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Messages - John Nelson

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General Discussion / Re: Astoria or Florence?
« on: May 31, 2011, 04:46:32 pm »
I have no idea, but I would guess more start/end in Florence, since it saves several days and many TransAm cyclists are already stretched to the limit on time available. The advantage to Astoria is primarily that the route then includes the beautiful Oregon coast, besides the fact that Astoria itself is pretty interesting. Also, it seems to me that transportation between Portland and Astoria is easier to arrange than transportation between Florence and Portland. There is good bus service between Astoria and Portland, and it starts/ends at the same place as the train to/from the Portland airport.

Rocky Mountain / Re: Bike shop in Denver area
« on: May 25, 2011, 10:07:58 pm »
Okay, I don't know of any bike shop anywhere that you can walk in and count on finding a touring bike in your size to rent or buy. I'm sure there are a few, but they are very few indeed and none are known to me. So if you want a touring bike, you'll need to prearrange. I know some good bike shops, but I don't know of any with much touring knowledge. I can highly recommend Wheat Ridge Cyclery (in Wheat Ridge) and University Bikes (in Boulder). If you need a touring bike on the spot and did not prearrange, then your best bet is REI. The flagship store is in Denver. They typically have one or two LHT on the floor, but it'd be pure luck if one was in your size.

You can usually count on REI to have some Ortlieb and Novara panniers and Tubus racks in stock, especially at the Denver flagship store. That store is probably your best chance at one-stop shopping for a bike and equipment. Shop around at their online web site and submit an order for everything you need. Have it delivered to the store and it will be ready for you when you get there. REI typically carries three kinds of touring bikes (Novara Randonee and Safari, and the Surly LHT)--you'll have to figure out the size yourself. I do not, however, currently see the LHT in their catalog.

If you order a bike through Wheat Ridge Cyclery or University Bikes, you'll likely get much better service making it fit you. These shops can readily swap out stems and saddles. They can probably order many of the bikes in the ACA buyers' guide.

Note that if you walk into any bike shop and ask to see their touring bikes, they will most likely not have any, but they will try to convince you that some bike on their floor is "practically the same thing." So if you want a real touring bike, and I do recommend you get one if you will be doing much touring, arrange ahead of time for them to order one.

I don't know of any place that rents touring bikes or touring equipment.

Rocky Mountain / Re: Bike shop in Denver area
« on: May 25, 2011, 02:39:07 pm »
Are you looking to buy a bike, rent a bike, service a bike, assemble a bike, get route advice, buy gear, or someplace to ship your bike to?

General Discussion / Re: Getting a Bike to where you are going
« on: May 25, 2011, 09:41:49 am »
Florida to the Northeast or West would seem to make both car rental and Amtrak less attractive due to the long distances involved.

General Discussion / Re: Getting a Bike to where you are going
« on: May 25, 2011, 12:24:37 am »
Here are my suggestions:

(1) If you will often be traveling to places at which you can leave a bike case and your bike route is a loop, then buy a hard-shell bike case.

(2) If you will be traveling less often and/or your bike route is point-to-point, use a disposable cardboard bike box.

If you are traveling on an airline with reasonable bike fees (e.g., Southwest), then fly with the bike. Most airlines do not, however, have reasonable bike fees at this time (maybe some time in the future if we're lucky). So, if you're traveling on most airlines, then use a shipping service like FedEx or UPS. If you are using a hard-shell, you can easily pack and ship it yourself. If you are using a cardboard box, you can either pack and ship it yourself or have a bike shop pack and ship it for you. The latter alternative is about $50 more. I like to pack and ship myself on the outbound leg and have a bike shop pack and ship for the return leg.

Finally, if you only need a bike for a couple of days, rent one at your destination. But check ahead for availability, since places that rent road bikes are not common (mountain and city bike rentals are easy).

Gear Talk / Re: Rack Platforms
« on: May 24, 2011, 04:25:47 pm »
The Tara certainly has no platform, but the Cargo platform is ideal for carrying stuff like a tent. I'm not sure what more you want in a platform.

Not one person.

If it's open, I highly recommend the Mississippi Levee alternate. It was one of my best days. Of course I didn't take the main route, so I cannot compare them.

Gear Talk / Re: Rack Platforms
« on: May 23, 2011, 12:25:49 am »
Yes, it's just more storage. You can put anything there you want. Some people would put a tent or a sleeping bag (inside a dry bag) or put a bag there that substitutes for a handlebar bag. Some people mount a headlight there.

Personally, I would not use one for three reasons: (1) I don't need that much space, and if I used that much space, it'd mean my load was likely too heavy, (2) it makes the front rack heavier, and (3) it's up too high on the front wheel for me and I'd be afraid it'd affect handling--I like my front weight down low.

Routes / Re: How Far in a Month
« on: May 22, 2011, 11:54:38 am »
I'm assuming that you plan to take three months (90 days) for the total ride. Let's assume that you take 3 days off each month, riding a total of 81 days. The route from Astoria to Yorktown is officially 4262 miles, but it'll be a bit longer for any given rider with detours and side trips. So let's call it 4500 miles. 4500 miles in 81 days of riding is about 56 miles a day. That's very doable. Although your mileage can vary a bit depending on the hilliness of the terrain, let's ignore that because it's not that significant. So in your first month, you will ride 1500 miles, or 1420 miles of the official route. Leaving from Astoria, that gets you somewhere in the middle of Yellowstone National Park.

So no, you won't get across the Rockies in a month if you break the route up into equal thirds.

To get "over the Rockies" you need to get in about 2000 miles from Astoria. Suppose you shoot for Pueblo, a large enough town to stop and get transportation out. Pueblo is 2065.5 miles from Astoria. To do that in 30 days would require 69 miles a day, riding every day (plus perhaps 5-10% more for side trips and detours). That's still doable if you keep your load reasonable and start out in good shape. If you take a day off here or there (especially in Yellowstone), you'll need to average a bit more on your riding days.

Note that if you have three one-month segments to do this trip, you don't really need to get "over the Rockies" in the first month. You could just get through Yellowstone and Grand Teton and arrange transportation home from Jackson WY. That's what I'd suggest. But perhaps your second month will need to be in some month with weather not suitable for crossing the Rockies???

P.S. I'm confused by your words "over the Rockies into Colorado". Once you get "into Colorado", most of the Rockies are still in front of you.

Gear Talk / Re: new OFF product
« on: May 21, 2011, 09:36:41 pm »
If you need both at the same time, put the sunscreen on first, then the DEET.

Gear Talk / Re: Help/Advice for New Bike
« on: May 20, 2011, 11:12:57 pm »
(1) Consult the "Touring Bikes for your Consideration" in the ACA "Touring Bike Buyers' Guide":

(2) Prune the list to only those in your price range. Prune the list again based on how well the parameters of the bike meet your requirements (based on the rest of the text in the article).

(3) Visit all the local bike shops in your area to see which of these they have on the floor (if any) and which they can order for you. Find out if they will order one in your size on a "no obligation to buy" basis.

(4) Test ride all the ones you can find/order.

(5) Buy the one that feels the best to you.

(6) If you are unable to get any bikes to take a test ride, then you'll have to take a chance. Pick any of the popular bikes from a major brand and you'll be fine.

(7) Don't over-think this. There are many bikes that will suffice. You don't need the "best" bike. You just need one that meets your requirements.

I agree that most people here will recommend the bike they personally own. That won't be that useful to you.

Gear Talk / Re: lightweight, waterproof gloves
« on: May 20, 2011, 10:57:45 pm »
A popular bike racers' trick is to use extra large dish washing gloves, those ugly yellow things. They can be put over your regular gloves, tucked into the end of your jersey or jacket sleeves (or you can put a rubber band around the wrist), and discarded when no longer needed. The advantage of these over the latex gloves doctors wear is that they keep the water away from your skin. Although the doctors gloves will keep your hands dry, they offer very little thermal barrier if the gloves over them are wet.

General Discussion / Re: REI SALE
« on: May 20, 2011, 10:29:42 pm »
20% off does not apply to sale items.

General Discussion / Re: Panniers: locking them up...
« on: May 20, 2011, 09:52:51 am »
I just run my cable lock through the pannier handles. It's very little, but it would prevent the snatch and run thief. That's enough for me. Most people have no idea that the panniers themselves are valuable, and most people envision that the pannier is full of dirty clothes anyway.

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