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Messages - staehpj1

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General Discussion / Re: Have any of you gotten sick on tour?
« on: August 27, 2010, 08:29:34 am »
Hi - depends where you are planning to ride.  I feel confident here in USA that help is just about always just a cell phone call away.  Not an emergency take time off in a motel.  As for minor ailments wow I've never seen so many pharmacies, you feel you are never more than a day away from one at the most.  OK OK I've been through some isolated places here so just make sure you take precautions.
Regarding that...  I would have to say that is a bit misleading.  In parts of the US I found fairly long stretches without a cell signal (at least a full day of riding at times, maybe more) and long stretches without much in the way of services.  At least once it was 80 miles between any kind of services, with not even a place to get water.  I certainly went several days without passing a pharmacy on more than one occasion.  That said I agree that there is no need to worry much in the US because in an emergency you can always flag down a passing motorist.

To the original question...
Yes I was pretty sick on my Santa Fe Trail tour.  I just got a room and pretty much slept for 36 hours straight.  I figured I'd try to tough it out and abort the tour only if my illness lasted more than a few days or became a real emergency.  I felt much better after 36 hours of mostly sleep and continued the tour.

Gear Talk / Re: Panniers- EZ on/off
« on: August 25, 2010, 06:36:14 pm »
95% of long distance bicycle travelers use Ortlieb Panniers.

And you get your statistics where?

Remember, studies show 78% of all statistics are made up on the spot.   ;)
If my observations are anywhere near correct that one was definitely made up.  Ortleibs are popular, but nowhere near 95% of the folks I have met on long tours were using them.

You might try asking John Egan over on CrazyGuy when it comes back on-line.  John has traveled extensively in that part of the country (lives in WY).  One thing I see is that you could very easily have northern Rockies passes that are closed due to snow after October 1st.  He would know.

Sorry I can't help but I am positive John can.
John might also pipe up on Bike Forums or you can PM him there.  He goes by the name Jamawani on bikeforums.

John has a ton of experience and is a wealth of info.  FWIW, his preference is to find very lightly traveled roads, more so than I would prefer myself.

From W. Yellowstone, stay on AC's TransAm route to Missoula, MT then take their Great Parks route to Whitefish, MT where you can pick up the Northern Tier route.  I did the same in reverse back in '00.  Nice route with plenty of places to camp.

If you have a few extra days before heading from Whitefish to Eureka on the Northern Tier, you could ride out and back to Glacier National Park and ride up and then back down the west slope of Going to the Sun Road to Logan Pass, one of the most scenic mountain roads in the U.S.  Whitefish to Sprague Creek Campground (a great place to start the climb) in the park would be one day.  The next day you could ride up to the pass and back.  The third day ride back to Whitefish.  You might choose to ride back to Whitefish the same day after you do the climb to save a day, but there are bicycle restriction in the park.  You basically cannot ride west from Spague Creek Campground until 4 or 5 p.m.
That is exactly what I would have advised.  I have ridden the TA and found that section pleasant.  You could use the Great Divide instead of the TA for that portion if you really wanted to and if you are riding a dirt friendly bike, but I think I would do that on a different more exclusively off road tour if I were you.

Gear Talk / Re: Rain Pants
« on: August 24, 2010, 08:08:11 am »
I need some rain pants. Any recommendations? Just looking for something durable, breathable, and fairly inexpensive.
My advice is to forget the breathable requirement.  You will be wet when it rains either with rain or with sweat.  Goretex and other breathable fabrics just don't work very well in my experience.

I like the fairly inexpensive coated nylon stuff like the Sierra Designs ones that pack in a tiny sack.  I got mine at REI.  I typically only wear the pants in camp.  On the bike I am warm enough with just leg warmers until sub freezing temperatures.  I do wear the jacket on the bike quite a bit.

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.

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