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Messages - John Nelson

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General Discussion / Re: Here we go!
« on: March 20, 2015, 09:47:13 am »
I remember when I got to Yorktown for the start. I can feel your excitement. For me, it was almost overwhelming. What a great adventure you are in for!

Routes / Re: Starting Transam in Yorktown, nearest train station?
« on: March 18, 2015, 01:23:21 pm »
I also avoid doubling back once the tour is underway. I had no place to stay when passing through LA last year when somebody offered me a place to stay in Venice, but it was three miles back and I couldn't make myself go backwards.

However, I have doubled back twice at the start of the tour. When I did the Pacific Coast, I flew into Bellingham WA and rode 25 miles up to the Canadian border and then back to Bellingham. When I did the Northern Tier, the start required repeating 15 miles out to Anacortes, WA and back in order to touch the ocean.

The ACA starts often starts and ends routes in small places that have no air or rail service. If you start in Yorktown, you'll probably have a similar problem ending in Florence or Astoria.

Routes / Re: Starting Transam in Yorktown, nearest train station?
« on: March 17, 2015, 04:58:21 pm »
Both Williamsburg and Newport News will do, and they are both a trivial distance from Yorktown (trivial compared to going across the whole country). 12 miles is nothing. In fact, Williamsburg is where the ACA TransAm group tours start--they ride to Yorktown and back the first day.

And remember that you don't just need a train station--you need a train station with checked baggage service (assuming you have a bike). Both Williamsburg and Newport News do have checked baggage service.

I think you might have some misconceptions about how the ACA maps work.

ACA maps will generally keep you safer by helping you avoid dangerous roads. But they certainly don't go everywhere, and they certainly don't take the shortest way there. ACA maps are better for people trying to enjoy the experience rather than get somewhere specific.

To get from NYC to San Diego, you can take the ACA Atlantic Coast route to the TransAm route to the Western Express route to the Pacific Coast route. Or Atlantic Coast to TransAm to Western Express to Grand Canyon Connector to Southern Tier. Those routes might take you as much as 50% longer to get there than if you took the most direct route, but it will be safer and more enjoyable.

General Discussion / Re: Shipping bike to Astoria/ Logistics
« on: February 27, 2015, 04:05:36 pm »
I have not shipped my bicycle to Astoria, but I have shipped my bike from Astoria. Bikes and Beyond did a good pack and ship for me. I'm betting that you could ship it there.

But if you have a bit of spare time, you could fly to Portland and ride to Astoria. If you do ship your bike to Astoria, there is good bus service between Portland to Astoria, and good light rail from the Portland airport to the downtown bus terminal.

Routes / Re: Primitive Camping on Pacific Coast Route
« on: February 20, 2015, 12:21:04 pm »
The status of California parks is available at I would pay very close attention to which parks have hiker/biker sites, as that can make a huge cost difference for solo bicycle travelers.

Gear Talk / Re: New Rider who needs advice on tires
« on: February 20, 2015, 09:45:24 am »
Giant is like Ford; do you have a Mustang or a pickup truck?
The Marathon I used ... rides like a loaded pickup truck in heavy mud.
"Marathon" is like Ford too. Schwalbe makes a dozen different kinds of Marathon tires with wildly different characteristics.

Routes / Re: Primitive Camping on Pacific Coast Route
« on: February 19, 2015, 07:50:25 pm »
I think wild camping would be pretty easy north of San Francisco. Plenty of open country there. From San Francisco to Santa Barbara, it's probably possible, with fewer opportunities. South of Santa Barbara might be hard. As Pete says, some campgrounds may not be open that early, but that might give you greater options (if you don't get caught). As Pete says, the campgrounds, if open and if they have hiker/biker sites are already pretty cheap ($5-$12).

Temporary ACA Route Road Closures / Re: Pacific Coast Section 4, Map 43
« on: February 10, 2015, 09:41:13 am »
I spoke with the owner
The owner of what?

General Discussion / Re: Question About Minimum Stay Requirements
« on: February 08, 2015, 05:06:12 pm »
I've stayed in hundreds of campgrounds while bicycle touring, and I've never encountered a minimum stay requirement. I'd say you're looking in the wrong places.

Southwest / Re: Possible to cycle from Vegas to Grand Canyon?
« on: February 07, 2015, 09:25:40 pm »
North rim? South rim? Somewhere else? The Grand Canyon is a big place.

Routes / Re: TransAmerica then Pacific Coast Summer 2015 (First Tour)
« on: February 04, 2015, 10:46:37 am »
Your plan sounds good to me too. I've done all the roads you are planning. Leaving in the first half of May from Yorktown is practically ideal. At 70 miles a day, you'll get to Astoria in the middle of July. It will take you a few days to get up to Seattle. Personally, I wouldn't start down the west coast until the middle of August. My theory is that you don't want to get past San Francisco before Labor Day to avoid the heaviest tourist traffic.

My advice would be some combination of (1) start a bit later, perhaps the middle of May, (2) stay with your sister a little longer, and/or (3) reduce your mileage down to 60 miles per day.

On the TransAm, it's easy to go cheap because of all the free camping. On the Pacific Coast, it's just a bit more expensive. Although the camping isn't free, it's generally only $6 to $12 for hiker/biker sites. Plan your stops only at campgrounds with H/B sites, as regular sites can be a lot more expensive. The ACA maps tell you where the H/B sites are, as does the California State Parks web site. I averaged $16 a day on the TransAm (with one motel) and $32 a day on the Northern Tier (with no motels). I did not carry a stove. Avoid all motels if you can--they really drive up the costs.

General Discussion / Re: Deviation on Transam (Tenn & NC)
« on: January 30, 2015, 09:47:56 pm »
How much worse will the hills be than if I stayed on the transam?
Worse? You can throw a dart at the map and find a flatter route than the TransAm.

General Discussion / Re: Traveling the Transam Supported by RV
« on: January 30, 2015, 09:46:14 pm »
Where you stop cycling for the day and where you and your wife settle into the RV for the night do not have to be the same place. Also, I assume you don't need an RV park every night. If you're sleeping in your RV, you can probably find a parking lot somewhere to park for the night.

I'd recommend that your wife research the route and find places to see on her own while you are out cycling. Driving ahead ten miles at a time is going to get really old. She can also travel ahead and find a place to spend the night. If that's too short or far for you, she can pick you up wherever you quit for the day and drop you off in that same spot the next morning. If you want to take side trips during the day together, or have lunch together, you can prearrange that and she can meet you or pick you up.

Be aware that you won't have cell coverage everywhere, so always have a default plan of where and when to meet. And be sure you carry or have access to enough food and water to get there, and carry rain gear if there's any chance of rain.

Your biggest challenge will probably be if you want to camp in Yellowstone or Grand Teton. Plan well enough so that you can reserve a camping spot ahead of time. Or just plan to spend the night outside those parks. You'll probably end up spending a night in Jeffrey City, Wyoming (or maybe Sweetwater Junction). That will likely be your most remote location. You can probably park the RV just about anywhere in Jeffrey City.

Routes / Re: Trans american--western express
« on: January 30, 2015, 12:52:42 pm »
It's just a matter of risk and fun. If you tolerate cold well, and have enough time to wait out bad weather, then sure, you can do it. I wouldn't, but you can. Or, if you only want to do 30 miles a day, and "March" means a late March start in Yorktown, then it'll probably be okay. I still wouldn't because there's too much risk it won't be much fun. Budget for a lot of motels.

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