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Messages - John Nelson

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Gear Talk / Re: Folding tires
« on: January 09, 2012, 09:53:23 pm »
I don't consider carrying a spare tire as insurance against wearing out a tire. You should be able to predict when your tire is going to be worn out in plenty of time to buy a new one or have one mailed to you.

Rather, I consider a spare tire as insurance against some kind of irreparable damage. Such damage might occur running over a large piece of glass or sharp metal which puts a large gash in the tire. Such damage might also occur if you have separation of the bead from the tire, perhaps due to a manufacturing defect or maybe due to poorly mounting or unmounting the tire. Either of these might not be bootable. Most smaller damages would be bootable.

Having said all that, I don't carry a spare tire. In the last 50,000 miles of riding, I've never had a tire so badly damaged that I could not get home by booting it. That's not to say it could not happen, but it is pretty low down on the list of things that could go wrong. A rim failure is probably more likely, but hardly anybody carries a spare wheel.

General Discussion / Re: TransAmerica 2012
« on: January 09, 2012, 09:43:56 am »
what is the best way to get bikes, gear etc. to the start location?
There are a lot of options, and you really need to check them all out one by one to see which one works the best for you. Taking the bikes and gear on the flight with you may be the most convenient option, but (depending on airline) it is probably not the cheapest, nor likely the least risk of damage. Shipping the bikes via UPS or FedEx is a very common option--you can likely find a bike shop or other host in your destination town to ship to. Bus and rail sometimes offer reasonable bike shipping too. There's always a one-way car rental, which is convenient and economical if multiple bikes are involved, and you have the time. A bike shop can do a pack-and-ship for you as well.

Unless I can find a non-stop flight (i.e., fewer chances for the luggage handlers to damage your bike) on Frontier or Southwest (i.e., a luggage-friendly airline), I prefer the UPS/FedEx option. If by some strange chance, Amtrak had a direct train from where I was to where I was going, and both stops had baggage service, I would consider that too. But that's not often going to be an option. For the trip back home, the bike shop pack-and-ship option works best for me, since I don't have all the resources at a distant location that I have at home.

Routes / Re: UK Rider. Recommendations.
« on: January 08, 2012, 03:04:01 pm »
As I said before, this is a large, diverse country. I assert, and I'll guess you would agree, that you cannot see it all in your time-frame, especially on a bicycle. If you're willing to take some faster means of transportation here and there, you can expand your range. Each state has something unique to offer. It's just difficult to figure out a logical way to connect them, and impossible to cover everything.

Here's one possibility. I'm sure others would have different opinions. This will show you, in this order, the Northeast, the upper Midwest, the Northern Rockies, the West Coast, the Southwest desert, the lower Midwest, the South, and the Atlantic Coast. It's a bit too much bus travel for my tastes, but maybe this would suit you.

Follow the Northern Tier from Bar Harbor to Niagara Falls (about 10 days).
Take a bus/plane to Minneapolis (about two days).
Follow the Northern Tier again from Minneapolis to Glacier National Park (about 15 days).
Take a bus Portland OR (one day).
Follow the Pacific Coast route to San Franscisco (10 days).
Take a bus/plane to San Diego (one day).
Follow the Southern Tier route to Wickenburg, AZ (6 days).
Take the Grand Canyon Connector to the Grand Canyon and then on to Cedar City UT (9 days).
Take the Western Express route and TransAm to somewhere in Kansas (14 days).
Take a bus to Carbondale, IL (2 days).
Continue on the TransAm to Cave-In-Rock, IL (one day).
Take the Underground Railroad route to Baton Rouge, LA (10 days).
Take the Southern Tier route to St Augustine, FL (10 days).
Take the Atlantic Coast route up to Philadelphia, PA (15 days).

That's 106 days, or about 3.5 months.

General Discussion / Re: Weather maps
« on: January 08, 2012, 02:20:19 pm »
What are the general comments on the Rocky Mountain weather conditions 2011/2012?
Snow has so far this winter been far below normal in the Rockies. But that really tells you very little, since there is much of winter left and it is entirely possible that we will be above normal by the time the season ends.

You are extremely unlikely to run into problems on paved roads in the Rockies if you are starting from Pueblo on June 20. McKenzie Pass is very unlikely to give you problems--I would not avoid it; in fact, I would recommend it. Even if a rare storm makes McKenzie Pass impassible, a good alternative (Santiam Pass) is readily available.

The incident you cited occurred in May. Not only was that incident unusual, it's a completely different world a month later.

Your current plan is about as good as it gets, risk wise. I wouldn't change anything.

P.S. 11 days to get from Pueblo to Missoula is pretty fast, about 100 miles a day if you follow the TransAm. This doesn't allow much time to see the sights (e.g., Yellowstone).

General Discussion / Re: TransAmerica 2012
« on: January 08, 2012, 02:09:55 pm »
I flew into Newport News. Worked well.

Routes / Re: UK Rider. Recommendations.
« on: January 07, 2012, 07:02:53 pm »
What route would the community suggest; based on their experiences, which would give me the broadest taste of the different communities of the USA?
The TransAm will definitely give you an expanded look at rural and small-town America. But it won't be the "broadest" taste. For example, it won't really show you the deep South. It won't show you the big cities. it won't show you the Southwest deserts and canyons.

Make no mistake, I would definitely recommend the TransAm--it's fantastic. But if you have any extra time, spend a week in New York City, spend some time backpacking in the Utah canyons, spend a week along the Gulf coast, spend some time on the beaches of southern California. It's a large, diverse country.

Gear Talk / Re: Folding tires
« on: January 07, 2012, 06:05:43 pm »
Six of one, half-dozen of the other. It doesn't make any difference.

This one is very commonly used by touring cyclists:

General Discussion / Re: TransAmerica 2012
« on: January 06, 2012, 06:00:36 pm »
I will fly out of Amsterdam to Washington with KLM (May 17) and return from Portland (also direct flight). In Washington I will rent a car and drive to the start and from the finish I plan to do the same. The bike will go with the same flights. Shipping it earlier is pretty expensive and I'm allowed to take extra luggage for free.
I'm not sure where you are finishing, but if you finish in Astoria, there is very nice bus service to Portland, and you can take light rail directly from the Portland bus station to the Portland airport. The light rail even has hooks for bicycles. It's all very easy.

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.

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