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Messages - John Nelson

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706
I rode the Northern Tier last year beginning June 1st in Anacordes, WA.  The first 17 days were rode in rain.
I rode the Northern Tier last year beginning June 12th in Anacordes, WA. Only one rainy day in the first two weeks. I did hear, however, that the people who left a week before me got non-stop rain.

707
General Discussion / Re: Traffic conditions around the ACA routes?
« on: March 07, 2013, 10:25:21 am »
Speaking of the Norther Tier, be very cautious about the western end of North Dakota. There is a huge oil boom on and the roads are carrying much more truck traffic than they were ever designed for. You will frequently encounter wideloads of oil field equipment and the oil industry has a sense of entitlement in the region so even law enforcement doesn't really mess with them. There is also a major lack of housing in the region so most motels and campgrounds are clogged with oil workers. I've even heard that Theodore Roosevelt National Park and Medora (one of my previous favorite family vacation areas) is no longer family friendly and has become a party place for rowdy oil workers who are often young single men with big pickups and lots of disposable income. The crime rate in that area has boomed as much as the oil industry and the LEOs can't keep up. Ignore the oil industry propaganda about how much good they are doing for the state. Plan your trip so that you can make it through that area in a single day without an overnight stop if possible. From Bismarck on, ND is still a great place for cycle touring.
Although the effects of the oil boom can still be felt with the new routing, it is much, much better than it was with the pre-2012 routing of the Northern Tier. The oil boom affects most of western North Dakota to some extent, but is much diminished the farther south and east you go. I was through Medora and spent a night at Theodore Roosevelt National Park last summer, and both areas were delightful. There is a major oil depot going in at Fryburg, 14 miles east of Medora, however, so there is some oil truck traffic on the NT route for about seven miles westward from Belfield. It's not bad. You may find housing expensive in the area, but that was not a problem for me since I was camping. Camping spots at TRNP were easy to come by.

708
General Discussion / Re: Question: Highway Troubles?
« on: March 06, 2013, 12:37:58 pm »
What about when there is no shoulder? Is that a rare or a common problem?
I assume that you have just changed the topic and are no longer talking about highways with exits. Because in my experience, all interstate highways have shoulders.

Most high-traffic roads have shoulders. Most low-traffic roads do not. So on a low-traffic road without shoulders, it's usually not a problem to ride in the traffic lane. So where should you position yourself in the traffic lane? My preference is to ride where the right tires of the vehicle would normally be. The very edge of the road is where all the debris is, and thus where you will get all your flat tires. Also, the edge is typically not very safe because you will likely crash if your tires slips off the edge. If you have a mirror (and ears), you can tell when traffic is coming up from behind. If they move over, you can just stay where you are. If you're not sure that they are going to move over, you can move closer to the edge until they go by.

Sometimes you'll find a high-traffic road without shoulders. Get the hell off of it as soon as possible.

709
General Discussion / Re: Question: Highway Troubles?
« on: March 06, 2013, 10:10:07 am »
I do this:
Once you reach the exit, just stay to the right and follow the exit as if you wanted to leave the highway. Follow the exit lane a bit and make an (almost) sharp left turn across the exit lane - of course with no vehicles behind you. The main idea is to cross the vehicle lanes as fast as possible.
Lucas
+1

710
Gear Talk / Re: Choosing the cycling pants for the first time
« on: March 05, 2013, 10:49:02 am »
if you are going to ride several times a week you will need more than one pair as they should be washed after every significant ride.
Actually, one pair can be made to work. Wash them out in your after-ride shower, hang them up and they'll be dry in time for tomorrow's ride.

711
Gear Talk / Re: Choosing the cycling pants for the first time
« on: March 04, 2013, 01:21:40 pm »
If you are riding none now, and go out for an 80-mile ride tomorrow, then you're going to have discomfort no matter what saddle or shorts you have. There is no way to "eliminate discomfort" in this case.

My best advice is to build up gradually. This is necessary not only for building your leg strength, but also for building endurance in your butt, back, neck, triceps, etc. If you do this, then almost any quality bike shorts, including the two you mentioned, will do fine.

BTW, it's not that hard to find expensive bike short on pretty deep discount sales.

712
General Discussion / Re: Question: Highway Troubles?
« on: March 04, 2013, 12:25:49 pm »
1. IIRC, the section of I-80 east of Rawlins is about 16 miles.
The ACA maps says 13.

2. 47 miles of Interstate riding on the NT? Where? I don't remember any interstate mileage. Could it be the re-route around the Wlliston area has added intersate mileage or that I am simply getting old?
You may be getting old. I don't know about that. But all of the interstate riding on the NT is due to the 2012 reroute around Williston.

713
General Discussion / Re: Question: Highway Troubles?
« on: March 03, 2013, 11:06:18 pm »
At one time I was informed that the Interstates and similar roads were automatically off-limits
This is pretty much an East/West thing. Most people in the East believe that interstates are off limits, because it's pretty-much true in their world. Most people in the West grew up with a different reality.

714
Gear Talk / Re: Looking for Rain Pants
« on: March 03, 2013, 12:29:58 pm »
I think your request is overly constrained. Although I'm a big fan of double-duty gear, I think in this case you need one of each.

715
General Discussion / Re: Question: Highway Troubles?
« on: March 02, 2013, 09:01:30 pm »
Could I avoid limited access highways for the majority of the trip?
The TransAm uses 13 miles of interstate. The Northern Tier uses 47 miles. Not everybody has the same preferences, but for me, interstates are the worst possible roads to ride on--all that truck traffic making all that noise. Lonely country back roads are so much more enjoyable (albeit hillier and longer).

716
General Discussion / Re: FREE bicycle touring equipment
« on: March 02, 2013, 07:34:30 pm »
No, not a scam, but you have to go to Kazakhstan to pick it up.

717
General Discussion / Re: Question: Highway Troubles?
« on: March 02, 2013, 03:54:26 pm »
Stay to the right until it's clear and then cut over. Don't cut over until there is a shoulder to go to. Better yet, stay off limited access highways.  It's a lot more enjoyable.

718
General Discussion / Re: Traffic conditions around the ACA routes?
« on: February 25, 2013, 09:57:05 am »
I will agree that coal trucks on winding, narrow roads can be a bit scary. But I only encountered about two per day, and only for a few days. You can hear them coming 10 minutes away--mirror not required. I did pull off the road once to let one go by, but I had plenty of warning. There was an increase in coal truck traffic coming into Hazard, KY from the east, but there's a wide shoulder at that point. It's not ideal, but you get through it. For me, dogs here were more of an issue than trucks. The Appalachians are worth it.

719
General Discussion / Re: Beginner out and back camping in NW?
« on: February 24, 2013, 03:56:43 pm »
My preference would be to ride from home. Pick a nice state park with showers a reasonable distance from home, and then find back roads to get there. Riding from home just simplifies the logistics and the time commitment.

If that doesn't work for you, then pick a nice state park anywhere in your area, find the quietest roads in the area, and then drive to a spot a reasonable distance from that state park.

Once you feel up to the hills (perhaps not on this first ride), a ride over Going To The Sun Road is sure to blow you both away, no matter how many times you've been there before.

Or you could do a flat ride from West Glacier along Lake McDonald to Avalanche Campground (only 17 miles). Have lunch and/or dinner at Lake McDonald Lodge and take a cruise on the lake and/or take a Red Jammer up GTTS Road. Hiker/biker sites in Avalanche Campground are only $5 (each), or spring for $20 for a real site for more privacy. The five mile round trip hike from the campground up to Avalanche Lake is spectacular.

720
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:

http://www.adventurecycling.org/routes/nbrn/resourcespage/ACA_Route_Criteria.pdf

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.

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