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Messages - staehpj1

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I have to politely disagree with staehpj1. I notice that on his TransAm he averaged just shy of 60 miles per day - - 73 days, 4244 miles. Similar for his other trips.

Yes I think my TA was actually about 58 miles per day.  Not sure how similar my other trips were though.  They were actually kind of all over the board at 38, 38, 53, 73, and 74 mpd if you count all days (one of the 38's would be a 43 if I didn't count a 5 day stay in Yosemite).  I don't think anything about that says much about how feasible an 80 mile per day TA would be for the OP especially since he is 24 years younger and a triathlete who has done an ironman (actually the OP only need to average 75 mpd to finish in his allotted time).   Bear in mind that the TA was my first trip and I was over packed, that I am not a very good athlete, that I turn 64 this year, and that I typically ride very little when not on a tour.

I probably do more hiking and exploring than staehpj1 does while on tour - backcountry up to the Pacific Crest in Yosemite, crossing the Grand Canyon and picking up my bike on the other side, hiking up to the ancient bristlecone forest in Great Basin.

Yep, I am sure that you do and that is great.  The thing is that I don't think that riders who are focused on riding something like the TA are typically doing very many long hikes.

Then there are the big breakdowns which I hope you never have - but if you tour long enough you probably will. I can think of three offhand - when you are in Fumbuck, Arkansas miles from nowhere. I had a derailleur snap. I had a seat post snap. (Which makes for some rather uncomfortably cycling) And I had a wheel rim split. If you care close enough to a big town with a bike shop, you can limp along. But if you are 150 miles away from anything, you may just need to call Performance, FedEx it, and wait.

Maybe, but then again if "150 miles away from anything" with a rim split, it might be just as likely that the rider would hitchhike the 150 miles, particularly if they have a deadline.

General Discussion / Re: Green-lighted to go cross-country! (questions)
« on: January 25, 2015, 11:08:57 am »
Jamawani's experience is unquestionable and his advice good, but I think that it is at least a bit conservative with regard to mileage, especially considering that you are apparently fairly athletic.  Also a lot depends on your touring style.

One example is whole notion of rest days.  He mentions "only 5 days off for the entire trip" as if that was a pretty low number.  I have not racked up the amount of touring miles that he has, but I have crossed the US a couple times with no zero mile days and without having any real desire to take any.  I do take an easy day here and there, but definitely do not consider rest days a given.

On the TA we did take what was essentially a day off to go whitewater rafting, but even then we rode 8 miles down the road to our next camp.  I have fairly rarely taken days off on other tours to do things but never really considered them rest days since I was generally active hiking or something.  That was pretty much limited to a day at an especially day at a nice beach and adjacent hiking trails when I did the Pacific Coast and a week in the Yosemite Valley area hiking and sightseeing when in the Sierras.

I think the only actual "real" rest day I ever took was when I was very sick on my Santa Fe Trail trip and slept for 24 hours straight.

Lots of folks manage to average 80 miles per day (when I calculate an average I count all days).  The Trans America is listed as being 4232 miles, at 80 mile days that is 7.5 weeks.  It takes a 75 mile per day average to do it in 8 weeks.  Whether you should do that much mileage is a different question, but it is certainly possible without superhuman effort.

Personally, if I were going to do the TA again I'd probably expect to finish in nine or ten weeks, but allow eleven weeks just in case.  I am a reasonably fit mid 60s non athlete who carries a pretty light load due to a minimalist style of packing.

I agree 100% with Jamawani on the suggestion to pack light.  Going no cook is a reasonable option, but even when I pack only 15 pounds or less base weight (including gear, clothing, and baggage, but not any food, fuel, or water) I still manage to carry minimal cooking gear.  My cook set varies with the trip, but is almost always under a pound and sometimes well under (plus 12 ounces of fuel).   Even if it is only instant oatmeal or Ramen noodles with tuna, a hot meal or even just a hot beverage can be pretty nice.

If interested in more details on my packing list decisions check out:
There is probably some useful info there for most folks even though most will not want to take it as far as I do these days.

General Discussion / Re: Green-lighted to go cross-country! (questions)
« on: January 25, 2015, 07:05:23 am »
John covered things pretty well and I generally agree.

It took us about 10 weeks doing the TA route on our first tour and two of us were starting with good general fitness but no cycling specific fitness.  I was inexperienced carrying a lot more than I now recommend.  If I wasn't riding with companions that got going later in the day and were slower getting back on the road at stops than me I think I would have taken a bit less time.  8 weeks is doable, but I like to allow a bit of extra time whether you need it or not.  It is good to not be a slave to a rigid schedule.

On the camping experience issue...  Depending on how adaptable you are the camping doesn't need to be too big of a deal.  Do at least be familiar with and know how to use your gear.

Bike selection...  To some extent packing style will affect that.  I think that non touring specific bikes are fine if you pack fairly carefully and I actually have begun to prefer a sportier bike as my packing style has gone more minimalist.  My advice would be to try to pack pretty light.  What is considered light varies from person to person, but I'd suggest a first timer try to shoot for 30 pounds base gear and clothing weight and if you wind up at 40 pounds I'd take a long hard look at the packing list.  Folks usually have a tendency to take too much.  It helps to have a well thought out list that has been gone over many times trimming and trimming.  Even then be open to sending things home if you find you can get by without them.  Most folks wind up doing that.

I have found I prefer to go very light (10-15 pounds of gear and clothing).  The relatively unladen riding is wonderful, but camping and cooking with really minimal stuff isn't for everyone.  I mostly mention this to emphasize the notion that you really need very little.

General Discussion / Re: How picky are you?
« on: January 24, 2015, 02:08:44 pm »
I keep chains lubed, bearings packed, and things generally in adjustment, but don't get too carried away either on tour or at home.

My approach is pretty much the opposite of Peny's in that I try to clean chains as infrequently as possible.  I do apply lube frequently and wipe it off but that is the extent of it.  It seems to me that my chains last longer when I avoid cleaning with solvents or soap and water and only apply lube.

I keep an eye on wheel trueness and spoke tension, but only to the extent of spinning the wheel and looking for wobble or hop and plinking the spokes to see that they are fairly evenly tensioned.  I do that now and then when it crosses my mind.

Shifter cable tension adjustment gets tweaked, most often while riding.  Limit screws pretty much never get touched again once set up correctly.

Brake cable tension might get tweaked any time it needs it at any stop during the day, but it happens pretty rarely.  Brake pads only get attention beyond a glance when there are starting to squeak, grind, or not work.  That or if they are visibly close to worn out.

If going on a multi-month tour I am likely to give it a bit more of a preemptive going over, but even then don't get to carried away unless it has been a long time since I repacked bearings or something is close to end of life.

Truth be told, I do very little maintenance on tour.

General Discussion / Re: TransAm summer 2015 - timing and solo female
« on: January 23, 2015, 02:23:07 pm »
I'd recommend West to East because of the prevailing winds.  I remember meeting people coming from your direction.  When I asked them how they were doing, they said that besides riding against the wind for 3,000 miles, they were doing just peachy. But that's your option.

My experience is that with the Trans America route, summer winds favor going  E-W, but I really don't advise choosing direction of travel on the TA based on wind direction.    In the middle of the country the TA tends toward southeast and the prevailing summer surface winds tend to be out of the southeast.  The map below matches what we found on the TA pretty well.

Routes / Re: Southern Tier San Diego from mid February
« on: January 21, 2015, 05:27:38 pm »
I started in San Diego on Feb 12, 2012 and had a great trip.   Obviously it may vary from year to year, but I think mid February is usually a good time to start in San Diego.  A friend went about that time another year and made out well.  I had frost quite a few nights and one very cold night on top of a pass at BlackJack State Forrest camp just before the New Mexico line, but daytime temperatures were mostly nice for the trip.

I'd go again at a similar time of year if doing it again.

General Discussion / Re: Can I rent or buy a bike?
« on: January 19, 2015, 12:39:35 pm »
Do check prices for checking a bike before you buy a ticket.   Prices vary widely with the different airlines.

General Discussion / Re: Can I rent or buy a bike?
« on: January 19, 2015, 11:38:09 am »
I think that's very good advice, do the first trip from home, make it as simple as possible.  I'm feeling a little overwhelmed, lol.  Apparently there's more to do on these trips than just riding my bike.   :)

I think that the need for worry or a warm up trip around home are greatly reduced since you are considering a supported trip, especially if it is the inn to inn one, or if you are an experienced camper.  Really not so much to worry about other than to be sure you have at least reasonable general fitness and are somewhat acclimated to fairly long hours in the saddle.

General Discussion / Re: Can I rent or buy a bike?
« on: January 19, 2015, 06:23:52 am »
Check you bike as baggage on Southwest if they fly where you are going and it will be $75 each way.    Amtrak is reasonable as well.

Food for thought...
$400 is a pretty low end bike.  It occurs to me that if you can afford a van supported tour you can probably afford a nicer bike.  You might consider treating yourself to one.  I am not one to spend a great deal on my bikes, but the difference between a $400 bike and a $700-1000 one can be a pretty big difference.

What ever you do relax, don't stress, and enjoy your tour.

General Discussion / Re: TransAm summer 2015 - timing and solo female
« on: January 16, 2015, 03:05:53 pm »
Is the first week of June too late to start the TransAm east to west? Also, any women out there who have done it solo, I would love to hear about your experience, particularly in terms of safety (men too of course!).

June isn't too late for a start in the East.   You might hit hotter weather then than with an earlier start though.

If the DC in Beth_DC refers to Washington DC you may consider whether it would make sense to get air travel out of the way in the beginning.  A few advantages of starting in the West for folks living in the Mid Atlantic area are:
  • It is easy to know when you will start a trip and harder to predict when you will finish.  So buying a plane ticket at the beginning is easier than at the end.
  • Starting on the opposite coast makes you more committed right away.
  • We found the Appalachians to be the hardest part and it was nice to do them when were were well road hardened.
  • It was really nice finishing near home so friends and family could meet us at the end.  In our case some rode with us the last day and they threw us a nice picnic at the end.

I met solo women on the TA as well as on other tours and they didn't complain of problems.  You can find tour journals done by solo women at

Routes / Re: Southern Tier Section 4 Map 56 and 57 and Beyond
« on: January 14, 2015, 07:11:49 am »
No you are not allowed to bicycle on the Freeway.
I don't think that is true for Texas.  I know that I have ridden quite a bit on I-10 and the cops riding by paid me no mind.  I have had lots of cops pass me by so if it is illegal (which I doubt) it isn't well enforced.  I found I-10 to be a good way to go for some of my crossing of Texas.  That said I do think I'd consider using US 90 more of the way if doing a ST again.

In Louisiana and eastward, interstates are off limits, but in Louisiana enforcement is spotty on that.  One cop there told us we'd be OK but advised that we get on and off at ramps to avoid bridges that usually didn't have a shoulder.  He had stopped us when we entered the state by bike.  He said it was illegal, but gave the advice above when we asked about a better route.  We didn't take his advice since there was a nice secondary road that paralleled the highway and we used that.

West of Texas on the ST I think we rode on the interstate some in all states we crossed except California and I think it was legal in all cases.  For sure cops went by and didn't bother us.

There may be specific sections of interstate there that are posted as off limits.

General Discussion / Re: Southern Tier Tour(self sustained) this fall
« on: January 13, 2015, 04:26:02 pm »
Completed my fifth STcrossing yesterday January 12, 2015,  2803 miles in 42 days of cycling and 63 days total.

I hope it was a great trip.

I'm planning on using the C&O and GAP as the first leg in my cross-country tour at the end of April. Can you expand on it a bit as to why it is so far down your list? Are there better alternatives for getting to Ohio?

I am generally just not inclined to use that type of route.  If you want to be away from traffic and on a relatively flat route it accomplishes that quite well.  It also has the advantage of not having to worry about where you will camp since there are hiker biker sites every several miles.  So it may work well for you and I am not knocking it.

It is just that I personally would rather be on regular surface roads and pass through small towns.  Also if going across the middle of the country again I'd be more inclined to take the Trans America again or take an improvised route that followed a similar path.  So I probably wouldn't be looking to get to Ohio either.

None of that should be taken as saying that you shouldn't use the C&O or head for Ohio.  It just isn't really my cup of tea. I'd rather ride a bit of the Blue Ridge Parkway and see SW Virginia, Kentucky and Missouri.  That would be harder though, and when we did it we went W-E so we'd be road hardened and in shape for the Appalachians (which on the TA were harder than anything we saw in The Cascades or Rockies on that route).

I will suggest that the C&O might be likely to be a muddy mess in April though.  I could imagine it being pretty unpleasant especially if on a touring bike or a road bike and I personally wouldn't want to ride a mountain bike for the rest of the trip.

Wow! $20 for the hiker biker sites seems expensive given what they are, mostly a small patch of grass with a nearby pump that is likely to have really bad tasting water.

The towpath is pretty far down on my list anyway despite living pretty close to it, but that fee would be enough to take it off my list entirely.

If this goes forward, I wonder if they will waive the fee for holders of NPS senior passes or other passes?

Routes / Re: Cycling through Zion National Park
« on: January 11, 2015, 10:34:37 am »
We're wondering if Kanab to Saint George is a doable distance in one day? I've been using mapmyride and google maps to look up distance/elevation but since you can't bike through the tunnel it gets messed up for this part of our trip.

Only you can say if the distance is suitable for you to do in a day.

On the tunnel issue, I will say that I have never found hitching a ride to be too difficult where it is necessary, especially in national parks.  It might be a little more difficult for two, but I can't imagine it would be a huge delay.  I have had to hitch a ride during a bike tour a couple times and been with others who needed to quite a few more times and the wait has never been long.  In the desert it seems folks are especially likely to stop.  In places where there are very few cars more of them will stop.

On backpacking trips in national parks I have usually had the first, second, or third car give me a lift.  It is a bit harder with a bike, but still I doubt it will be a big deal.  If in doubt get a very early start that day.

It looks like there is a visitor center near the tunnel, asking around there will probably score you a ride in quick order.

None of this is based on any personal experience with that particular route though so take it for what it is worth with that in mind.

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