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I took some French in collegeDo learn how to pronounce the letters of the alphabet, most people are not taught this. It's very helpful if you want to find route D123 say. (e.g. D in French is pronounced 'day'). See http://french.about.com/od/pronunciation/a/alphabet.htm And be aware that locals often don't know route numbers; roads often have local names that don't appear on maps.
as everyone has said... use the ones that came with the bike. they're decent tyres. i find it useful to swap over the front and back after a while to get more even wear out of them.Sheldon differs on this. You want the tire that is least likely to blow out (i.e. the least worn) on the front. 'Rotating' by moving the front tire to the back and putting a new one on the front is acceptable
On tour last summer my SRAM 9 spd chain had about 1000 miles on it. I was climbing a steep hill using the 24T front ring when just before the summit I shifted up to the 38T middle ring. There was a rattle like a can of marbles and the bike stopped, the chain had broken. At least it looked that way. What had happened was that the Quicklink had separated. I had a spare so I was off again in short order. I asked around about this and the only explanation anybody came up with was that I was just unlucky in where the Quicklink was when I shifted. The quite a large jump from 24T to 38T may have contributed. I rarely use the 24T ring, it's my 'get out of jail free' card.I've also had my chain separate a few timesWow, how is that happening? You're not putting pins back in, are you?
pick up our new Novara SafarisMy wife got a new Safari a few weeks ago. People have complained about the rack screws coming loose, I think I found the reason. The cheesy looking hex head cap screws that that retain the bottom of the rack only engage for a couple of threads and will strip out very easily if you overtighten them. The screws REI put in are M6 X 40. If you replace them with M6 X 50, the next length up,to get full thread engagement it interferes with the chain on the RHS if screwed in all the way so I shimmed it out with three washers. So, take a couple of M6 X 50 stainless socket head screws with you and a few washers when you pick up the bike. Then you will be able to tighten all the rack screws with a multi-tool and not have to faff with an adjustable wrench.
Regarding how far in advance to arrange for motels[/b] (can not speak to campsites), when I was riding thru eastern Montana and western N. Dakota, which I did in the earlier/beginning days of the oil/gas boom, I could find no/zero motel openings even 4 days in advance. Now that the 'boom' has grown.... hopefully the motel capacity has as well.Last summer (July) I rode the new ACA route through ND and MT that avoids the oil/gas nightmare, didn't book ahead, and had no trouble finding accommodation. Big chunks of Section 4 of this route are on I94, the ACA route offers alternatives, some people prefer to stay on the freeeway thinking it's quicker but I don't recommend it. On one frontage road I did 18 miles and saw one car and a lot of cows, far nicer than navigating freeway rumble strips and debris.
+1 My only memory of sun-in-eyes being a problem was on heading S on the Sierra Cascade route! The road out of Big Bear City heads due E for a few miles, has no shoulder and a huge drop off of 10 -12 inches in places I was blinded by the sun and went by the few feet of road I could see by lowering my head and getting a bit of shade from my helmet visor. I should have stopped and waited for the sun to move round but like a chump I bashed on to where the road turned S. All the while I was doing this I was thinking that traffic behind me was equally blinded. So enjoy a lie in.Now, is the sun in your eyes THAT much of a problem going w to e?Depends on what time you like to start riding in the morning. If you typically start riding an hour or two after sunrise (like me), then it's no problem at all. If you typically like to start riding before sunrise, it might be a problem on some days for just a little while.
Mineral is entirely forgettable.True. Unless you're feted by the VFD there ain't much there. On the other hand it's the "forgettable" places that are the real USA. Like Oxford Junction Iowa where I spent last 4th of July. The OP is coming from the UK remember.
we were warned to keep our bikes locked inside.Reminds me of a motel in Port Angeles the only place I was specifically not allowed to take my bike into my room (they did have a locked garage I could put it in). That was the place where I was quoted "$100 with a view" I asked how much without a view? "There aren't any." This was on the ACA list I believe. FYI If you go further inland to where no view is available prices drop dramatically.