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Messages - BikeFreak

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General Discussion / Re: cassettes
« on: November 19, 2015, 06:19:05 pm »
My Fuji Pro, 10 speed cassette has a 11\23 gear ratio.  With the low 23 gear, as you can imagine, have a hard time with hills.  Could someone tell me what the lowest  gear cassette I could replace my existing with and not install a new derailleur.  I’m thinking bout a 10 speed cassette with a 11/28 ratio.

You never wrote your front chain rings. Anyhow, even if you choose a cassette with 28 as the largest, you will struggle badly in the Appalachians on the Transam :-).


General Discussion / Google Maps: Change road colors?
« on: November 19, 2015, 06:13:32 pm »

For a trip I need to print some maps from a color desktop printer. However, Google Maps has chosen to show minor roads in a gray color which blends in with the background too easily:,-104.1542898,12.81z?hl=da

Above you see a section close to Interstate 80 in Wyoming. I am interested in the smaller roads colored gray above and below the interstate.

1. How can the minor roads be colored differently to make an easily readable print?
2. Is there another online map service which shows the roads in more bright colors?


General Discussion / Re: Getting out of Dulles Airport.
« on: November 14, 2015, 01:13:47 pm »
I'll admit it will go up and down MANY times on the Skyline Dr :-)

General Discussion / Re: Getting out of Dulles Airport.
« on: November 13, 2015, 04:00:48 pm »
When you leave Front Royal to climb the Skyline Drive, there are very few shops. As I remember there were 3 shops/restaurants - of course with limited opening hours. The shops only have snacks and so on. Remember, on the Skyline Drive you will probably see/encounter black bears :-). When you leave the Skyline Drive you will start on the Blue Ridge Parkway right away. The Skyline Drive finishes on some sort of mountain pass (Rockfish Gap) and you will need to bike all the way to the bottom to get food and all the way up again. I did not do that. On the Blue Ridge Parkway there are no shops/cafees whatsoever. First, when you climb down into Vesuvio in the valley. In Vesuvio there is a campground adjacent to a family fast food restaurant. Very pleasant - I stayed there.

I suggest that Adventure Cycling makes a connector from Dulles to the Transam. Dulles is such an important hub both for Americans and foreigners and every year new people ask how they get their bikes from Dulles to Yorktown. It would be MUCH easier to have a connector - unless you require to dip your bike in the ocean.


General Discussion / Re: Getting out of Dulles Airport.
« on: November 12, 2015, 06:20:48 pm »
One crazy idea: What about renting a car at the airport (or even better van) and sleep in it. Not driving it anywhere. Just sleeping in it on the parking lot :-).

When I arrived at Dulles a few years back with my bike: Went straight north on Autopilot Dr, then Materials, then Ariane, crossing Dulles Greenway and then turn left onto Old Ox Road=HWY 606. Old Ox is somewhat remote with scrubs and so on - maybe you can squeeze in a tent. But I went South towards Front Royal and then the SKyline Dr before catching up with the transam.


General Discussion / Re: Bicycle tools for a cross country ride
« on: July 29, 2015, 02:21:50 am »
This thread really inspires me!

On my first trip in 2000 I also carried waaay to many tools. I have reduced it down a bit now. Still, on my last trip I carried a chain tool, some chain links, a cassette removal tool etc. But in the future I will probably not anymore, because: I have now pedaled 1000s of miles and never ever used these tools. I have never broken a cable nor a chain or a spoke. Doing a cross country trip you will not need to adjust your brakes - if you ride during the summer. I believe if you use some Loctite 243 thread locker your screws and bolts will never unwind unless you did not clean the threads before application.

At one point you might want a new chain and maybe a new cassette, but you can just go to a bikeshop, buy the items and pay them 10-20 dollars for putting it on. of course you can be 100% self sufficient and carry a new cassette a new chain a new tire etc yourself ...

So basically it boils down to having a puncture repair kit :-)

One should also consider that you can walk up to a farm and ask if you can use their wrenches etc for a few minutes.


General Discussion / Re: TransAmerica bike tour- travel East or West?
« on: July 26, 2015, 10:23:23 am »
I need to correct myself: I find it VERY easy to talk to locals ... a bit too easy. I have also experienced invitations etc. My previous comment about loneliness was targeted towards other cyclists.

I found it amazing, while traveling the ACA trans am route that I met quite a few cyclists ... out of the 15 above ... that were traveling somewhere but had no ACA maps and had never heard about the adventure cycling association :-)


General Discussion / Re: TransAmerica bike tour- travel East or West?
« on: July 26, 2015, 08:15:46 am »
My comments from riding East to West:

1. Like shown on the wind maps, I had the most fierceful winds in Kansas. Extremely strong cross winds from the south. I remember the locals said 40 to 60 mph winds. It was a warm wind from the South so it was cold but mentally a problem. I remember that you had to lean sideways into the wind which means towards the cars when going west. Then, when the wind rapidly would lower, you would almost "fall" towards the middle of the road where the cars were passing by. Quite dangerous.

2. I found the Ozarks worse than the Appalchians. In the Appalachians I would have maybe 3 large hills/mountains a day but in the Ozarks I would have 20-30 extremely steep but short hills. Mentally it was unforgiving.

3. Before departure I thought that I would meet a lot of fellow cross country cyclists. It was a disappointing experience for me. I admit that I bike 125 mi/day but I only met about 15 groups or individuals. I even met the Adventure Cycling group in Eastern Colorado :-). Then again, out of the 15 I guess that 50% dont like to talk a lot and are somewhat loners. They like to stay alone in their tent and prepare their meals in solitude. But maybe they are just exhausted and need to relax - I dont really know. When I reach a private campground I always ask the owner if there are other cyclists and if I can have my tent spot next to them :-). I definitely did not feel that the transam route was some sort of cross country bicycle highway - it was rather a lonely experience :-).


General Discussion / Re: Northern Tier or better idea?
« on: July 24, 2015, 01:56:18 pm »
Maybe you should consider doing the Sierra Cascades route instead of the Pacific Coast route? When I did the Pacific Coast in 2000 it was not a weather-wise joy until I reached Santa Barbara and got rid of the misty fog.


I guess if you are socialble and dont bike too many miles each day and spend time getting to know people, you will probably be able to make it across USA without any money at all. Because many people will feed you, give you a place to stay and food for next days riding.

The more you speed up, the more to have a time schedule, the more money you will need. The more lightweight you travel the more money you will need. If you haul a 100 pound trailer you can carry food for many days - food which you probably got for free somewhere.


General Discussion / Re: What can towns offer cyclists?
« on: June 27, 2015, 07:22:16 pm »
Greetings cyclists,

I am the Community Development Director for the City of Pittsburg, Kansas, which is on the Transamerica route.  We would like to be more welcoming to cyclists as they come through town.  Not being an adventure cyclist myself, I have no idea what ya'll need or want from the communities you're trekking through.

We currently have an RV park, with a covered shelter and restrooms, where cyclists are able to pitch tents (it's in a shady spot!) and stay overnight.  What other things could we offer?

Thanks in advance for your input!

Becky Gray

Hi Becky,

Thanks for asking. Actually, I hope that ALL Community Development Directors in the entire US would ask the same questions like you do :-). I had a look at the 2 links provided already and I would like to agree with all the points. However, many of the points is pure luxury :-). I have bicycled something like 20000 mi in the US and what I like the most is arriving in a town where

1. there is a free cyclist camping spot!!!

If I have a free cyclist camping spot then 90% of my requirements are fulfilled. Please remember that most cross country cyclists are very self sufficient and can provide for themselves - they carry tools, spare parts etc ... they just need a place to relax for the night.

But why is a camping spot so important? East of the Rockies, unless you find a free camping spot you typically have 2 options when using a tent:

1. State parks
2. Private campgrounds

State parks are approx. 15 USD pr night.
Private campgrounds can be up to 35 USD or even more. That is for 1 person, 1 bicycle, 1 tent arriving at 8 PM and leaving at 6 AM. The prices are so high because a vast majority of campgrounds (especially on the east coast) dont distinguish between a cyclist with a tent and a 30 foot RV with a 30 Amp hookup. It is very frustrating.

The best camping spot has a covered shelter and some benches. Maybe also some running water. Maybe rest rooms. But it is not critical because we can always find a service station with water and rest rooms. A very good spot would be on the premises of the local fire department, police station or the community park. However, I think, if the city becomes too big, you have waay to many youngsters hanging around til late in the evening.

If you look at a town like Pittsburg, I am very sure that most cyclists passing through are using the Adventure Cycling Maps and these maps already show all the services. So basically, in terms of camping spot, we just need to know where we can pitch the tent for free - we dont need big signs etc. So if the authorities like the Police know that we are biking cross country and staying in a park then that should be perfect.

Now, you might be asking why we want a covered shelter when we have tents? :-). Actually most cyclists try to set up their tent on the rock hard concrete floor of a covered shelter. That way we dont need the tent fly and can have a much more comfortable nights sleep without any annoying tent condensation problems in the morning.

And in terms of camping spots in community parks etc.: Very often the community parks have extremely bright lights that are switched on automatically during the entire night. The light is so powerful and goes directly into the tent and it is almost like daylight inside ... and thus difficult to sleep.

That is my personal view - hope that helps :-)


Today they showed another documentary on national Danish television about the oil issue in North Dakota. There are only a few sections with Danish language alone.!/10:36




1. When touring in the US there is often the possibility to pitch a tent on a covered concrete slab. For instance, many city parks offer that option and it is typically very much welcomed by most cyclists even though the ground is bone hard.

Also there is the option of sleeping inside a barn, shed etc. But to keep out the bugs, people prefer to use their tent - at least the inner tent without the fly.

2. I myself usually choose a concrete slab to avoid the condensation inside the tent in the morning. If I have condensation I will always need to dry my tent at midday - an action which requires 10-30 min of my time while eating lunch. It is still annoying however and thus I will always seek for a covered area for my tent.

3. When setting up a tent on a hard floor a freestanding tent is mandatory. A tunnel tent will never work. For that reason many people have chosen a freestanding tent for their cross country trip.

4. A freestanding tent is usually always heavier than a non freestanding tent. So that is the major disadvantage of freestanding tents - they need more and longer poles that add weight. I think is not too wrong to say that a 2 person freestanding tent usually weighs 4-5 pounds and a 2 person non freestanding tent weighs 2-3 pounds.

5. When riding the Transam I think I had the option of pitching my tent on concrete 10-20% of the time. So this is now when you have to decide if it is worth it to carry the extra weight in order to have added comfort 10-20% of the time.

Entering my new idea:

Use a 2-3 pound non freestanding tent and for example 4 cords each being 15 feet long:

Sea to summit reflective accesssory cord in the 1,8mm version

33 feet of cord weights only 0.5 ounce totalling 1 ounce for the 4 cords. Of course you can split the 4 cords into even smaller ones if you like.

With these cords, I can attach them to the main cords of the non freestanding tent and extend them to trees, benches, chairs, barbecue stoves etc - stuff which is usually common in city parks. You can also use your bicycle or trailer as a dead weight for some of the cords. That way I can use a non freestanding tent on a concrete slab - but only because on all my trips I noticed there are ALWAYS attachment points somewhere close by.

When setting up the tent there is the annoyance of attaching the extra cords, but I think if I only have to do it 10-20% of the time it is OK. If I was sleeping on concrete 100% of the time I would never do it.

I have not tried the above idea yet, but soon I will. You are welcome to comment.


General Discussion / Re: Useless advice/help
« on: January 10, 2015, 11:59:52 am »
Riding in eastern Ohio, if I asked how far away someplace was, the answer was always framed in driving time.  I never did work out a useful conversion.
That is one of the major differences between USA and Europe. When asking for directions in Europe people will never give you the hours or minutes but always the distance in kilometers ... then you can always decide for yourself how fast you are going.

Take a very close look at this page


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