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Messages - staehpj1

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Routes / Re: Underground Railroad Route??
« on: September 12, 2016, 07:08:39 am »
I have not done the UGRR, but have done a good bit of touring and have looked at the route, so take this for what it is worth.

It would depend on how much cold you are willing to tolerate, how many miles you ride per day, and how short or long of notice you need at the start.  If you are doing long mileage days you might actually be able to plan based on the forecast at the time if you can go on short notice, otherwise i'd probably plan on not arriving at the end until around the end of March or the beginning of April.

Figure out how many days you will take, pick and end date and count back to pick a start date.  So if you will average around 60 mile days you can probably start around the end of February.  If you are on a slower pace you can start earlier (30 mile days would allow starting at least a month earlier).  If you are doing long days you need to start later.

Gear Talk / Re: Getting bike and gear to start of tour
« on: September 12, 2016, 06:49:10 am »
I prefer to fly with my bike when possible.  It simplifies things to not have to find my way to a place it was shipped to and arrive when they are open or to get a room.  I get a kick out of riding right out of the airport.  Getting to Astoria is an additional concern, some ride there from the airport and some use a bus or a rental car.  We rented a car and drove to Newport to start.

Before buying tickets, do take into account that airline charges for the bike can and do vary widely.  I try to fly Southwest when possible and avoid the less bike friendly airlines.  I typically go to Southwest's site if the price aggregators (Kayak, Expedia, etc.) don't show SW flights. 

I do find that for getting the bike home at the end of the tour I usually don't want to spend time boxing up the bike in a strange town, so on the way home I most often have a bike shop pack and ship it.  That has typically run $40-60 for the shop and $40-60 for the actual shipping.  The bikes shops typically get a much better deal on shipping than you will if you walk into UPS or FedEx store.

I have never traveled with a trailer though and really prefer not to so I probably never will.  Your preference for a trailer may shift the preferred method of getting it all to the start.

General Discussion / Re: southern tier
« on: September 12, 2016, 06:33:57 am »
ColoradoGuy, you did two routes across the southern part of the United States, but, in my understanding, neither route was the "Southern Tier" Route. At least in my vocabulary, "Southern Tier" specifically describes the ACA route.

I also see a lot of people use the term "TransAmerica" to describe any trip across America, but I don't subscribe to that terminology either.
I agree that the term Southern Tier or Trans America implies the ACA routes by that name.  I think it is confusing to use them as a generic term for any route across the South or across the US.  I do still use those names if i am doing mostly the ACA route even if I deviate a good bit, but not if I do an entirely different route.  That said, info from someone who rode different but similar routes can still be useful if they are in the same general geographic area.

To the OP, specifically what type of info are you looking for?  The ACA route description is a start, buying the ACA maps and perusing them will provide lots of specific info, and as has been mentioned there are tons of journals on including mine.  Those three things should pretty much cover it for most of the typical questions.

Routes / Re: Hammock Camping
« on: September 08, 2016, 11:59:39 am »
Hi, I'm in the beginning stages of a cross country trip. I plan on leaving early next June. I'm looking to go west to east and finish in Boston where I'm from. I'm leaning on a northern to mid country route. Has anyone hammock camped? Does anyone have a strong feeling one way or another between tent and hammock?

I always thought a tent was way more suitable for a coast to coast trip.  Unless you just really hate sleeping on a decent pad on the ground, I wouldn't consider a hammock.  My advice is to get a decent pad and a tent.

I have heard of a few folks that were die hard hammock users who managed, but tents are way more common on the coast to coast rides I have done.  I actually don't recall seeing anyone on the Trans America or the Southern Tier using a hammock.  I camped a lot of places where it would probably been either difficult or impossible to find a way to hang a hammock.  I suppose if you carry a pad too you could use it like a bivy when necessary, but I don't see much benefit to a hammock unless you really hate sleeping on the ground.

I did the ST with a bivy and found it OK, if a bit sweaty, when it was hot and the bugs ruled out cowboy camping.  Most folks find a bivy too confined though.

Routes / Re: Pacific Coast - Seattle to SF - Fall 2016
« on: September 04, 2016, 05:45:19 pm »
The state parks are generally all pretty nice.  I think Harris Beach was my favorite and I chose to spend a second night there.  For Oregon I found the ODOT Pacific Coast bike map to be my most used resource.  Elsewhere I used the ACA maps.  The book was interesting and I used it to get excited about the trip, but didn't bother to carry it.

On this route you likely will fall in with a group and wind up stopping in places that the group picks.  I found that to be one of the nice things about this route.  Since everyone goes N-S and typically go similar daily miles it makes it easy to make friends.  I didn't choose to ride with anyone, but did enjoy camping with the same folks most nights.  I met some really nice folks and it greatly enhanced the trip.

General Discussion / Re: Trans am route, map or gpx Garmin.
« on: August 25, 2016, 07:45:57 am »
ACA maps are great and I've used lots of them. They do however give you a sort of tunnel vision. For instance when I did the Transam I didn't realize we were within 15 miles of Wichita Kansas, a big city, until I looked at our location on a road map. State tourism places usually have free road maps for their state, see if you can pick one up as you go into a state, it'll give you the big picture. When you leave that state either bin the road map it or send it home as a souvenir
Yes I do the same in most states.  It is nice to have the state map in addition to the ACA maps.  I'll add another option for what to do with them when done with them.  I often gave them to another tourist going the other direction.

Gear Talk / Re: Fixing panniers
« on: August 21, 2016, 05:53:56 pm »
Gorilla Tape works far better than ordinary duck tape.
Gorilla tape is good stuff, but other tape can be good too.  There are a lot of grades of duct tape.  The 3M stuff that comes in colors from Lowes or Home Depot is decent stuff.  Most but not all of the silver stuff is garbage.

I think Gorilla tape or the color 3M stuff are both great for pannier repair.

Routes / Re: Why does the PC route bypass Olympic Peninsula?
« on: August 11, 2016, 07:38:22 am »
For what it is worth I started in Seattle for my ride down the coast.  I took the ferry to Bremmerton and picked up the PC route.  I found the ACA PC route in that part of Washington to be one of my least favorite sections of any AC route I had ridden.  I definitely would consider something different next time.  I loved the rest of the ride and am not sure if I will use a more coastal route there next time or just start in Astoria.  I probably will do the PC again in some modified form.

General Discussion / Re: Trans am route, map or gpx Garmin.
« on: August 08, 2016, 06:55:25 am »
Either can work.  I have done a good bit of touring with ACA maps, some with a dedicated handheld GPS, and some with my phone supplementing paper maps.  For the TA I'd use the paper maps if doing it again.  I would have the cell phone along so a quick google search would be possible, but I'd probably keep it turned off when not in use to conserve battery.

The TA route is straight forward enough that you really don't need to be constantly watching for the next turn.  One of my companions seemed to be able to remember the whole days route pretty reliably most days.  I just kept the current map in my map pouch and followed it.

I loved using GPS on a tour where where I was riding dirt roads and trails most of the time and there was little to no signage a lot of the time.  I did find keeping batteries charged to be a hassle.

Also I'd miss all the info on the back of the ACA maps.

As far as the bulk and weight of the paper maps...  I pack pretty crazy light (my most recent tours were in the 9-15 pound base gear weight) and still felt the maps were worth carrying on road tours.  I typically do mail them home as I finish with them and if you will be having any stuff sent from home along the way you could plan on having some of the maps sent to you.  If worried about the weight or bulk, you could consider taking maps enough to get you over the mountains at the end you start from and have the rest sent to you via general delivery when you hit the plains.

I am not sure where the ACA is on this, but a dedicated phone app that would allow all the features of the paper maps along with the advantages of the GPS would be the best of both worlds if you can manage the battery issues well enough.  I used an app like that on when hiking the John Muir Trail.  I carried a couple extra phone batteries and a small power wallet and left the cellular part of the phone turned off.

In the towns where can I get the water: there are public water-sources or do I have to enter for example a bar / restaurant or similar place ?
I most often fill up my bottles in convenience stores.  Usually they let me use ice from the soda fountain as well.  I typically buy something while I am there.

Gear Talk / Re: Terry Touring Bikes - Coto Doñana Tour
« on: August 05, 2016, 09:30:52 am »
In recent years I have gone lighter and lighter and found that it made a big difference for me.  That said the bike itself is the last place I worried about dropping weight.  It isn't that I didn't care about the bike weight, but I didn't bother to go to a lighter bike until I was at or below 20 pounds of gear weight.  Personally I think that is a sensible approach.

The handling of the bike is a separate issue.  To me the LHT feels like a tank and I find it decidedly less fun to ride.  Others would say it was more like a Cadillac and pure luxury.   Neither is wrong if it works for you.

My suggestion is to figure out what gear you will carry, then what kind of bags you need for that gear, and last what bike suits those choices (or just ride whatever you already have if it can be made to work.

BTW, you can do pretty well even on a tight budget.  I was very happy with a 1990 race bike (Cannondale Criterium) on my Southern Tier.  You can find similar bikes for $300-500.  The gearing was lowered, but otherwise it was pretty much box stock.  It might have been a terrible choice for some riders, but I found it to be close to perfect.

Routes / Re: Trans America through Kansas next week
« on: August 05, 2016, 07:19:10 am »
I have crossed Kansas on the TA and elsewhere and found it especially easy to find places to stop for the night.  I usually spent the nights there in small town parks,  under a picnic pavilion roof in many cases.  I only recall twice where staying in the town park wasn't a slam dunk.  Once was a bigger town with a huge pool almost a water park.  In that case we asked the park manager for permission and he said it was OK.  He let the cops know that we were there.  In another case there was a no trespassing after dark sign.  I asked around and was told that yes it was enforced, so I asked around for a place to stay and was welcomed to camp in a local church yard.

I agree with John that using the TA maps is a good way to go.  As he said not only do they help you find places to stay, but they also are good at helping you learn what will fly and what won't.  After using the AC maps for the TA I got much more confident about finding places to stay when not on an AC route.

General Discussion / Re: Converting Elevation Gain, Grade to Mileage
« on: July 31, 2016, 09:45:11 am »
I also agree, figuring out a climb equipment doesn't make sense to me on the bicycle.  However, if you're averaging 60 miles per day that means you have some 40 mile days  and some 80 mile days. So, if You have a huge climb or all day Up a mountain then  make that your  40 mile day if there is a logical stop along the way and so on.

I agree.  That is what I do and I find it makes sense.

That said, doing something like the Sierra Cascades where every day is hard climbing means a bit different daily average than doing the TA or the ST.

General Discussion / Re: Anyone have any TIPS on Shimano SPD pedals??
« on: July 25, 2016, 06:32:18 am »
Replace them when you starting coming out of them when you don't mean to, or when the bearings start making noise. They don't last forever. Neither do the cleats.
My experience has been different.  I found that cheaper clone pedals wore out quickly, but the actual Shimano models seemed to last almost forever.

I have some of the very first SPD pedals that were used for lots of muddy mountain bike riding/racing, some general around town usage, and quite a few tours including a couple coast to coast ones over the last 35 years or so.  I am not sure how many miles are on them, but between two pairs of the original SPDs it must be well over 100,000 miles on the higher mileage of the two and just a bit less on the other pair.

Both have been repacked only once as best I can remember.  The exposed parts were cleaned and lightly lubed often.  The repacking is a real pain on the ones I have so thankfully it needs to be done very infrequently.

I also have a newer model from 2010 that have less mileage on them but they too are holding up fine.  They have required no maintenance other than the normal cleaning and lubing.

If they start to get loose it has generally been the cleats which do wear out after a while, but I have adjusted the release tension a few times (I like them fairly tight).

I am not sure if it makes any difference, but all of real shimano pedals were the simple ones with no platform or cage.

The clones I have handled were widely variable in quality.  One set I bought from nashbar for a family member were worthless right from the start with poor quality bearings that were not smooth no matter what I did and release mechanisms that didn't retain the cleats well.  Others were OK but wore out much faster than the real Shimano ones.  A pair of Performance house brand (Forte campus pedals probably made by wellgo) on my daughter's bike were starting to show some wear after doing one TA tour, but were still in use for a couple years of commuting.

I will mention one other thing.  I think it is very important to take the time to get the angle of the cleats just right for you.  This usually requires fitting them, riding a short distance, tweaking the setting, and trying them again.  Repeat until you are well satisfied with the adjustment.  If you don't get it right knee pain can result so take your time setting them up the first time. 

Gear Talk / Re: Sleeping Pad Recommendation
« on: July 22, 2016, 08:45:34 am »
Do the geometry in your head. Something full length and non-inflatable that is even a mere 1" thick is going to be bulky when folded or rolled. You are not going to find such a pad that packs down to a size comparable to an inflatable.
There is an exception to that math that may offet the OP an acceptable compromise.  If some of the thickness is in the form of nesting egg crate shapes, the nesting will make it take less space when folded.  The Thermarest Z-Lite is 72"X20"X.75" so it is 1080 cubic inches.  It folds to 20"X5"X5.5" which makes it take a bit more than half as much volume (550 cubic inches) when folded.  Not as small as many inflatables but substantially reduced compared to other foam mattresses when stowed.  If I was worried enough about leaks to go foam, I would probably buy a Z-Lite.

All that said, I still much prefer my NeoAir's light weight, comfort, and compact stowed size.  I find that, with care, leaks are rare, usually easy to repair, and generally of the need to adjust the air once during the night variety if they occur at all.

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