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Messages - John Nelson

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General Discussion / Re: TramsAm: Rainy days?
« on: January 06, 2012, 05:57:33 pm »
I got caught in a hail storm near Guffey, Colorado. When I heard the thunder approaching, I started looking for shelter. It was a few miles before a structure of any kind was even visible from the road. I pulled over, ditched my bike, climbed the long, long driveway up to the house, stood under the eaves next to the junk cars, and waited until the worst had passed. Then I was on my merry way. The residents, if any, never even knew I took shelter there.

When touring, you encounter problems to solve, and you do the best you can, although the solution is rarely perfect. There's a lot of innovation required when touring. Many people find this problem-solving a fun part of the tour.

General Discussion / Re: TramsAm: Rainy days?
« on: January 06, 2012, 10:48:39 am »
What I would really like to add to the kit are waterproof glove covers.  Does anyone use or know of any?  I find nothing on the market.
You can get SealSkinz gloves. I don't use SealSkinz gloves, but I do use SealSkinz socks. They felt really good on that long, cold, wet day on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Or, you can do what a lot of people do and just get some extra large dish-washing gloves (a lot cheaper). Some also put rubber bands around the cuffs to keep the water out.

No solution is ever perfect.

General Discussion / Re: TramsAm: Rainy days?
« on: January 05, 2012, 10:02:51 am »
My experiences are similar to Pete's, but of course the weather in a given year may not follow the pattern.

I took a rain jacket and pants, about 6 ounces each. They were important only a few times. It was 41 degrees Fahrenheit and raining on the Blue Ridge Parkway, with not much in the way of available shelter, which would have been pretty miserable without my rain gear. It was rainy and cool one day in Kansas, but I could have gotten through it without rain gear (admittedly with less comfort). It was 27 degrees but not raining at Current Creek Pass in Colorado, so the rain jacked served well as a wind breaker, as it did again when descending Hoosier Pass.

Another touring cyclist in Vesuvius, Virginia was sitting out the rain at Gertie's. My rain gear allowed me to continue on. Sometimes sitting out a rainstorm in some shelter or cafe gets very boring. I waited an hour in Hazard, Kentucky at a church for the rain to stop, but couldn't stand it any longer so continued on, which my rain gear allowed me to do in relative comfort.

Most of the worst rains were overnight when I was already safely in my tent. Daytime rains rarely lasted more than a few hours--I never had an all-day rain.

I would recommend taking at least a rain jacket, but it doesn't need to be expensive or heavy. Almost anything will do.

General Discussion / Re: Woman riding by herself
« on: January 03, 2012, 10:53:13 pm »
The short answer is no, it is neither dangerous nor ill-advised for a woman to tour alone, despite the fact that almost everyone who hasn't done it will tell you so. Don't listen to them. I would guess that thousands of women have done it, with great results.

Here's a paper that was written for the ACA about this. It's not quite enough to convince the skeptics, but it might help some:

Make a list of everything that you think might go wrong. Then ask your nay-sayers to supplement the list. Then investigate how often that any of these things have actuallly happened (outside of horror movies). Then develop a plan of what you would do in each case.

Next, go over to and search for journals of women who have toured alone. There are many. Here's just one good example:

You can also search this forum for this question. It's been discussed here many times, and you'll find a lot of reassuring comments.

Go! Have a great time! Don't worry, and don't let the worries of your friends and family dissuade you. This will be the experience of a lifetime.

Gear Talk / Re: Brooks saddle dye.
« on: December 29, 2011, 09:05:16 pm »
Lately, I've soaked the saddle in hot water several times. That seems to be bringing out some of the dye. I guess I'll keep doing that until the bleeding stops.
I do everything I can to keep my saddle dry. I think you are taking the risk of ruining your new saddle.

Routes / Re: Map date for NT, section 7
« on: December 29, 2011, 11:55:29 am »
Thanks Jenn. The same problem exists for section 10 too.

General Discussion / Re: TransAmerica 2012
« on: December 27, 2011, 10:58:30 pm »
500 miles a week is probably above average, but not overly ambitious. Start with your gear in good shape and your body well trained, and you should have no problem (barring unusual weather). Getting in good mileage will be a bit more challenging as the days get shorter--I prefer to tour when the days are long. I know a lot of people feel rest days are necessary, but I have never found them very beneficial. I'd rather stay on the move. I think I'd get bored on a rest day unless there was something very compelling there.

General Discussion / Re: TransAmerica 2012
« on: December 27, 2011, 07:39:59 pm »
misterflask, it depends on how many days you are planning to take. If you are fairly average, you'll be over the Rockies by the end of September, and you should finish in the first half of November. So I think you'll be okay.

General Discussion / Re: TransAmerica 2012
« on: December 27, 2011, 06:13:47 pm »
If you buy a +32 or +35 bag, you should be fine. You could even buy a +40 or +45 bag assuming you have a good insulated sleeping mat and are willing to wear extra clothes on the coldest nights. Also, you usually have options of where you sleep, so if you plan to sleep in lower elevations as much as possible, you can avoid a lot of cold. Although it might be cold on top of Hoosier or McKenzie Pass, you're not going to be sleeping there. The coldest weather you'll see will probably be in Colorado (Guffy, Fairplay, Frisco) or in Yellowstone.

Of course it depends on the year, and who knows what the weather next year will be. Typically, people have more problems with heat on the TA than cold, but you're starting a bit earlier and traveling a bit faster than most, so you have a good chance of avoiding a lot of the heat.

It also depends on how cold you sleep. The temperature rating of a sleeping bag is only a rough guide. If experience tells you that you get colder on camping trips than your companions, you'll want a warmer bag.

Routes / Re: NT vs NT+Lakes
« on: December 27, 2011, 05:28:23 pm »
Thanks Carla. I like farms and cornfields, but I'll keep considering both options while I wait for the new section 3 and 4 maps.

Gear Talk / Re: Brooks saddle dye.
« on: December 26, 2011, 12:44:00 pm »
Sorry, I have no suggestions about the dye. I assume you find black shorts too hot in the summer? I've ridden in some pretty beastly hot conditions, but I've never found that my black shorts contribute to the problem. All my bike shorts are black.

With luck, your saddle will stop bleeding before next summer. Ride it lots before then.

Routes / Re: NT vs NT+Lakes
« on: December 26, 2011, 12:16:14 am »
Thanks John for your thoughts. I do already have a current passport. I plan to cross into Canada at Waterton and Niagara anyway.

Routes / Is the NT a traffic nightmare?
« on: December 26, 2011, 12:03:21 am »
I did the TransAm in 2010, and am planning to do the Northern Tier in 2012. I've been reading the segment descriptions of the NT in the Cyclosource catalog. The descriptions sound like a traffic nightmare, with cautions on every segment. Consider these quotes:
  • The 4-lane highway that heads east to the mainland is very busy.
  • SR 200 east of Sandpoint carries both recreational and commercial traffic so ride it cautiously.
  • expect to encounter logging trucks.
  • U.S. 93, which the route uses from Eureka to Whitefish, can have moderate to heavy traffic since it's a main thoroughfare into Canada.
  • Glacier Park traffic is heavy during the summer.
  • During the summer it gets heavy use from recreational vehicles.
  • There is heavy truck traffic on the portions of U.S. 2 used by the route.
  • there are a few stretches that demand caution. Traffic increases wherever the route crosses the river.
  • Traffic can be heavy on U.S. 61
  • Traffic increases around Muscatine
  • Traffic does increase during harvest
  • Areas in Indiana get busier when the weather gets warmer, especially on weekends.
    you will experience urban riding conditions so ride defensivly.
  • in places you ride U.S. 1 which carries very heavy recreational traffic. Mount Desert Island roads also have a high amount of tourist traffic
Contrast this to the segment descriptions of the TransAm, which hardly mention traffic at all. Was the person who wrote up the NT just more pessimistic, or is the NT traffic really worse than the TA traffic?

Routes / NT vs NT+Lakes
« on: December 25, 2011, 11:41:19 pm »
The ACA sells two different maps sets for the Northern Tier. There's the traditional Northern Tier route (dipping south of Chicago and running along the south shore of Lake Erie), and there's the Northern Tier variation which uses parts of the North Lakes route and the Erie Connector (crossing Lake Michigan by ferry and running along the north shore of Lake Erie). I'm not going to ask which route is "better" because I'm sure there are compelling reasons for both. What I am interested in is what factors would be pertinent for selecting one route or the other.

I've noticed that the ACA guided tour of the Northern Tier has chosen to use the Northern Tier + Lakes Route variation. Can anybody tell me why that route was chosen over the traditional NT route?

Routes / Map date for NT, section 7
« on: December 24, 2011, 01:16:05 pm »
The Cyclosource catalog lists the current date of the Northern Tier Section 7 map as 2007.

Current Printed Version: 2007

However, the addenda page shows an addendum for the 2009 version of this map.

NORTHERN TIER ADDENDA, Section 7 (BC-1303 2009)

Which is correct?

Merry Christmas!

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