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Messages - staehpj1

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General Discussion / Re: Northern Tier or better idea?
« on: July 24, 2015, 03:01:43 pm »
Maybe you should consider doing the Sierra Cascades route instead of the Pacific Coast route? When I did the Pacific Coast in 2000 it was not a weather-wise joy until I reached Santa Barbara and got rid of the misty fog.

Not sure about the northern half of the the Sierra Cascades, but I'd take the weather on the coast over the summer heat in the Sierras and the Mojave.  It can be brutal.  The SC is a very difficult route and if you have brutally hot weather it is even more so.  I'd say, expect to really suffer on the southern half of the SC in Summer.

General Discussion / Re: Northern Tier or better idea?
« on: July 23, 2015, 05:11:49 pm »
It's a personal call, but to me the notion of riding coast to coast would be greatly diminished if you break it down into a bunch of chunks.  If I wasn't doing it all in one go or maybe two, I'd be way more inclined to cherry pick a bit location-wise and just pick nice places to ride.

Again, a personal call, but I really liked the Pacific Coast a lot, especially Oregon and Northern California.  Enough so that I will do it again, probably more than once.  I was less crazy about Washington myself, but riding out of your home town would be nice.  I'd definitely choose the Pacific Coast over the section of the NT that you are considering unless going coast to coast is a really big deal for you even if done in a bunch of chunks.

I have not done the NT myself, since when I wanted to go coast to coast I chose the TA over the NT and later the ST (in the winter).

General Discussion / Re: Bicycle guidance
« on: July 21, 2015, 09:54:46 am »
With all due respect to Pete's point of view, I'd suggest first defining the load and then seeing if the current bike is sufficient.  If it isn't, then look for something better.  Not everyone tours with 15 pound loads, so the light bike that's OK for that may not be adequate for handling the final load.

My point was definitely NOT that he should pack super light.  It was that spending a lot for an expensive touring bike might be a bad idea until you know what your touring style will be not only now but a few years down the road, because you may well not know what you will eventually want especially when you are just starting out.

I am suggesting that the bike he has might be adequate (hard to tell since we don't really know what he plans to carry) and that if it isn't he may be wise not to go too crazy on the budget for the new bike if he decides he needs one.  There are new bikes in the $600-1000 range that are quite adequate and used ones even cheaper.  With a less expensive option you also get the benefit of not having to worry as much if it will be stolen because it is less likely to be and also less painful to replace if it does.

BTW, I agree on the notion that defining the load comes first.  Starting from scratch, I see the best decision order as, define load, choose baggage style that suits the load (trailer, panniers, bikepacking bags, stuff sacks), then choose the bike that suits the load and baggage style.  The thing is that if you already have the bike, luggage, and/or gear the order of decisions may be altered.

It would suck to have spent $5000 for the ultimate heavy touring bike and another $1000 on heavy duty racks and panniers only to find that you actually prefer to travel ultralight.

General Discussion / Re: Bicycle guidance
« on: July 20, 2015, 07:45:18 am »
Same here, you see a lot of beginners gett fully geared up with all the latest and most expensive gear, and then they realize after a while that they didn't like it as much as they thought. I recommend getting something cheaper to begin with and then upgrading if you really like it. A hybrid works absolutely fine.
Also after a while you may find that you have geared up with an expensive bike that was tailored to a different style of touring than you find you want to do.  I know that after a few years of touring on my heavy touring bike I have switched to a much lighter packing style that a much sportier bike seems like a better choice.  I still camp and cook, but with 9-15 pounds of gear.  My heavy touring bike just sits unused these days and I am glad it is an inexpensive bike.

I've know some people for whom more of the pleasure comes from obtaining and having a lot of fancy gear than from making the pedals go round.  I don't know how common that is, but having the stuff is what makes them happy.  I guess that if it makes them happy there is nothing wrong with that, but it is a shame when folks who are not so inclined get sucked into that mindset.

General Discussion / Re: Getting home from Yorktown in Sept.
« on: July 19, 2015, 08:15:53 am »
I can't recommend a particular bike shop, but will say that I have typically just found a bike shop in the town that I wanted to get rid of the bike.  In every case they were happy to pack and ship my bike.  I never even bother to plan ahead.

I find it easier than dealing with finding a box, packing up the bike and schlepping it to the airport in a strange town at the end of a tour.

I have generally paid $40-60 for the packing and $40-60 for the shipping.  The bike shop always got a much better shipping rate than a UPS or FedEx store quoted.  In general it seems to have always come in very close to $100 total, only once was it as high as $120 total.  It would still be worth it in at least some cases even if it was a bit more expensive.  To me at the end of a tour it is well worth it to just drop off the bike and not have to deal with it.

BTW, if you go with a rental car, I have found that if I walk up to the counter I am often told that they have no cars that they can let go out one way or am socked with a big charge for dropping off at another location.  When I book online I have never been refused a one way rental and am almost never charged a drop off fee.  I think it helps that I usually book airport to airport.  If I am flying I often book the car through my airline's web site.  If not I use a site (like expedia or kayak) that searches all of the rental companies.

General Discussion / Re: 12 days - NY to Norfolk
« on: July 17, 2015, 12:19:08 pm »
You might consider skipping New York City altogether.  It would save you some expensive meals and lodging.  If you don't already have a ticket, I'd choose an airport that allowed you to avoid NYC altogether unless seeing NYC important to you.

General Discussion / Re: Bicycle guidance
« on: July 17, 2015, 11:26:14 am »
that would not cost so much that I end up in the poor house?
FWIW, I don't think you ever need to spend a lot for a bike.  If you want to, great, but it isn't a necessity.  A bunch of multi week and multi month tours and never spent more that $1000 or so for a bike.  The bike I went coast to coast on was a new $599 delivered Windsor Touring.  That might be one choice especially if the tour is self supported, but your hybrid could work too.

For a supported tour I'd probably go with a sportier road bike.  Maybe one with a triple and or a wider range cluster if you will be in the mountains.

though just yesterday after about 2000 miles of bike touring I started having some chaff issues

I have found that zinc oxide based diaper cream (like Balmex) worn overnight works like magic on chafing.

I have also found that wearing shorts that fit really well with no bunching avoids almost all chafing.  Is it possible that your shorts don't fit as well as they did 2000 miles ago?  Both your body and your shorts can change a good bit during 2000 miles of touring.

Gear Talk / Re: Gearing for Touring Bike Followup
« on: July 16, 2015, 08:30:44 am »
Ok, I'm confused and have been for the past month of being introduced to the touring side of bicycling.  I'm guessing that the longtime tourers understand the reasons but I still don't understand.

In reading the articles, blogs, discussion groups it seems there is a consensus for most people in what are a good gearing ratios for touring bikes.  -- small chain ring at 24 or 22 and --largest cassette at 34-36.

But in my reading and learning about touring bike being sold, i.e. LHT, 520, Kona, Randonee, Fuji, and so on, (I did not look at high end or custom bikes) I have not seen one bike that comes with such gearing as standard. 

My question is --what is the reasoning behind the difference between what people seem to be using and what bike manufacturers are offering.  If seems like it would be a big selling point to offer tour ready bikes?? 

Cheers, Keith

A few things come to mind.

First not everyone agrees that gearing quite that low is necessary.  Many are fine with a 26-30 T granny ring and a 28-32 largest cog even for mountain touring.  Also not everyone who tours rides in the mountains.

Second, a lot of "touring bikes" never actually tour.  They get used for general riding around town, commuting, or whatever.

Third, as was said already they get what the component manufacturer sells as a group or at least recommends to be used together.

And fourth, I suspect that like so many gear choices what folks talk about on these and other online groups isn't necessarily what you will find everyone using on tour.

I agree that riding with a partner can add a lot of friction and really be a downer.  If you really want to ride with someone, I'd advise being prepared to go it alone at any time and making it clear that either party can choose to split at any time.

It can work out well if touring and lifestyles are similar enough, but that can be tough.  Things like having one person who is an early riser and wants to break camp in 10 minutes and one who wants to sleep in or take an hour or two to break camp can drive both crazy.

I have met quite a few solo riders who had started out with someone, had a big meltdown, and split.

I have had one good tour with someone I met online just for the tour, but even that was probably more hassle than riding alone.  It was fortunate that we both liked to get up and broke camp early and quickly.  We also had similar enough paces on most but not all terrain and wanted to ride similar daily distances.  Even then there was some friction.  Fortunately we split for some portions of the trip since he had mechanical problems and needed to order parts and wait for them several times.  He then busted his butt to catch up.  When he caught up he said he was so happy to have someone to ride with and I thought how nice it had been to be alone for a few days.  I noticed that I met and enjoyed the company of the local folks much more when I was alone.

I will say that it is easier to make allowances for a companion if it is someone that you love, or at least like enough to make those allowances.  I have had some nice trips with my grown daughter.

Not a lady obviously, but I wash my riding shorts every night and wear the same pair every day. It's simple, you only need one pair, and you wear clean shorts every day.

I do almost the same.  I also put on running shorts upon arrival in camp to air out.  I take one pair of bike shorts and wash them out most nights.  Sometimes I put them inside out in the sun either instead of washing or in addition to it.  The sun is a powerful disinfectant treatment.  It kills what ever is trying to grow there.

Wearing underwear with bike shorts is not the norm, but the two gals I rode the TA with did that.  That way they could carry a few pairs of underwear which packed a lot smaller and lighter than carrying that many pairs of shorts.

A backpacking quilt would work well on tour. Lighter and more compact than a sleeping bag. They come in 40 & 20 degree models. A warm hat and extra clothes help extend the range of whatever you choose.

Quilts are popular in the light backpacking community and work well for a lot of folks, but I didn't find that the advantages actually completely panned out for me. 

I found that for me a quilt needed to have enough width to prevent drafts that it weighs as much and packs as large as my high end slim cut sleeping bag.  I also found that when it gets really cold zipping up tight and drawing the hood drawstring make the bag substantially warmer than a quilt.  Additionally I find that I can zip my sleeping bag open and use it like a quilt in warmer conditions.

There are times when I would take a quilt instead of a bag, but if I have to pick one to do it all the bag wins out for me.

On the other hand quilts are easy to make for DIYers and can be inexpensive to purchase.

Routes / Re: Transam West to East; Florence or Astoria?
« on: July 12, 2015, 07:58:03 am »
I will be riding from Oregon to Canon City, CO on the transam starting in early August.   I initially planned to ride from Astoria, but a cyclist I met told me that the route from Astoria down the coast was pretty awful for cycling and he recommended starting in Florence.
If you want to opt for a few less miles or feel the logistics work better for Florence it is an OK place to start, but I am baffled that anyone would find the start in Astoria awful.  I thought that part of the coast was very pleasant.

You might also consider starting in Canon City and deciding between Florence and Astoria when you get there.

It depends to a large extent on two things:
1. How warm you sleep.
2. How accurately your bag is rated.

Both can vary widely.  If you use a bag with an EN rating the rating will at least be consistent.

On the TA I used a cheap, very optimistically rated 30 F bag.  It is probably really a 40 F bag if it was actually given the EN testing.  I was fine, but I sleep pretty warm.  Starting May 1 in the east I think you might see less cold weather than we did starting June 11 in the west, but it is a bit of a crap shoot.

I put out heat like a furnace, people who sleep colder might want a 20 F bag or at least a 32 F bag with a real (EN) 32 F rating.

A follow up on the motel costs.  If you pick and choose when/where you get a room vs camping you can sometimes find very inexpensive ones here and there.  If you need to stay in one every night there will probably be times when the only room available is $100 or more.

On the TA we paid for a motel room once and were treated to one once.  If sharing a room I am more likely to spring for it, especially if they have a decent hot breakfast. We did have some luck asking if they gave a discount to coast to coast cyclists, but these days I usually only ask for an AARP discount.  Most will have that and a AAA discount.

Two or more people splitting a room with a fresh waffle breakfast included makes the cost easier to manage.  On the ST we were comped a room once because my companion was riding for a charity.

If you say "I am riding coast to coast on my bicycle, do you have a cyclists discount?", they will typically knock off a few bucks.  Still it will be MUCH cheaper to camp on the TA than to get rooms.

I find that I save less on food by doing my own cooking so I do a mix of cooking and eating at diners and such.  Diner food and subway foot long subs are hard to beat by much cost wise.  They will load on all the veggies that you ask for on the foot long.  If you mostly drink water you will save a lot.  I do find that a gatoraid, powerade, or chocolate milk hits the spot at breaks in hot weather though, but it is best to just skip the soft drinks IMO.  Also regular alcohol consumption will add to the cost greatly.

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