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Messages - John Nelson

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901
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.

902
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.

903
Routes / Re: Timing and weather
« on: October 10, 2012, 10:00:19 am »
I am curious...  John, do you ride all those hours of daylight, start late in the morning, or just like to take long breaks off bike during the day?

I sleep until I wake up, and then I take my time breaking camp. I typically don't get on the road until 9:00 a.m. I do take frequent breaks during the day, but they are not long breaks. On the NT, I got into camp after 9:00 p.m. quite a number of times, mostly on days when I either went long, got a late start, got into numerous absorbing conversations with locals, or had vicious headwinds. I typically do the same number of miles in a day regardless of the difficulty, so on windy or hilly days, it takes me longer. I really like the flexibility of riding late if I want to. Riding after 6:00 p.m. is often magical. The heat of the day has broken, the sunlight is soft, the wild animals are out, the traffic is down--it's very peaceful.

904
Classifieds / Re: Big Agnus UL2 Tent For Sale
« on: October 09, 2012, 09:12:25 pm »
I will note that "Big Agnes UL2" is not the name of a specific tent. Big Agnes sells both the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 tent and the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2. From your picture, it appears that this is the Fly Creek UL2.

905
Routes / Re: Timing and weather
« on: October 09, 2012, 02:54:46 pm »
Every person is different and every year is different. Pretty much all of the general parameters have been laid out here. Attempts to narrow it down further would just be guessing.

If you are from Arizona, you probably tolerate the heat well. I lived 20 years in Phoenix, and I didn't mind the 100-degree days on this summer's Northern Tier at all.

I will point out that the later you leave, the less daylight you'll have, and I like lots of daylight. I finished the Northern Tier this summer in August, and towards the end I was missing the fact that I could no longer ride until 9:00 p.m. if I wanted to, but needed to finish by 8:00 or before. When I did the TransAm, I started in early May in the east specifically because this enabled me to center my trip around the summer solstice for maximum daylight. But this may not matter to you at all. Pete did the Southern Tier in February and March of this year, and has said that the shorter days were a non-issue.

906
Gear Talk / Re: tent for transam
« on: October 08, 2012, 12:28:41 pm »
Also note that what a retailer says a tent weighs and what it really weighs can be different.

907
Routes / Re: Timing and weather
« on: October 08, 2012, 10:16:25 am »
I'm going to assume that by "transam", you actually mean the TransAm or TransAmerica Trail, and not just any old generic cross-country route.

Starting on June 8 suggests that W-to-E is fine. In my opinion, the first half of May is the best time to start for E-to-W and the first half of June is the best time to start for W-to-E.

Your plan for distance and time seems just about right. Some do more, some less. Your plan is just about average.

I prefer, and suggest, a lighter sleeping bag. On those nights when it's cold, you can always wear more to bed and/or use a liner. But a 20-degree bag will be way, way too hot for most of the trip. So why carry the extra weight and bulk.

One approach is certainly to mail home your warmer stuff after you get to Pueblo. That's a very reasonable plan. But don't send everything home. Although it will generally be warm after that, you will have some chilly nights in the Appalachians. I have known several people who sent their sleeping bag home after weeks of hot weather where they couldn't imagine it would ever get cold again. Don't go that far. You'll need it again.

I carried, and used, knee warmers. They came in handy on a number of cold and/or rainy days, and they weigh little. You could substitute tights if you prefer, but there is little reason to take both. I took a pair of lightweight zip-off pants, and never zipped off the legs. They were light enough that even on hot days, I appreciated the fact that they kept the sun, wind and mosquitoes off my legs. I took arm warmers too, but these are probably not necessary since you will undoubtedly be taking long-sleeve shirt(s) and a rain jacket as well.

How much clothing you take is largely a personal preference. You obviously need to take enough to stay alive. After that, however, it's a tradeoff between comfort and weight. My own preference is to accept a bit of discomfort occasionally to keep the weight down.

Keep in mind that every year is different. Many people, like me, will tell you how the weather was on the year they did it. It may be very different for you.

908
Routes / Re: TransAm to Western Express, VA to Califorinia
« on: October 04, 2012, 10:02:31 am »
I also agree that a hammock might not be the best choice for this route. You mention "sleeping on the side of the road in the woods" but on a good portion of this route, there are no woods by the side of the road.

If you stick to the route, traffic is only an issue in a few places. Many people are seduced by a short-cut, however, and traffic can be bad on these short cuts. You will avoid traffic (and increase distance and hills) by sticking to the route. I encourage you to do so. Some people prefer light traffic even if it comes with no shoulders, and others prefer wider shoulders even if it comes with higher traffic. The ACA routes generally prefer the former (as do I).

I did the TransAm with zero flats and the Northern Tier with only one. This can be accomplished with good tires, not riding too close to the edge of the road, riding around road debris, and brushing your tires off every time you take it off pavement.

I did the TransAm on $16 a day, which I'm sure is below average. This is possible if you stay out of motels and expensive campgrounds, buy most of your food in grocery stores, and start with a bike in perfect condition. Luckily, the TA has a lot of free places to stay and they are identified on the ACA maps (which is a good reason by itself to use the maps). I agree with Pete, however, that you should budget about $30 a day (less if you are sharing expenses with somebody). I only count expenses from wheel-dip to wheel-dip, nothing that comes before or after.

Eat whatever you like, but eat often. My cross-country trip this year was powered mostly by sandwiches, fruit and cookies. On most days I would put two apples and two bananas in my handlebar bag and a large sub sandwich in my pannier. You should be aware, however, that fresh food can be hard to come by along the TA in Virginia and Kentucky, so you have to be willing to eat junk when only junk is available.

909
General Discussion / Re: Overcoming butt pain
« on: October 02, 2012, 01:57:50 pm »
Trying to find a saddle that is a better match for you is a good idea. Brooks leather saddles are magic for some people (me included) but they don't work for everybody. Some shops will let you try out different saddles and exchange them if they are not comfortable for you. If you can find such a shop, it might save you from buying a dozen expensive saddles.

There are some other things you can do to help. While riding, shift up and pedal standing for 15-30 seconds at least once every 10 minutes. You can also lower your handlebars, lengthen your stem, move your saddle back and/or make sure your saddle is not tilted backwards--all of these things shift weight from your butt to your arms (then you'll have sore arms).

910
Gear Talk / Re: Chain Maintenance on Tour
« on: September 29, 2012, 08:33:39 pm »
I use a wet lube like ProLink or Dumonde Tech. It cleans the chain as it lubes it, so I don't carry a specific cleaner. I have lubed as infrequently as every 10 days, but I think my chain lasts longer if I lube every 200-300 miles. I also lube after riding on a dusty surface (like the Erie Canalway) or after a heavy rain.

911
Gear Talk / Re: 29er vs 26
« on: September 27, 2012, 09:41:53 am »
In general, more spokes is stronger than fewer spokes, and smaller wheels are stronger than larger wheels.

But that's just the tip of the iceberg. There are many, many other factors that determine how well your wheel will hold up, including the quality of the rim, the quality of the spokes, the quality of the hub, the quality of the wheelbuilder, the width and air pressure of the tires, etc. Pay attention to the whole package, not just the spoke count and wheel size.

And remember that the objective is not to get the strongest wheel possible, but to get a wheel that is strong enough.

912
General Discussion / Re: Looking for help planning my trip.
« on: September 26, 2012, 10:53:05 pm »
Many people ride across the country alone with little experience. Don't worry about it. Just go. Here are my suggestions:

  • Read everything you can about touring. Read the forums here. Read the how-to articles here. Read forums and journals over at crazyguyonabike.
  • Study the equipment lists here and on CGOAB. Start slowly acquiring equipment. Starting early will allow you to buy it on sale.
  • Plan to do the ACA TransAmerica Trail. It's the best route for the first-timer because there is a lot of support along the route and you'll meet a lot of others doing the same thing.
  • Take some shorter tours to build your skills. Start with an overnight trip from your house on a weekend. Then try to get in a multiday trip somewhere nearby.

If you do this, you'll be ready by next summer. But it it still seems too daunting, sign up for one of the ACA group tours.

913
Routes / Re: Emergencies on paved rail-trails??
« on: September 24, 2012, 04:41:15 pm »
I have not personally been involved, but I have seen it. During Ride The Rockies one year, on the paved rail-trail from Aspen to Glenwood Springs, a rider crashed requiring an ambulance. The ambulance came right down the trail (we all had to move out of the way) and picked up the injured rider.

914
Gear Talk / Re: Panniers and Racks
« on: September 23, 2012, 01:12:14 pm »
Quote
I may be mistaken, but I don't think the Tubus or any other rack is significantly lower  because of the space needed for fenders.

I assume he's referring to the Tubus Logo with the second mounting rail, rather than the Tubus Cargo. I personally prefer the Cargo.

915
Routes / Re: trans america route advice
« on: September 18, 2012, 01:06:28 pm »
Temperatures in the Arizona desert can be hot in October, but not usually dangerously so if you carry enough water. You'll be fine.

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