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Messages - DanE

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Routes / Re: Need to book ahead on Blue Ridge Parkway?
« on: February 21, 2015, 10:20:11 am »
I have ridden the Blue Ridge Parkway twice, both times north bound. In the time of year you are talking about which is after Labor Day but before leaf season, I would not worry about reservations with one exception. The Mount Pisgah campground south of Asheville or the Lake Powhatan campground outside of Asheville can fill up on weekends.

Unless things have changed most of the campgrounds on the BRP in the past are first come first serve basis and you cannot make reservations. Mount Pisgah is the only campground that has taken reservations in the past that I know of. This may change as the current schedule for 2015 is not been published that I can find at this time.

The area you express concern over being the Rocky Knob campground I would not be concerned about. If by chance you find Rocky Knob to be full, it is a mostly downhill 9 mile run to Meadows of Dan which has a private commercial campground which I have stayed at. It has a separate area for tenters. In general, I have found that commercial campgrounds will not turn you away when they figure out you only have a tent, do not need hookups and they can charge full price to you and stick you on a patch of grass somewhere.

I made no reservations in advance either time I did the trip, both of which were in the month of July. I did get into a bit of a jam at Mount Pisgah arriving there on a Saturday night. The tent sites there were all full and I had to pay the higher fee for a RV site is all.The only bad side of that was I told I had to pitch my tent on the asphalt pad provided for the RV and could not set it up anywhere else on the site.

If you want to stay in one of the Lodge's, Peaks of Otter or Mount Pisgah I would call ahead. Unless it is a holiday, peak season period they generally have rooms during the week but fill up on weekends.

Cell phone service can be hit or miss on the parkway, if you need to make reservations or call you might have to think about where you can get service.

On my trips I planned my itinerary for about the first three nights, after that it kind of all went to pot depending on the weather and how I was feeling. The thing about riding the parkway is you kind of need to know where to get services and hit those spots. The real mistake is having to leave the parkway for a service which might just be four or five miles away but be 1200 feet lower in elevation. Starting a day with a huge climb in addition to what you have to do on the parkway can just be killer. The other thing is that there are long stretches on the parkway with no services, when you hit those areas you need to be prepared before you try to ride them.

The Skinner book "Bicycling the Blue Ridge Parkway" is excellent for describing the terrain, less so for services. Mainly I think the 2008 recession killed a lot of the seasonal businesses that are said to operate. I see that there is now a 5th edition published in 2014 available, perhaps the information in the current one is more accurate.

I hope this helps. Feel free to ask some more questions.

General Discussion / Re: Washington, DC to Atlanta, GA
« on: January 27, 2015, 08:22:57 am »
This is just an off the cuff suggestion for doing this trip. Take the W&OD rail trail from Alexandria out to Purcellville, Va to its end. I would Google map or ask the local DC bike crowd how to get from there to Front Royal, Va which is about 40 miles. In Front Royal you can pick up the Skyline Drive/Blue Ridge Parkway. This will take you much of the way into NC. NC Bike Route 2 coincides with much of the BRP. Bike Route 2 will leave the Parkway at Balsam, NC which is southwest of Waynesville, NC and continue from there west to Murphy, NC. Murphy is in the far southwest corner of NC and is about 130 miles northeast of Atlanta. You would need to do some research to figure that part out as I don't have a suggestion for that. However, that leaves you 40 miles in Va and 130 miles in Ga to figure out a route on your own. I hope that helps.

The link for NC Bike Route 2 is:

Gear Talk / Re: Too tight spokes causes wheel buckling.
« on: January 16, 2015, 10:39:30 am »
Quality rim manufacturers will publish in their specifications a maximum tension. Here is a link to a rim suitable to touring made by DT:

In the specifications you see the maximum tension is 1200 Newtons. When you build a wheel measure the tension on the wheel and do not exceed this level.  Hubs also have a maximum tension, but at a higher value than rims. Rims will crack around the eyelet over time if the maximum tension is exceeded.

I only am using this rim as an example to point to the tension specification. I am not really endorsing this particular rim over any other. It is just an example to show a published specification.

Routes / Re: Crossing into Canada?
« on: December 24, 2014, 06:42:44 am »
The province of Quebec has an extensive cycling network called La Route Verte. Check out the information on their web page:

I saw their presentation in Raleigh, NC last night. It was very good. They are only scheduled to give this presentation three times in total and the next one is December 11th in New York City.

They spent three weeks traveling by bicycle in the American west this past summer and climbed 45 spires on the trip. They had a film crew with them and made a movie of their trip. It was very good and well worth seeing. If you live in the New York city area you might want to check this out.

The talk is much more climbing than bicycles, but the bicycle parts are very entertaining as they struggle a bit with it as it is not their area of expertise.  You may be familiar with Alex Honnold, he has become rather prominent for his free climbing and speed climbs in Yosemite and is often featured in magazines such as Outside and he has been the subject of a story on 60 Minutes as well.

So, this is just a heads up for people who might be able to attend the presentation on the 11th in New York city. I think you will enjoy it.

Gear Talk / Re: Straight up Noob bike/gear advice.
« on: September 04, 2014, 03:45:55 pm »
AWOL is the current line of Specialized adventure bicycles. If you like your Specialized dealer and you can work with them I think the AWOL Elite looks like would be a very nice bike for someone like you to start with.

Routes / Re: Blue Ridge Parkway
« on: August 18, 2014, 11:51:15 am »
Asheville sits in a valley at about 2000' elevation. The BRP runs a little over 11 miles in the area without much elevation change between the French Broad River in the south to US 70 in the north (that would be BRP directions) with mile marker 390 being in this 11 mile run.

To the south the parkway runs 79 miles south with a substantial climb of 2800' in 15 miles to start, running to Mount Pisgah at mile marker 409. Mt. Pisgah is a campground, inn, and restaurant located at the top of the climb. There is tunnels on this climb which will require lights on your bicycle, and I mean lights that will be able to illuminate the road and yourself as the tunnel is long enough to be completely dark. Past Mount Pisgah going south the road rolls and climbs a bit until you reach Richland Balsam at 6053', the highest point on the parkway. From there it descends quite a bit before you have a substantial climb to Waterrock knob. The last bit is all downhill to Cherokee which is also about 2000' in elevation. There are a few tunnels on the descent into Cherokee.

Going north from Asheville there is a long climb to Craggy Gardens of 19 miles and 3400' feet. Beyond Craggy Gardens it rolls a bit before descending down to NC 80. The turn off to Mount Mitchell is in this section, a five mile side road that will take you to the highest point in the US east of the Mississippi. There is a state park and small campground there. On the parkway after NC 80 there is some climbing that takes you to Crabtree Meadows, but the campground there has not been open the last couple of seasons. A few miles beyond that is Little Switzerland which has motels, inns, and restaurants. Little Switzerland is at mile marker 335. The tunnels in this direction are not as dark and blinky lights will probably suffice.

Which direction is best? I wouldn't try to choose that, but they are both character building. It just depends on what you have in mind, which is hard to tell from your short question. If you are looking to do a lot of riding on the parkway there is more going north as it is possible to ride the whole distance southward to Cherokee in a day. If you are looking for an overnight then a night at Mount Pisgah is nice, either camping or in the inn. Going north you can always do the climb to Mount Mitchell and then tell your friends you have ridden to the highest point in the east. Either directions is remote and very few services. I have only done the parkway in this area northbound, so I can't offer a direct comparison from experience.

General Discussion / Re: cooking stoves for bike travel in Europe
« on: July 12, 2014, 07:11:53 pm »
I am going to suggest you look at the web sight Hiking In Finland:

This guy is a great source of information of the latest things in hiking gear. I would look through his stove reviews and see what he likes as this will be local information for Finland. You probably could even send him an email.

My strategy for tire replacement is new tire installed on front wheel, tire on front wheel moved to rear, worn out rear tire goes to trash. Just my two cents.

Routes / Re: Greensboro NC to Boone
« on: May 26, 2014, 07:04:22 pm »
Call the NC DOT Bicycle Office on the phone to get the maps, they never show up whenever I have ordered them off that web page link.

Go buy yourself a copy of Velonews, a magazine oriented toward bicycle racing in the US. There will be ads in the back in the classified sections from a half dozen companies that make custom clothing. All local racing clubs get there clothing made and printed up from these companies. Then it's just a matter of looking at the web sights, calling on the phone and hitting their minimum order numbers and finding out which one will work for you.

Gear Talk / Re: 11-32 vs 11-34
« on: April 21, 2014, 12:20:18 pm »
I had a friend who kept an old bicycle racing magazine around which had an interview with Greg Lemond published in it. In the article Greg was asked what the most difficult mountain climb he had done. His answer was Reed Gap in Virginia, used in the Tour DuPont. Now Reed Gap is not on the Trans-Am, but it is right next to Vesuvius just off the Blue Ridge Parkway south of Afton.  That is just a little story to confirm that is a world class climb coming up that ridge to the BRP.

"I also notice city navigator is a bit slugish in my basecamp and gps. Is that normal.

When running Basecamp with the gps unit attached with the usb cable, there will be lag as the data has to be read through the cable. It's my belief that the etrex models run at the USB 1.0 specification speed and are a little sluggish naturally. I know of one way around this when working with Basecamp on your Mac computer.

Attach your gps unit to the computer with the USB cable and you should see the Garmin unit and the City Navigator SD card mount in the finder. My City Navigator mounts with the name 11-01318-52. Yours might have a different name as this probably depends on the map version you have. Start "Disk Utility" application which is included with all Macs. You will see the City Navigator SD card in the list of  mounted disks in the sidebar of this program. Create a disk image of your SD card by going File>New>Disk Image from 11-01318-52 under the menus. This will create a file on your hard drive that has the same content as your SD card.

Now when you want to work in Basecamp with the maps, rather than use it with the gps system hooked to the computer, first go to "Disk Utility" and select the disk image you created in the sidebar then click on open. This will load the file in your memory of your computer as if the gps was attached. When you start Basecamp it will see the maps through the mounted disk image. However, it will be much faster as the data is in memory and not being read through a USB cable.

I hope I have explained that well enough, I am really not the best computer techy guy out there.

Routes / Re: Looking for week-long spring route in Eastern US
« on: April 01, 2014, 08:34:20 am »
I think you should look at the ACA's Tidewater Potomac route. It meets a lot of your criteria. It is less than 400 miles long, there isn't demanding terrain so your friend shouldn't be stressed since she lacks experience, traveling to DC should be not too difficult, DC has great museums to see if you haven't been before. May is a very good season to tour in this area.

I think you could just start your Trans-Am in DC and bypass Yorktown. Why would a UK citizen want to ride to the place where the British were defeated. In DC you can at least celebrate the burning of the White House by the Brits in the War of 1812. You could use US Bike Route 1 to ride from DC to Ashland, VA were in intersects the Trans-Am and then on into Richmond to meet your friends. Take a look at the Virginia State bicycle map. When I was last in the area Bike Route 1 was signed and easy to follow, but that has been a while. I think you would be in Richmond on your second night no matter where you started and save yourself a bunch of hassle by starting in DC.

Yorktown really isn't on the actual coast, you would have to travel a bit for the ocean and wheel dipping ceremonies unless you use the York River. If you use the river you could just use the Potomac River in DC.

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