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Messages - staehpj1

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1
Routes / Re: Can I Cycle the Sierra Cascades route in March?
« on: Today at 06:53:35 am »
Tioga Pass would certainly be closed.  Large amounts of snow pack at higher elevations elsewhere are likely. Fresh snowfall is likely at higher elevations.  Camp grounds would be closed most places.  The year I did it the facilities in Yosemite, other than in the valley were all closed until July.  Tioga Pass opened in June that year, some year it opens a bit earlier or later.  I wouldn't try it in March unless it was a VERY low snowpack year and probably not even then.

I am less familiar with the WE, my guess is that it would have similar issues, but I think it does stay lower than the SC so may be passible earlier.  I doubt that it would be doable March.  Others with a better familiarity of the WE will hopefully speak up.

2
Routes / Re: Another way to cope with dogs
« on: January 17, 2017, 02:25:38 pm »
A good chunk of the TransAm lore would be lost if the Kentucky dogs were eliminated. Dogs can certainly be a problem, but it's another one of the exciting challenges of the TransAm. It's not an insurmountable problem. To me, Kentucky was an unfamiliar and mostly welcoming world, and I would not want to miss it.

I agree.  Besides they really weren't that bad.  Also I have been chased by dogs lots of other places as well including Oregon, California, Kansas, and quite a few other places not in the SE.

The worst most scary dog encounters for me were in the Central Valley of California.  That is the one and only place in all of my touring where I was actually scared that I might be seriously injured or worse by three dogs that caught up with me on an uphill.  That same day a few other apparently vicious dogs chased us.

3
Gear Talk / Re: Lightweight touring bike?
« on: January 10, 2017, 09:57:22 am »
Quote from: staehpj1
Just one data point.  I did the ST with a 25" low gear.  I was 60, not especially fit, and carrying 14 pounds of gear (base weight).  The 25" gear was okay.
Doesn't the ST route avoid the high mountains of the west and the steepest hills of the Appalachian/Blue ridge/Smokies if TN,KY and VA?
The ST avoids the Appalachians altogether and crosses the Western Mountains by what is probably the easiest route.  It does still cross the mountains, has some fairly long steep climbs, and tops out at a little over 8200'.

Given that the OP was asking about the Underground Railroad route, I am guessing that there was more climbing on the ST than what he is proposing doing, but I have not done the UGRR and have not looked at elevation profiles for it.  While it apparently crosses no mountain ranges it may have steep hills, so I have no idea how two compare the two.

FWIW, I did the Trans America some years earlier (when I was 56), carrying a fairly heavy load (about 50 pounds base gear weight), and using a low gear of almost 22".  It was OK, but I wouldn't have minded slightly lower gearing.

4
Gear Talk / Re: Lightweight touring bike?
« on: January 10, 2017, 07:15:54 am »
At what point of youth, fitness, and light load does a 27-30 gear inch low become a viable option for touring?
Just one data point.  I did the ST with a 25" low gear.  I was 60, not especially fit, and carrying 14 pounds of gear (base weight).  The 25" gear was okay.

5
Gear Talk / Re: Lightweight touring bike?
« on: January 10, 2017, 07:11:12 am »
If you don't mind my asking, which mountains?  I found the Rockies and Cascades much easier than the Ozarks and Appalachians.
That is true for the Trans America.  On the TA I found the Appalachians and Ozarks to be much harder than the Rockies and Cascades, but depending on your route that can be far from true.  For example I found the Sierra Cascades to be exceedingly difficult when we rode the Southern half of it.

6
Routes / Re: Place to finish WB Northern Tier ride
« on: January 10, 2017, 07:03:15 am »
Of course, you have to be a dedicated cycle tourist to think the Yorktown Monument is all that special at the eastern end of the TransAm.

I guess that means that I am a dedicated bicycle tourist :)
Actually I think that it is a stretch to consider Yorktown the coast, but it has a lot of tradition behind it since 1976 and Bikecentennial.  I think maybe Yorktown was special for me more because friends and family were there to greet us and throw us a picnic.

Still we went back later in the year and rode to the beach from there to make it more complete, so I guess it wasn't entirely satisfactory.

After the TA (my first tour) I really no longer care about the wheel dip or making it to the beach to complete the ride.

7
Gear Talk / Re: Camp Stove
« on: January 08, 2017, 08:02:49 am »
I use my pop can alcohol stove the majority of the time.  It is very light and uses readily available fuel (yellow bottle HEET).  I have never seen it get hot enough on the bottom to scorch a table.  The fact that the flame is hard to see is no big deal once you know that is the case.

Despite folks saying it is available at any walmart, I have not found canister fuel to be quite as widely available as claimed and have at times had trouble finding it.

I typically want to carry only a small amount of fuel so Coleman fuel is out since a gallon is about 10 times as much as I want to carry.  The 12 ounce bottle of Heet is about right.

If I wanted a liquid fuel stove other than alcohol I'd go with one that can burn gasoline.  You can dribble enough out of the hoses at a closed gas station to cook a few meals.  That or just carefully pump a few ounces.  It is a bit touchy but possible to fill a bottle with no spillage.

8
Gear Talk / Re: Lightweight touring bike?
« on: January 08, 2017, 07:49:30 am »
My light touring bike for my past tours bike was a little heavier than 20 pounds, but still fairly light.  I used my old 1990 race bike (a Cannondale Crit bike).  It wasn't too heavy and most of the extra weight was in areas like more substantial wheels so I felt like it was a good choice.  In fact I think it was pretty close to optimum for UL touring.

I don't think that at 18 pounds of gear weight (unless you are counting food and water) it makes sense to go too crazy cutting weight on the bike itself.  There is a good bit of room between a heavy touring bike and an ultralight racer.

9
Routes / Re: Northern Tier vs. TransAm
« on: January 04, 2017, 07:15:17 am »
If you are going to be self-contained and this is the first tour for most of you -
I would suggest either a shorter route or more time.
The timeframe is doable for a first timer, but I think it wise to have either an open ended schedule with some extra time built in or a flexible end point.  On a coast to coast trip the flexible end point may not make sense so allowing some extra time is more important.

Two things that can suck the joy out of a tour are a rigid schedule and a strict budget.  You don't need to take a long time or spend a lot, but should have enough extra time and money available that you don't need to worry too much about either.  If possible, I'd suggest having at least an extra week available over and above what you plan to need.

10
Routes / Re: Start date for NB Sierra Cascades route.
« on: December 21, 2016, 07:50:59 am »
How long is your GC hike?  March or April sound way too early for the SC to me. A May or even June start do not guarantee that Tioga Pass will be open.  This is a difficult trip to plan for decent weather.  It is possible to have freezing temperatures and extreme heat in close proximity to each other.  We had 110+ F (43+ C) heat and freezing temps at night within 48 hours of each other.

The opening of Tioga Pass is key and it varies widely from year to year depending on the snow pack.  The year we rode the southern half of the SC we started on June 4th and services in Yosemite were still not available anywhere except the Valley due to repairs from winter damage.  I think they were finally back to normal around July first, but we managed anyway.

That year it was already brutally hot for most of our ride despite the fairly early start.

My advice is to wait until the last minute to pick a start date and to go as soon as it looks like Tioga pass will be open.

Historic Tioga opening dates:
https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/tiogaopen.htm

I think that there is usually a thread on Supertopo as Spring approaches that discusses likely opening dates for any given year:
http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/forum.php

11
Routes / Re: What is Your Favorite Cross Country Route and Why?
« on: December 18, 2016, 07:58:31 am »
One possible combination is the Pacific Coast route north from Seattle to the Northern Tier to Glacier National Park for a ride up the west side of Going to the Sun and back down then back track and take the Great Parks North to Missoula to the TransAm.
We made friends with some folks who did about the same.  It sounded like a pretty good choice, Not that the regular TA isn't nice as well.


Assuming a summer ride
That is definitely something to consider.  You couldn't pay me to do the ST in Summer.  It was nice when I did it in a Feb.-Mar. time frame though.  Nights were chilly and at times and even cold, but it was always nice by mid morning.  I like cooler weather though.

12
Routes / Re: What is Your Favorite Cross Country Route and Why?
« on: December 16, 2016, 06:47:11 am »
I'll give another recommend for the Trans America.  It is a great route with a lot of tradition going back to Bike-centennial in 1976.

When it comes to coast to coast routes, I have only done the Trans America and the Southern Tier so I don't have experience with the Northern Tier.  The Southern Tier was okay and had the advantages of being able to go in the winter, minimizing the climbing, and being much shorter.  Unfortunately I found the scenery pretty drab, day after day after day of brown scrub brush.  Lots of interesting people and food made up for the scenery to some extent, but I still much prefer the TA if I have to pick a favorite.

13
General Discussion / Re: How to transport bike box?
« on: December 09, 2016, 07:08:32 am »
My preference is to take my bike on the plane with me (on Frontier or Southwest), assemble it in the airport and ride out the door. On the way home, it depends on whether I have a friend with a car who can drive me to a bike shop to get a box, and then the airport. If I do, I'll bring it home the same way. Otherwise I'll ride to a bike shop, have them do the pack and ship, and take public transportation to the airport.
That is my preferred way to get the bike to the start of the tour.

On the way home I have generally found it easier to just drop it at a bike shop and let them pack and ship it like you do as your second option.  That has always cost me around $100 including packing and shipping.  I figure it is worth it at the end of the tour to be able to just drop it off and forget it rather than deal with boxing a bike in a strange city and then getting it to the airport.

The bike shops seem to get a better price on the shipping than I would if dealing directly with the shipper, so some of their packing charge is offset by that.\

BTW, I avoid going to a UPS store and having them ship.  Both times I did that the price was crazy high despite it being the same size and weight as when I paid way less via a bike shop.

I think that since I moved to Florida it may be a little more expensive, because when we shipped our  bikes home from Reno my bike was ~$100 to Baltimore and my daughter's was ~$125 to Tallahassee. That was with same size boxes and about the same weight (actually her's was slightly lighter).

14
General Discussion / Re: Lions and tigers and bears oh my!!!
« on: December 06, 2016, 07:01:47 am »
Use good practices with regard to food, toiletries, and other scented stuff and having problems with bears will be very unlikely.  If something bad is going to happen it is far more likely to be in the form of a vehicular accident.  Ride safely, camp safely, and enjoy your trip.

You will be lucky if you even get to see a bear at all.  I know we didn't see any on the Trans America or the Southern Tier.  I did see a number of them when I did the southern half of the Sierra Cascades route.

Dogs can be an annoyance on the TA especially in Kentucky and Missouri, but they are not that big of a deal.

15
Gear Talk / Re: trailers vs panniers
« on: November 29, 2016, 12:14:05 pm »
Thanks, everybody, for trying, but not not much help. I've done tons of research, but was hoping my fellow ACA folks could be more specific/aggressive in their advice.
So, sigh, I'll go to trial and error.
OK then, so here is my "more specific/aggressive advice"...  Unless you have specific requirements or preferences for using one forget the trailer.  Far more people tour with panniers many are heavier than you and carry fairly heavy loads.

There is nothing about your weight that makes a trailer an especially good option unless there are particular reasons that you prefer a trailer.  People tour on tandem bikes and there are not many tandem teams that don't weigh more than you.  So I advise packing reasonably light and using panniers.  If you are a  minimalist ultralight packer, then even the panniers could possibly be overkill.

Consider the need to ship or fly with your trailer to and from your tour start or finish.  For me that is a fiarly significant reason not to use one.

OTOH, there actually are a few special reasons why you might go to a trailer...  Travelling with a lot of heavy and or bulky gear.  Riding a very lightly built bike with more load than you want to carry on it.  Riding a mountain bike and wanting to be able to unhook the load quickly to go trail riding unladen.

Bottom line most folks use panniers and are better off for it.

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