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Messages - John Nelson

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General Discussion / Re: Traffic conditions around the ACA routes?
« on: February 24, 2013, 03:36:56 pm »
The full ACA route criteria can be found here:

In my experience, the ACA gives highest preference to paved roads, but they will occasionally use short segments (a few miles or less) of unpaved roads to avoid heavy traffic on the paved road.

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. Most people who deviate from the ACA routes do so to decrease the hills and distance, but almost always at the cost of more traffic.

If your goal is to avoid traffic, and you're willing to use shoulderless roads to do so, then my advice is to stay on the ACA route exactly. Almost any deviation will increase traffic.

Routes / Re: Southern Tier ¿early Fall?
« on: February 21, 2013, 12:18:31 pm »
Six of one, half dozen of the other. Not only are the hot deserts in the west, so are the cold mountains. You'll have about equal headwinds and tailwinds no matter which way you go, although you'll think you had more headwinds. One reason for this perception problem is that crosswinds feel like headwinds, and tailwinds feel like calm.

General Discussion / Re: Campsites and bike theives!
« on: February 21, 2013, 12:15:26 pm »
I usually lock my bike to the picnic table while in camp. My lock however is a simple 3/16" cable, so only secure against the casual thief. If I'm going to be gone all day, I remove my panniers and put them in my tent, just to get them out of sight. I've done this hundreds of times with no problem. Of course that doesn't mean my bike couldn't be stolen the very next time I do it.


If you can't decide, and you believe in the wisdom of crowds, use panniers. Many more bicycle tourists use panniers than a trailer.

General Discussion / Re: Rent a bike for multiple days?
« on: February 20, 2013, 08:36:14 pm »
Renting a mountain bike should be easy, and you can certainly tour on a mountain bike. Renting a real touring bike will probably be next to impossible, but it doesn't hurt to call some bike shops and ask. Renting a cross bike would be somewhere in between the two, in both functionality and probability.

Renting racks--probably a long shot. Renting a trailer--maybe. Renting panniers--a very long shot. You might have to buy or borrow this stuff. There are a lot of trailers sitting around collecting dust in garages.

Gear Talk / Re: Touring bikes...
« on: February 19, 2013, 09:54:47 am »
I'd rather figure out roughly what gear I want and then pick the bike and baggage to accommodate the gear.

General Discussion / Re: Bike For Heart Health
« on: February 18, 2013, 09:48:35 pm »
There are good tips available in the how-to section of this site.

Make sure your donors know what percentage of the funds raised will be used by you and what percentage will go to the charity. Be aware that unless the answers are 0% and 100% respectively, most people other than your friends and family would rather give their money directly to the charity. If the answers are 0% and 100%, then it is best to arrange that the money goes directly to the charity without passing through your hands.

It doesn't take that much money to tour. Between now and June, you could earn all the money you need.

General Discussion / Re: Starting Transamerica Trail on June 8th
« on: February 18, 2013, 09:37:14 pm »
You'll have a blast! And your starting date is well chosen. Just read the forums and tips on this site and the forums and journals over at and you'll get all the information you need.

Gear Talk / Re: Touring bikes...
« on: February 18, 2013, 01:13:47 pm »
Even though you perhaps don't need a touring bike for 30 pounds of gear, you might want one anyway for all the reasons Pat mentioned. And even though 30 pounds of gear might be a bit lighter than average, it's certainly not ultralight. In addition to the sturdier wheels with more spokes, you may also appreciate the longer chainstays and clearance for wider tires that you get with a touring bike. It is true that the touring bike may be a bit heavier than you need, but it's a small compromise to gain the other advantages.

I don't know of any manufacturer that makes a WSD touring bike. There just isn't enough volume in touring bikes to justify it.

I also think it makes sense to buy the bike before you leave. Check on the airline charges for bringing your bike, but on many airlines, international airline charges are much more reasonable than domestic airline charges for a bike. It may even be free. If you do want to buy a bike after you get here, negotiate the deal before you leave home with a U.S. bike shop to make sure that they will have what you want in stock when you arrive. Most bike shops in the U.S. do not keep touring bikes on the floor.

We have multiple Portlands. I assume you mean the one in Oregon. Portland is a very bike-friendly city and has many fine bike shops. Bike shops will allow you to take bikes out on a ride to evaluate them. They don't want you to be gone all day, but you're going to need 20 or 30 minutes on it to do a fair evaluation.

Routes / Re: Traffic on the California section of the Pacific Coast Route
« on: February 17, 2013, 02:20:01 pm »
I have no first-hand experience, but I did talk last week with a guy who did the PC in July of last year. He didn't have much trouble with traffic until south of Santa Barbara, which wouldn't affect your plans. Another trick for avoiding traffic is to start after Labor Day. I plan to do the full PC in 2014, starting in mid-August and thus putting Southern California after Labor Day.

Routes / Re: Spurs from airports to main routes
« on: February 17, 2013, 02:16:04 pm »
Wow, Lucas, that's a great suggestion! Although the ACA does include many spurs into main cities, more would be better. How to get from Dulles to Yorktown is a very frequently asked question on this forum. Other common questions are how to get from the Seattle Airport to Anacortes, or from the Bangor airport to Bar Harbor, or from the Portland airport to Astoria, or from the San Diego airport to Imperial Beach.

General Discussion / Re: Guide to Poor Woman's Cycling
« on: February 17, 2013, 02:08:00 pm »
I agree with you that trying to raise money with no other reason than that you're broke is a tough way to go. So touring on the cheap is probably the best realistic option. Nevertheless, I wouldn't go unless you have at least $10 a day to spend while on tour and another few hundred dollars in emergency funds in case any of your gear or body fails.

Ways to go cheap:
  • Never spend a dime to sleep. Camp. Use Warm Showers. Use Couch Surfing. Use relatives. Ask at churches, fire stations, police departments. Stealth camp in fields, woods, town parks, ball fields, etc.
  • Use the gear you have. If you have to buy something, get it second hand. When in doubt, you don't need it.
  • Travel light. It will reduce the risk of costly breakdowns.
  • Buy all your food in grocery stores. Stay out of restaurants.
  • Drink only water, and maybe milk. Don't waste your money on sports drinks or beer.
  • Make sure you have sufficient time. A tight schedule can cost you if anything goes wrong.
  • Start and/or end at home to reduce travel costs.
  • Follow the TransAmerica Trail if you can. There are lots of free places to stay. Borrow the maps or buy them second hand. If using old maps, make sure you have all the addenda.
  • Learn how to repair and adjust your own bike.

Gear Talk / Re: Bob Yak Trailer? XCountry tour, thoughts?
« on: February 11, 2013, 11:24:08 pm »
If you're going to stick with 23 mm tires, I definitely would not advise panniers. 23 mm tires require higher pressures to avoid pinch flats, especially with a load. The higher pressures will put even more load on your spokes. High pressures combined with heavy loads increases the risk of broken spokes, especially if you have fewer than 32 spokes.

My recommendation: with wide tires, use panniers; with narrow tires, use a trailer and/or pack very light.

Gear decisions should not be made in one at a time. The choice of wheels, tires, spokes, frame material, chainstay length, gearing, load weight, carrying system, etc. all depend on the other choices.

Youth Bicyle Travel / Re: taking the family across the country?!?
« on: February 06, 2013, 02:25:21 pm »
According to bill's profile, he has not logged into this site since 23 minutes after he made his one and only post 11 months ago.

Routes / Re: Tour Divide 2013
« on: February 05, 2013, 01:13:13 pm »
Their web page may not mention the 2013 race, but their Facebook page does.

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