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Messages - staehpj1

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General Discussion / Re: What about your Bike??????
« on: January 04, 2011, 01:49:43 pm »
Thanks for all the ideas.

You would think that one of these tent companies would make something for us cyclist. So that we could park our bikes inside the vestibule.   
There are a couple such products, but they are more of a gimmick than anything in my opinion and totally unnecessary for places where I where toured.

General Discussion / Re: What about your Bike??????
« on: January 03, 2011, 06:59:59 am »
Newbie here.... I was wondering what everyone does with their bike when they are camping? I mean when you are in your tent sleeping you cant see your bike and you might be somewhere that there is nothing to lock it to.
My bike gets parked in camp near the tent.  Most of the time I lock it with a light cable lock, but depending on where I am I might not always bother.  I don't think I have ever camped where there was nothing to lock it to.  It seems like that there is usually a picnic table, tree, fence post, signpost, guard rail, or something to lock it to anywhere I want to camp.

Gear Talk / Re: What is a good weight for a tent?
« on: January 02, 2011, 06:12:45 pm »
Six pounds for a solo tent is pretty heavy.  There are nice two person tents that weigh substantially less than that and cost less too.  I'd advise looking elsewhere.

Routes / Re: Trans Am or Northern Tier from eastern Iowa heading west
« on: January 01, 2011, 01:49:10 pm »
Given that you have lots of time I wouldn't worry much about picking a short route.  If it was me, I'd probably fly out to the east coast and start there.  I'd probably use the Trans America and would take a detour to see the Glacier NP area.  Also I personally would avoid bike trails in general and especially unpaved ones like the Katy.

All of this is personal preference though so it may not be the right choice for you.

Gear Talk / Re: Surly Trailers
« on: January 01, 2011, 10:24:12 am »
Coming to a bike shop near you soon?
I wish they had posted weights.  It looks very solidly built, but I fear that it might be over built, maybe even more so than their Nice Racks.

I like that it looks like it will store/ship flat with minimal disassembly.  I also like that it can take a wide range of wheel sizes.

General Discussion / Re: camera choice
« on: December 30, 2010, 05:52:04 pm »
Do not buy an Olympus. My Olympus WP 550 has been in the shop more than in my hand.
Every brand has a bad model or individual lemon once in a while.  Olympus is a well thought of brand.  I know of or have owned Nikons or Canons that croaked prematurely and other's that went through hell and back for many years.  I don't think I'll boycott a brand because one person had problems with one camera.

General Discussion / Re: DIY Tips
« on: December 30, 2010, 10:26:28 am »
Back on topic...

One DIY piece of gear I like is a little "throw bag" I made with maybe 60' of parachute cord in it.  It is like a miniature version of the throw bags used in whitewater rescue.  It was made using a little sack that originally held tent stakes.  It works great for hanging the food bag to keep it away from critters and also serves as a clothesline among other things.  The bag probably adds less than a half an ounce compared to just carrying the parachute cord loose.

General Discussion / Re: DIY Tips
« on: December 30, 2010, 10:18:51 am »
I have taken to not using a ground cloth for bike touring and never bought into the fancy and expensive "footprint" options.  My rationale is that:

  • When I spend more money to get a lighter tent, I don't want to defeat that light weight by carrying a ground sheet.
  • I don't want to be a slave to making a tent last forever.  I figure that to some extent it is a consumable.  I try to pick nice surfaces to camp on, but don't sweat it when I can't.
  • When it starts to wear out and leak from the bottom, I can patch the bottom, re-coat it, replace the tent, or start using ground sheet at that point.
  • When touring I find that I camp on nicer surfaces the large majority of the time (as compared to canoe camping, backpacking, etc...).  On tour a pretty large percentage of the time my tent is on grass, concrete, or some other improved surface.

General Discussion / Re: Why the low thread numbers?
« on: December 30, 2010, 10:03:28 am »
In addition to biking, I race sailboats. To get most of my sailing fixes, I go to Sailing Anarchy - a website for sailing and stuff. What I noticed is that that website has over a million responses and new threads every day. This site seems to average 5 - 10 hits per thread and minimal new threads. Sailing Anarchy seems to average much more than that. My point is that sailing is a niche sport. My guess is that less than a fraction of one percent sail on a weekly basis. How many people cycle every week? I don't know if anyone can answer that, but it can't be less than sailing. So let's get some conversation going here. I will start it off. The best part about cycle touring is... 
There are quite a few different bicycling forums and several bicycle touring ones.  They each have their own community and their own biases.  Amount of traffic alone is a poor measure of their usefulness.  The fact of the matter is that often as they move toward the high traffic end of the spectrum the signal to noise ratio gets out of hand.

If you want more traffic you might try the touring section on Bike Forums.  It has most of the advantages and disadvantages of a higher traffic forum.  You can check it out at:  at

I'd recommend enjoying this forum for what it is and the others for what they are.

Gear Talk / Re: How accessible is propane on the TA Trail/good stove?
« on: December 29, 2010, 11:35:04 am »
And Wal-Marts have the SLX denatured alcohol in Paint Dept.
I have typically just used Yellow Heet, but am curious about the size containers you typically find the SLX denatured alcohol in.  I think I have mostly seen it in quarts and gallons which are about three and twelve times as much as I typically want.  Do you usually find pints or other small sizes available?

Gear Talk / Re: How accessible is propane on the TA Trail/good stove?
« on: December 29, 2010, 11:02:51 am »
Alcohol stoves are much cheaper and lighter and the fuel is fairly obtainable, but it takes 2X to boil water and you need to carry 2X+ more fuel weight .  It's my story and I'm sticking to it.
I don't disagree, but I will add that those two issues may not be that much of a problem depending on the specifics of the tour and how big of a rush you are in.

If using alcohol on a bike tour, fuel weight per BTU is typically not much of an issue because you can usually buy fuel frequently and in smallish quantities (12 ounce bottles of Yellow Heet).  If camping where you have to carry multiple weeks worth of fuel without chances to restock, then it does become a bigger deal.  In practice I wind up carrying more fuel weight when using a cartridge stove because restock points seem to be much fewer and father between.

On the boil time issue...  Yes it takes longer, but waiting 5 minutes for two cups of boiling water isn't a real hardship.  Even when there were two of us the output seemed adequate.  The boil time for a liter is more like 12 minutes, but even when boiling that much it isn't that long to wait.  While it is heating I am usually attending to some other aspect of the meal any way.

Gear Talk / Re: How accessible is propane on the TA Trail/good stove?
« on: December 29, 2010, 10:36:33 am »
I have not tried burning rubbing alcohol.  I am under the impression that it is inferior to wood or grain alcohol. 

Hardware stores carry denatured alcohol.  This is grain alcohol with just enough wood alcohol in it to be toxic.  It burns great.

I suppose in a pinch you could walk into a bar and get something...
"If you want to use rubbing alcohol (cheapest easily available fuel on this list) for fuel, you may want to use an open flame stove instead of a jetted stove.  If you decided to use a jetted stove, you may need to use larger jets in your stove (#57 drill, pushpin size, ~1.4mm or larger) and try to empty as much left over liquid from your stove as you can after each use (as this will further hinder future fire ups) for it to operate."

This comment matches what I found with my own stoves, but I did not experiment with bigger jets.  Easy enough to just buy more suitable fuel like Heet (Yellow bottle NOT red) or denatured alcohol so I never bothered to try to get my stoves to work with rubbing alcohol.

Gear Talk / Re: Fenders for touring
« on: December 26, 2010, 01:46:14 pm »
Anybody have experience with these Planet Bike fenders?
A couple of my roadie buddies have and like them, but I can't say more since I have not tried them.

Gear Talk / Re: Fenders for touring
« on: December 24, 2010, 10:45:09 am »
That would have to be one tricky rock to make it all the way UP the tire rotation and be big enough to jam the wheel. A twig stuck in the tread seems slightly more possible but with the force of rotation I would think that anything small enough to be caught in the treads would snap instead of jam.

I will say that I have seen it happen a couple times.  In both cases it wasn't a huge deal though (no crash).

Gear Talk / Re: Biking Shorts/Pants
« on: December 23, 2010, 11:05:07 am »
First, Thanks for the clean up Fred.  I wanted to post again but things were heated enough that I didn't want to risk inflaming them further.  I will do that (post that, is hopefully not inflame) now that things are cleaned up a bit.

To Staehpj1.....your point about being more recognizable as a  touring cyclist is a good one. But I believe that riding a bike loaded with panniers would serve the same purpose.

I was actually referring to when off the bike in a store, diner, pizza joint or whatever.

I know that one of the nicest hosts we had was a couple who only recognized us because we were in bike clothes.  We were camped in a nearby small town park and walked to the town pizza joint.  This super nice couple invited us to drop in on them for dinner the next day when we would be in their town.

When we got there they had the grill already fired up and a couple chickens roasting.  We had wine and cheese and great conversation before dinner, then a delicious meal.  They had offered to let us camp in their orchard, but when we got there they put us up in a really nice little house they run as a B&B or rental unit.

In the morning they fed us again and sent us on our way with a lot of local knowledge.  We wanted to go whitewater rafting and as it turns out he had worked for some of the local rafting companies and sent us to the best one.

We would have missed all of that if we hand not been easily recognizable as cyclists.

BTW, meeting folks like this couple is also the reason why I prefer to camp in the open in town parks, church yards, or what ever (with permission when necessary) rather than "stealth" camp.  We still manage to camp for free a good percentage of the time and it almost never requires stealth.

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