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Messages - John Nelson

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California / Re: Local advice for a UK visitor please?
« on: June 27, 2015, 11:08:00 am »
If it's going to be a cold night, then don't camp too high.

Bears are only a problem is certain spots. Ask locally and take standard precautions with food.

I don't find dog spray important. Just stop before the dog gets to you, and put your bike between you and the dog.

If you take a tent, then use it. Camping puts you more in touch with nature.

General Discussion / Re: Whitney's Cabins in Woolwich ME Closed
« on: June 27, 2015, 09:42:44 am »
Too bad. It was a nice place to stay.

General Discussion / Re: Bicycle tools for a cross country ride
« on: June 25, 2015, 08:54:19 am »
There is no clear answer. Being able to fix a flat is essential, but everything else is optional. How do you feel about hitching a ride? How much extra time do you have to deal with problems?

If the tour is long enough, you will probably need to adjust and replace brakes. You may need a new chain along the way, but you can probably acquire it en route. You may need new tires, and good ones are harder to find en route. You may need new cables. Carry an extra tube or two as not all flats are patchable. A FiberFix can fix a broken spoke until you get to the next bike shop.

I carry a cassette removal tool, but have never used it on tour. I carry chain repair tools and parts, but have never used them on tour. I'm sure many others have needed them. It's just a probability game. Everyone gets to make their own trade offs of weight and risk. And there is always anxiety involved in making the choices. When touring with others you can share the load, so you can take more.

Routes / Re: Shoulders / Bike Lanes on ACA Routes
« on: June 22, 2015, 09:55:35 am »
Would you feel comfortable on a shoulderless road if that road only had one car per hour? Most of the ACA roads do not have shoulders, but most of them have very little traffic. Everybody has their own preferences, but I vastly prefer a low-traffic no-shoulder road to a high-traffic road with a good shoulder.

Interstate highways have the widest (but debris-strewn) shoulders, but I hate riding on them. Main corridor federal and state highways also usually have good shoulders, but I don't much like riding on them either. Back country lanes usually have no traffic except for the people who live on those lanes. Those are the roads I enjoy riding on, and the ACA uses such roads a lot.

The Northern Tier uses US2 through a lot of Montana. This road has small shoulders and medium traffic, but I almost always rode in the traffic lane except when cars were passing. The winding rustic roads in Wisconsin are delightful, but most have no shoulders and very little traffic. You get far fewer flats riding in the traffic lane.

There are always compromises, everybody gets their own take on the tradeoffs, but there is no perfect solution.

General Discussion / Re: Has anyone biked the east coast?
« on: June 11, 2015, 05:10:17 pm »
Almost any tour is going to involve both days that are too hot and days that are too cold. So just go and deal with it.

I like to map out when I'll be at various places and then consult sites such as weatherspark to get average highs and lows for the date I'll be there. You can use this to decide if leaving a bit earlier or a bit later has a better chance of giving you the weather you prefer. You can also adjust the weather a bit by leaving early or late in the morning. Personally, I'd rather sweat during the day than freeze my butt off at night. You may prefer just the opposite.

From his mention of the Western Express, I inferred he wasn't going through Canon City, Royal Gorge, Breckenridge, Jackson, Yellowstone, Lander, Dubois, Twin Bridges, Wisdom, Dillon, Sula, Virginia City, nor Ennis.

I'm sure you'll find good Popeye postcards in Chester. Find some Lewis and Clark postcards in Cave-in-Rock. NPS probably sells postcards at Alley Spring. If you stop in Hutchinson, get a Cosmosphere postcard. Get some Santa Fe Trail postcards just past Larned at the visitors center.

General Discussion / Re: Loaded Tour Bike Handling
« on: June 08, 2015, 11:31:53 pm »
Why bar end? A few reasons I like and a bunch of others I find suspect.

1. No cables that limit your bar bag.
2. Allows tweaking the dérailleur position.
3. Allow you to dump the whole cassette in one motion. Ride the Appalachians and you'll know why this is good.

Once you get used to them, you'll realize that you don't need to move your hands much more than you do with STI--in some cases less.

General Discussion / Re: Loaded Tour Bike Handling
« on: June 08, 2015, 09:40:50 am »
I never stand when riding loaded.
I know this is true for some people. Of course, some people never stand when riding unloaded either. But I stand often when riding, both loaded and unloaded. This is not only to relieve pressure on the butt from time to time, but also to use different leg muscles. Furthermore, there are some hills I can't get up without standing.

Gear Talk / Re: Front Rack Decisions
« on: June 07, 2015, 05:30:45 pm »
How good of a rack you need depends on how much weight you plan to put on it. The geometry of the rack also matters. While a rack breaking may not be that common, you also don't want it to flex under the load or it can affect handling.

My front panniers are smaller than my rear panniers. I would equalize the weight front/back if I could, but I have to settle for lighter front panniers even if I put all the heavy stuff I can find in them. So I just put as much weight in the front as I can and call it good enough.

As for "tipping backwards", that's not just a function of how much weight is on the back, but of where the center of mass of that weight is relative to the rear hub. So you want to slide that weight as far forward as you can without creating heel strike. Because the rear weight is typically higher than the hub, the center of gravity of the rear weight relative to the hub is also a function of the steepness of the road. It's not really necessary for the front wheel to come off the ground to have problems. Even though you might see nothing different, weight behind the rear hub can take some of the pressure off the front wheels, which can make the handling less precise. It's a subtle thing.

General Discussion / Re: Loaded Tour Bike Handling
« on: June 06, 2015, 12:33:37 am »
I don't know where you did your research, but having most of the weight in the rear is not best. Yes, some people go with rear load only and are okay with that, but it's still not optimal. It is critically important to make sure that rear weight isn't too far back. Also, make sure your racks are solid and not flexing.

Some people can get away with violating these guidelines, but they're not carrying as much weight as you.

And yes, get smaller rings. When your shop said it can't be done, I'm sure they just meant without changing other stuff. It's obviously possible, but you might need to also replace other things. I don't think the guy at your shop really understood touring when he set up your bike. He probably thinks he does, but he doesn't. And he's not going to admit that he screwed up.

General Discussion / Re: Loaded Tour Bike Handling
« on: June 05, 2015, 05:29:18 pm »
No, it's not normal. My loaded touring bike is rock-solid stable in all kinds of conditions.

My suggestions:
 - Reduce total weight. You're heavier than most.
 - Move weight from the back to the front. Try putting the heaviest items in the front. Try to make the gear on the front weigh as much as the gear on the back.
 - Reduce the weight in the handlebar bag.
 - Move the rear weight as far forward as you can. Try to get the center of gravity of your gear at or in front of the rear hub. If the center of gravity is much behind the rear hub, you may never achieve stability.
 - Try harder to level that rack.

Some of it, however, may just involve you getting more used to the bike.

We can't comment on your gearing because you didn't give us the whole picture. You only told us about the cogs. What about the rings?

General Discussion / Re: Lengthy bike tour next year with dog
« on: June 05, 2015, 12:11:12 am »
I rode down the coast with another guy last year. I had the ACA maps. He did not. He missed all the best places to ride in Northern California. Don't just stay on 101!! The really cool places, like Trinidad Scenic Drive, are hard to find without help.

I've looked online and the NPS website says average camping cost is around $25, do you know if we'd get a better rate being cyclists?
They'll charge you about $7 per person to stay in the hiker/biker site, which may be better or worse depending on how many of you there are.

Routes / Re: Southern tier in the summer time
« on: May 28, 2015, 11:36:12 pm »
On the other hand, heat doesn't bother me much, so I could probably tolerate it. Even so, there are better routes to do in the summer. But if you have some special reason to do the ST in the summer, I think you'll survive if you always carry enough water.

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