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Messages - John Nelson

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General Discussion / Re: Tales of Calamity and Woe
« on: October 31, 2012, 09:45:23 am »
I've been pretty lucky. Worst was a cracked rim, which I discovered in a town with bike shop that could build me a new wheel. Second worst was when I had to ride on a failing bottom bracket for a week before I got somewhere that could replace it. Neither one affected my progress.

Routes / Re: Pueblo to Yorktown only- best months?
« on: October 29, 2012, 09:40:42 pm »
Depends on whether you tolerate heat or cold better, and whether you will be spending your nights indoors or out. I think I'd go for May-June rather than April-May.

Gear Talk / Re: Bushwhacker bags and panniers
« on: October 27, 2012, 10:39:41 pm »
I had not heard of this brand before now, but they look serviceable enough. I would point out that they are not advertised as waterproof, but that may not be of concern to you if you are only planning to take weekend tours, as it's easy enough to go on a weekend where no rain is forecast. I also note that the trunk bag is insulated and padded, which may not be of much practical use when touring. If you plan to camp on those tours, you'll probably want this space for your tent, so the trunk bag may not make much sense. Finally, I note that the package price for the rack, panniers and trunk bag doesn't save any money over purchasing them individually.

Gear Talk / Re: Backroads maps of the US.
« on: October 23, 2012, 10:10:37 pm »
In the US, we generally have interstate highways, US highways, state highways, county roads and city streets. Stay off of the first three as much as feasible.

If you ask Google maps for driving directions and check the "avoid highways" option, you'll usually get a fairly good bicycling route.

Also, most states publish on-line cycling maps with shoulder widths and average daily traffic volume.

Finally, you can check any roads you're interested in with Google maps street view.

Routes / Re: TransAm to Western Express, VA to Califorinia
« on: October 22, 2012, 08:46:36 pm »
For me the worst place was Rt 50 east of Monarch Pass as it runs along the Arkansas River in Colorado.
Ah yes, but if you don't get killed there, and even if you do, it's spectacular scenery in the Arkansas River Valley.

Gear Talk / Re: Well, here we first touring bike is........?
« on: October 21, 2012, 10:16:50 pm »
They are both fine bikes. For me, the scales would tip to the LHT because of the triple chainrings. You may, however, be drawn to the disk brakes on the Salsa.

Gear Talk / Re: Gear Shifting
« on: October 21, 2012, 02:10:28 pm »
The left shifter controls the front gearing and the right shifter controls the rear gearing.

The rear has seven cogs that range from 14 to 34 teeth, specifically 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24 and 34. Note that these cogs are all evenly spaced except that there is a big jump between the sixth and seventh cog. The seventh cog provides a very low gear for the steepest hills.

The front has three rings that have 28, 38 and 48 teeth.

The difficult of pedaling is a function of the front teeth divided by the rear teeth. The lowest gear you have (for the biggest hills), in the small front ring and the large rear cog, has a ratio of 0.82. That means that the wheels rotate 82 times for every time you turn the cranks 100 times. The highest gear you have (for downhills) is 3.43, which means that the wheels rotate 343 times for every 100 cranks.

You can continue to do what you're doing if that provides sufficient gearing for you. But if you need further help on steep hills, you can shift that left shifter down to "1" and if you want to go faster on downhills or flats, you can shift that left shifter up to "3".

If you do all the divisions (e.g., in an Excel spreadsheet), you can see that there is some practical overlap in your 21 gear options. For example, if you put the left shifter in "1" and the right shifter in "7", it's the same gear ratio as if you put the left shifter in "3" and the right shifter in "2". Both of these produce two rotations of the wheel for every rotation of the crank.

As you get more experience, you can start to pay attention to the "chain line". The chain runs most efficiently and lasts the longest if your chain is parallel to the bike and not at sharp angles. So that means that you should in general use the "1" left setting with the low numbers on the right shifter, the "2" left setting with the middle numbers on the right shifter, and the "3" left setting with the high numbers on the right shifter. This is just a general guideline and you don't need to be obsessive about it.

To answer your specific question, to go from the lowest gear to the highest gear (not that you'd ever want to), the following are the settings for the left shifter and the right shifter respectively:

3,2 (same as 1,7)

General Discussion / Re: First tour for Brits in US
« on: October 21, 2012, 12:46:46 pm »
I've shown up late at a lot of campgrounds, and have never been turned away. Even if the campground is full, they figure something out, especially if you make it clear that you don't need a numbered site. Prices range anywhere from free to $50. I would estimate that showers are available at more than half, lakes or rivers call fill in at quite a few more, a sink-bath at most others, and you'll only have to go to bed dirty at a few.

50 miles a day is enough in most places, but you should be flexible enough to put in up to 80 occasionally, especially in the west. On the other hand, campground fees are typically less in the west. The ACA maps are great for finding places to stay.

Gear Talk / Re: Thermarest pads - are Neoairs that much better?
« on: October 20, 2012, 07:18:28 pm »
I think you need to figure out how much pad thickness you need to be comfortable. I have found that one inch isn't near enough for me. I find 2.5" thickness much more comfortable. You don't really know until you sleep on it. It's nice to go to a store that allows you to inflate the pad and lie on it for a good long while. Or better yet, take it camping and bring it back if you don't like it (REI allows this).

Routes / Re: Google biking maps
« on: October 17, 2012, 09:27:52 pm »
It's not new. It's been available for over two and a half years. I really like it for getting short distances in town, and often use it to get to a host house. But it's awful for intercity travel. It gives you a route with a million turns, many of which are onto unnamed and undescribed paths, routes you onto unpaved roads and sometimes even onto rugged hiking trails.

Routes / Re: Pacific Cycle Route tour suggestions for visiting Brits
« on: October 16, 2012, 05:25:44 pm »
So is it your objective to get to Reno as part of your bike ride? You could use the Western Express for much of this. This is more doable in late spring than early spring. Once you get to the intersection with the Sierra Cascades route, you can (and should) dip south to see Yosemite.

Renting a suitable touring bike in the U.S. will be difficult, so research this well in advance. I'm not sure what's available in San Francisco, but that's probably as good as your chances will get. There is an REI in SF, so you could buy a Novara touring bike there and try to sell it later. It may be so hideously expensive to bring your own bikes along that giving away $2000 worth of bikes at the end might not be as silly as it sounds.

General Discussion / Re: The TransAmerican for a beginner?
« on: October 14, 2012, 07:58:33 pm »
"Too warm" and "too cold" are relative and something each person has to decide for themselves. Furthermore, every year is different, so that July might be oppressively hot in the Midwest one year, and then quite comfortable the next year.

You may tolerate cold well and hot poorly, but I'm more the opposite. I will point out that preparing for hot doesn't require adding any weight, but preparing for cold does.

Good luck.

Connecting ACA Routes / Re: Denver, CO to NW Iowa, two alternatives?
« on: October 13, 2012, 02:09:45 pm »
I have found Google bicycle directions good for getting you to the grocery store, but not good for getting you to Iowa. Instead, Google driving directions with the "avoid highways" option usually produces an acceptable bicycling route.

Since you didn't say where in NW Iowa, let me just arbitrarily presume that you want to go to Le Mars. Google driving directions without the avoid highways option shows 620 miles. With the avoid highways option adds only 4 miles and seems to be a reasonable route.

The route piecing together the TA and L&C would add almost 400 miles and would not, in my opinion, be that much better of a route. The ACA service directory, however, would find you a lot of free places to camp.

Two weeks is very generous for the shorter route, and doable but tight on the longer route.

Since you only have two weeks, I'd suggest you take the shorter route so you have more time to smell the roses, see the sights, talk to locals, deal with breakdowns, etc. It depends in part on whether you enjoy the actual riding the best, or whether you enjoy all the other parts of the experience the best.

Gear Talk / Re: How much does a sleeping bag liner increase warmth?
« on: October 11, 2012, 09:18:03 pm »
I agree that it's noticeable. I was camping at 10,000 feet once and woke up at 3 a.m. shivering and too cold to get back to sleep. I added my silk liner and slept comfortably for the rest of the night.

Routes / Re: Timing and weather
« on: October 10, 2012, 08:30:37 pm »
Maybe that's because places with tougher terrain also have fewer good places to stop.

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