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Messages - John Nelson

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General Discussion / Re: Weather Extremes
« on: February 04, 2012, 03:34:05 pm »
Makes a difference whether you're leaving from the West or East.

If you're leaving from the West (not my recommendation), be prepared for wet, cold weather for the first part of your trip.

If you're leaving from the East, you should have pretty good weather.

The coldest temperatures you're likely to experience are around freezing, unless you camp in the high country, which you can mostly avoid with some planning. I agree with all of Patrick's comments: multiple light to medium layers with a lightweight rain/wind jacket. To avoid overpacking, choose clothing such that if you put on everything you brought simultaneously, you'll be comfortable riding at a temperature around freezing, and in a 40F rain.

General Discussion / Re: Short colorado ride.
« on: February 04, 2012, 03:24:07 pm »
If you intend to ride Trail Ridge Road, wait until it opens (usually by not always by Memorial Day). Ride on a weekday if possible. Take the back roads to Hygiene, Hygiene Road to US36, US36 and State Highway 66 to Lyons, State Highway 7 to Estes Park. It'll be less crowded if you use the US34 entrance to RMNP rather than the US36 entrance (although it doesn't make that much difference). Those two roads merge back together part-way up. Take warm clothes and be prepared for rain or snow, no matter when you go. Beware of afternoon storms.

Routes / Re: West to East, Western Express & Trans Am -- Dates?
« on: February 03, 2012, 10:35:12 pm »
The ACA says that the Western Express can be ridden from mid-May through October, and the TransAm can be ridden from May through September. So the combo route can be ridden from mid-May through September. Adjusting as necessary based on how fast you are, you can start the Western Express in San Franscisco from mid-May through late July. To avoid the worst heat, start towards the beginning of that interval, but monitor the passes early in the WE route before you start. So far this year, snowpack is fairly low (although there's enough winter left to reverse that), so an early start will probably work.

General Discussion / Re: First long distance ride?
« on: February 03, 2012, 12:52:28 pm »
Yes, 300 yards is over the top. I see the standard recommendation is closer to 100 yards. The site Jenn provided the link to says 320 feet (probably converted from an original recommendation of 100 meters). What I have done in the past is stop and prepare dinner somewhere along the road, then clean up and put everything away, brush my teeth, and ride on to a camp for the night. That way when I get to camp, all I have to do is hang one pannier in the tree and move some distance away to set up my tent.

Camping in campgrounds with bear boxes, however, is my preference when available. Many NFS and NPS campgrounds in bear country will have such bear boxes.

Routes / Re: Best Novice Route Under 500 Miles
« on: February 02, 2012, 09:53:08 pm »
Normally I'd recommend a route close to home. But that apparently isn't in the cards for you.

So next I'd recommend a supported ride. I know you kind of ruled that out, but a supported ride would take out a lot of the risk and anxiety, and might make her more comfortable. So a nice inn-to-inn ride with all support included with breakfast and dinner provided makes for a nice ride. Most of these rides offer a short and long route each day, which allows more flexibility to do what you feel, including sitting out a day if you want. These rides tend to be fairly expensive, but they are a nice way to get used to touring.

If you don't like that idea, then I'd pick a ride where the towns are close enough together to allow plenty of route options without unusually long days. Perhaps a nice tour in Vermont and New Hampshire. Even a hilly day isn't too bad if you keep the distances reasonable.

If you want to stay off roads, then, as you suggest, a rails-to-trails route seems ideal. These routes are usually fairly flat too. Two you might want to consider are the Mickelson Trail in SD and the Katy Trail in MO. I'm not being sexist when I say this because studies back it up, but women tend to dislike sharing the road with traffic more than men, so your wife is in good company.

General Discussion / Re: First long distance ride?
« on: February 02, 2012, 06:08:33 pm »
Just follow the standard precautions and you should be fine. Don't bring any food or toiletries within 300 yards of your tent and you should be okay. In the U.S., forget the firearms and bear spray. We don't have that many grizzlies in the lower 48.

Routes / Re: East to West TransAm to Southern Tier
« on: February 02, 2012, 02:45:09 pm »
As Valygrl says, play it by ear. Have several options planned out. If the weather over the Rockies looks bad when you get to Pueblo, then you can start angling south from there. Otherwise, you can ride through the Rockies to Dolores and check again. If it looks bad in the high country of Utah, then start south there. Otherwise, you can stay on the Western Express until you connect up with the Grand Canyon Connector. But you don't want to risk being up at Cedar Breaks in a snowstorm.

Routes / Re: Best way from SW Colorado on TransAm to Denver
« on: February 02, 2012, 02:38:14 pm »
If you have the schedule flexibility, then plan your ride from Fort Collins back to the TransAm for a weekday. Both Trail Ridge Road and Poudre Canyon are more crowded on weekends. The Poudre Canyon route over Cameron Pass is a more direct way to rejoin the TransAm from Fort Collins, and it is quite beautiful. Although Trail Ridge Road through Rocky Mountain National Park is more out of the way, it is uniquely spectacular. Tell the park ranger at the entrance that you are just passing through and they won't charge you the park admissions fee.

Routes / Re: Cell phone
« on: February 02, 2012, 10:55:00 am »
I used a Verizon smart phone on the TransAm. My coverage wasn't always exactly as shown on the map, but coverage can vary from one block to the next. In some places, I could text but not call. In some places, I could text but not include pictures in my text. In some places, I could call but not email. In some places, I could email but not call or text. Flexibility is the key. I studied the map ahead of time so that I could warn my friends and family when I might have days coming up without coverage. On the TransAm, that meant eastern Kentucky, Mammoth Cave NP, eastern Missouri, near the Colorado-Kansas border, southern and central Wyoming, parts of Montana and eastern Idaho. When cell coverage wasn't available, I would look for unsecured Wi-Fi.

General Discussion / Re: Hello, I have some questions. help us plz.
« on: February 01, 2012, 10:14:29 am »
There are two different TransAmerica Trail routes, one for bicycles and one for motorcycles. The acronym "TAT" almost always means the motorcycle route. I assume that this is not the route you are taking, so a better name is either "TransAm" or "TransAmerica" or, in this audience, "TA" is usually clear.

There are not many McDonald's on the TransAm. That's probably because most of the towns the TA passes through are too small to justify a McDonald's. Nevertheless, you can find Wi-Fi in a lot of other places. I would sometimes just wander around town checking for signals from open networks and then walking towards them to get a stronger signal. I used a lot of signals standing outside of buildings closed for the night. You won't find a signal every day, but you will find one every few days.

May through October in the U.S., especially on the TransAm, is usually suitable for camping, cold in some spots and hot in others, but rarely so cold or so hot that you cannot camp. How much or little you camp depends on you. You can camp easily camp 90% of the time if you want, and 100% of the time if you are a bit creative. If you don't mind camping, it's a great way to save a lot of money. Having camping gear and being able to camp at least some of the time increases your flexibility greatly on the TransAm, because finding indoor sleeping every night is a struggle (although possible if you're committed to it).

Warm Showers provides a nice break from other lodging options, and is a great way to meet interesting people.

Studying English is good, as you won't find many people along the TransAm who know Korean.

If starting the TransAm in the East, it will be much, much better to start in May than to start in August.

General Discussion / Re: Long distance trip alone?
« on: January 31, 2012, 12:07:02 pm »
"Not so nice" people are much more common on TV than in real life. Your chances of a significant problem due to one are miniscule, and I'm not sure those chances are increased by going alone, or in fact by going at all.

Routes / Re: Summer heat on the TA
« on: January 29, 2012, 02:38:31 pm »
Temperatures vary from year to year, so it's hard to say in advance. But it's always a good idea to be carrying mosquito repellent--it can make the difference between a pleasant evening and a miserable one.

I seldom get very hot while riding because the constant breeze helps.

General Discussion / Re: Long distance trip alone?
« on: January 27, 2012, 05:44:05 pm »
I agree with VeloVeg 100%. Most people who start alone make life-long friends along the way. Most people who start with strangers part ways somewhere during the trip. I always start alone, and ride alone 75% of the time, but I meet many fascinating people every day and enjoy great conversations.

One of the great things about riding with people you meet along the way is that there is generally no commitment. If you start at the same time, great. If you don't, no worries. If you meet at lunch, great. If you don't, no problem. If you finish at the same place, great. If you don't, no explanations necessary. All the upside of companionship with none of the downside.

Routes / Re: Best way from SW Colorado on TransAm to Denver
« on: January 26, 2012, 06:06:10 pm »
I think you can find better ways from Denver to Fort Collins than 287. I'd try to stay east of I-25 for most of the trip.

From downtown Denver, take the South Platte River bike trail for about 15 miles to 104th (or even farther if you're starting in south Denver). This gets you out of the Denver area entirely on bike paths. Then jog a mile west and pick up Riverdale, a sleepy and beautiful country road. Take that north 9 miles to 160th (state highway 7). Jog west five miles on a busy but shouldered highway to Colorado Blvd (AKA country road 13) (a busy street in Denver, but getting rather sleepy this far north). You're about two miles east of I-25 here. Take that north 25 miles to Johnstown, and continue north another 10 miles to Windsor on country road 17. By now, you're only 15 miles from Fort Collins. You can wing it from there.

Actually, you can kind of make it up as you go. Once you get to the north end of the South Platte River trail, just head north on any county road that looks good to you. Stay east of I-25 and west of US85 and you'll be fine on almost any country road.

I suggested north because you said you didn't want desert riding. No deserts and no mountains is a tough pair of requirements. Yes, you can start by riding up the coast and then going across. But then there's the question of whether you can get to DC by June 10 this way. Why don't you just fly to Pueblo and start there? That will skip most of the desert, the mountains, and the snow/cold.

Your problem is overly constrained. You'll have to decide which of your desires you want to compromise on.

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