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Messages - staehpj1

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Gear Talk / Re: Big Agnes vs Theramrest
« on: January 29, 2010, 06:48:43 pm »
I have both types of pads.  The plus for the thermarest is speed & convenience.  The BA is cushier but if I'm on a trip where I'm packing up every day I get tired of inflating and deflating.  If I'm going on a long tour and moving on every day I take the thermarest.  If I'm going to be camped in one place for awhile I take the BA.
I have hear a few people who say this so I guess maybe I am in the minority on this one, but...  I don't get it.

I have the medium sized NeoAir (same thickness as the Big Agnes) and it takes 15 breaths to fill it.  It takes maybe a minute, two minutes tops.  Really not a big deal especially since the Prolite 4 takes a few breaths even though it is self inflating.  The added ease of rolling it up makes up for any extra effort in inflating for me.

To me there are only two downsides to the NeoAir.  The first is cost, which is pretty high.  The second is that the R value is a bit too low for winter camping.

General Discussion / Re: Water Filters
« on: January 29, 2010, 05:01:31 pm »
My wife and I are riding the Trans Am route this summer and are wondering if a water filter is essential. We are planning to start each day with 6 qts. of water between us.  We will refill whenever we encounter civilization. Thanks for your input.

On the TA I wouldn't carry a filter if I were doing it again.  I did carry one and used it once in a while, but sent it home fairly early in the trip.

Different days will require different amounts of water.  Look ahead at the maps and plan accordingly.  I have used a platypus 2 liters+ water bag, but really it probably makes sense to just recycle sports drink or soft drink bottles for the sections where you need to carry a little extra water.

I think the longest we went between water stops on the TA was 80 miles but most places it was much less.

Gear Talk / Re: Big Agnes vs Theramrest
« on: January 28, 2010, 02:34:41 pm »
I found my Thermarest Prolite 4 quite adequate comfort-wise, never had a bad nights sleep on the entire TA.  That said I love my Thermarest NeoAir it is more comfortable, much lighter, and packs tiny.  Cost is rather high though.  The NeoAir provides adequate insulation for most conditions that I will tour in, but is not adequate for winter camping by itself.

Gear Talk / Re: 3-4 person tent
« on: January 26, 2010, 12:36:27 pm »
It depends on your preferences for space.  Three of us (my daughter, a friend from college, and me) were quite happy in one tent for the TransAmerica.  We carried a Eureka Tetragon 8 (~$100) and it was fine other than weighing 9 pounds.  I think we would have been OK with a three person tent too, but the slightly greater space was nice.  That said I have no desire to bring bike or even panniers in at night.  I only bring in what I actually will use before morning and my handlebar bag since it has my valuables.

General Discussion / Re: A couple of touring questions
« on: January 25, 2010, 06:21:02 pm »
  • If you are with a group that leaves at sunup, you will be packing your tent while it is still wet with dew and condensation, then riding with it like that all day. Doesn’t it begin to form mildew after a few days of this?
  • What about laundry in the same situation? I can easily wash and wring out the days cloths and put them on a line outside but they won’t be dry at sunup. Should I only do laundry on layover days when it has the time to dry? Or don’t do laundry and live with the smell?
Not a big problem in either case.  The tent will be fine since it gets aired out every day.  If you stay in a motel you may want to dry it out in the room.

Wet laundry...  I often start the day with freshly washed and wet clothes hanging on my rear rack or if it is raining, under pannier flaps.    Then again I also go a long time between washing them at times.  The world doesn't come to an end in either case, so no worries.

Heck I even start the day fairly often in clothes that are still damp and never found it to be a problem.

Gear Talk / Re: Portable Piano/Keyboard Recommendations?
« on: January 25, 2010, 02:37:17 pm »
My wife and son do not wish to lose out on piano practice while on our tour. Anyone have a recommendation for a small portable piano? I've seen a bunch of older Yamaha Portasounds on ebay and Target sells small Casio keyboards, but would love to hear if another rider has brought something like this on tour.
Thanks, Erik

I can't imagine any device that would be much use for piano practice weighing little enough that I would carry it on a tour.  How much are you willing to carry?  Don't those Portasounds weigh something like 12 pounds?  If so I would be cussing it every inch of the way.

General Discussion / Re: Florida
« on: January 25, 2010, 08:31:27 am »
Most of these "Florida drivers" were originally from somewhere else in the US.
That would be true of most of the population of Florida, wouldn't it?  Especially if you drop the "in the US" to include recent immigrants.

BTW, I noticed that when doing the Trans America whenever I saw a really bone headed move on the road there seemed to be really good chance the vehicle would have Florida plates.  This would be in Kansas or Montana or just about anywhere.  It might just be because a lot of rental cars, trucks, and RVs have Florida plates though.

General Discussion / Re: Biking San Diego to Pheniox Tire Question
« on: January 23, 2010, 08:56:48 am »
I have not biked in the south and I am going from San Diego to Pheniox.  Do I need special tires?  Right now I have your basic tire for a touring bike Trek 520.
I would suggest that a bit of extra care with where you wheel your bike when off pavement goes a long way toward preventing flats from goat head thorns.  They are likely to be just about anywhere you wheel the bike off of the pavement for a rest or other break.  Try to be careful where you go and check for thorns when starting out again.

For tires I like Continental Ultra Gator Skins and beyond the care mentioned above I make no special allowances for riding in the southwest.

Having grown up and lived my whole life in the east, when I rode out west I got a lot of flats before I figured out what goat head thorns were and where you find them.

General Discussion / Re: Best Cell phone coverage across US???
« on: January 22, 2010, 11:55:30 am »
I have certainly looked at these "maps", and the major players each "claim" about the same nationwide coverage.

Not so.  You must not have looked at the coverage maps for the same carriers as I did.  The only two I really looked at were Verizon and Sprint/Nextel.  Those two are not even similar.

Bottom line...
Both the maps and my experience on the TA and other tours as well as other trips agree that Sprint's coverage is awful unless you stay close to the interstates and Verizon's is pretty good, but not perfect.  As far as I noticed, the only place on the TA where we didn't have a signal with Verizon and other folks did with other carriers was part of Idaho (the Riggins area).

Verizon is hard to beat in this regard.  Check out a recent thread on the crazy guy forum at:

General Discussion / Re: Wireless internet on the TransAm?
« on: January 22, 2010, 10:28:17 am »
public libraries best bet/most reliable thing to hang hat on, in my opinion.
esp through a lot of the remote stretches
If you mean the public computers in libraries, I found them to be a huge hassle in many cases.  The reasons:
  • Short hours and limited days of operation.  Many small town libraries seem to be open three days a week and short hours.  More often than not they were closed when we passed through.
  • Often a wait to use one.
  • Often a rather short time limit on usage.  This combined with slow performance made uploading picture to a journal almost impossible.
  • In one case they wanted us to sign up for a library card first.
  • Tiny towns did not have a library.

If you mean using their WiFi, I haven't had too much experience with that since the only times I tried it was on my Spring 2009 tour.  My success rate was maybe 5% then though.  The reasons:
  • WiFi turned off when the library was closed
  • WiFi password protected and library closed.
  • Library had no WiFI, and there wasn't a computer in sight anywhere even behind the information desk!  Interestingly enough there was an unlocked wireless access point in the auto parts store next door.
  • I found other WiFi before finding the library.
  • Tiny towns did not have a library.

I had much better luck just looking for an unlocked wireless access point.  Most towns had some open access point either at a business or a private residence.

General Discussion / Re: BRAN - Bike Ride Across Nebraska
« on: January 21, 2010, 07:43:34 pm »
  "One thing was that everyone getting up at the un-holy time of 4:00am-4:30am

That would suit me fine, but I can see where it would be unpleasant for most folks.

Spoon?  Is that you Jerry?

General Discussion / Re: Florida
« on: January 21, 2010, 07:39:26 pm »
Watch out for those Florida drivers.  In my experience they are some of the worst in the US.

Routes / Re: Favorite tours?
« on: January 19, 2010, 05:34:52 pm »
I haven't done too many, but the Trans America was great.  The Pacific Coast is another great ride. I've only driven/ridded pieces of it, but I have seen enough of it to know that I want to do it sometime.

I am looking forward to doing the new Sierra Cascades Route this Summer.

General Discussion / Re: Wireless internet on the TransAm?
« on: January 18, 2010, 07:20:09 am »
Even the "Split Rock Cafe" in Jeffrey City WY had wifi.
It should be noted that Jeffrey City is pretty much a ghost town.

Don't expect to have WiFi every day, but you can find it frequently.  McDonalds now has made their WiFi free so towns large enough to have a McDonalds are a good bet.  On my Spring tour in Kansas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico I found WiFi in most towns even very small ones.  Sometimes it was someone's home or business network and sometimes a motel, library or restaurant.  I was surprised how many were just someones wireless router that they didn't bother to password protect.

I refuse to carry even a netbook, but my Nokia N800 is only 7 ounces.  That said I will probably take a smart phone of some sort on my tour this year.  It is hard to beat a 6-8 ounce device that is a phone, camera, internet appliance, GPS, and computer.  I am undecided whether to take my work Blackberry or buy something like an iPhone, gPhone. android, or Nokia 910 for my personal phone.  My work Blackberry is on the Nextel network which in the past had really lousy coverage in the rural US.  Anyone know if the coverage is much better these days?  If not I might take my personal (verizon) phone.

Routes / Re: Transamerica general questions
« on: January 16, 2010, 05:55:31 pm »
I always include the rest days, if any, in the average, don't most folks? 

I almost always say I rode "X" miles per riding day.  I prefer to say per riding day as some people take a day off every other day it seems while others never take a day off.
That makes sense, but I don't do it that way myself for two reasons...
Reason 1, the main reason I think about average daily mileage is to figure out how many days I need for a trip.
Reason 2, I prefer to take partial days off rather than full rest days.

In any case it is probably a good idea to qualify it with a statement like your's ("I rode "X" miles per riding day").  I try to remember to specify total days.

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