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Messages - tsteven4

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Colorado / Re: Dolores to Pueblo CO
« on: September 24, 2011, 09:41:11 am »

How bad was the roads from Dolores CO to Pubelo CO taking route 550 to the 50 (Dolores, Montrose, Poncha City and Pueblo)?

Those are some mighty fine roads!  I might be biased, I live in CO.  May is a bit early, but those passes should be open unless you are very unlucky with a late storm.

I think your route goes over Molas Divide (10,910), Coal Bank Pass (10,640), and Red Mountain Pass(8,97011,018) on US550 instead of Lizard Head Pass(10,222) and Dallas Divide(8,970) on CO145 and CO62.  The Western Express Route goes through Dolores to Pueblo, and takes CO145/CO62.  The Great Parks Route goes through Dolores to Durango.  ACA doesn't have a route from Durango to Ridgway were CO62 and US550 join, but this section of US550 is some mighty fine riding.  Either CO145/CO62 or  US550 to Ridgway are good choices, I have done both multiple times.  Its a bit of a toss up but I think I would prefer US550.  On either of these branches traffic is low, with the exception of moderate traffic from Cortez to Durango and the first 15 miles or so north of Durango, and a 9 mile section west of Telluride.  Another advantage of the US550 branch is that you take a side trip to Mesa Verde National park.  It is a bit of a chug up into the park (but nothing compared to all those passes), but I think it is well worth it to spend a day touring some of the cave dwellings.

North of Ridgway traffic is moderate until just before Montrose, then high in town.  This is my least favorite part of your route in CO, but it is ok.  Traffic becomes low again after Montrose through Poncha Springs.  I haven't ridden the section east of Poncha Springs.  The TransAm goes through Pueblo, Canon City and Parkdale, with moderate traffic around Canon City.  The Western Express goes south of Canon City through Silver Cliff and Westcliffe. The Western Express route looks a bit less busy around here, traffic is denoted as low or very low.

You can see traffic volumes on the Colorado Bicycling and Scenic Byways map here:  Note in the fine print on that page that they will send you a paper copy.

You can see the ACA routes here:  The Web links are a bit slow but you may like that option best, you can select google maps as the background.  I won't send you a paper copy, you but the ACA will for a few $.

I would expect cold nights in the mountains.  For example in Silverton the average low for May is 26 deg F, the average May snowfall is 4", average snow depth 0".  You can see climate history here:

Happy Trails,

Routes / Re: Help in knowing what routes to consider
« on: September 21, 2011, 08:00:10 pm »
check out detailed online maps of ACA routes here:
After you pick a route order the real maps here:
To get the most recent version don't order the maps too far ahead of time.

General Discussion / Re: Rain gear on self contained long distance touring?
« on: September 21, 2011, 07:56:44 pm »
Isn't the purpose of bringing rain gear is to make sure it doesn't rain?  And if it fulfills that purpose isn't it worth carrying?

But seriously, as others have said rain gear is good for warmth, especially in the wind, even when not raining. I nearly always bring a rain jacket with hood and pants.   I have given up on waterproof over mitts (they needed drains) and waterproof booties.  If I expect lots of rain I will bring waterproof socks, but I usually leave these behind.  In the west you could be a long ways from any kind of shelter, so planning to sit out the rain could be problematic.  My experience with summer touring in the west is that we may not hit much rain, but in the mountains we usually hit morning  temperatures from 25 to 40 degrees and the extra warmth and wind protection of the rain gear is nice if not critical.  On the coast brightly colored rain gear could save your life due to better visibility in the fog.

It has to be VERY warm, downright tropical, for one to be comfortable in the rain with no rain gear

I have some experience in Hawaii with a rain storm, and it wasn't tropical enough to stop shivering without clothing.  However, with synthetic or wool clothing (and no cotton) you could get by.  And with rain gear your clothes won't be all wet.

its not very joyful to ride in full rain gear
I do loathe riding up hill with rain gear.  You tend to either get wet from the inside or the outside.

Routes / Re: Western Express - Nevada & Utah
« on: August 31, 2011, 08:05:19 pm »
It can be done self supported, we did it in July 2003.  Count on some 85 mile days.  I would recommend carrying water as opposed to filtering it.  I recall days with no apparent natural water sources and no human settlements between towns that were ~85 miles apart.  Our strategy was to ride very early, rolling between 3am and 5am and try to finish by noon.  It hit 115 degrees at Hite, UT.  A better strategy would be to avoid July and August.  I only recall one campground on the route in Nevada east of Fallon, and while you could probably stay just about anywhere, carrying enough water for an overnight would be a daunting task.  In Nevada we stayed in motels which generally had AC, slept in the afternoon, woke up for dinner, and then slept some more.  Most motels are quite reasonable in Nevada.  We carried up to 2 gallons of water each which was sufficient.  Most cyclist we met had run out of water.  You should be self sufficient, some of the roads, e.g. between Milford and Baker, have very little traffic and other cyclist told us most people wouldn't stop.

It is a very beautiful route, we enjoyed it immensely.

Routes / Re: Shelf life of A.C.A. maps
« on: August 23, 2011, 08:12:58 pm »
You can use online versions of the maps I made for planning at  There are google earth versions, online web versions, and google maps versions.  Most of the google maps versions violate google limits on the number of waypoints so the waypoint/route panel is likely to have compromised operation.  The online web versions work well but are slow.  I do not recommend any of these online maps for on route navigation, I would recommend the paper maps.  I have used a number of the old paper maps without too much problem, but I do mark them up with the updates before I leave home.  On the other hand if the online maps meet your planning needs then you could delay your purchase until closer to your departure.

Rocky Mountain / Re: Missoula, MT to Helena, MT Route Suggestions?
« on: August 21, 2011, 09:14:51 am »
I am not from Montana, but we left the great parks route at the junction of 83 and 200 (south of seeley lake) and took 200 east through Ovando (great breakfast at the stray bullet cafe).  At the junction of 200 and 141 we joined the double divide route staying on 200 through Lincoln.  At the junction with the Flesher pass road we left 200 and road over the pass, following the double divide route to Helena.  I would recommend this route.

You can see the double divide route here:
and the great parks route here:

Between them they you can get from Missoula to Helena.

Gear Talk / Re: Your Portable Repair Kit - What's Inside?!
« on: August 10, 2011, 07:48:57 pm »
Was that with anything in recent decades where the left pedal is left-hand threaded?
The pedals were Shimano PD-M770 which I bought in 2009, crank (Shimano FC-M569) threads were in good shape, pedals were new, all threads cleaned and greased before installation.  Left hand pedal has left hand threads, right hand pedal has right hand threads (I have never seen any other pedal thread arrangement, or cranks that would match anything else).  The combination has been fine since I torqued it.

Gear Talk / Re: Your Portable Repair Kit - What's Inside?!
« on: August 10, 2011, 08:50:42 am »
Many pedals now have a hole for a 6mm allen wrench.  Check yours and see if yours have it.
Thanks for the idea, I would love to lighten the toolkit a bit.  Unfortunately the situation is actually worse than I stated.  My pedals have no flats and require an 8mm allen key.  My wifes pedals only have flats.  So we have to take a big allen key and a short pedal wrench.

It can't apply as much torque as a real pedal wrench, but there's no need to get pedals very tight since precession keeps them from loosening as you ride.
Despite the thread arrangement I have had pedals loosen up.  A nice thing about the 8mm hex hole is that you can use a torque wrench instead of an allen wrench (at home).  Shimano specifies a torque of 35-55N-m (26-41ft-lbs), which I consider to be fairly tight.

Gear Talk / Re: Your Portable Repair Kit - What's Inside?!
« on: August 09, 2011, 08:32:29 pm »
I have always carried spokes, and broken quite a few.  As whittierider  mentioned it takes a bunch of heavy tools to remove a cogset, which is necessary to replace a spoke on the drive side of the rear wheel.  A video is at  In the old days it was worse with a wide variety of freewheel removal tools and a not insignificant chance the freewheel would break in the attempt.  But in these modern times I carry some kevlar spokes (fiber fix).  These may be the best thing ever, since I started carrying them I haven't had a spoke break, yet alone one on the drive side of the rear wheel.  They are also work for both sides of the rear wheel and the front wheel, which probably all require different length spokes (so 2 spokes may not cover the 3 lengths you might need.)

I wouldn't carry a chain, but I carry and have used a spare master link that is appropriate for your chain.  I would skip the spare quick release.  I carry and have used spare bolts when some holding the rack jiggled out and were lost.  I have carried a little tube of blue locktite ever since, which may be an over reaction.  I definitely use the locktite when installing the rack.  Personally I don't carry spare cables, but I would recommend a careful inspection before you leave, especially of the brake cable near the fat end in the levers.  Look for broken strands.  Also check any cable stops in the brake system, I have had one disintegrate which leads to a total failure of that brake.  

Some judgement on what to take is required, the answer varies depending no your tour location and the ease of getting new parts.

Ahh, I almost forgot, some latex gloves for messing with the chain.

I would add chain lube to the list.

I know you are not flying, but if you were you would need a pedal wrench, I use a short one as a compromise.

Gear Talk / Re: "SKS" Fenders??
« on: August 06, 2011, 12:11:42 pm »
I agree with happyriding that you have an extreme amount of clearance.  But I don't necessarily agree that you shouldn't be able to see daylight, or that you have too much clearance.  Here is what I would consider to decide:

More clearance is good for adverse conditions when mud/sand/dirt sticks to the tires and rubs between the tire and fender.  The amount of mud that can stick to a tire is about limitless, but at some point it doesn't matter because it is hitting other things like the chain stays.  More clearance is also good if you decide to throw on some bigger tires, for example some knobbies for off road touring or just some really fat ones for crappy roads like you might find in Russia.

In my experience there are two problems brought about by too much clearance.  The first is an overlap between your toe and the fender.  This usually happens on smaller frames with 700c wheels, but it might be an issue with your current setup.  At very low speeds you can turn the handlebars enough that the tire passes by your toe.  The fender may hit your toe.  This is not desirable, but with an experienced rider an overlap isn't the end of the world either.  The second problem is an issue with shipping.  We usually ship the bikes with the rear fender on, and it makes the bike longer which can be an issue with the box.  We loosen the stays and slide the fender towards the tire to mitigate this.  With the style of endcaps you have you might be limited in how much you can do this.  Also, with the rear fender far from the tire it can get caught on the box when you put it in and you can break the fender.  While I have never experienced it a third problem could be interference between the fender and the straddle cable on the brakes.  Note that changing the length of the straddle cable will change the mechanical advantage of the brakes, so it isn't necessarily something you want to do to create more clearance.

Time to get that thing on the road!  Happy Trails.

Gear Talk / Re: "SKS" Fenders??
« on: August 01, 2011, 06:47:23 pm »
My advice would be to see how the fender fits, in the intended position with the front under the head tube i.e. with the fork crown fitting against the rear of the fork, without the stays attached at all.  If it looks good proceed.

Traditionally the "endcap" #1 was much simpler and really was a just a cap that slid on the end of the stay after you cut it to length. The disadvantage of the traditional cap is that it could get knocked off and lost.  An advantage was that you could slide the fender towards the wheel without any limitation from the endcap (although you had to cut down the stays anyway so they don't hit things like your leg and hurt you).  You might be able to assemble the fender without the endcaps at all before cutting the stays and make sure you are happy with the fit.  Make sure you route the stay outside of the bridge on the fender.  Then mark, cut and reassemble with the end caps.  I don't have any experience with these particular end caps, I am just looking at the instructions. 

On every pair of fenders I have ever mounted I had to cut all the stays to length.  This is normal.  I don't find the sentence you mentioned in the instructions here:

Alternatively, just take it to your LBS.  After nearly 40 years of working on my own bike I take this route more and more!  They know exactly what they are doing, they can do it very quickly without any mis-steps, and they have the touch (or a torque wrench for more complicated things) to get it all tightened up right.  I am lucky enough to live near

Gear Talk / Re: Bruce Gordon BLT is it worth the price?
« on: July 27, 2011, 08:29:48 am »
After many touring miles on a variety of bikes including the BLT I would highly recommend the BLT, in fact if I needed a new touring bike I would just call Bruce and be done with it!  We use ours for mostly paved loaded touring, but they work great for the occasional dirt as well.  To my knowledge BLT production has been done in Japan, Petaluma, and lately Taiwan.  Ours are of the Japanese and Petaluma vintage, both work great, although the paint is much nicer on the Petaluma one.  Couldn't ask for a better rack either, the combination works great, never had a hint of shimmy at any load.  The end of the Taiwanese BLT has been announced  Bruce may still have your size, or perhaps he will bring BLT production back to Petaluma. 

Routes / Re: Seattle to Anacortes, Pacific Coast
« on: July 25, 2011, 08:12:07 pm »
deception pass state park (8 miles south of Anacortes) had reasonable hiker biker sites in 2008.  It would seem to be much, much better than bay view judging by happyriding's post.  It was uncrowded, quiet and separated from the regular camp sites.  As I remember there was a little bit of lifting/pushing to get the bikes up to the site.  No complaints, but you haven't arrived in hiker biker nirvana (Oregon) yet.

I agree with the suggestion to take the ferry to Bremerton.  While we didn't do this I can attest to the quality of the route once you get to Bremerton.

In Kitsap SP we splurged on a regular campsite to get some sun.  The HB sites were deep in the gloom.

General Discussion / Re: How do you train for a long tour?
« on: July 14, 2011, 08:09:14 pm »
From my experience it depends dramatically on age.  In my twenties I would ride up the local mountain, about 2000 feet, once or twice, and then I was good to land in the Alps.  Thirty years later we try to get in 6-8 rides with 5000+ft of climbing, in addition to that same 2000ft ride most every week of the year, and we don't really get into the groove on a tour until about the third week.

It also depends on the length of the tour.  If you are going for months then it doesn't really matter.  If you are going for weeks it is nice to be in pretty good shape at the start.

I can't do the trainer, I would rather ride in the snow.  Too boring for me. 

Touring for me is 12mph, all day long, day after day, definitely not a sprint.

Gear Talk / Re: "SKS" Fenders??
« on: July 09, 2011, 07:46:20 pm »
SKS is a German company:

They market their attachment system:
Function Secu -clip
The SECU-Clip is the smart problem solution for foreign parts
caught up by the tire, which sometimes lead to the blocking of
the front wheel in the past. In cases like this, the SECU-Clip
releases the stay and prevents possible crashes.

You will see their size recommendations here:

It is desirable to have a fair amount of clearance between the outside circumference of the tire and the inside of the fender.  When mud/sand sticks to your tire it can get caught between the tire and the fender and make it hard to pedal.  Although others may disagree, in my experience this has never been dangerous, but it can make pedaling quite difficult!  Now a stick in the spokes is another story, that sounds downright dangerous, but even with SECU-Clip fenders a stick could cause a crash when it hit the fork, chain stays or seat stays.  The clearance is a function of your tire size and your frame, not much you can to about it after you have the frame.

Personally I have always used brands other than SKS.

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