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Messages - staehpj1

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Connecting ACA Routes / Re: Transamerica E-W but ending in Seattle
« on: May 02, 2010, 10:54:35 am »
Thanks to everyone, for responding with advice, you guys are so helpful, only 3 weeks to go and can't wait, Take Care, Michael
Have a great trip.  The Trans America is a very special experience.

Routes / Re: Hampton to Virginia Beach
« on: May 02, 2010, 10:03:40 am »
I am not sure about much of the route, but we did ride from Yorktown to VA Beach once.  We started with a ferry ride on the free Jamestown Scotland Ferry, and rode the nice rural Virginia roads until we got to Portsmouth. Some of the ride through Portsmouth as kind of seedy, but OK.

We rode the Elizabeth River Ferry across to Norfolk and proceeded through downtown Norfolk toward Virginia Beach.

Sorry that is kind of vague, but I will try to dig up more details.

Edit... You may get some clues at:

General Discussion / Re: Rest Days vs "half" days
« on: April 30, 2010, 06:15:52 pm »
I think half days once in a while are great!  I much prefer them to full days off.  I am a big fan of not taking full days off unless I am sick, injured, or want to do something that requires a full day.

On the Trans America we never slept the same place twice although we did take almost a full day off to go white water rafting.  We also had one negative mileage day when one of us was injured and needed treatment.  I wound up riding 40 miles that day any way (I went for a ride without panniers), but after all was said and done we were farther away from our goal than when we started.  I think the three of us wound up riding 12, 20, and 40 miles.

I actually find it a better recovery to ride 20, 30, or even 40 miles than to sit around all day.  Worse yet would be to sit in a motel room watching TV all day.  That is the last thing I want to be doing on a tour.   One of the keys to making this work is to not push so hard that you are ever wiped out enough to need a full day off.

All that said, I think I am in a smallish minority in this opinion.

General Discussion / Re: losing weight and touring weight
« on: April 30, 2010, 01:40:50 pm »
I have lost 10 pounds.  Can I carry 5-10 pounds more weight in my panniers and equal the same amount of work load while pedaling?
Probably, but it sounds like a bad idea to me unless you were unable to carry 20-30 pounds of gear to start with.  Better to just enjoy the reduced load.  It is a good idea, at least in my opinion to continually strive to carry less, at least until you get down to a gear weigh of 25 or so pounds including panniers.

Gear Talk / Re: Cross-USA touring bike choices
« on: April 30, 2010, 01:02:37 pm »
How would I know whether the wheels are bearing too much weight? What does a wheel failure look like - is it like it bends and I need to replace it or are we talking catastrophic failures?
The relevant factors are...  Are you a large heavy person?  Do you carry a lot of gear?

I didn't mean that you would know by looking at the wheels.  What I meant was whether a combination of you and your gear are in the heavier or lighter range.  I am not sure where the line should be drawn, but those wheels would almost certainly be fine for a rider that weighed 180 and was carrying 30 pounds of gear (not counting water and probably not counting food if you buy daily or at least as nearly so as is convenient).  It would probably be fine for a bit heavier combination as well, but at some point it wouldn't be.  I am not sure where the line would fall, but that should give you at least a vague notion.

So if you carry 70 pounds of stuff and weigh 250, I'd get some better wheels or at least a rear wheel.  That would probably mean 36 spokes with a good strong rim.

As far as mode of failure, if a wheel fails it would typically be spokes breaking and would most often not be catastrophic without prior warning.  More likely it would just mean stopping to replace spokes along the way, maybe multiple times on a long tour.  If you don't notice and fix them you would ultimately wind up with a completely ruined wheel.

Gear Talk / Re: Cross-USA touring bike choices
« on: April 30, 2010, 10:13:15 am »
Hey side question,

How bad of an idea is it to just replace the stem, spokes, shifters, cassette and handlebars on my bike now? Again I have a Trek 7.3FX, made of alpha black aluminum, 700x32 Bontrager Race Lite Hard Case tires and 32 spoke Nebula wheels, very similar dimensions to the 520 including chainstay dimensions, and braze-ons for front and back racks.

I know AC Mag recommended the 7.2 and 7.3 in 2008 for touring, but do you think a 4000 mile trip is pushing my luck? I'd love to do it because it would only cost about $400, 500 if I upgrade the derailleurs as well (right now Altus front, Deore rear)
No reason that couldn't work.  The length of the trip isn't that relevant as long as you are comfortable on the bike IMO.  I carry pretty much the same weight on a one week tour as I will for my upcoming 2500 mile tour and the same as I would if doing the Trans America again.  Also I have not personally found the comfort requirements to be very much different for a 4000+ mile tour as for a organized century.

I may be wrong, but it seems like you should be able to do it for less than the prices you quote.  My whole bike was $599 shipping included and I thought it was fine for the Trans America other than needing lower gearing.

I would think the Trek 7.3FX might be up to the task without many changes unless you carry a lot of weight.  If you are carrying a particularly heavy load the wheels may be marginal.  If you be sure they are properly trued, stress relieved, and tensioned and then pack reasonably light you would probably be fine.

I personally wouldn't use flat bars, but some riders are happy with them especially with bar ends.

If you are on a tight budget you could definitely ride the Trek 7.3FX pretty much as is.  If you have more to spend a new bike is always nice :)  Personally once I got into the $400-500 range you mention for changes I'd start thinking hard about either backing off a bit on the changes or spending a bit more for a new bike.  That is just my opinion though.

Routes / Re: Transamerica - First timers need help
« on: April 29, 2010, 03:41:38 pm »
Thanks, Scott.  I was considering the Katy Trail, but then I read several post about how many flat tires people had due to thorns from trees and the limestone base being washed out or hard to navigate on smaller tires.  Should we not be worried about that? 
I haven't ridden the Katy so I can't add any Katy specific info.  That said I will say this...  It depends on whether you personally would enjoy the Katy more than riding on the roads.  Personally I avoid bike routes especially unpaved ones.  If road touring I'd rather ride the roads.  Some people love trails like the Katy.

It looks like the Katy is a reasonable options if you like that kind of riding.  Otherwise stay on the Trans America until Chester, IL (home of Pop Eye).  BTW, other than the fact that it was over 100F when we were there, we enjoyed stopping for a while in Chester IL.

Connecting ACA Routes / Re: Transamerica E-W but ending in Seattle
« on: April 29, 2010, 10:46:57 am »

Many sections of interstate are not so bad--8 foot shoulders, rumble strips for protection.  I have ridden many miles on NW interstates.  The 2 main drawbacks are noise and debris on the surface you have to watch for.  I get more flats on the freeway, sometimes due to the tiny metal wire pieces left over from destroyed truck tires.  30 miles on the interstate is really no big deal in most areas. 

It depends on where you are. We rode the short portion of I-80 on the Trans America and it was OK, but we were glad to leave it.  The shoulder was pretty debris strewn and I did get a flat from a truck tire wire.  That section was maybe 30 some miles and while not especially aesthetically pleasing, it was also not a huge hardship.

I rode something over 100 miles on I-25 in New Mexico and found it delightful.  I really liked that section of the road part of which I rode the Interstate and part the access road (both were nice).

So it can be a mixed bag, but a day or so on the interstate isn't a big deal IMO.

General Discussion / Re: Bears in the Pacific North West
« on: April 28, 2010, 06:27:36 am »
we will be riding the new Sierra Cascades route starting in June.
Staehpj--this is great news.  Your Transam trip report is one of my all time favorites.  I look forward to following this one, too.  And, I look forward to biking parts or all of the Sierra route 2011--I hope!

Thanks for sharing your trips the way you do.
Wow, that is so good to hear.  I am glad when folks enjoy our journals.  Hopefully I can provide some info that will be helpful to you in 2011

General Discussion / Re: Hammocking the NT
« on: April 27, 2010, 01:34:34 pm »
Has anyone hammock camped cross-country? I've hammock camped all over the Pacific NW and am planning a cross country tour east to Ohio. I'm leaning towards the Northern Tier and I've read a few CrazyGuy  journals and it seems to be the most likely route to have ample trees.
I wouldn't do it myself, but if you have indeed "hammock camped all over the Pacific NW" you probably know what works for you.  If "all over the Pacific NW" means you have camped in and west of the Cascades you may want to think twice, but if it means you have actually hammock camped all over Washington and Oregon including the eastern parts along with maybe some of Idaho and Montana then you probably didn't need to ask.

I have done the TA, but not the NT and I would expect to have days where you don't see one tree let alone two appropriately spaced to hang a hammock between.

General Discussion / Re: Bears in the Pacific North West
« on: April 27, 2010, 01:23:21 pm »
Thanks for the responses.

I should have added that I am in the UK and we don't get nasty critters in the wild so I like to be prepared. I will most certainly carry some rope so that if I have to hang a pannier I can do so but won't go to the expense of a barrel as it appears they are not absolutely necessary.

staehjp1 please could you let me know how the Cascades go as I would like to ride part of it next year.

You will probably hear more from me about it here, but if you want to follow along in our planning and the actual ride I have a journal at:
We actually start in 38 days in San Diego.  Since we are starting in the south it will be a while before we get to the Cascades.

General Discussion / Re: Bears in the Pacific North West
« on: April 26, 2010, 04:56:33 pm »
I have not ridden that route yet, but but did ride through the PNW portion of the TA when we rode the TA in 2007.  Generally anywhere that requires bear canisters in the back country has bear lockers in the camp grounds at least in the national and state parks and forests that I have stayed in.

Not sure where the Roaming-Gnome camped (campgrounds or back country), but I am pretty sure the campgrounds in Yellowstone all have bear boxes.  I know that the ones that we stayed at all did.  If staying in the back country in Yellowstone you are allowed to hang your food.  Read the recommendations for the parks you will camp in, they are generally pretty sensible.

I'd tend to think that if road touring you will have little need for a bear canister.  Someone correct me if I am wrong as we will be riding the new Sierra Cascades route starting in June.

It the west maybe 8%.  In the Appalachians there are a few that are probably between 15 and 20%.

General Discussion / Re: Surly LHT or Cannondale Touring 2
« on: April 26, 2010, 06:53:14 am »
This is all personal preference, but...  I very much prefer STI over bar end shifters.  That alone would be enough to sway me.  Yeah you could switch to STI, but it is a pretty expensive upgrade.

As far as steel vs aluminum...  I don't really think the ride is that much better with steel.  Tires and tire pressure are a much bigger factor.  Also I would have to assume the T2 would benefit from the greater stiffness. 

Gear Talk / Re: Front Pannier ground clearance
« on: April 22, 2010, 07:57:31 am »
3" seems a bit low to me.
+1 That sounds like a bad setup.  You must have really big panniers and/or a very low rack.

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