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Messages - John Nelson

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General Discussion / Re: how safe is it to ride in the US?
« on: February 21, 2012, 06:05:14 pm »
One driver out of a thousand will give you problems, but you only hear about the one. Furthermore, that one won't give you that much of a problem. I rode the entire TransAm with no close calls at all, and no visibly irritated motorists.

Routes / Re: Mammouth Caves Loop, Kentucky to Asheville, NC
« on: February 21, 2012, 02:46:57 pm »
I recommend you use Google maps, but don't use the bike route option. The bike route option of Google maps is useful for getting you to the grocery store, but really bad for getting you long distances. It will give you a route with a thousand turns, put you on many unnamed paths that you won't be able to find, and might even route you on hiking trails. Instead, use Google driving directions, but ask for the "Avoid Highways" option. Then look at the roads with street view, and get traffic volumes from the state Departments of Transportation, and adjust as you see fit.

The ACA does not publish a database of usable roads.

Midwest / Re: US Rt 60 (Springfield to Winona MO)
« on: February 19, 2012, 03:36:06 pm »
Ray Jardine rode it in 2010. Some of the road has no shoulders, and where it does have shoulders, it was "littered with bicycle tire flattening things like chunks glass, sharp rocks, bits of metal falling off cars, and worst of all, the highway cyclist's nemesis: blown truck tire wires. At times I felt like I was pedaling through a minefield."

But worst of all, he hated the rumble strips. No direct link to the page is available, but go to this site, click on "Missouri" and forward two days to Day 39.

Routes / Re: East to West TransAm to Southern Tier
« on: February 19, 2012, 02:10:22 pm »
It's interesting to see how different people have different criteria in what makes a good route. While I agree with siden420 on all the advantages of riding on the Interstate (safe, wide shoulders, good cell service, good access to services, good pavement, less distance, less hilly), I nevertheless find it miserable. It has none of the charm and tranquility that motivates me to be out there riding in the first place.

Routes / Re: Start date suggestions for Pacific Coast (north to south)
« on: February 19, 2012, 01:10:39 pm »
I did a quick look at the wind rose data for Arcata, California, in section 3 of the five-section route, so roughly in the middle of the route. It does look like the favorable winds continue through September. The most favorable winds appear to be in May, June and July, then slightly abate in intensity in August (but still favorable in direction) and then become a bit more favorable again in September. They begin to get a bit more easterly in October and become decidedly unfavorable in November and stay that way until April.

Connecting ACA Routes / Re: Seattle to Northern Tier
« on: February 18, 2012, 10:21:45 pm »
If you give me a PM when you are about to set off I'd be happy to ride with you out of Greater Seattle.
That's a great offer. I'd appreciate a guide to get me out of the city. My plan is to fly to Seattle sometime in mid-June. I'll contact you when I have more details.

Gear Talk / Re: Essentials
« on: February 18, 2012, 09:39:30 pm »

A bike
A patch kit
A tire lever
A pump
A water bottle
Something to carry your stuff in
A helmet
Enough clothes to avoid getting arrested
A toothbrush

Very useful:

Bike shorts
Warm clothes
Clothes to wear off bike
A map

Things you might find handy:

A camera
A bike computer
A sleeping bag
A tarp or bivvy or tent
A bike lock
A flashlight
Bike gloves
A rain jacket
Insect repellent

General Discussion / Re: Which sunscreen?
« on: February 17, 2012, 04:54:35 pm »
Step 1. Read all the articles about sunscreen chemicals.
Step 2. Read all the articles about sunscreen effectiveness.
Step 3. Figure out which articles you believe, if any.
Step 4. From the articles you believe, make a list of the dangerous chemicals and a list of the effective chemicals.
Step 5. Read the ingredients on the sunscreens in the store.
Step 6. Select one contains the effective chemicals but not the dangerous chemicals.

If we each apply this procedure, we'll all walk out of the store with different brands. Some will walk out with nothing. Step 3 is the difficult step.

Routes / Re: east coast to st louis via motels?
« on: February 16, 2012, 06:05:44 pm »
There's probably a million routes that would do. A recent post here mentioned doing the entire TransAm in motels (see, so you could do the same thing, deviating off the TA when you get close to St Louis. The TA is a nice bike route. Obviously, riding on or close to the major highways would make easier to find lodging, but also would make for miserable riding, so I don't recommend that.

General Discussion / Re: Cost - WE to TA
« on: February 16, 2012, 06:00:56 pm »
Although it can be done on $5 a day, I'm not saying you would necessarily want to. The key thing in keeping costs down is to never spend a dime to sleep--it can be done. Also, any unexpected setbacks could cause unexpected expenses (e.g., mechanical failures, body failures, emergency evacuations, bail bonds), so it's good to have a cushion.

Routes / Re: East-West & need some advice?!
« on: February 16, 2012, 02:50:12 pm »
I plugged your cities into Google maps and asked for "avoid highways" directions, and it told me it was about 4000 miles. Your actual route may vary from this, but it puts us in the ballpark. If you plan to follow ACA routes, it'll be longer. So let's call it 5000 miles. If you ride 100 miles a day (hard core), it'll take 50 days. If you ride 67 miles a day (pretty typical), it'll take 75 days. If you ride 40 miles a day (leisurely), it'll take 125 days.

To use ACA routes, you could take the Southern Tier to the Underground Railroad to the TransAm to the Pacific Coast. That's somewhat less than 5000 miles.

BTW, Cave-In-Rock is in Illinois.

General Discussion / Re: Cost - WE to TA
« on: February 16, 2012, 12:40:56 pm »
Cost will be proportional to the number of days, which will depend on miles per day. If cutting costs is your number one goal, I'd guess you could do this on five dollars a day, maybe even less.

Gear Talk / Re: packing panniers
« on: February 14, 2012, 11:55:39 pm »
Move the panniers as far forward on the rear rack as you can without creating heel strike. You want to get the center of the pannier no farther back than the center of the rear hub. Otherwise the front wheel will tend to lift off the ground, especially during climbing. Load the panniers up with the actual gear you will be taking with you. In addition to the experiments Fred suggested, try climbing and descending the steepest hill you have around.

Connecting ACA Routes / Re: Seattle to Northern Tier
« on: February 12, 2012, 02:38:11 pm »
Thank you very much Harper. That's great! I appreciate you taking the time.

General Discussion / Re: Keeping bike on a rack.
« on: February 11, 2012, 07:10:16 pm »
It will almost certainly be possible to get to the Glacier Gorge or Bear Lake trailheads by car at the end of this month. It will also be possible to get there by bicycle if you're okay riding on some snowpack. The road is plowed, so you won't run into deep snow unless it has snowed recently. If it gets bad, hitch a ride the last miles. You might also run into some snow on highway 7 getting to Estes Park--call the DOT for road conditions before setting out.

Personally, I'd probably take my bike down the trail a bit and hide it in the trees well off the trail, locking it to a tree. It'll probably be safe there. You could even bury it in the snow.

Change your plans if a winter storm is in the forecast, and take snowshoes. The Flattop Mountain and Glacier Gorge trails are both pretty steep in spots, so you'll need the snowshoes for traction even if you don't need them for floatation. Stop at the visitor's center and let them know your plans. Know how to build a snow cave and how to avoid avalanches. Take your cell phone. Surprisingly, I've gotten a signal pretty deep up Glacier Gorge. Mills Lake and the keyboard of the winds up Glacier Gorge are gorgeous in winter--you can walk right across the lake. The normal winter trail bypasses Alberta Falls and is shorter. And the views from Flattop Mountain trail are spectacular, particularly when you get directly above Dream Lake.

Have a blast and don't die.

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