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Messages - BikeFreak

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91
General Discussion / Re: Advice needed!!!
« on: November 04, 2012, 08:01:59 pm »
Hi,

I did the Transam + Western Express this summer.
Water: People are different. I, for instance do not need a lot of water to keep going. For emergency, I brought a water bag, filled it a few times, but never used it. I relied on my 3 1 litre water bottles and rarely used the 3rd. I also bought plenty of Gatorade and Sodas along the way.

Packing: I myself don't like the cold - I'm more for warm climate. This means that I rather quickly start using a hat already in fall time when "normal" people don't. On this trip a brought a full set of merino wool underwear which I never used. Thus, I overpacked. Only out of fear I never sent the merino wool home because I believed it would get colder in the mountains: It never did. My down sleeping bag was only 650 grams and just perfect. Overall, the Transam passes through some of the warmer states unlike the Northern Tier.

On this trip I had 2 credit cards (emergency) and 1500 dollars at the beginning of the trip. That worked absolutely fine - I never had to worry about finding ATM machines. Using hard cash you are more in control of your spendings.

Contrary to many other ACA routes, the transam has many free camping possibilities. Especially many city parks in Kansas but also churches in the East. However, when you have to pay for a private campground such as KOA, it is daylight robbery. KOA campgrounds for instance a between 30 and 40 dollars with absolutely no discounts for cyclists. Remember that many motels offer rooms for 40 dollars which is perfect if you are two riding along.

92
Routes / Re: Northern Tier / TransAm Start Date Question (E to W travel)
« on: October 07, 2012, 09:30:01 am »
Hi Justin,

Summer 2000 I did the Northern Tier E-W. Departure date was July 1st.
Summer 2012 I did the Transam+Western Express E-W. Departure date was June 1st.

Please bear in mind, the below is based on what happened those two years very far apart.

At any time I would take the Northern Tier: Climate is much better and I didn't have the awful Kansas winds. Departing July 1st was absolutely perfect.

Temperature differences Northern Tier vs Transam: On the Northern Tier you need a sleeping bag every night - not so on the Transam. On the Transam you can readily start at 6am with shorts and t-shirt (on many mornings at least) - not so on the Northern Tier. However, the temperature becomes very nice during the day and you don't have the humidity problems as on the Transam. Traficwise the Transam is more hazardous as compared to the Northern Tier. I guess I reached the going to the sun around late july and it was open, the days were warm and everything was perfect.

I do not know what is meant by "more support on the Transam". I agree that the Transam has some free bike hostels and free city parks, but the Northern Tier has free city parks too. The Transam being the most popular cross country route, I was amazed how few people I met along the route.

Lucas

93
Gear Talk / Re: tent for transam
« on: September 30, 2012, 03:49:21 am »
When doing the transam the most important thing is to have a free standing tent. You will have so many opportunities with covered shelters (city parks) where pitching obviously is not possible - but you will have no dew problems.

Lucas

94
General Discussion / Re: Traveling the TransAm spring of 2013
« on: September 29, 2012, 06:21:58 am »

I did it east to west.  Points in the favor of this direction include the following:
  • Get past the east while the temperature and humidity are reasonable
  • When you hit Kansas, you'll want to leave early in the morning to beat the heat and winds.  Going west means the following cars' drivers don't lose you in the glare of the early morning sun.
  • You get to follow the early settler's path - most of the U.S. was settled east to west
  • You get more time to get acclimated to the Rockies' altitudes
  • Do the Appalachians and Ozarks look little after you've been through the Rockies?

I agree on all the above except (I did the TA this summer E-W):

1. The winds in Kansas came from S and they never settled during the night. The wind was constant 24h for 1 week crossing Kansas. Sleeping was annoying due to the constantly flapping tent fly and several times each night I had to go outside and check the tent stakes. The wind in Kansas was 30-45 mph, constantly. However no gusts.

2. I would rather do 5 Monarch Passes instead of the Ozarks  >:(

Lucas

95
Gear Talk / Re: Panniers - dry bag vs. traditional
« on: September 29, 2012, 03:25:20 am »
Here's my experience:

Back in 1999 I got my Ortlieb back rollers (dry bags with 1 single compartment each). They have served me well since then and I have used them for approx 25000 miles, however only touring.

Although I take care of the bags, I still had to patch them a few places. Not because of damages to the bags, but simply due to normal wear. so they are not bulletproof. At the moment the bags are so beat up, the material starts to delaminate, I had to replace a quick release, that I'm considering new bags myself (however they are still perfectly working).

Advantages of Ortlieb back rollers:
1. Truly waterproof.
2. Attachment mechanism bulletproof. Although it is made out of reinforced plastic, it is amazingly sturdy: No problems so far.

Disadvantages of Ortlieb back rollers:
1. They are SO waterproof so a damp cloth inside the bag will give a bad smell.
2. The lack of compartments and small pockets is a real issue (for me).

When looking back on all my tours, rain and water has been extremely limited. My last transam tour resulted in 2 days with rain. And then, on these days, combined, I rode a total of 30 miles in rain. I believe Ortliebs are built for crossing Siberia with many water crossings, so the bags are overkill on summer tours in the US.

What REALLY annoys me about the Ortlieb panniers is the lack of compartments and pockets: Many times a day I need to almost empty the bag to find what I'm searching for (even though I'm aware of correctly organizing). Then you start using colored bags inside the panniers so you can find your stuff quicker. But its still annoying to me.

This is why I'm looking for a pannier with many pockets/compartments next time. Something like Arkel GP-18. To me, the flexibility of the bags is many times more important than waterproofness. Because I never tour in rainy areas.

Lucas

96
Routes / Grand canyon connector: Personal details Mt Carmel->Phoenix
« on: September 28, 2012, 02:26:24 am »
Hi,

To help other cyclists I tried to review my maps yesterday remembering as much as possible which might help cyclists.

These details are based on map sections I got from Adventure cycling around April 2012 (I got a mix of older and newer maps).

Map 6: In Bitter Springs, just north of intersection there is a new church with a covered shelter. Maybe cyclists can use the shelter. It was gated. Maybe someone can ask?

Map 9: The camping is located at the gas station next to the 89/64 intersection. It was 10 dollars and you need to ask at the gas station. Gas station is not called Chevron anymore. It is very primitive, toilets only possible during gas station opening times.

Map 10: Desert View has a grocery store, but it is located beyond the parking area very far away and cannot be seen from road/parking area. You need to go very far into the area with small paths.

Map 10: Tusayan is extremely touristic and so are the prices for food in town.

Map 17: Congress also has a brand new gas station and large grocery store (dollar general/family dollar or something like that).

Map 18: Somewhere south of Whittmann there is a large service/gas station open 24h (not shown on map). Supposedly Morristown and Whitmann themselves do not have any grocerystores - I asked locals before doing that section.

US60 from Wickenburg to Phoenix is a wide dual carriage highway with a wide shoulder. Very good surface and pleasant riding.

Lucas

97
Routes / WesternExpress: Personal details Pueblo->Panguitch
« on: September 28, 2012, 02:20:05 am »
Hi,

To help other cyclists I tried to review my maps yesterday remembering as much as possible which might help cyclists.

These details are based on map sections I got from Adventure cycling around April 2012 (I got a mix of older and newer maps).

Map 57: Grocery store south of Wetmore is nice and welcoming. They also serve warm food.

Map 48: Last 5 miles towards Telluride are very steep eastbound. Heightprofile on map does not show severity of steepness. On height profile it shows a more or less steady climb from Placerville towards intersection just W of Telluride following San Miguel River. This is not true. The first 7-8 miles or so are almost flat following the river, then the last 3-4 miles are very steep.

Gas station at 145/145spur intersection opens at 6am and closes at 9pm (or maybe 10pm).

Map 43: The camping just before leaving south of Monticello is beat up but cheap (10 dollars for cyclists).

Map 43: North of Blanding at the Recapture Reservoir, the map (and route) is drawn completely wrong. Compare with google maps. From google maps it looks like there has been an old bridge once, which ACA still believes exists.

Map 40: Hite Recreation area has a limited shop which opens at 8am and closes at 5pm. The shop has a microwave and you can heat frozen food bought in the store. The recreation area is rough and not welcoming (naturewise) and in the summer temperatures easily reach 110 degF with absolutely no shade at campground. Ground is very rocky/stony and pitching a tent with stakes almost impossible.

Map 38: Hanksville is probably the smallest US town with the most gas stations. There is a grocery store W of town.

Map 36: Boulder is not really a town. There is a store W of town going downhill. The store is located on the right hand side and has a lot of organic food.

Lucas

98
Routes / Transam: Personal details Rockfish Gap->Pueblo
« on: September 28, 2012, 02:03:39 am »
Hi,

To help other cyclists I tried to review my maps yesterday remembering as much as possible which might help cyclists.

These details are based on map sections I got from Adventure cycling around April 2012 (I got a mix of older and newer maps).

Map 143: Be careful not to cross over HWY 56. Many people might continue straight. You need to turn LEFT (does not make sense) to get off parkway. Map is somewhat drawn wrong.

Map 138: There are no services in Newbern, however in the distance on the intersection HWY100/I81 I saw a Walmart (a few miles north, off route).

Map 137: Wytheville is a strange, dead town, however the city park is very pleasant (next to fire and police station). Lots of shopping possibilities off route a few miles north on HWY52. I found nothing in town on route.

Map 131: Hindman seemed to have no shopping at all, however on route SE of town (up hill) on HWY 160 there is a big shopping mall in the middle of nowhere. Also a Rite Aid.

Map 129: Booneville shopping possibility is E of river.

Map 128: Dangerous fast traffic on HWY421.

Map 127: Lots of shopping on intersection HWY21/I75. On HWY out of town there are 2 campgrounds (pass I75 westbound). Campground on northside of HWY is 5 dollars cheaper and more pleasant.

Map 122: North of McDaniels be careful not to miss the left turn to HWY79. The map is not drawn correctly - on the map it looks like you just need to stay on the main route, however you need to make a hard 90 deg leftturn at a fully normal intersection (I think there was a bank at the intersection). If you miss it and go straight (because it goes pleasantly downhill) you will cross a bridge and from the map it looks like you crossed the correct bridge, but actually it is the wrong one.

Map 121: Shopping in Whitesville is off route E on HWY54.

Map 113: Between Rockwood and Chester heavy truck traffic.

Map 112/113: Between St Mary and River aux Vases extremely hilly terrain.

Map 110: Johnsons' Shut in state park is located on MM road (map is drawn wrongly). The state park is nice with brand new facilities and a small shop which is open until 9pm.

Map 107: Houston city park is located on HWY63. Westbound cont a bit downhill on HWY63 (North). It will be on your lefthand side after a few 100 yards. It is not necessary to inquire at police. It is located between HWY63 and 4th street (look up on google maps).

Map 104: For westbounders, a large shopping area is located W of I44 in Marschfield (cross over I44).

Map 103: Very nice city park in Ash groove (incl showers) with very nice people in town. As I remember grocery store on HWY is open till 9pm. Maybe only 8pm. Gas station closes before grocery store.

Map 101: Golden city has no grocery store/gas station close to route. You need to go far into town to find food.

Map 98: City park in Chanute very primitive next to sports field. 1 mi north of city park shopping area (Walmart etc).

Map 95: City park in Cassoday extremely primitive. Only filthy dry toilets. Just 200 yards north of city park there is a small grocery store which is VERY limited.

Map 93: In Hesston food is located close to I135, away from route.

Map 92: In Buhler, stores are located quite far off route going south on main street (almost 1 mile).

Map 91: Sterling city park has a pool which can be used by cyclists. It is located right hand side before crossing RR.

Map 87: Alexander has the cleanest roadside stop (toilets + water) in the entire US. Very impressive.

Map 86: Ness city has a city park incl pool. The city park is located close to a small stream W of HWY 283 on the north side of HWY96, approx 500 yards from main intersection.

Map 81: Tribune has a 24h service/gas station with food. The city park is located north on HWY27 just before leaving town. Just before leaving town turn left towards tennis/pool area. Tenting is allowed underneath trees on grassy area between the two one way streets.

Map 77: Haswell has a small wooden shelter for cyclists if weather turns bad (ask at gas station).

Map 76: Bike hostel is located north of town and is free.

Map 74: I had difficulties finding food in Pueblo along main route.

Lucas

99
If possible, to avoid the heat, strongly consider leaving 1 month earlier.

Lucas

100
Excellent report, Lucas.... Can you say more about the TransAm vs Northern Tier? Overall impressions, traffic, scenery, costs...?

Thanks

Please remember (as noted above) I did the Northern Tier in 2000 which is 12 years ago. This was my first long distance trip and will be my most memorable one - mainly because it was the 1st. That trip was done the following way: Arrive in Halifax, NS. Then ride to Maine and connect up with the Northern Tier somewhere north of Bar Harbor. Then all the way to Anacortes and then subsequently the Pacific Coast down to Mexico.

I like vast areas a lot. Most people get very much bored by cycling through corn and soy bean fields. I, however, like those areas a lot, also incl deserts.

On the trip I remember 2 hot spots: Cleveland and Buffalo. Very much traffic because you are riding downtown. Also, as I remember, the route takes you through some demographically not so nice areas in Cleveland. Otherwise the rest was splendid and beautiful. As you reach Ohio it will be pretty much flat all the way to the Rockies. Then you will have a few mountain passes (nothing compared to TA or WE) and then you are at the Pacific Ocean. The passes are not very high compared to the 11000 ft passes on TA and WE. Compared to the TA you will pass through many and very large Indian reservations. Locals told me to stay away from the road especially around pay pays and even more especially around pay day evenings. I never had trouble though. Things might have changed but there will not be som many of those free city parks and you will probably spend more money on camping. Also I remember very expensive KOA style campgrounds. TRafficwise I remember the NT to be very nice. I do know that the route has been changed drastically in ND due to oil trucks, so ask around for that matter. I almost had no rain and the temperatures were much more Northern European like - which I am used to. Brisk in the morning at 6 am and then rising steadily to 75 or 85 degF (Maybe 90). Cool nights and lots of tent condensation problems.

As I remember, I encountered two dogs somewhere in Ohio.

Lucas

101
Hi, I just returned from completing the major parts of the Transam.

Route: Washington DC Dulles Airport, then Front Royal, then south on the Skyline Drive, then connecting up with the Transam at Rockfish Gap (having missed approx 200 mi of the original route from Yorktown). Then all the way to intersection HWY 12/89 just before Panguitch, UT. From here straight south to the intersection HWY 9/89 where I connected up with the Grand Canyon connector going straight to Pheonix.

Arrival Dulles: 2nd June 2012
Arrival Phoenix: 3rd July 2012

Distance biked: 3300 mi

Daily average: 106 mi

Best day: 210 mi

Worst day: 85 mi

Money: I spent approx 20 dollars/day. I realize that since my first trip in US summer 2000 prices have increased and 20 dollars was only possible due to the many free city parks on the TA.

Punctures: 1 (front tire) after having set up camp and riding into town searching for food. It was a tiny thorn which I picked up in the grass around the tent (somehow). Tires: Vittoria Randonneur PRO 26x1,75.

Weather:
Rain: 1 rainy day in VA and 1 rainy day in KY, otherwise sun or overcast.

Bugs: Bugs were never a problem from VA to AZ. I never used my mosquito net, and I never used a repellent.

Wind: From VA to arrival in KS wind was absolutely no issue. The hills and forests give plenty of protection. The wind in KS was absolutely awful: All the way across KS a strong wind at 45 mph straight from South. The wind never died at night. It was bullfighting the bicycle across KS at 9-10 mph leaning into the wind with an angle of approx. 10 deg. The tent was almost ripped out of the ground on many nights. Also very strong winds at Hite, UT. Otherwise quite calm winds in CO, UT and AZ (again the mountains were often covering).

Temperature: According to locals, the temps in VA and KY were colder than normal. According to locals the temps in KS, CO and UT were warmer than normal. In Pueblo, CO the temp was 105 when I passed through (20 deg above normal, according to locals). Hite, UT was incredibly hot (because of the low elevation), otherwise UT was fine. AZ was also fine, if you plan accordingly = do not ride into Phoenix when the sun is up (115 deg). General note on temperature (especially for people living in tempered climate like Northern Europe or Northern US/Canada): You might be looking on some weather averages for the regions on the TA (also indicated on the maps) and it might not look "problematic" - however I would say, prepare for more hot weather than you would expect. Now, I do know that 2012 has turned out to be a major drought year, but still...

Humidity: Humidity not an issue at all exept for 1 day in KY where it reached 80% (I had a humidity meter on my bike). From VA to CO drying clothes on a string during the night was impossible. In UT and AZ drying clothes during the night worked fine. I don't know if I just slipped through eastern US without experiencing really bad humidity.

Tailwind: 200 mi of the entire distance. Read again: Approx two hundred miles out of 3300 mi. The rest was either calm, headwind or crosswinds.

Terrain:
VA: The Skyline Drive hits you like a sledge hammer on day 1 (leaving Dulles airport). Accumulated 9000 ft climbing the 2nd day. Extremely beautiful. VA was indeed hilly but I never had to use my largest gear on the cassette.
KY: Hilly as well but becomes more flat towards the West.
IL: Quite flat, but still hills:
MO: Ozarks absolutely a nightmare in terms of hills. Had to use my largest gear on the cassette a lot!! Very very steep but short hills. Much worse than the Appalachians. The steep hills continue forever and are not shown on the height profile. The roads in MO are literally laid flat on the terrain without any digging at all (also saftey problem). Western MO becomes more flat but still rolling.
KS: Eastern KS still rolling, western KS flat, but you sort of sense that it is going slightly uphill all the time towards the rockies.
CO: As known, the rockies are not so steep, especially the Monach Pass was easy. Annoying hill just before Telluride, CO, which wasn't really indicated to be so nasty on the height profile.
UT: Same as CO.
AZ: Hills in the northern part, many flat streches, then hills again south of Prescott, finally flat into Phoenix.

Adventure cycling maps:
For the 1st time I was dissatisfied with the maps (and I have done many Adventure Cycling tours).

At the beginning of the trip I started making notes in my notebook on all the changes (especially services) I encountered on the maps. At one point I got so fed up with all the notes (some required very detailed descriptions in order to explain precisely) so I gave up and stopped making notes. On certain stretches I could be doing several detailed notes each day. All the other cyclists I met also "complained" about the inaccurate map updates. I figured, and this might be selfish, if there is 2 Adventure Cycling Groups + several large van supported groups doing the TA each year, I would very much assume that those people sitting in the cars/vans have plenty of time for making notes.
 
PS: On the Western Express there were no map problems at all.
 
What can be done better in the future making the maps even better: I know its a long shot but try to add some opening hours to the services on route. For me it can be of tremendous value that the gas station in Trubune, KS is open 24h (https://maps.google.com/maps?q=Tribune,+KS,+United+States&hl=da&ll=38.46512,-101.753547&spn=0.000698,0.00155&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=46.005754,101.601563&oq=tribune+ks&t=h&hnear=Tribune,+Greeley,+Kansas&z=20). And for most cyclists it is utterly important to know that the opening hours at Hite is 8am-5pm.


a) The height profiles were not accurate compared to other routes.
b) Many services were closed (or open) even though I checked the addendums 7 days before leaving. In general: Be very cautious about grocery stores/Service stations in the middle of nowhere. Towards the end of the route I would constantly ask several local people for oncoming services in remote areas - just because I didn't trust the map fully anymore.
c) In Shaw, KS just SE of Chanute, KS there was a broken bridge and a major detour had to be done. This was not mentioned on the maps or the addendums when I left. Only by luck I talked to a German cyclist and became aware of the bridge which was gone. Later it turned out, that this broken bridge has been reported on several blogs by cyclists (for a LONG time). But Adventure Cycling never made the effort to update the addendum.

Short cuts:
1. When I reached Berea, KY, I met another cyclist going E. I met him on HWY just outside of town in front of the two campgrounds listed on the maps. He had made a short cut avoiding very hilly terrain: Instead of doing HWY563 and HWY 595, he had done HWY 27, 52 and 21. He had been very fed up with the hills in MO and KY so he decided on that alternative especially when looking at the height profiles on the maps.

The next day I decided to accept his advice and made the same short cut but extended even further. I remember I did it on a weekend so traffic might have been low - because I felt it was quite pleasant trafficwise. Well, I did: Berea-Paint lick-Lancaster-Danville-Perryville-Springfield-Bardstown-New Haven and then connect up with the TA again at the HWY 470/31E intersection. It was nice and with wery few hills avoiding all the curly roads.

2. I choose pastor Bob's (Sebree Baptist church) suggestion: Instead of following the TA directions through some hilly terrain towards Cave in a Rock (I think many cyclists a fed up with the hills at this point) I did: Sebree-Morganfield-Ohio River(HWY56). Then Ohio River-Shawneetown-Harrisburg-Marion-Carbondale-Murphysboro(HWY13). Comments: The route was quite good. HWY 56 is quiet, but from the Ohio River to Jct HWY 142/13 there was tremendous truck traffic and almost no shoulder. After the jct 142/13 the shoulder became very wide all the way to Murphysboro, however with lots of traffic. The route was not very scenic but you are able to do IL in 1 day. Furthermore, the entire route through IL is almost flat with abs no hills.

Critical spots: As noted above I did not do NV and CA. For me, the most critical spot was Hite, UT.
Leaving Blanding, UT, there is a 50 mi stretch to Hite, UT, with no services. I left Monticello at 4am (in the dark) which was another 20-30 mi away. I does get very very hot on this part so really really get up and get going before the sun rises. Approaching Hite, it gets extremely hot: I had 105 degF and I arrived at Hite at 2 pm in the afternoon just before it would get really hot. At Hite there is a small limited grocery store. All cyclists can stay inside in the cool (there is a table/bench) and relax, eat, drink etc. At 5 pm the store closes (they open at 8am) and you have to go all the way down to the camp ground where there is abs. no shade at all. You need to wait approx. 3-4 hours for the sun to set. There is a restroom facility (very clean) where you can (sort of) relax and a spicket outside. The campground was the worst on the entire trip: It was impossible to put the stakes into the ground - I had to use rocks for securing my tent. I experienced strong and warm afternoon winds (the ranger lady said it was normal). I felt the place to be very uninviting, just bare rock, extremely hot, no fellow cyclists, no other campers, nothing. Prepare yourself mentally for that one. At Hite, the ground never gets cold during the night so watch your limbs while sleeping (its annoying). The next day, get up at 4am again and leave Hite as quickly as possible (it was 90 deg at 4 am in the morning) and go for Hanksville, UT which is 75 mi away. Hanksville has many services, even though it looks small on the map. Climbing out and away from Hite while the sun is rising you experience that the temperature drops as you are gaining elevation. On the entire stretch between Blanding and Hanksville, the hills were not too bad except for the area just around Hite itself. On this stretch you will se cars and RVs so you should be able to stop a car if you need water. The entire strech is extremely beautiful, but again the ranger lady told me that many cyclists run out of water on that stretch.

Gear: I used all my gear except for my woolen underwear and woolen hat/cap. I did use my fibre-insulated jacket however. 50% of the nights on the entire trip I would never use my sleeping bag (this is amazing) and really indicated how warm it actually is during the nights on the TA.

Time of the year: I left the East coast in the beginning of June, I think leaving in the beginning of May is better temperature wise. Leaving in the beginning of July is ... your own fault - temperature wise :-).

Security: I have always been making fun of Americans having helmet mirrors and safety triangles on the bikes. If I had to do the TA again I would bring a helmet mirror and safety triangle for VA, KY and MO only. What happens on those backroads is very dangerous. Many times I had to pull off into the ditch because I got a bad feeling based on the sounds behind of me. I have biked 20000 mi in US, 20000 mi in Europe, 10000 mi in Australia, but the back roads in the Ozarks + Appalachians are def. the most dangerous I have experienced so far.

People: As with all cyclcist I met, people are friendly except for eastern KY and western VA (hillbilly country), but also areas of the Ozarks, MO. You just "feel" that you are not welcome. A Dutch lady cyclist I met was hit by a water bottle close to Lookout, KY. I myself was hit by a cigarette butt. Many cyclists report (incl myself) that locals would throttle/rev their diesel trucks while passing to produce a lot of smoke. The Lookout, KY is an area where you should pass through as quickly as possible - to my opinion.

Clothes: I had 2 bike shorts and 3 cotton polo shirts. No synthetics at all. To me, the cotton shirts were perfect for the hot weather. They don't smell and you sort of stay cool because they get damp/wet during riding. I am a person preferring hot weather over cold weather. Riding in hilly terrain at 95 degF is not an issue for me, however it becomes an issue if it gets above 100 degF. In flat terrain (like in southern AZ) I have no problems riding at +105 degF. Riding is more cool than just staying/resting in the sun.

Dogs: The dog issue is mainly isolated to KY and MO. I had approx 30 dog "encounters". I never got used to it and never will. My best method would be to yell very loud "Go home" and that would usually make them stop. I met plenty cyclists carrying a dog spray but they have never used it. When the dog "attacks" you, the situation is SO intense and you have to think about 1 million things including staying safe and away from oncoming cars etc, so you will never have time to use a dog spray - that's what I think.

Other cyclists: On average I would say that 50-75% of all cyclists like to talk. That is good. Because this is how you learn about the changes ahead of you. This is how you get all the nice and useful tips making everything much easier. The remaining 25-50% of cyclists don't like to talk.
Concerning the TA, I would say that 50% are Americans and 50% are Europeans, where Dutch cyclists make up are large percentage.

Accomodation: Along the TA there are 3 places I would like to mention: A. The place in Farmington, MO. B. The Baptist Chruch in Sebree, KY (although very "biblical" you get 1st class treatment for zero dollars) and Davids Place (Knott Historical Society, 25 dollars incl 2 meals and a refuge in hill billy country) in Hindman, KY. Besides that I absolutely loved the free city parks throughout Kansas. Most of the city parks in Kansas do have a public pool where you can swim for free or for 1 dollar.
Oftentimes I was forced to stay in a private campground like a KOA. They would charge something like 30-35 dollars for 1 person, 1 tent, 1 night. Discounts were never possible. As you know, very often you can stay in a motel for 39,99. Private campgrounds are just too expensive and not very cyclist friendly: We require nothing but are treated as RV home owners requiring 50 Amp hookups.

Very often, but not tested 100%, when on the maps it says "cyclist only lodging", those places would be for free.

To sum up:
Accomodation wise the TA is great. If you wanna go cross country and save a lot of money on accomodation, this is probably the way to go.
Even though this was the cross country cycle highway no 1, I never really met a lot of cyclists. Except for the Adventure groups, I guess I met a total of 20-30 cyclists. Thus, many nights were spent completely alone in one of the beforementioned free parks - it sort of amazed me that I almost never got to camp with other cyclists - being on the major TA.
There are definitely some safety issues on the narrow winding backroads of VA and KY.
Summer 2000 I did the Northern Tier. Comparing the Northern Tier and TA (well, I only went to Pueblo on the TA) I would choose the Northern Tier any time!! Northern Tier is weatherwise much more comfortable, less hills, equally pleasant but with more corn and soy bean fields. Safetywise I remember the Norther Tier to be very pleasant.

Based on this TA trip, I am curious about doing a bike trip only staying in cheap motels and not carrying any luggage.

I probably forgot plenty of things but feel free if you want to get some specific information.

Lucas

102
General Discussion / Re: Chamoix cream is it worth it?
« on: July 29, 2012, 05:16:09 am »
This summer I did the TA and had many thoughts on how to avoid butt problems. From all my previous trips I would get furuncles that would hurt so much at the end of the day, that onward riding was impossible. A nights sleep would "heal" the problem, but the next day after many hours of riding, the problem would slowly emerge again. So I would be living with the issue.

This time I carried:

Chamois cream
Zink salve/ointment (baby butt ointment)
Wet wipes (a plastic container with 50 wipes claiming to kill some 99,8% of all bacteria)
2 pairs of bike shorts

First of all I never used the chamois cream - I sent it home and was happy about that.

What I did: When I did not have the possibility to shower I would clean my crotch/butt with 1 wet wipe. I did this notoriously from day 1 even though it did not hurt. The next day I would use the other pair of shorts. Normally I would not wash the shorts each day by hand but rather wait some days for a real washing machine. Eventually the furuncles would emerge again, but thats when I used the zink cream: Applied it before sleep and the next day everything was gone. I believe I used the zink cream 5 days out of 30 riding days. On this trip I had no butt problems whatsoever, even after 130 mi riding days!

For me, I have realized that saddles get to much attention when solving butt problems. I do believe that the hygiene in the crotch/butt area is vital and is more important than the perfect saddle. Then again, I don't like the idea of having chamois cream being rubbed into the pad - I'm affraid that the cream will enhance bacteria growth and that it cannot be suffiently cleaned when doing a hand wash in a sink.

Lucas

103
General Discussion / Re: What do you use for sunscreen?
« on: July 29, 2012, 04:51:22 am »
Here's my story:

This summer I did the TA and from previous trips I wanted the No-Ad sun screen: Cheap, large bottles, good smell and not greasy. Problem is, that it is difficult finding the No Ad sun screens. I went to Walgreens and Walmart but they don't carry them in their phsysical stores. I ended up buying the Walgreens house brand because it was cheap and "looked" good. I hated it from day 1. It was so greasy and it would never soak in. A few days later I got so annoyed that I went straight into a Walmart to see what they would carry. In Walmart I applied small amount of sun screen (from different brands) to small spots on my arm and started walking around the shop. I was observing how the different products would behave on the skin. An oh boy there was a big difference: I settled with the Walmart brand called Equate, more specifically "Equate General Protection Lotion SPF 50, 16 fl oz" at 8 dollars or so:

http://www.walmart.com/ip/General-Protection-SPF-50-Sunscreen/14122653

This one behaved like the good oll' No Ad which I had missed: No greasyness and very cheap.

The bottle lasted for the entire TA, which in my case means 30 days, and there was more left. In general I applied sun screen 1 time a day.

Lucas

PS: I do hate sunscreen myself - even though I found a good one.

104
Gear Talk / Bike shorts + chamois cream (Experience)
« on: May 26, 2012, 08:31:53 pm »
Hi,

Concerning the use of bike shorts and chamois cream before each ride on a long distance trip:

When applying all that cream, does it become necessary to wash the shorts each night? I suppose that large amounts of cream clogs up the chamois fabric so that it will stay greasy (they will never dry). Planning ahead I have realized that I will not be able to wash shorts each night. What is your experience on that matter?

Lucas

105
General Discussion / Re: My TA has begun
« on: May 25, 2012, 11:12:04 am »
note:  do not drink the water on rt 96 unless it comes from an RF tap.  The owners of the stations will tell you first.

What is a RF tap?

Lucas

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