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Messages - staehpj1

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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.

Many thanks to both of you for your response. I have three months to spend on a tour and I am inclined towards the TA. I guess my only concern was whether it was too hard for a novice tourer like myself.
Also I've heard it said that the TA is better traveled West to East. Is there really any difference? I live on the East coast, so I'm planning to go West.
Three months is enough for most people.

My opinion is that due to weather factors direction of travel depends on when you go as much as anything.  If you want to get a started early in the season I'd start in the east.  If you want to start a bit later W-E might be better.  You are most likely to avoid both the worst heat and the worst cold with one of those two options.

I started on June 11th in the west and it worked out very well.  The only drawback is that some years McKenzie pass may open in mid to late June (or even more rarely July).  You can take Santiam Pass, but it would be a shame to miss Mckenzie.

Another factor to consider is where you live if you are close to one end or the other.  I much prefer to finish my tours close to home.  That way I can get air travel out of the way up front.  It is much easier to plan for travel at a fixed start date rather than a flexible finish date.

Don't believe the folks who tell you about the prevailing westerly winds.  The winds in the Great Plains are most often out of the Southeast in Summer and the TA crosses the Plains in a generally SE direction.  So we found that there was an advantage for E-W there but I wouldn't make my choice based on the wind for this route.

One other thing... we found the steep climbs in the Appalachians and Ozarks to be the hardest of the trip.  The ones in the west were very long but not as steep.  We were happy to have the Appalachians later in the trip when we were fully road hardened.

It is all personal preference, but I think the TA easily wins that one.  Why more than you can handle?  Do you not have enough time or some other limitation?

General Discussion / Re: How to figure average miles per day
« on: June 07, 2016, 06:59:59 am »
When people ask how far I travel each day, I am wondering if the common practice is to divide total miles travelled by the total days of the tour or divide by the total - on the bike - riding days?
Just me but I think of "average miles per day" and what I'd tell people I meet along the way who ask "how far I travel each day" as two different numbers.

For me average daily miles is total miles divided  by total days including rest days.  That is the number that matters for most practical purposes.  Since the number is used for planning arrival dates, trip duration, and so on, not counting rest days doesn't make sense to me.

If someone asks how far I go in a day I think they are probably more interested in how far I ride in a typical riding day.  So in that case I might not include rest days.

The bottom line for me is that it is usually moot because I typically don't take days off and if I do it is in the form of half days or short mileage days.

To avoid confusion I try to just specify when I answer by saying something like "70 miles per day including rest days"  (or "without" as the case may be).

General Discussion / Re: Aggressive Drivers During Transamerica?
« on: June 06, 2016, 07:06:18 am »
My experience is that drivers are the worst around cyclists where they are not used to seeing them.  Most of the Trans America is likely to have enough bike traffic to make it less of an issue.

Also out on tour you are mostly in more rural areas, so I think it is likely to be less of an issue than around town in most locales.

Routes / Re: Pacific Coast Route North to South
« on: June 06, 2016, 07:01:00 am »
When I did it in September the weather was wonderful and the traffic light.  I'd bet on October being nice as well.  Summer is probably fine if you don't mind a bit heavier tourist traffic, but Fall is probably nicer.

I'd think spring would be likely to be wetter, but if you are considering going then check historic averages on or weatherunderground to be sure.

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