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Messages - John Grossbohlin

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1
Routes / Re: East Coast Greenway
« on: September 23, 2013, 06:34:06 am »
I rode a long stretch of US 15 years ago and it was good then. I'd assume it would still be pretty good as, like with US 301 in NC, I-95 takes most of the N/S traffic through that part of SC.

I'm not much of a fan of US 17 in SC... My son and I rode from Yamassee, SC to Charleston two months ago and took the section of 17 you are considering. It was not a very good ride at times... there was a section of road work 14 miles long. Both directions of travel ended up on what would normally be the southbound lanes. When we got to the rail trail going into Charleston the trail was closed due to construction. The section of 17 going into Charleston was a miserable piece of road. As I recall it was typically 6-7 lanes wide with curbs, no shoulder and a lot of traffic.    http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/page/?o=1&page_id=336998&v=7K
Perhaps the road work is done, and the rail trail should be reopened by now based on the signage, so perhaps it would be OK now.

One issue in that part of the SC is getting across the Edisto River. There are  not many crossings and if you are heading to the coast from Walterboro 17 is pretty much the option....

Another stretch of 17 heading into Savannah was a bit better and that route is used by the East Coast Greenway as the preferred route. http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/page/?o=1&page_id=336613&v=8D

Phyl and her husband Neil, a couple we met in Williamsburg, VA who were southbound, didn't care much for the stretch of 17 they rode in northern SC either. They did however take it into Myrtle Beach, SC.

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/page/?o=1&page_id=341196&v=5z

2
Routes / Re: East Coast Greenway
« on: August 16, 2013, 06:31:25 pm »
My desired path through PA has taken me much further west than either the ACA or ECG routes so I am afraid I can offer no first hand experience for more eastern alternatives.

On my first trip up from FL I went up the west side of the DWG on Route 209 from south of East Stroudsburg and I stayed on Route 209 all the way to Hurley, NY.

This time we are undecided about which side of the DWG we are going to use. We're in Gettysburg now and from here we will be heading east through Lancaster on our way to Valley Forge. From Valley Forge we are heading north up the west side of the Hudson River.

I think it is worth repeating that I've found the subscription version of Map My Ride to be a great planning tool. You can try routes out on the computer and do flyovers. Once you settle on a route you can then look at your route on your smartphone while you are traveling. If you use the GPS on the Map My Ride phone app you can also follow your progress. I've used the flyover feature to figure out if roads had bike lanes or trails or shoulders. 

3
Routes / Re: East Coast Greenway
« on: August 11, 2013, 06:13:27 pm »
I use the various mapped routes as a guide and am not afraid to deviate from them... from one section of a route to the next the routes may be great or they may be troublesome. In the more remote areas I've found that it is not uncommon for stores, campgrounds, etc. to have gone out of business or changed names. On the Transam where there are big gaps in services we had problems a couple times when sources of food or shelter were gone or temporarily closed and we had to improvise.  In more urban areas construction and traffic can change your route for you.

"It is what it is" is the mindset to take with you! What a local may consider to be a great route can be annoying to an outsider due to myriad turns that require constant referral to the maps. On the other hand, routes locals consider to be bad can sometimes be better for long distance cyclists who need services a local rider doesn't.

Also, you can almost never trust an auto driver whom doesn't cycle as they don't understand the needs of the cyclist nor do they really know the distance to anything. I recall talking to the mayor of a town who was also a real estate agent, i.e., someone who should known the area, and he was off on distance by a factor of 3. I rode through the Manassas battlefield at night on a new moon as a result... actually I walked as I couldn't see and I kept going off the road. I finally found a place with lights and waited until someone with a PU truck came along to give me a ride to a campground.

If you are not from the U.S. I'd suggest having all the routes and maps and get a feel for the various route conditions by using Google Earth or Map My Ride flyovers. I'd be prepared for hotels, motels, hostels, campgrounds, Warm Showers and stealth camping as the opportunities present themselves. Don't rule out invitations to stay in people's homes, churches, etc. as it has happened on my major trips a number of times. On the current trip we were invited to use a guest house and a vehicle so we could visit historical sites in a heavily congested urban area!

That said, we all can put up with just about anything for a few days until better conditions come along! Don't let a few stressful situations define your trip!





4
Routes / Re: East Coast Greenway
« on: August 08, 2013, 07:17:22 pm »
Well... In my experience, and from what I've heard from others, the ACA route along the east coast often takes you through rural areas and areas of nothingness with gaps in services.  The ECG, on the other hand, tends to run you through more urban areas using off-road and bike lane routes where possible.

If you are looking to do the trip in the summer months the coast is very busy... and expensive. I did some on-line checking of campgrounds and a KOA near Myrtle Beach was, as I recall, about $48/night for a tent site! If you hang near the coast try to make reservations as rooms and camp sites seem to be full, especially Thursday through Sunday. Compare that to a Motel 6 along I-95 for $35 with the AAA (or maybe it was AARP) discount. In Savannah if it were not for a road angel who let us use his guest house we would have been in trouble. This as every hotel/motel I checked was full and I didn't find any campgrounds.

My son and I found US 301 through NC to be a great route last week. The only area traffic was at all congested was near Wilson. Most of the way there were fine shoulders, no buzz bars and little traffic. Due to it's proximity to I-95 short detours from US 301 will take you to food and lodging with no problem if you happen to be in a lightly populated area along US 301. I noticed that access to services is better now than what I experienced in 1986 as I-95 has matured since then.

I've also noticed that between 1986 and now that there are a lot fewer campgrounds and many of those that exist don't have specific tent sites. Stealth camping along the coast would seem to be problematic due to the density of development... but I guess it depends upon how much nerve you have!

We have the ACA maps, the ECG maps via the web, and AAA state maps. The AAA maps seem to have had the most use as the rural vs urban issues, access to services, route interruptions, and the congestion issues we've faced drove us from the ACA and ECG routes. We used part of one ACA map thus far... and a section of the ECG route but have mostly used our own course north.

I think that the season you take your trip will influence your experience. In 1986 I started in FL in the winter and rode north into the spring. It was cold at times but the tourist areas were often empty and prices were cheap! On this trip a dive motel in a crap town about 50 miles from Myrtle Beach was $102 and the few chains in the town were a lot more expensive than that... no campgrounds were found.

In my opinion, the AAA state maps are about all you really need on the east coast if you learn to read them. The different types of road codes and the degree of meandering give you a very good idea of what you will encounter. Combined with a smartphone it's pretty easy to figure out what kinds of services will be available along the way too. But that's me... how comfortable you are with bushwhacking your own route should be a deciding factor here.

Also, along different segments of the coast one route may have advantages over the other. If money isn't a huge problem maybe study the ECG, ACA, and AAA maps and the fee version of Map My Ride and get a feel for the roads. With the Map My Ride fly over feature you can plot a route and then fly over it to see what the road is like... bike lanes, buzz bars, etc. can be seen on the fly overs.




5
Routes / Re: East Coast Greenway
« on: July 28, 2013, 06:45:42 pm »
I guess it depends upon how you define viable... the ECG maps and cue sheets are not packaged up as neat and tidy as the ACA map sets but the information is on the web for free and folks are working hard to keep the information current and refine the routes as off-road options are developed.

That said, I'd be inclined to pick up 301 and 15 and shadow I-95 down to Ridgeland. I rode that route on my FL to NY trip in the past and it was fine. The roads were lightly traveled as I-95 took most of the traffic and being close to I-95 you can find services.  In comparison, US 17 was pretty nasty in many areas due to construction.

If you happen to be riding the east coast in the summer beware of lodging prices and availability along the coast. Both are presenting enough issues that I'm moving towards 301 now to continue north and then cutting over to the Jamestown - Scotland Ferry to visit Jamestown / Williamsburg / Yorktown VA.  The ACA and ECG routes seem to be expensive ways to go in the summer tourist season!


6
Routes / East Coast Greenway
« on: July 25, 2013, 05:44:49 pm »
In the past couple of weeks I've reported a couple problems to the ECG trail coordinator. The first one involved the US 17 crossing of the St Marys River at the FL/GA border. They have published cue sheet and E-News items about this in recent days.

The second issue is that much of the West Ashley Greenway, which runs into Charleston, SC and parallels US 17 is torn up for water (or sewer??) work. US 17 is a nightmare in that area... 6-7 lanes wide, no shoulder and curbs along with heavy traffic. ECG advises that a detour will be worked out in coming days and cue sheets posted.

The trail is scheduled to reopen in a couple days but considering the torn up section is miles long, and they were digging with a large excavator as recently as yesterday, I doubt it will be rideable by then.


7
Gear Talk / Re: newbie saddle question
« on: June 25, 2013, 10:06:39 am »
I put Brooks Flyer and Brooks Flyer Special saddles on our Trek 520s and Surly Long Haul Trucker. Those combined with Body Glide anti-chafe around the leg cuff and good padded road shorts haven't failed I nor my sons. The cost seems free compared to the physical grief saddle sores caused me on my 3,142 mile trip in '86...

Yes, the leather saddles do require some maintenance and rain covers but those are minor inconveniences. When I've encountered people on the road who were complaining about their Brooks it was obvious that they had not maintained the tension on the seat's leather... their seats were sagged so pressure was being exerted in places that it shouldn't have been.


8
Routes / Re: Lewis and Clark Route - Hwy 12 Lolo Pass Section
« on: June 09, 2013, 07:21:25 pm »
Do stop at Lochsa Lodge... and have a Moose Drool beer. Nice place... they have cabins if the weather is bad or you need a night on a mattress.

9
Gear Talk / Re: Bike Sizing
« on: May 05, 2013, 05:52:06 pm »
In addition to the top tube length the complete LHT 60 CM bike parts set includes a wider handlebar and longer stem than does the 58 CM. In combination the 60 may thus feel much larger than the small difference in standover height might suggest.

I made the mistake years ago, when faced with the same dilemma, of going to the larger frame when I really should have gone down to the smaller size. That was in the late '70s. It was a Motobecane Le Champion (Reynolds 531, Campagnolo, tubulars...) which was a large chunk of change at the time. I was never happy with the bike... 

Assuming you are looking for a complete bike that doesn't require parts swapping, I'd suggest trying both sizes out and if that isn't possible go with the 58. BTW, I do follow my own advice!  My current touring bike happens to be a 58 CM LHT... I am happy with it.

10
Gear Talk / Re: ACA & Smartphones
« on: April 26, 2013, 07:42:31 pm »
I ran into a lot of dead spots with Verizon along the Transam through the Rockies in 2011... We had three different devices with us and the problem existed with all three. As such, I wouldn't rely on real time access to the web via a smartphone as a primary navigation source. From speaking with locals there is no magic provider but AT&T held favor in some areas as having better access.

11
Routes / Re: Louis and Clark Route - Hwy 12 Lolo Pass Section
« on: April 26, 2013, 07:17:43 pm »
My son and I rode that section in 2011 and it was one of the nicest parts of our trip from La Junta, CO to Pasco, WA using the Transam and Lewis and Clark routes... beautiful scenery and traffic was not a problem. No shoulder is an accurate description... there is white line and a ditch with nothing in between along most of Rte 12.

12
Routes / Atlantic Coast Washington DC area
« on: April 10, 2013, 11:27:43 am »
Years ago I rode all over FL and then north to upstate NY via a wandering self-defined course... On that trip, from Williamsburg, VA I swung out west through Maryland and PA rather than go through DC and NJ.  This coming summer my 15 year old son and I will be tentatively riding from Jacksonville, FL to upstate NY. The theme of the coming trip is east coast history. We will probably be using the Atlantic Coast route for part of the trip, I'll retrace the route I used in the past for other parts, and some parts will be newly self-defined.

Regarding the DC area on the Atlantic Coast route, how congested is it in the summer and how easy is it to find reasonable accommodations and camping in that area?  I don't want to subject my son to a high stress riding environment... this is supposed to be fun! My 2011 trip through the Rockies on the Transam and Lewis & Clark routes with my other son (then 15) taught me that more certainty is better than less certainty, and less congestion is better than more congestion!

Thanks for any information on your experiences.

13
Gear Talk / Re: Touring bikes...
« on: February 22, 2013, 06:15:21 pm »
If your choice is to buy in the U.S. I'd be very careful about arranging the purchase well ahead of arriving in the U.S.... This as in my experience you cannot assume that touring bikes are in stock or even available from the distributors on short notice during the TransAm touring season. I ran into this problem in 2010 while looking for 2 bikes and in 2012 while looking for another one.  In 2010 I found Trek 520s but had to compromise on frame size by going a size smaller on one of them than what I wanted. In 2012 I went looking for a 3rd Trek 520 and ended up with a LHT. This time with a frame one size larger than desired and at the maximum that could be ridden safely. The 2012 experience happened in May but if I'd done it in March I could have had another Trek and could have gotten the frame sized I wanted in either...

14
General Discussion / Re: Advice on Heading South in Winter
« on: November 22, 2012, 07:37:57 pm »
I've done several AMTRAK/Bike trips... the longest from NY to CO and then back from WA to NY at the end of the bike trip. The AMTRAK boxes are long pack boxes so only the bars and peddles need to be removed. Panniers, tents, sleeping bags, etc. can go in an additional box. We picked up the small boxes at a U-Haul store for the return trip... good and sturdy and relatively inexpensive. Better than the similarly sized Home Depot boxes we used on the first leg. AMTRAK in WA gave us some used bike boxes for free and we packed everything in the AMTRAK waiting room. Even though I brought some with us they gave us packing tape. My son and I each used a pannier and our bar bag as carry-on bags. Even with train changes in Chicago it wasn't a problem as the boxes were handled by AMTRAK.

My first long trip was similar to what you propose but I did that in the mid-80s and flew... it was easy and cheap back then! I arrived in FL the first week or so of January, rode all over the state, and then pushed north to upstate NY as the weather broke. The only place the weather was really bad was in the Charlotte, NC area when the temperatures dropped to the teens at night and there was rain and freezing rain. I arrived home April 11... left northern PA in a light snow which stayed with me until somewhere between Wurtsboro and Ellenville. Even with the snow the riding wasn't too bad with the right gear.

Depending on how much time you have you can make this work with the right clothing.

15
General Discussion / Re: Near miss with truck on Trans-Am
« on: August 13, 2012, 07:52:52 pm »
Well... the name painted on the truck cab says Gurule's and the number 157 is painted on the tractor and the trailer is number 256.  With a date, time and location I'd think the president of the company, as listed at http://www.manta.com/c/mm4ckcl/gurule-trucking, could probably figure out who the driver was...

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