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Messages - staehpj1

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Routes / Re: Starting Transam in Yorktown, nearest train station?
« on: March 18, 2015, 10:33:25 am »
Not into doubling back.
I can relate to that.  I avoid doubling back like the plague once underway, but the logistics of getting to a tour are a different matter IMO.

BTW, one thing you might consider is whether you really want to start in the East.  If you will be using air travel between the west coast and home, I find it is easier to get the flying out of the way up front.  It is easy to buy a ticket for a specific date when you know the exact date for sure.  It is much harder to know when you will finish than to know when you will start a trip.  Amtrak is much easier to deal with for changing a departure time/date.

We found the Appalachians to be the hardest part of the trip and were happy to save them for the end when we were well road hardened.

With regard to weather, what date you want to start will also play into direction of travel.  An early start favors starting in the east.  June or later favors starting in the west.

Routes / Re: Starting Transam in Yorktown, nearest train station?
« on: March 18, 2015, 09:37:31 am »
No offence intended, but isn't a bit odd to worry about 12 miles in getting to the start of a 4200+ mile tour.  It seems like it would be a pretty rare case to have a train or plane get even that close to the start of a coast to coast route.

My suggestion is to do one of the following:
  • Start your ride from the train station in Williamsburg and skip Yorktown.
  • Start your ride at the train station in Williamsburg and ride to Yorktown before doubling back through Williamsburg.
  • Use the bus to get to Yorktown from Williamsburg.  Double check, but it looks like there is an hourly bus with bike racks.  Given the short distance I'd probably just ride my bike though.
  • Figure out a way to actually start at the ocean.  That would probably mean using the Newport News station. plus some other form of public transportation or a ride to the coast.

That is really early in the season.  I know it has been a light snow year, but you are still fairly likely to get snowed on.  On the other hand you will probably beat the heat which can be horrible on the southern portion of this route sometimes.  We went later in the year for the southern half and had temperatures below freezing and over 110 F.

I have my doubts about doing this route without camping.  It is a very difficult route with a tremendous amount of climbing and if memory serves sometimes accommodations were pretty widely spaced.  I myself would not do it without camping, but that is me.  You may be able to make it work.

Tioga Pass would usually not be open yet but they are predicting April 15th this year.

BTW, South to North is fine.  Advice about going N-S are usually referring to the coast.

Is flying or taking a train to Portland and riding back to Banning an option?  That would allow a later start and you could either ride the SC route or the coast.

Excuse me if I am wrong, but...  John touched on this but I am not sure it is clear to you what AC maps are.  They are not maps of an area, but rather strip maps of a specific route.  There isn't much shown that isn't very close to the specific route.  They are not very useful unless you want to mostly follow the specific AC route.

I really like AC maps.  They have a wealth of text info and lots of info about the area including a pretty complete list of services along the route.  On most trips I also pick up the (usually free) state road maps for states as I enter them.   That way I have maps of a wider area if I want to wander from the route.

Routes / Re: Going out West -- Bike Route Recommendation
« on: March 09, 2015, 11:13:49 am »
Does "after  graduation" mean a May-June start?  How much time do you have?  How set on that general route are you?  Timing can be tricky, but I'd try to avoid:
  • The heat of the southern route which that late in the season can be pretty unpleasant.
  • The headwinds of riding North up the coast are probably not something you want to deal with.  I'd think about arriving in Oregon first and heading down the coast.  That might mean riding North early in the trip.
  • Hitting mountain passes before they are open can be an issue.  It has been a light snow year for a lot of the country so some passes may open extra early, but I would check and keep an eye on conditions for the places you will cross the Rockies
Don't rule out starting somewhere other than home (assuming Austin is home).  Hopping on a plane or train may open lots of better options.  If you have interest in it, that could allow going coast to coast for not all that much more mileage.  If you are willing to ride in crazy hot conditions you could start in Oregon and ride home to Austin.  Personally I'd only consider the Southern Tier Late Fall through early to mid Spring though.

Routes / Re: New Rt 66 tour anyone ?
« on: February 27, 2015, 03:32:43 pm »
I don't have current plans, but am intrigued by it.

General Discussion / Re: Shipping bike to Astoria/ Logistics
« on: February 27, 2015, 01:52:27 pm »
I usually try to fly Southwest and check my bike as baggage most tours.  There is a $75 charge for the bike box and your other checked bag and carry on go for free.  For the TA we flew into Portland and the three of us rented a medium sized SUV to get to our start which was Florence.  On other tours I have often just ridden out of the airport.

Having your bike shipped to a bike shop, warmshowers host, or hotel can work well too, but I usually only do that on the way home.  Be aware that just going into a UPS or FedEx store will typically result in a crazy high shipping charge.  I have found that bike shops typically get enough cheaper rate that I can afford to pay them to box and ship the bike and have it still be cheaper than just the shipping if I go to UPS or FedEx myself.

There are also a few outfits that specialize in shipping bikes and are typically cheaper and easier than going directly to the carrier. and are two such businesses.

General Discussion / Re: Roll on service for Amtrak long haul routes
« on: February 23, 2015, 08:30:06 am »
I am curious as well.  From what little I have read it sounds like these racks are in the baggage car.  So you can still only use them if there is baggage service where ever you get on, change trains, and get off.  It also sounds like you will still pay the same fee and the only cost savings is not needing to buy the box.  For long trips getting to and from tours boxing the bike just isn't that big of a deal and the $15 savings on the box isn't that huge of a deal either.  In the grand scheme of a 3 day coast to coast train ride 15 minutes on each end to box or unbox the bike isn't that big of a deal.

I guess this is an improvement if they actually get it implemented, but it seems like a half measure.  It would be nice if instead of this they allowed walk on service with racks in the passenger cars on all rather than just some routes.  Then you could have access to your bike at any station.

Routes / Re: Primitive Camping on Pacific Coast Route
« on: February 20, 2015, 12:41:31 pm »
Although I have already purchased my flight to Seattle, it might be worth the lost $$ if the weather is going to be horrible.

You might check your airline's policy on the lost $$$.  You might not have to lose the money.  I have found that at least some airlines, while they won't give a refund on a non-refundable flight, they will give you a credit toward a different flight.  I have had good luck with that a couple years ago when a trip fell through due to family responsibilities.  The Southwest did require me to use the credit within a year of the date of the cancelled flight, if I remember correctly.  I think other airlines typically have a similar policy.

Routes / Re: Need to book ahead on Blue Ridge Parkway?
« on: February 20, 2015, 08:32:48 am »
I have not ridden the BRB or Skyline Drive other than a short chunk when doing the Trans America so I can't answer most of what you ask.

I will say that I have had good luck managing to find a way when campgrounds were full.  Sometimes I managed to find someone who was willing to share their site with me, sometimes the person in charge let me stay in a spot that wasn't officially a campsite, and when all that failed I always managed one way or another.

My understanding is that stealth camping is strongly discouraged in both parks, but there are frequently places where there is private land that isn't way down in the valley.  Some of it may be suitable for stealth camping.  I have not stealth camped there though so I can't say how good the prospects are.  If all else failed I would just hide well and camp illegally in the park.  I like wild camping, but am not big on stealth camping.  Still sometimes you just have to make do the best you can.

Edit:  Just to clarify... I'd only stealth camp there as a very last resort and ideally I would leave the park to do it.

Routes / Re: Primitive Camping on Pacific Coast Route
« on: February 20, 2015, 08:20:07 am »
If you are locked into the date, maybe you need to just hope for the best weather wise.  On the other hand you could consider a slightly different locale.  Maybe you could start farther south and continue on to some of the Baja peninsula, or possibly ride some of the Southern Tier?  You could consider making the call at the last minute depending on what the weather report looks like.

In any case I hope you have a great trip.

Routes / Re: Primitive Camping on Pacific Coast Route
« on: February 19, 2015, 05:48:50 pm »
The hiker biker sites in the state parks are already pretty cheap ($4-8 for most of them).  They also are nice because you can usually fall in with a group of folks on the same pace and camp with them every night.

Given your March start you may not meet many others though.  Also the parks may not be open yet.  Also I have heard that March is likely to be very wet on the coast and bad weather can bring strong winds out of the south.  Then there are mudslides.  You are fairly likely to have some issues with road work or road closure that time of year.

You can probably stealth camp but hiding in the rain in the middle of nowhere doesn't sound fun to me.  Can you possibly go later in the season?

Gear Talk / Re: New Rider who needs advice on tires
« on: February 18, 2015, 07:41:54 pm »
For touring I would strongly recommend the Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires.

I'd only agree if avoiding flats at all costs trumps everything else.  If you care about weight at all or ride feel I'd pass on the Marathon Plus.  We are not talking a little bit heavier or a little stiffer sidewall.  The Plus weighs more than twice as much as many other suitable touring tires and the sidewalls are super stiff.  Supple sidewalls have less rolling resistance and a better ride.

Personally I like Continental Gatorskins pretty well.

General Discussion / Re: Question About Minimum Stay Requirements
« on: February 09, 2015, 07:02:18 am »
I got curious about this and did a google search.  I found that there were more places with minimum stay requirements than I would have thought.  It looks like many are for holiday weekends only and others are for weekends only.  Maybe you can just avoid that type of campground on the weekends.  Probably worst case, but I guess you could pay for the minimum stay and leave early.

On most long tours, it shouldn't be too hard to just plan around staying in those places on the weekends.  I know that I have toured across the country a couple times and done some other long tours and never once run into that problem.  I guess that especially for weekend tours in a specific locale the choices might be more limited.

General Discussion / Re: Question About Minimum Stay Requirements
« on: February 08, 2015, 07:24:21 pm »
I'd say you're looking in the wrong places.
Or at least way different places than where I typically tour.  I am curious where that is a problem and at what kind of campgrounds.

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