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Messages - staehpj1

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Gear Talk / Re: Tires when riding from San Diego to Phoenix
« on: February 09, 2010, 07:07:45 am »
My experience with the Bontrager Hardcases was not positive, but San Diego to Phoenix is a short trip.

I found the Hardcases barely OK.  They seemed to get kind of soft and sticky after riding in 100+ heat for a week or so and once that happened they seemed to flat more often.

That said I don't get too excited about flat prevention other than watching where I pull off the pavement in goat head thorn country and watching what I run over elsewhere.  When it comes to slime tubes, thorn proof tubes, and mr tuffy strips I don't use any of them.  I prefer light weight tubes.

I just use a tire that is reasonably flat resistant (Ultra Gatorskins) and don't mind fixing a flat once in a while.  It beats having a couple extra pounds of rotating mass and a dead feeling ride in my opinion.

General Discussion / Re: Wireless internet on the TransAm?
« on: February 06, 2010, 08:32:19 am »
When I was doing the Western Express in 06, I found that service was available near the interstates such as I-70, but in many places out in the west, I lost service if I was more than 5-10 miles off the main hwy.
Are you talking about WiFi or cellular?  It sounds like cellular.   FWIW, my experience is that for cellular, Verizon is the hands down winner, but there will still probably be days where you (the OP) have no signal.

BTW:  Leaving our phones on when the signal was weak or non existent killed the battery fast.  It is best to turn them on only when making a call.

General Discussion / Re: TRANSAMERICA should start on the Atlantic!
« on: February 04, 2010, 11:08:35 am »
For that section we started with a ferry ride on the free Jamestown Scotland Ferry, and rode the nice rural Virginia roads until we got to Portsmouth. Some of the ride through Portsmouth was kind of seedy, but OK.

We rode the Elizabeth River Ferry across to Norfolk and proceeded through downtown Norfolk toward Virginia Beach. It was getting dark by then. Traffic was heavy, but if we were not heading for one of my companion's homes we could have skirted the busy areas by going further south.

In the morning we rode to Sandbridge on a lovely route that went to the south of the developed areas.  There isn't much at sand Bridge though.

Actually we did all that at a later date though.

General Discussion / Re: Florida
« on: February 02, 2010, 11:21:33 am »

G-D: Grateful Dead?  Right On! ;D
You guys are wasting my precious minutes :)

Gear Talk / Re: What is the best new or used $400 road bike?
« on: January 31, 2010, 10:26:53 am »
Looking at some of the steeds on, you can get a workable whip in your price range.  Some of the touring bikes sold at BD even rate favorably in some of the stories on Crazy Guy on a Bike.
If you can dig a bit deeper in your pocket than your $400 figure, I would go for something new in the $600-1100 or so range.  There are a number of nice touring bikes in that range and I think the bang for the buck is very good.

Three of us rode Windsor Tourists ($599) from BD on the Trans America and a lot of subsequent riding (both touring and commuting) and are quite happy with them.  Another option might be the Novara Randonnee from REI.   It is out of stock right now, but I am sure they will have them in again soon.

Gear Talk / Re: Big Agnes vs Theramrest
« on: January 30, 2010, 10:34:22 am »
I tried a neoair at the local REI/ I liked the size, weight, and comfort, but found it to be very noisy -- it sort of crackled as I moved about on it. Have you noticed this? Does it quiet down with use?
I hadn't really noticed that.  I am told I sleep like the dead though and don't move around much.

Also I tend to tune out noise.  Lots of places where folks said they didn't sleep well because of trains or traffic noise I didn't even notice the noise, so I may be the wrong one to ask.

Routes / Re: X-Country Route w/ the Easiest Grades
« on: January 30, 2010, 10:29:00 am »
Probably the Southern Tier or some variation of it.

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.

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