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Messages - cheesehawk

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Thanks for the solid reply! So much of the advice on this topic is directed at hikers or campers. Also, so many people say, "just use common sense" and stop there. Common sense works better with a little information. BTW I was joking about the pistol, but it's interesting that you said to save it for the campground. When I did the UGRR a few years ago I rode past/over numerous dead snakes, but only saw a few live ones. None were poisonous, all were moving away from me as fast as they could. I take it from the "mad" comment and the comments about seeking warmth and "invading" my campsite that I can assume that at least some rattlesnakes in your area will not be looking to just flee.

Hate to be a wimpy mid-westerner, but I'd appreciate a little education on the snake issue.

1) If I'm riding in your area between November and March, are they hibernating?
2) I'm likely to see them on the road when the temperature is over/under X?
3) I see a snake on or beside the road that is not moving. There is a car coming in my lane behind me. Do I: (a) hold my line and ride as fast as I can, either it is dead or it won't realize I'm there until I'm gone; (b) stop my bike, wait for the car to pass, and then ride as far away from the snake as safely possible; or (c) carry a pistol loaded with snake shot.
4) I'm camping at night in your area. I should always do X and I should never do Y.

Thanks for playing along with me.  ;D

General Discussion / Re: Rain gear on self contained long distance touring?
« on: September 23, 2011, 12:37:05 pm »
Geography may play a role in this. I remember when I was a kid my cousin came "home" to Iowa after his family moved to Colorado. We got caught out in a rainstrom. He just sat back and enjoyed it, "Warm rain is so awesome. The rain is always cold in Colorado."

Routes / Re: Underground Railroad - North to South?
« on: June 09, 2011, 10:52:03 am »
I biked from North to South in April. I entered the UGRR route at Grand Rivers, KY, and ended at Mobile, AL. If you check for wind roses for various portions of the route you can get an idea of what to expect from the wind. What I found was that I exptected to have a headwind about 2/3 out of the South/South-West/South-East in the spring. That is pretty much what I got. Particularly as you ride across TN/MS/AL portion of the route, you are basically heading South the vast majority of the time.

Since you are going in the fall the wind pattern may very well be reversed. Since you are doing the whole route, and not just the Southern 1/3 like I did, the net effect of the wind may balance out a bit more. So I don't think that there is any real reason for you not to go N-S. In the  early fall, it makes perfect sense to me to start where its cooler in the North, and arrive in the South when the worst of the heat has faded a bit.

As for the historical aspect, I would not lose much sleep over it. One rider I ran into had spent a lot of time researching the issue before depature. Apparently over 90% of those who successfully made it to freedom started in border states like KY. Hardly anyone made it out of the Deep South. So to a large extent the route should be viewed more as a symbolic gesture than any recreation of history. In any case, you will find very few to zero historical sites related to the UGRR itself once you leave the Ohio River at Smithland, KY. From there on, most of the historical sites you encounter will be Civil War history, because the Union armies worked their way South pretty much along the UGRR route from Paducah, KY to Corinth, MS. So there is more history moving South in that part of the route than North, if you will.

Temporary ACA Route Road Closures / UGRR Section 2 - Flooding
« on: May 17, 2011, 11:04:47 am »
I received e-mails from a NB rider I met while on the UGRR. He gave up on cycling between Grand Rivers, KY and Cincinnati, OH due to flooding in KY and IN. Attached is a link to the KY DOT site. If you look on the right you will see a road closures map. You can zoom in on the map to see specific roads that are closed due to flooding. I could not find a similar map for Indiana.

Routes / Re: Tornadoes and the UGRR?
« on: May 17, 2011, 10:54:54 am »
I rode the route SB from Grand Rivers KY to Mobile, finishing up around April 19th. There was some tornado damage at that time near Linden, AL. You can check out my CGOAB journal if you like for details. It had zero impact on my ability to ride the route. I've also casually followed the extensive tornado damage in AL since my return. I do not believe that you are likely to encounter additional damage on the route in AL.

I received e-mails from a NB rider who indicated that there was re-routing due to flooding on the KY/IN portion of the route. I asked him to post where the moderator indicated yesterday, but I have not seen anything. In any case, his information would now be more than a week old, and probably closer to two weeks. You're going to want current informtion. I'll post a link there in a few minutes to the KY DOT site.

I would go ahead with your trip as planned, especially if you were bringing camping gear anyway. I was too shy about asking people if I could camp out in AL. The more I've talked to people, the more I think I made a mistake. Gas stations/stores are good places to ask. I really can't say enough good things about people in AL generally.

-Mark Herman

Underground Railroad / Re: Flooding
« on: May 16, 2011, 09:51:38 am »
Sorry, I didn't realize I was posting in the wrong spot. I'll ask the person who hit the flooding detours to consider posting information, but at this point the information would be quite a bit out of date. If I were in your shoes blogg I would check the DOT websites for KY and IN for current information. 

Drop me a line. I'm in Madison, WI. If there is already an event scheduled I'd like to attend. If not, we can chat and see what we can do in the time remaining. Mark.

General Discussion / Re: Camelbak / Water Bladder
« on: May 08, 2011, 08:31:25 am »
On my UGRR ride in April I took a Camelbak along for Alabama, when I expected to have trouble finding water, at least on Sundays. For the first 1 1/2 days of riding (the first day being a half day) I used bottles. I had gone from 44 F in Wisconsin to 87 F and humid in Kentucky. By the time I got to the end of the first full day of riding I was dehydrated to the point of mild nauseau when I ate a Cliff bar. After that I rode with the 50 oz Camelbak on and had no problems staying hydrated.

I had never worn a Camelbak while cycling before. I did not like the idea of the weight on my back. I had no rubbing issues. I did not really notice the extra weight. I think the inconvenience when changing layers was a small price to pay for staying well hydrated. Now I would not do a major ride where I was expecting 80+F weather without one.

Underground Railroad / Flooding
« on: May 03, 2011, 03:20:43 pm »
Just an FYI. I received an e-mail from a NB rider I  met a few days back. He gave up on trying to reach Cincinnati this week due to detours caused by flooding between Grand Rivers, KY, and Evansville, IN.

Gear Talk / Re: Bicycle Speeds Question
« on: February 01, 2011, 11:52:55 am »
I think that the only thing I would add for OP re touring to the above discussion is that it does not have to be an "either or" proposition in my view. Yes, your road bike will always be lighter and faster, but that does not mean that you cannot maximize your performance while still making time to tour. When I was your age (and younger) I routinely rode on tours where we basically rode as hard as we could between bar stops. Similarly, you can tour and ride hard until you see something worth stopping for - whether its a bar, museum, or just a pretty spot to have lunch. Or you can ride hard all day and soak in the culture of the place where you spend your overnight. I think that you will find that most of your memories of your cycling time will be about the stops amd the people. But how often, when and where you get your off bike time is really up to you.

Underground Railroad / Re: Detroit Spur?
« on: January 03, 2011, 01:09:22 pm »
Absolutely. Appreciate all that you guys do.

Underground Railroad / Detroit Spur?
« on: December 30, 2010, 04:21:59 pm »
Not to annoy anyone at the ACA, but I was hoping to ride the new Detroit spur in September. Originally I think I read that it was due out in February. Recently I thought I noticed a comment that it would be out next summer. Can anyone there provide any insight?

General Discussion / Re: re-entering cycling
« on: December 27, 2010, 02:25:10 pm »
I'm in the same boat. Came back after 18 years off. I needed to lose a lot of pounds, I've lost about half; based on your diet question, you're probably in that boat too. I'm in Madison, WI, so my winter is plenty white. Here are my thougths.

(1) Keep it fun. Trying to bike in the winter is a great way to stay in cycling shape. It's more likely to be fun if you can get the right equipment together. If it's fun, do it. If not, do something else (see below). Same thing goes with training in general. When you quit having fun it is harder to keep going.

(2) Cross train. Swimming helped my neck and back problems. Ab/lower back work is also helping. Recurring injury (inner thigh, related to tight IT band) is being addressed by specific exercises (professional PT). Skating would also help outer an inner thighs. Point is, there are lots of things you can do off the bike to make riding the bike easier on your body and to help you avoid injury. You don't have to become an athlete. I don't do everything every week. You can just get on the bike and go to Cali tomorrow. But sooner or later you're going to have to do the work, so you might as well get started.

(3) Listen, don't diet, when on a multi-day tour. Dieting plans are great when you're training, and essential when you're not training. On the road, on a 3+ day tour of 50+ miles per day, it can make you miserable. I lost more weight and was happier by listening to my body and finding the right mix of foods than by counting calories or points. For me, oatmeal and fruit at breakfast. Mix of fruit and complex carbs for snacks. Low protein and limit the dairy while on the bike. More protein off the bike. I lost over 10 pounds on a 7 day tour this way, while just listening to what my body said about quantity needed. Your needs will probably vary. But save the diet plans for the rest of the year (and especially for the week after you get off the bike).

(4) Goals are great, fun is better. Goals keep you motivated, and let you see your progress. If I were in your boat I'd make monthly goals up to the departure date. But recognize that life, weather and your body will get in the way. I've made about 2/3 of my goals. I'm sure I could have done all of them, but there were times when NOT making the goal has kept me riding. Be smart.

P.S. Tandem - You wrote, "Personally, I have found Bill Phillip's plan ( ) to be very effective for me.  When I started with it I was overweight and constantly feeling like I was dragging.  I've been on his plan for about 4-5 years now and it has only cost me 40 pounds and a feeling of having enough energy to make it through the day and then some." I can't figure out how to see the plan itself.

Gear Talk / Re: Is it worth changing tires?
« on: December 02, 2010, 09:52:19 pm »
Personally I'd just replace them when they wear out unless they are pretty bad.  That said I did yank a set of Marathon Pluses after a few hundred miles because the ride was so dead feeling and the weight so high.   I guess it boils down to how bad they are.

BTW I do really like Gatorskins, but have not tried the H2 or the Marathon Supreme.

I'm ambivalent about the Gatorskins right now. I put them on last summer before a 1-week supported tour and during the tour and the next month I went through about 5 flats. Got the problem solved when a magnet pointed me to something that looked like metal shavings. Bad luck I guess. The Bontraeger's may be bullet proof but they are they are heavy (740g for a 1.5" v. 410g for a 1.6" Marathon Supreme v. 610 g for a 1.75" Conti Travel Contact) and I don't feel like they roll well, but again, that may be a perception problem on my part.

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