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Messages - John Nelson

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Routes / Re: East to West or West to East
« on: June 29, 2014, 11:50:56 pm »
My only thought to counter it is that it was valid for sure for that point in time only.

Absolutely. I agree. Although it is interesting to look at the NWS averages, the experiences of any one individual will almost certainly not match them on very many days. The NWS averages really only reflect a slight bias. Wind is highly variable. That's why I typically cut a day short if there's a headwind and extend the day if there's a tailwind. Just because there's a headwind one day doesn't mean you'll have one the next. Furthermore, you can easily have a headwind one hour and a tailwind the next. Wind is also highly variable within a single day.

There are exceptions, however. Certain places, such as the Wyoming Wind River area, seem to have quite predictable winds.

Routes / Re: East to West or West to East
« on: June 29, 2014, 06:37:48 pm »
Out of curiosity, what and how did you determine this?
Here's a small sample of my data from the summer of 2010, just the part through Kansas. These readings were all taken at 11:00 a.m. The columns are the date, the destination city for the day, the wind speed in MPH, and the wind direction. As you can see, it was a mixed bag. This data does not imply that the wind blew as shown all day--only that one moment at 11:00 a.m. So it's just a snapshot. Note that the day I rode from Hutchinson to Rush Center, the forecast said that the winds would be out of the SW at 26 MPH. That would have been devastating. Luckily, that forecast was very, very wrong. I had a strong tailwind (westbound). In the first two hours, which included the stretch through the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge, I covered over 35 miles. That's astounding considering my average speed for the whole cross-country trip was only 12.4 MPH. I stayed with my cousin in Pittsburg, and he warned me that I would face strong headwinds all the way across Kansas. That was his perception, but it was wrong. I met some eastbounders in Rush Center that were complaining that they had had nothing but strong headwinds ever since they got to the plains.

Jun 03      Pittsburg      8   W
Jun 04      Chanute       8   SSW
Jun 05      Eureka         4   S
Jun 06      Newton        6   NE
Jun 07      Hutchinson   7   NW
Jun 08      Rush Center  8   E
Jun 09      Ness City     10   E
Jun 10      Scott City     20   SSW
Jun 11      Eads            12   NE

Gear Talk / Re: Asking for Feedback on my Bike Lock Invention
« on: June 28, 2014, 10:15:15 pm »
If I was going to buy a locking bike skewer, which I definitely would if I often left my bike in Times Square, I'd buy yours. It's very nice looking.

If I were to leave my bike some place where I worried that somebody would steal my wheels, I'd also worry that somebody would steal my derailleurs, my saddle and my brakes. So I don't leave my bike in such places.

Routes / Re: East to West or West to East
« on: June 28, 2014, 08:19:34 pm »
Sun sets in the west.
And it rises in the east.

Routes / Re: East to West or West to East
« on: June 28, 2014, 12:24:19 am »
I've ridden across the country in each direction. I carried a windmeter with me and took readings twice a day every day at exactly the same time each day. The sum of all the wind vectors was essentially zero. This experienced rider is pretty sure it does not make a difference, at least not to me at the times and on the routes I went. Perception, however, is another matter.

General Discussion / Re: general advice on making a tour happen
« on: June 27, 2014, 01:30:43 pm »
Reading too much will be likely to make you think you need a lot of stuff that is definitely not necessary.

For me, it was just the opposite. The more I read, the more I saw how much trouble people had early in their tours with overloaded bikes and how much stuff they mailed home. So all that reading convinced me of several things: (1) Don't send stuff home--leave it home in the first place, (2) Take stuff you will actually need, not stuff you think you might need, (3) Do at least some riding close to home with exactly the same gear you will be touring with.

Everybody is different with how much preparation they want to do. For some, intensive preparation reduces stress and allows them to enjoy the trip more. For others, intensive preparation takes all the spontaneity and fun out of it. Figure out what camp you're in and act accordingly.

I read a lot of journals over at, and a lot of forums both here and at CGOAB. This added many problem-solving options to my arsenal. I saw what problems others had had and how they had solved them. That gave me a lot of good ideas, which not only helped me feel comfortable that I could cope out there on the road, but it helped me solve the day-to-day issues I actually did encounter. Furthermore, it alerted me as to what I might want to stop and see along the way. It's a bummer when you later realize that you passed close to something really cool but didn't stop because you didn't know it was there.

Oh, and if you want to make sure the trip actually happens, set a specific starting date now, tell everybody you know, mark it on your calendar, and start counting down the days. I counted the days down to my first major tour starting at 815 days out.

General Discussion / Re: Fighting off boredom?
« on: June 24, 2014, 12:10:53 am »
I agree with adventurepdx that it's nice to have at least some time each day when you do absolutely nothing at all, except perhaps sit and think about your day. That said, there's always something to explore. Once camp is set up and dinner is finished, go exploring. Most of the time, you'll find somebody to talk with too.

General Discussion / Re: Fighting off boredom?
« on: June 23, 2014, 11:42:13 pm »
It turns out you have less time than you think. Of course, that depends on how far you ride in a day. I ride about 70-75 miles a day and camp. I stop a lot to take pictures, talk to people, look around and move a few turtles off the road. My day is pretty much consumed by the time I get up, eat breakfast, talk to my camp neighbors, break camp, ride for 6 hours or more, stop for food and water, talk to locals and fellow riders, visit some interesting sites along the way, get lost a time or two, recharge my phone, find some place to camp, get clean, set up camp, eat dinner, go for a swim in the lake, do a bit of laundry, write in my journal, talk to my camp neighbors, explore the area, clean my water bottles, review the maps for the next day, pump up my tires, lube my chain, read a little and brush my teeth. Then I do it all over again the next day. I can't say I'm ever bored on a tour.

Gear Talk / Re: Asking for Feedback on my Bike Lock Invention
« on: June 19, 2014, 06:07:09 pm »
I guess I don't understand without a picture.

Gear Talk / Re: Asking for Feedback on my Bike Lock Invention
« on: June 19, 2014, 05:49:19 pm »
There are already locking bike skewers on the market, in a dozen different brands, and are available from common retailers like Amazon. Are you talking about something different? What's your angle?

Routes / Re: Yellowstone Camping
« on: June 18, 2014, 10:34:55 pm »
Making a reservation means taking a regular spot, which means paying $20 instead of six dollars.

Routes / Re: Yellowstone Camping
« on: June 17, 2014, 05:43:53 pm »
I will be riding trans am through Yellowstone first week in August, do they guarantee cyclists a campsite?
Yes, assuming you don't have a motor vehicle accompanying you, with a few restrictions.

General Discussion / Re: Cardboard Box for Bike as Checked Baggage
« on: June 15, 2014, 07:39:32 pm »
Sounds like you got it covered.  I will say that I get a kick out of riding out of the airport and kind of consider it a plus.  Just me though.
Not just you. I get a big kick out of it too. When I did the Northern Tier, I flew into Bellingham with my bike. After my flight arrived, the airport was completely dead for the next two hours, allowing me to assemble my bike right in front of baggage claim. Every once in a while, an airport employee would walk by which made for interesting conversation. A group of journalist taking an airport tour even came by, and for a time, they found me more interesting to cover than the airport improvements they came to see. I think it annoyed the tour guide.

After I assembled my bike, I deposited my bike box in the dumpster outside and rode out the door. It's fun to rely on as few modes of motorized transport as possible.

General Discussion / Re: Cardboard Box for Bike as Checked Baggage
« on: June 15, 2014, 01:32:31 am »
On the outbound leg, I construct a bike box to exactly fit my bike, reinforced with 1x2s. I don't mind taking off the front wheel, but I like to leave the handlebars on, which means I need a wider than normal box.

On the return leg, I prefer to let a bike shop do a pack-and-ship, which most bike shops do.

Better check with WestJet on their oversize rules. It's not entirely clear, but my reading of the WestJet oversize rules are that they do care. Regular size is up to 62 inches, which is pretty standard. Oversize is shown to be 62 inches to 80 inches, although in another place, they say that sporting equipment cannot be over 9.8 feet in length (pole vaulting pole?). Frontier, which I usually fly, won't carry anything over 110 inches so I construct my box to be just barely under that.

Amtrak bike boxes are pretty thin cardboard. I'm guessing that the abuse of air travel would be very hard on them. Some airlines do sell boxes at some airports, but I'd be sure to call ahead and check supply (and size).

I'd definitely do this:

For additional packing instructions, more detail on restrictions or other information related to sporting equipment, please contact WestJet at: 1-888-937-8538 (1-888-WESTJET).

Southwest / Re: AZ to VA
« on: June 06, 2014, 12:12:26 pm »
The shortest route is 2249 miles, so if you want to do this in 21 days, you don't have much wiggle room. The support vehicle, however, gives you some options if you're not too picky about riding every mile.

The shortest route, however, is mostly interstate, so I don't recommend it (and bicycles are prohibited on much of it anyway). If you ask Google maps for driving directions with the "avoid highways" option, you get a route that is only 113 miles farther than the shortest route, so that's not too bad. Still a difficult ride for three weeks.

A more pleasant route would have you take the ACA Southern Tier route to St Augustine and the ACA Atlantic Coast route up to Richmond. This would be 4183 miles, however. I would recommend it nevertheless. Perhaps you could ride in your support vehicle for part of the way, or perhaps you could find more a few more weeks time. If you're going in the spring, it is probably advisable to stay southerly to avoid possible late winter storms. The Rocky Mountains in Colorado are not reliably passable by bicycle in early and mid spring.

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