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Messages - John Nelson

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Gear Talk / Re: Touring bike for out-of-shape newbie
« on: March 26, 2011, 01:03:06 pm »
Until you get somewhat into shape, the bike won't matter. Anything will be fine, including whatever you have in your garage. Comfort won't matter much because your conditioning level won't allow you to be on it long enough to get uncomfortable. Ride it a mile or two for a while until you work your way up to five miles a day. During this time, you can begin shopping for a better bike.

If you're already in shape to do five miles a day, then you're ready for a real bike. Unless you have a self-contained tour planned for this year, I wouldn't get a touring bike to start with. Visit your local bike shop and ask them for recommendations for an entry-level road bike. Don't let them sell you a bike with a low-spoke count, high saddle and low handlebars that looks ready for the Tour de France. On the other hand, also don't let them sell you something that looks like a beach bike or has a cushy seat with springs or is only useful for riding down to the park or is a mountain bike. Tell them you want something on which you can work up to 50-mile rides (if that is indeed your goal). A price between $500 and $1500 is probably about right for this bike. This bike will also be good for van-supported tours (where a van is carrying your gear).

If you do want to go on a self-contained (i.e., carrying your own gear) tour in 2011, then my first choice would be to see if there are any shops with touring bikes in your area. If you have an REI near, visit them to look at the Novara touring bikes. Otherwise, you may be forced to have a shop order one for you. Consult the ACA buyers guide and ask your shop which of these bikes they can order for you.

Gear Talk / Re: Raingear
« on: March 26, 2011, 12:05:35 am »
I agree that you don't need much of anything special on a typical TransAm. Unless you get very unlucky, it won't rain on you all that much. I took a very lightweight GoLite jacket and pants, although I only used the pants once or twice.

Youth Bicyle Travel / Re: Good tours for teens reasonably priced?
« on: March 24, 2011, 10:19:02 pm »
Since you want "reasonably priced", you're likely going to want something self-contained rather than van-supported. Self-supported trips guided by ACA run from about $50 a day for the three-month tours up to $110 a day for the one-week tours. Van supported tours are about 50% to 75% more expensive.

There are many other tour companies. Bicycle Adventures runs lots of tours, all van supported I think, and mostly fairly short. Even their "budget" tours are $335 a day and up. Some of their other tours run $500 a day. These prices make the ACA tours sound like a real bargain.

America by Bicycle is another large touring company. Their cross-country ride costs $225 a day, about three times what a van-supported ACA tour costs. Their shorter tours run about $330 a day.

All in all, the ACA tours sound like a good choice, huh?

If you're looking for a teen-specific tour, check out Outward Bound or Apogee Adventures. These are going to cost more. On an ACA tour, you'll son won't have many people his age, but there may be one or two others. The average age for ACA participants is 45.

How long of a tour are you interested in? Are you looking for a tour that caters specifically to teens? And exactly how old is your son?

Note that there are kids out there touring alone or in pairs as young as 18.

Routes / Re: Bannack State Park
« on: March 24, 2011, 04:38:35 pm »
Worst mosquitoes I encountered were in Jeffrey City, but Wisdom was second place.
Just curious... What time of year was that.  They weren't a problem when we were there in 2007 (July 14th).
I slept in the Lion's Park there on June 20, 2010.

BTW, Bannack State Park, at four miles off route, was more of a detour than I would have considered.

Routes / Re: Bannack State Park
« on: March 24, 2011, 02:47:36 pm »
The screens on that screened shelter in Wisdom are in sad shape, so they're not much protection. I pitched my tent inside that shelter too. Worst mosquitoes I encountered were in Jeffrey City, but Wisdom was second place.

Routes / Re: Bannack State Park
« on: March 24, 2011, 12:08:14 pm »
+1 on Twin Bridges Bike Camp. I stayed there last summer. There's free WiFi at the Laundromat. Restaurants in Twin Bridges are limited but sufficient. The mosquitoes were bad when I was there, but DEET made them a non-issue.

General Discussion / Re: Does a bum toughen up?
« on: March 23, 2011, 10:32:36 am »
As said, it's personal. Some people have never met a saddle they didn't like, and others search long and hard before finding the one saddle that suits them. If you've never experienced soreness before, maybe you're lucky and are in the first camp. You might borrow different bikes from friends and see if you're happy on just about any saddle, or if you lucked into the magic one the first time.

And yes, a bum does toughen up. But if the saddle and you are not meant for each other, your butt may turn into raw hamburger before then.

General Discussion / Re: Cross Country Trip: Money, What To Do?
« on: March 22, 2011, 03:08:33 pm »
I took a few hundred bucks and a credit card. I used the credit card whenever allowed and the cash lasted me for my whole 10-week trip.

General Discussion / Re: Cadence Question
« on: March 20, 2011, 07:27:19 pm »
I don't think it's important to keep track. Do what comes naturally, but keep in the back of your mind that many people find higher cadences create fewer leg problems. So whenever you think about it, downshift and increase the cadence to see if you can do that comfortably. If you do give a higher cadence a reasonable try for a reasonable amount of time, and you find that it's not comfortable, and if you're not having any physical problems, then mash away guilt-free. Don't let the high-cadence crowd tell you that you have to do it their way or you'll die a horrible, painful death.

General Discussion / Re: Cross Country Trip: Money, What To Do?
« on: March 20, 2011, 07:14:28 pm »
Credit/debit cards. Two different kinds to handle places that don't take everything. Somebody at home to pay the bills when they arrive, or set it up for autopay. This will take care of most things.

Credit/debit cards that work in ATM machines. Check coverage (web sites will tell you where the machines are) for whatever network you use to make sure you'll be able to find outlets where you will be.

Cash. As much as you feel comfortable with.

Keep all of the above on your body 100% of the time, even when in the shower (yes, you can do that). Rather than spread it around, I keep all my eggs in one basket and watch that basket like a hawk. If you are a very careful, anal person who doesn't lose things, that should work well. If you do tend to lose things, however, then you might want to spread the stuff around with perhaps some emergency cash hidden in the handlebars or seat post.

Assume you're not going to get mugged. It's extremely unlikely and you cannot prepare much for it anyway.

Insurance for your stuff? Forget about it. It's too expensive. Just take reasonable precautions, which vary from place to place. You're common sense, assuming you have some, will be enough.

Gear Talk / Re: Low Rider Front Racks for Trek 520??
« on: March 20, 2011, 01:29:12 pm »
I have a 2009 and the Tubus Tara works fine. The fork on the 2008 is the same as the one on the 2009.

General Discussion / Re: Cadence Question
« on: March 19, 2011, 09:09:55 pm »
Everybody has their natural cadence, some high, some low. It  can be modified somewhat with practice if you want to. I would guess that most people have a slightly different cadence on a loaded touring bike, but probably not a big difference.

Gear Talk / Re: Any advantage of using 4 vs 2 panniers?
« on: March 17, 2011, 10:02:09 pm »
Depends on the bike. In most cases, however, the bike will handle better with more evenly distributed weight. Also, distributing the weight will put less weight on the rear wheel, reducing the potential for wheel problems. Also, four panniers will make it easier for you to organize your gear. Finally, and probably most importantly, if the center of the weight on the rear is behind the rear hub, the front wheel will tend to come off the ground, or have so little weight on it that steering may be imprecise. Even if the center of the weight is centered on the rear hub or even slightly in front of it, it will still unweight the front wheel when climbing hills.

Having said all that, many people successfully tour with only rear panniers. I would not.

General Discussion / Re: Hypothetical question...
« on: March 17, 2011, 06:06:32 pm »
Daylight is currently increasing by 3 minutes a day. It won't be long before we have plenty.

General Discussion / Re: Hypothetical question...
« on: March 16, 2011, 05:25:46 pm »
If you start with no training whatsoever, you may only be able to do 5 miles a day. At that rate, you can't even make it to the next place to spend the night. Start by riding one mile, TODAY! Then ride one mile every day for a week (or every other day for two weeks), and then give two miles a try. I would hope you could build up to 20-miles rides, not necessarily every day, before beginning a tour.

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