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Messages - staehpj1

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Generally a "racing style" bike - meaning one with drop handlebars - is easier on the back, since when you hit a bump the spine is curved and more able to absorb the shock.  Depending on the sort of curvature you're talking about, that may be part of the solution.

The unexpected truth.  But actually I wouldn't say "curved" particularly because I ride in a very low position with a nearly horizontal back on my aerobars all the time, for hours on end, but my back is still relatively straight; but the fact is that the back has the vertical flexibility to take the bumps in that position without damage, whereas sitting up straight is just asking for trouble with bumps putting extreme compression on discs since there's no give in that direction.

I agree, but also advise caution in the beginning if necessary.  Start out as low as comfortable, keep upper body relaxed, elbows bent, shoulders not hunched, and fingers draped loosely over the bars.  Ease the position lower as you adjust to riding more mileage.  Add that mileage gradually and change position a little at a time.  You need to decide how low is low enough, but riding very upright for long distances is hard on the butt and hard on the back.

Routes / Re: Getting Across The Desert
« on: January 18, 2011, 07:29:10 am »
Personally, I think east/west USA crossings are over-rated, because there's that big prairie in the middle that is so un-interesting.  It's one of those things that's super-cool to SAY but not that awesome to DO.   But I'm weird that way, I think many would not agree.
I don't think that is weird at all, but...

It depends of what you want from an east-west (or vice versa) tour.  If the goal is to experience a sampling of what US is like crossing the prairie is part of it.  Also I will add that while it isn't my favorite riding terrain, quite a few of my fond memories of the TA are from the great plains.  Most were the result of the people there rather than the terrain, but still I fondly remember the time riding across eastern Colorado and Kansas.  Overall I thought it was well worth experiencing.

While I definitely won't go that far, I know a few who found the prairie to be their favorite terrain on the TA.

Routes / Re: Getting Across The Desert
« on: January 17, 2011, 07:17:06 am »
Where are some of the MUST SEEs that I can't miss on my trip?
It is tough to say about "must sees".  The problem is that there are so many that you can't possibly do them all.

As far as route goes I'd advise something farther north in the west.  Oregon was probably my favorite state on my ride across the US, but everywhere we went had it's own charm.  I would suggest that the Trans America would be a good choice.  It really does a good job of sampling the varied geography of the US.

If you want to pick and choose your own way, I'd cross still cross Oregon, but try to maybe hit Glacier NP, then work my way down to Yellowstone NP, and then see the Colorado Rockies before heading east.

I'd skip the southern desert until you can do a trip in the cool months.  You will see enough desert in eastern Oregon.

Routes / Re: Newbie Route question
« on: January 15, 2011, 10:54:00 am »
ACA route planners do a pretty good job of picking suitable roads in my opinion.  They usually are a mix of all of the road types you mention.  BTW, 4 lane roads aren't always that bad and are often easier to deal with because they are likely to have rideable shoulders.  Not sure about the NT, but both the TA and the SC each had a short section on the interstate as well.  They weren't the highlight of the trip, but they were pretty safe with a very wide shoulder.

If you are especially traffic squeamish, there may be some sections that you don't care fore, but overall it should be do-able.

All that is based on my experience on the TransAmerica and southern part of the Sierra Cascades route.  I have not done the NT.

General Discussion / Re: East to West 80 days?
« on: January 15, 2011, 10:40:37 am »
ACA Maps arrived today, flights booked, passport sorted, travel insurance bought. Thanks for the help, see you dudees out there.

Peace & Harmony

What route did you decide on and when are you starting?  You will see some beautiful country and meet some nice people regardless.

In any case I hope you have a great trip.

Routes / Re: CO Routes 145, 50, & 160 - Safety?
« on: January 13, 2011, 02:09:09 pm »
I found 50 OK and enjoyed it fine.  I can't compare it to any other options though.

Gear Talk / Re: Bike w/panniers Or BOB IBEX Trailer
« on: January 12, 2011, 12:22:48 pm »
O.K.  Here's a link of someone we met on our last tour who laid unconscious for two hours in a ditch because her BOB trailer whipped her bike out of control. Fortunately a passerby found her. Her Trans Am trip was way-laid for months.

General Discussion / Re: Novice coming to America !
« on: January 11, 2011, 07:44:44 am »
County roads are generally better for cycling than state routes, state routes better than US routes, US routes better than interstates. However, the roads that are better for cycling are almost always longer and hillier than the major roads, but cyclotourists are not usually after the shortest path between two points anyway.

A lot of road choice depends on personal preference. Some prefer broad shoulders on high-traffic roads, and others prefer no shoulders on low-traffic roads. It's seldom you get both shoulders and low traffic.
I agree that a lot depends on personal preference.  It also varies with geographic location and individual road.  That said I don't find smaller better in many cases.

Interstates - Can be ridden in large portions of the west.  They can be quite pleasant, quite unpleasant, or something in between.  I have ridden sections of Interstate that I hated and sections that I really liked.  For example I-25 in NE New Mexico was very nice.  Good views of the Sangre de Cristo mountains, clean shoulders, gentle grades, and light traffic made for a very pleasant ride.  I'd go out of my way to ride there.  The section of I-80 on the TA was loud, not scenic, and the shoulders were wide, but somewhat debris strewn.  It wasn't completely awful, but we were glad to be off of it.  Access roads for interstates can be quite nice.  You do have to be careful because sometimes they just fizzle out.

In the continuum from US routes to county roads I find that which works the best depends on where I am.  At home (Baltimore area) when just out for a meandering ride I find county roads nice.  In more remote and rural areas I less often ride them though preferring somewhat larger roads much of the time.  When going longish distances in these more remote parts of the country I'd rather stick to the fairly direct route and minimal need for complex directions provided by US or state routes.  I do like to ride some sections on smaller roads for variety.

In the Ozarks and Appalachians I enjoyed the tiny roads.  In the Cascades, the Rockies, and the plains I mostly liked US and state routes.  In the Sierras I enjoyed a mix with a bias toward state routes.

BTW, I have a low tolerance for roads in poor condition and avoid dirt or gravel roads if at all possible.  If I want to ride off pavement I'll do a MTB tour and try to go all dirt, otherwise I prefer well surfaced roads.

General Discussion / Re: need tips for first tour
« on: January 10, 2011, 07:00:54 am »
Hey Henry,

When carrying cash, cards Etc, carry them in different places. Not in the same pannier or wallet. This way if you lose one, you have a backup. Also, when I left for my trip, I got all new cards. Those magnetic strips always fail at the worst times. And check the expiration dates!
Whatever works for you is fine, but I do the opposite.  That stuff, all my electronics, and any other theft worthy items stay in the handlebar bag.  It makes it much easier to keep them with me at all times and I am therefore very unlikely to lose them.  The handlebar bag is the only thing that goes with me into diners, stores, attractions, and into the tent at night so it is the logical place for stuff that needs to have an eye kept on it.

General Discussion / Re: Chain Cleaner
« on: January 08, 2011, 03:23:23 pm »
BTW, we got horrible build up when we tried a wax-based lube (White Lightning)
Have you tried their "shedding formula"?  I expect that probably fixes that problem.
Not sure what the stuff was, but I think the claim was that it was supposed to shed.  This was in 2007, not sure if the formulation has changed since then.

General Discussion / Re: Chain Cleaner
« on: January 08, 2011, 11:40:46 am »
My approach is to lube with T-9, wipe off, and ride.  I am convinced that cleaning often shortens the life of a chain by allowing grit to penetrate deeper and killing the lube there as well.  On those few occasions where the chain gets so gritty that the lube and wipe isn't sufficient, a light rinse with water or WD40 is in order, but I try to limit that to only once in a great while (like twice or maybe three times in 10,000 miles).

I typically get 10K miles or so from my chains so I don't think the lack of cleaning has been a big problem.

BTW, we got horrible build up when we tried a wax based lube (White Lightning), and yes we applied according to the instructions on the bottle.

I really like Boeshield T-9, but Pedro's and Phil Wood lubes have both worked well for me in the past.

General Discussion / Re: Camp Shoe ideas????
« on: January 07, 2011, 12:31:37 pm »
Crocs or the nock offs

Bulk isn't a problem just hang them on the back somewhere with a carabiner.

A few key requirements for me are:
1. Must be easy to just step into when leaving the tent.
2. Must double as shower shoes.
3. Must be OK for walking a few miles.
4. Must be light weight.

Crocs meet all of those requirements nicely, but If I will be hiking a lot I might consider adding a pair of trail running shoes.  Most trips I do not find that necessary, since my hikes while on tour are typically just short walks.  That said when we spend a week in Yosemite Valley I bought a pair of light trail running shoes.

BTW, I own a pair of Vibram Five Fingers and enjoy running in them, but they do not meet requirement #1 since they are a pain to put on.  Also they are not optimum as shower shoes (item #2).  They are fine for hiking though.

John's answer is good.  I will add that when we rode coast to coast on the TransAmerica we averaged less than $5 per night and could have done better if we had to.  We resorted to expensive sites only a few times.

In the rural US away from the coasts I often just camp in the little town parks.  If there were no signs forbidding it and no obvious place to ask I often just pitch the tent and stay.  If the town is big enough to have police I generally ask them.  If not I might ask the clerk at the general store if he thinks i am likely to be run off.

If that is not an option for some reason, asking around often works.  Store clerks, wait staff, librarians, and just folks I met have been good contacts that led to a place to stay whether it was in someone's yard, a fire house, behind a general store or minimart, or a church lot. hosts are also a good bet where available.

General Discussion / Re: Wear eye glasses/sun glasses while riding
« on: January 06, 2011, 11:17:27 am »
Unfortunately, my vision is so bad that I can't get a prescription lense made from anyone, in a cycling-specific model. I tried. So, I'm stuck with inserts. I have to call Lensecrafters, in advance, so they can order in the material for my lenses. Otherwise, I wait a week on any new pair of glasses. Most people's eyes aren't this bad. The Doc assured me that I won't go totally blind. We'll see.

Interesting, I had more trouble finding someone who could do the inserts in my bifocal prescription.  If you haven't already I would check with Sportrx to see what they have to say.  I would advise actually phoning or emailing them, because I got better advice from Rob via email than what I could glean from their web page.  They just might be able to recommend a model that will work for you.  For example, I know that with the Project Rudy Horus model they were able to accommodate my bifocal prescription and I was unable to get that for my inserts.

My companions brow beat me for the entire TA since I was the one with the map holder and I couldn't read the map while riding without my bifocals  because I was only able to get my inserts in a single vision prescription.  Now with my new glasses it is no problem.

If he is still there, I would email Rob at next time you need glasses and see what he suggests.

General Discussion / Re: Wear eye glasses/sun glasses while riding
« on: January 06, 2011, 06:49:52 am »
You definitely need to look into cycling-specific glasses. The ones I have are from Rudy Project and have prescription inserts. Cycling glasses have much better eye coverage, arms that grip the sides of your head without the need to wrap around your ears, and lenses that are designed to filter UV rays. They're not cheap, but, your vision, safety, and comfort are worth it.
I agree that it is worth spending on some cycling specific glasses.  That said, I found that for me inserts were not as nice as just having the lenses be prescription.  The inserts made for extra surfaces to fog up or get dirty.  I used glasses with inserts on the Trans America and they were OK, but I like my new cycling glasses much better.

I got really good service from Sportrx online.  The guy who helped me (Rob) was an avid cyclist and an optician and seemed to really know his stuff.  The price wasn't that bad either.

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