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Messages - John Nelson

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Gear Talk / Re: saddles and sores
« on: May 30, 2016, 12:10:59 am »
I wouldn't blame the B-17. You abused it. You're not supposed to oil it at all. I have a five-year-old B-17, and it's still hard as a rock. It doesn't need to be soft in order to conform to your butt and be comfortable. Oil is for baseball gloves--not for saddles.

I endorse your idea to try a new B-17. Don't use anything except Proofide on it. Don't let it get too wet, and keep it properly adjusted.

Gear Talk / Re: bike suggestion
« on: May 27, 2016, 05:33:12 pm »
Both will work perfectly well. IMO, save yourself a little money and get the LHT. Use the extra money to upgrade another piece of your gear.

Gear Talk / Re: bike suggestion
« on: May 27, 2016, 03:50:05 pm »
Get the Surly, for at least two (probably more) reasons: (1) It is specifically designed for exactly what you want to do, and (2) It has significantly lower gears, and you're really going to appreciate that. Don't overthink it. Buy the LHT. Today!

Gear Talk / Re: bike suggestion
« on: May 27, 2016, 12:15:27 pm »
The tradeoffs are immense, so it's very difficult for us to try to make them for you. But Pat gave you some great ideas and I agree with everything he said.

If you can afford a Trek 520 or a Surly Long Haul Trucker, then just go get one and then you can quit thinking about it. Otherwise, look at the other bikes Pat suggested, especially the Novara Randonee. The Randonee has the advantage that you may actually find it on the floor at REI, ready to go. And then you can buy everything else you need while you are there.

Although hybrid bikes are certainly okay for touring if you already have one, I'd vote against buying one specifically for a cross-country tour. And for heavens sakes, get slick tires.

Keep in mind that most bike shops do not stock touring bikes, so you'll probably have to order one. Many bike shops will order one in for you with no commitment to buy. Allow time for that. If you're going this summer, do it tomorrow. In fact, it you're going this summer, you'll need to make all your decisions very quickly. For all your gear, don't think about finding the "best" one, just find a "good enough" one.

These locations are well connected by ACA routes. See the overview map at ACA routes are usually the most traffic free way to go (although no route is perfect).

General Discussion / Re: How to figure average miles per day
« on: May 23, 2016, 03:14:12 pm »
When the question is general, I only include riding days. But I take very few days off. I rode the whole Northern Tier with no days off at all. I'd always rather see what's down the road.

Routes / Re: Pacific Coast Route North to South
« on: May 21, 2016, 09:09:53 pm »
I started in mid August, primarily because I didn't want to hit Southern California during tourist season.

General Discussion / Re: Aggressive Drivers During Transamerica?
« on: May 21, 2016, 08:36:01 pm »
I don't think any area is more prone to hostile drivers than others. Dogs and wind, yes, but not mean drivers. About one in a thousand drivers is hostile, but there's no way to predict where they're going to turn up.

I don't think there is any benefit to worrying about risks you can't control. Go into this armed with knowledge, but not with worry.

General Discussion / Re: Biking across America
« on: May 20, 2016, 04:51:33 am »
Yes, of course it's doable. What an exciting time you'll have planning this. The "how to" section on this site is a great resource, including for bike selection. Take things one step at a time. You should be ready in the summer of 2017!

South / Re: Ride KY to VA
« on: May 16, 2016, 11:07:45 am »
Your best chance of encountering other riders is to meet people going the other way (i.e., east to west). The peak time for people leaving Yorktown and heading west is the first half of May. It takes most people about two weeks to reach Springfield, KY.

If you want to meet people going west, I'd leave Springfield going east around May 20. Be aware, however, that many of these cyclists will be staying overnight at places that are less available to you with an RV, such as churches, fire stations, city parks, private homes, hostels. But you'll still see plenty out on the road.

On the other hand, if you are looking to ride with people, you'll need to meet people going east. Eastbound TransAm cyclists aren't going to show up in numbers until August. So if this is your goal. I'd wait until about August 10.

« on: May 16, 2016, 10:43:59 am »
There are grocery stores, and then there are grocery stores. Do you count a store with pop tarts and bananas as a grocery store? Especially in very small towns, it's best to assume that the store will be closed when you get there. You can get some limited supplies in Marblemount, and there's a restaurant there (I ate there). The store in Newhalem was closed when I went through. Always carry enough food to keep you going.

I camped at Colonial Creek. It can be a pretty lonely place, depending on when you are there.

There are many, many cycling clubs in the Denver area. You can ask at your local bike shop. Many are also registered on

For touring in Colorado, check out the various one-week supported rides: Ride The Rockies (too late for this year), Bicycle Tour of Colorado, Colorado Rocky Mountain Bike Tour, Pedal the Plains.

General Discussion / Re: Trying to get started
« on: May 08, 2016, 09:55:30 pm »
Have you got some time before you start?

I'd just take this one step at a time. Do you have camping experience? Do you have backpacking experience? If not, you might want to get some first.

Are you planning to tour in your home country? Are you going around the world? Your preparation will vary depending on whether you are going to travel in first, second or third world countries.

Gear lists are a dime a dozen. Just don't take everything on most of the lists. The lists are just to spark your thoughts. You're not supposed to just take it all. There's a gear list on this site. Many journals over at have gear lists. You have to decide whether you want to take all the comforts, a medium amount of them, a limited amount, or just the bare bones. There are touring cyclists who are quite happily touring in each of these modes.

Not until you decide what you want to take should you decide how to carry it. If you go untralight, you might be able to get by with a frame pack or beam rack. If you go light or medium, maybe you'll just need a rear rack and panniers. If you go heavier, maybe you'll need four panniers and/or a trailer.

You also have to set a budget. Is money non-existent (if so, fix that)? Is it merely "tight"? Is it comfortable? Is it generous? If the budget isn't too tight, you might want to think about getting a touring-specific bike. A touring-specific bike isn't strictly required, but it is optimized for what you plan to do.

First, start thinking about an overnight. Get enough gear to camp out one night. Plan a menu. Find a destination 40-80 miles from your house. Pick dates with an excellent weather forecast. Go. After you do the overnight, you'll know a heck of a lot more than you do now.

Read journals over at Find journals that are similar to what you want to do (the site has a great search tool). You'll learn a lot. Then ask more specific questions, both here and over at CGOAB.

Good luck.

Routes / Re: Great Parks South Sec. #1
« on: May 03, 2016, 03:09:13 pm »
Black Hawk and Central City are small places. Even if you get off track, you can't get too far lost. There's really only one way in and one way out. You'll figure it out. And despite the signs, nobody will hassle you. Yes, the streets are not very bicycle friendly, but you won't be there long.

And yes, the route through Silverthorne/Dillon/Frisco is confusing. You may very well get lost. But getting lost is okay. It's all part of the adventure.

I don't remember any 13% grades on the Northern Tier. Going To The Sun Road is the most significant climb, and very little of it is over 6%. Same with the Cascades. Sure, there are some short, steep hills in Wisconsin, but they're only 50 yards long. You'll miss the steepest hills by skipping New England.

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