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Messages - staehpj1

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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.

If the Spot device sets her mind at ease it is probably money well spent, but in my opinion touring is not especially more dangerous than "normal life".

One thing I will suggest, and I think this is very important.  Don't over promise how much you will stay in contact.  On my first long tour (TA) I made the mistake of promising to be in touch more than I actually wound up doing once on the road and it definitely strains a relationship.

On the TA I gave the impression I would be calling daily and then there were times when I didn't call for multiple days in a row.  Don't do that.

I have since found it way better to set expectations low for how often you will call, text, or email home and then meet or exceed those expectations.  For me it works best if I say up front that there may be times when I won't think about calling during the daytime and then won't have a signal in the evening and that it could be multiple days of that at times.  Then she is happy when I manage to call fairly frequently and at least text most days.  I do find that it is often easier to stay in contact by text messages and emails where cell signals are spotty since they go through better on a poor signal and will drain batteries less.  I definitely don't promise to be available to take calls and leave the phone off when not actually using it.  I also set expectations for any calls to be brief.

To sum up...  When expectations are set low and exceeded it is WAY better than setting high expectations and not meeting them.

Routes / Re: Sierra Cascades road surfaces?
« on: May 27, 2016, 03:40:28 pm »
The handling of the Bromoton is a little nervous compared to my LHT but I'm confident that it is up to the task.

You say that the climbs are steep but according to the gpx they rarely reach 6%. Do you think that is innacurate?

I would have guessed that quite a few places the grades hit the double digits for at least some portion of the way.   For sure there will be a number of days where the elevation gain will be over a mile, sometimes all in one go.

Routes / Re: Sierra Cascades road surfaces?
« on: May 27, 2016, 06:59:58 am »
I guess it depends on your particular bike, but I wouldn't choose a folder for that ride.  If your folder handles and climbs very well with whatever you will be carrying it may work for you, but in my experience most folders are unsuitable for a ride like that even if you weren't carrying any gear.

There is an extreme amount of steep climbing on the SC.  There are also crazy long and steep descents on roads that have potholes and falling rock to dodge.  I never found any of the small wheeled folders I have ridden to be suitable for those kind of conditions.

Perhaps your folder doesn't suffer from the tall whippy masts and cramped geometry that I find unsuitable.  If it doesn't the small wheels while less than ideal might not be a problem.

General Discussion / Re: Biking across America
« on: May 20, 2016, 12:07:31 pm »
If you are planning for this summer (2016) you are really pushing it and I wouldn't advise it at all.  If you plan for next summer, (2017), yes it's quite doable.
I somewhat disagree.  The biggest hurdle will be your lack of camping experience and gear.  Three of us did the Trans America on a whim and on pretty short notice.  The only real difference is that we were all experienced at camping and outdoor activities.  By the time you could get up to speed and have all your gear sorted you would want to start in the West (the later in the season you go the more the preference shifts to a W-E trip).

General Discussion / Re: If you only had a couple of weeks?
« on: May 04, 2016, 08:10:57 am »
For the amount of time you have, I'd consider the Oregon Coast N-S.  It is great riding, pleasant weather, beautiful scenery, and far and away the most suited place for meeting other cyclists that I have found.  I fell in with an impromptu group that camped together every night much of the way.  I typically don't ride with others, but you probably could on that route.

On other routes I met and made friends with others, but not to the same extent.  I did make a few longer lasting after the tour acquaintances on the Trans America, but on the PC hung out with others most days.

Routes / Re: TransAm trail - how fit
« on: May 01, 2016, 03:10:55 pm »
Personally, I thought the mountains in western Virginia, eastern Kentucky, and central Missouri (Ozarks) were the toughest on the TransAm.  By comparison, the passes in Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana were easy grades.  Yes, they were long, but the grades were much easier. 
That was my observation as well.

Routes / Re: TransAm trail - how fit
« on: May 01, 2016, 07:25:22 am »
If you are in good general health, 10 days to 2 weeks in you will be doing fine and will have begun to hit yours stride.  Just take it a little easy in the beginning.  My approach is to never ride enough so you need rest days.

General Discussion / Re: Down Tube Shifters
« on: April 18, 2016, 10:38:14 am »
Down tube shifters are simple and weigh less than any other kind of shifter.
Not to get too far into "weight weeneism" here but, while the downtube lever themselves weigh less than other shifter types, you have to add the weight of the brake levers to get a fair comparison.  STI's, Ergo's and the Gevenalle shifters include the brake levers in their weight claims.
I am a pretty obsessive weight weenie when it comes to packing gear, but a bit less so on the bike.  That said brifters are typically heavier than the combined weight of brake levers and down tube shifters.  Additionally there is less cable and cable housing.  Those differences are kind of moot to me though since my preference on how they work is a bigger deal.

Gear Talk / Re: Un-Chain my bike!
« on: April 13, 2016, 08:13:13 am »
If I am picturing what happened correctly, your chain doubled over itself, creating a loop. My GF did that a few weeks ago, and it's happened to me before.. If that's what happened, next time take a deep breath and work through the problem visually. With the chain on one of the chainrings, you know which is the side is the "underside" (the side that comes in contact with the sprockets of the chainrings and cogs, and which side is the "outerside" (the side that does not come into contact with the sprockets). Use that orientation to address the tangle.
I agree.  The language here seems a little confusing, but it sounds correct and I can't improve upon it.  I think that the key point is to think through where the chain is, where it is supposed to be, and in what orientation and you can always get it back into place,  Since it might require some force understanding where it is and where it wants to be is key.  You don't want to force it is a direction that it doesn't want to go.

The snag is usually where the chain crosses itself to make the loop that hangs it up.

In some cases it may help to unbolt the FD from the frame if the chain is binding in the cage, but I don't actually recall ever having to do that.

Bottom line...  Think it through first and then work it out.

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