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Messages - John Nelson

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General Discussion / Re: folders
« on: January 28, 2015, 03:01:29 pm »
S&S would be too much trouble for frequent assembly and disassembly. For a car trip, I would think options other than a folder would be better, e.g., a rack (roof or hitch), or even putting your bike inside and carefully packing around it. You might also consider a soft case, where you take off both wheels. Then you could just throw your bike on top of your other luggage without worrying about getting your other stuff dirty.

If you stick with the folder idea, then certainly Bike Friday should be at the top of your list.

If possible, I prefer to know where I'm going to end the day before I get there, or at least know the possibilities. If I have no idea where I might spend the night, the anxiety is a bit uncomfortable. It always works out, but it makes me a bit uneasy.

It's useful to know what things to look for. Most of these have already been mentioned: churches, fire stations, gas stations, city parks, swimming pools, public buildings, etc. In between towns, a flat spot by the side of the road is an option. Try to pick some place where the cows won't trample you, where a truck won't run over you, where the sprinklers won't soak you, and where you won't get flooded if it rains. Getting roused by the police is usually the least of my worries. Even if it happens, they will usually either allow it or help you find alternatives. As Pete says, ask if you can, and hope for the best if you can't.

Gear Talk / Re: What lube to use for touring.
« on: January 27, 2015, 12:33:56 pm »
Pete, you are the only person I have ever heard report getting 10,000 miles out of a chain (or even anything close to that). I have read how you care for your chains, but try as I might, I cannot duplicate your experiences. I lube once a week with a quality lube, never deep clean it off the bike, and yet I cannot get more than 4000 miles out of a chain. When doing loaded touring, I cannot even get that much.

General Discussion / Re: Green-lighted to go cross-country! (questions)
« on: January 25, 2015, 11:57:00 pm »
This is just one data point, and it doesn't mean anything, but in a couple hundred days of touring, I've never taken a "rest" day. Personally, I don't think rest days do me any good, and I would usually rather see what's down the road than stay where I am. I have, however, taken three days off during my touring, all of them on my TransAm tour. But these three days weren't for purposes of "rest," but because there was something at that location that I wanted to do and it took a whole day to do it. BTW, I did have a split rim once, but I managed to get a new wheel built and still rode 78 miles that day.

I did the Northern Tier in 64 straight days, averaging 72.5 miles per day with no days off. I did the Pacific Coast in 32 straight days, averaging 60 miles per day with no days off. The main reason I averaged less on the Pacific Coast is that I did it at a time of year when the days were shorter. When I have less daylight, I cannot go as far.

BTW, I have found that I average about 5 miles per day over the mileage on the map, typically to get food or ride to a campground. So my mileage on established routes is always more than the advertised distance. It's a good idea to plan for that.

I intend to be riding with panniers front & rear and wanted to know if anyone has done so with a lap top / note book or similar.
Yes, of course. Many, many people and all of the above equipment. Just pad whatever you take. You can used closed-cell foam for padding, or you can just use your clothes. Use waterproof panniers or put your PC in a dry bag.

General Discussion / Re: Green-lighted to go cross-country! (questions)
« on: January 24, 2015, 10:21:18 pm »
I'm planning to leave May 18 or May 25. I'm thinking ... to mirror the westward expansion of the country.

Does that departure date sound good? Should I budget more time? I could use as little as 8 weeks and probably as much as 11, but I don't want to overbudget either.
A May 18 departure from the east is nearly ideal. I did it in 10 weeks, which I think is about average. Some people who like low mileage or frequent rest days might take 12 or 13, and some crazy people in a hurry might do it in 8, but 10 is very doable and slow enough to be enjoyable.

It seems that for most people, the TransAmerica route is best for the first time. I think I could ride from New Jersey, where I live, to Virginia and pick up the trail from there.

However, I'd really like to wind up in San Francisco, where my grandma lives. How difficult would that be?

I see from the map that there is a route directly west out of Colorado. I read that southern Utah is beautiful, and that's where this route would go.

I also have friends in Chicago, Minneapolis and Oregon that I'd like to see. Would it be possible to see them as well? Is the Northern Tier a better option?

I agree that the TransAmerica Trail is the best route, especially for first timers. There are tremendous resources and support along this well-established trail that make it ideal. You could certainly ride from New Jersey to Yorktown, but I'd recommend (without much conviction) that you get a ride, rent a car, take a train, fly or take some other way to Virginia. Splitting off the TransAm at Pueblo and taking the Western Express to San Francisco is very doable, would allow you to see the beautiful southern Utah, would save you about a week in time, and would take you to a place easier to get home from. However, the terrain is more remote (and thus a bit more challenging--but you should be able to handle it by then), and misses out on Grand Teton, Yellowstone, and some beautiful scenery in Montana, Idaho and Oregon. I would (strongly) recommend that you not laden your trip with trying to visit all your friends. Visit them some other time. Don't try to cram everything into one trip. I would NOT recommend doing the Northern Tier as your first trip (and I've done both the TransAm and the Northern Tier).

I've read tales of danger coming from coal trucks in West Virginia and Kentucky on the TransAmerica trail, and danger from oil and logging trucks in the Dakotas and Washington on the Northern Tier, so I suppose there's no way of avoiding them.
Yes, there are coal trucks and logging trucks, as well as dogs, but they don't pose as much risk on the road as they do in your imagination, or in what you read. These risks are very manageable. Be aware of them, but don't fret about them.

Among my notes from the forum, I read: "ACA routes preferably take you through very scenic but hilly and demanding roads … When considering among paved roads, the ACA will almost always pick the lowest traffic roads, even if it considerably increases the hills and distance (up to 50% longer) and sacrifices the shoulder."
Yes, all that is true. That quote might have even been from me.

I have two bikes: a time trial bike that would obviously be a poor fit for this venture, and a Trek 1200 2003 that I'd love to ride cross-country, since that bike and I have a lot of history. However, I'm open to getting a proper touring bike if really necessary. Novara Randonee or Surly Long Haul, right?
There are many advantages of a touring-specific bike. If your budget allows, I would get one. But if your budget does not allow, then ride what you have. The two bikes you mentioned, as well as the Trek 520, are probably the most common touring bikes you will find out there. All will do well (and many others would do well too).

I'm not a very experienced camper, and I could probably do credit card touring, but it seems like camping is more common.

With credit card touring though, I probably would be more comfortable on the road and off. I could travel more lightly without camp equipment and sleep in a real bed. I can imagine traveling with a backpack, a change of cycling clothes and a change of regular clothes, and a light laptop, like a MacBook Air.

What strategy would you suggest (buy a bike or not? credit card tour or not?), and is this more possible on one route versus another? And how does this affect my bike choice?
Most people camp because it is vastly less expensive to do so. I did the TransAm on $16 a day. $14 of that was food and $2 was for a place to sleep. The reason that it only averaged $2 a day is that many nights I slept for free in churches, fire stations, city parks, etc. You are not experienced in camping, but there is still time between now and May to gain some experience. A lot depends on whether you would enjoy, or whether you think you would enjoy camping. Many cyclists enjoy the outdoors, and camping is just a way to extend your time outdoors. I really like to camp. Bicycle tourists often say that the human interaction is one of the best parts of the trip. You'll get more human interaction by camping than you will by closing yourself up in a motel room. Furthermore, camping allows you more options than motels, especially in more remote areas (e.g., camping in Yellowstone is much more available than lodging, and Wyoming and Utah have some long stretches without motels). But the advantages you cite for motels are valid. It's really a matter of money and which way you think you would enjoy more.

But seeing as I have about 4 months to go, what should I spend my time on?
Ride as much as you can (at least some of it fully loaded, and as much as you can in hilly terrain), get some experience camping (take one or more overnight or several day bike tours from home), accumulate your gear, try it out, order and study your maps, read more forum posts and how-to articles, and plan your transportation to the start and home from the finish.

Pacific Northwest / Re: Parking in Vancouver
« on: January 20, 2015, 06:07:00 pm »
Price out the flights from LA to Vancouver (including the bikes!!!) and compare that with the flights from LA to Bellingham, WA (including the bikes!!!). You may find it more desirable to start in Bellingham, and you may also find it easier to park in Bellingham.

General Discussion / Re: Can I rent or buy a bike?
« on: January 19, 2015, 12:55:23 am »
It depends on how you plan to tour.

If you're doing fully-loaded touring using panniers with at least an average amount of gear, it will be difficult to find a suitable bike where you are going. And it might cost enough that you won't want to simply leave it behind when you go home. So, despite the hassle, you might want to take your own.

If you're doing light-weight touring with minimal gear, then you might be able to find a $100 WalMart bike that will do.

If you plan to use a trailer, you could take the trailer with you and attach it to a rental bike.

You didn't say how long your trip is. If it's only a week, then you can probably get by without a perfect bike fit. But if it's longer than a week, then using a bike you have a lot of experience with and know is comfortable for you is worth a lot.

The questions you're asking have bugged many of us before, and after wrestling with the options, most of us end up taking our own bikes with us.

If you are bringing your bike, I find arriving at your departure point about 90 minutes before your tour begins is plenty. If you are not bringing your bike, it would probably be wise to arrange the purchase or rental before you go so it will be all ready for you when you arrive. I'm not sure why you would want to arrive days early unless you want to tour around the departure city.

You didn't ask for this advice, but here goes. I think it would be wise to do your first trip starting and ending from home. That eliminates all the rest of your questions.

General Discussion / Re: TransAm summer 2015 - timing and solo female
« on: January 16, 2015, 09:54:20 pm »
Lots of solo women do it, and the TransAm is probably the best route for the solo female because of all the support and other cyclists. See the following for a most entertaining TransAm journal by a solo woman. I'm sure Joy would be happy to converse with you personally.

General Discussion / Re: Useless advice/help
« on: January 14, 2015, 11:07:59 am »
They jumped in a car and found me several miles down the errant path and got me turned around.
I love that story! People are wonderful.

Routes / Re: Rt. 2 across North Dakota
« on: January 14, 2015, 10:31:38 am »
I-94 is the only east-west highway in the state with continuous paved shoulders.
That shoulder would be nice if it didn't have 8-foot-wide rumble strips. To miss the rumble strips, you have the choice of either the one foot on the right next to the dirt or the one foot on the left next to the white line, both of which are a bit dangerous. Do they really need rumble strips that wide? I know that the ACA conducts a campaign against inappropriate rumble strips, and that bit of advocacy is one reason I support the ACA.

I have not ridden those roads, but that takes you off the ACA route for 335 miles, most of it on US2. What I have ridden of US2 elsewhere was okay, but certainly not great cycling. Your suggestion saves you 150 miles or so, but you could save almost that much by not going through Walker in the first place, but instead taking the ACA alternative route through Alexandria. Besides, there's no way I'd miss Donn Olson's Adventure Bicycle Bunkhouse in Dalbo!

Gear Talk / Re: Using a surf board as a bike trailer
« on: January 05, 2015, 07:39:13 pm »
Multiple identical posts are unnecessary and violate forum policy. I suggest you delete this thread. The identical one over in Gear Talk is better.

Routes / Re: Canada to Mexico through California
« on: January 04, 2015, 09:10:27 pm »
Is there anything I need to know about crossing the border between Canada and America on a bicycle?
It's not much different than doing it in a car. You just have to decide whether you should wait in line with the cars or skirt around them. You kind of have to read which is better at the crossing. Crossing from US to Canada is usually a minimum of protocol. Crossing from Canada to US is a bit more heavily scrutinized. The Canadian officials seem relaxed and friendly. The US officials seem serious and skeptical. I've never had my panniers searched in either direction. They just ask you the normal questions, such as how long you were in the other country, what you were doing there and if you're carrying any alcohol. If the crossing is not busy and the officer is curious, you may get questions about your tour.

It looks like you'll be taking the ferry from Victoria, BC to Port Angeles, WA. I'm not sure if you'll go through immigration on the ferry or after you land. You will of course need your passport. You may be eligible for the visa waiver program.

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