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Messages - staehpj1

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Gear Talk / Re: Cross-USA touring bike choices
« on: April 30, 2010, 01:02:37 pm »
How would I know whether the wheels are bearing too much weight? What does a wheel failure look like - is it like it bends and I need to replace it or are we talking catastrophic failures?
The relevant factors are...  Are you a large heavy person?  Do you carry a lot of gear?

I didn't mean that you would know by looking at the wheels.  What I meant was whether a combination of you and your gear are in the heavier or lighter range.  I am not sure where the line should be drawn, but those wheels would almost certainly be fine for a rider that weighed 180 and was carrying 30 pounds of gear (not counting water and probably not counting food if you buy daily or at least as nearly so as is convenient).  It would probably be fine for a bit heavier combination as well, but at some point it wouldn't be.  I am not sure where the line would fall, but that should give you at least a vague notion.

So if you carry 70 pounds of stuff and weigh 250, I'd get some better wheels or at least a rear wheel.  That would probably mean 36 spokes with a good strong rim.

As far as mode of failure, if a wheel fails it would typically be spokes breaking and would most often not be catastrophic without prior warning.  More likely it would just mean stopping to replace spokes along the way, maybe multiple times on a long tour.  If you don't notice and fix them you would ultimately wind up with a completely ruined wheel.

Gear Talk / Re: Cross-USA touring bike choices
« on: April 30, 2010, 10:13:15 am »
Hey side question,

How bad of an idea is it to just replace the stem, spokes, shifters, cassette and handlebars on my bike now? Again I have a Trek 7.3FX, made of alpha black aluminum, 700x32 Bontrager Race Lite Hard Case tires and 32 spoke Nebula wheels, very similar dimensions to the 520 including chainstay dimensions, and braze-ons for front and back racks.

I know AC Mag recommended the 7.2 and 7.3 in 2008 for touring, but do you think a 4000 mile trip is pushing my luck? I'd love to do it because it would only cost about $400, 500 if I upgrade the derailleurs as well (right now Altus front, Deore rear)
No reason that couldn't work.  The length of the trip isn't that relevant as long as you are comfortable on the bike IMO.  I carry pretty much the same weight on a one week tour as I will for my upcoming 2500 mile tour and the same as I would if doing the Trans America again.  Also I have not personally found the comfort requirements to be very much different for a 4000+ mile tour as for a organized century.

I may be wrong, but it seems like you should be able to do it for less than the prices you quote.  My whole bike was $599 shipping included and I thought it was fine for the Trans America other than needing lower gearing.

I would think the Trek 7.3FX might be up to the task without many changes unless you carry a lot of weight.  If you are carrying a particularly heavy load the wheels may be marginal.  If you be sure they are properly trued, stress relieved, and tensioned and then pack reasonably light you would probably be fine.

I personally wouldn't use flat bars, but some riders are happy with them especially with bar ends.

If you are on a tight budget you could definitely ride the Trek 7.3FX pretty much as is.  If you have more to spend a new bike is always nice :)  Personally once I got into the $400-500 range you mention for changes I'd start thinking hard about either backing off a bit on the changes or spending a bit more for a new bike.  That is just my opinion though.

Routes / Re: Transamerica - First timers need help
« on: April 29, 2010, 03:41:38 pm »
Thanks, Scott.  I was considering the Katy Trail, but then I read several post about how many flat tires people had due to thorns from trees and the limestone base being washed out or hard to navigate on smaller tires.  Should we not be worried about that? 
I haven't ridden the Katy so I can't add any Katy specific info.  That said I will say this...  It depends on whether you personally would enjoy the Katy more than riding on the roads.  Personally I avoid bike routes especially unpaved ones.  If road touring I'd rather ride the roads.  Some people love trails like the Katy.

It looks like the Katy is a reasonable options if you like that kind of riding.  Otherwise stay on the Trans America until Chester, IL (home of Pop Eye).  BTW, other than the fact that it was over 100F when we were there, we enjoyed stopping for a while in Chester IL.

Connecting ACA Routes / Re: Transamerica E-W but ending in Seattle
« on: April 29, 2010, 10:46:57 am »

Many sections of interstate are not so bad--8 foot shoulders, rumble strips for protection.  I have ridden many miles on NW interstates.  The 2 main drawbacks are noise and debris on the surface you have to watch for.  I get more flats on the freeway, sometimes due to the tiny metal wire pieces left over from destroyed truck tires.  30 miles on the interstate is really no big deal in most areas. 

It depends on where you are. We rode the short portion of I-80 on the Trans America and it was OK, but we were glad to leave it.  The shoulder was pretty debris strewn and I did get a flat from a truck tire wire.  That section was maybe 30 some miles and while not especially aesthetically pleasing, it was also not a huge hardship.

I rode something over 100 miles on I-25 in New Mexico and found it delightful.  I really liked that section of the road part of which I rode the Interstate and part the access road (both were nice).

So it can be a mixed bag, but a day or so on the interstate isn't a big deal IMO.

General Discussion / Re: Bears in the Pacific North West
« on: April 28, 2010, 06:27:36 am »
we will be riding the new Sierra Cascades route starting in June.
Staehpj--this is great news.  Your Transam trip report is one of my all time favorites.  I look forward to following this one, too.  And, I look forward to biking parts or all of the Sierra route 2011--I hope!

Thanks for sharing your trips the way you do.
Wow, that is so good to hear.  I am glad when folks enjoy our journals.  Hopefully I can provide some info that will be helpful to you in 2011

General Discussion / Re: Hammocking the NT
« on: April 27, 2010, 01:34:34 pm »
Has anyone hammock camped cross-country? I've hammock camped all over the Pacific NW and am planning a cross country tour east to Ohio. I'm leaning towards the Northern Tier and I've read a few CrazyGuy  journals and it seems to be the most likely route to have ample trees.
I wouldn't do it myself, but if you have indeed "hammock camped all over the Pacific NW" you probably know what works for you.  If "all over the Pacific NW" means you have camped in and west of the Cascades you may want to think twice, but if it means you have actually hammock camped all over Washington and Oregon including the eastern parts along with maybe some of Idaho and Montana then you probably didn't need to ask.

I have done the TA, but not the NT and I would expect to have days where you don't see one tree let alone two appropriately spaced to hang a hammock between.

General Discussion / Re: Bears in the Pacific North West
« on: April 27, 2010, 01:23:21 pm »
Thanks for the responses.

I should have added that I am in the UK and we don't get nasty critters in the wild so I like to be prepared. I will most certainly carry some rope so that if I have to hang a pannier I can do so but won't go to the expense of a barrel as it appears they are not absolutely necessary.

staehjp1 please could you let me know how the Cascades go as I would like to ride part of it next year.

You will probably hear more from me about it here, but if you want to follow along in our planning and the actual ride I have a journal at:
We actually start in 38 days in San Diego.  Since we are starting in the south it will be a while before we get to the Cascades.

General Discussion / Re: Bears in the Pacific North West
« on: April 26, 2010, 04:56:33 pm »
I have not ridden that route yet, but but did ride through the PNW portion of the TA when we rode the TA in 2007.  Generally anywhere that requires bear canisters in the back country has bear lockers in the camp grounds at least in the national and state parks and forests that I have stayed in.

Not sure where the Roaming-Gnome camped (campgrounds or back country), but I am pretty sure the campgrounds in Yellowstone all have bear boxes.  I know that the ones that we stayed at all did.  If staying in the back country in Yellowstone you are allowed to hang your food.  Read the recommendations for the parks you will camp in, they are generally pretty sensible.

I'd tend to think that if road touring you will have little need for a bear canister.  Someone correct me if I am wrong as we will be riding the new Sierra Cascades route starting in June.

It the west maybe 8%.  In the Appalachians there are a few that are probably between 15 and 20%.

General Discussion / Re: Surly LHT or Cannondale Touring 2
« on: April 26, 2010, 06:53:14 am »
This is all personal preference, but...  I very much prefer STI over bar end shifters.  That alone would be enough to sway me.  Yeah you could switch to STI, but it is a pretty expensive upgrade.

As far as steel vs aluminum...  I don't really think the ride is that much better with steel.  Tires and tire pressure are a much bigger factor.  Also I would have to assume the T2 would benefit from the greater stiffness. 

Gear Talk / Re: Front Pannier ground clearance
« on: April 22, 2010, 07:57:31 am »
3" seems a bit low to me.
+1 That sounds like a bad setup.  You must have really big panniers and/or a very low rack.

lol as in vicous dogs or your grans dogs who want to lick your face.

i think im going to take the southern tier, grand canyon connector to western express and along the transam. im assuming these trails are good for camp sites?

i have to stop in wichita and tulsa as im doing it for a company charity....hopefully get some kudos if a make a passing visit.

We saw a wide variety of dogs.  Most just wanted to chase.  At least one wanted a chunk of me.  I actually found outrunning them to be fun.

Of those routes the TA is the only one I have ridden, but I suspect you will have no problem finding places to camp.  In the plains and the west I have found that you can usually camp in the little community parks and not be bothered.  On the TA and presumably the other routes campsites, including free or cheap ones are listed on the AC maps.

thanks guys.  how safe is the journey? the trans america trail thru kentucky missouri? my partner is a bit wary n im just making sure i've company for all the 3200 mls.

ive got some help from a guy in arizona about roads to use. dnt plan to hike he grand canyon...just a couple a snaps and a nosey around. say ave been there, u know

I consider it quite safe.  You will be chased by dogs fairly often in Missouri and Kentucky but that is manageable.

Gear Talk / Re: Best rear panniers for a size 13 shoe
« on: April 20, 2010, 07:40:58 am »
As has been said a lot of this is how and where they are mounted on the rack.  You don't necessarily need especially large panniers, maybe consider using smallish ones.  Are you planning to use front and rear panniers?  If so I find that I can get by fine with smallish panniers regardless of trip length.  On the Trans America the rear panniers I used were actually supposed to be front panniers and I had way more than enough space.

Remember that you can always carry lighter, but bulky items like sleeping bag or sleeping pad on the top of the rear rack if you need to.  Also I always carry the tent there, since I see no point in putting a damp tent in a pannier with dry stuff.  I roll the tent with the waterproof bottom on the outside and it doesn't seem to get any wetter inside sitting on the rear rack even in an all day rain.

General Discussion / Re: bike security while sleeping
« on: April 19, 2010, 07:02:13 am »
Suggest you carry a combination lock; too easy to lose a key.
Putting a lock through the rear mech will not stop anyone from carrying off the bike.

david boise ID
I agree on both points.  Of the very few bikes that I know of that were stolen from touring cyclists none were thought to have been ridden off.   Generally they are thrown in the back of a truck.  A lock that only prevents riding the bike is pretty useless.

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