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Messages - BikeFreak

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Routes / Transamerica Trail store opening hours
« on: March 01, 2013, 06:14:11 pm »
I suggest to open this thread where cyclists can post opening hours of stores, gas stations and grocery stores along the Transamerica Trail.

For me, it can be extremely useful to know the opening hours of stores along a route to better plan ahead in terms of food and drinks. For instance, it can be very very valuable to know if there is a 24h gas station in the next small town where I plan to sleep. I have always missed this information on my travels. Having that information I would write it directly into the maps prior to departure.

I hereby encourage other cyclists to post opening hours of stores in critical areas where supplies can be a problem. People are free to change, update and add information to the list:

Hite Park:
Limited grocery store with microwave for heating frozen food. Opening hours 8am-5pm. Update: Sorry, this store is on the Western Express.

Tribune, Kansas:
At intersection HWY27 and HWY96 there is a large gas station open 24h.


General Discussion / Re: Traffic conditions around the ACA routes?
« on: February 25, 2013, 02:11:35 am »
Let me put it this way:
I biked in many parts of the world: Australia, Scandinavia and many long distance Adventure cycling routes. And last year I did the Transam. On none of this trips I have used a helmet/cycle mirror - and I was happy about my choice. Except on the Transam in the Appalachians: Cycling here has been the most dangerous for me when considering my entire cycling life. You are riding in coal mining country (to name a few Pike county in Kentucky) where the trucks are extremely pushy on narrow winding roads. Many times I pulled off into the ditch because I got a bad feeling on what was happening behind me. Also, in these areas, the local motorists do not like cyclists - sad, because it is extremely beautiful.


Routes / Re: Spurs from airports to main routes
« on: February 19, 2013, 06:14:35 pm »
This was my route from Washington Dulles to Rockfish Gap:


Stretch from Airport to intersection US50 quite busy (mainly Old Ox road). But only passenger cars.

From US50 all the way to Front Royal very calm and pleasant. Except last turnoff just before Front Royal where traffic leaves interstate to reach Front Royal. Note there is a nice frontage road all along the interstate.

On Shelter Ln there is this private campground: which was very expensive - more than 20 dollars I think.

From Front Royal to Rockfish Gap follow the Skyline Dr which is very beautiful - much more beautiful than the Transam Blue Ridge Parkway stretch. Extremely useful map is found here:
Watch out for black bears.


Routes / Re: Traffic on the California section of the Pacific Coast Route
« on: February 18, 2013, 06:42:35 pm »
I have no first-hand experience, but I did talk last week with a guy who did the PC in July of last year. He didn't have much trouble with traffic until south of Santa Barbara, which wouldn't affect your plans.

I would agree on that one. Summer 2000 (now 13 years ago) I biked the Northern Tier + Pacific Coast in one stretch. The entire West coast was quite calm until you reach Santa Barbara - then things start to heat up. At the same time Santa Barbara was another turning point:

While riding across the continent it was a very pleasant ride climate-wise, however I was shocked by the fog, mist and cold on the West coast (even in July). It wasn't until Santa Barbara that you started to feel true californian weather as everybody worldwide supposes it to be :-)


Routes / Spurs from airports to main routes
« on: February 17, 2013, 06:58:54 am »
This is a suggestion for the mapping team:

When doing a cross country tour, it is my impression that most cyclists arrive at an international airport and start to look for all sorts of transportation solutions to get to the starting point. People consider renting cars, going by bus, amtrak, having the bikes shipped by UPS to a local bike shop etc etc. All solutions require lots of planning, confusion etc etc.

It is also my impression that most cyclsist would love to assemble the bike at the airport and hit the road straight away. The problem with airports is typically heavy congested areas, lots of traffic and limited accomodation. You might arrive at the airport during late hours and have great difficulties orienting yourself.

Summer 2012 I biked across USA following the Transam and arriving at Washington Dulles International Airport. I decided to go straight for the Transam at Rockfish Gap and not backtrack all the way to Yorktown. Thus, I needed at route from the airport to Rockfish Gap. This was accomplished by using Google Maps and carefully study the roads. I also found a private campground on the way to Front Royal, VA which was part of my route. Then I printed a park map for the Skyline drive which would take me all the way to Rockfish Gap. On the park map all accomodations were listed and this information was extremely useful.

I think it would be of great value for many cyclists to have such a "spur" (which you use frequently on your maps already) where a main route is connected directly to a major airport.


General Discussion / Re: New to cycling and taking a loop around America
« on: February 15, 2013, 07:03:23 am »

Second, you'll be hitting the southern tier as things start to heat up.  I don't know what the temperatures are like in the southwest deserts around April-May, but it could be hot.  Not impossible, but it could be a challenge.

A few years ago I rode across USA on a motorcycle from FL to AZ stricktly following the Southern Tier bike route. I did the entire stretch in 14 days in the 1st 2 weeks of April. The temperatures were very comfortable, with the following remarks:

Its all about elevation: You might encounter snow in Eastern New Mexico, at least I had a bit of snow on HWY 152 east of Silver City. But as soon as you drop into the Phoenix area, things start to heat up. I would not hesitate to do it.


General Discussion / Re: Need help picking a route
« on: February 15, 2013, 06:49:06 am »
I would def. say southern Utah between Cedar City and Blanding ... if doing the Western Express.


General Discussion / Re: Grat Divide accessibility
« on: February 15, 2013, 06:46:01 am »
I have biked the Great Divide myself and I believe there is no normal cycling route. The Great Divide is approx 80% gravel and 20% pavement. Using a touring bike should be doable, but not a racing bike with skinny tires.

Can you do this without leaving any home address, social security number etc?



This is just a bit of info for those going budget:

Back in 2000 when I did my first cross country solo tour I used public phones to call relatives. That worked very well. Last summer (2012) I did another cross country tour and was not able to make any public phone calls any more, because:

1. Most public phones were removed
2. If a public phone was present, it did not work

I was only able to make phone calls because local people out of kindness let me use their phone.

Now, some people might ask why I did not carry a cell phone: I'm from Europe and I'm not interested in:

1. Buying a brand new US phone on arrival - and waist my time on that instead of cycling  :)
2. Using my own European cell which becomes crazy expensive to use.

plus, you need tri-band.


Gear Talk / Re: Brooks B67
« on: January 27, 2013, 08:39:51 am »
I own both the B17 and the Flyer. Both saddles are the same except that the Flyer has springs.

I rode across America on the aged version of the B17 and was happy. However it would be nice to have a bit more cushioning. Thus I was looking for a spring saddle.

Before buying the Flyer I was told (in a forum) that the springs would be rock hard. Very much unlike the springs on the B66, which should be softer. I chose the Flyer and not the B66 because it looked too wide for me.

Now, I have to say that the springs are truly rock hard. I weigh 155 pounds and hardly feel any suspension - it feels almost like the B17.


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

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.

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.


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.


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  >:(


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