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Messages - John Nelson

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To get back to my original question about winds, I just saw this incredible website showing current wind conditions everywhere in the country.

Definitely points to going west to east!
That is indeed a very cool graphic. However, it only shows you the winds right now. It doesn't show you the winds in June. So although you might want to go west to east if you were leaving within the next hour, that might not apply to another time. Furthermore, if I look at the the state of Washington as I type, the map up there shows it to be fairly black (i.e., not much wind at all). There is a bit of historical data there, but it only goes back two weeks. You can even find some days in those two weeks where east to west would be better (although west-to-east would be better on more days in those two weeks than east-to-west would). I just don't think it makes that much difference.

General Discussion / Re: "inexpensive" supported tour
« on: March 30, 2012, 09:47:11 pm »
The OP is looking for a supported tour that is less than $50 a day (as is the Santa Fe Trek). Most of the ACA supported tours, except for the multi-month tours, are in the $100+ per day range. Most of the shorter ACA self-contained tours are also in the $100+ per day. Only when you get up to the coast-to-coast self-contained tours can you get below $50 a day.

On the other hand, week-long state tours, which are available in many of our states, are closer to the $50-a-day range. These tours typically spread the cost of the staff and van over a larger number of people, and many have corporate sponsors.

General Discussion / Re: "inexpensive" supported tour
« on: March 30, 2012, 11:17:26 am »
There are many supported state tours which range in the $50-$70 a day range that are a lot smaller than RAGBRAI. But if you want to get down to the 15-people range, it's going to be more expensive. You typically have to have at least a few hundred participants to keep the costs down.

How long of a distance between water sources are we talking about? Forewarned, I'd rather carry extra water than a water filter. I can and have carried two days worth of water before.

Routes / Re: Northern Tier: Change of route May 2012
« on: March 29, 2012, 03:11:55 pm »
Fantastic news Carla. Congratulations on getting this big job done so quickly. I'm going to order my maps today so I can get them while they're still warm.

BTW, I can't find where I (thought I) saw the "late May" prediction.

Wind is almost never a big of a factor as people imagine (except in Wyoming). It's a game of chance. No matter which way you go, you're going to have some headwinds, some tailwinds and some crosswinds. The best you can do is bias the odds a bit.

The wind rose for Kalispell, MT for the month of June shows that the wind primarily comes out of the south, with SSE in second place. The winds from the east and west are much less frequent, with winds out of the west three percentage points more frequent than from the east.

The wind rose for Spokane, WA for the month of June shows winds primarily out of the SW. This might tend to bias you a bit to travel eastbound.

General Discussion / Re: Long distance trip alone?
« on: March 26, 2012, 12:06:46 pm »
it seemed much less fun when there wasn't someone there suffering with you
Suffering? There's not supposed to be any suffering on a tour!

Gear Talk / Re: 2012 Novara Randonee rear rack
« on: March 25, 2012, 09:17:44 pm »
If your friend is planning to overload the rack, then the Tubus Cargo would be a reasonable upgrade. But if your friend will have a standard load, then the Randonee rear rack would probably be fine.

A review at Bicycle Times magazine says, "The Randonee comes with a stout-looking 6160 tubular aluminum alloy rear rack that Novara designed and had manufactured specifically for this bike."

The reviews at are also favorable, but I would not trust those reviews to be totally unbiased. REI does "moderate" its user reviews.

In any event, I would advise fully loading up the bike and taking it on a bumpy road (maybe you can find some rumble strips to ride on) for a long ride to identify any infant mortality when you can still get it easily addressed.

General Discussion / Re: overseas travel
« on: March 25, 2012, 06:25:15 pm »
I don't think Tim uses a bike case.

I had my bike in a regular bike box.

Bike cases are not a very good solution for point-to-point tours. For loop tours, they can generally be left with the hotel you stay at for the first and last night, or with a Warm Showers host.

Thanks Raybo for the link. Very interesting.

General Discussion / Re: Tires
« on: March 23, 2012, 04:06:11 pm »
Are you going loaded, or supported? If loaded, how much weight?

Do you want to stick with 23mm? That's very narrow if you are carrying weight? Most loaded cyclists go with somewhere between 32mm and 45mm, although some do with 28mm. If you're unloaded, then 23mm is fine. Continental Gatorskins are popular, durable and puncture-resistant touring tires and are available in 23mm to 32mm.

A bit off subject (but not completely since Frontier is one of the main airlines serving Bellingham, and the only one that can provide a non-stop flight for me).

I checked Frontier's bicycle policy today. Bicycles incur no special fees, but they do count as an item of baggage, which may or may not cost you depending on your ticket class (at worst $20 unless you have two other pieces of luggage). Great news is that oversize fees do not apply to bicycles, so as long as your L+H+W is less than 110 inches, it's just an ordinary piece of luggage. If it's above 50 pounds, there's a $75 excess weight fee, so don't pack a lot of extra stuff in with the bike.

Bottom line is that if you pack your bike in a box, and all your gear in a disposable duffel, and keep each one under 50 pounds, you'll pay only $20+$20 for luggage if you have an economy ticket, and nothing if you have a higher-class ticket.

Flying into Sea-Tac might be cheaper.
I just checked Frontier, and flying into Bellingham is 25% cheaper for me than flying into Seattle, both non-stop (although flying into Seattle offers more choices of flight time).

I know that some of you will call this upright stupid ... On my last trip I had 1000 dollars in hard cash in my wallet.
I don't think that's stupid at all. You chances of getting robbed on the TransAm are probably less than one in a thousand, so this tactic is only costing you a dollar, assuming you are careful not to flash the wad around and assuming you're not the kind of person who loses things.

I'd guess that many younger clerks you see along the way don't even know what a Traveler's Cheque is and wouldn't know what to do if you handed them one. According to Wikipedia:

The wider acceptance and better security of the alternatives such as credit and debit cards has meant a significant decline in the use of travelers cheques since the 1990s. In addition, the security issues for retailers accepting travelers cheques has meant that many businesses no longer accept them, making them less attractive to travelers. This has led to complaints about the difficulty that holders have in using them. In much of Europe and Asia, the cheques are no longer widely accepted and can not easily be cashed, even at the banks that issue the cheques.

I carried a few hundred in cash, used credit cards a lot, and didn't spend that much. My cash lasted me the whole way without replenishment.

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