:14:36 am »
I have done the Outer Banks south-to-north four times. Once I had a southerly tailwind but was told by an experienced touring cyclist that it was quite unusual. And once I had to lay over a day to wait out a howling NW headwind. Other than that I have had inconsequential winds or mild headwinds. As a general rule doing the Outer Banks in a southerly direction is probably a safer bet but there is no guarantee. That area sticks out into the Atlantic and catches some wild and flukey weather.

Routes / Re: Atlanta, GA to Miami, FL
« on: September 10, 2012, 08:31:40 pm »
I have done Holiday, FL (near St. Pete) to Savannah numerous times. If you can make it to Savannah you could head south on 17 (a good bicycling road albeit not very scenic) to Yulee, FL, just over the line. Then go east on A1A and down the coast. I have never been south of Ormond Beach on a bicycle but I love A1A that far. You are rarely without shoulders or parallel trails except in the towns. And bopping along the shore is very pleasant with frequent ocean views and plenty of services.

I'm a big fan of paralleling interstates as there is usually little traffic. You might consider going alongside 75 and 16 to Savannah although I would skirt Macon. It's a tough town to bicycle through.

Routes / Re: Country Bumpkin meets NYC
« on: September 10, 2012, 08:05:36 pm »
Why go all the way to New Jersey and double back through NYC to Long Island? There are ferries from Bridgeport and New London, Connecticut across Long Island Sound. You could then bicycle along the north shore and down to Uniondale. I have never gone this way but I rarely pass up a chance to ride a ferry while bicycle touring.

If you insist on going to NJ and back to NYC, don't worry about bicycling in Manhattan. It's a snap. New Yorkers are the best drivers in the world. When you exit the train station just pull out your compass and head east. The Brooklyn Bridge is a blast on a bicycle.

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