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Messages - John Nelson

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You don't necessarily need a new tube, but you do need one that doesn't leak. Patch it.

Gear Talk / Re: Any suggestions on how to start my personal Bicycle Travel?
« on: November 08, 2016, 12:19:50 am »
You're already off to a good start. Keep reading these forums. Read journals and forums over a too. When you're ready, start with an overnight trip and see how it goes.

Gear Talk / Re: Any suggestions on which bike is best for ....
« on: November 06, 2016, 01:12:39 pm »
Lots of compromises are needed. Which way you bias those compromises depends on the proportion of each type of use. Do you commute 3 miles each way or 30 miles each way.

General Discussion / Re: Trangia Stove / Meths
« on: November 05, 2016, 11:07:21 pm »
An alcohol stove will burn any kind of alcohol: ethanol, ethanol/methanol mixture, methanol or isopropanol, in that preference order. Pure ethanol is sold in liquor stores and is expensive (and thus not really practical). Denatured alcohol is a ethanol/methanol mixture, and is available in the paint department of hardware stores. It adds some methanol to the ethanol to make it undrinkable, but it is typically sold in larger containers than I would want. Methanol is readily available in modest quantities from gas stations and WalMart in the form of yellow HEET gas-line antifreeze. Methanol, however, is toxic to breathe or absorb, so caution is advised. Isopropanol is available in auto parts stores as red HEET, and in drug stores as rubbing alcohol. It is sooty when it burns. Rubbing alcohol has just marginally enough concentration of alcohol (70%) to even burn.

General Discussion / Re: Which bike should I travel the U.S. with?
« on: November 02, 2016, 12:03:48 am »
If you're starting now, take the snow bike. If you're going next summer, take the fast bike.

Routes / Re: Louisville, KY-Virginia Beach,VA route advice.
« on: October 30, 2016, 11:55:14 pm »
Tennessee actually. The TA doesn't come very close to North Carolina, but it comes within a few miles of Tennessee. It's the nature of ACA routes that they meander quite a bit in search of low-traffic roads. ACA has a good article on their route selection criteria if you want more information. If you want the shortest route, or even close to the shortest route, an ACA route is rarely your best choice. Same if you want the easiest route. But the ACA route is likely to be safer and more pleasant than the shortest or easiest route.

General Discussion / Re: Which Airport?
« on: October 29, 2016, 04:39:09 pm »
Newport News is the closest airport to the start of the TransAm (only 9 miles), but it's not an international airport.

How to get to the start of the TransAm is perhaps one of the most oft-discussed topics on these forums. There are many ways, involving planes only, one-way rental cars, trains, buses and just riding to the start. It has been often discussed here how you might ride from Dulles to the start, or to Richmond if you don't necessarily need to go to the very start (perish the thought!!).

It's usually a personal preference. There are cost and time tradeoffs too. Here's some reading to get you started. There are many, many more.

Routes / Re: Pacific Coast Route
« on: October 15, 2016, 11:58:00 pm »
I think August and September. I don't like to get to Southern California until after school starts, but September is early enough that most campgrounds are still open.

A) There are thousands of places to stay in San Diego, at a very wide range of locations, prices, amenities and nearby attractions. It would be very hard to recommend one. If you want to stay on the beach, I'd pick something on Mission Beach.
B) I've only used paper maps. I don't even own a device that would store digital ones. I like the paper maps.

The Pacific Coast is fabulous. You'll love it.

4-5 weeks is enough to get from Vancouver to the Mexican border, but there's not a lot of room in that schedule for side trips or layovers. And you won't need any. The regular route is great all by itself.

Like a previous poster, I can't comment on accommodations because I camp. And camping along the Pacific Coast is absolutely superb. I don't really understand a previous comment about there not being cheap biker camping sites in Washington because I camped in cheap hiker/biker sites all through Washington. The great thing about hiker/biker sites is that no reservations are required and you never need fear that the campground will be full. The only place I didn't find cheap camping was in Los Angeles.

I strongly recommend you follow the ACA Pacific Coast route. Many advocate going the long way around the Olympic Peninsula, but I'm not sure you have time for that on your schedule if you want to make it the whole way. No need to detour around the big cities. ACA provides good safe routes through them. Much of the route through Los Angeles (by far the biggest of the big cities) is along the beach. And you don't want to miss Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, nor riding across the Golden Gate Bridge.

If you run out of time, that's okay because southern California is not the best part of this route. But you absolutely must make it as far as Santa Barbara. You cannot possibly consider skipping Big Sur.

General Discussion / Re: Bikes into Newport News Airport
« on: September 28, 2016, 11:45:46 pm »
I flew into Newport News, but I shipped my bike via FedEx to a church in Yorktown. The pastor's wife picked me up and took me to the church. If you fly with your bike, it's a quick ride into Yorktown. Flights to Newport News use fairly small planes with limited cargo room, so they can't guarantee they'll have room for your bike.

Gear Talk / Re: Getting bike and gear to start of tour
« on: September 27, 2016, 11:37:07 am »
The Amtrak web site allows you to check actual arrival times for a station and route for the past week. I suggest you monitor that for a while to get an idea of the range of possibilities. When I went to Chicago on the California Zephyr last summer, I noted that the train typically arrived anywhere from 1 hour to 15 hours late. Armed with that knowledge, it allowed me to plan what I would do if I arrived at 3 in the morning. But, as mentioned, it depends on the route and time of year. I note that right now the California Zephyr has a pretty good track record for the past week. Long-haul passenger service takes a back seat to freight, and many factors are hard to predict and outside of Amtrak's control.

On a positive note, Amtrak is almost certain to get your bike there without damage. Unlike air and bus travel, your bike travels upright with no other stuff stacked on top of it.

I was not strong enough to lift my bike over the barriers with the panniers on. So I had to unload my bike, lift it over the first barrier, ride to the second barrier, lift it over the second barrier, and then walk back for my panniers. Nevertheless, it was worth it.

I can understand why the ACA cannot officially endorse this alternative as it is not strictly legal.

General Discussion / Re: Restricted Items on Amtrak ("flammable" etc.)
« on: September 21, 2016, 05:13:43 pm »
put them in your checked baggage to keep the hazards out of the passenger area
I don't know how Amtrak feels, but the airlines require you to keep permitted potential fire hazards (e.g., lithium batteries, matches) in the passenger compartment and not in the baggage compartment. I think the theory is that a fire is more easily handled in the passenger compartment.

On the other hand, potential weapons are restricted to the baggage compartment, so I'd put my tools in the checked baggage.

But, as has been said, on Amtrak, nobody is looking.

General Discussion / Re: Bike all lower 48 states
« on: September 21, 2016, 04:47:06 pm »
With three years to get this done, not a great deal of planning is necessary. Before it gets too hot, head north. Before it gets too cold, head south. If it's just right, head east or west.

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