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Messages - John Nelson

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Routes / Re: East to West or West to East
« on: June 28, 2014, 08:19:34 pm »
Sun sets in the west.
And it rises in the east.

Routes / Re: East to West or West to East
« on: June 28, 2014, 12:24:19 am »
I've ridden across the country in each direction. I carried a windmeter with me and took readings twice a day every day at exactly the same time each day. The sum of all the wind vectors was essentially zero. This experienced rider is pretty sure it does not make a difference, at least not to me at the times and on the routes I went. Perception, however, is another matter.

General Discussion / Re: general advice on making a tour happen
« on: June 27, 2014, 01:30:43 pm »
Reading too much will be likely to make you think you need a lot of stuff that is definitely not necessary.

For me, it was just the opposite. The more I read, the more I saw how much trouble people had early in their tours with overloaded bikes and how much stuff they mailed home. So all that reading convinced me of several things: (1) Don't send stuff home--leave it home in the first place, (2) Take stuff you will actually need, not stuff you think you might need, (3) Do at least some riding close to home with exactly the same gear you will be touring with.

Everybody is different with how much preparation they want to do. For some, intensive preparation reduces stress and allows them to enjoy the trip more. For others, intensive preparation takes all the spontaneity and fun out of it. Figure out what camp you're in and act accordingly.

I read a lot of journals over at, and a lot of forums both here and at CGOAB. This added many problem-solving options to my arsenal. I saw what problems others had had and how they had solved them. That gave me a lot of good ideas, which not only helped me feel comfortable that I could cope out there on the road, but it helped me solve the day-to-day issues I actually did encounter. Furthermore, it alerted me as to what I might want to stop and see along the way. It's a bummer when you later realize that you passed close to something really cool but didn't stop because you didn't know it was there.

Oh, and if you want to make sure the trip actually happens, set a specific starting date now, tell everybody you know, mark it on your calendar, and start counting down the days. I counted the days down to my first major tour starting at 815 days out.

General Discussion / Re: Fighting off boredom?
« on: June 24, 2014, 12:10:53 am »
I agree with adventurepdx that it's nice to have at least some time each day when you do absolutely nothing at all, except perhaps sit and think about your day. That said, there's always something to explore. Once camp is set up and dinner is finished, go exploring. Most of the time, you'll find somebody to talk with too.

General Discussion / Re: Fighting off boredom?
« on: June 23, 2014, 11:42:13 pm »
It turns out you have less time than you think. Of course, that depends on how far you ride in a day. I ride about 70-75 miles a day and camp. I stop a lot to take pictures, talk to people, look around and move a few turtles off the road. My day is pretty much consumed by the time I get up, eat breakfast, talk to my camp neighbors, break camp, ride for 6 hours or more, stop for food and water, talk to locals and fellow riders, visit some interesting sites along the way, get lost a time or two, recharge my phone, find some place to camp, get clean, set up camp, eat dinner, go for a swim in the lake, do a bit of laundry, write in my journal, talk to my camp neighbors, explore the area, clean my water bottles, review the maps for the next day, pump up my tires, lube my chain, read a little and brush my teeth. Then I do it all over again the next day. I can't say I'm ever bored on a tour.

Gear Talk / Re: Asking for Feedback on my Bike Lock Invention
« on: June 19, 2014, 06:07:09 pm »
I guess I don't understand without a picture.

Gear Talk / Re: Asking for Feedback on my Bike Lock Invention
« on: June 19, 2014, 05:49:19 pm »
There are already locking bike skewers on the market, in a dozen different brands, and are available from common retailers like Amazon. Are you talking about something different? What's your angle?

Routes / Re: Yellowstone Camping
« on: June 18, 2014, 10:34:55 pm »
Making a reservation means taking a regular spot, which means paying $20 instead of six dollars.

Routes / Re: Yellowstone Camping
« on: June 17, 2014, 05:43:53 pm »
I will be riding trans am through Yellowstone first week in August, do they guarantee cyclists a campsite?
Yes, assuming you don't have a motor vehicle accompanying you, with a few restrictions.

General Discussion / Re: Cardboard Box for Bike as Checked Baggage
« on: June 15, 2014, 07:39:32 pm »
Sounds like you got it covered.  I will say that I get a kick out of riding out of the airport and kind of consider it a plus.  Just me though.
Not just you. I get a big kick out of it too. When I did the Northern Tier, I flew into Bellingham with my bike. After my flight arrived, the airport was completely dead for the next two hours, allowing me to assemble my bike right in front of baggage claim. Every once in a while, an airport employee would walk by which made for interesting conversation. A group of journalist taking an airport tour even came by, and for a time, they found me more interesting to cover than the airport improvements they came to see. I think it annoyed the tour guide.

After I assembled my bike, I deposited my bike box in the dumpster outside and rode out the door. It's fun to rely on as few modes of motorized transport as possible.

General Discussion / Re: Cardboard Box for Bike as Checked Baggage
« on: June 15, 2014, 01:32:31 am »
On the outbound leg, I construct a bike box to exactly fit my bike, reinforced with 1x2s. I don't mind taking off the front wheel, but I like to leave the handlebars on, which means I need a wider than normal box.

On the return leg, I prefer to let a bike shop do a pack-and-ship, which most bike shops do.

Better check with WestJet on their oversize rules. It's not entirely clear, but my reading of the WestJet oversize rules are that they do care. Regular size is up to 62 inches, which is pretty standard. Oversize is shown to be 62 inches to 80 inches, although in another place, they say that sporting equipment cannot be over 9.8 feet in length (pole vaulting pole?). Frontier, which I usually fly, won't carry anything over 110 inches so I construct my box to be just barely under that.

Amtrak bike boxes are pretty thin cardboard. I'm guessing that the abuse of air travel would be very hard on them. Some airlines do sell boxes at some airports, but I'd be sure to call ahead and check supply (and size).

I'd definitely do this:

For additional packing instructions, more detail on restrictions or other information related to sporting equipment, please contact WestJet at: 1-888-937-8538 (1-888-WESTJET).

Southwest / Re: AZ to VA
« on: June 06, 2014, 12:12:26 pm »
The shortest route is 2249 miles, so if you want to do this in 21 days, you don't have much wiggle room. The support vehicle, however, gives you some options if you're not too picky about riding every mile.

The shortest route, however, is mostly interstate, so I don't recommend it (and bicycles are prohibited on much of it anyway). If you ask Google maps for driving directions with the "avoid highways" option, you get a route that is only 113 miles farther than the shortest route, so that's not too bad. Still a difficult ride for three weeks.

A more pleasant route would have you take the ACA Southern Tier route to St Augustine and the ACA Atlantic Coast route up to Richmond. This would be 4183 miles, however. I would recommend it nevertheless. Perhaps you could ride in your support vehicle for part of the way, or perhaps you could find more a few more weeks time. If you're going in the spring, it is probably advisable to stay southerly to avoid possible late winter storms. The Rocky Mountains in Colorado are not reliably passable by bicycle in early and mid spring.

Southwest / Re: AZ to VA
« on: June 06, 2014, 09:56:57 am »
More details would help. What time of year do you want to go? From where in AZ to where in VA? How long you you plan to take? How many miles a day do you plan? Are you planning to camp or motel? Do you want a fairly direct route, or are you okay with a bit of meandering? Do you prefer high-traffic roads with shoulders, or low-traffic roads without shoulders? How do you feel about hills?

Routes / Re: To Detroit from Pittsburgh
« on: June 04, 2014, 05:58:25 pm »
Google "avoid highways" driving directions typically gives you a reasonable and fairly direct bicycling route. You can adjust it as desired.

I have suggested to ACA in the past that they provide some way for their members to rate the campgrounds, motels and restaurants along the route, especially the ones listed on their maps. In addition to the rating, I'd like to see people give the price they paid. I might be interested in a $45 motel, but not a $145 motel, or a $15 campground, but not a $50 campground (yes, $50 campgrounds exist--and they're not necessarily that special either). Especially on a bicycle, if you find yourself at that $145 motel or that $50 campground, it's often too late for Plan B, so we more than anybody need to know what to expect ahead of time.

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