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Messages - John Nelson

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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.

Routes / Route Mileages
« on: February 24, 2012, 05:37:35 pm »
I'm curious as to how map mileages are listed when there are alternative routes. I just got my new Cyclosource catalog in the mail, and I looked up the "Northern Tier + North Lakes" route. So it tells me that if I buy the complete set, it is 4651 miles. Then each of the 12 maps in the set are listed individually, each with a mileage. If I add up the 12 mileages of the individual maps, I only get 4399 miles, 252 miles short of the set total. Now I know that there are several options on this route (e.g., (1) you can go to Waterton Lakes NP in Canada or go through East Glacier to Cut Bank, (2) you can go through Grand Rapids MN or take the shortcut to Dalbo, (3) you can ferry across Lake Michigan from Ludington MI or go around the north side and cross the Mackinac Strait). I also know that the maps contain roads you won't need if taking the North Lakes alternative (e.g., the last half of North Lakes Section 3 takes you back to the NT in Indiana, which you don't need if you're taking the Lake Erie Connector).

So, to refine my question, what do the mileages shown for map segments or map sets include? Are they a sum of all the roads mapped, including the alternatives? Do they count the shortest alternative? The longest alternative? The "normal" alternative? And how do you come up with 4651 miles for the Northern Tier + North Lakes map set.


Routes / Re: Weather: Transamerica E to W for fast cyclists
« on: February 22, 2012, 09:54:14 pm »
Has it been a winter with a reduced amount of snow with chances of early mountain pass
It's too early to ask. March is our snowiest month. We're below average now, but we could easily be above average in a month. If I remember correctly, however, I believe you are starting in the East and doing the TransAm westbound with high-mileage days. So you'll have roughly 2400 miles under your belt by the time you get to the Rockies. Even at 100 miles a day, that'll take you 24 days. Your early option of flying on May 26 would then put you at the foot of the Rockies on June 18 at the earliest. There is almost zero chance of Hoosier Pass being snowpacked on June 18, no matter what kind of winter we have.

Midwest / Re: US Rt 60 (Springfield to Winona MO)
« on: February 22, 2012, 10:06:13 am »
Unfortunately, Ray got sideswiped by an 18-wheeler in Virginia (see Day 49). If you look at the picture of the road he was on at the time, you can see why it's often better to stick to ACA routes, which likely would not have chosen that road. Ray deviated off the TransAm in Missouri as he was headed east.

General Discussion / Re: how safe is it to ride in the US?
« on: February 21, 2012, 06:05:14 pm »
One driver out of a thousand will give you problems, but you only hear about the one. Furthermore, that one won't give you that much of a problem. I rode the entire TransAm with no close calls at all, and no visibly irritated motorists.

Routes / Re: Mammouth Caves Loop, Kentucky to Asheville, NC
« on: February 21, 2012, 02:46:57 pm »
I recommend you use Google maps, but don't use the bike route option. The bike route option of Google maps is useful for getting you to the grocery store, but really bad for getting you long distances. It will give you a route with a thousand turns, put you on many unnamed paths that you won't be able to find, and might even route you on hiking trails. Instead, use Google driving directions, but ask for the "Avoid Highways" option. Then look at the roads with street view, and get traffic volumes from the state Departments of Transportation, and adjust as you see fit.

The ACA does not publish a database of usable roads.

Midwest / Re: US Rt 60 (Springfield to Winona MO)
« on: February 19, 2012, 03:36:06 pm »
Ray Jardine rode it in 2010. Some of the road has no shoulders, and where it does have shoulders, it was "littered with bicycle tire flattening things like chunks glass, sharp rocks, bits of metal falling off cars, and worst of all, the highway cyclist's nemesis: blown truck tire wires. At times I felt like I was pedaling through a minefield."

But worst of all, he hated the rumble strips. No direct link to the page is available, but go to this site, click on "Missouri" and forward two days to Day 39.

Routes / Re: East to West TransAm to Southern Tier
« on: February 19, 2012, 02:10:22 pm »
It's interesting to see how different people have different criteria in what makes a good route. While I agree with siden420 on all the advantages of riding on the Interstate (safe, wide shoulders, good cell service, good access to services, good pavement, less distance, less hilly), I nevertheless find it miserable. It has none of the charm and tranquility that motivates me to be out there riding in the first place.

Routes / Re: Start date suggestions for Pacific Coast (north to south)
« on: February 19, 2012, 01:10:39 pm »
I did a quick look at the wind rose data for Arcata, California, in section 3 of the five-section route, so roughly in the middle of the route. It does look like the favorable winds continue through September. The most favorable winds appear to be in May, June and July, then slightly abate in intensity in August (but still favorable in direction) and then become a bit more favorable again in September. They begin to get a bit more easterly in October and become decidedly unfavorable in November and stay that way until April.

Connecting ACA Routes / Re: Seattle to Northern Tier
« on: February 18, 2012, 10:21:45 pm »
If you give me a PM when you are about to set off I'd be happy to ride with you out of Greater Seattle.
That's a great offer. I'd appreciate a guide to get me out of the city. My plan is to fly to Seattle sometime in mid-June. I'll contact you when I have more details.

Gear Talk / Re: Essentials
« on: February 18, 2012, 09:39:30 pm »

A bike
A patch kit
A tire lever
A pump
A water bottle
Something to carry your stuff in
A helmet
Enough clothes to avoid getting arrested
A toothbrush

Very useful:

Bike shorts
Warm clothes
Clothes to wear off bike
A map

Things you might find handy:

A camera
A bike computer
A sleeping bag
A tarp or bivvy or tent
A bike lock
A flashlight
Bike gloves
A rain jacket
Insect repellent

General Discussion / Re: Which sunscreen?
« on: February 17, 2012, 04:54:35 pm »
Step 1. Read all the articles about sunscreen chemicals.
Step 2. Read all the articles about sunscreen effectiveness.
Step 3. Figure out which articles you believe, if any.
Step 4. From the articles you believe, make a list of the dangerous chemicals and a list of the effective chemicals.
Step 5. Read the ingredients on the sunscreens in the store.
Step 6. Select one contains the effective chemicals but not the dangerous chemicals.

If we each apply this procedure, we'll all walk out of the store with different brands. Some will walk out with nothing. Step 3 is the difficult step.

Routes / Re: east coast to st louis via motels?
« on: February 16, 2012, 06:05:44 pm »
There's probably a million routes that would do. A recent post here mentioned doing the entire TransAm in motels (see, so you could do the same thing, deviating off the TA when you get close to St Louis. The TA is a nice bike route. Obviously, riding on or close to the major highways would make easier to find lodging, but also would make for miserable riding, so I don't recommend that.

General Discussion / Re: Cost - WE to TA
« on: February 16, 2012, 06:00:56 pm »
Although it can be done on $5 a day, I'm not saying you would necessarily want to. The key thing in keeping costs down is to never spend a dime to sleep--it can be done. Also, any unexpected setbacks could cause unexpected expenses (e.g., mechanical failures, body failures, emergency evacuations, bail bonds), so it's good to have a cushion.

Routes / Re: East-West & need some advice?!
« on: February 16, 2012, 02:50:12 pm »
I plugged your cities into Google maps and asked for "avoid highways" directions, and it told me it was about 4000 miles. Your actual route may vary from this, but it puts us in the ballpark. If you plan to follow ACA routes, it'll be longer. So let's call it 5000 miles. If you ride 100 miles a day (hard core), it'll take 50 days. If you ride 67 miles a day (pretty typical), it'll take 75 days. If you ride 40 miles a day (leisurely), it'll take 125 days.

To use ACA routes, you could take the Southern Tier to the Underground Railroad to the TransAm to the Pacific Coast. That's somewhat less than 5000 miles.

BTW, Cave-In-Rock is in Illinois.

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