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Messages - staehpj1

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Gear Talk / Re: Saddle Suggestion other than Brooks
« on: May 26, 2014, 05:11:03 am »
In my experience, you can't really tell how well the saddle is working until after a month on tour. (If you can tell earlier than that, then you probably didn't use your saddle enough before the tour.) Your experiences training for a tour are useful, but the tour itself, with day after day of 60 miles or more, is much more demanding than your training will ever be.

Maybe I am just weird in this regard, but I can happily tour on most saddles except really very bad ones.  All the saddles that came with my bikes have been fine.  I never had one get worse after a month on tour.  On the other hand I have had a few saddles that felt bad for the first several hundred miles until my butt broke in to them.

To the OP, I suggest using what ever you currently ride on unless it isn't working.  If you need to change I like a normal road bike saddle rather than a special touring design.  The Prologo Kappa (model name corrected, I had it wrong when I posted) is what I put on the last bike I built up and it is pretty comfortable for me.

Routes / Re: Virginia
« on: May 25, 2014, 04:36:41 pm »
Oh and I didn't mention Missouri.  There were quite a few there.

Most on the TA were just in it for the chase and really weren't intent on biting.  Also most dogs on the TA have been pepper sprayed before so even pretending to have pepper spray works well.  Add a PSSST PSSST sound for even better effect.  Outrunning them was pretty effective for us on the TA because they seemed to mostly chase us on downhills or flat ground.  Not sure why we were so lucky on that tour.  I don't generally bother to carry it but, we found Halt! brand spray pretty effective when someone have us a can.  I had one companion on the TA who was pretty freaked by dogs so I stayed back and acted as a decoy until she made her escape and then sprinted away.   I found it to be a lot of fun.

I had fewer dogs chase me on other tours than the TA but on tours in the southwest there were some really mean ones.  Some from the Central Valley of California and some of the reservation dogs on the ST seemed especially vicious.

General Discussion / Re: My First Tour (Need tips)
« on: May 24, 2014, 07:58:04 am »
I would not do a 500 mile trip until I have done at least 2 two day trips. You got a couple weekends. Do some out and back trips. I'd start with 50 miles. Then you can gauge readiness and what to take.

Different strokes and there is nothing wrong with doing that, but I think it is mainly an issue for camping and cooking and the OP is doing neither.  Also I really don't think it is important even for camping and cooking if the rider has experience with using his gear from backpacking, canoe camping, or some other self supported method of travel.  Since he is staying with and relatives along the way he could get by with nothing much other than he would carry on any day ride and a tooth brush.  Forgetting some gear item, not being familiar with a piece of gear, or whatever just isn't a big deal on a trip like that.

I know that I did the Trans America as my first tour and had no regrets about not doing warm up trips.  Just me, but I really don't want to do overnight tours at all.  If the trip is that short I'd rather just do day rides.  I generally don't plan trips of less than 9 days or so, but again that is just personal preference.

Routes / Re: Virginia
« on: May 23, 2014, 06:36:04 am »
Good of you to share your experiences. Now I'll share one of mine. If you think the dogs are bad on the TransAm in Virginia, wait until you get to Kentucky--you ain't seen nothing yet! Have fun!! I wish I was there again.
Yeah, going by memory, I think we were chased once in Oregon, once in Virginia, and something like 30-40 times in Kentucky.

General Discussion / Re: equipment & route
« on: May 21, 2014, 08:34:14 am »
Consider taking a stocking cap or balaclava to sleep in at night and cover your head.  It will help keep you warm at night.  Take a pair of wool socks too and wear them at night.  As others said, your bag will probably be too warm and hot by the time you get to the Midwest and East.

I agree on the socks.  Warm dry socks that you didn't wear during the day are a big help.  I never found I needed a cap for sleeping when using a sleeping bag with a proper hood, but it is often nice to have one while up and about.

Switching to a lighter bag in the Midwest is probably a good idea.  That said, you can use a bag over a pretty wide range.  As the temperature drops I progress as follows:
  • Sleep on top of the bag, or don't use it at all
  • If you carry a liner sleep in just that
  • Use the bag like a quilt with arms and legs hanging out as needed
  • Get inside the bag, but don't zip
  • Zip up
  • Use the hood
  • Close the hood tight (just a small opening to breathe) and wear extra socks
  • Add layers of clothing, either worn or piled on top of you
I often go through a good portion of those step in a single night in the mountains or desert.  With that approach I have been fine with my 17 oz bag from extreme heat down into the teens F.

I also think that doing the steps rather than being too warm early in the night helps.  If you climb into and zip up your bag and get sweaty you will be cold and damp later when the temperature drops.

General Discussion / Re: equipment & route
« on: May 20, 2014, 01:45:41 pm »
Sleeping bag ratings can be sketchy and how much insulation folks need it pretty variable person to person, but I did the ST in February and March with a 45 F bag and was happy.  To put that into perspective that 45 F bag is warmer than a lot of 32 F bags I have used and I apparently put out heat like a furnace.  Lowest temperature I recorded on the trip was 18 F.  Quite a few nights there was frost on the tarp and bivy.

In WA, ID, and MT what temperature you see will depend to some extent on your route, and how high you camp.  Avoiding staying at higher elevations can help a lot.  I had a really cheap 32 F bag when I rode there in very late spring and was fine.  That bag wasn't as warm as my 45 F Mountain Hardwear Phantom and again I was fine.

As I said I am OK with my 45 F bag when folks I have camped with in good 32 F bags claim to be freezing though.  So if you sleep particularly cold or warm adjust for that.

Bottom line...  a 15-20 F bag is probably fine for those times and places for most folks.

Routes / Re: Sierra Cascades camping reservations
« on: May 18, 2014, 02:55:57 pm »
Im planning a trip covering Section 4 of the Sierra Cascades route at the end of June. I understand that it will be very busy so I am wondering if cycle tourists need reservations to stay in the National Parks or if there are hiker / biker sites as there are in Oregon.
We rode the section between San Diego and Lake Tahoe and made out OK with no reservations close to that time of year.  I don't recall any hiker biker sites on that section.  We did need to ask to share a site with someone twice and in the Yosemite Valley we were allowed one night in the backpackers' campground is behind North Pines Campground.  We then had to get up at the crack of dawn and head over in the dark to Camp 4 which is the first come first served climbers camp.  Otherwise we would have had to leave the park.  I think we were allowed 7 days there.

Your chances are probably best if you don't arrive in Yosemite Valley on a a Friday or Saturday.  It is definitely worth spending a few days there even if you do not normally take days off.

Twice I have shipped a bike to Portland.  Once on a SW flight, and once FedEx to a bike shop.  Portland has the only air port I have ever been to with a "bicycle assembly area".  Everything about the Portland area is bike friendly.
Yes to all of that.

Do be careful what airline you choose if you are flying with your bike the fees can range pretty widely.  Southwest is always my first choice because they are pretty cheap and easy to deal with WRT a bike.  Other airlines might sock you with fees as high as $200 each way for the bike plus charging you for your other bag.

Do some research before buying a ticket if you want to fly with the bike.

Oh, and I'll add that it is really nice to just ride right out of the airport.

Routes / Re: Route Check
« on: May 09, 2014, 03:45:20 pm »
Wow, I see that the start is only one month away. I wish you the best of luck. This is quite an endeavor. I look forward to following your progress.

That locks your route in to the point that I don't have much in the way of suggestions.  I will say that if you are willing to do a little unpaved bike path you might consider picking up the GAP (Great Allegheny Passage) at Uniontown and using the C&O Canal Towpath from Cumberland to DC.  Your stops there look like they would be accessible from those paths.  It might be worth looking at any way.

Routes / Re: Route Check
« on: May 08, 2014, 03:49:52 pm »
staehpj1, I picked this route because we are doing charity work in these different towns. Check out our website to learn more about our mission.
I see, I wondered if it might be something like that. 

If anyone has any suggestions on what roads would be best to take in between the cities we are stopping in that would be a great!
Sorry, but your route almost looks as if it was designed to avoid the routes and attractions where I have ridden, so I can't really help with any route specifics.  It does pass through a few towns I have ridden by or through, but always seems to be going a different direction.

Are all of the towns with blue dots actual stops where you need to go?  Just ones with stars?

Routes / Re: Route Check
« on: May 08, 2014, 07:46:20 am »
The map points are not close enough to tell very well what roads you will be riding.  It almost looks like you just picked cities and towns to link without even considering the roads between them.

You seem to be hopping from big city to big city.  Do you have some special reason for doing that?  Most folks avoid cities like the ones you seem to go out of your way to go through.

Have you considered looking at and possibly using one of the Adventure Cycling routes or a combination of more than one of them?  It looks to me as if you would wind up with a much more pleasant ride that way.  You would be on suitable roads, you would know where various services could be found, you would meet a few other touring cyclists and make friends, and you would have a lot of places to stay scoped out for you including free places to camp and probably some hosts willing to put you up.

General Discussion / Re: My First Tour (Need tips)
« on: May 05, 2014, 05:31:23 am »
My advice is to pack very light and have a flexible schedule.  Ride as far as you feel like each day and take as long as it takes to finish.  Since you aren't camping or cooking it should be easy to keep the load light and eliminate the need for a touring specific bike or baggage.

Something in the 50-80 mile per day range is usually considered to be a normal touring pace.  Faster or slower paces are not unheard of though.

Routes / Re: Pacific Coast: Vancouver or Bellingham?
« on: May 02, 2014, 01:36:03 pm »
Not sure what other options there are or how they would be to ride, but I found much of the route that the AC maps used from Bremerton to Astoria to be not all that pleasant.  It was just okay at best.  Not great scenery, and so so camping opportunities.  I flew into Seattle for that ride and think if doing it again I would try to find a different way to go.  I might possibly even skip Washington state altogether, that or maybe look for a more coastal route.  If riding from Canada to Mexico was a big selling point of the trip, I'd look for that more coastal route, but if not I'd look into how I might start in Astoria.

Then again that is just my personal tastes, others may love that section.  On the other hand when I mentioned my preference to some other riders that I met in Oregon, their comment was "We live in Northern Washington and start in Astoria".

I will also bet that solo travellers receive more "acts of kindness."
About the only type of bike tourists that might receive more "acts of kindness" are a couple (man and woman) traveling together, particularly if middle age or above.
In my experience I got the most offers of hospitality or other kindness when travelling with my daughter and her college room mate.  Everyone assumed that we were a dad and his two daughters.  I think they felt that a family was less threatening.  I also think that folks tend to be kinder toward attractive young women.  I do get quite a few offers of hospitality when alone, but not nearly as many as when I was with Erica and Lauren.  We were often offered housing, food, water, and meals.  The same happens to me when alone, but much less frequently.

Additionally I think it helps a lot if folks think it is an epic tour, going coast to coast helps in that regard.  I am sure that I get less offers of kindness when on a 2 week tour than when going coast to coast.

General Discussion / Re: Logistics of shipping equipment for touring
« on: April 28, 2014, 02:21:58 pm »
With the OP flying Southwest, probably easiest to take it on the flight as planned in the huge airlines box likely to be available at the ticket counter. That way the bike serves as a luggage cart all the way to check in without all the disassembly.
Make sure they have boxes ahead of time though.  I thought most of the airlines stopped offering boxes and even if they still do don't assume they will have one.

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