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Messages - John Nelson

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Routes / Re: which route in usa
« on: September 28, 2015, 10:38:34 am »
The TransAm will give you the best cross-section view of America, with a little bit of everything, exploring the diversity. The TransAm has a lot of cycling infrastructure in place, which makes it very good for first-timers. There are a lot of free camping sites along the TransAm, something you may not find as plentifully on other routes. I did the TransAm on $16 a day. Most of my other routes have been at least twice that. I always recommend the TransAm for a first-time tour. With your comments on boring, however, I'm not entirely sure that it's right for you. Personally, I found Kansas quite interesting, but not everybody does.

For scenery, your second route cannot be beat. So if scenery is your top priority, the Pacific Coast and the southwest US are good choices. The Pacific Coast has plentiful and cheap hiker/biker campsites. All of the national parks you mention also have camping, although not usually as inexpensive.

People are a very important part of bicycle touring enjoyment for me. In my opinion, the middle of the US is best for this. Small-town America has a charm that's hard to beat, and the people are amazing friendly and generous. I wouldn't want to miss this. Also, the TransAm is a very popular bicycle route, so you'll meet many other touring cyclists on that route, which is fun for me.

Every tour has its own charm, and it's a very personal decision.

General Discussion / Re: Transam - Van Supported
« on: August 12, 2015, 02:35:25 pm »
Yes, you can do it.

Routes / Re: Biking in Yellowstone
« on: August 12, 2015, 11:47:38 am »
Best conditions will be before Independence Day and after Labor Day.

Gear Talk / Re: Tire recommendation for supported tour
« on: August 12, 2015, 11:43:51 am »
I agree with your logic. Most tires you find at your local bike shop will be fine. Just stay away from ones that promise great flat resistance. Your best protection against flats is not your choice of tire, but your choice of what you run over.

Routes / Re: Bad spots on the Transamerica
« on: August 06, 2015, 06:10:36 pm »
Dogs are a problem in western Virginia, all of Kentucky and parts of Missouri. Starting in Kansas, you're pretty much home free.

Friendly folks are everywhere. Police are people too. Don't worry about that.

Truck traffic comes and goes. I think there are small bad spots in a lot of different places.

One car out of a thousand might cause you trouble. That's pretty universal and I don't think all bad drivers congregate in one place.

There are very, very few things to worry about on the TransAm. Have fun and leave your worries behind.

General Discussion / Re: Riding distance questions (noob)
« on: August 01, 2015, 09:54:35 pm »
You're 21. You could do it tomorrow.

Just ride as much as you can comfortably do without overdoing it and getting injured. Your butt, back and neck are more important to train than your legs. The main progress you need to make is not physical. Learn to ride safely in a wide variety of situations. Learn about bike fit, cyclotouring gear, and how to manage on the road. Read a bunch of journals over at to see how others have done it. Learn bike maintenance and repair. Assemble your gear. Plan a safe route.

Gear Talk / Re: Gearing for Touring Bike Followup
« on: July 30, 2015, 12:04:59 pm »
I have 52/11 and very often wish I had a higher gear, and I have never raced.
Really?  A 52/11 is 127 gear-inch and gives 38 mph at 100 rpm.  Can you really ride that fast except on a big downhill where you would go as fast or faster by just tucking in and coasting?  My problem with the excessive use of 11T cogs is that you give up a far more useful interior cog to get it.
38 MPH is fast enough for Kansas, but not for a lot of other places. On rolling hills, I want to start that next uphill going as fast as I can manage. Besides, I'm not really a 100-RPM kind of guy. And even though I don't race, going fast is fun, and going 45 MPH is more fun than going 38. Also, it you ever hope to get going 55 MPH, you need to pedal as hard as you can at the very top of the hill. So no, of course I don't need a bigger gear, but I want one because it's more fun. It's good not only for downhills, but also for tailwinds.

Gear Talk / Re: Gearing for Touring Bike Followup
« on: July 30, 2015, 12:36:59 am »
I have 52/11 and very often wish I had a higher gear, and I have never raced.

General Discussion / Re: Bicycle tools for a cross country ride
« on: July 29, 2015, 12:53:20 pm »
For any given repair, I'm sure you can find a hundred people who have never needed that repair on tour, and a hundred other people who have.

I find the V-brakes need adjustment every 1000 miles or so. The cable travel is greater on these brakes, so a small amount of pad wear can warrant adjustment. If you ride in the rain or you are timid on mountain descents, you may even need new pads after a few thousand miles. I find brake wear somewhat unpredictable. At times, I've worn out brake pads in as little as 2000 miles. At other times, I've gone 6000 miles on the same pads.

There are several campgrounds along that route, most with potable water. They are right off the road, so you won't waste much distance. If memory serves me right, I think I refilled at the Wilderness Gateway Campground before wild camping on down the road.

General Discussion / Re: TransAmerica bike tour- travel East or West?
« on: July 24, 2015, 11:38:24 pm »
There are 606 TransAm journals on CGOAB, 315 east to west and 254 west to east. Yes, I know that doesn't add up. I guess not everyone specified direction.

General Discussion / Re: Warning: Newbie with lots of questions
« on: July 24, 2015, 09:14:55 pm »
If it feels good to ride, then it's the right bike. I think the best bet is to take a bike-knowledgeable friend with you when you go shopping. And take a nice long test ride.

As for your wife's bike, keep air in the tires and lube the chain. As long as it shifts and brakes well, don't adjust anything. If she's going to go very far from home, make sure she carries a phone and/or knows how to fix a flat.

If you're still riding after a couple of years, you'll be in a better position when you buy your next bike.

General Discussion / Re: Tandem on the Northern Tier
« on: July 24, 2015, 08:49:27 pm »
I'm browsing them now...any recommendations?
Browsing what?

Parts of the NT are wonderful. Washington is beautiful. Western Montana is great too. Glacier National Park is superb, and Going To The Sun Road is one of the best rides on the planet. Eastern Montana is peaceful. North Dakota is not entirely bleak--Theodore Roosevelt National Park is a gem. Minnesota is a refreshing change, and the bunkhouse in Dalbo is a welcoming oasis. Wisconsin is rich in rustic roads. Enjoy the pasties in the upper peninsula, and have fun on Mackinac Island. Take the Lake Erie connector along the north shore. Niagara Falls is always worth a visit, and the Erie Canalway is a pleasant break from traffic and hills. The Adirondacks are hilly, but beautiful, and New England is a walk in the hilly woods. Bar Harbor is a great place to celebrate your finish.

General Discussion / Re: Tandem on the Northern Tier
« on: July 24, 2015, 11:57:15 am »
I don't think the tandem makes much difference. But the tandem is a good choice for a couple, especially if they have different ability levels.

But just out of curiosity, why did you choose the Northern Tier? Have you already done the TransAm (which I consider a far better route)?

General Discussion / Re: Northern Tier or better idea?
« on: July 23, 2015, 03:36:52 pm »
Well, North Dakota isn't the most exciting place to ride. But if you want to tick off coast-to-coast, I suppose you better continue where you left off. Once you get to Minnesota, the riding will get better.

Having done both the Northern Tier and the Pacific Coast, I would rate the Pacific Coast much more highly. Is there more traffic in Los Angeles than in Gackle, ND? Yes. Is the scenery better on the Pacific Coast? Yes. You can't get to Los Angeles in three weeks anyway.

In three weeks, you can probably get from Vancouver to San Francisco. Fly home from San Francisco. There won't be any traffic problems on that route and it's logistically pretty simple for you. That's what I'd recommend. You've already done the best part of the Northern Tier anyway.

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