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Messages - John Nelson

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General Discussion / Re: National Parks Tour out West
« on: December 09, 2012, 08:18:12 pm »
Might like to ride to parks in car and ride bikes within parks or might like to ride whole way.
I'm sure you realize that these two possibilities are not remotely similar. I suspect you don't need any advice on Plan A, so I assume you're asking for comments on Plan B.

I like jamawani's plan, if you think you can manage it.

Gear Talk / Re: 2 people, 6 panniers for a cross country tour. Bad idea?
« on: December 09, 2012, 07:43:25 pm »
Your plan sounds fine.

(1) yes
(2) no

Routes / Re: First time Los Angeles to Vancouver
« on: December 09, 2012, 02:26:09 pm »
  • The wind is generally out of the Northwest and can be strong.
  • The shoulder is often wider on that side of the road.
  • The view is often better on the ocean side of the road.
4. You're more likely to be seen if you're between the drivers and the scenery they are looking at.

FedEx is a reasonable choice for shipping your bike boxes and luggage containers, but use their web site to calculate the cost (check UPS too). Shipping an empty bike box is almost as expensive as shipping a full one. You may decide to just use disposable boxes and luggage, and then get new ones at your destination. I've used cardboard boxes as luggage with good results.

General Discussion / Re: Bicycle Touring vs Backpacking
« on: December 07, 2012, 09:50:01 am »
Backpacking is pretty-much a 100% nature experience. Bicycle touring (on roads) is a mixture of nature and civilization. Backpacking allows you to get away from it all more completely. Bicycle touring allows you to travel greater distances and see more. Backpacking is good if you are nervous about sharing the road with traffic. Bicycle touring is good if you want to meet people and experience rural life.

Do both.

Routes / Re: Eastbound from Washington/Oregon
« on: December 06, 2012, 09:33:12 pm »
I've done the TA and the NT, but not the L&C. And I almost always camped. The TA will be easier for the first week starting in the West. The NT has those famous five passes in four days in Washington.

Doing either route is possible with all motels, especially if you're willing to put in a long day occasionally and nail down your schedule ahead of time. The national parks (Yellowstone and Grand Teton on the TA and Glacier on the NT) are the toughest reservations, and absolutely must be make well in advance (like now!). There's a very helpful journal over at CGOAB of a couple who motelled it the whole way and documented every place they stayed and what it cost with a web link and/or phone number. They did deviate from the TA after Kansas.

If you take camping gear, your flexibility increases significantly, although it's a heavy price to carry camping gear if you're only going to use it one day our of ten.

Gear Talk / Re: Bike box / carrier
« on: December 03, 2012, 01:04:05 pm »
Do you want something disposable, or something permanent? Do you intend to use it for more than this one trip? And what continent are you currently on?

If you want something disposable, my choice is to build your own, out of cardboard, reinforced with 1x2 lumber. Can be done for less than $10.

If you want something permanent and for use in multiple trips, then there are various hard-shell plastic cases available from $200 to $400. Or a soft case can be had for as little as $50.

Gear Talk / Re: Bike Rack Advice
« on: November 21, 2012, 02:32:32 pm »
If you drive under a low overhang or into your garage with bikes still on the roof rack the damage is strictly your responsibility.
Not according to my policy. And one of the Allstate commercial shows this type of accident specifically as a reason to have insurance. If insurance companies didn't cover the policy-holder's own stupidity, then they wouldn't cover much.

General Discussion / Re: guiding services
« on: November 19, 2012, 07:38:31 pm »
I've had lots of locals recommend good routes to me while on tour. If you're on an open-ended tour, that's great. But on all the tours I've done, I've always had the route and time-frame mapped out, so I was never interested in local routes. I always preferred to see what was down the road in the direction I was headed.

4 passes in 4 days might leave me crying into my cup of tea but this is supposed to be an adventure so appeals greatly.
I hate to break this to you, but there are no easy routes. Four passes (actually five) in four days in Washington is definitely hard, but it's not that far out of the norm. The only flat parts of the TransAm are in eastern Colorado and Kansas. Everything else is hilly. Reverse your thinking. Plan to be in shape to do those Washington passes, and the rest of the trip will take care of itself. Losing some weight and getting into shape will make your adventure so much more enjoyable.

Have any of you started a crossing from Vancouver, Canada and do you have a suggestion for a route from there to join the Trans-Am please and thank you (ok, that was two questions)?   Having looked at the ACA overview, there are obviously options but would appreciate further info and recommendations.  I am finding it really hard to find a direct flight to anywhere else without changing aircraft one or more times (Seattle/Portland etc).

Another option would be to fly to San Francisco and start from there or via three separate planes, start in Seattle!

I am thinking of starting on 15/16 June 2013.

The Pacific Coast Route starts in Vancouver and goes down to Astoria, Oregon, where you could pick up the start of the TransAm. This is simple as pie.

Starting in San Francisco on the Western Express and joining up with the TransAm in Pueblo is another perfectly fine option.

I'd take the first option if beautiful scenery is your primary objective. I'd take the second option if you have time constraints.

If you're flying with your bike, I don't think I'd favor taking three separate planes as it just increases the chances of damage to your bike in transit. But if you do go to Seattle, you can take the ferry over to Bremerton and join the Pacific Coast route there.

The middle of June is the perfect time to start from the west coast. You'll have a great time.

General Discussion / Re: Step thru frames
« on: November 19, 2012, 01:08:41 pm »
I'd say that there's a 90% chance that this bike will make it, without changing a single thing. I wouldn't even bother getting new wheels. Is 90% good enough? If the bike breaks, she can always stop by a WalMart and buy another one, for less than the cost of getting new wheels.

Make sure she rides this bike on enough long rides before she starts (with her gear) to be sure it'll be comfortable enough. To me, that's a much bigger issue.

Gear Talk / Re: sleeping bags
« on: November 16, 2012, 10:41:16 pm »
I'll be heading out to do the TransAm in early may. I'm going east to west coast.

How low should I go on my temp. rating? How cold of nights/mornings has everyone experienced?

32 degrees F is likely the coldest you'll likely see, and you probably won't see it that cold more than two or three nights. It depends on where you decide to camp. If you decide to camp in Guffey or Fairplay or Breckenridge, Colorado, it might get nippy up there. You might also have a cold night in Virginia (although probably not more than one). Personally, I wouldn't necessarily plan my gear around those few nights.

Routes / Re: TransAm to Western Express, VA to Califorinia
« on: November 14, 2012, 11:02:19 am »
Does anyone have a recommendation for a good bike lock and were you ever in a situation where you didn't have an ideal spot to lock your bike?

Much has been written about bike locks with very little consensus. I think everyone agrees that it depends on where you are. In some places and circumstances, no lock or a small lock is sufficient. In others, the best lock in the world is insufficient. Everybody gets to pick their own balance point between risk, convenience and weight. Some people take no lock at all, some a very lightweight cable, and others heavy chains and U-locks. Take your pick.

How did you deal with washing your clothes each day/dealing with them being damp for awhile?

I think most people look for a Laundromat periodically. Others just rinse them out in a sink or shower. In many climates, they will dry overnight on a line. If not dry, you can strap them to the outside of your gear. Don't pack damp clothes inside of waterproof panniers.

if anyone has a recommendation for a very light weight easily packable tent

There are many suitable tents on the market. A lot of people subscribe to the N+1 theory, i.e., buy a tent designed for one more person than you have. Minimalists go with tarps or bivvies or hammocks. You can get tents under 3 pounds, but they tend to be quite expensive. Tents over 6 pounds for one person are too heavy. You might consider something in the $200 range at about 4-5 pounds. That's a nice compromise. Many tents fit these parameters. If you are a true minimalist, however, spend twice that much to get the smallest, lightest tent (or just take a bivvy), and skip the ground sheet.

I also am thinking of how I will go about packing for this trip.  I don't want to use a trailer.  The only things I figure I'll be carrying are toiletries, a tent, and water/snacks plus spare tires and general necessities.  Should I use panniers or what do you guys think the best way for me to go about packing my bike is with the goal of being as light as possible?

Most people don't go for "as light as possible". But some do. Again, there are tradeoffs involved and you get to pick. It depends on what you mean by "as light as possible". It's possible to go quite extreme, especially if the expected weather is mild. Cutting weight of gear means that you can cut weight of the panniers and racks too, so the effect multiplies. High-quality waterproof panniers can be quite heavy, so if you're cutting weight to the bone, you probably want simple, lightweight panniers with plastic bags inside to keep things dry. Never take two of something if one will do. You can get by on just one set of riding clothes and just one set of off-bike clothes. Figure out what the coldest conditions you will likely experience and then take just enough clothes that if you put all of them on at the same time, you won't freeze to death. If you're going super ultralight, you probably won't want to take a spare tire. You may be able to get by without a spare tube either, but that will leave you vulnerable to the small risk of an unpatchable failure. A tire lever and a couple of allen wrenches are the only essential tools. Again, every decision comes with some level of risk.

Gear Talk / Re: Touring Bikes - Surly LHT vs Novarra Randonee
« on: November 12, 2012, 08:20:51 pm »
The LHT and Randonee are similar. Test ride both and buy the one that feels best. It's really as simple as that.

General Discussion / Re: Cleaning A Bicycle
« on: November 10, 2012, 02:22:00 pm »
The chain is the main thing requiring lubrication. However, you might occasionally put a drop on the jockey wheel bearings, the derailleur pivot points, and brake lever pivot points.

Hubs, bottom brackets, headsets, and cables may also require periodic grease.

Park Tool has good online maintenance instructions:

And you might want to pick up Zinn & the Art of Road Bike Maintenance.

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