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Messages - John Nelson

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General Discussion / Re: Cross Country with a 13 year old boy
« on: December 06, 2011, 10:02:50 am »
I do bicycle 125 mi/day and with the snow in the Rockies I have to start quite late in June (in VA) in order to do the mountains without closed roads.
This doesn't make sense to me. There's very little chance of closed roads in the Rockies on the TransAm route after June 1, and only a small chance after mid-May. Even at 125 miles a day, you could still start in May in Yorktown.

Routes / Re: Transam East to West 2012 Advice Sought
« on: December 03, 2011, 06:21:39 pm »
a few thousand volts will go right through the tire
More like a few billion volts.

At any rate, there are no significant dangers on the TransAm. It's a blast.

Routes / Re: Transam East to West 2012 Advice Sought
« on: December 02, 2011, 02:46:06 pm »
How long do you plan to take for the crossing? We need this information to estimate when you will be where. It'd also be useful to know whether you plan to use motels or campgrounds.

The earlier you start, the greater the risk of cold weather. In an average year, you'll be cold at times but okay. But there's always a chance you'll have to wait out some snow a day or two in the high country. And you may get to McKenzie Pass in Oregon before it opens, but Santiam Pass is available as an alternative if that happens.

An April start will require you to bring more cold-weather gear than a May start would.

Also, the earlier you start, the greater the risk of campgrounds that haven't opened yet. Not a problem of course if you don't plan to camp.

Nobody can predict the weather that far out, so it's all a probabilities game. We all have constraints we have to live with, so we can't always pick the time with the lowest risk.

General Discussion / Re: Cross Country with a 13 year old boy
« on: December 02, 2011, 10:56:35 am »
I understand and accept the previous argument in favor of a credit-card tour. Let me offer the counterargument. First of all, camping is one of the most perfect father/son experiences. Second, it saves you a ton of money, especially if you are willing to camp in unorthodox places. Third is that it considerably increases your options and flexibility. Fourth, it keeps you away from the television. Fifth, it gives you greater interaction with the environment, culture and people.

General Discussion / Re: Cross Country with a 13 year old boy
« on: November 30, 2011, 11:23:41 pm »
Most people do a cross-country ride without support. A supported ride will cost significantly more. I don't think you'll necessarily need support, even if your son is unable to carry any of the gear, as long as you are both in reasonable shape. Consider support only if you feel unable to physically carry your gear. I don't see how support would make the ride any safer. Just teach your son appropriate bike safety and make sure he rides enough to make it ingrained.

As to whether to tour with just the two of you or to travel with an organized group, that's kind of a personal decision. Traveling with a group will add a lot of moral support and relieve you of a lot of problem-solving. Traveling alone will give you more flexibility to cater to your son's interests and abilities, and the problem-solving may increase the bonding experience (as long as you don't kill each other).

Routes / Re: Southern tier
« on: November 25, 2011, 02:07:17 pm »
The hills in the Rockies are typically long, but not so steep (no worse than 6% in most places).

The hills in the Appalachians and Ozarks are typically shorter and (significantly) steeper.

The winds of Wyoming if westbound often feel like a never-ending steep hill.

One big hill or 30 short hills can both make for good exercise. Pick your poison.

Major highways almost always have gentler hills than back-country roads. If avoiding hills is high on your list, then I'd suggest that ACA routes are probably not for you. ACA routes are perfectly willing to accept hills and distance in exchange for traffic. Personally, I'd rather have hills than traffic, but everyone is different.

Routes / Re: Sierra Cascades Piedra route mystery.
« on: November 25, 2011, 12:29:27 pm »

Routes / Re: Southern tier
« on: November 25, 2011, 12:26:46 pm »
There are hills everywhere. The Rockies are not usually the biggest challenge on a cross-country trip.

March and September are good months to start the ST from SD. This avoids the heat of summer and the snows and short days of winter.

General Discussion / Re: TransAmerica 2012
« on: November 24, 2011, 09:33:49 pm »
I'm not sure I understand how ACA trips work exactly, but don't you sleep where everybody else sleeps?

General Discussion / Re: Insurance for U.S. trip
« on: November 24, 2011, 10:44:13 am »
Presumably you are talking mainly about health insurance. Insuring the bicycle is often not worth the price--just keep an eye on it. The TransAm is almost exclusively through very low crime areas. Most people along the route don't even lock their houses, and some leave the keys in their car.

General Discussion / Re: TransAmerica 2012
« on: November 24, 2011, 10:40:20 am »
I would recommend not only buying your camping gear well in advance, but using it at least a few times before your trip too. You want to have time to carefully consider the options, wait for sales, and work out any kinks. Once you get on the TransAm, your options for replacing gear that isn't working for you will be limited. Travel is hassle enough without trying to incorporate a shopping trip into it. Presumably you won't buy heavy camping gear, so it won't be a big deal to bring it with you.

Routes / Re: Southern Tier in 36 days?
« on: November 21, 2011, 11:15:02 pm »
People run marathons despite the fact that walking would be more pleasant and allow more time to enjoy the experience. What you're planning is like running a marathon and it has different kinds of rewards. If that's what you want, go for it. It's possible.

General Discussion / Re: Why is it so difficult to find front racks?
« on: November 17, 2011, 09:57:14 pm »
Here's a link to a site that reviews 24 front racks, starting as low as $19. It's 3 years old, but I'd guess most of these are still on the market.

The page for rear racks is very mildly NSFW. The front rack page is completely safe.

Routes / Re: Best way (cheapest) to get bike and gear to the route start
« on: November 16, 2011, 09:36:44 am »
It's best to price out airline bike fees before buying your ticket. Consider the cost for you and the bike together before deciding which is the cheapest flight. Often times the cheapest ticket for you is not the cheapest solution when also considering the bike.

Depending on what airline you use, you may find that it is cheaper to ship the bike using UPS or FedEx. Make sure you keep the container within the size and weight restrictions for "ground" shipments because "freight" shipments can be four or five times more. Ship the bike to a bike shop or a friendly local about a week ahead. A disposable container (i.e., a box) is usually preferable to a hard shell, which becomes a problem for one-way tours.

Other possibilities are Amtrak (if you have baggage service at both the origination and destination) or a bus company. One-way car rental is also popular.

Panniers and gear can be packed into a duffel bag or old suitcase and sent as checked luggage. I prefer a disposable duffel or suitcase from a thrift store so I don't have to carry it. Avoid packing a lot of gear in the bike box if it will be subject to TSA screening, or avoid making your bike box too heavy if shipping UPS or FedEx.

Your handlebar bag can serve as your carry-on--just make sure you don't put any TSA-prohibited items in it.

Gear Talk / Re: Preferred method of terminating handlebar tape ?
« on: November 10, 2011, 06:03:18 pm »
I've seen several web sites that show how to do this. They're pretty easy to find. I think it looks pretty cool, but it's more work than I'd do. I think it's called "whipping." People typically put some form of varnish or shellac over the cord to seal it and prevent unwrapping.

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