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Messages - John Nelson

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Gear Talk / Re: Tire recommendations
« on: March 12, 2012, 03:47:31 pm »
If I believe that my current tires have enough miles on them to last the trip, I carry no spare. If I don't think they'll make it, I carry one spare and have someone send me an additional tire as soon as I use the first spare. My Schwalbe Marathon XR (no longer made) have easily lasted me almost 6000 miles, and I expect to start, but not finish, my next long tour on them.

Gear Talk / Re: Tire recommendations
« on: March 11, 2012, 10:02:21 pm »
Although many other tires would also do, you cannot go wrong with one of the tires in the Schwalbe Marathon line. Yes, the Marathon Plus is heavy--too heavy for some and not too heavy for others. You can save considerable weight if you give up slightly on flat protection. Other tires in the Marathon line such as the Dureme, Mondial and Supreme are lighter and almost as flat resistant.

The only tire in the Marathon line that I would shy away from, if your budget allows it, is the tire referred to as simply the Marathon. This tire is much less expensive than all the other tires in the Marathon line and is less reliable. Read the descriptions that Schwalbe provides and choose a tire suitable for your needs. You won't need an off-road tire for the TransAm, even though you may find occasional need to go off road (e.g., to a campground).

Gear Talk / Re: Chain Length
« on: March 10, 2012, 09:08:08 pm »
The SRAM chains I buy have 114 links. My touring bike needs 114 links, and my road bike needs 106 links. Shimano DuraAce chains have 116 links if you need a bit more.

Gear Talk / Re: Wheel Skewer verses Bolt
« on: March 09, 2012, 05:26:05 pm »
Some people use the bolt if they're afraid of wheel theft. But wheel theft isn't that common.

Routes / Re: Prevailing winds on Northern Tier route?
« on: March 08, 2012, 12:28:21 pm »
There are a lot of sites on the web that show wind data for different places, and for different times of the year. For most places and times, it's a mixed bag. There might be a slight trend that the wind is out of the one direction a bit more than out of another direction, but in most places you can count on some headwinds, some tailwinds, some crosswinds, and some calm days. Check out this site:

Say, for example, you look at Fargo ND for August. You'll see that 15% of the days, the wind is out of the SSE, but less than 1% of the time are those SSE winds above 11 MPH. Less than 10% of the time is the wind above 9 MPH from any direction. More than a third of the time, the wind is somewhere between S and SE.

Suppose you are traveling straight west from Fargo in August. 18% of the time, the wind will be out of the N or S, and thus neither favorable nor unfavorable. 47% of the time, the wind will be from somewhere between NNE and SSE, thus slightly favorable. 35% of the time, the wind will be from somewhere between NNW and SSW, and thus slightly unfavorable. Bottom line is that you have slightly better odds going west, but the difference isn't very much.

Consult other cities along the northern route at other times, and the results will be different.

Gear Talk / Re: For CC Touring:Trek 1.2 or Surly LHT?
« on: March 05, 2012, 10:43:34 pm »
Yes, the LHT (or equivalent) would work better. Touring bikes almost always work better for touring than non-touring bikes. After all, that's what they are designed for. But would it work significantly enough better to justify buying another bike? If you're looking for an excuse to buy another bike, then this is it. Good racks and good panniers will also help. You don't need any of these things, but if you want them and can afford them, then go for it.

General Discussion / Re: trike riding the transam and rumble strips
« on: March 04, 2012, 10:25:32 pm »
Well, I don't remember every mile, but I don't think there are too many rumble strips to worry about. A lot of the Wyoming roads do have rumble strips, but the traffic is so light that you can usually take the lane. Sometimes the shoulder is in such poor shape (such as between Rawlins and Lamont, WY) that you will want to ride in the lane as much as possible anyway. I used my mirror a lot to ride in the lane whenever traffic allowed and moved over to the shoulder only when a car came up behind that didn't look like it was going to move over.

General Discussion / Re: Woman Cycling Alone
« on: March 02, 2012, 10:52:29 am »
I tend to think most people exaggerate how dangerous a place can be
Me too. You'll be fine. I don't think there's anywhere you need to avoid, except possibly some pockets of a few of our very largest cities at night. None of those cities are in the states you mention.

Gear Talk / Re: Chain selection
« on: March 02, 2012, 10:47:17 am »
And John N, how about sharing some of that arduously collected data?  What's your chain life average and the range?

I measure my chains and change them when they get to 0.75% stretch. For my last 8 chains, I have gotten mileages of 4,223, 3,414, 3,767, 4,218, 3,348, 3,340, 1,859, and 3,142. That 4,218 and 3,348 numbers were SRAM 991, the 4,223 was a Shimano HG73, and the 3,414 was a SRAM 951. The rest were SRAM 771. Others have vastly different experiences and I have no good explanations why. Some change their chains every 1,000 miles and some every 10,000 miles. The differences can probably be attributed to a wide variety of factors, including how often you clean and lube, whether or not you're a masher or spinner, how often you ride in the rain, how many hills you ride, how heavy you and your load are, how dirty your roads are, etc.

General Discussion / Re: how safe is it to ride in the US?
« on: March 02, 2012, 10:36:24 am »
Although I would agree that the US is very safe both on and off the ACA routes, on the ACA routes you get a lot of "welcome--we're glad you're here" comments. Off ACA routes, the comments hint more of "what are you doing here exactly?" But it's not a big deal.

Routes / Re: Route Mileages
« on: March 02, 2012, 10:31:34 am »
I think the best way is to ride your route and let us know the actual mileage!!!
I know your comment was tongue-in-cheek, but there are many reasons for differences in actual mileage ridden and official map mileage. I rode the TransAm, which has an official mileage of 4241.5, and I adhered religiously to the route, but my mileage came out 4488. The difference is all those little accumulated trips to the grocery store, the swimming pool, the restaurant, the campground, etc. It only amounted to an average of 3 miles a day, but it adds up.

Thanks Carla for your detailed remarks. That helps my understanding quite a bit (and I found out that I had a math error in my earlier calculation). I'm looking forward excitedly to the availability of the new NT sections 3 and 4.

Routes / Re: Route Mileages
« on: March 01, 2012, 10:13:49 am »
I'm bumping this because I'm curious and because I'm sure somebody knows the real answer. Thanks.

Gear Talk / Re: Chain selection
« on: February 27, 2012, 10:12:44 am »
Yes, the SRAM chains will work fine with Shimano components. Their three basic models of SRAM 9-speed chains are the 951, the 971 and the 991. I only buy them when they're on sale, and I buy several at a time. Often there is only a small jump in price between the 951 and the 971, but a large jump between the 971 and the 991, so I usually end up with the 971. I have kept track of mileage on each chain over the last 15 chains or so, and I do notice that the more expensive ones last longer, but maybe my sample size isn't large enough to be significant. As long as you check your chains frequently for stretch and replace them often, it probably doesn't make much difference which one you use.

Gear Talk / Re: How to avoid saddles sores and rash (hand sanitizer)
« on: February 26, 2012, 10:27:48 pm »
I carry two pair of shorts, the pair I'm wearing and a spare in case I dry camp. (No more, since shorts weigh about a half-pound each, and that's not nothing.) Most of the time, however, I do get to wash my shorts in a sink, under a spigot, in the shower, etc. Even if I don't get to take a shower, I at a minimum wash my saddle contact area with a washcloth. I don't take wet wipes, since a drop of soap, a washcloth and a squirt of water from my water bottle does just fine, without the skin-drying effects of an alcohol-based wipe.

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