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Messages - John Nelson

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Routes / Re: Pacific Coast Route
« on: October 15, 2016, 11:58:00 pm »
I think August and September. I don't like to get to Southern California until after school starts, but September is early enough that most campgrounds are still open.

A) There are thousands of places to stay in San Diego, at a very wide range of locations, prices, amenities and nearby attractions. It would be very hard to recommend one. If you want to stay on the beach, I'd pick something on Mission Beach.
B) I've only used paper maps. I don't even own a device that would store digital ones. I like the paper maps.

The Pacific Coast is fabulous. You'll love it.

4-5 weeks is enough to get from Vancouver to the Mexican border, but there's not a lot of room in that schedule for side trips or layovers. And you won't need any. The regular route is great all by itself.

Like a previous poster, I can't comment on accommodations because I camp. And camping along the Pacific Coast is absolutely superb. I don't really understand a previous comment about there not being cheap biker camping sites in Washington because I camped in cheap hiker/biker sites all through Washington. The great thing about hiker/biker sites is that no reservations are required and you never need fear that the campground will be full. The only place I didn't find cheap camping was in Los Angeles.

I strongly recommend you follow the ACA Pacific Coast route. Many advocate going the long way around the Olympic Peninsula, but I'm not sure you have time for that on your schedule if you want to make it the whole way. No need to detour around the big cities. ACA provides good safe routes through them. Much of the route through Los Angeles (by far the biggest of the big cities) is along the beach. And you don't want to miss Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, nor riding across the Golden Gate Bridge.

If you run out of time, that's okay because southern California is not the best part of this route. But you absolutely must make it as far as Santa Barbara. You cannot possibly consider skipping Big Sur.

General Discussion / Re: Bikes into Newport News Airport
« on: September 28, 2016, 11:45:46 pm »
I flew into Newport News, but I shipped my bike via FedEx to a church in Yorktown. The pastor's wife picked me up and took me to the church. If you fly with your bike, it's a quick ride into Yorktown. Flights to Newport News use fairly small planes with limited cargo room, so they can't guarantee they'll have room for your bike.

Gear Talk / Re: Getting bike and gear to start of tour
« on: September 27, 2016, 11:37:07 am »
The Amtrak web site allows you to check actual arrival times for a station and route for the past week. I suggest you monitor that for a while to get an idea of the range of possibilities. When I went to Chicago on the California Zephyr last summer, I noted that the train typically arrived anywhere from 1 hour to 15 hours late. Armed with that knowledge, it allowed me to plan what I would do if I arrived at 3 in the morning. But, as mentioned, it depends on the route and time of year. I note that right now the California Zephyr has a pretty good track record for the past week. Long-haul passenger service takes a back seat to freight, and many factors are hard to predict and outside of Amtrak's control.

On a positive note, Amtrak is almost certain to get your bike there without damage. Unlike air and bus travel, your bike travels upright with no other stuff stacked on top of it.

I was not strong enough to lift my bike over the barriers with the panniers on. So I had to unload my bike, lift it over the first barrier, ride to the second barrier, lift it over the second barrier, and then walk back for my panniers. Nevertheless, it was worth it.

I can understand why the ACA cannot officially endorse this alternative as it is not strictly legal.

General Discussion / Re: Restricted Items on Amtrak ("flammable" etc.)
« on: September 21, 2016, 05:13:43 pm »
put them in your checked baggage to keep the hazards out of the passenger area
I don't know how Amtrak feels, but the airlines require you to keep permitted potential fire hazards (e.g., lithium batteries, matches) in the passenger compartment and not in the baggage compartment. I think the theory is that a fire is more easily handled in the passenger compartment.

On the other hand, potential weapons are restricted to the baggage compartment, so I'd put my tools in the checked baggage.

But, as has been said, on Amtrak, nobody is looking.

General Discussion / Re: Bike all lower 48 states
« on: September 21, 2016, 04:47:06 pm »
With three years to get this done, not a great deal of planning is necessary. Before it gets too hot, head north. Before it gets too cold, head south. If it's just right, head east or west.

General Discussion / Re: Restricted Items on Amtrak ("flammable" etc.)
« on: September 20, 2016, 11:44:00 pm »
I've taken chain lube, cooking alcohol and a multitool on Amtrak.

General Discussion / Re: Bike all lower 48 states
« on: September 19, 2016, 10:13:05 pm »
Do you mean you want to hit all 48 in one continuous trip? There are lots of web sites that suggest car routes. E.g.,

These routes usually zigzag up and down across the country. Timing depends a lot on your miles per day. The best route depends on how much time you have. You'll likely need to be able to tolerate heat and cold. I'd probably go across the north in the summer and the south in the winter and then fill the middle the next summer.

I hate raccoons.They are particularly bad at Kirk Creek and Half Moon Bay. But you won't see a cougar.

AAA are inexpensive and readily available. I don't see any reason to use rechargeable unless you have a high-power light.

Rocky Mountain / Re: Cycling in Yellowstone and Tetons
« on: September 17, 2016, 04:15:52 pm »
I cycled through Grand Teton and Yellowstone and greatly enjoyed it. Make sure you take the bike path from Jenny Lake to the south.

Yellowstone is huge, so it takes some distance go get through it. A home base lodge is a good idea because the nighttime temperatures will be cold. Make your reservations soon. Because the park is so large, you likely won't be able to get everywhere on day trips from your home base. That's okay, however, because you can just use a car to get to your starting point.

The second half of September is past peak tourist season, so you shouldn't have too much trouble with traffic. The daytime temperatures should be cool but not yet cold, and it should be fairly dry.

Take a lock so that you can explore the area from where you park your bike.

Your plan sounds really good to me.

General Discussion / Re: One piece earphone while riding
« on: September 15, 2016, 12:07:34 am »
Whether or not it's safe to ride with music is a debate that goes on forever and has no answer.

Gear Talk / Re: Flying with synthetic luricant
« on: September 12, 2016, 10:34:34 pm »
Can you fly synthetic lubricant such as Finish Line (2 0z) in checked luggage?  I am flying to Canada.
Technically, probably not. But I do it all the time.

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