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Messages - John Nelson

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Gear Talk / Re: packing panniers
« on: February 14, 2012, 11:55:39 pm »
Move the panniers as far forward on the rear rack as you can without creating heel strike. You want to get the center of the pannier no farther back than the center of the rear hub. Otherwise the front wheel will tend to lift off the ground, especially during climbing. Load the panniers up with the actual gear you will be taking with you. In addition to the experiments Fred suggested, try climbing and descending the steepest hill you have around.

Connecting ACA Routes / Re: Seattle to Northern Tier
« on: February 12, 2012, 02:38:11 pm »
Thank you very much Harper. That's great! I appreciate you taking the time.

General Discussion / Re: Keeping bike on a rack.
« on: February 11, 2012, 07:10:16 pm »
It will almost certainly be possible to get to the Glacier Gorge or Bear Lake trailheads by car at the end of this month. It will also be possible to get there by bicycle if you're okay riding on some snowpack. The road is plowed, so you won't run into deep snow unless it has snowed recently. If it gets bad, hitch a ride the last miles. You might also run into some snow on highway 7 getting to Estes Park--call the DOT for road conditions before setting out.

Personally, I'd probably take my bike down the trail a bit and hide it in the trees well off the trail, locking it to a tree. It'll probably be safe there. You could even bury it in the snow.

Change your plans if a winter storm is in the forecast, and take snowshoes. The Flattop Mountain and Glacier Gorge trails are both pretty steep in spots, so you'll need the snowshoes for traction even if you don't need them for floatation. Stop at the visitor's center and let them know your plans. Know how to build a snow cave and how to avoid avalanches. Take your cell phone. Surprisingly, I've gotten a signal pretty deep up Glacier Gorge. Mills Lake and the keyboard of the winds up Glacier Gorge are gorgeous in winter--you can walk right across the lake. The normal winter trail bypasses Alberta Falls and is shorter. And the views from Flattop Mountain trail are spectacular, particularly when you get directly above Dream Lake.

Have a blast and don't die.

General Discussion / Re: Keeping bike on a rack.
« on: February 11, 2012, 02:24:57 pm »
Although Bear Lake Road is open year-round, it is often snow-packed in the winter. If you plan to go on foot from this road, certainly anywhere on the upper half of the road, you'll need snowshoes. Furthermore, the trails will be mostly obscured, so you'll need to be able to determine where you're going from the terrain, or by following other snowshoe tracks. The winter trails used are different than the summer trails used, so be sure to pick up a winter map.

The planned construction is on the lower part of the road.

Can you tell us more precisely where you're going? What trailhead will you be using and where will you be heading? We might be able to offer more specific advice, and we promise not to steal your bike.

General Discussion / Re: Keeping bike on a rack.
« on: February 10, 2012, 07:29:33 pm »
RMNP attracts visitors from all over the world. It would be impossible to vouch for them all. I'd be quite comfortable locking my bike there for two hours, but probably not for four days. Even locked for four days, your bike would probably be okay, but the risk would rise above my tolerance level.

They'll still be a lot of snow there at the end of the month, although you stand a pretty-good chance (maybe 75%) of having clear roads. But you'll only be able to get about eight miles up Trail Ridge Road at best. Even then you'll likely start to see snow on the road not far up from the visitors center.

Gear Talk / Re: removing tabs on fork
« on: February 10, 2012, 10:34:20 am »
Could there be some difference between dropouts that never had tabs and dropouts with the tabs filed off?

General Discussion / Re: NEW BICYCLE QUESTIONS
« on: February 09, 2012, 10:57:11 pm »
You're good to go. Have a great time.

Routes / Re: West to East, Western Express & Trans Am -- Dates?
« on: February 08, 2012, 07:30:33 pm »
Hey Ted, I'm not even planning to take the WE but I enjoyed your descriptions nevertheless.

General Discussion / Re: Finding a secure place for my bike.
« on: February 06, 2012, 01:17:54 pm »
I'd recommend calling the visitors center at (970) 586-1206 and asking them if they have a secure place you could leave it.

General Discussion / Re: Weather Extremes
« on: February 04, 2012, 07:42:24 pm »
The best time to start the TA in the East is in the first half of May. The best time to start in the West is around mid-June. Any earlier start in the West and you're likely to have cold, wet weather through Colorado. The issue is that the West is generally higher elevation, and thus typically colder (and possibly snowier) than the East in the early season.

Starting in late May in the East will be fine, weather-wise. I prefer starting a bit earlier as you'll get more average daylight (by centering the trip around the summer solstice). Starting in late May in the East will likely get you to Yellowstone after July 4 (unless you're fast), and thus the tourist traffic will be heavier. It might also be a bit hotter in the Midwest, but temperatures in any given year are not very predictable so you may be fine.

General Discussion / Re: Weather Extremes
« on: February 04, 2012, 03:34:05 pm »
Makes a difference whether you're leaving from the West or East.

If you're leaving from the West (not my recommendation), be prepared for wet, cold weather for the first part of your trip.

If you're leaving from the East, you should have pretty good weather.

The coldest temperatures you're likely to experience are around freezing, unless you camp in the high country, which you can mostly avoid with some planning. I agree with all of Patrick's comments: multiple light to medium layers with a lightweight rain/wind jacket. To avoid overpacking, choose clothing such that if you put on everything you brought simultaneously, you'll be comfortable riding at a temperature around freezing, and in a 40F rain.

General Discussion / Re: Short colorado ride.
« on: February 04, 2012, 03:24:07 pm »
If you intend to ride Trail Ridge Road, wait until it opens (usually by not always by Memorial Day). Ride on a weekday if possible. Take the back roads to Hygiene, Hygiene Road to US36, US36 and State Highway 66 to Lyons, State Highway 7 to Estes Park. It'll be less crowded if you use the US34 entrance to RMNP rather than the US36 entrance (although it doesn't make that much difference). Those two roads merge back together part-way up. Take warm clothes and be prepared for rain or snow, no matter when you go. Beware of afternoon storms.

Routes / Re: West to East, Western Express & Trans Am -- Dates?
« on: February 03, 2012, 10:35:12 pm »
The ACA says that the Western Express can be ridden from mid-May through October, and the TransAm can be ridden from May through September. So the combo route can be ridden from mid-May through September. Adjusting as necessary based on how fast you are, you can start the Western Express in San Franscisco from mid-May through late July. To avoid the worst heat, start towards the beginning of that interval, but monitor the passes early in the WE route before you start. So far this year, snowpack is fairly low (although there's enough winter left to reverse that), so an early start will probably work.

General Discussion / Re: First long distance ride?
« on: February 03, 2012, 12:52:28 pm »
Yes, 300 yards is over the top. I see the standard recommendation is closer to 100 yards. The site Jenn provided the link to says 320 feet (probably converted from an original recommendation of 100 meters). What I have done in the past is stop and prepare dinner somewhere along the road, then clean up and put everything away, brush my teeth, and ride on to a camp for the night. That way when I get to camp, all I have to do is hang one pannier in the tree and move some distance away to set up my tent.

Camping in campgrounds with bear boxes, however, is my preference when available. Many NFS and NPS campgrounds in bear country will have such bear boxes.

Routes / Re: Best Novice Route Under 500 Miles
« on: February 02, 2012, 09:53:08 pm »
Normally I'd recommend a route close to home. But that apparently isn't in the cards for you.

So next I'd recommend a supported ride. I know you kind of ruled that out, but a supported ride would take out a lot of the risk and anxiety, and might make her more comfortable. So a nice inn-to-inn ride with all support included with breakfast and dinner provided makes for a nice ride. Most of these rides offer a short and long route each day, which allows more flexibility to do what you feel, including sitting out a day if you want. These rides tend to be fairly expensive, but they are a nice way to get used to touring.

If you don't like that idea, then I'd pick a ride where the towns are close enough together to allow plenty of route options without unusually long days. Perhaps a nice tour in Vermont and New Hampshire. Even a hilly day isn't too bad if you keep the distances reasonable.

If you want to stay off roads, then, as you suggest, a rails-to-trails route seems ideal. These routes are usually fairly flat too. Two you might want to consider are the Mickelson Trail in SD and the Katy Trail in MO. I'm not being sexist when I say this because studies back it up, but women tend to dislike sharing the road with traffic more than men, so your wife is in good company.

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