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Messages - John Nelson

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Routes / Re: Southern Tier in 36 days?
« on: November 21, 2011, 11:15:02 pm »
People run marathons despite the fact that walking would be more pleasant and allow more time to enjoy the experience. What you're planning is like running a marathon and it has different kinds of rewards. If that's what you want, go for it. It's possible.

General Discussion / Re: Why is it so difficult to find front racks?
« on: November 17, 2011, 09:57:14 pm »
Here's a link to a site that reviews 24 front racks, starting as low as $19. It's 3 years old, but I'd guess most of these are still on the market.

The page for rear racks is very mildly NSFW. The front rack page is completely safe.

Routes / Re: Best way (cheapest) to get bike and gear to the route start
« on: November 16, 2011, 09:36:44 am »
It's best to price out airline bike fees before buying your ticket. Consider the cost for you and the bike together before deciding which is the cheapest flight. Often times the cheapest ticket for you is not the cheapest solution when also considering the bike.

Depending on what airline you use, you may find that it is cheaper to ship the bike using UPS or FedEx. Make sure you keep the container within the size and weight restrictions for "ground" shipments because "freight" shipments can be four or five times more. Ship the bike to a bike shop or a friendly local about a week ahead. A disposable container (i.e., a box) is usually preferable to a hard shell, which becomes a problem for one-way tours.

Other possibilities are Amtrak (if you have baggage service at both the origination and destination) or a bus company. One-way car rental is also popular.

Panniers and gear can be packed into a duffel bag or old suitcase and sent as checked luggage. I prefer a disposable duffel or suitcase from a thrift store so I don't have to carry it. Avoid packing a lot of gear in the bike box if it will be subject to TSA screening, or avoid making your bike box too heavy if shipping UPS or FedEx.

Your handlebar bag can serve as your carry-on--just make sure you don't put any TSA-prohibited items in it.

Gear Talk / Re: Preferred method of terminating handlebar tape ?
« on: November 10, 2011, 06:03:18 pm »
I've seen several web sites that show how to do this. They're pretty easy to find. I think it looks pretty cool, but it's more work than I'd do. I think it's called "whipping." People typically put some form of varnish or shellac over the cord to seal it and prevent unwrapping.

Routes / Re: Suitability mapping?
« on: November 06, 2011, 07:18:30 pm »
For the past 25 years Yellowstone N.P. has done practically nothing for cyclists.
They repaved a road in Grand Teton last year and put nice wide shoulders on it. It was great.

Routes / Re: Suitability mapping?
« on: November 06, 2011, 01:04:30 pm »
Are there really cyclists who want/use this info?
Yes, I use these maps frequently and find them very helpful.

Gear Talk / Re: Brifters vs. bar-end from a convenience standpoint
« on: November 04, 2011, 02:59:11 pm »
The pros and cons of these two solutions has been exhaustively discussed before. I didn't do a search, but perhaps you could find something that way.

I have one bike with each. For touring, I prefer the bar-ends for numerous reasons:
 - No cables to get in the way of your handlebar bag.
 - Can see or feel what gear you're in by looking at or feeling the shifters.
 - Easier to make wide shifts (useful at the end of a steep downhill that goes directly into a steep uphill).
 - Easier to operate with heavy gloves.

I know many others prefer the brifters, and if you get campy, the cable problem goes away. You can pretty easily adapt to either system. I don't find moving my hands down to the levers to be an issue.

Gear Talk / Re: Biking Stores for getting touring bike in SF Bay Area
« on: November 02, 2011, 12:17:07 am »
I have no knowledge of bike shops in SF, but I will note that most bike shops have very little understanding of bicycle touring. If you can find one that does, then that's great. But just so you won't get talked into something inappropriate, do your homework. One of the best places to start is right here in the how-to section. Start here:

General Discussion / Re: Weather maps
« on: October 31, 2011, 11:59:08 am »
Weather can be very localized, especially in the West. Unless you are looking at the data for within 20 miles of where you are, you may get a wildly inapplicable data. I think you really need to look by city for the cities along your route.

General Discussion / Re: Weather maps
« on: October 30, 2011, 05:54:07 pm »
Almost every web site that does weather does this. Here's one.

General Discussion / Re: Stupid Hotel Question
« on: October 30, 2011, 05:49:37 pm »
I might also mention that the National Parks have a "no turn away" policy for cyclists in campgrounds, even when advertised as full.
Many of them, but not all of them. Check before you rely on this.

Routes / Re: Is there a straighter line from Minneapolis to Manitowoc?
« on: October 26, 2011, 08:02:26 pm »
Straighter than what?

General Discussion / Re: Stupid Hotel Question
« on: October 25, 2011, 10:41:32 pm »
Popular places such as National Parks need to be reserved well in advance--now would be good. Less popular places can usually be reserved a day or two or three in advance, or just left until you get there. The farther ahead you reserve, the less your travel flexibility and the more your peace of mind.

Routes / Re: Trans America/Western Express - Best time to leave VA
« on: October 23, 2011, 09:48:48 pm »
Although early May is a more typical starting time, many leave in April, especially if they are planning to take a long time. You'll be fine, especially if you have the resources to stay in motels in the event of bad weather.

But I agree with jamawani that 3 months is a very generous amount of time for the TA/WE. Try not to get to the Rockies before June.

General Discussion / Re: About Colorado....
« on: October 20, 2011, 02:51:11 pm »
Unless you're really slow, you should have no problem. Cold (depending on your definition of "cold") probably cannot be avoided, but you want to try to avoid snow if you can. You'll avoid most chances of trouble if you're through Colorado by the end of August. But, depending on your (unspecified) route (you didn't even say if this is coast-to-coast or not), your cold-weather challenges aren't done there. If you're on the TransAm, Yellowstone NP will be your next biggest chance of problems, and you're still not done with possible cold. Most cross-country cyclists can complete the trip in three months or less, so you'll probably finish the first week of September or earlier, and most likely (but not certainly), you'll be fine.

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