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Messages - staehpj1

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General Discussion / Re: Camping on the TransAm and start date ?'s
« on: January 10, 2010, 07:36:11 pm »
My wife and I will be riding the TransAm route this summer. We are planning to start June 1. Is this to early? Also, we will be camping most of the time. Are full campgrounds a problem. Advice is appreciated.

I forgot to answer about camping.  We had no trouble finding places to camp when we started June 11th in the west.  Many places guaranteed a spot for cyclists.  About half of the time we stayed for free in town parks, at churches, schools, or with hosts.  A lot of the time we found inexpensive sites.  Only a few times did we resort to a $20 or more camp site.  Asking around always yielded a place to stay whether there was a campground or not.

General Discussion / Re: Camping on the TransAm and start date ?'s
« on: January 10, 2010, 07:24:26 pm »
My wife and I will be riding the TransAm route this summer. We are planning to start June 1. Is this to early? Also, we will be camping most of the time. Are full campgrounds a problem. Advice is appreciated.
That is definitely on the early side for a W-E, but if you have to go then you will probably be OK.  It varies a lot from year to year though.

If you have the option, I'd push it back a couple weeks.  There is a pretty good chance that McKenzie Pass will be closed, but if it is you can probably take Santiam Pass as an alternate.  Also McKenzie opens for bikes before it opens for cars most years.  If you can ride it before it is open to cars it is pretty cool.

In 2007 we started on June 11th and were fine, but like I said it varies from year to year.

Routes / Re: Great Rivers vs Atlantic Coast ACA route
« on: January 04, 2010, 07:49:02 pm »
It is all personal preference, so my opinion may be useless to you, but since you asked I'll give it anyway.

The Sierra Cascades route sounds like the hands down winner to me.  I live on the east coast so maybe that is why, but it just doesn't have the same appeal.   The Great Rivers route would be way down on my list as well.  Other routes like the Pacific Coast, Great Parks, or the Lewis and Clark would rate way above either the East Coast or Great Rivers for me, but as I said that is just me.  You need to ask yourself what you are looking for in a tour.

I have not ridden any of the three you suggest but have crossed them on the Trans America and have driven a good bit in those areas.

Unless Adventure Cycling misses their projection by a mile the Sierra Cascades route maps should be available long before the season for riding there comes.  I hope to ride it myself this Summer.

Routes / Re: Sierra Cascade Route
« on: January 02, 2010, 09:48:50 am »
Given the elevations, mid-summer appears best. Wind rose data suggests north to south.
Thanks, I kind of figured that was likely to be the case.  It is good to have some verification though.

I am anxiously awaiting the release of the maps and the arrival of the book.

Routes / Re: Sierra Cascade Route
« on: December 31, 2009, 09:17:21 am »
My guess is, based on a message from ACA's mapping group, they will have it out on or about March 1. If you can locate a copy  of Bil Paul's "The Pacific Crest Bicycle Trail," it covers most of the route. (it's out of print (published in 1990); I found a used copy through Amazon). A couple of TA riders and me are considering the route for this summer. Great scenic (and challenging) route.
Oh by the way, I ordered the book.  In the mean time, what does the books say about best time of year and direction of travel for this route?

Routes / Re: Sierra Cascade Route
« on: December 30, 2009, 03:16:05 pm »
My guess is, based on a message from ACA's mapping group, they will have it out on or about March 1. If you can locate a copy  of Bil Paul's "The Pacific Crest Bicycle Trail," it covers most of the route. (it's out of print (published in 1990); I found a used copy through Amazon). A couple of TA riders and me are considering the route for this summer. Great scenic (and challenging) route.
Thanks for the tip on the Bil Paul book.  I too am a TA rider thinking seriously of doing this trip as my 2010 tour.  It sounds like a great route.  Any idea just how challenging it is?

Routes / Re: Sierra Cascade Route
« on: December 30, 2009, 02:16:53 pm »
Barring unforeseen circumstances, we will have the entire Sierra Cascades Bicycle Route published by late winter or early spring of 2010. Though these are the first maps we have generated from the ground up using GIS technology, we don't see any reason we can't meet this timeframe. So far, things are moving along as expected. *fingers crossed*


Jennifer, any further word on whether you are on schedule?

General Discussion / Re: Trans Am Solo ride - Safety issue?
« on: December 30, 2009, 01:44:24 pm »
The primary risk is probably traffic and I doubt that is much different whether solo or not.

There is definitely no need for a gun in my opinion.  In Missouri and Kentucky some pepper spray might be useful with the dogs you will encounter, but I don't consider it necessary and personally wouldn't bother.  You probably won't see a bear, but it is best to keep food and other attractants out of your tent.

Two things will probably stand out.  The first is how many nice people you meet along the way and the second is how much empty space there is in the American West.  Watch your maps so you know where the towns are, at one point I think they were 80 miles apart.  In places like that be sure you have enough food and water.

I think it is pretty safe to say you will have a wonderful time, I know that for me it was one of the best experiences of my life.  It is a great route.

General Discussion / Re: How many days for a good ride
« on: December 30, 2009, 01:21:56 pm »
Also that I must budget 5-6 weeks if I have any hope of making it all the way.

That isn't necessarily true, but I think it is a good idea to allow at least that.  Notice that I said good idea, not absolute necessity.  If your whole goal is a fast crossing, you are fit, you travel light or are car supported, and you train hard for it you could do it a good bit less.  People have done RAAM in 8 days and the distance is about the same.  Of course RAAM is a race not a tour.

My personal preferred approach is to allow a good bit more than I will actually take and then finish when I finish.  Having an open ended schedule does complicate travel plans back home though especially if you will be flying, but much less so if you take the train, rent a car, end at home, or are picked up at the end.  My last 10 day tour that meant allowing for 60 mile days and then averaging 80 mile days, but I am 58 and didn't specifically train for it (I was was trail running 4 times a week, but had almost no riding miles in for the year, so you could probably go much faster if that is your goal).

Just another couple points to consider in your planning... 

The ST is usually done sometime between early Fall and late Spring when daylight is likely to be in shorter supply so be sure to take that into account.

Also places to stay are not typically spaced at a nice even distance so most days you will have to choose between two stopping places neither of which is the distance you want to average, this could mean that you might some days need to choose between riding 60 or 140 miles unless you stealth camp out in the middle of nowhere with no means of replenishing supplies.

I don't raise these points to discourage you from doing what you want, but so you can take them into account in your planning.  And again I wish you success however you measure it.  I suggest that whatever you plan that you be sure it will be fun for you.

General Discussion / Re: How many days for a good ride
« on: December 28, 2009, 06:58:14 pm »
Still, can you experienced people tell me how many days it took you to cross?
For our TransAmerica (4244 miles), we averaged ~60 mile per day and did it in 73 days.  That said we started out with two of the three of us having very little mileage in and trained as we went.  I think if I were to do the TA again and If I was traveling alone, I would probably do it in 7.5-8 weeks.  I actually rode faster when with companions, but spend more time in the saddle when alone so I typically rack up more miles when alone.

The end points you mention do not sound like the Trans America (Trans America typically refers to a specific route not just any coast to coast tour).  What is your planned route, it sounds closer to the Southern Tier route than the TA.  The Southern Tier is something like 1,200 miles shorter as well as a lot flatter than the TA so a good bit shorter total time is possible.  Still I personally I would allow at least 5.5 weeks myself, but you may be substantially younger and fitter than I am.

Routes / Re: TransAmerican Route
« on: December 28, 2009, 11:28:52 am »
Having cycled the Pacific Coast in 2008 (and it was brilliant!) I am planning to cycle the TransAmerica route this year (2010). The Association maps suggest a main TransAm route starting in Oregan and there seems to be another option of starting on the Western Express Route from San Francisco and joining the TransAm in Colorado. I want to see as much as possible as I will be coming over from the UK for the trip.

Any advice or comments on the best route(s), best time to start and whether to go West to East (which seems the natural way to go but I don't know why !) or vice versa. Are there barren gaps in the route? Realistically,  how long will it take? What are the must see's etc. Any advice will be much appreciated. Thanks

We went with the regular full Trans America and would do it again.

As far as E-W vs W-E...  We went W-E and enjoyed it but there are good reasons to pick either.  The following are a few factors:
  • Wind - I found that for the TA in summer the winds favor W-E despite what folks will tell you about prevailing westerlies.  The place where the wind is the biggest factor is in the open flat middle of the country (Eastern Colorado and Kansas).  The winds there tend to come out of the SE in Summer and the TA heads generally SE.  All that said I don't think I would be inclined to make the winds the primary deciding factor.
  • Temperatures - You can probably get the best chance at good weather by going E-W and starting in the late spring to very early Summer.  That way you have the best chance of avoiding snow and cold in the Rockies and Cascades and heat and humidity in the East.  Starting in the west you hit the weather best by starting later in the season.  We started in the West pretty early (June 11) and were OK, but we had a good bit of 90-100F+ weather.  Starting in the West you would probably benefit from starting a month or more later and could have great weather.
  • Sun - Do you want the sun in your eyes in the morning or evening?
  • Mountains - The toughest climbing was in Virginia.  The climbs were much shorter, but also much steeper than those in the West.  We chose W-E mainly to save the steeper climbs for when we were more "road hardened".
  • Personal Preference - Do you want to go the direction of the early settlers?  Do you want to save the more spectacular scenery in the West for last?
  • Transportation to and from - For us since we live near the eastern end of the TA starting in the West had the advantage of getting air travel out of the way up front.  It also meant that family and friends were able to meet us at the end.

All in all either can work out great, but if I were going again I would be inclined to pick direction of travel based on the starting date to get the best weather possible.  That would mean either and early start in the East or a later start in the West.

General Discussion / Re: From Maine to Wisconsin
« on: December 27, 2009, 09:29:31 am »
It is still a revolutionary thought in my mind to start out without getting into shape.
I am studying a method right now that works at getting ones joints aligned on a daily basis.
The goal is less wear and tear as we move throughout our day. I think this will be so beneficial.
It is quite possible.  The key is to not do so much in any day that you don't want to ride the next.  On the Trans America my two companions had very few miles in before the tour.  The did a handful of rides in the several week before we took off.  The farthest they rode was 33 miles in their few rides before we left and one of them was not a cyclist before that.  Despite the apparent lack of training they did fine and finished the 4244 miles in 73 days.  It helped that they were young and in good health.

We started out riding 30-40 miles a day in the beginning and avoided riding far enough to be too tired or sore to want to ride the next day.  We were not inclined to take rest days.  We did however take really easy days when we felt like it.  We though of them as half days and preferred them over taking full days off.  Personally I like to reserve full days off for something fun like going whitewater rafting, or for sick or injury days.  On the TA we never stayed the same place two days in a row.  Even when we took a day off to go whitewater rafting we rode a few miles to stay in a different place.

I started an 800 mile tour in the spring with almost zero miles in for the year.  I am a reasonably fit 58 year old and run regularly, but the lack of training miles on the bike was no big hardship.  I managed 80 miles per day average, but started out doing 60-65 or so at first.

My point is that you can do it and without a lot of training if you want.  Just don't do too much too soon.  Build your mileage as you go.  This will work if you are young or old, fit or out of shape.  That said it will be easier if you are reasonably fit and easier yet if you have some mileage on the bike under your belt.

Good luck and have a great tour.

General Discussion / Re: Wow...This place is great!
« on: December 27, 2009, 09:02:04 am »
5. I just realized how important warm showers org. is! Its okay to cover 100 miles in 10 days.
But, what if things do not go as one plans! It could be 20 or 30 days instead! That adds up.
Huh?  I am not sure what you are saying here.  Care to clarify?

FWIW: Warm showers is great, but on any of the routes I have ridden you would be lucky to find a host on your route once every two or three weeks.  So unless you plan the route specifically around warm shower host locations they will probably be a once in a while thing.

That said on the Trans America we managed to stay for free or real cheap most of the time between city/town parks, churches, hiker/biker sites, and hosts we met along the way without the need for warm showers hosts.  Most of the time we were in our tent, but a few folks offered us a bed or a floor including several churches who let us stay indoors.

On my Spring tour this year I camped for free a bit more than half the time (several town parks and one church yard).  Since the motels were really reasonably priced in Kansas and Oklahoma and there was a thunderstorm about the time I rolled into town several evenings, the rest of the time I stayed in reasonably priced motels.  The nights that I got a room I am sure I could have found a free place to stay if I had looked/asked around.

In the middle of the country I found that there was seldom a problem just pitching a tent in the town park, but if I had the chance I usually asked the local police for advice.  Sometimes the local librarian, the clerk at the minimart, someone at the local church, or someone at the local firehouse will point you to a place you can stay and not be bothered.

I am curious why Florence and the Western Express?  It seems like kind of an odd route choice.  I thought that most folks who pick the WE do so either because they want to start or finish in San Francisco or because they are looking for a shorter route than the TA.

I'd think that either the full Trans America or the Lewis and Clark into the TA would be better choices for most folks.  Assuming you want to get to the WE from Florence...  I would look at the Sierra Cascade route as John suggested or maybe even consider riding down the coast to SF.

In any case I hope you have a great trip.

Gear Talk / Re: cold feet! Recommendations?
« on: December 15, 2009, 06:48:05 am »
I have found the neoprene ones to be pretty warm.  The material is like that of a wetsuit.  That said lately I usually just forgo the bike and run when it is cold.

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