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Messages - staehpj1

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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.

Gear Talk / Re: Bike - Light Duty Touring Aluminum vs. Steel
« on: July 14, 2016, 01:52:55 pm »
All four have low gears of about 27 gear inches.  Russ's bike has been modified to about 24 gear inch low, and I'm not sure what Pete's low gear is.  My preference is to go lower, to 22 or even 20 gear inches, and I've used those after 50 miles of hills when there's another 10 miles (and one more mountain!) to get to camp and my gear.  Ergo, I'd recommend you discuss the possibilities for lowering gears with the bike shop before you buy.  Ask about subbing in a mountain double crank, or a triple, for the stock gearing.
On that bike I went with an 88" high and a 25" low.  I found that fine for a lightly loaded (14 pounds of gear) Southern Tier.  I accomplished that setup by using a 39/26 crank with a 12-28 cluster.  The crank was actually a triple converted to an ultra compact double by removing the big ring.  I really liked that setup pretty well.  I'd use that setup on the NT, TA, or ST with a similar load.  For much heavier loads or for something like the Sierra Cascades Route, due to the SC's extremely large amount of really steep climbs, I'd probably go lower to maybe 20" or 22".

Gear Talk / Re: Bike - Light Duty Touring Aluminum vs. Steel
« on: July 14, 2016, 06:35:56 am »
I rode an old aluminum 1990 Cannondale Crit race bike across the US on the ST route packed very light (~14 pounds of bags and gear).  That was camping and cooking with minimalist packing style.  I used a bivy and a tiny half tarp, but could have used my light one man tent with only a small weight increase.

I used a rear rack and a handlebar bag on that trip.  My clothes and gear were in two stuff sacks on top of the rear rack.  It all worked out very well and I greatly enjoyed the bike.

The lighter the load the more easily you can attach the baggage.  With a very light load you could even use one of those racks that clamps on the seat post.  Rackless bags would work as well, but I found them to be more expensive and actually a bit heavier than my rack and stuff sacks were, so I used a regular rack attached p clamps on the top.  It worked out well.

Another option some people use when going heavier is a trailer.  That way you can use the light bike and take the trailer when you go heavier.  I'd usually just take minimal gear even on camping and cooking tours rather than use a trailer.  My gear typically weighs less than a trailer like the popular BoB does empty if you include the weight of the BoB duffle bag, so for me it doesn't make sense.  If you want a light bike and sometimes want to pack pretty heavy it might make sense for you.

You say, "Not real fond of heavy, loaded up bikes."  I'd say that I found the LHT to ride like a tank loaded or not.  Some folks love them, but given your comment, I suspect you may not.

Gear Talk / Re: Front Panniers or Rear Duffel??
« on: July 12, 2016, 06:42:29 am »
Just a few other options to consider.  Have you considered just putting the tent on top of the rack instead of using a trunk bag?  Also if you aren't already using one, I find a handlebar bag more convenient than a trunk bag.  Another option is a bar roll.

General Discussion / Re: Rain Gear for Touring
« on: July 08, 2016, 06:21:18 am »
Like John, I too use the lightest rain jacket I can find.  For me that is usually more of a wind shirt than a real rain jacket.  I also take some really light rip stop pants that are mostly worn in camp.  I do wear the pants in the rain if it is pretty cold and raining hard or even when it isn't raining if it is extremely cold (<20 F).  I have only occasionally seen those conditions on tour.

As far as keeping shoes and socks dry...  My approach is to choose shoes that have a lot of mesh to dry fast and don't soak up much water paired with socks that dry fast and don't feel too bad when wet.

General Discussion / Re: TransAmerica East to West or West to East?
« on: July 04, 2016, 01:53:19 pm »
All VERY good feedback. EXACTLY what I was looking for. Appreciate you all taking the time.
We are probably still thinking a May 1st start in Yorktown.
That is a fairly popular starting time and direction of travel.

General Discussion / Re: TransAmerica East to West or West to East?
« on: July 04, 2016, 06:20:36 am »
We were planning a May 1st start to allow as long as a 4 month journey. And we would start in the relatively early morning each day.
I agree on starting in the East if starting in May.  It allows for a better chance of good weather that some other options.

I will say that taking 4 months doesn't necessarily dictate a May start though.  Another option would be a later start in the west.  October in the East can be glorious, so if starting in the west you could start quite late in the season and still take 4 months if you wanted too.  Catching the Ozarks and or Appalachians in full fall color could be amazing.

BTW, another factor is where you live, if you live near one end or the other.  I find that I prefer to ride toward home.  It is easier to arrange air travel for the start since you are likely to know the exact start date and the end date can be pretty nebulous right up to the last few days.

Routes / Re: Where to start
« on: June 26, 2016, 07:16:57 am »
If I recall correctly you can catch the Astoria bus from the airport. The OR coast is perhaps the most scenic part of the TA so if you have time I'd start in Astoria and you might consider riding down to Florence instead of cutting across to the Corvallis area. When the weather is nice you generally get great tail winds out of the north along the coast so maybe another reason to continue down to Florence.
The ride from Astoria to Florence is indeed very nice, I wouldn't categorize it as the most scenic of the trip though.

When I did the TA we started in Newport so we could ride a bit of the coast.  Since there were three of us and the bus had rack space for only two bikes we rented an SUV to get there from Portland.  We flew in late rode to a motel, rented a car and did a day of sightseeing by car in the Portland area before driving to a Yurt in Beverly Beach State park, and then dropped the car off in Newport in the morning where we started our ride.

If I was to go again and if I wasn't in a hurry I might do as bbarrettx suggested or I might follow the ACA Astoria route.

General Discussion / Re: Pannier Discussion
« on: June 14, 2016, 09:53:31 pm »
Thank You for comment Russ. Have had good Coast Mtn Pannier before. However the plastic shattered inside (maybe I had a bad batch of panniers). Needed to replace pannier. My preference is aluminum.
I have never seen any panniers with aluminum inside and really doubt that it is more suitable, but the stiffeners are usually not too hard to replace and there is no reason you couldn't use aluminum if you prefer it.

We have several sets of panniers in the family and the plastic has held up well on them all.

On the other hand I have found that when touring, the way I pack, I really don't need the stiffeners at all.  I have actually just taken them out of one set of bags to save a few ounces.

If I purchase the ACA maps, is a gps necessary? If so, would you recommend one?
I opted to not use the GPS when we did the TA in 2007 and on more recent tours only used my phone gps to find specific services.  The AC maps are easy enough to follow without using the gps and it is nice to not be too battery dependent.  I leave my phone turned off all day and only turn it on when using it to conserve battery, but it can be fired up as a reality check on location.  On the TA I pretty much never found that necessary.

Some folks do prefer to go turn by turn on the gps though.

Also, any thoughts on camping? I was planning to camp my way across, though I was going to look into the warmshowers option as well.
In the whole middle of the country there are usually free places to camp most nights.  That is a little less true near the coasts.  Free and cheap sites are typically listed on the ACA maps and after using them a while you get to know what will work and what won't even without the maps.  I did not find all that useful on my tours and only rarely stayed with WS hosts.  I prefer to decide where to stay at the very last minute and most WS hosts prefer a little notice.

I did get invites to stay with folks here and there.  Between that and staying in town park picnic areas, church yards, and so on we averaged under $5 a night on the TA for camping/lodging.

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