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Messages - BikeFreak

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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  >:(


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.


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

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.


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

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.


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

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.


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


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


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.


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