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Messages - BikeFreak

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Gear Talk / Re: packing panniers
« on: March 10, 2012, 06:06:18 pm »
With my bike it's opposite:

My first tours were with rear panniers alone (Ortliebs). And a roll on top. With that very simple and basic setup my bike handles completely stable even at 45 mph descents.

A while ago I did another tour in a more cold climate: It was necessary to carry a heavy sleeping bag and cold weather clothing. For that reason I got the Ortlieb front panniers and the rock solid Tubus front rack. From day 1 and the next 30 days the bike behaved badly. Lots of vibrations and flexing of the frame especially on descents when riding faster than approx 18 mph. I had to literally brake on the descents. I tried all kinds of variations with the panniers: Shifting weights etc but nothing helped.

My next tour will be with my trusted Ortlieb rear panniers and a roll on top - just like in the old days :-)


General Discussion / Re: Affordable/free camping idea
« on: March 07, 2012, 02:07:24 am »
In small-town churches nowadays, the pastor is more likely to be a she.
Quite often, the church sign will have the pastor's name.
Sometimes, they have multiple churches they serve in a few nearby towns.
It's easiest to ask - "Does Rev. Smith live here in Smallville?"
If she lives 30 miles away - then ask if a minister does live in Smallville.
So, the Baptist minister - Rev. Johnson - lives over on Maple Street.
So you call Rev. Johnson, instead, and ask.  Don't expect.
But you will usually be pleasantly surprised by the generosity.

As for public lands - I find the purchase of National Forest maps worth it.
They show surface ownership patterns - with a scale of 1 inch = 2 miles.
So they are pretty detailed for touring and back roads, too.
They have them in paper ($5) and plastic ($10).  Or thereabouts.
Even one night of pricey camping more than covers the cost of a plastic map.
Most larger towns near forests have a Forest Service office.
Plus, town libraries will often have areas maps, too.

Thanks for the info on churches.

Here at it is possible to see where established campsites are located in the national forests. You are even able to make online reservations and payments. But you are saying that besides these established campsites in National Forests, you could literally camp 1 mile away from the signed camp site for free - because it is public land? Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Next, when searching on I see that many many campsites are something called group campsites or family campsites, where, for instance, they ask for 50 dollars for one group campsite. Has anyone stayed in such campsites? Is it a matter of asking the group/family to share a few square feet for another tent. What is the intention of these special campsites.


General Discussion / Re: getting insurance for UK rider in N America
« on: March 06, 2012, 04:47:59 pm »
A plan to stretch the ride over 3-4 months. 

As far as I know you are only allowed to stay in USA for 90 days on a tourist visum. I'm from Denmark and I can get an insurance for as many days as I want to.


General Discussion / Re: Affordable/free camping idea
« on: March 06, 2012, 04:20:38 pm »
Another option is to ask at churches.  Liability issues have made churches more squeamish, but the pastor may allow you to camp out back and use the facilities.

The most widespread free camping is on federal lands.  You can camp for free on almost all Forest Service and BLM land - but you need to know where it is.  Most is in the West - but there are national forests all over the U.S.  This does NOT apply to National Park and National Wildlife Refuge lands - where random camping is prohibited.  Most states lease state lands to ranchers or other users so random camping is not allowed.  Some states DO allow camping at fishing access sites and on state game lands.  Finally, don't random camp on Indian Reservation lands.

That is some pretty interesting information. It should be added as a sticky note.

I have biked several times in the US and never really done any wild camping, all because of the fear of meeting an angry redneck/farmer with a shotgun in the middle of the night with a couple of aggressive dogs. Everywhere you see the "No trespassing - Violators will be prosecuted" notes on tree trunks etc. Thus, I have been very cautious and reluctant in that matter. Maybe it is just an overreaction? Maybe I have seen too many movies?  :o.

And like the thread starter: I find it absolutely horrible to pay 30 dollars for a tent site arriving at 8pm and leaving at 6am. All because the campground only operates with one fee = "Full RV hookup incl pull through for your convenience".


I'm interested in the church options. When arriving in a small sub-1000 town how do I establish contact with the pastor to ask for permission? Is this only possible when arriving early (=late afternoon) because he is around or at work? What if you arrive just before sunset? What is good practice and common sense in that matter?


General Discussion / Re: Long distance trip alone?
« on: March 03, 2012, 01:38:56 am »
I'm considering a long distance trip this summer, biking from Orlando to upstate NY.  I don't have any riding partners so I'd be taking this alone.  Am I crazy and stupid?  LOL, but seriously I'd like to here from anyone else who has done a cycling trip alone and hear their experiences and words of wisdom.

Let me put it this way:

When I tell non-cyclists about one of my long distance tours, the absolutely first question is always:

"Who did you travel with"?

Then I answer "I travel by myself, always". Then their next comment is:

"Didn't you feel lonely ... I could never do that". Generally, people are not interested in the travel/tour itself, but only this particular social aspect. I typically calm those non-cyclists down by ensuring them that I do meet and talk to strangers on the road. That puts me in their "normal-person" category gain ... just a little bit.

I would say that most people need a lot of attention from other people, but there is a certain "breed" who can live without. As stated in one of the initial answers: If you even considered doing it alone, you should be fine :-).


Gear Talk / Re: Essentials
« on: February 29, 2012, 03:12:50 pm »
and pedals and cleats? Will I be fine in just trainers and toe clips?

All my tours (Northern Tier, Pacific Coast, Atlantic Coast, Divide trail, Circle Australia and many more) I did using my leather boat shoes and a normal pedal. No SPD systems whatsoever. When I meet people on the road and they realize that I don't have any clipless SPD shoes/pedal they think I'm a crazy person. I don't care - it suits me well and I do 125 mi/day.

Actually, I have tried the SPD system using two different SPD shoes, but I don't like it at all, especially because my toes go numb.


Gear Talk / How to avoid saddles sores and rash (hand sanitizer)
« on: February 26, 2012, 06:19:15 pm »

I believe that saddle sores/rashes are due to bacteria ... at least to a large degree. I have never really dealt with the issues of how to actively avoid the rash problems, but here are some thoughts:

Main problem: You cannot shower and/or wash your bike shorts every day - especially if you are on a tight budget and doing camping to save money.

I read that one should use chamois cream or petroleum jelly. I once tried using petroleum jelly for 1 week but I got rashes anyway. I haven't tried specific chamois creams but I suppose they leave some sort of greasy layer on the skin/pad. Basically what I don't like about creams are the fact that they clog up the chamois/pad in the bike short unless the product is 100% water based. So, when you apply the cream every morning, more and more of that stuff clogs up the pad ... something I would avoid. The more you put on, the less moisture the pad can soak up and all sweat stays between your skin and the greasy layer on the pad (and cannot escape).

Then I got a totally different thought. Why not use hand sanitizer or baby/wet wipes instead? Instead of applying cream, you clean yourself "down there" every night before sleep to kill all bacteria/germs. This stuff evaporates very fast (within seconds). Then, you should also be able to spray alcohol on the pad of the bike shorts - to kill the bacteria in the pad...however I don't know if this is a bit far out. Anyhow, that way the shorts and you stay clean for a long time.

So, has anyone been using the hand sanitizer/wet wipe method? I would be happy to get some feedback...or just comments. Maybe its a bad method?



Routes / Re: Weather: Transamerica E to W for fast cyclists
« on: February 24, 2012, 12:34:11 pm »
Now there's no way back. Arrival will be 2nd of June. See you on the road.


Routes / Re: Weather: Transamerica E to W for fast cyclists
« on: February 22, 2012, 01:34:27 pm »
I'm about to order the plane tickets very soon and would like to know if anyone have a general update on the snow conditions in the Rockies so far. We are approaching March and spring time slowly sets in. Has it been a winter with a reduced amount of snow with chances of early mountain pass openings (anyone with a link to some conditions?)? I know it sounds silly, but I need to choose between 2nd June or 26th May. I just don't want any snowy passes.

I have reviewed the maps and will NOT be doing McKenzie anyway (because I will pick up the Sierra Cascades)


General Discussion / Re: how safe is it to ride in the US?
« on: February 21, 2012, 03:28:38 pm »
At least if you stay on the ACA routes it will be much safer to ride in USA compared to Europe. American motorists drive defensively whereas European motorists drive aggressively. Speeding is a constant issue in Europe, in USA motorists generally obey speed limits.


General Discussion / Re: Communications on tour
« on: February 19, 2012, 02:52:13 am »
Concerning multiple answers:

Scenario 1: Let's assume 100 persons do both smartphone and post cards. Once they has voted, the poll says 100 votes for smartphones and 100 votes for post cards.

Scenario 2: Let's assume 100 persons do smartphones only and another 100 persons do post cards only. Once everybody has voted the poll says 100 votes for smartphones and 100 votes for post cards.

However the 2 scenarios are drastically different.

Then the poll says how many members have voted - and that will add to the understanding - but with multiple choices (GPS Tracking, pay phones etc) the overwiev is lost.

Basically the main objective of the poll is to see how many have adopted the electronic gadget world compared to the more "snail mail" world. This why, I suggest voting for the preferred method (as in the original posting). I know, this is not perfect, but it is to ensure that each vote is from a unique, single user. You can do a poll with multiple choices, but then it becomes excessively large.


General Discussion / Which sunscreen?
« on: February 15, 2012, 04:13:06 pm »

As part of my tour across on the TA I will of course need plenty of sunscreen.

Reading the back label of common sunscreen is a full list of chemicals which sound very toxic and harmful.

Are there any good brands available in common super markets like Safeway, Walmart etc. By good I mean sunscreens which have a low level of harmful chemicals - something organic maybe?


GPS Discussion / Re: Problems with SPOT Messenger (GPS Tracker)
« on: February 15, 2012, 01:31:07 pm »
Update on the SPOT GPS device:

The good:
1. The device works and is very very precise. When using in the car, you can literally see what lane you are driving in.
2. You do not need any SIM card or any mobile phone coverage, it uses satellites only.

The bad:
1. When in town riding between +4 story buildings the device will not function properly. The walls are too tall and will cover the satellites.
2. The device will not work if you put your hand on it, however it will work if you put clothes above it.
3. The worst part: You family will only be able to see 7 days of tracking. The system is simply only able to show 7 days of tracking. When you reach the 8th day, the 1st day tracks are automatically erased. If you ride across USA your family will not be able to see the entire track from start but only as "a number of dots in the middle of somewhere".
4. To circumvent the limitations with 7 days tracking, the company "invented" You can export your 7 day tracks to spotadventures where all data is saved forever and is never lost. The problem however is, that the data points need to be exported MANUALLY to spotadventures and it needs to be done every 7 days!!! In spotadventures the data can be merged: That way the entire route from start to the present point can be shown. If you want to show the entire track, YOU need to find Internet hotspots along the route every 7 days (or less) and manually export the data points to spotadventures. If you cannot do it, you need to have somebody else (family member etc) do it by giving them your login details.
5. As an alternative to, the data points can also be exported as various other GPS data, like kml-files which can be used in google maps. However this also needs to be done manually and every 7 days (or less).

Final comment:
When you want to show your tour to family/friends, they need to use 2 links:

1. A findmespot link
2. A spotadventures link

and these 2 services do not communicate with each other, except when you alone export data.

If I had known about the 7day issue I would not have bought the device. The information about the 7 days on the webpage cannot be found - at least by me. However, maybe if you download the online manual (before buying the device) and read all the details with the small letters you will be able to pick up the 7 day issue. Maybe you don't care about the 7 days, but I do :-).


General Discussion / Communications on tour
« on: February 15, 2012, 12:06:20 pm »

I would like to know how you guys communicate while long distance touring. If you use multiple ways of communication, please vote for the thing you do most.


Please have a close look at this map:

When you say you don't like deserts, is it because of the heat? If yes, it will not be hot in April. If you leave early april and arrive June 10th you will have total of 70 riding days. I suggest:

1. Going south to the Mexican border
2. Pick up the Southern Tier all the way to New Roads, Louisiana.
3. Pick up the Great Rivers route going north and
4. Join Transam in Cave in Rock, Kentucky

SF-Border: Approx 630 mi
Border-New Roads: 2200 mi
New Roads-Cave Rock: 750 mi
Cave Rock-DC: 1150 mi
Total= 4730


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