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Messages - John Nelson

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Gear Talk / Re: do I have too much crap?
« on: August 16, 2013, 01:00:00 pm »
Question:  do you think the bike handles better with weight in front panniers only or rear panniers only?
I think it depends on where the weight is in the back. If the center of the weight is over or in front of the rear hub, then I think you'd be okay with or without front panniers. But if the center of the weight is behind the rear hub, then I think front panniers would help.

I don't think you cannot realistically swap the crankset back and forth. If you go to a triple, you're going to want to stay there. Swapping the cassettes is much more feasible, but can only be done within the limits of the rear derailleur. It'd be much better to have two bikes, one for each purpose. You can't have too many bikes (unless you live in a small apartment).

Gear Talk / Re: Bike Pack for traveling
« on: August 14, 2013, 12:15:25 pm »
I put nothing loose at all in the box or case. I've seen boxes come off at baggage claim all ripped up. Anything loose in there would be long gone. Another reason not pack anything with the bike is it allows the TSA to inspect everything without removing the bike from the box. If you pack other gear around the bike, you leave them no option other than to pull everything out. And make sure your box had good handles so they can easily manipulate it.

My understanding is that most airport scanners are not big enough to scan a bike, especially if you leave the rear wheel on. My box has always been opened, but the TSA has never moved anything around inside it.

General Discussion / Re: Charlottesville VA housing
« on: August 13, 2013, 06:58:01 pm »
That's a great offer. There aren't any good camping options in Charlottesville, and it's a natural next stop after Mineral on the TransAm, so housing offers are greatly appreciated. If you haven't already done so, I would encourage you to register with as many cyclists look there to find places to stay. It's easy to turn availability on and off to suit your needs.

General Discussion / Re: Complete newb, TA in 2014
« on: August 11, 2013, 07:54:36 pm »
Three months is enough. Many riders do it in less time. Few take longer.

The ACA 2012 Touring Bike Buyer's Guide says, "Factory bicycles suited for fully-loaded touring can be had for roughly $1,000 to $2,000, with very few offered below the $1,000 mark. If you can’t afford that, a light touring bike might be had for $500."

Below $1000, the guide includes:

Motobecane Gran Tourismo ($800)
Raleigh Bicycles Port Townsend ($850)
Novara Safari ($899)
Marioni Tourismo ($875/$1000); Tourismo Extreme ($925/$1050)

Keep in mind that you probably need to spend more on gear. From your AT hike, you probably already have most of the non-biking clothes and camping gear you need, but you probably need racks and panniers, some spare parts and tools and some biking-specific clothes, gloves, shoes and helmet. You'll also need to save some money for food and camping fees en route, and for transportation to the start and home from the finish.

Most bicycle tourists use upright bikes. Those that use recumbents, however, are passionate about them.

Routes / Re: TransAmerica trail and others - prevalence of lodging?
« on: August 06, 2013, 11:13:07 am »
Here's a link to the journal of a couple who did the TransAm in 2011 and 2012. Each day's entry tells you exactly where they stayed, provides contact information for the accommodation, and details how much it cost. Their average motel cost was $84 for 76 nights. They deviated from the TransAm route after Missouri (eastbound), and they were RV-supported for the last part of the trip, so lodging details are not provided for the eastern part.

For comparison, I did the TransAm in 2010 with camping equipment, and my average overnight stay cost was $2.

I'll take a stab at it.

(1) If you already have a cross bike, then by all means you should use it. But if you have neither a cross bike nor a touring bike, then I'd buy a touring bike for touring (unless you plan to do cross racing when you get back).

(2) Early October is fine. My own preference would be to start a bit earlier to get longer days and somewhat warmer weather.

(3) There are tons of packing lists, both here and over at crazyguyonabike. You have to decide whether you want to go ultralight, light, normal or all the comforts of home. There are lists for each, and personal preferences are all over the map. Start with this link, but don't stop there. You can find many others.

(4) Lock advice varies all over the map too. My advice would be, as much as possible, not to rely on a lock to protect your stuff. Don't leave your bike and gear unattended in sketchy places. Most places are very safe, however, and a lightweight lock will be enough to discourage opportunity thieves.

Routes / Re: Oregon route 20
« on: August 04, 2013, 12:39:09 pm »
Looks like about 3/4 of it has a shoulder 4 feet or wider. The twisty section from Juntura to Harper does not.

You can view the shoulders on Google street view.

The AADT varies along the route, but is about 1200 when away from the cities (e.g., 0.5 miles east of Pole Creek Road, which is about in the middle of this segment).


1200 is also the AADT given on row 45 of the following spreadsheet.

General Discussion / Re: Road bike for touring??
« on: July 31, 2013, 02:58:54 pm »
A road bike with a trailer is fine. For comfort, you might want to see if you can get any wider tires on it. Most road bikes will take a 25, and some a 28. Road shoes are fine if you have another pair of shoes handy to switch to at stops. Most use MTB shoes, however, since you get off the bike often. Check your gearing. If you're young and strong and you have a compact double or triple, road bike gearing might be good enough. Otherwise, you'll probably wish you had lower gears--the coast can be pretty hilly. Check your brakes for good stopping power--you'll need it for the extra weight. Don't fill up the trailer just because there's room. Have fun.

Routes / Re: 1st cross country bike trip
« on: July 25, 2013, 04:17:46 pm »
ACA routes add distance and hills because they use as many low-trafficked roads as possible. Those back roads are idyllic for cycling and a real joy for carefree riding. The Google "avoid highways" route is the right distance for you, but you'll be on roads with more traffic than you would have on ACA routes. It's still feasible, but you won't have as rural and remote a feel to your ride. On the plus side, you'll have an easier time finding motels and restaurants on these larger roads. Your constraints dictate come compromises. You'll have a great time.

Routes / Re: 1st cross country bike trip
« on: July 25, 2013, 10:01:58 am »
If you start in LA, getting a ride out of the urban area before you start is an excellent idea.

If you only have 7 weeks to do this, you're going to need an efficient route. The shortest route Google can find between LA and Ocean City is 2773 miles, which doesn't sound too bad, only requiring about 55 miles a day for 50 days (with no rest days). Unfortunately, this route is completely unsuitable for bicycle travel. If I add the "Avoid highways" option to Google maps, the route goes up to 2982 miles, or 60 miles a day, but it provides a possible route.

If you follow ACA routes, it typically adds about 50% to the distance you might come up with otherwise. Unless you're prepared to do a lot of 100-mile days, that might be more than you can afford.

Decide how many miles you think you can do in a day. Figure out how many days you have available. That will give you the maximum length route you can handle. For me, I average about 5 miles per day above the route mileage for seeking out food and a place to sleep, so figure that in. If the ACA Pacific Coast route plus the Western Express plus the TransAm plus the hop-off a the end is within your distance range, then I'd recommend that. Otherwise, take a look at the Google "Avoid Highways" route and customize as you see fit.

Are you camping? Cooking? Are you a light packer, a medium packer or a heavy packer? Is money tight, or a bit flexible? Are you going to start out in top shape? How many miles do you think you can do a day?

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.

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