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Messages - John Nelson

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General Discussion / Re: Pannier Discussion
« on: June 18, 2016, 12:21:05 am »
I've never heard of a commercially available aluminum pannier, so maybe you will need to make your own. It might be easier to buy a commercial pannier and add aluminum reinforcement at places where you feel it might be necessary.

Although most panniers do contain plastic parts, most of the pannier is not plastic. They are typically a coated fabric. Yes, sometimes the plastic hooks or brackets might break, so you could replace those with metal if you want. Aluminum, however, isn't very strong either, and it can break. A high-quality plastic would likely be stronger than aluminum. So if I was going to replace hooks and brackets, I might opt for a stronger metal.

I've been touring with the same Ortlieb panniers for over 20,000 miles, and absolutely nothing has gone wrong with them. Some people, however, carry spare hooks. It might be easier to just go with a commercial pannier and carry some spare parts if you want additional protection.

If you really do want an all-aluminum pannier, you'll probably need to make your own. Don't use too thin of aluminum, however, or it will probably fail. And you'll have to coat all joints and fasteners carefully to make the panniers waterproof. I hope you come back here and post some information and pictures when you get them made.

I've heard it said that the TA is better traveled West to East.
Most of "I've heard" wisdom is wrong.

More people do it east to west than west to east. Why would they do that if it is better traveled the other way? Answer: they wouldn't.

Like previously said, your starting date is a better determiner of direction. Start in the East in May. Start in the West in June.

Bicycle Route 66 / Re: 66 in Tulsa is dangerous
« on: June 08, 2016, 12:39:10 am »
Although 11th in Tulsa can be an issue, Manchester in St. Louis is much, much worse. In spots along 11th, I either rode on the sidewalk or took the lane, depending on the situation.

General Discussion / Re: Aggressive Drivers During Transamerica?
« on: June 04, 2016, 09:38:18 pm »
Yellowstone gets much busier after the Fourth of July. Try to be there before then.

There is nothing inherently more unsafe about being 1000 miles from home than being 50 miles from home. People who worry often envision a crazy psycho attack. But why would you think there are any more of them somewhere far away? Worriers also think about you lying in a ditch somewhere where nobody will find you. Really, what are the chances of that? If you're not opposed to constant monitoring, consider a SPOT (, but don't promise a phone call every night, because it may not always be possible.

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.

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