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Messages - John Nelson

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1
Gear Talk / Re: How to pack my sleeping bag
« on: Today at 10:08:50 am »
if most folks buy more expensive bags that require less space.
I believe most people don't necessarily buy more expensive bags that require less space, but lighter bags that require less space.

2
Gear Talk / Re: One Bike to Do It All
« on: Today at 10:03:40 am »
There's no such thing as a "a great do-it-all bike". You'll have to find room and money for more bikes. Anything currently hanging from your bedroom ceiling?

3
Gear Talk / Re: How to pack my sleeping bag
« on: February 03, 2016, 08:23:07 pm »
My sleeping bag takes up less than half of my pannier, and I keep it there because I darn sure want a dry sleeping bag after riding all day in the rain. Use the lightest bag for the anticipated conditions. There are various ways to make the bag warmer on the occasional night in which it might be colder than the bag is designed for, including wearing extra clothes, using a liner and/or using a bivy over the bag.

4
I do not use a GPS, but I certainly would if somebody gave me one and I could figure out how to put the route into it. I do find that it is a bit of a stress worrying about where that next turn is, and I've missed it more than once.

My non-GPS mitigation is to make notes on a 3x5 index card each day identifying what mileage on my bike computer will be at each turn. At least that way I know how far I am going before I need to worry about looking for the next turn. It's not perfect, but it helps. At least I don't need to read every road sign for miles and miles in case it is the turn I want.

5
Routes / Re: Northern Tier questions
« on: February 01, 2016, 08:36:21 pm »
I found plenty of places to camp along US 2 in Montana. It seems like every small town along the route (and there's one every six miles like clockwork because steam engines need water) will let you camp in the park, usually for free. Montana State University in Havre will let you stay in a dorm room (during the summer) for ten bucks. Camping isn't much of a problem, and wind is more often favorable if you go W-to-E, but there's very little out there--the trains are your only entertainment.

6
General Discussion / Re: Routes North from San Diego in Feb
« on: February 01, 2016, 08:26:39 pm »
In February along the California coast, the winds are not enough of a factor to base your plans on. Take Long Beach as an example. In February, the most frequent wind direction and the second strongest winds are from the WNW. The strongest and second most frequent winds are from the W. The third most frequent wind direction and the second strongest winds are from the S. Winds from the NNW, N, NNE, NE, ENE are all infrequent and weak. Winds from the WSW, SW, SSW, S, SSE, SE, ESE are all stronger and more frequent. Note that going up along the coast of California isn't really going N--it's generally going NW, at least until you get to San Francisco. Once you get to the Oregon coast, you may find the March winds to be mostly from the south. The most frequent winds in Astoria Oregon in March are from the SE.

My advice: forget about the wind. Just go when you want to. Some days the winds will be in your face. Some days the winds will be at your back. Deal with it. Whichever way you go, the apparent winds will be in your face because your observation is biased.

A more important consideration for traveling northbound along the coast is that you're on the wrong side of the road, but traffic will be quite light once you get north of San Francisco.

7
General Discussion / Re: camping on city parks
« on: January 29, 2016, 12:15:20 am »
The first several times that I contacted the police as directed by the ACA maps, they always seemed surprised that I called them, so I just quit doing it. It's more important to contact the park maintenance guy if you can find one, so you can find out about sprinklers and bathrooms. They will often shut off the sprinklers and not lock the bathrooms for you. If I can't find a maintenance guy, I sometimes leave a note on the bathroom door.

8
General Discussion / Re: Careful where you buy stuff
« on: January 27, 2016, 03:59:14 pm »
$30 is a cheap price for not having to go all the way home to get a chain.

9
Yellowstone is truly spectacular. Many Americans consider Yellowstone to be less exciting because they've probably been there several times already, and everybody they know has been there too. But for a European, it may be more exciting.

Europeans typically find the Native American culture of the American southwest to be particularly fascinating.

The Pacific Coast Route is truly spectacular, but in my opinion it does not expose you much to what is uniquely American.

The American National Park system does contain the jewels of American scenery, but they are very popular and you won't feel alone there unless you backpack into the back country. Nevertheless, I put top priority on stopping at National Parks whenever I travel.

You obviously cannot see much of America in only 6 weeks on a bicycle without also using other transportation modes. If you travel exclusively or mostly by bicycle, then you'll have to prioritize. Do you want to see the best scenery? Do you want to see what is uniquely American? Do you want to experience American people and culture? Do you want to see the most famous places? Do you want to meet other touring cyclists? Do you want a physically challenging route? Would you like a remote experience? Do you want other experiences, such as white-water rafting, climbing mountains, exploring cliff dwellings, hiking through the woods? Do you need to avoid the heat, or do you love the heat?

10
No, I've crossed the country four times solo, have never minded being going it alone, and have always been eager to see what the next day brings. To me, much of the allure of bicycle touring is the freedom of the open road, and what's more free than doing whatever you want whenever you want without worrying about anybody else. Yea, it's fun to link up with another rider for an hour, a day or a week, but it's great when you're back on your own again too.

By the way, you're never really alone. Every day you meet a number of other interesting people.

11
Routes / Re: Three weeks - Pacific Coast or Sierra Cascades
« on: January 08, 2016, 09:02:34 pm »
The Pacific Coast north of SF has very little traffic, and very few people.

12
General Discussion / Re: training for trans am westward
« on: January 03, 2016, 01:58:20 am »
In the immortal words of Eddie Merckx, "Ride lots."

13
Bicycle Route 66 / Re: I want to bicycle route 66 in October and November
« on: December 19, 2015, 01:24:35 am »
Most likely yes. Weather, however, is unpredictable. Worst case you wait out a storm or two. If you're camping, pay attention to when the campgrounds close.

14
General Discussion / Re: First cross country tour-Help a guy out
« on: December 17, 2015, 12:43:47 pm »
I like to use four bags, but many use only two.

Advantages of two:
  • Perhaps less tempted to take too much.
  • Don't have the extra weight of a front rack and front bags (which can be significant).
  • Costs less.

Advantages of four:
  • Load better balanced and might ride better.
  • Less stress on rear wheel, reducing chances of spoke breakage and tire failure.
  • More flexible for accommodating short-term needs, such as extra water and food.
  • Easier to organize stuff.

GPS is unnecessary during the day, but can be helpful in finding your accommodations at the end of the day. I use a smart phone for that.

15
Routes / Re: What is better? Zion or Bryce Canyon?
« on: December 12, 2015, 12:11:32 am »
I like Bryce. Fewer people.

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