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Messages - MrBent

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331
Routes / Riding in NW California?
« on: January 23, 2004, 12:10:07 am »
My wife and I are pouring over maps for a big tour this coming summer.  One area that looks attractive is that big, rugged NW corner of California.  Specifically, we're wondering if anyone has information on riding conditions (traffic, shoulders, etc.) for Highway 96 along the Klamath River and the Cecilville Rd. leading back to Highway 3.  The country should be gorgeous, but how's the riding?  Wisdom, experience, insight appreciated.

Thanks!

Scott


332
General Discussion / route 66
« on: December 26, 2008, 11:35:28 pm »
Uh, the last part of  my previous post, I meant SUMMER! Doh!

Have a great ride.

Scott


333
General Discussion / route 66
« on: December 17, 2008, 08:01:32 pm »
I've ridden sections of 66 from north of Prescott,AZ (west of Flagstaff) all the way to Adelanto, CA, where I peeled off the route, which, I think, turns into massive interstate.

There is much fantastic cycling here.  You'll need to study the maps and see where you'll need to leave the old route, but Ashfork to Kingman, AZ, is great.  Then you'll want to the climb over to Oatman, which is one of the best stretches of road I had the privalege to ride on my cross country trek last year.  In California, you'll play tag with Interstate 40, but when you leave it, as in the drop to Amboy, you'll have a blast.  One section to keep in mind: From Ludlow to Barstow, Route 66 parallels Hwy 40, which seems nice at first, but the pavement is unspeakably bad--like, OH MY GOD I CANT BELIEVE PAVEMENT CAN GET THIS BAD!  The last two times I've ridden this section (once east bound, once west)I defied the law and used the shoulder of Hwy 40--wide, smooth, quick. You can get off at Newberry Springs and check out the classic Baghdad Cafe.  From there, Route 66 has good to excellent pavement.

I crossed the Mojave in early November, which was great.  Winter is generally excellent, although you could face some occasionally fierce headwinds as you go west.  If you are unlucky, you could hit winds that are almost impossible to ride against.  The desert can be a harsh mistress.  Fall, however, is probably the best time to go east to west.  Personally, I would never do it in winter--too freakin' hot!

Go for it, and have a blast.

Cheers,

Scott


334
General Discussion / Commuting with a Weimaraner!!
« on: December 17, 2008, 04:13:11 pm »
I can't recommend Cycletote trailers highly enough.  We used a Burley for years, but we find the Cycletote to be much more stable--lower center of gravity.  Also, you can get it with 26" wheels for better rolling over rough ground and to match your existing tire size (700c available, too. We went with 20" to match our recumbent.) It is a bit heavier, for sure, but we still prefer it.  Check 'em out: Cycletote

Cheers,

Scott


335
General Discussion / Touring on carbon
« on: December 07, 2008, 02:38:31 pm »
Carbon frames seem tough enough these days, as the other posts mention.  I have, however, heard from at least one person who's frame blew apart on a trans-continental tour, something I've never heard of with steel/aluminum--not that it couldn't happen.

My ride has a carbon/aluminum front shock and has held up well.  Personally, I wouldn't take a full carbon bike on a long tour.

Cheers,
Scott


336
General Discussion / PTS? Post Tour Syndrome?
« on: November 06, 2008, 04:39:41 pm »
Fellow tourists:  I find that this last year after finishing my cross country ride that I can't stop thinking about it. Images rise unbidden.  Smells, emotions, the complext tapestry of what I experienced comes over me at some point every day.  I have done a lot of intense outdoor activites (the vertical face of Half Dome among them), but few things in life have had such a lingering effect as those three months by myself riding from ocean to ocean.  I'm calling this Post Tour Syndrome (PTS), and I seem to have it bad/good.

Damn, bike touring is AMAZING, truly one of the great things in life.  Kudos to you all and ACA for helping make this activity accessible to so many.

Cheers,

Scott


337
General Discussion / Just Wondering
« on: November 01, 2008, 08:25:45 pm »
Ken: I totally feel for you.  When I launched on my trans-America ride last year, I thought I was gonna puke.  Lots of tension, uncertainties, the works.  But once you're rolling, putting in the miles, solving problems, it all becomes an incredibly compelling dream, a great way to live.  I'm always looking forward to my next tour.  Hoist a beer to the gods of roads, saddle up your pony, and light out for the territories.  You have nothing to lose but ignorance and sloth and everything to gain!  Sail on.

Scott


338
General Discussion / TransAmerica Bike route breakdown
« on: November 01, 2008, 08:33:47 pm »
I'm with Westinghouse on this one: hard to estimate.  I spent, typically, about $15/day on food and usually nothing on camping.  I stayed in only a handful of pay campgrounds--like three or four--and maybe four motels, the most expensive being about $60+ in Troy, Missouri.  But my goal was go cheap and maximize adventure.  I was on the road for 99 days, so cumulative expenses would really start to stack up.  How low-end are you willing or wanting to go?  Having some extra cash for the occasional motel is REALLY nice, especially on those days when you just want to shower and crash and not bother with anything.  An air conditioned room for a night can be a real blessing.

Re. food: I rarely ate out.  Cooked and carried mostly.

Scott


339
General Discussion / Transcontinental touring.
« on: October 19, 2008, 04:12:13 pm »
Hey, Bogo: Not missing anything.  So much of this thread is about personal preference.  Sooner or later, we all work out what's best for us.  I, for one, really enjoy having a stove and cooking my own meals.  When I pull into some totally choice, hidden spot, set up my chair and kick back with a tasty meal bubbling on the stove, I've found a little slice of heaven.  When I get up in the morning, I make my own coffee and get to slurp it down in whatever place I've landed.  Although I carry more weight, for me the freedom and experience of these simple chores more than make up for it.  I could eat cold, skip meals, etc. if necessary, but why?  I cover all the miles I want to in a day.  I have fun on the climbs, so whatever weight I've ended up with is not an albatross around my neck, and when I ride up a remote dirt road and throw down camp between some junipers on a high lonesome ridge, I get all the benefits of home--only more.

One very practical concern, of course, is money, at least for most people.  Cooking one's own chow is usually a lot cheaper than eating out all the time.

Ah, Westinghouse:  I can see how your method works.  Personally, I hate bug juice and those smoky rings like crazy, so being able to dive into a tent is a big plus for me.  For me, bugs are the single worst thing about outdoor living.  That's why I love touring in the desert in the winter and also why I timed my cross-country ride so much of it would be in the fall.

A point to remember: Heinz Stuck (sp?) is the world's most traveled man.  He has toured in virtually every country in the world on a super heavy-duty three speed and a mountain of gear for a bike+load of about 100lbs.  This is what works for him. I would never tour in that manner.  Still, he puts all of this in perspective.

Cheers,

Scott


340
General Discussion / Transcontinental touring.
« on: October 17, 2008, 09:31:07 am »
My philosophy is to reduce weight but not be fanatical about it--though I do admit that lighter almost always makes for more pleasant cycling.  It's just nicer to have less weight to push around.

Here's an example of saving weight in, for me, a really good way: I stopped using a trailer.  I did a ride from California to Arizona towing a Burley Nomad--great trailer, super convenient, no flats, no problems.  I can totally see why folks like trailers.  But when I looked at the panniers that my German recumbent could use, I calculated that I could shave at least 10 lbs.!  That's no joke on climbs.  I sacrificed some convenience, but the increased climbing ability and better aerodynamics in windy conditions were the clinchers.

For my cross-America ride last year, I ultimately chose a Pepsi can alcohol stove, which is about as light as they get.  I cooked the vast majority of my meals, made coffee every morning, often a second cup later in the day--great!  

I splurge in weight with sleeping gear.  I really want and need a good night's sleep, so I carryied a 2" thick, full-length Thermarest pad with integrated camp chair--weighed about three pounds.  But man, was it sweet.  Pull into camp, set up the chair and kick back for reading, cooking, journal writing.  I've since acquired a Big Agnes air mattress--lighter, more compact, more comfortable.  The only drawback is that you get a little light-headed filling it up!  Setting up the Big Agnes chair is not as convenient as the Thermarest, however, but it seems okay.  I think the BA combo is about a pound lighter than the T-rest.

For me, in most settings, a tent is essential in order to avoid insects.  Westinghouse recommended a tarp, which is fine, but I can't imagine what that would have been like in the mosquito infested Midwest last August.  I also like the idea of a little cave or shelter to call my own, a sanctuary that sets me apart for a while.  When conditions permit, however, I love to sleep out under the stars.  As I got into the Southwest in October, I had a blast laying out the tarp and flopping out in the open--no bugs, clear skies, can't beat that.  My tent is a Sierra Designs one-person model, can't recall the name right now, and it weighs about three pounds.  I go super light with sleeping bags and carry a  sub-two pound 20 deg. F. down bag--very compact, too!

Leave the cast iron gear at home, and you'll be fine!

The more important thing is to realize that you don't need the best of the best.  People get by and have wonderful adventures on all kinds of gear.  Mostly you need a reliable bike and a way to carry gear so it won't fall off.  Get out there and ride.

Cheerios,

Scott




341
General Discussion / Tour Planning - Ten months out
« on: August 30, 2008, 11:16:29 am »
My 2 cents: Don't give up the beer!  Just ride more. :)

You'll get lots of good advice in all the places suggested.  Spend lots of time on your bike, especially in the couple of months before heading out.  Since you plan on some shakedown tours, you should be fine.  I think that the more fit you are, the more fun you will have.  The first couple of weeks can be a real bear for folks who aren't toughed up a little.  

Have a blast!

Cheers,

Scott


342
General Discussion / Favorite book
« on: August 30, 2008, 10:55:09 am »
A hearty second for John McPhee--great stuff.

My favorite book this summer has been God's Middle Finger: Into the Lawless Heart of the Sierra Madre by Richard Grant.  This is mind-bending, unbelievable tale of this guy's travels into one of the most dangerous, dysfunctional places imaginable.  You won't want to put it down!

Also, I've been really enjoying the Flashman novels by Fraser.

Cheers,
 
Scott
 


343
General Discussion / Where to camp
« on: August 30, 2008, 11:09:33 am »
I used a combination of all techniques on my cross country ride last year.  Most of the time, it was possible to roll into these little towns and get permission to flop in the town park, fairgrounds, etc. As mentioned, the ACA maps are excellent about pointing out options.  Lots of times, I got taken in by very nice locals, and this was one of the best things about my ride--meeting great people who are so generous.  I wasn't in  Muscatine, Iowa, more than five minutes before I had a place to stay--amazing.

If I didn't have a warmshowers host(check out couchsurfing too!), I'd roll into town and hit the library first.  You can usually find out everything you need to know there.  I simply could not afford to pay for a place to flop every night--nor did I want to.  I camped under a cell tower in Maine, behind a utility shed in Kansas, in the woods in NY, CO, NM and elsewhere.  The thrill and challenge of finding a place to camp provided a real spice to the journey--and often the best camping.  I HATE KOA's with a special passion.  Besides being very expensive (about $25/night out west), they are freakin' noisy so close to freeways and such.  The only good one I've stayed in was in Mt.  Shasta, CA.--very nice with great views of the mountain.

Be flexible and creative.  It's all part of the adventure.

Cheers,

Scott


344
General Discussion / Planning for the Western Express
« on: June 29, 2008, 12:06:30 pm »
DaveB has got the right idea.  FedEx as much as possible and then rent the smallest vehicle you can.  Gas by 2010 could be astoundingly expensive.  One possibility would be to purchase or ship ahead a bike rack for the back of a rental car/SUV.  Ship the tandem and haul the rest.  I did just this on tour to Arizona a few years ago.  You'll have to sit down and crunch some numbers.  Who knows what shipping/car rental/airline fares will be!  

All the best with your planning.  Do see my thread in the Routes forum about problems with the Western Express.

Cheers,

Scott


345
General Discussion / Cross Country Bike Trip
« on: June 26, 2008, 10:59:18 am »
You're getting lots of good advice here.  You should have no problem with the cost given your price range, even buying a pretty nice touring bike.  I like to camp most nights, so that saves A LOT of money, especially, of course, stealth camping.

As for mileage, that will depend on many factors, mostly fitness and motivation.  I, for one, really like rest days, about one a week, give or take.  During my cross country last year, my longest stretch without a rest day was 11 or 12 days, which seemed too long for me.

If possible, get your gear and do a couple of shorter shake-down tours.  You need to dial in all the systems and get a feel for what you will be facing.

Cheers,

Scott


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