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Messages - staehpj1

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General Discussion / Re: Informatio Please
« on: March 09, 2009, 12:22:54 pm »
As far as routes go...  How about the TransAmerica?  Plenty of places to stay, but there may be a few places where they are more than 50 miles apart.  I think the longest I remember was 80 miles, but that was in flat country.  On that route we were able to stay for free more than half of the time without resorting to stealth camping,  The AC maps list many of the free places to stay (city/town parks, churches, etc.).

At 7, I would suggest he share some of the work.  Maybe a tandem or a Trailabike.

Gear Talk / Re: Power Monkey Explorer Solar Charger
« on: March 08, 2009, 05:52:45 pm »
I am relatively new to this forum, and I noticed you do not have much of a profile. If I may be so bold, is your perspective from the male or female point of view? It is sometimes hard to distinguish and I always enjoy both points of view. I hope no offense is taken.
No offense taken.  That is a fair question.  I am a 57 year old guy.  I have been riding pretty much my whole life and have done some racing, both on and off road, but I have only a few tours under my belt.  One was coast to coast though (AC transamerica route).

Check out my crazy guy page at if you want to know a bit more about me.  The page has a fair amount of hopefully interesting and useful info.

Gear Talk / Re: Power Monkey Explorer Solar Charger
« on: March 07, 2009, 04:59:26 pm »

Looks like it has good reviews, some say it dosent even need direct sunlight to charge. Thanks for posting this I think ill but one for my cell phone and mp3 player. Nice find!
I found that my cell phone was good for a week or more without charging if I turned it off when not in use.  I also found that if left on when there was no signal it would die very quickly.  I mean like not even a day.  Just something to consider.

BTW: How heavy is the solar Power Monkey.  I see that the shipping weight is two pounds.  That makes me wonder if this thing isn't kind of heavy.

If the devices you are charging can use a usb cable to charge, there are chargers that work with the device's usb cable and weigh as little as 1-2 ounces and only cost a few bucks.

What works best will vary depending on your devices, how you use them, and where you tour.  I found that crossing the US we had ample opportunities to plug in and charge our devices.

Gear Talk / Re: Oxford Low Rider panniers
« on: March 07, 2009, 04:39:48 pm »
Last question - how easy are those panniers to remove every night?   The one big thing I like about Ortliebs is how easily they come off for transport/securing.
Mine stay loaded and on the bike for pretty much the whole tour.  I don't take stuff into the tent at night, so for me it isn't much of an issue, but...  The Nashbar waterproof come off easily enough.  Actually I don't see how they could be any easier.  The top has hooks and the bottom a hook on the end of the velcro.  Just lift the top off and the unhook the bungee if it doesn't fall free on it's own.

The Transit ones are harder to remove.  If you tighten them real tight that are a bit of a pain to remove.

Gear Talk / Re: Oxford Low Rider panniers
« on: March 06, 2009, 04:59:34 pm »
Cheers.  I had seen those Performance panniers but those reviews about the fastenings coming off, etc. had put me off.  Good to know that these are reliable bags...

Thanks for the help!
Yeah, I have seen complaints too.  We did a 4244 mile tour in 2007 and my daughter used two of them much of the time for daily commuting for since then.  No problems with fasteners coming off and the bags are still in great shape.  We definitely did not baby them either.  We often just laid the bikes on their side on the panniers, etc.

At least one guy who complained about fasteners coming off said that he was having trouble because the hooks were designed for a rack with smaller diameter tubes than his had.  We had no such problems with the racks we used (Blackburn EX-1 rear and Nashbar or Performance clones of the Blackburn lowrider).

Gear Talk / Re: Newbicycle trailer
« on: March 06, 2009, 04:47:49 pm »
I know you say you don't care, but it is way to heavy for touring if you ask me.  Even a couple pounds make a big difference 33 pounds is a huge handicap if you will be riding any hills.

I guess it depends on how you want to use it though.

Maybe check out It is lighter, but still heavy and is rated to carry more.

General Discussion / Re: What roads can you cycle on?
« on: March 06, 2009, 12:30:18 pm »
Along with the Advbenture Cycling maps there is a mapping web site that allows you to specify a "bicycling" option so their suggested route avoids prohibited Interstates, etc.
Interesting that Bicycle routes can't exceed 200km on that site but auto routes can be thousands of miles.  What is up with that?

Gear Talk / Re: Oxford Low Rider panniers
« on: March 05, 2009, 02:19:05 pm »
Nashbar unfortunately doesnt ship to India... Performance does, but they dont really have anything that stands out.

Any other options for bags with good, robust rain-covers?  Worst case, I can probably get covers made locally but it just saves a lot of time to get them together.

They sell the same Waterproof panniers as Nashbar and also the Transit line.  Both were acceptable and I would buy either again.

Gear Talk / Re: Oxford Low Rider panniers
« on: March 04, 2009, 05:42:48 pm »
I wasn't crazy about the Nashbar MTB panniers, but like the Nashbar Waterproof ones quite well.  I also like the Transit line from Performance.  Three of us used a mix of Nashbar Waterproof, Nashbar MTB. and the Transit Epic The Epic was supposed to be a front pannier, but I used them on the rear and found them plenty big enough to suit me.  The ladies I rode with wanted one bag with pockets so they each used one of the MTB panniers on the front with a Nashbar waterproof on the other side.  All of the bags mentioned worked fine and held up well.

Sorry but I can't comment on the Oxford panniers.

Gear Talk / Re: Should I get a new bike?
« on: March 04, 2009, 01:26:01 pm »
You overstate the complexity by a considerable amount.
I agree.  I have built wheels that held up very well using Sheldon Brown's instructions.  I am reasonably mechanically inclined, but it wasn't all that hard.

Routes / Re: East to West
« on: March 04, 2009, 01:21:57 pm »
From the Harry Chapin Lyrics to Greyhound:
Take the Greyhound.
It's a dog of a way to get around.
Take the Greyhound.
It's a dog gone easy way to get you down.

That about sums it up.  I will say that if you are looking for an "adventure" the Greyhound will likely provide that.

Routes / Re: How much to save to do the TA
« on: March 04, 2009, 12:39:06 pm »
I think saying you could do it easily on $2000 is a little unrealistic.  You have to be really committed to being cheap to do that.  Not saying you can't, but you're not going to be showering very much, not eating in restaurants at all, not drinking any alcohol, not staying in a hotel even if the weather is really horrible or you're sick, etc.

Note that if you are solo it is more expensive per person, because you can't split the cost of lodging (camp sites & hotels).  Also, food can be a bit more expensive solo, because it's pretty hard to cook a healthy varied meal for yourself and not end up with leftovers that you can't use - so you end up either cooking really boring stuff with only a few ingredients, carrying leftover items which may spoil before you eat them, or eating out a bit more.

3 months is probably a little more than most people take. 

Everyone is different.  $2000 is about what I spent and it was probably a bit less.  I am naturally frugal, but did not feel like I pinched pennies much on that trip.  I think I only drank alcohol twice on the trip (a beer with a meal).  No I didn't stay in motels much (one night we paid and one night a friend put us up), but I did eat in restaurants a good bit (usually second breakfast or lunch).  There were three of us sharing expenses and sometimes we saved by splitting expenses, but more than half of the time we stayed for free.  In addition when we did pay a good portion of the time it was priced per person.  So we saved a little by being in a group of three, but I don't think it was all that much.

Additionally there were places we could have cut costs further.  The $2000 included things like shopping at the Patagonia outlet and having stuff sent home, buying some clothing and gear along the way, stopping in tourist traps like the "Sea Lion Cave", a night in a cabin, a night in a tee pee, several stops at expensive KOA style campgrounds, and a day of whitewater rafting.

On the other hand we probably got more invites to stay with folks than I would have gotten if I was alone.  People assumed we were a father and two daughters and I think that made us very approachable.

All that said it is a good idea to allow plenty of extra, just in case.  I had allowed $5000, but still had $2500 in the account at the end.  Bear in mind that airfare, a car rental, a night's motel stay before we started the tour, and a day of sightseeing in Newport before the trip all came out of the $5000 in addition to all daily spending during the tour.

Bottom line...  For me I could see doing the trip for as little as $1500 without being a complete cheapskate or as much as $3000 depending on what the trip was like.  If I went at a good clip, didn't do a lot of tourist stuff, and pinched my pennies I think my daily expenses (not counting airfare etc.) could be as little as $1500.  If I took my time and did more tourist stuff I can imagine it being as much as $3000.

I agree that 3 months is at the longer end of the range and that it would mean higher trip cost because of more meals and campsite fees.

Routes / Re: Hancock MD to Front Royal/Skyline via 522?
« on: March 04, 2009, 09:08:24 am »
Can't comment on 522, but the TA to Richmond was nice enough.  Still, you might consider riding some or all of the BRP.

Maybe check out:

Routes / Re: East to West
« on: March 03, 2009, 10:39:09 am »
Have you had good luck with Amtrak for coast to coast?  I like it in concept, but have heard other complain of delays in the range of days not hours.

Gear Talk / Re: Touring Stove
« on: March 03, 2009, 08:43:20 am »
You could always try a solar stove, they are super light, no fuel required, and easy to DIY. Only problem is that its a slow cooker, kinda like a crock-pot. Here is a link to the one I'm gonna try out . . .

and a nice article on solar cooking . . .

Looks interesting...
The problem I would foresee is that they are slow and work best mid day, not the time I want to wait on a slow cooked meal.  The sun is low in the sky by the time I am ready to make camp most days.  It also could be pretty limited by cloudy days and in thick tree cover.

So I like the concept, but have trouble imagining it being practical on the tours I have done.

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