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Messages - John Nelson

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General Discussion / Re: Bicycling coast to coast off road....
« on: March 06, 2011, 08:33:35 pm »
You might also investigate the "other" TransAmerica Trail, the one for motorcycles. However, some sections of this route might be too difficult for you, and services might be pretty far apart. According to the web site, "It is a route using dirt roads, gravel roads, jeep roads, forest roads and farm roads. Dropping down into dried-up creek beds. Riding atop abandoned railroad grades. There are sections of mud, sand, snow and rocks." It generally runs about one state south of the ACA TransAmerica Trail. It doesn't actually go fully coast-to-coast, however, since it starts in northeastern Tennessee and goes to southwestern Oregon.

Gear Talk / Re: Touring bicycle choices
« on: March 01, 2011, 09:37:32 pm »
As Russ points out, Trek changed their gearing setup in 2009. Trek 520s from 2008 and earlier are different than Trek 520s from 2009 and later. I find the 26 in front and a 34 in back sufficiently low.

Inferring from available clues, it appears we are talking about Chester, Illinois. It's a nice little town. I liked it.

Gear Talk / Re: Touring weight
« on: February 28, 2011, 11:22:54 am »
What do you intend to use the crescent wrench for?
Don't take spare batteries. Buy them when you need them (unless they are uncommon sizes).
I don't know what a "silver jon-don multi tool" is, but I hope it is lightweight.
Hammer? What the matter with a rock?

Gear Talk / Re: GEAR - It's adding up! Where can I compromise?
« on: February 27, 2011, 06:41:34 pm »
Well, you apparently have bought or will buy (can't tell which are which) top of the line in many areas (panniers, racks, saddle, saddle bag, cycling shorts, tent, etc.). That's okay if the budget is rich, but if the budget is tight, you can save a lot of money here.

There are some items that surprise me (air horn, compression socks, QR axle). Why?

Personally, I'd skip the $120 tights. Chances are they are pretty heavy and I don't think you need them unless you're planning to tour in the winter. Substitute much lighter/cheaper leg or knee warmers.

Did you notice that you had two headlamps on the list?

Skip the water filter. There's no place in the US you'll need it as long as you keep your bottles filled when water is available and you carry a platypus bladder (used infrequently, and only weighing 2 ounces when not used). I'd also skip the chair, but many people like them so you can keep it if you think it important.

A voice recorder is NOT a "must have", but I can see where it would come in handy for some people (not me). I know you're fixated on a GPS, but I really don't think you need one. Just ask people when you need something. Talking to people is one of the great joys of touring anyway.

Skip the small padlock for hostel lockers--dead weight and useless. Forget the vacuum bag system. Assuming you're not taking it along, it'll only be useful for the first few days, so what good is that? Skin cream? Really? I know it's nice at home, but a real extravagance on a tour. Skip the whistle--you'll never use it. Don't take a separate tire pressure gauge--get a pump that has one built in. Skip the degreaser.

$20 for a pair of cables? What are they, gold?

Don't carry extra batteries. You can buy them when you need them. Seal your seams at home and leave the seam sealer behind. In the very unlikely event you need some en route, buy it. This is true of almost everything--don't carry stuff you may not need and can buy en route and aren't necessary to keep you moving.

Gear Talk / Re: Touring weight
« on: February 27, 2011, 03:05:34 pm »
I agree that it seems like you have a very lean list, so I'm surprised that it weighs 46 pounds. Are you counting the stuff attached to the bike (computer, pump, etc.) in the bike weight or the gear weight? Do you just have four panniers and a handlebar bag, or you you also have some kind of trunk or rack bag?

Tools and spare parts can weigh a lot. Be sure to list what you have there. Maybe you have too many.

Gear Talk / Re: Touring weight
« on: February 26, 2011, 04:59:19 pm »
I think you've done an excellent job pruning your list. I agree with Pete that the rain jacket and windbreaker are redundant. I have a very light pair of nylon zip-off pants (from REI). They are so light, in fact, that I never feel the need to zip them off, even on hot days and the extra length keeps the bugs off my legs.

Rather than take a separate pair of full-finger gloves, I just take some polypro liners that go under my short-finger gloves.

Check out polyester underwear. It sounds yucky at first, but it's surprisingly comfortable and it dries much faster than cotton when you wash them in a sink.

Gear Talk / Re: GEAR - It's adding up! Where can I compromise?
« on: February 26, 2011, 11:08:05 am »
The open-ended way you asked the question could lead to an endless discussion of all possible equipment on the market. I would agree with Pete that you don't need the most expensive or even close. There's a lot of reasonably priced equipment that will do just fine. Sometimes doubling the price of a piece of equipment doesn't make it any better, but might only make it a few ounces lighter. And sometimes making things lighter also makes them more fragile.

Since we don't know what you've already bought or what you have left to buy, it's hard to say if $3000 is reasonable.

Go ahead and post your "very long list" if you want. Without it, it's hard to comment effectively on your broad question.

Routes / Re: Best Route - Philadelphia to Missoula
« on: February 25, 2011, 07:47:37 pm »
You said it's about time. How much time do you have?

Also, your departure date may strongly influence the best route. So it might be good to mention that.

Gear Talk / Re: Touring weight
« on: February 25, 2011, 07:45:59 pm »
That's perhaps a bit above the median, but not really very far. You should be okay. Don't stress it if you can't prune farther. Having said that, I'm sure you can prune farther if you want. Without even knowing what your list is, I'm guessing you could eliminate some clothes.

Routes / Re: SC through the Appalachian into KY - Yikes!!
« on: February 23, 2011, 12:23:23 pm »
If cars can do it, you can do it.

General Discussion / Re: Novice looking for basic advise
« on: February 23, 2011, 10:51:28 am »
You should be concerned with bear attacks enough to learn the simple steps required to minimize the risk. But bears will be a threat only on a small percentage of your route, and even then, they aren't much of a threat if you take precautions.

General Discussion / Re: Most interesting stretch and why?
« on: February 22, 2011, 08:36:41 pm »
What makes a stretch most interesting isn't just the road. It's a combination of the road, the weather, the animals, the people, the time of day, the clouds, the wind, etc. Some of my most memorable rides have been at dusk on a deserted road when the countryside seems to come alive.

Routes / Re: Leadville to Minturn to Vail pass to Breckenridge???
« on: February 22, 2011, 03:28:04 pm »
This route is two-thirds of a very popular bicycle route called the Copper Triangle. The climb up Tennessee Pass is quite easy. The descent from Tennessee Pass to Minturn is really sweet--gentle slope with sweeping turns. The route up Vail pass is almost all on traffic-free roads and paths, and will be harder than Tennessee Pass. The route down Vail pass is all on bike path (although watch out for some sharp turns).

Routes / Re: Independence pass
« on: February 22, 2011, 03:23:42 pm »
I've ridden it in both directions. It is true that the west (Aspen) side is narrow and the surface can be rough. For brief stretches, it's even a one-way road (although wide enough for one car and one bike). Try to ride it at a time with less traffic (e.g., really early on a weekday). You won't have any problems on the east side. Take warm clothes.

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