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Messages - staehpj1

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Routes / Re: Advice for first tour.
« on: November 22, 2009, 05:57:24 pm »
I was reading advice for first-time, long distance bicycle tourists. You might want to consider a route less strenuous than the NT or the TA, and that leaves out the PCBR.
FWIW, myself and two companions did the TA as a first tour.  We all had a lot of outdoor experience, but one was not a cyclist, one had not ridden in a year, and one had been riding a lot.  The two who were not in riding shape got in a few 30 mile rides before the tour, but didn't really have time to train since they were finishing up their senior year of college.  All were in in the groove 10 days to two weeks into the tour.  That said we all were already well familiar with all of the camping and cooking skills which helped.

Motivation is the biggest factor in whether you will be successful and enjoy the trip.

Routes / Re: Which Direction TransAm Best -E to W or W to E?
« on: November 18, 2009, 10:19:51 am »
Staehpj1  great map showing the wind directions for July are similar maps available somewhere as would like one for April/May -
I lost track of the source and it was sporadically available to start with.  July was the only one I kept a copy of.  I will say that January was pretty much the opposite.  Months in between were transitional between the two.  June and August were close to July I think.  Same for May and September, but maybe more variable.  April and October I don't know I suspect that are more of a crap shoot.

This is all from my often faulty memory though.

There is local data with wind roses available.  It provides more detail, but it requires more effort to use since each one is for a specific month and one specific location.  A starting point for that might be

Routes / Re: Which Direction TransAm Best -E to W or W to E?
« on: November 18, 2009, 06:56:13 am »
I'm assuming you mean that the eastern hills and mountains have steeper inclines, because they sure aren't as high as the western mountains, correct? 
There are long grades in the Rockies, but they are not too often greater than 6% and I don't think we saw anything over 8%.  In the Appalachians we saw close to 20% and as John said they come one after another.  I personally was surprised that the Rockies were much easier than I imagined and the Appalachians were harder that the Rockies and harder than I would have guessed.   This despite the fact that were were pretty road hardened by the time we got to the Appalachians.

Don't get me wrong both are doable, just be sure you have low gearing in the Appalachians.

Routes / Re: Which Direction TransAm Best -E to W or W to E?
« on: November 17, 2009, 05:39:51 pm »
Johns reasons are all good ones.  The bottom line is that it can be great either way.   We had fun going W-E and I don't regret it at all, it was a great trip.  I think you have the best shot at good weather and favorable winds E-W, but there are many reasons for either choice. If you have a preference based on more aesthetic reasons, I would go with that preference.

Which ever way you decide, have a great trip.

John, did they credit any particular factor in the statistic about higher success rate going E-W?

Routes / Re: Which Direction TransAm Best -E to W or W to E?
« on: November 17, 2009, 12:11:21 pm »
Forget about prevailing westerlies.  The surface winds in the middle of the country will most likely be out of the Southeast by June.  In July we had a headwind the entire way across eastern Colorado and Kansas (the portion of the trip where winds mattered the most because they are open plains).  Look at these graphics to see what i mean.

If going again. I'd be inclined to go east to west if starting in April, May, or June.  That way you avoid some of the heat and humidity in the East and also avoid possible snow in the Rockies.  The later you go the more sense a start in the west makes.

The factors that made a start in the west best for us were
  • The worst climbs are in Virginia.  Strange but true.  There are long climbs in the West, but they are all fairly gradual.  Not only that but Virginia has more total elevation change than any other state on the route.  Since two of us had not had time to train before the trip we wanted to put off the steep climbs.  This made training as we went much more palatable.
  • We liked the idea of having air travel out of the way up front.
  • We liked the idea that it would be harder to back out and quit after a week.
  • It was awesome that family could meet us at the finish, throw us a big picnic, and drive us home.

Gear Talk / Re: Camera Thoughts
« on: November 07, 2009, 09:17:55 am »
So I'm wondering if anyone out there takes along an SLR/DSLR when they tour. I'm leaving in a couple weeks and would love it if I can figure out how to bring my slightly cumbersome Canon 5D with me. I know I'd get some great shots with it, but I'm not sure how to carry it along. Am I better off just bringing a point and shoot? Any touring photographers out there have any thoughts? Whats the best way to pack it, or should I just leave it home? Been going back and forth with the idea. Thanks.

I have gone both routes and find that that for me the DSLR is nice but probably not worth the extra weight.  My little Nikon s550 take great pictures, uses memory chips that can work in my Blackberry or my 8 ounce internet tablet (Nokia N800) so I can upload pics to a web site and still carry a minimum of gear.  I do miss the availability of lenses (which I really don't want to carry any way) and my DSLR has much better low light performance, but the difference in weight just isn't worth it unless the trip is primarily a photography trip.

For me weight is one of the primary factors in all gear choices, but it is still a judgment call. 

Connecting ACA Routes / Re: Southern Tier to Trans Am via Santa Fe Trail
« on: November 05, 2009, 06:47:14 pm »

Thanks for the further route information. I will include it with our file.

If AC decides to do anything with that route I would be happy to share any other info I may have.  Jerry is planning to do some variation of the trip in the Spring and I may join him.  We could possibly collect info about the towns we pass through if that would be helpful.

Connecting ACA Routes / Re: Southern Tier to Trans Am via Santa Fe Trail
« on: November 05, 2009, 01:43:33 pm »
I have a journal of the trip at:

This is a link to his original planned route:

This is a link to my actual route:

FWIW I found I-25 to be delightful even though it is interstate, but for those who wish to avoid it there is a frontage road much of the way that is most often far enough from the highway to feel remote at least some of the time.  One minor issue with the frontage road... On the portion where I rode the frontage road it was on the opposite side of I-25 at the rest stops making it impossible to use them.  As a result potential rest stops were infrequent in that section.

The route Jerry planned for that section is fairly remote and not loaded with services  There was a place to get water at Mosquero, I think.

Gear Talk / Re: Tie down straps
« on: November 05, 2009, 06:52:17 am »
On tour there is pretty much zero chance for me to misplace them because they are always buckled to the rack.  At home between trips they do tend to get lost in the bottom of gear tubs, drawers, or bags.

Connecting ACA Routes / Re: Southern Tier to Trans Am via Santa Fe Trail
« on: November 04, 2009, 05:56:13 pm »
ACA should look at adding the Santa Fe Trail to it's list of routes. Lots of history. Good towns along the way.
I agree.  I rode the same route on the section between Santa Fe and Dodge City this spring, but I was going the opposite way.  It was very nice.   I started a bit west of Kansas City and finished in Santa Fe.  The route has the advantage of rail service between the two cities.  Actually the service was from Lamy, but there is a train from SF to Lamy.  I didn't use the train from SF to Lamy choosing to ride my bike, but the train ride from Lamy to KC was very pretty.

A good friend planned the route and wound up injured so I did the ride alone.  Actually he had a different route in mind for the part on I-25, but I chose to ride I-25.

Gear Talk / Re: Tie down straps
« on: November 02, 2009, 08:04:00 am »
Personally I like straps better than bungees.  I use the cheap (maybe 3 or 4 bucks a pair) 3/4" ones that you can find just about anywhere they sell camping stuff.  I do find that I break a buckle once in a while so I usually carry a spare.
Something like these:

Gear Talk / Re: Touring (Ageing?) Compromises
« on: November 01, 2009, 04:24:52 pm »
How old is aging?

At 58 I prefer to ride my road bike pretty much any time I am not on a loaded tour.  I would probably even use the road bike if I was doing self supported touring without cooking and camping.  I don't even bother to train on on the touring bike before a tour.

Routes / Re: TransAm Map Set Update Schedule?
« on: October 31, 2009, 09:15:27 am »
I'm not quite sure how you're going to "keep your eyes out for any updates." It's not easy to tell when updates are available, nor what version you'll get if you order.
That's easy.  He can email Jennifer or email/call the Adventure Cycling offices.  They are pretty accommodating.

Gear Talk / Re: Sleeping Pad Issue
« on: October 28, 2009, 07:23:35 am »
I think the reflective layer helps as well.

Gear Talk / Re: Tire Question
« on: October 28, 2009, 07:22:31 am »
If I understand your route correctly that would be the Pacific Coast Highway, right?  If so I personally would use a tire suited primarily to decent roads, like something nearly slick.  I am not especially a Schwalbe fan due primarily to having been soured on them by the Marathon Pluses that I recently took off after only a few hundred miles because they rode like anchors.  In fairness some of their other tires are probably very good, but I'd avoid the Pluses unless puncture resistance is your main and nearly only criteria.  Personally I prefer something with a lively ride and if I have to fix a flat once in a while so be it.

My tire of choice would be the 28 mm Continental Ultra Gatorskin.  It has a nice lively ride, is fast, durable, and pretty puncture resistant.  I used them on my spring tour carrying about 30 pounds and they were a joy.

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