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Messages - staehpj1

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General Discussion / Re: re-entering cycling
« on: December 23, 2010, 08:55:06 am »
First...  Just wanted to wish you success.

I did a similar return to cycling a few years ago.  My advice is this...

1. Staying in shape and training is always good but huge amounts of training are not a prerequisite for a long tour.  It does help greatly to have enough time on the bike to be comfortable for longish days in the saddle, but being a trained athlete is not a requirement.  The key is to set daily goals that are reasonable and achievable.  It is bad news to attack a trip and find yourself worn out 2 or 3 days in.  Much better to ease into the trip, hitting your stride in a week to ten days.

2. I am convinced that all the hype about the ultimate bike, racks, saddle, panniers, sleeping pad, or whatever does a disservice to new tourists.  I did my first tour (Coast to coast on  the TA)  on mostly inexpensive gear and a $599 bike.  I didn't regret any of my gear choices other than the fact that I started out with a bit too much gear.  Some gear I have since upgraded, but a lot of stuff I actually found I prefer some of the cheap items I used.  The bike itself is the last thing I think about when thinking about my tours.

3. General rule of thumb, if in doubt leave it home.  Then when under way periodically, go over your stuff item by item and mail stuff you aren't using home.

4. Another rule of thumb, don't try to think of things that might be useful.  That approach will add lots of items to your list that sound like a good idea but you really don't need.

5. Having someone at home that can accept things you mail home and send you things via general delivery you decide you need is a big help.  For example there may be things you only need for one geographic region of the tour.  Why carry them the whole way?

Gear Talk / Re: Biking Shorts/Pants
« on: December 20, 2010, 12:24:17 pm »
if anything, arriving in gear has led to conversation and networking.

Since you mentioned that I will add that I enjoy talking about my tour and like the fact that others immediately recognize me as a cyclist.  Being in clothes instantly recognizable as bike clothes has often led to pleasant conversation and many times to offers of hospitality.  It might start with "did we see you 60 miles down the road this morning?" and then wind up with "I fixed way too much pot roast can you help us eat it?", and finally "can we put you up for the night" or "do you want to camp in our yard?".  Those encounters allowed me to meet some wonderful people.

That said some folks don't want to be recognized as a cyclist and asked a lot of questions.

Gear Talk / Re: Biking Shorts/Pants
« on: December 20, 2010, 08:53:21 am »
... I agree that almost no one else is going to worry about how you look or pay any attention to you.  They are too busy worrying what others think about them.
I agree at least for the US.  In some countries Lycra may be a bigger problem.   I always found that, in the US at least, I was generally received warmly just about everywhere and never found my bike shorts to be a problem when interacting with the local folks.  That said if the OP is self conscious he can certainly either wear baggier shorts or slip something on over them.

Oh and off topic a bit, but I have found that wearing sunglasses while speaking with folks is way more alienating than wearing lycra.  Definitely take those shades off when speaking to folks.  It makes a world of difference.  A warm smile, good eye contact, and an open attitude will be far more helpful than your choice of shorts.

Gear Talk / Re: Biking Shorts/Pants
« on: December 15, 2010, 06:32:29 pm »
Personally I just wear regular bike shorts, but if that isn't your thing some folks either wear basketball shorts over them all the time or just slip them on when they stop.

I do wear some light weight zip off leg pants in camp most evenings and they aren't horrible to ride in either.  I wore them when we were in Yosemite and were just riding around the valley to get to trail heads and stuff like that.  That was usually less than 20 miles a day, but I probably could stand them for longer rides, I just prefer the bike shorts so I don't.

Routes / Re: A Monkey Wrench...
« on: December 15, 2010, 01:00:14 pm »
I looked into doing a perimeter tour starting and ending in Baltimore, Md.    My conclusion was that the only way to go was counterclockwise.

Check out these old threads:

Gear Talk / Re: How accessible is propane on the TA Trail/good stove?
« on: December 14, 2010, 06:32:58 pm »
I have in mind to cook my meals most of the way along the TA trail when I converse it next summer considering I enjoy making a nice meal for myself and so my question would be-
1. What is a camping stove that you guys have had good success with (lightweight, ease of use, maximum efficiency)?
2. How common are fill stations where I can access a gas such as propane to power my burner?

Im making a trip to REI by Philly this upcoming week so I want to have a base for what to look at.
We found isobutane canisters to be very hard to find across the middle of the country.  I was surprised that we had trouble on our tour in the Sierras too.  I think some of these are a butane propane mix.  It that what you mean?  If so I think you will be disappointed with availability.

If you mean the heavy steel canisters that hold a pound of propane.  You will find them just about anywhere in the US.  They are too heavy to suit me though.

If you go with a cartridge stove like the Pocket Rocket (great stove if fuel is available) I'd take a pop can stove too as a backup.  That has worked well for me.  The stove and pot stand combined weighs less than an ounce and uses the same windscreen and pot as the Pocket Rocket.  Google "pepsi can stove".

If I were doing the TA again I think I'd start with both stoves.  I might mail the Pocket Rocket home in the middle of the country if I didn't find fuel.  We had good luck finding isobutane fuel from Oregon to Pueblo CO and didn't see it again until Virginia.  There was one place in Carbondale IL that had it but they were closed when we rode by.

Gear Talk / Re: Panniers
« on: December 13, 2010, 06:41:18 pm »
Are Arkels really the best? That seems like an awful lot of money for a bit of fabric and plastic. Are they really worth it?

My first big trip starts in April 2011 and will, hopefully ;), be a perimeter of the USA trip...
If You care about weight at all, the Arkels are very heavy.  That probably equates to a long life, but I would want lighter.  It depends on what you want though.

Also, I think that one of the key factors is whether you like multiple pockets or one big compartment.  I personally prefer to use one big compartment and organize things in stuff sacks and ziplocs.  I am happy with the inexpensive waterproof panniers from Nashbar or Performance.  They are inexpensive to start with and are often on sale.  Mine have done the TransAmerica and a couple other longish tours and are holding up OK.  My daughter used her's on the TA and other tours and also used them for commuting.  Hers are holding up well too.  Some folks don't like the retention system, but I find it works well for me.

If you want to spend a bit more Ortleibs are supposed to be very nice.

Routes / Re: Sierra Cascades North to South, When?
« on: December 09, 2010, 05:32:54 pm »
That is helpful Scott.  I kind of figured that later was likely to be better.  It is hard for me because I am usually itching to go in the Spring :)

Michael, I'm glad you enjoyed my journals on cgoab.

Routes / Sierra Cascades North to South, When?
« on: December 08, 2010, 02:55:30 pm »
I would be curious to hear any thoughts folks have on the best timing for a N-S Sierra Cascades tour.

Last year we rode the southern 1000 miles or so of it, starting in San Diego and flying home from Reno.  This year I am considering starting in the North and either flying home from Reno again or riding all the way to San Diego.  The weather would be the deciding factor on how far I would go.  We had extreme heat for much of the desert sections and I am really not up for a repeat of the conditions we rode in there in 2010.

Bottom line, my priority is to have decent weather in the North, figuring I'll bail from the Tahoe Reno Area or somewhere farther south if the weather is too hot to suit me.  I would definitely want to make it to at least the Reno Tahoe area so I will have seen the whole route (more or less), making it to San Diego would be a bonus.

Routes / Re: Wyoming and Colorado routing?
« on: December 08, 2010, 10:23:27 am »
The guy we talked to in Kremmling in 2009 said they changed the route because of the lack of services on the Steamboat Springs route.  If the Hot Sulphur and Rand route have bounteous services, it was surely desolate on 14/40!
There wasn't much in the way of services, but we found the route pretty and the road decent.  I actually remember that day (Walden CO to Kremmling CO) pretty fondly.  If you go that route take plenty of water right from Walden

General Discussion / Re: folding bike
« on: December 08, 2010, 09:51:59 am »
A Bike Friday could work, but I'd be inclined to use a regular bike and stay with bike friendly airlines like Northwest or Frontier.
Uh, do you mean Southwest Airlines whose current motto is "Bags Fly Free"?

Even at that a full size bike will pay significant excess baggage charges.  A Bike Friday or S&S coupled bike packs into a case that meets standard size luggage requirements so there is no surcharge.
OOPs.  Yes I'll edit the original post...

On the BF on S&S bikes...  They may work for some, but it depends on how much you fly and whether you start and end your tour in the same place.  For me dealing with a case would be a huge hassle since I seldom would fly to and from the same location.  A 62" (L+H+W) cardboard box would work but getting/modifying/making the right box for the return trip seems like a hassle.

Significant excess baggage charges?  Depends on what you consider significant.  With Southwest I pay a total of $50 for the bike and the rest is free. I consider that a pretty good deal.

All that said it really will vary depending on when where and how often you fly.  For the OP and the TA I would just go with a regular bike.  For someone who often travels with their bike, and for who dealing with the case isn't a big issue, the S&S couplers or a Bike Friday might be perfect.

Gear Talk / Re: Reliable rear hub
« on: December 08, 2010, 07:51:32 am »
Thanks Wittie, some good tips on there that I, until now, was unaware of. I have just recently learned some tricks just by doing it to result in a nice frictionless spin for loose bb hubs. I guess my main concern on the tour is getting dirt and grime in the bearings and having it crap out on me in middle America. Am I being overly cautious to think this? Should I be prepared for something like this somewhere along the tour?
I wouldn't expect any problems for properly adjusted and greased bearings.  They should last the distance of the TA without any attention, but if need be you could easily repack them along the way.

The mode of failure is most often pitted races because the bearings are allowed to run without grease.  This will typically not stop you and leave you stranded.  In most cases you could repack them possibly replacing the balls and continue to ride on them until you can conveniently replace them.  If it came down to it you could ride the whole TA with pitted races.

Other more catastrophic failures are possibly, but not very common.

The bottom line is that even cheap hubs if properly maintained usually last a very long time and that maintenance does not need to be done very frequently.  In all probability your rims will fail before your hubs, but that too is an infrequent occurrence unless you bend a rim in a collision..

Routes / Re: Wyoming and Colorado routing?
« on: December 08, 2010, 07:01:38 am »
Do not take 14 to 40 between Walden and Kremmling (your #1). That was previously on the TransAm, but they changed the route (and the ACA does not change the TA lightly) to use 125 instead.
We did that route in 2007 and didn't find it bad.  I can't compare with the alternates, but I wouldn't rule it out.

General Discussion / Re: folding bike
« on: December 08, 2010, 06:58:10 am »
Is there a really great folding tour bike?  I'm looking for a bike that will do well on the Transamerica route with panniers.  It seems that most folding bikes are more for cross town commutes.  Any suggestions?
A Bike Friday could work, but I'd be inclined to use a regular bike and stay with bike friendly airlines like Northwest Southwest or Frontier.

Gear Talk / Re: Long Two-Person Trip Tent
« on: December 06, 2010, 08:34:59 am »
I don't know what you mean by long.  We have an MSR Hubba Hubba.  While MSR has a lighter version, the gossamer-thin fabric only saves a few ounces and feels like it could be gone in a storm.  And, as I recall it was a hundred bucks more expensive.

I'm 6'3".  This works for us.  It also has two doors with vestibules.  Not as cavernous as the Mutha Hubba, but not as much weight either.
That would be my choice as well.

BTW, I like my MSR Fling for touring with someone that I can tolerate in close quarters.  My adult daughter and I used one for a month.  It gives the feeling of roominess in a smallish tent by having more width and height at the head end.  It is no longer made though.

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