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Messages - John Nelson

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Routes / Re: 1st cross country bike trip
« on: July 24, 2013, 04:26:16 pm »
Getting out of Los Angeles can be difficult. If you have enough time, I'd ride up the Pacific Coast route to San Fransisco and then take the Western Express to Pueblo. You probably won't get to the east coast until the middle of November, so be sure to be prepared for cold weather and shorter days. But at least you should avoid the heat of the western deserts and Midwest. You'll get through the Rockies by the middle of October, so you should beat snow in the high country, except for the possibility of an early storm which you can wait out for a day or two. Fall riding in the East should be lovely.

Routes / Re: What's the best cross-country route in the US?
« on: July 19, 2013, 02:02:00 pm »
Best in terms of road shoulders is the interstate highway system.
Best in terms of minimizing hills and distance is also the interstate highway system.
Best in terms of services is also the interstate highway system.
Best in terms of dogs is also the interstate highway system.

Best in terms of everything else is one of the ACA routes, all of which fall short in all of the criteria above.

Of the ACA cross-country routes in the U.S., you'll find the most support, meet the most people, see great scenery (I stop short of saying "best" because that means something different to each person) on the TransAm. The Northern Tier is much lonelier and has much less support infrastructure. The Southern Tier is too hot for much of the year, and when it's not too hot, the days are too short.

I've ridden both the TransAm and the Northern Tier. You might be interested in my comparison at:

Routes / Re: Mapquest Maps/Routes
« on: July 17, 2013, 10:44:16 am »
A word of caution, at least for Google bike routes, is that it does not distinguish between paved and non paved roads so if you want paved roads be careful.  Sometimes you can use the satellite view to tell if it is paved or not.
And it doesn't always distinguish between roads and rugged hiking trails.

Gear Talk / Re: Just starting.
« on: July 15, 2013, 05:57:42 pm »
I don't think touring suggests a different cycling computer than what you might use for other riding. If you will be following some kind of cue sheet like the ACA maps, it's good to have one with an easy-to-read odometer so you know when your next turn is coming up.

I second Patrick's "multiple purposes" statement. Many of your clothes should be able to be worn riding, walking, sleeping and swimming, or at least for more than one of those. Try not to take two of the same of anything, except maybe two pairs of socks and two pairs of underwear. If you're living outdoors, your clothes don't really need to be all that clean, and sinks are adequate washing machines.

Take enough to keep you alive ... and not much else.

All routes have their own advantages. The portion of the TA from Pueblo to Astoria has a lot to say for it, with Grand Teton, Yellowstone, the wild skies of Montana, Lolo Pass, the 70-mile downhill in the gorgeous Lochsa River valley, Hells Canyon, the Cascades and the Oregon coast, not to mention all the history you pick up about Lewis and Clark, the Nez Perce and the Oregon Trail.

Routes / Re: Route Ideas
« on: July 12, 2013, 04:42:26 pm »
In my opinion, this is a no-brainer.

(1) Take the TransAm. This is the route with the best supporting infrastructure and the best chance of meeting other cyclists on the road.

(2) Go east to west. The weather will be better for a mid-May start. Forget everything you've heard about "prevailing winds". It's a bunch of hogwash.

Gear Talk / Re: cyclocross vs touring tires for GAP and road use
« on: July 11, 2013, 02:51:00 pm »
If you use and enjoy cross tires, then I'd say you should stick with them. One potential difference is that some touring tires may have tougher sidewalls to handle the extra weight, but my guess is that your cross tires will do fine at that.

Gear Talk / Re: Chain Maintenance vs Replacement
« on: July 06, 2013, 01:10:20 pm »
When 12 links measures 1/16"  over 12" you're at 5.2%, time to change.

That's 0.52%. When I measure 0.75%, I start planning for a new chain, making sure I change it before 1%.

General Discussion / Re: Shipping bicycles
« on: July 04, 2013, 09:12:32 pm »
Most ACA tours start out at a motel, so I would assume you could ship your bike there. Must be quite a challenge, however, for the motel to receive and store so many bikes at one time. Better call and verify. If the motel cannot receive it, a local bike shop almost certainly can (especially if you pay them to put it together for you).

Depending on the airline you choose, it may or may not be a good deal to bring your bike with you on your flight. If you're flying Frontier or Southwest, it is usually feasible to bring your bike on the plane. If you're flying anything else, it may be more economical to ship it. Also, depending on your preferences, it may be more convenient for you to ship it, or more convenient to bring it.

If you're going on a loop tour and book your first and last night with the same hotel/motel, they are usually willing to hold your box. Call and ask. If this is a one-way tour, you'll probably just want to ditch the box.

Anacortes to Cut Bank is about a two-week trip, maybe a little more. There are many different times that would work quite well for this. I would probably do it in July. That's late enough to avoid wet spring weather, and also late enough to allow Going To The Sun Road to open. I think August would also probably be good. The days start to shorten after that, and I like long days when touring.

Your timing might also depend on whether or not you are flying to get there or home and when the airlines are offering their summer travel discounts.

Good to see that you are continuing. You should start running into eastbounders in a few weeks. Solo is great too! A lot of this is about the freedom of the open road, and being solo gives you even more freedom. Have a great time!

General Discussion / Re: New To Forum
« on: June 29, 2013, 03:56:08 pm »
hadn't heard of travelers staying at fire stations. Is this common?
Yes. There are many fire stations identified on the TransAm maps as opening their doors to touring cyclists, and I've had success asking at others. Fire stations typically have showers and bunk beds, or at least floor space and/or lawn space for camping. They also often have WiFi and a break room.

General Discussion / Re: New To Forum
« on: June 29, 2013, 01:50:09 pm »
I'm also looking for places to spend the night when riding across country. Is there a resource list somewhere?
Camping? Hotels? Hostels? Home stays? Churches? Fire stations?

If you're on an ACA route, the ACA maps provide that list. Otherwise:

There are many things on your gear list that are just dead weight. Remember that you're not touring on the moon. Taking "tons of Protein bars and gels" seems very silly to me. About half of the rest of your list is unnecessary too. Take only the stuff you will surely need and cannot buy en route. Eat local food.

Routes / Re: Bus from Portland to Astoria
« on: June 28, 2013, 07:08:34 pm »
The Astoria bus station is only one block from the bike shop, and it's a good shop.

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