Different area, but I rode the ST from San Diego to Pensacola and used US 90 more than AC recommended, I think that I'd consider using it for it's entire length (Van Horn TX to Jacksonville FL) if riding the ST again.
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If possible, I prefer to know where I'm going to end the day before I get there, or at least know the possibilities. If I have no idea where I might spend the night, the anxiety is a bit uncomfortable. It always works out, but it makes me a bit uneasy.
Has anyone taken the risk of not knowing where you are going to camp for the day? Any ideas that have worked well?
3. Be aware that leaving the parkway for camping or services usually means a long steep climb back up to the parkway.
This is commonly repeated, but I'm not so sure. As long as you can get into a campground (Pete's point 1) and carry enough food for a day or two, I think things aren't as desperate as they're often portrayed. For instance, I don't see the climb up to Rockfish Gap from Waynesboro as very bad. Resupply there and you'd want to make the long slog to Roanoke; there's a number of small towns near the Parkway (and not too far downhill), i.e. Floyd and Fancy Gap, from there down to North Carolina. Boone and Blowing Rock are easily accessible from the Parkway. There are got a couple of restaurants and motels around Little Switzerland, then another day to Asheville, and another day to Balsam.
The only time I've had a squeaking chain around home was after a good downpour on the commute in to work, but I drove my (younger) companion nuts on tour -- she could hear the chain half a day before I could
Pete, you are the only person I have ever heard report getting 10,000 miles out of a chain (or even anything close to that). I have read how you care for your chains, but try as I might, I cannot duplicate your experiences. I lube once a week with a quality lube, never deep clean it off the bike, and yet I cannot get more than 4000 miles out of a chain. When doing loaded touring, I cannot even get that much.
In Front Royal you can pick up the Skyline Drive/Blue Ridge Parkway.
What is missing from these discussions is what our personal tolerance is for the manifestations of chain and cassette wear. I swap out a chain when the shifting begins to be anything but perfect. I love the exact crispness of a good quick shift. That is just my preference. Others may be more tolerant of shifting that isn't as precise. If I was riding downtube or barend shifters, maybe I could also get 10,000 miles because I would have more direct control over the shifting with those systems than with any indexing system.
I have to politely disagree with staehpj1. I notice that on his TransAm he averaged just shy of 60 miles per day - - 73 days, 4244 miles. Similar for his other trips.
I probably do more hiking and exploring than staehpj1 does while on tour - backcountry up to the Pacific Crest in Yosemite, crossing the Grand Canyon and picking up my bike on the other side, hiking up to the ancient bristlecone forest in Great Basin.
Then there are the big breakdowns which I hope you never have - but if you tour long enough you probably will. I can think of three offhand - when you are in Fumbuck, Arkansas miles from nowhere. I had a derailleur snap. I had a seat post snap. (Which makes for some rather uncomfortably cycling) And I had a wheel rim split. If you care close enough to a big town with a bike shop, you can limp along. But if you are 150 miles away from anything, you may just need to call Performance, FedEx it, and wait.
I'd recommend West to East because of the prevailing winds. I remember meeting people coming from your direction. When I asked them how they were doing, they said that besides riding against the wind for 3,000 miles, they were doing just peachy. But that's your option.