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Messages - staehpj1

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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.

Routes / Re: Internet on the Cross Country
« on: May 27, 2010, 07:10:45 am »
I have noticed that many of the hotels along the way are not brand name hotels.  For those of you that travel and stay in hotels, do you find the majority of them have Internet Access? Anyone tried the 3G laptop plans? 
It varies.  Some do some don't.

We carried no computer on the Trans America, but I did on my tour from Kansas City to Santa Fe.  I was surprised how frequently I was able to find an open wifi access point even in very small towns.  Libraries, motels, restaurants, random businesses, churches, and peoples homes all might have an unlocked access point.

On the 3g...  I wouldn't consider any carrier other than Verizon.  They are the only one who has reasonable coverage.

BTW: Personally I prefer to limit my weight carried so a 7 or 8 ounce internet tablet (Nokia N800) is my limit and even the netbooks are out.  My first choice would be to carry a smart phone (Motorola Droid or a Blackberry) on the Verizon network.  It would be one that also supports wifi if possible.  The thing is that I am not willing to pay an extra $30 a month for a data plan, so that is out too.

Another day, another dilemma.  I have a new spare tyre sitting here -Continental Travel Contact, like the tyres I already have on the bike and which are relatively new.  The spare was picked up in Germany by my partner at my request.  I know they come in a foldable version, and did specify that, but she's not sure now if it is, although she says she thinks it was folded when she got it.  OK, she had other things on her mind, and the question exactly why she unfolded it remains moot for the sake of the relationship.  So, what's the consensus on taking along a spare on a two month road trip in the US?  More weight more bulk, or more peace of mind?  These particular tyres are supposed to have some degree of Kevlar protection and I've never had a flat or blow-out so far even in the heat and on rough surfaces of SE Asia - fingers crossed.  And anyway, how would I know if this tyre I hold before me is in fact a foldable tyre, and if I should decide to take it, how do I actually go about folding it - assuming it is capable of being folded?  They tend to wriggle quite a bit and I'd hate to destroy a good tyre in the process.  Of course, I could buy a ready folded new tyre as a spare in the US but I am trying to keep within budget. :-\

Different strokes, but I have never carried a spare.

It should be easy to tell if it has a wire bead or not.  My guess is that if you can't tell it is a not foldable and it was just folded into the three rings that non foldable can be folded into.

Any wire beaded tire can be packed small enough to fit in a pannier or strap on top.  Check out:

Routes / Re: Using Google Maps & the cycling routes - Beware!
« on: May 26, 2010, 01:26:24 pm »
Google bicycling routing seems to over prefer trails to roads so much so that it will add over 50% to the distance to travel just to use the trail.

Google maps street view is very helpful to confirm that the item(campground, store, ect) is actually where the map says it is or that the road exists.

It is nice to actually find trails with, but I will keep using Delorme's TOPO to do my routing.  I can add the trails found in Google to delorme when they actually help.

The Google maps bicycle option could benefit from more options.  Personally I would like to be able to check a box to tell it to NOT try to find bike trails and just pick suitable roads only suggesting bike paths if they are a direct route and then only if paved.

General Discussion / Re: Headwinds
« on: May 26, 2010, 08:29:37 am »
Have you tried starting very early in the morning, stopping in a town when the wind gets really bad, and then continuing late in the afternoon when the wind often dies down some?

I like to start an hour or more before daylight.  It is a great time to be on the road and the winds are usually light that time of day.  At least that was my experience in eastern Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico.  I expect it should be the same there.

Hang in there.

Routes / Re: Best resupply points on TransAmerica Route?
« on: May 25, 2010, 10:40:10 am »
Just a few thoughts...
Each one is in a city that has multiple bicycle shops, and each represents the largest city which the TransAmerica Route passes through in its state.  The five of them are close to evenly spaced, resulting in a reasonable distance between chain replacements even for riders who are particularly aggressive about chain replacement.
Chains last much longer than the length of the TA for me.  Additionally they don't totally fail suddenly.  As long as you measure once in a while you get plenty of warning before the rest of the drive train is damaged.  Bike shops are listed on the AC maps, just be careful east of Pueblo as there is quite a distance with no bike shops on route there unless things have changed since 2007.

The thing that might be useful to other riders is that on the above page I've also made note of the best place within that city to receive packages: my first choice was FedEx locations which offer the Hold at Location service and which have extended weekend hours, and where that service isn't available,I indicated the exact address you should use to arrange to pick up a package at a U.S. post office via general delivery, along with the address/hours/phone of the post office where your package would be held.
FedX locations tend to be only in bigger cities which usually means extra effort finding them and getting there.  We found it more convenient to use the US Postal Service and general delivery than to use FedEx.  Pick a smallish town and the post office will not be off route.  It is really easy to deal with the USPS, stop by any post office and tell them where the package is being held and they will arrange to forward it to another post office.  This is very handy if you pass through the town in question when the post office is closed or are not ready for the package.  All you really need to know is the zip code which is already on the AC maps.

General Discussion / Re: mountain v. road clipless shoes/pedals
« on: May 25, 2010, 10:28:17 am »
I am planning my first tour this summer.  6-7 days along the OR and CA coast.  I have both MTB SPD shoes/pedals plus road shoes and pedals with Looks style cleats.  I really like the idea of using my MTB set up for the comfort and ease of walking around.  That said the fit of my bike is very important as I have found myself to be very biomechanically sensitive.  A centimeter off and I suffer on long rides.  My bike is perfectly set up for me and changing something as important as shoes, pedals, and cleats is not worth it.  I will be sticking with my road shoes and cleat covers.  If I wasn't so finicky I would be using an SPD set up with MTB shoes for sure.

I can see doing that.   While I prefer to tour in MTB shoes, walking in Look cleats with Kool Kovers is really not that bad at least for going into stores and other short walks.  I don't think I would want them to be my only shoes, but if you have Crocs, running shoes, or sandals to change into in camp and for hikes I don't see the Looks as a huge hardship for short distance walking.

Routes / Re: Best Cross Country Route with Hotels ever 50-70 miles
« on: May 24, 2010, 07:13:11 am »
Thanks guys.  I am really open to which route I will take.  I will leave around July 15th if that makes any difference.  I can do some days over 70 with no problem.  I just can't do them consistently.  I want a leisurely trip at my own pace without over doing it.  As much advice as possible is GREATLY appreciated.
In that case the TA would probably be fine too.  Do be sure to call ahead, since sometimes the situation changes and places close either for good or temporarily.

Routes / Re: Best Cross Country Route with Hotels ever 50-70 miles
« on: May 23, 2010, 07:22:37 pm »
It might be kind of tough on the Trans America.  You might have to do some short days to set up for the longer stretches and I think you would definitely need to do a few days that were longer than 70 miles.

Gear Talk / Re: Tool kit?
« on: May 21, 2010, 11:36:08 am »
It depends on the bike, but for my bike the following works well:

2 - 8mm/10mm wrenches (one open end and one box, both ignition wrench sized)
1" stub of an 8mm allen wrench (used with 8mm box end)
Spoke wrench
Tire levers
Swiss army knife
Multi-tool (a very basic one)
Chain rivet tool
Cassette removal tool (Unior)
Tire pressure gauge

If you need to pack or unpack the bike for the plane or train a pedal wrench is needed.  A 15mm cone wrench will suffice if the pedals are not super tight.  The Park Bicycle Tool RW-3 Headset Pedal Wrench Combo is another option.  It is a short stubby wrench.

When we passed through that area we didn't have any trouble finding canisters.  Personally I think canister stoves are the way to go unless they are hard to find where you will be.  We did find them nonexistent in the middle of the US starting after Pueblo.  Even there I might consider mail drops via general delivery for resupply.  They can be mailed surface mail only.

In the area where you will be I'd carry two cartridges and start looking for a replacement when one is empty.  If you use a lot of fuel, go with the largest cartridges you can find (16 ounce) otherwise the medium sized ones (8 ounce) are about right.  We mostly used the 8 ounce ones, but if traveling alone I might use the 4 ounce ones.

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