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Messages - staehpj1

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Routes / Re: East to West
« on: March 03, 2009, 07:56:42 am »
Hello, I'm fairly new to the world of biking but I've started to entertain the idea of going cross country next summer. I've been reading what I can find online and it looks as if most people bike from West to East because of the prevailing winds. I live in New York and was hoping I could start at home but it looks like that would be a little more difficult. My question is, if I wanted to start in the West and head towards home how would I go about getting my bike and all my gear to the starting point? I can't imagine what kind of fees I'd have to pay to bring my bike on a plane. Would it be easier to just ride E-W rather than worrying about getting myself and my bike to the other side of the country?

East to West has a slight edge on prevailing surface winds for the TA. not sure about the NT or ST.  Summer winds in Kansas and eastern Colorado tend to be out of the SE and the TA goes kind of into them.  That said prevailing winds should not be the main factor in your decision.

As far as the worries about shipping the bike...  My preference is to have the air travel out of the way up front.  Easier to buy tickets when you know the date you need them.  You generally know when you are starting a trip, but unless you are different than me you only have a general idea when you will finish.  It is nice if you finish near home.  Being greeted by family and friends after the TA was a great experience.  It brought tears to my eyes when I saw them there to welcome us.  They had a van all painted decorated up and they threw us a nice cookout at the finish.  It was worth picking the direction of travel for that alone.

Routes / Re: How much to save to do the TA
« on: March 02, 2009, 07:13:24 pm »
Hey everyone, I am coming from NZ to cycle the TA, and am keen to get an idea of how much I will need to save to ensure I dont run out of money!

I will be camping the majority of the time, and have my cooker with me, trying to do it on the cheap. Thinking 3 months shuould be enough to cross.

Any rough ideas? Thanks in advance!
It is really variable depending on your choices.  It is best to have plenty available and just spend what you want/need to.  $2k or so very do-able.  $1k is possible, but you have to watch your pennies.  That said some folks might spend $5k.  I prefer to keep it down to $2k, but like to have a good cushion so I don't have to watch too closely.  Having 1.5-2 times what you expect to spend keeps it laid back.

It was pretty easy to stay for free better than half the time without stealth camping.

Some of the little things tend to add up.  Snacks, energy drinks, sunscreen, and other small items add up.  Food can vary a lot depending on your choices, but it is nice to eat well.  Still if you watch yourself you can keep costs down.

Three months is plenty unless you really want to take your time.  Again it is better to not have a deadline.  We allowed 12 weeks but took 73 days.

General Discussion / Re: What roads can you cycle on?
« on: March 01, 2009, 05:58:32 pm »
I'm starting the transam + western express next thursday as part of my round the world tour. But now have to get to San Fran within 40 days. So I'm looking at taking a few shortcuts.
That will put you at high altitudes in the Rockies way too early.  Iffy weather and a firm deadline can be a recipe for disaster.  Be careful.  That is a fairly ambitious schedule in good weather.  That time of year you really can't count on good weather.  Don't let a deadline get you into trouble.

Given your starting time and deadline, you might be better off to use the Souther Tier.  Ride the ST and use the train to go up the coast to SF.

Routes / Re: I'm looking for a route . . .
« on: March 01, 2009, 10:52:44 am »
Just a follow up comment.  Everyone has given good advice.   To be sure I am not leading you astray, let me add the following...

While it is ok to train as you go especially on a very long tour, you will be happier if you at least have some saddle time in, preferably on the bike you will be riding.  You really want to be past the point where your butt gets sore on a 30-40 mile ride.

As far as needing a shakedown cruise, it never hurts.  It is more necessary if you aren't familiar with your gear and used to camping.  For someone with a lot of camping and outdoor experience that stuff is no big deal; for someone without that experience it might be a steep learning curve.  In our case all of had a lot of lightweight camping experience.  BTW, to really count that camping experience needs to be in some self supported mode, probably not car camping.

Oh and I agree with whoever said that starting in the east requires more conditioning than starting in the west.  You are likely to find your self walking up the grades if you aren't ready.

General Discussion / Re: What roads can you cycle on?
« on: March 01, 2009, 10:40:46 am »
Pretty much.  In some places you can even ride on the interstates.  Just because you can ride on a given road doesn't mean you would want to though.

Where do you plan on riding?  Different parts of the country vary a lot.

General Discussion / Re: A Few Questions About the TransAm
« on: March 01, 2009, 10:36:38 am »
Take it from someone who knows. It is not a good idea to disregard warnings of heavy weather that might be coming your way.
I don't bother with a radio.  The locals will be quick to warn you when the weather looks dicey, especially if you ask.  You need to respect the weather, but then again I think it all to easy to be overly cautious to the point where you worry about every little thunder storm.  I don't think we would have ever gotten across Montana and Wyoming if we had holed up whenever there were thunderstorms in the forecast.  They were forecast pretty much every day.  And most of the time we could see one in the distance.  Yes they could be scary, we did have lightning all around us at one point up on a butte with nothing sticking up higher than us.  We probably should have gotten as low as we could and waited it out, but we raced as fast as we could for lower ground instead.  Maybe not the smartest move, but we lived to tell about it.

Routes / Re: I'm looking for a route . . .
« on: February 28, 2009, 07:10:08 pm »
But I have heard that the Blue Ridge is a lot harder than the TransAm
Not sure.  The limited part of the Parkway I have ridden was not too bad.  The climbs up to it are killer though.  The one at Vesuvius is about as bad as anything you will find anywhere else on the TA.  Out west you will have a lot of very long climbs but none are nearly as steep as the ones in the Appalachians.

The hardest part of the Trans America for me was the climbing in the few days before the BRP.  It was one of the reasons we started in the West.  That and we wanted to have air travel out of the way up front. 

If you want a shorter ride than the TA the BRP might be a reasonable choice.  If you live close to it you are probably pretty used to climbing.

If you don't mind flying somewhere, the Oregon coast would be a great warm up.  Beautiful scenery and enough hills to give you a good idea of what touring is like without beating you up too much.  Combine that with wonderful state parks with cheap hiker/biker sites to camp at.  Oh and great seafood too.  Ride a tour down the coast there and you will be hooked for sure if you aren't already.

Then again no warm up is really required.  Three of us did the TA as a first tour.  Two of the group had never even done a long day ride before.  One had done her longest ride a little over 30 miles unloaded and the other had done a little over 40 also unloaded.  None of us had ridden with a loaded bike at all.  They "trained" for a few weeks starting from scratch basically riding on the weekends.  We just took it easy for a week or ten days and did fine.

Gear Talk / Re: Bike Question - Specialized Roubiax
« on: February 28, 2009, 10:42:34 am »
Sounds like it could work OK.  Keep the load light if you can and don't add much weight on the bike with those wheels.  Since you are fairly light it helps.  You ought to be able to get below 30 pounds of gear if you watch your choices fairly carefully.  By all means stay below 40 for sure.

Good luck and have a great trip.

Gear Talk / Re: Bike Question - Specialized Roubiax
« on: February 28, 2009, 09:32:00 am »
I do know some riders that happily tour on carbon fiber frames.  Which Roubaix do you have?  It looks like there are models with different gearing and spoke counts.  One of the higher spoke count models may have sturdy enough wheels, but none of them even the triple have low enough gearing for the mountains carrying a camping gear IMO.  Pack light and add a 24t chain ring and they might be OK.

If going with the Roubaix, I would pack light and use a light trailer like the Extrawheel Voyager.  It is much lighter than the BoB and uses a 700 wheel so the same spare tubes or tires work.  It also puts less of the weight on the bike's rear wheel.

Maybe use the Old Man Mountain rack on the front.

General Discussion / Re: Weather Resources
« on: February 27, 2009, 06:37:24 pm »
Really different answers depending on which of those choices you pick.  I suggest that as a quick reality check you can look at the recommended seasons for the Adventure cycling routes that are closest to where you are going.

I don't advise going up the west coast.  That is against strong prevailing winds during the riding season there.  Don't worry too much about prevailing winds when riding across the US though.  That is almost a wash between on way and the other.  On the TA E-W is slightly favored.  Not sure about the NT or ST.

For going across the middle of the country.  The weather is likely to be good with a Spring departure in the East.  You miss the hot humid weather from Virginia thru Missouri and get to the Rockies when it has thawed well and snow is unlikely.

Doing a two way xc trip or perimeter tour needs to be planned carefully.  It works out the best by far if you go around the country in a counter clockwise direction.  I have done a bit of doodling about such a tour starting and ending in Baltimore and taking 6 months.  See the following for a bit more details:

General Discussion / Re: A Few Questions About the TransAm
« on: February 27, 2009, 05:04:17 pm »
that runner guy is incredible...when i biked the TA i "biked" into him halfway up togwettoo pass (sp?) climb and on way to dubois.  incredible guy...looks like he's still busy...running 
I wonder if we met?  I am assuming you met Bjorn in 2007.  I was traveling with two recent college grads (my daughter and a friend) at the time.  We were East bound and met Bjorn in Dayville Oregon June 19th.  We were in Dubois July 11th.  If you think we might have met look at our journal to see if you recognize us.  It is at:

If you met us you may know us as Erica, Lauren, and Pete or maybe as "Two Grads and a Dad".

Adventure Cycling is not offering a coast to coast supported tour.
They sometimes have in the past haven't they?

Gear Talk / Re: Four gears in hub.
« on: February 27, 2009, 07:51:49 am »
Check out the Rohloff (14 speeds and $$$).  I am not a fan for my use, but some swear by them.  They are often used for expedition type tours and off road.

Also look at the cheaper shimano-nexus 8 speed.

For using a triple on front, yes it is possible if you use the right type of chain tensioner.  Dig around on the sheldon brown site a bit.  I saw something there.

Also you could use a schlumpf speed drive.  I think it is also expensive.

General Discussion / Re: A Few Questions About the TransAm
« on: February 27, 2009, 07:26:22 am »
Since you don't even have the dog yet, I'd advise doing the trip and then getting a dog after.  A dog will be a hassle on a trip of that nature.  You don't need it for protection.  For company make it a point to meet the local folks.  You will be likely to find tons of chances to chat with them.  Also if you camp in hiker biker sites, city parks, and churches you will probably be able to camp with other cyclists if you want.

That said as far as walking the TA...  I don't know of anyone, but we met a guy who ran a shorter route across the US.  He was on the TA part of the way but his route was maybe 1200 miles shorter.  His site is at:  Check out his Oregon to Virginia trip.

I also would advise that you will not need to stealth camp most of the time.  Why stealth camp in places where you are welcome to camp in plain sight?  It is a personal choice, but when bike touring I prefer to camp in city parks or sleep in churches rather than hiding in the woods.  You get to meet more people that way, and the extra human contact is nice.  I think we paid to camp less than half the time on the TA and never needed to stealth camp or knock on doors to get permission.  On the TA the trails have been blazed in that respect.  Places that will let you camp are mostly known.  Churches that will let you sleep there are known, etc.  Some places will feed you either breakfast of dinner.  It is a nice experience.

Where there aren't free places to stay there are often cheap camp sites for cyclists.

General Discussion / Re: A Few Questions About the TransAm
« on: February 26, 2009, 06:20:38 pm »
I have my doubts about this for a lot of reasons, but...

I would expect problems in Kentucky and Missouri.  We were chased by dogs multiple times a day in both those states.  I would have to guess we were chased by at least 30-40 dogs and probably more, sometimes 2-4 of them at a time.

I know that day after day we had 100F heat on our TA.  Most dogs do not do well running in 100F heat.  I have a dog that runs with me and I wouldn't make very good time trying to cross the country at her pace and daily mileage in hot weather.

Personally I wouldn't expect my dog to go faster or farther than I would on foot.  A lot does depend on the breed and age of your dog though.  If I were going to take my dog I would either let her ride in a trailer on the flats and downhills and get up the climbs under her own power or I would skip the bike and walk/run carrying my stuff in a baby jogger.

As far as how often there are vets offices...  There won't even be towns closer that 40 miles apart fairly often and once I think they were 80 miles apart.  Some of these towns had a population of less than 50 people.  You may well be several days to a week's ride from a vet at the pace I would be willing to push my dog.  And if she was sick or injured it would be ugly.

You will have difficulties in some places where dogs will not be allowed.  I am pretty sure you won't be able to take fido into any national parks and maybe some state parks.  You can probably work around this one, but it may be a hassle at times.

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