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Messages - John Nelson

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886
General Discussion / Re: Just the Bear essentials
« on: July 03, 2011, 01:42:30 pm »
Even if you do absolutely everything wrong, your chances of a bear attack are very small. Nevertheless, it pays to take precautions. The number one rule is nothing smelly in or near the tent. Become familiar with the "bearmuda triangle".

When in bear country, I prefer to eat somewhere far away from my campsite. One way to do this is to stop somewhere and eat (including washing up and brushing your teeth--toothpaste attracts bears too), and then bike farther before camping. If you do want to cook and/or eat near where you camp, do so a hundred yards from your tent if possible.

I keep all my food and toiletries in one pannier, inside odor-proof bags. If in bear country (which is a small subset of the places you'll be), hang the pannier from a tree a few hundred yards from your tent. If you have some snacks in your handlebar bag, transfer them to the pannier before you hang it. Try to keep your handlebar bag food inside plastic bags so that the smells don't transfer to the bag itself. If you got any food on your clothing, put those clothes in the food pannier as well. If you are cooking, put the clothes you cooked in in the pannier too.

Established campgrounds in bear country often have bear boxes. Those are great and are worth the price of the campground by themselves. Campgrounds in Yellowstone will all have them.

These are all extreme precautions, but are simple to do and give you a bit more margin of safety. Stop at ranger stations along the way and ask if there has been any recent bear activity.

I would not take bear spray. It's not legal everywhere, and you don't want to worry about whether or not it is. Bears will be a concern in the Clearwater National Forest (going over Lolo Pass from Idaho to Montana), in the Beaverhead Deerlodge National Forest (from Ennis Montana to Yellowstone) and in Yellowstone. I don't think they will be a significant concern elsewhere on your route.

887
Routes / Re: I-80 through Wyoming
« on: June 30, 2011, 10:00:27 am »
Feasible but miserable. Over 200 miles on I-80 will seem like hell.

888
Routes / Re: Selkirk Loop
« on: June 28, 2011, 12:29:59 pm »
WACANID advice. I am registered to ride the Selkirk Loop in 5 days 100 - 125 kms per day. Any pretraining suggestions. I am a recreation cyclist and commuter - only done 70km max per day. Yikes!
There's no magic forumla. In the words of the immortal Eddy Merckx, "Ride lots." The more miles you ride in preparation, the more comfortable the event will be. If feasible, include hills in your preparation.

889
General Discussion / Re: How cold should I expect?
« on: June 25, 2011, 04:59:06 pm »
The best way to find free places to stay is to by the ACA TA maps. Then you'll likely also want to join Warm Showers and/or Couchsurfing. With those resources, and just a tiny bit of ingenuity, you'll rarely need to pay to stay anywhere on the TA.

890
General Discussion / Re: How cold should I expect?
« on: June 25, 2011, 12:23:54 am »
Let's take Frisco Colorado as an example. It's not the highest that you will reach, but it is the highest that you will likely camp overnight. You should reach Frisco in early September. The average high at that time in Frisco is 65F and the average low is 32F. Of course those are just historical averages, and your experiences may differ. The temperature averages for early October in Sisters Oregon are about the same as the averages for Frisco in early September.

A more likely concern is whether or not it will be snowing when you cross some of the high passes. Since you seem to have a bit of extra time in your schedule, you can probably wait it out a few days if this happens. It's unlikely that snow would close these passes for more than a few days at a time during that time of the year. Hoosier Pass in Colorado stays open all year (except for temporary closures), but McKenzie Pass in Oregon typically closes in late October. You do, however, always have Santiam Pass available as an alternative.

Roads in Yellowstone start closing in early October, but the roads used by the TransAm are typically open until early November.

Use common sense and don't do anything stupid and you will most likely be fine. Be sure you have enough warm clothing to safely descend the high passes, which could be below freezing and above 30 MPH. On the coldest nights, wear a lot of clothes inside your sleeping bag. The fact that the bag is rated to 15 degrees isn't particularly significant--there's too much difference in how cold or warm people sleep.

891
Gear Talk / Re: Kona Jake vs Trek 520
« on: June 24, 2011, 02:43:30 pm »
As is oft mentioned, you can tour on anything. However, if your budget allows, a bike designed for touring would offer a more comfortable, safer ride with less risk of problems. Touring bikes are generally stable, strong and comfortable with good brakes and tough wheels. They also have geometry and fittings that make mounting racks, panniers and extra water bottles easier, and have a wide range of gearing.

892
Routes / Re: trans am records
« on: June 22, 2011, 02:30:04 pm »
I hear that somebody once roller-skated through the Louvre in 28 seconds!!

893
General Discussion / Re: Accomodations in Astoria
« on: June 07, 2011, 12:52:52 pm »
I stayed at the Hotel Norblad for $20 for a shared room with bunk beds (although I was the only one in the room). For $40 you can get a private room with a bath down the hall. Bikes and Beyond, easy walking distance of the Hotel Norblad, is a very accommodating bike shop and can help you with whatever you need. They helped me find a shower, a duffel bag and a number of other things not in the typical service list of a bike shop.

894
General Discussion / Re: bike on UNITED airlines
« on: June 06, 2011, 10:01:32 am »
$100 is a screaming good deal compared to what it used to be not long ago. And I'm sure it's better than UPS or FedEx. You could always investigate renting.

895
Routes / Re: From Bannff or Boulder or Portland To Helena MT...
« on: June 05, 2011, 10:26:20 pm »
I'd pick a city that's easy/cheap to get you and your bike to.

896
Routes / Re: Pueblo, Colorado
« on: June 05, 2011, 09:22:22 pm »
That's a really cool page. Thanks for doing that. I got lost passing through Pueblo on the TA westbound. First it told me to go the wrong way down a one-way street (turning left from westbound 4th Street onto Main Street southbound). Then it told me that section 7 map ended at the corner of Main Street and Elizabeth Street at City Hall, but I could not find a street signed as Elizabeth Street, nor a building signed as City Hall.

BTW, your page says that the TA starts in Christiansburg, VA. Well it does only if you forgot to buy map 12 from Yorktown to Christiansburg. If you start in Christiansburg, you miss 1/12 of the route.

897
General Discussion / Re: Making the Commitment
« on: June 01, 2011, 10:02:52 am »
Two years out, I picked a date and started telling everybody that I was leaving on that date. I said it so many times over the next two years that it simply became a fact that it was going to happen. So start by picking a date.

There are no discomforts. Every single day was simply wonderful!

898
General Discussion / Re: Astoria or Florence?
« on: May 31, 2011, 04:46:32 pm »
I have no idea, but I would guess more start/end in Florence, since it saves several days and many TransAm cyclists are already stretched to the limit on time available. The advantage to Astoria is primarily that the route then includes the beautiful Oregon coast, besides the fact that Astoria itself is pretty interesting. Also, it seems to me that transportation between Portland and Astoria is easier to arrange than transportation between Florence and Portland. There is good bus service between Astoria and Portland, and it starts/ends at the same place as the train to/from the Portland airport.

899
Rocky Mountain / Re: Bike shop in Denver area
« on: May 25, 2011, 10:07:58 pm »
Okay, I don't know of any bike shop anywhere that you can walk in and count on finding a touring bike in your size to rent or buy. I'm sure there are a few, but they are very few indeed and none are known to me. So if you want a touring bike, you'll need to prearrange. I know some good bike shops, but I don't know of any with much touring knowledge. I can highly recommend Wheat Ridge Cyclery (in Wheat Ridge) and University Bikes (in Boulder). If you need a touring bike on the spot and did not prearrange, then your best bet is REI. The flagship store is in Denver. They typically have one or two LHT on the floor, but it'd be pure luck if one was in your size.

You can usually count on REI to have some Ortlieb and Novara panniers and Tubus racks in stock, especially at the Denver flagship store. That store is probably your best chance at one-stop shopping for a bike and equipment. Shop around at their online web site and submit an order for everything you need. Have it delivered to the store and it will be ready for you when you get there. REI typically carries three kinds of touring bikes (Novara Randonee and Safari, and the Surly LHT)--you'll have to figure out the size yourself. I do not, however, currently see the LHT in their catalog.

If you order a bike through Wheat Ridge Cyclery or University Bikes, you'll likely get much better service making it fit you. These shops can readily swap out stems and saddles. They can probably order many of the bikes in the ACA buyers' guide.

Note that if you walk into any bike shop and ask to see their touring bikes, they will most likely not have any, but they will try to convince you that some bike on their floor is "practically the same thing." So if you want a real touring bike, and I do recommend you get one if you will be doing much touring, arrange ahead of time for them to order one.

I don't know of any place that rents touring bikes or touring equipment.

900
Rocky Mountain / Re: Bike shop in Denver area
« on: May 25, 2011, 02:39:07 pm »
Are you looking to buy a bike, rent a bike, service a bike, assemble a bike, get route advice, buy gear, or someplace to ship your bike to?

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