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Messages - staehpj1

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General Discussion / Re: Dogs n' bears
« on: November 01, 2015, 07:37:23 am »
There are more than 100,000 black bears in the western states (more than 200,000 in Alaska).  Some may consider that rare, I do not.

I'd add that in portions of the East there are quite a few as well.  I don't consider them rare at all.  Seeing them on the Trans America isn't too likely, but it isn't unusual either.  On the Sierra Cascades route not seeing them would be unusual.  According to the Black Bear Society the population of black bears is as follows:
Alabama - 50
Alaska - 200,000
Arizona - 3,000
Arkansas - 4,000
California - 30,000
Colorado - 11,000
Connecticut - 350
Delaware - 0
Florida - 3,000
Georgia - 5,000
Hawaii - 0
Idaho - 20,000
Illinois - 0
Indiana - 0
Arizona - 3,000
Iowa - 0
Kansas - 0
Louisiana - 700
Maine - 25,000
Maryland - 600
Massachusetts - 3,000
Michigan - 18,000
Minnesota - 20,000
Mississippi - 180
Missouri - 200
Montana - 10,000
Nebraska - 0
Nevada - 225
New Hampshire - 5,000
New Jersey - 3,500
New Mexico - 6,000
New York - 6,500
North Carolina - 13,000
North Dakota - 0
Ohio - 70
Oklahoma - 800
Oregon - 27,500
Pennsylvania - 14,000
Rhode Island - 10
South Carolina - 1,200
South Dakota - 0
Tennessee - 4,500
Texas - 250
Utah - 2,000
Vermont - 4,100
Virginia - 16,000
Washington - 30,000
West Virginia - 10,000
Wisconsin - 35,000
Wyoming - unknown (I'd add that while the number here is unknown there are quite a few)

General Discussion / Re: Dogs n' bears
« on: October 30, 2015, 08:48:19 pm »
We were chased by dogs here and there on the Trans America mostly in Missouri and Kentucky, but it wasn't a big deal.

Bears...  Most places where bears are a problem there are bear boxes in the campgrounds.  We didn't see bears on the TA, but a number of times we just missed seeing one that had been in camp shortly before we arrived.  On the Sierra Cascades route we saw quite a few bears, ut again there were bear boxes in the places with the most bear problems.

I wouldn't carry a bear canister on a bike tour in the lower 48.  I do hang my food in some places.

BTW, often racoons are a bigger problem than bears, but I still wouldn't carry a canister on a bike tour.  I have only very rarely seen a bike tourist carrying a bear canister.

I think canisters are just too much extra weight, but they do make a nice seat if you are inclined to not mind the extra weight.

Gear Talk / Re: Packs and pack weight for long tours
« on: October 27, 2015, 09:47:35 am »
I'm going in another direction from this race to the bottom. My total weight is 80 pounds. That includes my bike and everything on it, except me. Including food, water, my helmet and bike shoes. The panniers alone weigh almost 9 pounds. Believe it or not, despite everybody posting here, my setup is no heavier than the average cyclotourist. I meet many carrying more than me.
My observation has been that U/L tourists are the small minority on the road.  I have found backpacking the same way.  I read about a lot of folks that go U/L, but see very few of them out on the road or trail.  After having read a lot about U/L I was surprised by this.  I know that on the road I am often mistaken for a credit card tourist and when backpacking I am enough of an oddity that people always comment on my little backpack and ask what I have in it.

I'm not sure you'd want to cross the Mojave Desert with an ultralight load. I carried 24 pounds of water.

I really don't see the amount of water I need to carry as being a factor in how minimal I go with the rest of my gear.  I have done a good bit of riding in the desert with both light and ultralight setups.  I find that I can generally find a route where I don't need more than 24 hours of riding without access to a water source and that is typically only for a single day here and there.  Sometimes lack of water resupply might mean a longer than I would have preferred day.

In one case I went so far as to carry what must have been close to a gallon of water bottles in my jersey pockets.  In another case I used a tiny lightweight backpack to carry water for a long dry day.  For those few days I pick up used sport drink or bottled water bottles.

I guess that there are places where you could go for multiple days without water resupply, but yeah, I will skip those.

Gear Talk / Re: Packs and pack weight for long tours
« on: October 26, 2015, 06:33:09 pm »
12lb touring bike? Wow, at 16 lbs I thought my Merlin was light, and that's my fast bike. My touring bike, which is light, weighs about 19lbs including fenders and racks.

It's not a touring frame; I'm not a fan of them. I also don't use fenders. Not worth it for the maybe 5 days out of 100 where I'll run into rain. My back rack is designed in such a way as to where it acts like a fender and the front I deal with. If it's raining that bad I'll wait it out.

Also assuming you use both front and rear panniers? I only use rear ones. Pretty minimalist as mentioned.

I have never actually seen a 12 pound bike.  The pro racers tdf bikes are required to weigh at least 15 pounds (6.8 kg).  I have a hard time imagining anyone touring on a 12 pound bike.  Specifically what frame and components do you use that come in at 12 pounds?  Sorry but I have to say that I am skeptical.  It is pretty had to imagine a 12 pound bike with a rack on it.

I have always just carried extra water in my bags, strapped on top, or even in jersey pockets (especially if it is infrequent to need that much on a given tour).  I usually take one water bladder (empty a lot of the time) and add or remove extra capacity by picking up or discarding used bottled water or sport drink bottles.

Water is heavy, so I typically don't carry a lot unless somewhere that chances to resupply are infrequent.  If somewhere that there is surface water but no towns I have used a filter (Sawyer Mini is my fav at 2 oz.).  Other places a filter can be useless due to the lack of any surface water.

I never felt the need to have more than two bottle cages and even have left off the third one even though there were braze-ons for it.  By the time I have emptied two bottles stopping and filling from water in my baggage isn't a hardship.

General Discussion / Re: Cost of a cross country USA trip?
« on: October 21, 2015, 07:13:56 am »
I can't say that matches my experience on Washington 20.  I remember one market somewhere in the northeast part of the state on a Saturday, and one pick-your-own blueberry farm in the lower Skagit.  That was it for some 440 miles of cycling.
That is more in line with what I have experienced.  I actually recall there being even fewer on pretty much all of my trips.  When I was living in Maryland there were quite a few there though.  I think when I went for a long day ride from my house there I sometimes passed more open stands than I did on the entire Trans America and my other tours have been similar to the TA in that regard.  On the eastern portion of the ST, there were a few places selling citrus, but usually not much else.  The stands and markets I have seen were typically either outside (within 20 miles of) cities or rarely in medium sized towns not near a city.

Also Murphy being such a jerk, they almost always seemed to be either closed when I was there or it was not at a time that I really wanted to buy food (like the time we bought heavy produce just in time to lug it over one of the worst passes of the trip only to not eat most of it until the next day).

General Discussion / Re: Cost of a cross country USA trip?
« on: October 20, 2015, 03:57:07 pm »
Staehpj1: You're probably right about the Kroger stores. I don't see myself mailing stuff ahead though. I'm a day-by-day person and mailing stuff ahead forces you to either a) stick to that route or b) abandon the package.

It is probably moot since it doesn't sound like you will be mailing food ahead (I again wouldn't either), but you do have other options.  It is easy to stop in any post office and tell them that you have a package that was sent to SomeTown, USA and that you want it redirected to SomeOtherTown, USA.  You don't have to be at the post office that the package is going to.  Also if you do nothing the package will go back to the return address (home? somewhere else?).

So even if you don't do food drops it is worth remembering in case you want something sent from home.  BTW, it is nice to have someone back home that you can send stuff to if you are done with it or decide you don't need it.

General Discussion / Re: Cost of a cross country USA trip?
« on: October 20, 2015, 07:51:42 am »
It seems like mailing food ahead of yourself wouldn't be cost effective? Wouldn't it be cheaper to just buy food in that town?

My thought was that if you are using mail drops as a way to use your Kroger gift cards, it might make sense.  Then again it may not.  Flat Rate Regional mail, which is a bit less expensive, may work since the distances would be fairly short if mailing not too far ahead.  It just might be an option to keep in mind if you want to be able to use the Krogers credits on stretches with infrequent stores.

Mail drops for food typically don't work well for my style of touring, but in some situations they may.  I have used General Delivery to get things sent from home on tour and I have used it for food drops when backpacking.  As I said I probably wouldn't use it for food drops again while on tour unless there was a special reason it made sense.  I thought perhaps your Kroger deal may qualify as such a reason.

The gift cards are good at all Kroger owned stores, not just Kroger themselves. Kroger owns Cala Foods, City Markets, Dillons, FoodsCo, Fred Meyer, Fry's, King Soopers, QFC, Ralphs, Food 4 Less, and Smith's Food and Drug.

That helps, but it will still probably depend on your route to some extent.  I think that in some places you may still find you don't find stores owned by Kroger all that often.  I know that it has seemed like all I saw were little general stores and gas station mini mart type places for fairly long distances sometimes.  I may be completely wrong though.

General Discussion / Re: Cost of a cross country USA trip?
« on: October 19, 2015, 10:00:53 pm »
$2000 is definitely doable.  I was well under that on the Trans America and also on the Southern Tier.

I read where folks say that they often use roadside stands and farmers markets.  I do too when I see them, but in my experience they are very infrequent on most routes.  I really only remember very few, like maybe 3 on the entire Trans America.

I can't imagine you will pass all that many Krogers stores and I don't know about you but I hate to carry a lot of food.  I try to buy food for individual meals as close to meal time as possible rather than carry a bunch of weight.  On the TA we were given a lot of food.  I carried a bunch of it and mailed forward three packages to myself care of general delivery.  Truth be told if I had it to do over I might just say thank you, but no thank you.  It was more trouble than it was worth to me.  That said maybe when you are at a Krogers you can make yourself care packages to mail ahead.  Sending stuff general delivery does work OK.  If you decide you are not ready for a package you can forward it further ahead for no extra charge.  You can do this from any post office.  It doesn't need to be the one the package was sent to.

General Discussion / Re: Cost of a cross country USA trip?
« on: October 19, 2015, 09:25:45 pm »
Costs vary widely depending on your choices.  I can't say what you will spend on food since that will depend on your choices.  You can go pretty cheap or pretty expensive.  On the TA campsites ran us less that $5 per person day on average since we camped for free most of the time.  None of that required stealth.  Some trips I got rooms more and spent more as a result.

On the food issue, I typically eat quite a few diner breakfasts and have lunch pretty often at a diner, Subway, or whatever.  I actually don't find that it typically is much more expensive than cooking nice meals.  It is nice to eat the regional foods and a good chance to rub elbows with the local folks.  I often find that the local food and the people are a big part of the trip.  I know that the Mexican food, barbecue, seafood, and Cajun food were one of the saving graces of the ST, the other was the people, many of whom I met at food stops.

I find that it is pretty easy to live on $20 per day, but I can get by on less or splurge more depending on the trip.

Gear Talk / Re: Shoes/pedals for a cross country ride?
« on: October 16, 2015, 07:33:32 am »
Or at least post the link to my blog on the above website.

Be careful how you do that.  Creating an essentially empty journal that is just a link to one elsewhere is against their rules and definitely frowned on.  Posting about your trip on their forum and including a link is probably fine.

Gear Talk / Re: Shoes/pedals for a cross country ride?
« on: October 15, 2015, 04:20:38 pm »
Look at He did most of the work for you.

If you want other bike tourists to see your journal that is a good place to post it.

Routes / Re: Route suggestions for apr-may-june 2016
« on: October 15, 2015, 01:36:41 pm »
@ Staehpj1 You're right about the West to East thing when we talk about the TransAm starting in Oregon. Starting out west on the Western Express would put you in the nevada desert end of august. That doesn't sound too good right? I think late august for Virginia start sounds nice. I've seen many blogs about the Trans Am starting in april/may and pretty much all pictures you see are of rain, clouds and wind. :(

I am not a fan of hot weather, but it looks like by the time you would get to Fallon starting in the west it will be September or very close to it.  It will already have cooled down some and be cooling down as you go.  Start out with and pick some other points along the way and check them out on weatherspark.  It looks to me as if the worst of the heat is around August 1st and it starts to cool down a little pretty soon after.

Yes there are likely to be highs in the mid 80s of even a bit higher, but probably not the upper 90s or 100s like there would be if you hit Nevada in the end of July or the beginning of August.

Routes / Re: Route suggestions for apr-may-june 2016
« on: October 15, 2015, 07:21:32 am »
I have no experience with the Western Express, but for the regular Trans America I'd go the other direction for that time frame.  That would put you in the Ozarks and Appalachians in the Fall color time.

From what I have read it sounds like late August and September would be a good time for the WE and October would be a great time for the eastern part of the TA, but wouldn't your starting time, proposed pace, and proposed direction of travel have you finishing in November?  Some years I'd think that could put you in snowy weather in the Rockies.

General Discussion / Re: Transporting 8-12 Bikes
« on: October 13, 2015, 05:37:29 pm »
It may be that I don't "get it" because I have always toured self supported, but...
Why would "safety reasons" dictate that you need to haul all of the people and bikes at once?  Many people go on tours with no sag at all.  Are you sure you can't get by with the ability to haul everyone and all of the bikes in two, three, or more trips?

In a pinch one or two could stay with the bikes while everyone else could be hauled to where ever you need to go before the van(s) returned for the bikes.  It seems like you are likely to go to a lot of trouble to have carrying capacity that you probably won't need.

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