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Messages - staehpj1

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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.

General Discussion / Re: Mailing to Myself On the Road
« on: May 28, 2014, 03:37:12 pm »
If you pack them all at the start, you can mail them home as you finish them.  That's also a good way to divest yourself of the tourist map you'll want to collect from the nearest visitor center of each state as you enter it.

That is what I most often do as well.

I kind of like having all of the AC maps with me up front (if on an AC route) so I can look ahead if I want.  When you hear about something a couple maps down the road that you want to remember you can scribble it on the appropriate map.  Once done with them I mail them home.

The state maps I pick up as I go if I see them and want them and when done with them I either discard them, give them away, or send them home.

Food Talk / Re: Food by Mail
« on: May 28, 2014, 06:21:05 am »
100 mpd is my best guess at what I can do. This is my first "race". I like to think of the endurance part of it more than the speed part of it. It is 4200 miles, so I figure, aim low to avoid burning out in the beginning. Since I have never rode across the country before, I have absolutely no idea what to expect of my abilities.

On a tour, I always recommend riding easy days for the first week or so and then building the daily mileage after settled in to the grind.  Not sure if that works for you or not, but it does help avoid overdoing and getting injured an/or discouraged.  It also avoids needing to take days off recovering.  I much prefer to ride every day or at least almost every day.

Even 3k calories a day would be a friggin fortune at the small stores one is bound to on a x-country race consisting of side-roads.

I don't know your route, but only a few exceptions on any given route I have done it is pretty hard to avoid going past a walmart every hundred miles or so and impossible to avoid dollar stores.  It may depend on what you consider a fortune, but I have managed to eat pretty cheaply even when eating at least one restaurant meal per day.  Both diners and Subway usually wont dent your budget too bad.  You will undoubtedly have lots of chances to buy real food at a grocery or walmart.

There are no qualifiers for the TABR, which is how people like me come to be a part of it. There are a number of pro racers who plan to do 200+ miles per day. That's great, enjoy your youth ;-) Me, i'll stick to 100 mpd and see how that feels and will adjust as more information comes in.

Just a suggestion, but...

I don't know your age or fitness level, but I know that I personally didn't mind didn't mind doing quite a few 100+ mile days on my last coast to coast road tour.  That said it was nice to take some easy days and I wound up only averaging 80 miles per day.  I was 61 at the time, not much of an athlete, and didn't train for the trip beyond just trying to remain at a good overall fitness level.  Also, an injury slowed me down for some of the trip.  Only you can say what will work for you, but much more mileage than that would have been a lot less fun to me.

I'd suggest that you consider taking time to talk to the locals and hang out.  See the sights a bit.  It doesn't sound like you will be competitive at the pace you are contemplating unless you are at a pretty advanced age and there are age brackets, so treating it more like a tour and less like a race may be nice.

Food Talk / Re: Food by Mail
« on: May 27, 2014, 05:53:10 am »
I will be mailing myself food for the Trans Am Bike race. Thanks for the heads up about checking PO hours ahead of time. This works for me as I prefer organic foods and sources of energy that are free of standard commercial toxins. Since I have a map of the exact route and a rough goal of my daily mileage, I am planning to send three boxes at 1000-mile intervals.

Some food for thought on that from someone who has used drop boxes and who has ridden across the country and done other similarly long tours...

I am having trouble making sense of your plan.  You describe it as a race, but 100-120 miles per day does not sound like a race pace.  It sounds like a lot of mileage for a tour but not much for a race.  What race race you referring to?  RAAM?

It is your ride and your choice, but 1000 miles worth of food at a time sounds like a heck of a lot of food to carry at once.  This is especially true if you are racing.

Then there is the mention of Cliff bars per box...

Cliff bars are generally pretty available along the way on the routes I have taken across the US and much of the way on my rides has been about as rural as it gets.  You will be stopping for water and/or other beverages any way and these days most mini marts, walmarts, targets, and convenience stores all usually have cliff bars.  I doubt that finding them would involve much/any searching.  I could see possibly see using drop boxes if your diet needed to be something hard to find along the way, but for the cliff bars I definitely wouldn't carry too many days worth at at time, they are just too available for that.

Besides that, I know that the folks I have toured with and I got very sick of of cliff bars after a few weeks on the road and we were not eating the 10 or more per day you mention.

Another problem I can see is that when touring getting to locations where you have a package to pick up, I  seem to fairly often wind up arriving there at at time the post office is closed.  This was true for us even when planning only a few days ahead at a time.  For a race it seems to me it even more likely that you might wind up arriving at a time the post office is closed and waiting around for them to be open would be less desirable than when touring.

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?

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