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Messages - staehpj1

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General Discussion / Re: Gators in FL
« on: August 24, 2010, 07:54:43 am »
what would you do if you saw one by the side of the road 50 feet ahead?
Gators on dry land by the side of the road are not hunting and are not that much of a threat.  On the bike trail at Shark Valley probably hundreds of tourists on rental bikes ride withing 10 feet of gators every day by necessity since they are all over the path.  We rode by hundreds of them in the few miles of that trail and for dozens of them it was impossible to not ride withing 10 feet.  Based on that I'd give them as much space as you can, but definitely wouldn't obsess over riding where they live them.

Just to put this into perspective, gators killed about 12 people in 2001-2007 (over 500 people were killed by lightning strikes in the same period).  Take from that what you want, but to me that means the risk is pretty low.  I wasn't a bit concerned when canoe camping in the Everglades, but would avoid swimming places that were prime gator habitat.

I didn't pass through there that time of year (we passed through about three weeks earlier in 2007), but...  I am guessing that you will have no trouble.  The pools may be closed but I doubt you will have trouble camping there.  You may have to find rest rooms other than in the park in some towns, but as I recall some of the town parks we stayed at didn't have any anyway.  In general we found the small towns in Kansas extremely friendly and accommodating.

BTW we felt like crying when we had to head east out of Pueblo.  We really missed the mountains and were not crazy about the monotony of Eastern Colorado and Kansas.  That said, the people were super nice and helped make up for the boring scenery.  We enjoyed staying with Gillian Hogard in Ordway CO (look her up if there) she has kindly hosted hundreds of cyclists and is a very nice lady.  We also enjoyed an overnight stop at the Lutheran Church in Walnut KS, Pastor John and his wife treated us great.  There will be no problem in Cassoday, we pitched our tent in the Gazebo and had a great visit with the locals in the gas station/market (they were a bunch of fun older folks and shared stuff from their gardens with us).

Gear Talk / Re: liquid fuel or canister fuel stove for Southern Tier?
« on: August 17, 2010, 07:04:44 pm »
I've been told that this doesn't work at all post offices.  They recommend you check with them before you mail anything.  They have an 800 number (800-275-8777).
It can't hurt to check.  I do that next time if I remember, but we have just mailed without checking quite a bit and never had a problem.  That may be because we usually pick a town small enough that only has one post office, but not so tiny that postal services were contracted out to a private vendor (like a broom closet in a general store).

In the few cases where we mailed to a town with more than one Post Office it always went to the central post office for that zip code.  In those few cases we called to check where it went after the fact when we wanted to pick it up.

Gear Talk / Re: liquid fuel or canister fuel stove for Southern Tier?
« on: August 17, 2010, 02:54:15 pm »
Thanks for the reply!
so i can mail stuff to any post office along my route using that protocol?
Yes, pick a town with only one post office or one where you know where the main PO is for the zipcode.  If you pass through the town when the PO is closed.  You can stop at any PO and ask that it be forwarded to another.  Ditto if you are just not ready for it yet, just forward it ahead.  They do not charge for forwarding and a few times we forwarded something more than once.

Be aware that they only hold packages for 30 days.  You can probably get that extended by asking that it be forwarded.  That worked for us.

The addressing is something like:
Joe Blow
C/O General Delivery
Some Town, Some State
Some Zipcode

Gear Talk / Re: liquid fuel or canister fuel stove for Southern Tier?
« on: August 17, 2010, 06:57:03 am »
I've heard mixed reviews on the two stove types, but my main concern is fuel availability along the southern tier route. Are their enough places to buy either type of fuel along the way, or is one more prevalent?

I really like my Canister Stove.  That said availability of fuel has been poor in many place I have been on tour.  I have only ridden a short bit of the Southern Tier, but fuel was not extremely available.  On the Trans America cartridges were extremely hard to find from Pueblo to Virginia.  In fact we never found any there.

When this comes up someone always seems to pipe up that you can get them at WalMart.  I can say that we stopped at many WalMarts in the middle of the US and didn't find any isobutane cartridges.  This was 2007, but I do not think that has changed.  White gas was easier to find by far but often was only in gallon sized containers which are far more than I am willing to carry.

So neither are perfect choices.

Two options that I can recommend are:
  • 1. Use an alcohol stove.  My little Pepsi can stove has worked out well and I have always been able to find fuel.
  • 2. Use the Isobutane cartridge stove and mail yourself or have someone mail you cartridges via general delivery. You have to mark the package
    "Surface Mail Only
    Consumer commodity

On our tour of the Sierras we planned to use our Pocket Rocket cartridge stove, but took a home made .5 ounce Pepsi can alcohol stove just in case.  We wound up using the Pepsi can stove for more than half of the trip because we didn't find cartridges until day 19.  We found yellow bottle HEET for the Pepsi can stove easily.  Actually taking both wasn't bad since Pepsi can stove and pot stand combined were less than an ounce and we used the same windscreen for either stove.  The yellow HEET comes in a very handy sized 12 ounce bottle.

The Pocket Rocket was nicer in a few ways, but the alcohol stove was adequate.

General Discussion / Re: Town Camping and Police
« on: August 16, 2010, 09:53:38 am »
I really haven't found it to be a problem.  The few times we camped in larger or medium sized town we had permission from the park manager or some other person who notified the police that we would be there.  There was only one case where the cop on patrol didn't get the word and woke us, called the manager in the middle of the night to verify our story and then left.

General Discussion / Re: Question about airplane travel!!?
« on: August 14, 2010, 11:27:40 am »
There are many, e.g., expedia, travelocity, kayak, orbitz, hotwire. I also have good luck just going to the airlines' web sites directly.
I strongly recommend SouthWest if you are flying with a bike and they go where you want to.  Expedia and others often do not list SW flights so I always check directly on SouthWests site too.  Remember that they only charge $50 for the bike and other baggage is free within the normal limits to size and number of bags (the bike counts as one checked bag).

I have heard that Frontier is good too.

General Discussion / Re: Airplane Travel
« on: August 11, 2010, 09:49:50 am »
SWA does not appear to state an upper limit for bicycles.
Southwest says:
"Effective June 17, 2009, overweight
items from 51 to 100 pounds and oversized items in excess of 62 inches but not more than 80
(e.g.; surfboards, bicycles, vaulting poles) will be accepted for a charge of $50 per item.
"Non-motorized Bicycles, including Bike Friday and Co-Pilot, will be accepted in substitution of a free
piece of checked baggage at no additional charge provided the bicycle is properly packaged and the
box containing the bicycle fits within the 62-inch sizing limit and weighs 50 lbs or less . (Maximum
weight is 50 pounds and maximum size is 62 inches (length + width + height) per checked piece of
luggage). The handlebars, kickstand, and pedals must be removed and placed inside the box. A $50.00
each-way charge applies to bicycles that don’t meet the above criteria. Bicycles packaged in a
cardboard box or soft-sided case will be transported as a conditionally accepted item.
"The items listed below shall be acceptable for Carriage as Checked Baggage upon the Passenger's compliance with the special packing requirements and payment of the applicable One-way charge.
Bicycle (defined as nonmotorized and having a single seat) properly packed in a bicycle box or hardsided case larger than 62 inches in total dimensions will be accepted as Checked Baggage. Pedals and handlebars must be removed and packaged in protective materials so as not to be damaged by or cause damage to other Baggage. Bicycles packaged in cardboard or softsided cases will be transported as conditionally accepted items as outlined in Section 7h.

My read of that is that they imply that they will take a box over 80", but do not specifically waive the 80" limit even for bicycles.  In practice they apparently do, and I have checked my bike in a box over 80" without an issue.  That said, I think if the clerk wanted to it would be easy for them to say no to a box over 80".  Because of that I try to tread lightly with weight, box size, and box contents.  Using a really big box, loading it too heavy, or putting much other than the bike or things that are specifically bicycle accessories just seems like a bad idea to me. 

General Discussion / Re: Airplane Travel
« on: August 11, 2010, 07:57:10 am »
Be careful how much you add to the bike box.  Southwest is pretty reasonable but they, like all the others, have a weight limit and the overweight charges can be pretty eyepopping.  I believe the maximum is 50 pounds but check with SW.

I would be really careful because Southwest's policy says they don't take boxes over 80" (L+W+H) at all.  They seem to ignore that for bicycles, but if they decided to they could refuse to take the box.  I would not do anything that might draw extra scrutiny.  As a result I think it is prudent to keep the box as small and as light as possible and to not put anything but the bike in the box.

Since it doesn't seem too hard to fit everything else in one checked bag (and one carry on and a personal item if necessary) and since Southwest doesn't charge for the checked bag or carry on, I would advise not packing other stuff in the bike box.  You will probably be OK if you do but why push your luck?

General Discussion / Re: Shipping a bike through REI
« on: August 11, 2010, 07:48:21 am »
I found REI to be cheaper than going directly to UPS etc. They have a discount account, I didn't. They will ship to store, residence, etc.
What did they charge you and from where to where?

I've had a great experience with REI this summer. I've shipped with them twice this year and experienced no problems.  Disassembly, boxing and shipping ran around 160.00.
Buster, how far did you ship and was that price one shipment or a round trip.  Obviously, it depends on the distance and probably even what cities, but...  If one way and within the continental US it sounds kind of expensive.  If round trip it sounds reasonable.  Using a bike shop and shipping from Reno, NV to Baltimore, MD the whole deal (packing and shipping) was $100 (one way) on my last tour.

General Discussion / Re: Airplane Travel
« on: August 10, 2010, 11:31:39 am »
I have used a suitcase from a thrift store ($7) and discarded it at the other end.  I have also bought a cheap duffel bag and put everything in that.  Both worked well.

I used cardboard boxes for my 2007 TA, but the airline (Continental) said they would not be responsible for damage to stuff in cardboard boxes (only loss).  They stamped that all over the boxes and made me sign something to that effect.  Everything got there fine though.

I find that I can fit everything except the bike and handlebar bag (personal item) in one suitcase, but taking one pannier as a carry on is an option if you can't fit everything in the checked bag.

On the train I have strapped panniers together into two bundles and carried them on.  I personally wouldn't do that on a plane though.

I try not to give them any excuse to not take the bike so I only pack the bike in the box and nothing else.  I also make sure that the box weighs less than 50 pounds, which could be a problem if you put much other stuff in the box.

General Discussion / Re: Cutting Weight
« on: August 07, 2010, 06:27:58 pm »
I suggest that you diet off 10lbs of body weight,
That is the equivalent to a load reduction of 25%.

Did I miss something here?  When did we determine that he was overweight?  Losing 10 pounds of body weight might be a bad thing if he is already lean.

Reductions in gear weight and changes in body weight both can be beneficial, but are entirely different things.   For one thing a reduction in gear weight is quick and easy; you make the choice, leave something home, and instantly your riding is easier.  Loss of bodyweight takes time to do and doesn't necessarily instantly make your riding easier.   For some of us a long term slow loss of weight might be a good thing.   Quick weight loss before a tour might leave you weaker.  On a long tour weight loss sometimes leaves me weaker and I struggle to maintain weight or at least keep it very slow even when I am overweight.

Additionally I notice a 10 pound change in gear weight a lot more than I notice a 10 pound change in body weight.

I find the "don't worry about what you carry just lose weight" comments to be a bit ludicrous.  It would make more sense to say, "in addition to watching gear weight, don't forget to watch body weight too".

Gear Talk / Re: Which pedal?
« on: August 06, 2010, 06:42:17 pm »
I think that you will run into the same problem with every type of clipless pedal out there-if you forget to unclip, you are attached to the bike.
Someone above said that "no one" likes SPd-actuallt you'd probably find millions that do. Just different options.
+1  I like my SPDs just fine.  Most of the tourists I have met on the road use SPDs and the ones who don't mostly either used toe clips, power grips, or no retention system.

My recommendation is to either work at getting used to your SPDs or if you don't think they are for you just go with a platform pedal.

Good luck with whatever you choose.

Routes / Re: Sierra Cascades - anyone done it yet?
« on: August 05, 2010, 07:01:55 am »
Would like to hear from anyone who has done any of the new Sierra Cascades route.  I have been planning to do the section north from Lake Tahoe as part of my return from going down the coast but have reservations about the overall altitude and climbs as well as amenities/camping etc.  For someone who hates hills and only has a summer rated sleeping bag it doesn't look like such a good idea.
We did the southern part.  We started in San Diego and flew home from Reno.  So my knowledge of the northern part is mostly from the maps and a general knowledge of the area.  That said the Northern part looks like the substantially easier part from a climbing perspective.  There is still a lot of climbing though.

You can generally camp fairly low if you want.  You may summit fairly high some days but there is no need to camp extremely high.  So you can get by with a fairly moderate sleeping bag, depending on when you go.

General Discussion / Re: Cutting Weight
« on: August 04, 2010, 08:13:25 am »
Additionally, you've got to a wee bit of math. Your total mass––you, bike, water, food, gear, clothing, tools, spares, everything--must be objectively measured before you begin going ultralight. Say your total moving mass at the moment is 250 pounds. Whittling away a whopping 10 pounds is a mere 4% reduction in your total mass! (240/250=96/100)
My experience definitely does not bear that out.  I can tell you that when I have mailed home even a few pounds of stuff the difference was very noticeable especially in the mountains.  Similarly when we redistributed gear between riders to help a weaker rider a few pounds was the difference between continuing and failing to continue.

Additionally I can say that losing body mass did not seem to offer a similar amount of advantage as lightening the gear load.

10 pounds of extra stuff would be a trip killer in the mountains for me.

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