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Messages - staehpj1

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The one real problem with MTBs is their straight handlebars which give only one hand position.  This can be a problem and cause numbness (aka "handlebar palsy") on successive long days of riding.
I like drop bars better for touring, but find that I can manage flat bars by spending some of the time with the heels of my hands resting on the bars and my hands loosely draped forward above or on the brake levers.

General Discussion / Re: Southern Tier November through to Feb
« on: June 03, 2014, 06:26:19 am »
I think your timeframe would be OK.  The one drawback I see to your proposed time is that the shortest day of the year (Dec. 21st?) is in that period.  Late winter the days are a good bit longer.  I went Feb-March for that route and thought the timing ideal.

It sounds like you plan a pretty laid back pace.  I found the route to lend itself more to longish days in the saddle.  With relatively widely spaced stops and dull scenery (to me at least) I found that I wanted to do 80-110 mile days a lot of the time.  I think I averaged 80 mile days despite being and old fart, not training for the trip, and nursing a knee injury part of the way.  I stopped in Pensacola and took 31 days.  So I personally wouldn't want to take much more than a month to a month and a half.

As mentioned above I found the scenery pretty uninspiring.  Still, I liked the trip for the people and the food.  I met a lot of interesting people and there was lots of good barbecue, seafood, Mexican food, and Cajun food.

Routes / Re: Idaho Hot Springs Bike Route GPS
« on: June 02, 2014, 05:14:22 pm »
We are planning to have the waypoints available by June 1st.
Any progress to report?  I am planning to go as soon as the snow is out enough.  That day is rapidly approaching.

General Discussion / Re: General Advice- TransAm Route
« on: June 02, 2014, 04:51:15 pm »
With that in mind, i've been looking at the Surley Disc Trucker-

Two questions about this bike- What're the views on disc brakes on a tourer? They are cables, not hydraulics and from what i've been told, very good cable-pulls. More expensive initially, but it seems like an investment in the future as no wear on the rims etc.

Also- 26" wheels Vs 700c.

I hesitated to answer, because my preferred choices in bikes to tour on go more toward something closer to a road bike.  That is partly because I travel pretty light, but I think there is a little more truck in the LHT than I want even for heavy touring.  That said it is exactly what some folks want, so don't assume my preference should be your's on that.

I always thought that disc brakes were unnecessary, overkill, and unnecessary weight.  After living with them on my mountain bike for a while they have grown on me.  I still don't think they are necessary and unless I was doing off/dirt roads a lot I probably wouldn't go out of my way to buy them for touring myself.  I can understand why folks like them though and the more you go toward expedition touring or heavy loads the more they probably make sense.

On the 26 vs 700 choice, I prefer 700 for touring where and how I tour, but either work fine.  If travelling somewhere one or the other is more available basing the choice on that is not unreasonable.

Routes / Re: Idaho Hot Springs Mountain Bike Route
« on: June 02, 2014, 04:32:12 pm »
I am sure you are fine with what you normally do on your travels for parking.  I did not hear about any problems with break ins.  I only asked about more secure options because we actually will be leaving our work laptops, extra camping gear and rock climbing gear in the truck (locked and out of site but you never know...).  If we didn't have all of this extra gear, I would not worry about theft.

Thanks.  That all makes sense.  I just wanted to be sure the caution wasn't prompted by a known problem there.

Routes / Re: Idaho Hot Springs Mountain Bike Route
« on: June 02, 2014, 11:14:23 am »
Have there been problems with break ins there?  I usually just park the car in town on the street or at a trail head when I go backpacking.  When in doubt I ask someone near where I park if it is likely to be OK.  If really in doubt I ask the local police where a good place to park is (if a town is large enough to have a cop).  I figured on doing the same for this bike packing trip.

General Discussion / Re: General Advice- TransAm Route
« on: May 31, 2014, 11:24:38 am »
I don't really know when it'd be necessary tbh. When we haven't showered for a month I suppose?
On the TA we had showers pretty often even in a lot of the town parks where we camped for free.

How many days did you do it in? We're not looking to do it too quickly... I reckon 90 days should be doable for us though.
We took 73 days.  90 is a reasonable number though.

General Discussion / Re: General Advice- TransAm Route
« on: May 31, 2014, 10:41:36 am »
As a side point: What is your estimate, per day, for cost of food/accommodation? There will be two of us and we have no issue with camping and intent to use motels only when absolutely necessary and as such, will be cooking our own meals.
I've seen people suggesting $20/day, does that sound feasible?
On the TA for accommodations we averaged a bit under $5 per person per day.  You could go cheaper yet with a little effort.  We managed that cost with no stealth camping, but plenty of camping in plain sight for free and some stays with hosts.

You mention motels only when "absolutely necessary".   Why would it ever be  "absolutely necessary"?

Total costs very widely with the individual, but I can manage very nicely on $20 per day and could squeak by on less.  If you drink alcohol you could run up the costs a lot.

General Discussion / Re: General Advice- TransAm Route
« on: May 30, 2014, 08:31:54 pm »
So the best time to set out from the West would be as soon as the pass is open? Or better to wait even after that?

Well unless it opens really crazy early.  At least I would, but I hate hot weather and don't mind some chilly weather.

I have been advised against cycling East to west due to the fact i'd be cycling into the prevailing wind... From what i've read here though, people have had no issue going East-West.

My experience is that on the TA the winds have the most impact in eastern Colorado and Kansas.  TA heads SE there  and the prevailing July winds are out of the SE, so I think you are likely to have more headwinds heading east.  The winds we experienced were much like shown below.

All that said I would not pick my direction of travel based on wind direction for this route.  I live near the eastern end and I like to get air travel out of the way up front so I rode W-E.  It was nice to have family and friends meet us at the end.  They threw us an awesome welcome home picnic.

General Discussion / Re: General Advice- TransAm Route
« on: May 30, 2014, 07:36:24 pm »
If you need to set the date in advance, I'd start in the east when you propose or slightly later.  That or wait until June to start in the West.

If you can be flexible until the last minute and want to start in the West, watch for when McKenzie Pass is open to bikes and go as soon as it is.  That could be from any time in May to any time in July depending on the snow pack.  There is a list of the past opening dates at

General Discussion / Re: Mailing to Myself On the Road
« on: May 30, 2014, 05:35:32 pm »
When using AC maps, for the state maps I pick up one of the free ones at each state line if there is a visitor center.  If not I usually don't bother unless I can get them for free somewhere else or expect to go off route enough to need one.  I always get rid of them one way or another when leaving the state and done with them.

General Discussion / Re: Mailing to Myself On the Road
« on: May 30, 2014, 04:32:01 pm »
Anyways, a full set of ACA maps for a route do take up some space, but not a heck of a lot, especially compared to other maps. I'm guessing weight-wise it's probably about a pound and change.

My full set for the TA is a little over 11 ounces.  There are 12 maps and they are a bit less than an ounce a piece.  Not worth doing mail drops to me for an ounce a piece. But I do mail the ones I am done with home, if I am mailing something else home any way.

General Discussion / Re: Mailing to Myself On the Road
« on: May 30, 2014, 01:55:20 pm »
Nah, you can zoom in or out. Glance at the zoomed out map and then zoom into the area you want to see details. No different than Google maps just with more info. It just depends on how comfortable you are with smartphones.
To some extent it depends on the map.  I agree if it is just a map, like a state map where pretty much everything is just on the map.

With an AC map there is a lot of other stuff and I think that a lot of what I do with them would be awkward with a scan on my phone, at least in the format that they are currently in.  I find that I often look at a map section and then flip around to find the text narrative for the same panel, or maybe the list of available services.  I find myself wanting to flip back and forth between these three locations for each map section.  I also often want to flip around in the various panels and look for resources in upcoming panels.  It is a lot of flipping even with paper.  These things are all in different places on the AC maps and just a straight scan would be awkward to me.   I guess it would be possible to cut and paste the file so the map sections had the relevant resources next to them.

That said most of my navigation can be managed with only either the narrative or the map panels, so I could probably suffer along with a scan with some inconvenience.  Right now the inconvenience is still enough that I carry paper when using AC maps.  I have used electronic only when on another tour and a backpacking trips and it worked out OK.  For the backpacking trip I carry a paper map anyway even though I didn't use it because I didn't want to be that battery dependent.

I suspect that at some point AC will make the maps more tailored to a screen, it would certainly be possible, but I don't think we are at that point yet since the majority of their customers still probably prefer paper.

Also, it is nice to still have a usable map even when your phone batteries are dead.

Food Talk / Re: Food by Mail
« on: May 30, 2014, 06:31:44 am »
John - I was just going to post a reply saying ' you guys are right, it is downright Victorian to worry about food in this day and age. Better to live a little and trust that it will all work out'.

I will eat the crap and I will enjoy it. Pig hearts, here I come.

You should do what works for you, and it sounds like you are on track for figuring out what that is for you on this trip.

Sorry, but even given that I can't resist making or restating a few suggestions.  Again I realize you need to do what works for you, but I think these comments are worth considering.
  • There is a middle ground between eating just anything you find and being so selective that you reject eating everything that is available.  I'd suggest that the middle ground is a reasonable choice for most people.
  • If you want to, it is possible to eat very selectively on the road.  We met a guy who was 85% finished the Trans America when we were 15% in going the opposite direction.  He had managed to eat a strict vegan diet the whole way.  He was very fussy about the quality of what he ate.  He said it involved a little effort but wasn't that hard.  It probably helped that he was an excellent cook and also very resourceful and determined.
  • I'd recommend sampling some of the local cuisine where ever you travel.  I don't feel like I have really experienced an area if I haven't eaten the local food.
  • I have to say that I am a little baffled by the whole mailing Cliff Bars thing.  I could see mailing something that would be hard to find on the road, but I really doubt that cliff bars are that hard to find.  A high percentage of places that you are likely to be buying other food or beverages will also have Cliff Bars.  It seems to me that dealing with the vagaries of advance schedule and route planning combined with the short and sometimes strange hours of many post offices, would be more of an effort and problem than finding the bars on the road.

    Given that I'd suggest that if you have someone at home willing to help that you start out with maybe one package of food mailed out and have them mail additional ones at your request.  That would have two advantages.  First, you would be better able to pick towns that you are more sure of arriving on a day and time when the post office is open.  And second, it would allow more flexibility in the size and frequency of the packages.  That flexibility would allow you to adjust to larger quantities, smaller quantities, curtailing the mailings altogether, or changing to a different food item when/if you get completely sick of cliff bars.

Food Talk / Re: Food by Mail
« on: May 29, 2014, 06:13:44 am »
...and I am not going to leave my fully loaded bike, locked, in front of a large store, even if the route allows me access to one.

This really need not be a problem.  I play it by ear depending on the location, but if you are concerned you can generally either just wheel the bike up and down the aisles or ask if you can park it in a safe spot inside.   You can even get by OK without a lock.

I do have another suggestion that might be a bit off topic for this thread.  Since you mentioned fully loaded and race in describing the same ride I can't resist straying to packing style.  Fully loaded and race together kind of don't compute in my way of thinking.  My last coast to coast tour I had a base gear weight of 14 pounds including bags.  I was able to comfortably camp and cook with what I was carrying and the light load greatly enhanced the riding.  I have since further trimmed the weight to 11 pounds for a subsequent trip.  If I were racing I might even go lighter.

Applying some of those load reducing techniques might be helpful to you on a ride of this nature especially since speed is a priority.

Check out some of my ultralight recommendations at:

And some of my other articles and journals at:

Also browse around on the crazy guy site in general at:

Oh it is more off road oriented but check out the bikepacking site at:

Are you going to post a journal anywhere?  If so let us know where so we can follow your trip.  That or post back and let us know how it went.

Good luck and have a great trip.

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