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Messages - RangerTom

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1
Overnighter/Day Trip recommendations Vega/PhoenixSedona areas

Hello touring friends,

We're just heading out the door for a car trip to the Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Sedona areas. The touring tandem is going along; we hope to get in a some day rides and would entertain a single night overnighter if our time allows and the route looks good. We're probably looking at routes of not more than about 50 miles a day - subtract some miles if climbs get into the thousands of feet.
As we hadnt had a chance to search forums yet (hotel activity next couple of nights!), I thought some of you might have some interesting routes/destinations to share. (Had seen something in Forums a while back - maybe about Globe/Tucson).

We'd love to hear some of your recommendations on favorite routes .....

Thanks Tom and Diane

2
General Discussion / Re: Bicycle tourism route mapping advice and examples?
« on: December 22, 2012, 02:41:57 am »
Logan, 

I had recently seen a State of Maryland highway map  in which a mapping tool apparently was used to measure a "BLOC" (Bicycling Level of Comfort) score for various sections of roadways. The BLOC score considered parameters such as traffic volumes and speed, roadway width, etc.  It looks like they used the formula applied by this application to set standards to various roadways as to suitability for cycling.

 The way I see it, the formula provides a blend of some objective information to give some clue as to what a cyclist might expect on various roads; I did not have an opportunity to ride any of the designated roadways when back there, so I don't know how the mapped rankings relate to actual "on the road" experience.

 Here's the link to a related  web page:

http://www.sha.maryland.gov/OPPEN/BLOC_Washington.pdf

Their staff may have some insights to share on what they had considered for the development of this information, standards, etc. I noticed two phone numbers on their websites  -  410-545-5674 and 410-545-5656. Maryland's approach to the roadway designations may or may not be similar to what you are looking for, but perhaps this will help.

Good luck with the project (I've been "eyeballing" your area recently as an area for a possible multi-day bike tour!).

Tom

3
Routes / Re: GAP/C&O Canal - Alternative Roadway Routes
« on: October 07, 2012, 09:45:56 pm »
Brian   I was lucky to have seen your Crazyguy posts early on in our dreaming-to-planning process, it was inspirational and educational. Hopefully we'll have an easier time finding the "#3 with the side of hash browns" or facsimile!  I believe we will be following your same road route out of Williamsport through Antietam and on to Harpers Ferry (back onto the C&O near Antietam Creek if I remember correctly.

thanks again for the info  -  were heading east to hit the trail this week!

Thanks, Tom

4
Routes / Re: Detailed maps
« on: October 05, 2012, 11:33:36 pm »
Though not bike specific, if you are a AAA member, you may have access to CSAA (California State Auto Association) maps.  I find the scale and detail very good for tour planning and on the road use.

Their "Sectional Series" at 9 miles per inch are great for big picture initial planning. As an example the Central California Sectional Series map covers about a 250 X 250 mile area - includes San Franciso well into Nevada.

The "Regional Series" is drawn at 3 miles per inch and really brings out more detail on bicyclist level - the San Francisco Bay Region Map would cover what might be a couple days worth (maybe about 150+ miles) of end-to-end bike travel. Great for on the road navigation.

During planning, I use these maps in conjunction with ideas from Google maps (bike routing, satellite, and street view) and programs like Mapmyride online for distances and elevation changes/gradients. Watch for nearby Adventure Cycling routes (of course).

Oh, the CSAA online services for members includes a route planning tool (car oriented but was very helpful when I tried it for a trip last spring).  Rubber band routes on it, it provides turn-by-turn route sheets and maps, and you can have it populate the map during planning with things such as lodging, restaurtants, attractions, etc - all which are clickable to direct links  like AAA ratings and related websites. I haven't looked at it for a while but I believe camp facilities were likely included .

I also have looked online for cycling clubs in areas we will be visiting. They often have ride sheets posted which shed some light on whats bike-able, links for resources such as regional bike plans or DOT information, and I've used club contact numbers for help from the locals on getting thumbs-up or thumbs-down on routes I've been considering that may have some element of "questionable-ness".

Wow Neil, after all that I just reread your post and realized your home turf is England (nearly midnight here, working only with half of the remaining functioning part of my brain) -  perhaps the above info will still help, or as your plans begin to gel with specific travel areas you can repost and some of us can drum up some maps or extra resources for you. And that reference to AAA - that one was for American Automobile Association! Guess you're not likely a member of that one   :-X

Good Luck    Tom





5
Gear Talk / Re: Chain Maintenance on Tour
« on: September 30, 2012, 11:19:48 am »
Thanks for the responses so far, guys.

I've been using a product called Boeshield T9, it's a solvent/paraffin wax combo. It comes in a fairly convenient applicator bottle which I think will be ok to haul on the tour, and it does a wee bit of crud flushing. I suspect the crushed limestone of the GAP and C&O dirt will still accumulate fairly rapidly on the drivetrain. We can try water rinsing to remove a bit as well (A garden hose or even water bottle squirts might help. I'd heard in the past to avoid using high pressure water on components to avoid forceing grit into parts - I suspect this was primarily advised for protecting bearings).
 
I guess the mess of dealing with cleaning is really what I'm was haveing trouble picturing. My past touring, 99.9% improved surfaces, hadn’t presented the need for more than lubricating after at least several hundred miles. My  home technique has been SimpleGreen, a bunch of newspaper to keep drippings off the ground and rims/tires, then a last water rinse before disposing  newspaper, then lubricating. I'm thinking the plan for this trip will be monitor and lubricate, pick up bottle of SimpleGreen as needed, read newspaper, and have a five bike cleanup when the appropriate time/place is  reached.

dkokolo  - do you do old,old school melted wax application? Wax stick? Other?

Hondo - also wondered if you had a specific product too recommend.  And thanks for pointing out your Youtube , I'll check it out

Thanks again for the help so far  -  would still like to hear additional suggestions that are out there  :D  Tom


6
Gear Talk / Chain Maintenance on Tour
« on: September 28, 2012, 11:40:28 pm »
Well, were headed off for the GAP and C&O Canal in about 10 days. During the past month, we've been riding our road tandem more often on dirt surfaces in preparation for the tour and I had forgotten how grimed up the drive chain can get - and how fast!

I wondered if any of you have any favorite tip to share on how you handle chain maintenance when it's needed frequently and you are out on tour.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

Tom

7
Routes / Re: GAP/C&O Canal - Alternative Roadway Routes
« on: September 05, 2012, 01:12:38 pm »
Thanks very much for the help Fred...   the orginal post has been modified to show the complete text.   Tom   :D

8
Routes / Re: GAP/C&O Canal - Alternative Roadway Routes
« on: September 04, 2012, 10:32:56 pm »
Hmmmm..   :o   I had a couple more short paragraphs - they seem to be getting consumed somewhere on the way to the board. Stand by for further attempts - sometime tomorrow.  Thanks, Tom

9
Routes / Re: GAP/C&O Canal - Alternative Roadway Routes
« on: September 04, 2012, 10:15:26 pm »
Thanks for the info Brian. The info and links were quite helpful.  I just realized that half my "post" had not quite made the board (too long perhaps?) Here's the rest.

#1  Hancock to Williamsport

   Big Pool Road(Hywy 56) and Clearspring Road (Hywy 68). This initially looked ok on Google Map terrain view and Mapmyride - further investigation with street view and the State of Maryland Highway department "Bicycle Level of Comfort" map (http://roads.maryland.gov/oppen/bloc_washington.pdf)  was maybe not so good. Though not too hilly, and what looks like beautiful countryside, the State gives it what appears poor ratings for bicycle use on the eastern part of Big Pool and along Clearspring. It does look like riding Big Pool east to Hassett and then 4 Locks Road back down to the C&O might be ok and a worthwhile option. Anyone out there familiar with this area? We do have the rail trail (Western Maryland RR) in the plans for this area.

#2  Williamsport to Antietam

   It looks like there may be a number of options along here. Perhaps Lappens Road (Hywy 68), Downsville Pike (632), Spielman and Bakersville Road (63?), Sharpsburg Pike (65), then Harpers Ferry Road south to what appears to be an access back onto the C&O near Antietam (town and creek).  How about Lappens directly to Sharpsburg Pike, or maybe other little roads in that area?
Any other alternates between Cumberland and DC? We have lodging locked in already so wouldn't be able to stray too far off the C&O corridor.  Also, we are looking at this from the perspective of a group of six with ages getting close to sixty (not super strong) ,  some of the group with past multi-day touring experience but just getting back to riding regularly - and others whom are somewhat newer to biking. We do ride some hills in the lower Sierra Nevada foothills, but we seldom encounter the rather severe grades that the eastern mountains seem to occasionally provide for its roadways.  We have, by the way, put the WOD rail trail (Leesburg to DC)  on the optional list - will see if we feel like we have gotten too beat up by the C&O surface at that point, or if we need some relief from what others have described as  the "green  tunnel "  effect along  the river.

Thanks in advance for any help you can provide, and we are really looking forward to the trip

Tom

10
General Discussion / Re: Bike shipping / Lesson learned?
« on: September 04, 2012, 08:18:10 am »
After looking at various options on this forum and others out there in internet land, I'm pretty well convinced that BikeFlight is the way to go for shipping our tandem cross-country next month. I was wondering if there is anyone amongst the forum that has used a CrateWorks  shipping box. Rather expensive, however I wondered if my percieved ease of packing (looks like everything you need is there, no stuffing the bike /equipment in via the narrow top )  and the added protection of it's design is worth the protection. Any further recomendations/comments in addition to ideas posted above?

Tom

11
Routes / GAP/C&O Canal - Alternative Roadway Routes
« on: September 02, 2012, 07:12:47 am »
Hi Fellow Cyclists,

We are working on final planning for an October GAP/C&O Canal ride (west to east). We are hoping to locate a few roadway route options along segments of the C&O. Why the options? We'd like to have an opportunity to see some of the countryside and areas where people live away from the river canyon. Additionally, we will be on a road tandem and were concerned about how well it (and we!) will handle rougher trail surface conditions, particularly if we run into a lot of wet weather. We have thousands of road miles on the tandem but  little time on dirt or gravel.  We could use any advice from anyone familiar with the area.

The tandem will be set up with largest tires I can fit under the fenders - 700/32 front tires and it looks like I'll have at least 37mm squeezed in the rear. We've had a chance to ride a 10 mile stretch of the GAP near Connellsville on a rental fat tire tandem, the trail surface there seemed like it would work out OK for our road tandem; blogs and other sources also seemed to indicate the GAP surface would be pretty do-able for us. The C&O sounds like it might be more likely to provide some tougher conditions. We did do rental tandem (wide tires again) out of Cumberland to investigate about a 10 mile stretch of C&O - pretty good surface along there.  Ditto on a rental ride out of DC, mostly on the paved Capital Crescent and then towpath dirt to  around  somewhere maybe called Glen Echo.

We get the feeling there's not much in the way of "easyish" roadway cycling routes in the area of the C&O - seems no shoulders/narrow roads,  short sight-lines, high traffic volumes, grinding steep grades make up much of what we have ferreted out with on-line resources so far. There are a couple areas that looked initially possible however, and we hope someone out there can provide some feedback.

#1  Hancock to Williamsport

   Big Pool Road(Hywy 56) and Clearspring Road (Hywy 68). This initially looked ok on Google Map terrain view and Mapmyride - further investigation with street view and the State of Maryland Highway department "Bicycle Level of Comfort" map (http://roads.maryland.gov/oppen/bloc_washington.pdf)  was maybe not so good. Though not too hilly, and what looks like beautiful countryside, the State gives it what appears poor ratings for bicycle use on the eastern part of Big Pool and along Clearspring. It does look like riding Big Pool east to Hassett and then 4 Locks Road back down to the C&O might be ok and a worthwhile option. Anyone out there familiar with this area? We do have the rail trail (Western Maryland RR) in the plans for this area.

#2  Williamsport to Antietam

   It looks like there may be a number of options along here. Perhaps Lappens Road (Hywy 68), Downsville Pike (632), Spielman and Bakersville Road (63?), Sharpsburg Pike (65), then Harpers Ferry Road south to what appears to be an access back onto the C&O near Antietam (town and creek).  How about Lappens directly to Sharpsburg Pike, or maybe other little roads in that area?
Any other alternates between Cumberland and DC? We have lodging locked in already so wouldn't be able to stray too far off the C&O corridor.  Also, we are looking at this from the perspective of a group of six with ages getting close to sixty (not super strong) ,  some of the group with past multi-day touring experience but just getting back to riding regularly - and others whom are somewhat newer to biking. We do ride some hills in the lower Sierra Nevada foothills, but we seldom encounter the rather severe grades that the eastern mountains seem to occasionally provide for its roadways.  We have, by the way, put the WOD rail trail (Leesburg to DC)  on the optional list - will see if we feel like we have gotten too beat up by the C&O surface at that point, or if we need some relief from what others have described as  the "green  tunnel "  effect along  the river.

Thanks in advance for any help you can provide, and we are really looking forward to the trip

Tom


12
Gear Talk / Re: WANTED: Getting my wife her first touring bike!
« on: May 31, 2012, 09:42:56 pm »
Taylor,
A couple of years back, we picked up a new "first" touring bike for my wife. It was a bit of a challenge at 5'3" finding a small frame bike that fit her well, did'nt have a major front wheel/toe overlap problem etc.  She ended up with  a Jamis Aurora that she is really happy with and seemed to be a very good value.

The bike is set up with triple cranks with nice low gearing, has braze-ons for rear rack and front fork low-rider racks, two bottle cage setups, accomodates fenders (provided) and wide tires (came with Vittoria Touring tires). She's been just delighted with it, all the components work real well for her and the stock saddle even was a perfect "ride-it-many-hours" fit right off the bat.

We can't give a report on it for loading touring yet, matter of fact while typing this she jabbed me and said "tell them to try a tandem! (which we have been spending most of our time on) ,   however it seems I had recently seen a thread here somewhere in which someone had mentioned finishing their coast-to-coast trip on their Aurora with no problem.

The bike was somewhere around $1100 as we recall. Not the lightest rig out there but the fit, wide gearing, and smooth component operation with a frame made for touring really sold her.

Good luck with your search, and may the two of you have many happy touring miles and adventures in your future....

Tom,  (with regards from tandem mate Diane as well)

13
California / Re: Klamath River to Arcata
« on: May 14, 2012, 01:28:02 pm »
I recall an interesting/fun blog " No Doggie Left Behind " (http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/page/pic/?doc_id=611&doctype=journal&o=1&page=1&size=large&v=2) I had read a few years ago. The couple - and perhaps a doggie   rode up in that part of California on a bit of Highway 96, a good portion of Highway 3, and a chunk of Highway 96 (part of a longer tour that included Northeastern Calif areas).

Maybe not a lot of real helpful planning info in the blog,  but quite a fun read as I recall!!

14
Routes / Re: Novice riders with a baby
« on: April 28, 2012, 04:13:16 pm »
Hi Barry,   
It's good to hear you're testing out bicycling as a family activity. It certainly is one that can be very rewarding; It's something the kids (mom and dad,too) can have as a life-long positive addition to weekly routine - or it even may become a passion! We got our daughter out with us in a bike trailer at an early age, bicycled regularly as she grew, and we were lucky enough to go on an overnight 4-day bike tour together during her high school years. I even caught her pridefully telling  her friends about it- made for a happy parent.


A couple recommendations (which you may have already tried) on tracking down areas to ride in your region:

     Bike Shops- Contact shops in cities and countys in your area. They may be familiar with parks and bike trails in the area that may be suited to novice cyclists - as well as flat and short enough for cruiser bikeing.

     Google - try searching "bike trails" and add the specific County,  you may find listings for park facility or other trails that would work.  As an example, I noticed this link for down in your region http://haroldoland.com/santa-ana-river-trail. The link includes photos of various sections of the trail.  Also, with some extra effort, you can search County websites and look for a County bike Plan - I've tried this when going to new areas and have had luck with finding information on bike trails, streets with bike lanes, or roads they designate as bike routes (no actual painted lane, but a better street for bikes then others).

    Google Maps -  When you open Google maps, there is a "drop-down" box that can be expanded up in the top right corner of the map. Click on "bicycling" and it loads green lines into the map that are bike trails (it seems these can be dirt mountain bike or paved), streets with bike lanes, or bike friendly roads (my experience so far is the roads shown may or may not may be more suited to more experienced riders). I'm not sure how Google comes up with the info or what standards they have, so i'm not completely sure what to expect from their maps, but it's a good starting point for looking around.  Google Maps shows a "trail" around Diamond Valley Lake near you, you may just have to call the park to determine if it is in fact a trail open to bikes, and wether it is paved, dirt, kid friendly, flat enough for cruiser bikes, etc.

When you get out to riding - particularly if your getting out a "long walk away from things", you'll want to be prepared for the occasional flat tire - pretty easy to repair on the road with a little practice, a compact tire pump, a patch kit and tire removal tools. Plenty of water (especially in your area), treats for all, and  stops at attractions like playgrounds, ice cream stores, along rivers/lakes go a long way to supplementing the bike experience. Helmets for everyone should be a regular part of any time you hop on a bike, and as you may find as you ride more you may even like to invest in a piece or two of bike specific clothing (bike shorts don't have seams in the wrong places!)

best wishes with the bicycling,  Tom

15
Gear Talk / Re: Abbreviations
« on: April 25, 2012, 09:25:16 pm »
Sounds a bit like handle"bar"- "con"trols......    hhmmmmm....

Tom H

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