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Messages - John Nelson

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1
Riding across northern Wisconsin is fun. It's heavily forested, relentlessly rolling, with lots of lakes and summer resorts tucked so far into the trees you hardly notice them. There is also farmland and interesting barns. Public campgrounds (on lakes of course) are sufficiently available and medium priced (i.e., a bit more expensive than campgrounds out West, but not anywhere nearly as expensive as the private campgrounds in the East). For more information and pictures, check out days 35-38 of my journal.

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/goingback

I did not take the ferry, but went through the UP, which I very much enjoyed (especially the pasties and Mackinac Island). The routes diverge at Conover, WI and reconnect at the Wolf Lake, MI. The UP route is 215 miles longer than the ferry route.

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Although the ACA does have exactly this route, many people have observed that it is far from the shortest route. That's because the ACA is trying to make the most of their route to the UP. I'm not sure I understand the constant fascination with "shortest", but there are several journals over at CGOAB where they have followed a shorter route.

3
Routes / Re: Northern Tier Extension?
« on: March 27, 2015, 09:56:51 am »

4
Routes / Re: Pacific Coast Route
« on: March 25, 2015, 08:14:42 pm »
North to South is preferable for several reasons. The wind is one. You won't fight the wind continuously going the other way, but you will more often than not. But there are other important reasons. The shoulders are better on the southbound side, specifically for the benefit of cyclists. The view is better. Cars see you better (since the drivers are admiring the view too). The pullouts are mostly on the ocean side.

Nevertheless, if you choose to go the "wrong" way, you'll still have a good trip.

5
General Discussion / Re: Charging iphone for maps while touring
« on: March 25, 2015, 04:41:42 pm »
I do not know how often I will have access to an outlet

Depends on where you are touring, where you are sleeping, how much time you have, and how hard you try. If you are in a first world country, and/or sleeping in motels, then you don't have to try very hard. If you are camping, then you have to try a bit harder. If you are wild camping, you will have to try harder yet. If you have several hours in the middle of the day to spare, then you can usually find an outlet to sit by during the day.

Should I invest in a dynamo, solar or just some spare battery packs?

Well, you've pretty much outlined the main options. For me personally, I'd choose the spare battery packs. They are getting cheaper all the time, and you can charge them all in parallel. But I don't want to mess with solar or a dynamo, and I have a hard enough time getting up hills without something dragging on my wheel.

But I'd rather take a GPS unit separate from my phone. That gives you another battery and if you run out of power for your GPS, you still have a phone.

6
Gear Talk / Re: Any feedback will help.
« on: March 25, 2015, 10:13:36 am »
Pat's advice is excellent. There is little I can add, but I'll try.

Panniers should be durable and waterproof. I don't need a lot of pockets, but some people like them. I prefer not to mess with rain covers, but some panniers need them. Pack so that you have some spare room for when you want to add extra fluid and food. You can get them anywhere from almost free (make them yourself from kitty-litter buckets) to very expensive. Make sure they have a good attachment system. I typically leave my panniers on the bike at all times, but if you like to bring them in at night, get ones that go on and off easily. Ortlieb and Arlel are the two high-quality (and high price) brands, but others will work too.

As Pat says, flats are the #1 repair item. A FiberFix will allow you to temporarily fix most broken spokes, but I also like to carry a hypercracker (Stein Mini Lock Ring Tool), a few spare spokes of each size, a few spare nipples and a spoke wrench. You should also carry the most common Allen wrenches (4, 5 and 6), primarily for adjusting brake cables as the pads wear, and for manipulating your seat post. I like to take a spare set of brake pads, especially for long trips where your pads might wear out. I also carry one spare cable of each type, although I have never used them. Start with fairly new tires, but if it's a very long trip, you might consider taking a spare tire. Some people do, some don't. Sometimes tire problems come on with very little warning.

Everybody has their favorite tire. I like Schwalbe Marathon, and am currently running the Marathon Mondial folding tire (not the wire bead version of this same tire). Many other tires are also perfectly fine. Selecting the right width is as important as selecting the right brand. If your tour is mostly on pavement, I like 35mm width.

Saddles are very personal. What one person loves, some other person hates. There is no substitute for many, many hours on the bike to know if you like a saddle or not. I use the B-17 Pat mentions, but not everybody likes it.

I like a two-person tent for extra roominess. A two-person tent usually weights about 50% more than a claustrophobic one-person tent. I like a floor, for bug protection and extra rain protection, but you can save a ton of weight by skipping it. Lightweight is usually better than heavy, but lightweight frequently means less durable and much more expensive.

7
General Discussion / Re: Getting from Seattle to Anacortes
« on: March 24, 2015, 04:52:46 pm »
My preference (and what I actually did--twice) would be to fly Frontier Airlines to Bellingham. It is easy to get from Bellingham to Anacortes (follow the Pacific Coast map #1). You don't even have to ride all the way to Anacortes if you don't want--you can turn east at Bay View where the two routes meet (although I'm a completionist and I went all the way to the ferry dock in Anacortes before turning around and riding back to Bay View).

Note that Frontier has pretty favorable rates for transporting a bike, unlike many other airlines, and it has some great specials. When I flew to Bellingham with my bike, it was actually much cheaper than flying to Seattle would have been.

8
Good points Indy. My $40 a night was built on the assumption that one would be paying to sleep only about half the time. The other half the time staying with hosts, or camping someplace free, perhaps a park, forest, field or church. So maybe about $20-$25 a day for someplace to sleep, and $15-$20 a day for food (assuming cooking and perhaps free food when hosted). A lot depends on how hard you try to save money. E.g., are you willing to ask if you can sleep at the church, or would you rather just take the motel next door? So $40 is really $10 on some days and $100 on others.

9
I'd say that you should plan $40 a day, not counting gear or travel expenses to the start or home from the finish. You can certainly get under that if you try, but this budget will allow you to relax a bit and the flexibility to deal with a few setbacks.

10
General Discussion / Re: Additional rider or riders ASAP
« on: March 24, 2015, 12:42:59 pm »
Duplicate posts do nothing to increase the visibility of your message, fragment the discussion, and violate forum rules. I suggest you stick to one thread on this topic.

11
Routes / Re: Need additional Rider or Riders ASAP.
« on: March 24, 2015, 10:08:14 am »
There are various posts on this site about safety. Try to find some of them and show them to your parents. As you have said, the chances of finding a stranger to accompany you are slim (and a stranger may introduce as many risks as it mitigates), so your chances will likely be better to either convince your parents that you will be okay (and you will, of course) or to find another friend to go. I wish you the best of luck. Everybody your age should have an adventure like this.

To improve your chances of finding someone, however, you might provide more details of your plan. How many miles do you plan to do in a day? What and where do you plan to eat? Where do you plan to sleep? Do you like to start early or late in the day? Quit early or late? Stop frequently during the day to see and/or do things, or keep moving? How fast (MPH) do you plan to ride? Are you traveling heavy or light? How do you plan to get home from the end?

BTW, I've never heard anybody previously express that 3+ makes you safer. Interesting idea.

12
General Discussion / Re: Here we go!
« on: March 20, 2015, 09:47:13 am »
I remember when I got to Yorktown for the start. I can feel your excitement. For me, it was almost overwhelming. What a great adventure you are in for!

13
Routes / Re: Starting Transam in Yorktown, nearest train station?
« on: March 18, 2015, 01:23:21 pm »
I also avoid doubling back once the tour is underway. I had no place to stay when passing through LA last year when somebody offered me a place to stay in Venice, but it was three miles back and I couldn't make myself go backwards.

However, I have doubled back twice at the start of the tour. When I did the Pacific Coast, I flew into Bellingham WA and rode 25 miles up to the Canadian border and then back to Bellingham. When I did the Northern Tier, the start required repeating 15 miles out to Anacortes, WA and back in order to touch the ocean.

The ACA starts often starts and ends routes in small places that have no air or rail service. If you start in Yorktown, you'll probably have a similar problem ending in Florence or Astoria.

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Routes / Re: Starting Transam in Yorktown, nearest train station?
« on: March 17, 2015, 04:58:21 pm »
Both Williamsburg and Newport News will do, and they are both a trivial distance from Yorktown (trivial compared to going across the whole country). 12 miles is nothing. In fact, Williamsburg is where the ACA TransAm group tours start--they ride to Yorktown and back the first day.

And remember that you don't just need a train station--you need a train station with checked baggage service (assuming you have a bike). Both Williamsburg and Newport News do have checked baggage service.

15
I think you might have some misconceptions about how the ACA maps work.

ACA maps will generally keep you safer by helping you avoid dangerous roads. But they certainly don't go everywhere, and they certainly don't take the shortest way there. ACA maps are better for people trying to enjoy the experience rather than get somewhere specific.

To get from NYC to San Diego, you can take the ACA Atlantic Coast route to the TransAm route to the Western Express route to the Pacific Coast route. Or Atlantic Coast to TransAm to Western Express to Grand Canyon Connector to Southern Tier. Those routes might take you as much as 50% longer to get there than if you took the most direct route, but it will be safer and more enjoyable.

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