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Messages - staehpj1

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General Discussion / Re: TransAmerica: Which direction?
« on: July 09, 2010, 06:18:10 pm »
I can verify that crossing the Appalachians is the hardest part of the TransAm.  They took a toll on my bottom that I had to quit 30 miles before Kansas.  My saddle sores got infected and were absessed.  I'm in St. Claire hospital right now after getting surgery.  The absess had to be drained.  Its still very painfull.  But, I'm hoping to heal in 2 weeks and rejoin my group somewhere in Colorado.

My journal is at, if your interested.

Heal quickly and well!

General Discussion / Re: TransAmerica: Which direction?
« on: July 09, 2010, 10:18:22 am »
:) :) Wow, Great stuff. I especially like the wind maps. I had not considered that Apalachians may be our toughest climbing. We are going to start out in May, this leads to the East to West based on best time to cross the mountains in the West. All in all great information. I will keep reading.
Yes I think I read that Virginia had the most elevation change of any state on the Trans America and the climbs were definitely steeper in the East than the West.

I agree that for a May start, starting in the East makes sense.

I see you list SF and an end point.  Does that mean you will be riding the Western Express?  If so I personally would consider either riding the whole TA and then riding the coast to SF or just using the train or a plane to get to SF.  It looks to me as if the Western Express misses most of my favorite parts of the TA.

General Discussion / Re: TransAmerica: Which direction?
« on: July 09, 2010, 08:08:31 am »
I will personally be doing the trip in 2014. I decided many factors of the way im going. Im gonna do it west to east. Starting in Astoria,OR and finishing in VA. Approx mileage 4,200 miles. 2 of my main reasons i choose west to east was the wind direction for the most part goes west to east or some what that way vs going east to west where you might have the wind in your face more. 2nd being getting the worst of the mountains out of the way towards the beg of your trip. Whatever way you choose hope all is well and good luck :).
I read that all the time and in my experience this bias toward W-E based on wind direction is just not true for the Trans America.  Prevailing westerlies do not necessarily equate to prevailing surface winds in that direction.  It may be true for the Northern Tier and I suspect it might be close to a wash for the ST, but it probably depends on when you go.  I never looked very closely at the wind maps for the ST in different months though so I may be wrong on that.

We went West to East on the TA and did not regret it.  There are many advantages/disadvantages either way you choose.  That said I found that the winds did NOT favor that direction of travel.  The maps below seem to match our experiences for the trip perfectly.  If winds are your primary criteria for the Trans America then going East to West is better.  That said I would not make the decision based exclusively on wind direction. 

If you look at these maps you will see that in the parts of the country where the winds really matter (the plains) the summer winds favor E-W travel on the TA.

We chose W-E for a number of reasons, but if surface winds are your primary concern and you will be on the AC Trans America Route I would go E-W.

General Discussion / Re: TransAmerica: Which direction?
« on: July 09, 2010, 06:49:34 am »
There are lots of reasons why you might choose one or the other direction.  Here are a few.  Some assume the actual Trans America Route, but if your route is substantially different one or more may not apply.
  • Do you want the sun in your eyes in the morning or evening?
  • If you live on one coast or the other, do you want to ride away from or toward home?
  • Do you want to follow the direction US history followed?
  • Winds...  Contrary to popular belief prevailing surface winds favor E to W.  In the Summer prevailing winds in the plains come out of the SE and the TA heads SE in that area.
  • Climbing...  Want to get the worst out of the way early or save it until you are road hardened a bit?  Strangely the hardest climbing IMO was in the Appalachians
  • It is real nice if family and friends can meet you at the end so finishing near home is nice.
  • Do you want air travel out of the way in the beginning?
  • Flying to the farthest point commits you more to the ride and makes bailing less of an option.

Gear Talk / Re: fiber fix spokes and stein mini lock
« on: June 03, 2010, 06:05:30 am »
If you are going to carry the Stein or other cassette cracker, why not just carry "real" spokes?

For what it is worth, I have found the Unior cassette cracker to work fine, be cheaper, and also be lighter.

Routes / Re: Best Cross Country Route with Hotels ever 50-70 miles
« on: June 02, 2010, 07:29:29 pm »
TransAm you've got a few long days (50-70 miles), but I think it's doable.

I agree that it is do able, but doubt that you can get by without doing some days a good bit longer than 70 miles.

We weren't looking for motels on our TA, but I think there were a number of days where motels are farther apart than that.  I am pretty sure there were some places where it was closer to 100 miles than to 70 between motels.  I would have guessed that there would be a few 100 mile days required.

Routes / Re: TerraTrike Recumbent on TransAmerican
« on: June 02, 2010, 06:40:18 pm »
I don't know anything about the Terra Trike, but we met a number of trikes on the TA and they seemed to be doing just fine.

General Discussion / Re: Sierra Cascades - how tough a route?
« on: May 31, 2010, 08:16:43 am »
Thanks for the feedback.  I'm getting a picture.  If I have the strength left for a part of it - maybe cutting inland from SF, maybe a bit further north -  it'd make a great return loop after coming down on the coast.  But I'll still need some maps and I'm not sure what'll be available when I get to Seattle.  I'm not going to order in advance as anyway these ACA maps are expensive and I'd need several!
I bet Adventure Cycling would be willing to ship them to you on the route via general delivery if you called them.  You could buy them one at a time if unsure how far you were going to go with them.

OK, OK.  I admit to a certain degree of exaggeration.  It's a bit like the half full or half empty glass perspective.  Maybe the weather thereabouts got better since I left about seventeen years ago.  The saying used to be that in Vancouver you don't tan, you rust. I remember the sun shining a couple of times.
Your comments were spot on for the coastal part of the area the OP asked about.  My only quibble was lumping in the whole PNW.

I've seen someone just give a tyre a kind of figure 8 twist to pack it, but that doesn't look too healthy a way of doing things either.
Why do you say that?  If you buy tires on line or by phone they typically will come that way.  It doesn't hurt them at all if done properly.

Gear Talk / Re: Windsor Tourist? Is this a good bike?
« on: May 29, 2010, 11:40:54 am »
I have bought 4 bikes from Bikes Direct and have had zero problems with the company and like the bikes very well.  Three of the four bikes were Windsor Tourists and all three successfully did the Trans America.  Two of the three have since been used for commuting and the third has done additional touring.  Two of us are getting ready to leave on the Sierra Cascades Route on the same Windsor Tourists we rode on the Trans America.  We are all quite happy with them.

I have only two caveats.  The gearing wasn't ideal so consider swapping the crank out (we used a Sugino XD600).  Realize that you will either need to do any mechanical work yourself or have a relationship with a local dealer.  Most dealer don't mind working on bikes bought elsewhere, but a few might.

Bikes Direct is a company that many love to hate but I have been quite happy with them.  Their marketing hype is over the top, but not much worse than some other companies (look at some of the BS that Surly slings for example).

General Discussion / Re: Sierra Cascades - how tough a route?
« on: May 29, 2010, 11:29:23 am »
For the return part of my West Coast trip I'm thinking of perhaps trying the Sierra Cascades route.  Sounds interesting and perhaps I could link up with it north of SF. and take it back up north of Seattle.  Better than riding some highway, but depends how hilly it is.  Gotta be some big ones up there and after doing the coast I might be tired.   I'm also not so young anymore.  Anyone done that route yet? What are the gradients like?
I will know in 6 weeks or so since we start it this Friday.

Looking at the maps it looks pretty tough, especially for the part south of the Yosemite area.  It looks tough enough that I am nervous about starting in the south with my pitiful amount of mileage for the year.

That said you should be fairly road hardened by the time you get there and heading over from Sand Francisco you will miss the southern part which is probably the hardest part.

You could use the Western Express to connect to the Sierra Cascades.

Gear Talk / Re: Tool kit?
« on: May 27, 2010, 02:18:27 pm »

It wouldn't hurt to carry a 15mm pedal wrench too, from Park. 

Fortunately now a lot of pedals have a 6mm allen-wrench hole in the end, so the big pedal wrench is no longer necessary.  And with the way pedals are threaded, it is not necessary to get them very tight-- just snug.  Precession forces cause the pedals to tighten in normal riding.  It would be a big understatement to say that precession forces dwarf the more-obvious freezing-up unscrewing forces.  People's left pedals kept unscrewing themselves until manufacturers put a left-hand thread on the left pedal.
Recommended torque is in the neighborhood of 28 ft-lbs and they usually come off harder than they go on.  I have a hard time imagining taking pedals off with a 6mm allen wrench.  It sometimes isn't all that easy with a long pedal wrench (15mm open end).  Some pedals take 8mm or even 10mm allen wrenches.  That seems a lot more reasonable to me.

In my experience it is pretty hard to damage a pedal or crank arm by over-tightening, but easy to have the threads fail if under-tightened.  I've see a few fail this way.

Routes / Water Filter on the Sierra Cacades Route?
« on: May 27, 2010, 12:28:48 pm »
I originally posted this over on the crazy guy on a bike forums, but am posting here too in the hope that someone who is familiar with the route might pipe up.  If not is there any chance the question could be forwarded to Bil Paul?

I carried a filter for a portion of the TA before sending it home. My plan was to leave it home for the Sierra Cascades Route. A few folks have suggested that on this route it might be worth carrying.

My daughter pointed out that while we only used it a few times on the TA, on this trip much of the route is similar to the portion of the TA where we actually used the filter. She also pointed out that sometimes it makes safe but nasty tasting water more palatable. I know that I have trouble staying hydrated when the water tastes nasty, so that could be a significant advantage. Her opinion was that we should take it and she is usually the sensible one on the tour :)

I have an MSR Sweetwater filter and as filters go I like it fine. Is it worth the extra 11 or so ounces, considering that the filter will be shared between the two of us?

Will it offset the need to carry as much water on this particular route? If so it could possibly actually reduce the load carried.

It pisses down there at least 300 days of the year.  Just as it does generally speaking in the entire area of the Pacific North West - Canadian or otherwise.
Not too relevant to the original question, but... Just so no one gets the wrong idea, that is mostly only the coastal area.  Much of the PNW is very dry including eastern Washington,  eastern Oregon, Idaho and Montana (all part of the PNW by many definitions).  In fact you often don't get far from the coast before the climate changes drastically.  Over the Coastal Range and it gets pretty dry, over the Cascades and it gets very dry.  A major portion of the PNW can accurately be called desert.

On the TA, being unfamiliar with the area, I kind of expected wet Oregon weather for a while and the first day we headed inland we were very quickly in dry climate and it remained that way until we were out of the PNW.

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