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Messages - staehpj1

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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.

General Discussion / Re: Best Cell phone coverage across US???
« on: January 22, 2010, 11:55:30 am »
I have certainly looked at these "maps", and the major players each "claim" about the same nationwide coverage.

Not so.  You must not have looked at the coverage maps for the same carriers as I did.  The only two I really looked at were Verizon and Sprint/Nextel.  Those two are not even similar.

Bottom line...
Both the maps and my experience on the TA and other tours as well as other trips agree that Sprint's coverage is awful unless you stay close to the interstates and Verizon's is pretty good, but not perfect.  As far as I noticed, the only place on the TA where we didn't have a signal with Verizon and other folks did with other carriers was part of Idaho (the Riggins area).

Verizon is hard to beat in this regard.  Check out a recent thread on the crazy guy forum at:

General Discussion / Re: Wireless internet on the TransAm?
« on: January 22, 2010, 10:28:17 am »
public libraries best bet/most reliable thing to hang hat on, in my opinion.
esp through a lot of the remote stretches
If you mean the public computers in libraries, I found them to be a huge hassle in many cases.  The reasons:
  • Short hours and limited days of operation.  Many small town libraries seem to be open three days a week and short hours.  More often than not they were closed when we passed through.
  • Often a wait to use one.
  • Often a rather short time limit on usage.  This combined with slow performance made uploading picture to a journal almost impossible.
  • In one case they wanted us to sign up for a library card first.
  • Tiny towns did not have a library.

If you mean using their WiFi, I haven't had too much experience with that since the only times I tried it was on my Spring 2009 tour.  My success rate was maybe 5% then though.  The reasons:
  • WiFi turned off when the library was closed
  • WiFi password protected and library closed.
  • Library had no WiFI, and there wasn't a computer in sight anywhere even behind the information desk!  Interestingly enough there was an unlocked wireless access point in the auto parts store next door.
  • I found other WiFi before finding the library.
  • Tiny towns did not have a library.

I had much better luck just looking for an unlocked wireless access point.  Most towns had some open access point either at a business or a private residence.

General Discussion / Re: BRAN - Bike Ride Across Nebraska
« on: January 21, 2010, 07:43:34 pm »
  "One thing was that everyone getting up at the un-holy time of 4:00am-4:30am

That would suit me fine, but I can see where it would be unpleasant for most folks.

Spoon?  Is that you Jerry?

General Discussion / Re: Florida
« on: January 21, 2010, 07:39:26 pm »
Watch out for those Florida drivers.  In my experience they are some of the worst in the US.

Routes / Re: Favorite tours?
« on: January 19, 2010, 05:34:52 pm »
I haven't done too many, but the Trans America was great.  The Pacific Coast is another great ride. I've only driven/ridded pieces of it, but I have seen enough of it to know that I want to do it sometime.

I am looking forward to doing the new Sierra Cascades Route this Summer.

General Discussion / Re: Wireless internet on the TransAm?
« on: January 18, 2010, 07:20:09 am »
Even the "Split Rock Cafe" in Jeffrey City WY had wifi.
It should be noted that Jeffrey City is pretty much a ghost town.

Don't expect to have WiFi every day, but you can find it frequently.  McDonalds now has made their WiFi free so towns large enough to have a McDonalds are a good bet.  On my Spring tour in Kansas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico I found WiFi in most towns even very small ones.  Sometimes it was someone's home or business network and sometimes a motel, library or restaurant.  I was surprised how many were just someones wireless router that they didn't bother to password protect.

I refuse to carry even a netbook, but my Nokia N800 is only 7 ounces.  That said I will probably take a smart phone of some sort on my tour this year.  It is hard to beat a 6-8 ounce device that is a phone, camera, internet appliance, GPS, and computer.  I am undecided whether to take my work Blackberry or buy something like an iPhone, gPhone. android, or Nokia 910 for my personal phone.  My work Blackberry is on the Nextel network which in the past had really lousy coverage in the rural US.  Anyone know if the coverage is much better these days?  If not I might take my personal (verizon) phone.

Routes / Re: Transamerica general questions
« on: January 16, 2010, 05:55:31 pm »
I always include the rest days, if any, in the average, don't most folks? 

I almost always say I rode "X" miles per riding day.  I prefer to say per riding day as some people take a day off every other day it seems while others never take a day off.
That makes sense, but I don't do it that way myself for two reasons...
Reason 1, the main reason I think about average daily mileage is to figure out how many days I need for a trip.
Reason 2, I prefer to take partial days off rather than full rest days.

In any case it is probably a good idea to qualify it with a statement like your's ("I rode "X" miles per riding day").  I try to remember to specify total days.

General Discussion / Re: Training
« on: January 16, 2010, 10:39:07 am »
Rhetorical, don't take it personally: If you don't know how to ride long distances, how "realistic" is your cross-country ride?


Be very afraid.

I'd have to say pretty realistic.  Of the folks I on the Trans America a large percentage just decided to go and did it.  Many would not have called themselves cyclists before the tour.  Quite a few trained as they went if you can call that training.  What most had in common was that they were stubborn goal oriented people, were generally fairly fit, and were experienced in other outdoor activities.  I would think based on the folks that I know who successfully did a NT, TA, or ST that those qualities were way more important than how much they trained.

As far as the be "afraid comment".  I have to say there isn't much to be afraid of on an XC tour. On tour, go out and ride however many miles you feel like each day and don't push yourself past your comfort zone.  Pretty soon it is just the normal daily grind.

Obviously it is best to have some mileage in, but real training is not required.  So yeah get some mileage in.  It will help especially for the first 10 days to 2 weeks, but after a couple weeks you will be in the groove even if you weren't at the start.

Remember it is a vacation not a competitive event, so no need to train hard unless you just want to for it's own sake.  The exception is if you are trying to do a fast crossing.  In that case train like crazy.

General Discussion / Re: Dry Counties on the TransAM
« on: January 15, 2010, 04:59:12 pm »
Is it really that big of a deal to not have a beer once in a while?  It is a pretty small percentage of the time given the length of the TA.  I think we spent two weeks in Kentucky and Virginia out of about 10 weeks total and beer was available some of the time there.   So it was probably something like 10 days out of 73 that we were exclusively in places that beer was not sold.

That said, I can recommend a couple possible alternatives:
  • Switch to hard liquor; you can carry a lot more alcohol in this form.
  • Swing down into Tennessee and North Carolina to avoid Kentucky and Virginia.

Gear Talk / Re: Will my bike hold up?
« on: January 14, 2010, 07:15:10 pm »
I suggest you underpack. Seriously, underpack. If you forget something your truly need, buy it. You are not going to ever be far from civilization. Ask yourself, "Am I absolutely positive that I will use this every day and that life will be miserable without it?" If the answer is no, leave it behind.

Note that overpacking is not merely a matter of working your body a little harder. A heavy load greatly increases your chances of mechanical problems, and greatly increases your chances of handling problems.
I agree.  A light load is a joy and will make the trip much more pleasant.  The key to being comfortable is to be comfortable when on the bike and when sleeping.  Comfort on the bike is helped greatly by carrying less, but be sure you have a decent tent, sleeping pad, and sleeping bag.  They have to be decent quality, but don't need to be heavy.

If there is someone at home that can mail stuff to you via general delivery it might help make you worry less about packing too little.  Seriously you really need very little especially on a route like the Pacific Coast.

Routes / Re: Transamerica general questions
« on: January 14, 2010, 07:02:56 pm »
One way to look at it:  4,750 miles.  Maximum of 63 days (9 weeks).  To average about 80 miles/day (79.16) would mean only 3 rest days, which is one every 21 days on average. 

I always include the rest days, if any, in the average, don't most folks?  That said I don't usually take rest days at all unless I am either sick or have something interesting planned that will take all day.

Personally I prefer to just take a short or half day once in a while and skip the rest days.  Skipping rest days may not be for everyone, but I don't see the attraction to sitting in camp or worse yet in a motel room watching TV.  On the TA we never stayed the same place twice.  The day we went WW rafting we only went 8 miles and the day Lauren was injured in an accident we actually stayed a few miles back from our start for the day.  I think we rode 12 miles before she crashed, but I wound up riding 40 miles that day any way.

I'm not saying that is for everyone, but I recommend trying it.  Just don't ride so many miles that you need a full day off.  I think I make better mileage on average that way and find it pleasant.

General Discussion / Re: Training
« on: January 14, 2010, 05:47:48 pm »
how should an inexperienced rider train for a cross-country tour? ANY advice or experiences would be appreciated. am looking for info on how long before ride one should be training, how many miles to strive for realistically, etc.
Train if you want.  It is always good to be in shape but...

As long as your bottom is used to the saddle and you aren't in a huge hurry you are golden.  My approach is to ride or run as much as I feel like leading up to a tour.  Then I just ride as many miles as I am comfortable with each day on the tour.  It doesn't take long to get in shape while on the tour.  The key is to never do enough miles that you are real sore the next day.  You can build the mileage pretty quickly if you start out taking it easy.

My two partners on the TA had almost no miles in and did fine.  We just took it easy the first 10 days to two weeks.

Last Spring I did a 10 day tour with pretty much zero miles in for the year.  I didn't have much trouble averaging 80 miles a day.  I was in fairly good shape from running and that helped some I guess.  My point is that if you are in generally good or even fair shape and are at least a bit used to your saddle you will be fine.

BTW when I do ride while not on tour I never ride my touring bike or carry a load.

That said do be sure that you are OK with the panniers and a load on at least a test ride.

I agree with what has been said so far.  I say go and don't worry too much.  You will meet lots of nice folks on the road.  When things went wrong I have always found local folks who were not only willing, but eager to help.

Not sure what route you are taking, but the TA has enough folks riding it that you can meet folks who you can camp or ride with for some portions of your ride.  If you are on one of the major AC routes that will likely be the case.

General Discussion / Re: West to east, or east to west on the TransAm?
« on: January 12, 2010, 07:22:36 am »
My wife and I are riding the TransAm route this summer, but we are struggling with which direction to go. W to E, we start in June. E to W, and we are planning a mid May departure.  But, we are open to advice. Thanks

I am confused.  Are you starting in mid May or June?  Mid may and maybe even early June are kind of early for W-E, with a good chance of snow in the Cascades and Rockies and maybe some passes still closed.  McKenzie Pass in particular might be closed as late as July some years, but Santiam Pass is an alternate for it.

There are a bunch of reasons to go either way, but for an early start E-W will have better weather.  Later in the season W-E starts to be better weather wise.

A few things to consider:
  • Wind - Contrary to popular belief you will usually have more trouble with the wind when riding W-E on the TA.  The Summer winds in Eastern Colorado and Kansas (the part of the trip where the wind matters most) tend to be out of the SE and that is the way the TA goes there.  So if someone tells you about "prevailing westerlies" don't listen.
  • Sun - Do you want the sun in your eyes in the morning or evening?
  • Climbing - Surprisingly the hardest climbing of the trip is in Virginia.  I kind of prefer to do it after I am road hardened a bit.
  • History - Do you want to follow the historic move west?
  • Air Travel - If you live near one end or the other, it is nice to get air travel out of the way up front.  Also it was nice to have family and friends meet us at the end.
  • Scenery - Do you want to save some part for last?
  • The best way to miss the cold in the Rockies and heat and humidity in the SE is to either go E-W early in the season or W-E late in the season.
  • It is harder to back out if you start far from home.  I like the commitment of that.

In the end either way is fine though.

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