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Messages - staehpj1

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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.

Gear Talk / Re: Is it worth changing tires?
« on: December 01, 2010, 07:41:30 am »
Personally I'd just replace them when they wear out unless they are pretty bad.  That said I did yank a set of Marathon Pluses after a few hundred miles because the ride was so dead feeling and the weight so high.   I guess it boils down to how bad they are.

BTW I do really like Gatorskins, but have not tried the H2 or the Marathon Supreme.

General Discussion / Re: Tec talk: loose casette
« on: November 30, 2010, 02:07:19 pm »
You might ask a bike shop how much they'd charge to fix it -- I'd guess free to $5, unless they're one that has a $25 minimum labor charge.  (Even then, this is so easy they might do it for free.)
If it happens during a longish tour the odds of them either doing it for free or handing you the tools to do it yourself go way up.  At least that has been my experience.

General Discussion / Re: "Off-season" training
« on: November 30, 2010, 11:55:26 am »
Anyone have an opinion on spinning classes?

My experiences with spinning classes has not been good.  I have yet to go to one taught by a cyclist.  Call me old school, but when I am told to crank on a load and spin at a cadience of 40, I believe that to be foolish and dangerous.  It strikes me as a good way to do soft tissue damage to a knee.

The spinning classes I have gone to have been taught by at best runners and at worst, graduates of some spinning program (but still non riders).  Your experience may vary, but mine have been all bad.
I've never done a spinning class but do have a few friends who manage to stay in impressively good shape by way of spinning classes.

General Discussion / Re: Tec talk: loose casette
« on: November 30, 2010, 11:39:24 am »
Tools are cheap and easy to use for removing and replacing cassettes. For home use, you'll need a lockring tool ($8-10) and a chain "whip" ($15-20). Good to have them to fix spokes, clean the cassette and the hub, etc.
If the budget is tight it is pretty easy to make a chain whip.  You can also improvise one pretty easily with a chain and some kind of clamp or vise.

General Discussion / Re: Tec talk: loose casette
« on: November 30, 2010, 09:06:52 am »
While in the middle of an 800 km ride last week I noticed a repetative slight knocking coming from the rear cogs - specifically two of the mid-range gears which get quite a bit of use when I'm loaded up.  Wouldn't go away and no visible evidence of anything wrong until I tried wiggling the cogs with my fingers while stationary and with the chain tensed.  What I found was that with the chain in the lower gears - the smallest cogs - I could move the entire upper cassete back and forth by about 3 cms each way.  If I put the chain up into the largest cogs I could do the same with the lower part of the cassette.  Note: this only was possible with the part of the cassette without the chain holding the tension.  When I returned from the trip - nothing bad happened except the continuing knocking - I compared with my mountain bike and I can't get that kind of movement on that cassette.  So what's going on in there?  I have no tools for dismantling the rear cassette and/or tightening it and wouldn't know how to go about it anyway.  It looks serious and fortunately I wasn't all that far from home, but if I'd been in the middle of Tibet!!!!  I can take it to my local bike mechanic but would like to hear what others might have to say. In all other respects it changes gear smoothly.  It's Shimano Deora XT and only a year and a bit old so you'd think it wouldn't just fall apart.
It sounds like the lock ring that holds the cluster on the freehub is loose to me.

The screw that holds the cluster together when you take it off usually does not attach the smallest two cogs, so it would make sense that they would move separately.   So that screw is probably OK, but if it isn't sometimes it can protrude from the cassette and damage spokes.

If it was me, I'd take the cluster off be sure the screw that holds the cluster together is tight and reassemble and tighten the lock ring.

Another possibility is that the cluster was assembled without one of the spacers.  If that were the case it would have been that way from the get go.  I think that is unlikely as it would probably have never shifted right from the start.

Edit: I carry a Unior Cassette Cracker to remove or tighten the cassette on the road.  I think it weighs less than an ounce and would allow fixing this pretty quickly.

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