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Messages - staehpj1

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Routes / Re: Southern Tier San Diego from mid February
« on: January 21, 2015, 05:27:38 pm »
I started in San Diego on Feb 12, 2012 and had a great trip.   Obviously it may vary from year to year, but I think mid February is usually a good time to start in San Diego.  A friend went about that time another year and made out well.  I had frost quite a few nights and one very cold night on top of a pass at BlackJack State Forrest camp just before the New Mexico line, but daytime temperatures were mostly nice for the trip.

I'd go again at a similar time of year if doing it again.

General Discussion / Re: Can I rent or buy a bike?
« on: January 19, 2015, 12:39:35 pm »
Do check prices for checking a bike before you buy a ticket.   Prices vary widely with the different airlines.

General Discussion / Re: Can I rent or buy a bike?
« on: January 19, 2015, 11:38:09 am »
I think that's very good advice, do the first trip from home, make it as simple as possible.  I'm feeling a little overwhelmed, lol.  Apparently there's more to do on these trips than just riding my bike.   :)

I think that the need for worry or a warm up trip around home are greatly reduced since you are considering a supported trip, especially if it is the inn to inn one, or if you are an experienced camper.  Really not so much to worry about other than to be sure you have at least reasonable general fitness and are somewhat acclimated to fairly long hours in the saddle.

General Discussion / Re: Can I rent or buy a bike?
« on: January 19, 2015, 06:23:52 am »
Check you bike as baggage on Southwest if they fly where you are going and it will be $75 each way.    Amtrak is reasonable as well.

Food for thought...
$400 is a pretty low end bike.  It occurs to me that if you can afford a van supported tour you can probably afford a nicer bike.  You might consider treating yourself to one.  I am not one to spend a great deal on my bikes, but the difference between a $400 bike and a $700-1000 one can be a pretty big difference.

What ever you do relax, don't stress, and enjoy your tour.

General Discussion / Re: TransAm summer 2015 - timing and solo female
« on: January 16, 2015, 03:05:53 pm »
Is the first week of June too late to start the TransAm east to west? Also, any women out there who have done it solo, I would love to hear about your experience, particularly in terms of safety (men too of course!).

June isn't too late for a start in the East.   You might hit hotter weather then than with an earlier start though.

If the DC in Beth_DC refers to Washington DC you may consider whether it would make sense to get air travel out of the way in the beginning.  A few advantages of starting in the West for folks living in the Mid Atlantic area are:
  • It is easy to know when you will start a trip and harder to predict when you will finish.  So buying a plane ticket at the beginning is easier than at the end.
  • Starting on the opposite coast makes you more committed right away.
  • We found the Appalachians to be the hardest part and it was nice to do them when were were well road hardened.
  • It was really nice finishing near home so friends and family could meet us at the end.  In our case some rode with us the last day and they threw us a nice picnic at the end.

I met solo women on the TA as well as on other tours and they didn't complain of problems.  You can find tour journals done by solo women at

Routes / Re: Southern Tier Section 4 Map 56 and 57 and Beyond
« on: January 14, 2015, 07:11:49 am »
No you are not allowed to bicycle on the Freeway.
I don't think that is true for Texas.  I know that I have ridden quite a bit on I-10 and the cops riding by paid me no mind.  I have had lots of cops pass me by so if it is illegal (which I doubt) it isn't well enforced.  I found I-10 to be a good way to go for some of my crossing of Texas.  That said I do think I'd consider using US 90 more of the way if doing a ST again.

In Louisiana and eastward, interstates are off limits, but in Louisiana enforcement is spotty on that.  One cop there told us we'd be OK but advised that we get on and off at ramps to avoid bridges that usually didn't have a shoulder.  He had stopped us when we entered the state by bike.  He said it was illegal, but gave the advice above when we asked about a better route.  We didn't take his advice since there was a nice secondary road that paralleled the highway and we used that.

West of Texas on the ST I think we rode on the interstate some in all states we crossed except California and I think it was legal in all cases.  For sure cops went by and didn't bother us.

There may be specific sections of interstate there that are posted as off limits.

General Discussion / Re: Southern Tier Tour(self sustained) this fall
« on: January 13, 2015, 04:26:02 pm »
Completed my fifth STcrossing yesterday January 12, 2015,  2803 miles in 42 days of cycling and 63 days total.

I hope it was a great trip.

I'm planning on using the C&O and GAP as the first leg in my cross-country tour at the end of April. Can you expand on it a bit as to why it is so far down your list? Are there better alternatives for getting to Ohio?

I am generally just not inclined to use that type of route.  If you want to be away from traffic and on a relatively flat route it accomplishes that quite well.  It also has the advantage of not having to worry about where you will camp since there are hiker biker sites every several miles.  So it may work well for you and I am not knocking it.

It is just that I personally would rather be on regular surface roads and pass through small towns.  Also if going across the middle of the country again I'd be more inclined to take the Trans America again or take an improvised route that followed a similar path.  So I probably wouldn't be looking to get to Ohio either.

None of that should be taken as saying that you shouldn't use the C&O or head for Ohio.  It just isn't really my cup of tea. I'd rather ride a bit of the Blue Ridge Parkway and see SW Virginia, Kentucky and Missouri.  That would be harder though, and when we did it we went W-E so we'd be road hardened and in shape for the Appalachians (which on the TA were harder than anything we saw in The Cascades or Rockies on that route).

I will suggest that the C&O might be likely to be a muddy mess in April though.  I could imagine it being pretty unpleasant especially if on a touring bike or a road bike and I personally wouldn't want to ride a mountain bike for the rest of the trip.

Wow! $20 for the hiker biker sites seems expensive given what they are, mostly a small patch of grass with a nearby pump that is likely to have really bad tasting water.

The towpath is pretty far down on my list anyway despite living pretty close to it, but that fee would be enough to take it off my list entirely.

If this goes forward, I wonder if they will waive the fee for holders of NPS senior passes or other passes?

Routes / Re: Cycling through Zion National Park
« on: January 11, 2015, 10:34:37 am »
We're wondering if Kanab to Saint George is a doable distance in one day? I've been using mapmyride and google maps to look up distance/elevation but since you can't bike through the tunnel it gets messed up for this part of our trip.

Only you can say if the distance is suitable for you to do in a day.

On the tunnel issue, I will say that I have never found hitching a ride to be too difficult where it is necessary, especially in national parks.  It might be a little more difficult for two, but I can't imagine it would be a huge delay.  I have had to hitch a ride during a bike tour a couple times and been with others who needed to quite a few more times and the wait has never been long.  In the desert it seems folks are especially likely to stop.  In places where there are very few cars more of them will stop.

On backpacking trips in national parks I have usually had the first, second, or third car give me a lift.  It is a bit harder with a bike, but still I doubt it will be a big deal.  If in doubt get a very early start that day.

It looks like there is a visitor center near the tunnel, asking around there will probably score you a ride in quick order.

None of this is based on any personal experience with that particular route though so take it for what it is worth with that in mind.

General Discussion / Re: Useless advice/help
« on: January 10, 2015, 12:18:03 pm »
One thing I will say is that there are two groups of people that I have found very likely to give accurate road info.  Big rig truckers and a lesser extent farmers.

I have found that a car driver will likely say something like, "it is exactly 20 miles and pretty flat the whole way" where a trucker might say, "This is just a guess but I think it is about 31.2 miles.  The road descends a little for a couple miles and there is a big climb a couple miles before the end.  The rest is pretty flat and there is a kind of rough shoulder the whole way".

When I actually ride the route I usually find the car driver wrong and the trucker spot on.

General Discussion / Re: Trans Am bike: GT Peace Tour or Fuji Touring?
« on: January 09, 2015, 10:55:26 am »
"Windsor" is a house brand of Bikes Direct, a company that sells bikes mail-order.  Their prices can be very attractive and the bikes are generally well equipped for the money BUT the term "some assembly required" definitely applies.   You will hear a wide variety of experiences from customers varying from:

"Assembly was very easy, everything worked well right from the start and I'm very pleased".


"Assembly was a nightmare, nothing came adjusted properly, parts were missing and the wheels required complete retensioning and truing". 

The upshot of this is that if you buy from Bikes Direct you should either be a reasonably competent bike mechanic or plan to use some of your cost savings to have an LBS properly assemble and adjust the bike before you ride it.   

That is a fair summary.   I will add that I have assembled 7 bikes from Bikes Direct for myself or family and friends.  They were in exactly the same state as just about any bike is when received by the local bike shop.  Those who are competent mechanics should have no troubles.  If in doubt, pay a bike shop to do the setup and factor that in to the decision of which bike to buy.

You might also consider the Novara Randonee.  It's above the $1000 price right now, but REI will have a 20% off sale in March that'll get it down below that target.  Since I own a Randonee and a Fuji Touring, and I've ridden an LHT, I can tell you the Randonee is between the Fuji and the LHT.  The Randonee is a fair bit stiffer, and therefore more suited for a heavy load, than the Fuji.  The Randonee is also much closer to the ride of the Fuji than the "truckness" of the LHT.

(At least for the 2006 Fuji and 2009 Randonee models.  Some of the peripherals have changed since then, but the frame is pretty consistent from year to year on all touring bikes.)

I have had good luck with my MTB from REI and like it very well.  I think REI generally makes good component choices for the given price point.   I know folks who love their Randonees.  For more dirt road type touring there is the Safari.  I have a friend who rode his from Alaska to the tip of South America and he speaks highly of it.

General Discussion / Re: Trans Am bike: GT Peace Tour or Fuji Touring?
« on: January 09, 2015, 07:52:35 am »
Three of us each rode Windsor Touring bikes ($599 delivered) on the Trans America and a few other longish tours.  It is as far as I can tell a rebadged Fuji Touring.  We were all pretty happy with them.  So I feel like I can readily recommend the Fuji (or the Windsor Touring).

i have since gone to a more minimal packing style (8-14 pounds gear weight with camping and cooking capability) using ultralight backpacking practices and as a result ride a lighter sportier road bike.  That said if I wanted to pack 30-45 pounds of gear again I'd probably take the Windsor again.

I can't really compare the Fuji or Windsor to the Aurora or Peace Tour as I have not ridden them, but I have ridden an LHT and found that the word "Truck" in the name was way too appropriate to suit me.  Even if price were not an issue I wouldn't choose an LHT myself  Not knocking it for folks who like it, but it definitely didn't appeal to me.

General Discussion / Re: Useless advice/help
« on: January 08, 2015, 02:49:41 pm »
Like the time I came out of a cafe in Ellensburg WA and a passing stranger informed me my back tire was flat. Now I think there's a fair chance I would have noticed that on my own. I know the guy meant well but nevertheless I found it irritating and felt obliged to thank him for pointing out the obvious. Anybody else had a similar experience?

Yes I have and I considered it a nice thing for them to do.  I'd rather know sooner, rather than later, so I was genuinely grateful when I thanked them.  I remember a time when I was sitting killing time waiting at a coffee shop for a friend to break camp across the street and join me to start the ride for the day.  After waiting for 15 minutes for him, I discovered that I had a flat.  It would have been nice if someone had told me and I could have fixed it while I was waiting.

Gear Talk / Re: What lube to use for touring.
« on: January 07, 2015, 06:24:45 pm »
I'll try more frequent oiling and see if that makes a difference. I can live with oiling more but the cleaning razmtaz is insufferable.

It might be worth a try...  I get pretty good results with fairly frequent lubing and pretty much no cleaning.

I don't follow the directions on leaving the lube on for a few hours or overnight.  I apply fairly liberally spin the pedals for a minute, and wipe it off.

The only time I clean the chain more than that is in the rare case that I get it loaded up with sand and then I do as little as I can and still get the sand off.  Usually a low pressure water rinse or sometimes a WD40 rinse.  I try to let it dry before relubing.  Either way it is a rare event.

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