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Messages - John Nelson

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General Discussion / Re: transam
« on: January 21, 2012, 11:41:04 am »
If you plan to have indoor logding in any National Parks, make reservations now (if you can get them). This will, of course, tie your schedule to fixed dates there, but it would be a shame to have to blow through Yellowstone quickly.

The TransAm by motel was done last summer by a couple. Their journal is a tremendous resource for anybody who wants to do the same. They name the motels they used, their prices and their contact information.

There's also a book with a lot of motel resources listed. The information is 10 years old now, so I wouldn't trust it without double-checking. I do own this book, but I found it of limited use unless you need to motel references, so I don't really recommend it for campers.

Stephanie Ager Kirz, Bicycling the TransAm Trail: Virginia to Oregon/Washington, 2nd Edition, White Dog Press Ltd., 2003, ISBN 978-0974102719.

Here's my two pieces of advice for using motels. (1) Don't watch the TV, and (2) Spend as little time in your room as possible--mingling with the locals is one of the best parts of the trip and you don't want to isolate yourself from it.

Routes / Re: Transam in Montana: best route...
« on: January 20, 2012, 12:48:13 pm »
I assume you're talking about the TransAm going west to east. Going north on 12 takes you to Missoula. Going south on 93 bypasses Missoula. It depends on whether or not you want to see Missoula and/or visit the ACA headquarters, and how much of a hurry you are in. I will admit that US12 from Lolo to Missoula is not a pleasant road, and that visiting Missoula adds about 25 miles to your trip, but how can you pass up the Mecca of touring cycling (not to mention the free ice cream)? Besides, Missoula is a very pleasant city--a good place to stock up or lay over.

I don't understand your reference to Twin Bridges in this context.

EDIT: It struck me later that maybe you are not in fact asking about the TransAm route itself, but rather about alternate ways to get from Lolo to Twin Bridges. If you stay on ACA routes (either Lewis and Clark or TransAm), the trip from Lolo to Missoula on US12 is a spur, out and back, and then you continue south on 93 through Sula and Wisdom. But there are ways to get from Missoula to Twin Bridges that are not on ACA routes. Google maps with "avoid highways" driving directions gives two possibilities, one through Avon and Anaconda which is 13 miles longer than the TransAm (or 12 miles less if you include the Missoula spur on the TransAm), and one through Helena which is 55 (or 20) miles longer. Having never ridden those roads, I cannot comment on those routes, but the TransAm route is quite pleasant riding.

Routes / Fort Erie, NY?
« on: January 20, 2012, 10:52:52 am »
Just noticed on this image, there is a label for "Fort Erie, NY". As far as I know, there is no such place. If you update this image, you might want to change it to "Fort Erie, ON".

It appears on this page:

Gear Talk / Re: bike maintenance on tour
« on: January 18, 2012, 05:30:36 pm »
What's the reason for that?
Mostly vanity. Plus I felt better about taking my bike inside churches and hostels if it wasn't too filthy. I only did it a few times. You could skip it if you spend all your time on pavement.

Gear Talk / Re: bike maintenance on tour
« on: January 18, 2012, 03:57:18 pm »
On my TransAm, I did nothing except pump up the tires once every 10 days, lube the chain once every 5 days, and wipe it down with a damp rag after a rain.

General Discussion / Re: Shipping Bike to Virginia
« on: January 17, 2012, 10:08:11 pm »
The Duke of York is only a few blocks from the Victory Monument, so it's well located for a TransAm cyclist. I had dinner at their restaurant the night before I started.

Gear Talk / Re: Novara Randonee
« on: January 17, 2012, 02:30:23 pm »
I'll go out on a limb and assert that any bike on the market sold as a touring bike will do just fine.

Gear Talk / Re: Cassette Life
« on: January 11, 2012, 09:59:53 am »
I think I did 4200+ miles on the TA, 800+ miles on the Santa Fe Trail, 1000+ miles, on the southern portion of the SC route,  and 1300+ miles of the Pacific Coast on my original chain.  There was also a bit of riding around home so the chain had maybe 8000 miles on it at last check and was still under the requisite 12-1/16" for 12 complete links.
Yea Pete, but your experience is just freakish.  :) I've never heard of anyone else who gets this much life from a chain.

Routes / Re: Robert Campbell Highway
« on: January 11, 2012, 09:55:52 am »
crazyguyonabike has several journals that reference this highway. You might try searching over there and then contacting the authors via their guestbooks.

Gear Talk / Re: Cassette Life
« on: January 11, 2012, 09:43:43 am »
The most-oft-cited rule of thumb is that a cassette is good for three chains. Of course that depends on how often you change your chain, and I typically get more than three chain lives out of a cassette. I would say that I get about 15000 miles out of a cassette, and I have not found that number to differ much depending on the type of cassette.

Routes / Re: Dipping the tire in Florence Oregon.
« on: January 11, 2012, 09:40:18 am »
I advocate changing the wheel-dip tradition to a toe-dip tradition. So much easier to do, and you won't have to wash your bike afterwards.

Gear Talk / Re: Folding tires
« on: January 09, 2012, 09:53:23 pm »
I don't consider carrying a spare tire as insurance against wearing out a tire. You should be able to predict when your tire is going to be worn out in plenty of time to buy a new one or have one mailed to you.

Rather, I consider a spare tire as insurance against some kind of irreparable damage. Such damage might occur running over a large piece of glass or sharp metal which puts a large gash in the tire. Such damage might also occur if you have separation of the bead from the tire, perhaps due to a manufacturing defect or maybe due to poorly mounting or unmounting the tire. Either of these might not be bootable. Most smaller damages would be bootable.

Having said all that, I don't carry a spare tire. In the last 50,000 miles of riding, I've never had a tire so badly damaged that I could not get home by booting it. That's not to say it could not happen, but it is pretty low down on the list of things that could go wrong. A rim failure is probably more likely, but hardly anybody carries a spare wheel.

General Discussion / Re: TransAmerica 2012
« on: January 09, 2012, 09:43:56 am »
what is the best way to get bikes, gear etc. to the start location?
There are a lot of options, and you really need to check them all out one by one to see which one works the best for you. Taking the bikes and gear on the flight with you may be the most convenient option, but (depending on airline) it is probably not the cheapest, nor likely the least risk of damage. Shipping the bikes via UPS or FedEx is a very common option--you can likely find a bike shop or other host in your destination town to ship to. Bus and rail sometimes offer reasonable bike shipping too. There's always a one-way car rental, which is convenient and economical if multiple bikes are involved, and you have the time. A bike shop can do a pack-and-ship for you as well.

Unless I can find a non-stop flight (i.e., fewer chances for the luggage handlers to damage your bike) on Frontier or Southwest (i.e., a luggage-friendly airline), I prefer the UPS/FedEx option. If by some strange chance, Amtrak had a direct train from where I was to where I was going, and both stops had baggage service, I would consider that too. But that's not often going to be an option. For the trip back home, the bike shop pack-and-ship option works best for me, since I don't have all the resources at a distant location that I have at home.

Routes / Re: UK Rider. Recommendations.
« on: January 08, 2012, 03:04:01 pm »
As I said before, this is a large, diverse country. I assert, and I'll guess you would agree, that you cannot see it all in your time-frame, especially on a bicycle. If you're willing to take some faster means of transportation here and there, you can expand your range. Each state has something unique to offer. It's just difficult to figure out a logical way to connect them, and impossible to cover everything.

Here's one possibility. I'm sure others would have different opinions. This will show you, in this order, the Northeast, the upper Midwest, the Northern Rockies, the West Coast, the Southwest desert, the lower Midwest, the South, and the Atlantic Coast. It's a bit too much bus travel for my tastes, but maybe this would suit you.

Follow the Northern Tier from Bar Harbor to Niagara Falls (about 10 days).
Take a bus/plane to Minneapolis (about two days).
Follow the Northern Tier again from Minneapolis to Glacier National Park (about 15 days).
Take a bus Portland OR (one day).
Follow the Pacific Coast route to San Franscisco (10 days).
Take a bus/plane to San Diego (one day).
Follow the Southern Tier route to Wickenburg, AZ (6 days).
Take the Grand Canyon Connector to the Grand Canyon and then on to Cedar City UT (9 days).
Take the Western Express route and TransAm to somewhere in Kansas (14 days).
Take a bus to Carbondale, IL (2 days).
Continue on the TransAm to Cave-In-Rock, IL (one day).
Take the Underground Railroad route to Baton Rouge, LA (10 days).
Take the Southern Tier route to St Augustine, FL (10 days).
Take the Atlantic Coast route up to Philadelphia, PA (15 days).

That's 106 days, or about 3.5 months.

General Discussion / Re: Weather maps
« on: January 08, 2012, 02:20:19 pm »
What are the general comments on the Rocky Mountain weather conditions 2011/2012?
Snow has so far this winter been far below normal in the Rockies. But that really tells you very little, since there is much of winter left and it is entirely possible that we will be above normal by the time the season ends.

You are extremely unlikely to run into problems on paved roads in the Rockies if you are starting from Pueblo on June 20. McKenzie Pass is very unlikely to give you problems--I would not avoid it; in fact, I would recommend it. Even if a rare storm makes McKenzie Pass impassible, a good alternative (Santiam Pass) is readily available.

The incident you cited occurred in May. Not only was that incident unusual, it's a completely different world a month later.

Your current plan is about as good as it gets, risk wise. I wouldn't change anything.

P.S. 11 days to get from Pueblo to Missoula is pretty fast, about 100 miles a day if you follow the TransAm. This doesn't allow much time to see the sights (e.g., Yellowstone).

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