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Messages - John Nelson

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Bicycle Route 66 / Re: Rt 66 Section 6 Maps 91 - 95 Needles to Amboy
« on: July 02, 2016, 08:27:51 pm »
Hey Tim, starting in Flagstaff will save you a lot of climbing. I recommend staying on the ACA Bicycle Route 66 all the way to the Santa Monica Pier, and then following the ACA Pacific Coast Route down to San Diego. Don't take Interstate 40 or 15 any more than you have too. You'll love Sitgreaves Pass and Oatman, and Amboy is not to be missed. Watch the movies "Cars" and "Bagdad Cafe" before you go. A very slight deviation in Los Angeles will take you to Hollywood and Vine. Plan some extra time in Seligman—it's a fun place.

Routes / Re: Going off course around Yellowstone or not thoughts
« on: July 02, 2016, 12:47:02 am »
IMHO, it would be crazy to bypass Yellowstone.

Gear Talk / Re: Continental Touring Plus
« on: July 01, 2016, 11:45:19 am »
That's a great price!

Routes / Re: Great Sand Dunes CO
« on: June 29, 2016, 07:26:25 pm »
CO 17 is clearly a better option than the only other one possible, i.e., US 285. I've ridden CO 17 from Alamosa to Salida many times. You still need to use a bit of 285, but it's okay. CO 17 has a lot of annoying "ka-thunk" expansion joints, but you'll be okay. If you happen to get a tailwind, you'll fly. It's straight and flat. The road itself is boring, but the scenery to your west is stunning. Stop at the alligator farm and the alien viewing tower.

Connecting ACA Routes / Re: Walden, CO to Boulder, CO
« on: June 26, 2016, 08:37:25 pm »
Trail Ridge Road, although spectacular (I just rode it last week), can be dangerously windy on top. Some days, it's hard to stay on the road for about eight miles. If you go that way, don't take US 36 to Estes Park. Colorado 7 is longer but safer. Start up Trail Ridge Road as early as you can to reduce the traffic.

If you want, you can still go through Ward (to Colorado 72 to Colorado 7), but you should take Lee Hill road to Left Hand Canyon to avoid the construction. But that route has some pretty steep sections that would be difficult on a fully-loaded touring bike.

Colorado 125 over Willow Creek Pass is a very nice cycling road.

I still, however, recommend Poudre Canyon instead.

Connecting ACA Routes / Re: Walden, CO to Boulder, CO
« on: June 25, 2016, 10:53:36 pm »
I live in Boulder, and I've done that exact trip on tour. So you could go (almost) the same way I did. I took two days because it's about 140 miles. You can camp overnight at any of numerous places in Poudre Canyon.

There are a lot of turns in the following directions, but many of the turns are easy to find because they occur at places where the road you are on ends. All of these except for getting out of Boulder on the diagonal (very wide shoulder) and 1 mile on US 34 (reasonable shoulder) are sleepy county roads (little to no shoulder).

Head northeast on the diagonal (highway 119) towards Longmont. Turn north on 63rd Street (recently repaved and very smooth now) for five miles until 63rd Street ends at Nelson. Take Nelson 1.5 miles east to 75th Street. Go north 5.5 miles on 75th Street through Hygiene (water available at the market) until it ends at Woodland. Take Woodland 2.5 miles east to where it ends at 95th Street (you cannot take 83rd north now because the bridge is out). Take 95th Street six miles north to where it ends at CR 10 (jogging one block west on Yellowstone after one mile). Take CR 10 one mile west to where it ends at CR 23. Take CR 23 two miles north to CR 12. Take CR 12 west. After 2 miles, it curves north and becomes CR 29. Take CR 29 five miles north to US Highway 34 (you can't take it any farther because the bridge is out). Take US 34 one mile east to CR 27. Take CR 27 five miles north to the tiny town of Masonville (small general store). Turn left at the stop sign onto Buckhorn Road/CR 27. Take this 20 rolling miles north to where it ends at Poudre Canyon Road/CR 14. Turn left (west). Now it's simple, but you have 65 miles of (mostly gentle) uphill. Continue on CR 14 for 72 miles to Walden, going over Cameron Pass (10,276').

There are several campgrounds in Poudre Canyon where you can get water or camp. You can also wild camp in Poudre Canyon, which is what I did. Take reasonable bear precautions.

When you get to Walden, you can shower at the town pool (for a small fee) and camp in the city park (for free). See if you can find the park manager so he will turn off the sprinklers. If you can't, you can sleep in the gazebo in the middle of the park.

Routes / Re: Northern Tier - N. Dakota
« on: June 25, 2016, 09:38:43 am »
There is about 50 miles of Interstate riding in five segments, spread over three days. Some of it has rumble strips that you have to work to avoid. Yes, it's not very nice, but it's a very small part of your trip. You'll survive it just fine.

General Discussion / Re: Do you pack a Spare Tire???
« on: June 25, 2016, 09:28:40 am »
On my TransAm, I started with new tires, did not carry a spare, and did not need one. On my three subsequent cross-country tours, I started with used tires, took a spare, and needed it.

I'm sure you've noticed the price difference. The key construction difference lies in the fact that the Marathon is a "Performance Line" tire and the Marathon Deluxe is an "Evolution Line" tire. That's the key difference to focus on. The Evolution Line uses better-quality materials, and should last longer.

Routes / Re: Where to start
« on: June 21, 2016, 09:43:59 am »
The western end of the TA has two alternative starting points, Astoria and Florence. Since you seem to have plenty of time, I suggest you start in Astoria, OR. You can fly into Portland, and then either ride or take a bus to Astoria. If you want to take the bus to Astoria, I suggest you ship your bike to "Bikes & Beyond" in Astoria. Call them first to let them know it's coming. You could also ship your bike to a Warm Showers host in Astoria. If you want to ride from Portland to Astoria, then just take your bike on the plane with you (fly Frontier or Southwest to keep the cost reasonable).

General Discussion / Re: Pannier Discussion
« on: June 18, 2016, 12:21:05 am »
I've never heard of a commercially available aluminum pannier, so maybe you will need to make your own. It might be easier to buy a commercial pannier and add aluminum reinforcement at places where you feel it might be necessary.

Although most panniers do contain plastic parts, most of the pannier is not plastic. They are typically a coated fabric. Yes, sometimes the plastic hooks or brackets might break, so you could replace those with metal if you want. Aluminum, however, isn't very strong either, and it can break. A high-quality plastic would likely be stronger than aluminum. So if I was going to replace hooks and brackets, I might opt for a stronger metal.

I've been touring with the same Ortlieb panniers for over 20,000 miles, and absolutely nothing has gone wrong with them. Some people, however, carry spare hooks. It might be easier to just go with a commercial pannier and carry some spare parts if you want additional protection.

If you really do want an all-aluminum pannier, you'll probably need to make your own. Don't use too thin of aluminum, however, or it will probably fail. And you'll have to coat all joints and fasteners carefully to make the panniers waterproof. I hope you come back here and post some information and pictures when you get them made.

I've heard it said that the TA is better traveled West to East.
Most of "I've heard" wisdom is wrong.

More people do it east to west than west to east. Why would they do that if it is better traveled the other way? Answer: they wouldn't.

Like previously said, your starting date is a better determiner of direction. Start in the East in May. Start in the West in June.

Bicycle Route 66 / Re: 66 in Tulsa is dangerous
« on: June 08, 2016, 12:39:10 am »
Although 11th in Tulsa can be an issue, Manchester in St. Louis is much, much worse. In spots along 11th, I either rode on the sidewalk or took the lane, depending on the situation.

General Discussion / Re: Aggressive Drivers During Transamerica?
« on: June 04, 2016, 09:38:18 pm »
Yellowstone gets much busier after the Fourth of July. Try to be there before then.

There is nothing inherently more unsafe about being 1000 miles from home than being 50 miles from home. People who worry often envision a crazy psycho attack. But why would you think there are any more of them somewhere far away? Worriers also think about you lying in a ditch somewhere where nobody will find you. Really, what are the chances of that? If you're not opposed to constant monitoring, consider a SPOT (, but don't promise a phone call every night, because it may not always be possible.

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