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Messages - briwasson

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166
Routes / Re: C&O canal to Pittsburgh via cumberland MD.
« on: March 08, 2010, 07:58:48 am »
You can park at Great Falls as you mentioned, but then you have to ride back to DC (figure 1.5 hours or so) to catch the train. If you do that, make sure you tell a park ranger that you are long-term parking and they will make a note of it for their patrols. Or, you can park at Reagan National Airport long-term parking and ride into DC for the train. There is also a parking garage at Union Station, I believe, but I don't know about long-term parking there.

A friend of mine is looking to do the trip in August and has checked on logistics, too. He's considering using one of the shuttle services (can't recall which one offhand). I think the price for his group (~6-8 people) was around $450 one way. A steep price, but worth it to him to avoid the hassles (plus they are splitting in among many people, so it's not too bad).

How about parking at Reagan, renting a car one-way to Pittsburg (~$100) and then riding back? For that matter, rent a car one-way in Maine, drive to Pittsburgh and drop it off, ride to D.C., then take Amtrak back to Maine (or Boston or wherever). That would be my choice.

167
Gear Talk / Re: front/rear pannier loading for credit card touring
« on: March 04, 2010, 10:15:42 am »
I tend to put heavier, but smaller items in the front panniers, leaving extra room for stuff I use during the day like raingear, food, etc. Lighter, but bulkier stuff goes in the rear. Examples of what I carry in the front bags include my tools, lock, electronics charger(s) if any, etc. I like having the extra "flex space" available in the front bags. Just be careful not to load it up with even more heavy stuff.

168
General Discussion / Re: Family Cycling Delmarva
« on: March 04, 2010, 10:13:05 am »
"DelMarVa" is a pretty big place! Some random thoughts:

1. It's a very pretty area for biking, with nice, small towns, beautiful scenery and flat topography. It can be very windy, though, so take that into consideration when planning your trip. Depending on the wind, it can offset any advantage from the lack of hills. If going in the spring and/or summer, be prepared for lack of shade and bugs (depending where you are).

2. Roads are often either large and busy (e.g., rt. 13, 113, 50, 301) or small and without shoulders. While the small roads are often low-traffic, they often  have high speed limits (50 mph) and little/no shoulders, with a drainage ditch on each side (this is pretty typical for rural roads throughout the peninsula and even down in Virginia). Although this sounds scary, I've never had a problem with cars on the small roads, even when riding with my family (on a tandem + trailer, for example). I'm not sure I'd feel comfortable with a young child (~7 y.o.) riding his/her own bike on them, though. If on a tandem or trail-a-bike, no problem.

3. Official camping can be somewhat limited. Over on the sea coast you'll find a number of campgrounds, most of which cater mainly to the RV crowd. Camping on Assateaque Island (National Park and state park) is really nice, but both the NP and state campgrounds fill up fast in the nice seasons. I wouldn't count on rolling up and getting a site on the spot. Best to reserve in advance. In Assateaque I greatly prefer the bay-side sites over the oceanfront sites.

4. With the exception of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, I believe most bridges in the area are fine for biking. Granted, they may have narrow/non-existent shoulders, but you can ride them. It's fine to bike into Chincoteague, to answer that question. (Personally, Chincoteaque doesn't do a whole lot for me and I wouldn't ride that far out of my way to see it, but that's just me. It's very touristy.) The Chincoteaque refuge itself is really nice and worth seeing, but the town isn't, IMO, given the detour needed to get there.

5. As you get farther down the peninsula (in Virginia, for example) you'll find that many of the towns become smaller and, arguably, less well-off. Don't count on finding lots of/any services in towns (food stores, etc.). Many of the services are clustered out on the main highways, like rt. 13.

6. Rt. 13 is the main N-S route and is multi-lane and high-speed. It is bikeable, and has shoulders, but isn't always the nicest route. Side roads are not terribly direct, but are pretty. Rt. 113 is smaller and also a N-S route, and is more bikeable. But, it's very busy in summer beach season.

7. A really pretty area not to miss is Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge near Cambridge, Maryland. Lots of really nice, lightly traveled roads, most with water views of some sort. It's really nice. A good family tour might take in that area, along with Easton and  St. Michaels, for example. This would be my suggestion for a first tour with kids there. In fact, we're thinking of doing it this summer with our 5-year-old son on our triplet.

8. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel does theoretically offer rides across with advance notice. You might be better off hitching a ride across with someone who has a pickup or van or whatever. If going N-S you might be able to easily do this as there is a rest area right before the bridge starts. Going S-N there isn't as much of an obvious place where people stop, as the access road is more-or-less a highway in Virginia Beach.

9. You should check out this trip report on crazyguyonabike. A family who did a tour on the peninsula: http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?o=RrzKj&doc_id=3293&v=8x


169
Routes / Re: C&O canal to Pittsburgh via cumberland MD.
« on: March 01, 2010, 08:53:27 am »
Don't underestimate the difficulty of the C&O part of the trip. Yes, it is all flat, so it's easy in that regard. But the surface can vary from reasonably good to horrible depending on the section and the weather. If it rains, lots of mudholes. It's basically a double-track path for 180 miles. I did Cumberland-DC in three days @ ~60, 60 and 70 miles and it wasn't too bad (Cumberland-Hancock, Hancock-Harper's Ferry with Antietam detour, Harper's Ferry-DC), but I had good weather. Nevertheless, the constant rough track really took a toll toward the end of each day with sore butt and hands. On several occasions I detoured out onto nearby roads just to get a break from the path and the sometimes monotonous scenery: I went in August and it was mostly a green tunnel the whole way. Pretty, but it got old after a while. After I finished I didn't think I'd ever really want to do it again, but now that some time has passed I'm thinking of it again. But not in the summer. Too many bugs, too hot, and not enough scenery. I'd like to do it in the spring or fall.

A particularly nice deviation was from Williamsport to Antietam and then through Sharpsburg. Some really pretty, small, rolling roads past farms and a small village or two. You'd have to do a detour anyway in that section due to the closed section of the path, so might as well see some of the countryside. Definitely visit the Antietam visitor center and some of the battlefield if you have time. Nearby Sharpsburg and Shepherdstown are nice, too (more in Shepherdstown than Sharpsburg).

I camped/stayed at the hostel in Harper's Ferry, but for motels/B&Bs I'd definitely make reservations, as there aren't very many lodging choices along the route. The Harper's Ferry hostel is actually pretty nice, but it's at the top of a big hill and there is not much around it (no restaurants, food stores, etc.).

For the C&O I ran 1.25 road tires on a MTB that I built up as a touring bike. Handled the path fine, even with a full camping load. I understand the GAP is a much better surface. I hope to do the GAP this year to finish out the full route. Logistics can be kind of a pain, though, getting there and home.

170
See the following Web site for info and costs for storing luggage at FRA:

http://www.frankfurt-airport.com/cms/default/rubrik/25/25224.luggage-339764.html

171
General Discussion / Re: advice for setting my bike up for touring
« on: February 17, 2010, 08:23:06 pm »
Regarding my comment about spoke tension, you are right: I shouldn't have said "mismatched" spoke tension. What I was really getting at is that I've seen true wheels with more-or-less uniformly loose-tensioned spokes. This is more likely to occur on a new (poorly built) wheel than an older wheel, to be sure, and can lead to problems down the road.

If your crankset is already set up for a third chainring that's great. It's pretty easy to add, then, and they are cheap for the smaller rings. You'll likely need to adjust the front derailleur set screw to allow it to drop down far enough to shift into the smaller chainring.

Square-taper cranks can be perfectly easy to remove, assuming you invest $10-15 in an auto-extracting crank bolt. Once installed, all you'll need is an Allen wrench to remove the crank. I have them on all my bikes and they work great. They are well worth the cost, especially for a touring bike.

172
General Discussion / Re: advice for setting my bike up for touring
« on: February 16, 2010, 05:42:48 pm »
I agree, that's a good starting point you have already. I'd definitely look at changing to a triple up front for your Colorado hills. You will need a crank and rings (or ring if you use your old ones) and possibly a new bottom bracket. Sugino makes a nice triple setup that you can get for around $100 or so with rings. Or, look on Ebay for a used set. You could even go with a mountain crank if you want really low gears, although you may have to also put on a new front derailleur.

Your 36-spoke wheels should be fine. I would take them to a good bike shop and ask them to make sure all the spokes are properly tensioned in addition to the wheels being trued. Your wheels can be perfectly true but have mismatched spoke tension, which could cause problems down the road under touring loads.

Regarding the rack, you can either use the brake-bolt mount type as others have suggested or a standard Blackburn Expedition-type rack with twin struts. Your LBS should have the small metal "p clamps" that wrap around the seatstays and allow you to mount a rack without having brazed-on bosses. I'd personally go this route over the brake-bolt mount type. I would not suggest drilling and tapping your frame! If you want to use low-rider front racks you can get the type that work without needing bosses on the fork, assuming that you have eyelets on the fork down near the axle.

173
FYI, as of 2-16-10 there is a T1 frame and fork on Ebay. Not mine, but thought  you might want to check it out.

174
Gear Talk / Re: 10 speed vs 9 speed for touring
« on: February 16, 2010, 10:19:03 am »
One other note: when looking at front derailleurs for triple cranks, keep in mind that the different models are designed for different tooth gaps. I believe Dura Ace is built for a 14-tooth gap (e.g., 50-36) while Ultegra is 10 tooth (48-38 or whatever). I don't recall what Tiagra will shift, but I think it is similar to Dura Ace.

Dura Ace STI levers have more trim options for the FD, which is nice. I also think their "innards" are built a bit more robustly as they are rated for more shifts (longevity) than the Ultegras. I have a set of Tiagra 9-speed STIs on my wife's bike and they are very nice. I wouldn't hesitate to use them at all.

I was at my LBS this weekend and saw them setting up a new SRAM MTB groupo on a customers MTB. It was a 2x10 setup, with a HUGE 36-tooth cog on the cassette. The cassette alone cost $250, they said. Ouch. But, if the technology trickles down it might be an interesting thing to look at for touring in order to get rid of the challenges of setting up a triple and keeping it working well.

Also, one correction: I meant "IRD" not "IRC" in my previous post.

175
Gear Talk / Re: 10 speed vs 9 speed for touring
« on: February 16, 2010, 10:10:28 am »
While I still prefer 9 speed for all my bikes (save for my MTB that is still 8 speed), I too see the writing on the wall unfortunately. I have several sets of Ultegra STIs squirreled away for Armageddon :-)

10 speed setups have been used on tandems for a few years now with good results from what I understand. In fact, tandems are a good area to look at as a barometer for sorts when considering touring drivetrains, as 1) they tend to have very wide gearing and 2) the combined torque of a tandem team puts a lot of stress on drivetrain components. Santana specs 10-speed on all their new road tandems, and have what they call a custom wide-range 10-speed cassette of 11-34, (which I presume is actually the IRC cassette) coupled with an Ultegra triple crank (53-39-30 presumably).

On our touring tandem we run 48-38-24 with an 11-34 9-speed cassette. Ultegra FD and an XTR RD with Ultegra STI shifters. Some front shifting/trimming issues occasionally, but not too bad. I run a similar setup on my single touring bike, but with a 50-36-24 TA crank, Dura Ace FD, XTR RD and Ultegra STI shifters. The 11-tooth small rear cog is overkill, but I had a hard time finding a wide-range cassette with a larger small cog (12t), so I live with it.

176
Gear Talk / Re: 3-4 person tent
« on: February 16, 2010, 09:55:10 am »
We have an MSR Mutha Hubba and like it. It's not super-roomy, but fine for my wife and I and our five-year-old son. It's pretty compact and light.

177
General Discussion / Re: Bike recommendations for heavy people
« on: February 11, 2010, 03:41:42 pm »
Tandem rear spacing is generally either 160 or 145mm now. Earlier models (late 80s/early 90s) were 140mm (earlier Santanas, for example). I don't think the 145mm is dishless. The 160mm Santana spacing is.

A competent framebuilder *might* be able to respace a steel frame from 135 to 145mm, but that would be a lot.

Tandem hubs are generally threaded on the non-drive side to take a drum brake or a disc brake (with adaptor).

I'm not sure if they make 135mm spaced hubs in 40-hole drillings. If so, that would  be the way to go.

I really don't think a custom frame is necessary to support a  heavier rider, unless a really large size is required due to  height.

178
General Discussion / Re: Bike recommendations for heavy people
« on: February 08, 2010, 09:45:03 am »
I agree that it's more about the wheels than the frame, assuming you have a reasonably good frame to start with.

I'd go with 26" wheels, hands-down, as they are generally much stronger than 700c for a similar spoke count. A well-built 26" wheel with 36 spokes should be fine. 40 spokes will be indestructible nearly. Our touring tandem has 26" wheels, and we have both 40- and 48-spoke wheelsets. We rarely use the 48 spoke set, even when touring. Total bike weight when touring is probably a bit under 500 pounds, and tandems are harder on wheels than singles.

I think a well-made hardtail MTB frame with well-built wheels would be fine for your use. You can get good deals on used hardtail/no front suspension MTB frames from the 80s/90s, many of which are very well suited for touring use. I use a late 90s Co-Motion MTB frame (w/S&S couplers) for a touring bike. I built it up with touring components and it works great.

Of course, you'll want to use a wider tire, too, to protect the rim more due to carrying more weight.

179
I haven't biked that exact route, although I've traveled in the area quite a lot (I work for SAP AG, which has its HQ right outside Heidelberg). FRA to Heidelberg isn't the most scenic area of Germany in which to bike, but it's not too bad. If it were me I'd take a train from FRA down to Freiburg in the Black Forest and then ride back to Frankfurt via the Rhine/Alsace area, through Strasbourg, and then up through the Mosel.

Lodging availability depends a lot on when you are traveling. You generally should not have problems finding "zimmers" (private rooms for let), Pensions or Hotels. During holiday periods, though it could be challenging, especially along the Mosel (the Trier to Koblenz section).

I have a personal Web page with general hints about lodging in Germany while bike touring that you might want to check out for more suggestions. http://www.brianwasson.com/trips/lodging.htm?ac

I also have a site that you might find  useful about taking bikes on trains in Germany (and Austria). http://www.brianwasson.com/trips/trains.htm?ac

As another poster suggested, the tourist bureaus in each town can generally book lodging for you each night. You can usually find them by looking for a big, green lower-case "i" sign.

Germany and Austria are my favorite places to bike, hands-down. A great bike culture, very friendly to tourists, and with a great infrastructure to support touring.

180
General Discussion / Re: TRANSAMERICA should start on the Atlantic!
« on: February 05, 2010, 08:30:16 am »
As a Philadelphia, Pa. native, I've always been amazed that the bicentennial trail did not include Philadelphia in some way, given it's significant role in the founding of the USA. Yorktown was significant, too, but not until well after 1776.

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