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Messages - John Nelson

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1
General Discussion / Re: Touring Bicycle
« on: Today at 11:52:21 am »
Although you can tour on any bicycle, I would always recommend a touring-specific bicycle if your budget and garage space allow. It has at least a dozen features specifically optimized for touring.

Although there are many touring bikes available (and you should consult the ACA buyers guide on this site), I would generally recommend one of the standards, i.e., either the Trek 520 or the Surly Long Haul Trucker. If you can find a bicycle shop with touring bikes in stock (unlikely), however, I would probably test ride and buy one of those, whatever it is. Most bike shops, however, do not carry real touring bikes and will probably try to convince you that some bike on the floor is just as good. Don't fall for that. Get a shop to order you a real touring bike, preferably with no obligation to buy (many shops offer this service). REI is the most likely place to find touring bikes on the floor. They often stock two different Novara touring bikes and the Long Haul Trucker, although perhaps in limited sizes.

There's no sense in figuring out what the perfect bike on paper is and then finding out that you can't practically get it. I'd suggesting doing it the other way around. Figure out what touring bikes you have reasonable access to and then deciding which one of those suits you best.

2
General Discussion / Re: leaving May 20 from Willliamsburg
« on: Today at 11:43:58 am »
No, May 20 is not too late. You should see many other cyclists.

Richmond is the nearest major airport, although there are many other smaller airports in the area. I flew into Newport News. If you do that, you can even start in Yorktown if you want.

The ACA guided TransAm typically starts in Williamsburg. Get their handout and it will give you suggestions for motels and transportation. Sorry, I don't really know how to get a copy of the handout. I saw one years ago.

3
Calculating your fit only gets you in the ballpark. You need to take a test ride. Don't just ride around the parking lot. Go a number of miles, including flats, uphill and downhill.

4
General Discussion / Re: Wireless computer on touring bike
« on: October 20, 2014, 12:04:11 am »
You can use either. The panniers will not interfere with the wireless signal. Some people complain that wireless is more subject to interference, but this is a small problem. I use a wired computer for touring, just because it's one less battery to worry about. But that's a very small issue too. I use a wireless computer on my daily bike. Flip a coin.

5
General Discussion / Re: Toe clips? Clipless? None of the above?
« on: October 15, 2014, 11:58:13 pm »
I use MTB shoes with SPD cleats/pedals. I see absolutely no downside to it.

6
Routes / Re: California Hike Bike Sites closures
« on: October 15, 2014, 01:39:08 pm »
Jenn,

To the best of my memory, Catherine complained about being turned away at San Onofre State Beach because the campground had closed for the season, despite the fact that the California Parks web site says that the campground is open year round. Also, the ACA maps do not indicate any closing dates for that campground. She did not say what date she was there.

She also reported some non-specific problems at some non-specified locations.

John

7
Pacific Northwest / Re: Astoria to San Diego
« on: October 14, 2014, 09:37:37 pm »
Strongly -- strongly -- suggest that you don't ride the 101 all the way from Astoria to San Diego. There are so much better routes.

For Oregon, you can just get a copy of the Oregon Coast Bike Route Map published by the Oregon Department of Transportation. It's available at most information centers. It uses 101 quite a bit, but it also takes advantage of some incredibly beautiful roads off 101. IMO, the ODOT route is probably better than the ACA route in Oregon. For California, I really suggest you get the ACA maps. There are so many -- so, so many -- beautiful roads you will miss without them. E.g., it would be a high crime to miss Scenic Drive just south of Trinidad. You probably already know about Avenue of the Giants, so I'm sure you'll do that. And of course you'll want to get off 101 and onto CA 1 at Leggett. Staying on 101 after Leggett would be such a terrible mistake.

8
I just did the Pacific Coast and had few problems. I consulted the California Parks web site before I started, looking up all 47 California parks listed on the PC route. One of the most valuable things about the ACA maps is that they identify which parks have H/B sites. I didn't even try to stop at any that did not. The California Parks web site also generally identifies which sites have H/B, but that information was not presented as consistently.

Of the 47 sites I checked, only one (Benbow Lake State Recreation Area) had closed its H/B sites. One other (Dry Lagoon campground in Humboldt Lagoons State Park) had closed completely. McGrath State Beach had closed due to flooding after I checked but before I got there, so that was the only surprise, and I did hear about it (and it was posted on the web site) before I got there.

One other (Hidden Springs campground in Humboldt Redwood State Park) closed after Labor Day, but I knew that ahead of time and didn't try that. Russian Gulch State Park closes mid-September.

Of the 47 State Park, a few others did not have H/B sites but were clearly identified as such and so I avoided them (e.g., Limekiln State Park, Washburn campground in San Simeion State Park, Morro Strand State Beach, Pismo Beach State Park, Oceano Dunes Vehicular Recreation Area, Gaviota State Park, Thornhill-Broome campground in Mugu State Park, San Clemente State Beach, South Carlsbad State Beach).

That still leaves a ton of California state parks with H/B sites.

Can you tell us by name what places you're talking about?

Although the ACA maps do indicate that San Onofre does not have H/B sites, it says nothing about closing dates. Furthermore, the California State Parks sites does say that San Onofre has year-round camping. So I can see how you got screwed here if San Onofre campground (San Mateo campground) was closed when you got there.

9
Pacific Northwest / Re: Getting bikes from Vancover to Portland
« on: October 11, 2014, 11:13:48 pm »
Why do you want to go to Portland? Portland is not on the coast. If you intend to do the coast of Oregon, you really want to get to Astoria. If time allows, you would ride there from Vancouver on the ACA Pacific Coast route. Should take about six days.

I agree with not patronizing United Airlines. We should not reward airlines who charge obscene prices to transport bicycles. Frontier and Southwest only charge $75.

10
General Discussion / Re: northern tier - how to start in bar harbor
« on: October 08, 2014, 12:15:02 am »
I agree with jamawani. Crazyguyonabike is definitely the best place to get first-person accounts of riding the Northern Tier. As of right now, there are 506 Northern Tier journals (one of which is mine). I think your idea of flying to Boston and getting a one-way car rental is an excellent way to get to Bar Harbor.

https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/categories/?o=Sh&category_id=83&doctype=journal

I know you didn't ask this question, but I would recommend that you consider the TransAmerica Trail instead of the Northern Tier. I've done both, and they are both good, but I think the TransAmerica Trail is better, especially if this is your first tour in the U.S. If you stay with the Northern Tier, you can spend most of your trip looking forward to Glacier National Park, clearly the highlight of the Northern Tier. The Cascades are pretty wonderful too. I also recommend spending a night or two in Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota

11
General Discussion / Re: northern tier - how to start in bar harbor
« on: October 07, 2014, 05:42:48 pm »
Bar Harbor is a tough place to get to via public transportation. What I did (in reverse) is to fly into Bangor, Maine and take the shuttle to Bar Harbor (check to make sure the shuttle can accommodate your bikes). You can also fly directly into the small airport just outside Bar Harbor (in Trenton), but that's expensive and I don't know if there would be room on those tiny planes for the bikes. Even flying into Bangor isn't cheap. If you're not adverse to riding there, you could fly into a larger airport like Portland, Maine, or Boston. Actually, you could fly into almost any place along the Atlantic coast and take the ACA Atlantic Coast route up to Bar Harbor if you have the time.

12
Routes / Re: contemplating riding TransAm in 2015....so many questions!
« on: October 02, 2014, 11:04:06 pm »
Walk on the wild side for sure! I didn't even know they let you ride over that bridge. We walked our bikes all the way across on the sidewalk.
Yes, you can ride across. They even have "Bikes on Bridge" flashing lights with a button at each end for cyclist to press to activate the lights. According to the sign, the speed limit is reduced to 30 MPH when the lights are flashing. IMO, the bridge is too long to walk across, and the sidewalk too narrow to safely ride on.

13
McGrath State Beach, between Ventura and Oxnard, is closed for all camping and day-use effective Sunday August 10, 2014 at Noon until further notice. The park has closed due to flooding, which is impacting all areas of the park.

For current status, see:

http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=607

or call (805) 968-1033.

14
Routes / Re: contemplating riding TransAm in 2015....so many questions!
« on: October 02, 2014, 09:43:14 pm »
If you decide to start in Florence, nobody seems to know that United flies to North Bend, OR, 45 miles south of Florence on the coast.  You can ship your bike to Moe's Bike Shop in North Bend:

www.moesbikeshop.com

They can reassemble it for you. Take a taxi from the airport to the Parkside Motel right across the street from Moe's:
 http://www.parkside-motel.com/
Also, this way you can start your trip with excitement--by riding across the Coos Bay Bridge right out of the gate!

(Only partially sarcastic. I rode across this bridge last month in the traffic lane, and it wasn't as bad as its reputation, but it's exciting nevertheless.)

15
Routes / Re: contemplating riding TransAm in 2015....so many questions!
« on: September 29, 2014, 10:50:42 am »
is it best to ride East to West or West to East?? (im in Kansas).....seems more people ride East to West

Either way is fine, but more ride East to West than West to East. Supposedly, the success rate is higher for those who ride East to West. As mentioned earlier, if you start in May, ride East to West. If you start in June, ride West to East. My recommendation would be to start in the first half of May in Yorktown.

I guess that i would UPS my bicycle to bike shop in same city that I fly in to........but how the heck do i get my bicycle and me to Yorktown or Florence?....from the airport city?     bus service?  rent car?  taxi?   ride my bicycle to the start and turn around?

There are many ways to do it. I prefer to take my bike on the plane if I can, but only if flying an airline that charges a reasonable amount for this (i.e., Frontier or Southwest). I flew to Newport News (a short hop from Yorktown) and shipped my bike FedEx to Yorktown because neither Frontier nor Southwest served the route. One-way car rental is also feasible. Of course if you take your bike on the plane, you can just ride your bike out of the airport.

should i carry canned foods in my pack.....for those times when there is no restaurant

Canned goods are heavy to carry for very far, but you can use them occasionally. I carry four energy bars as "emergency food" but plan never to use them. Your best bet is to plan ahead, studying the maps to see where the food sources are, and then having a "Plan B" in case those food sources are closed. The cheapest option is usually to cook. The second cheapest is to buy ready-to-eat foods from grocery stores. The most expensive is to eat in restaurants.

cooking seems like a big hassle if im traveling solo.

I agree, and I do not take a stove, but most cyclotourists do. In my observation, many of these do it primarily so that they can have coffee in camp in the morning. It also helps if the budget is tight or if you depend on hot meals in camp. Without a stove, dinner will often be a cold sandwich in camp, and breakfast a cold bagel. If that's okay with you, then you can skip the stove (and the fuel and the pots and pans and the spices). In any event, you will probably enjoy an occasionally meal in a cafe. It's a good way to interact with the locals.

Is it common to find other TransAM riders to ride with briefly.......or there are just too few riders??

On the TransAm at peak season, you will encounter many other cyclists to ride and/or camp with, for an hour, a day, a week, a month or the rest of the trip. There's a pretty good chance you will make a few life-long friends. On other routes, or on the TransAm off season, you will encounter fewer.

how many water bottles should i take?

Two is enough, but I take three because I never want to risk running out of water. If you pay attention, you can plan for the longer dry stretches (e.g., Wyoming) and put extra bottles or bladders in or on your panniers.

isn't it difficult keeping cell phone charged?.....hard to find plugins?

An external power pack is a great idea. It's easy to find outlets, but a power pack will save you from having to hang around them longer than you want to. Also, you may feel more comfortable leaving the power pack charging in the campground bathroom than leaving your phone charging there.

TransAM  ride Definitely wlon't be a "walk in the park"....lol

It's a blast. It does, however, take a reasonable amount of persistence and good problem-solving skills.

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