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Messages - briwasson

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General Discussion / Re: C & O
« on: March 07, 2011, 12:57:58 pm »
I think you should be fine with 700x35 tires. I rode it with 26x1.25 inch road tires, which are about the same at 35s. If it's wet, though, a tire with a more aggressive tread would be better.

Gear Talk / Re: GEAR - It's adding up! Where can I compromise?
« on: March 03, 2011, 10:57:08 am »
I'd add a cheap blue plastic tarp sized to cover your bike. This serves a lot of purposes: keeps weather off your bike at the campsite or when otherwise kept outside, deters people from messing with or stealing your bike since they can't really see what's under there, can use as an ad hoc place to sit and eat a meal, pull it out and cover yourself with it when caught in a rainstorm, etc. They are cheap and don't weigh very much at all. In fact, I'd bring two: one for the above uses, and one as a ground cloth for the tent.

Also, you can often find good gear on Craigslist or Ebay, often barely used. Plenty of people buy high-end gear for one trip, then never use it again.

I haven't ridden the Haul Road, but have driven it and also have spent a good bit of time in Alaska. Weather-wise, July is likely to be your best bet that far north, as the likelihood for not-so-good weather is stronger in early June and late August. You'll have mosquitoes all summer, I'm sorry to say, although they aren't *quite* as bad in August (it's all relative, though).

Be sure to wear high-visibility clothing to alert the drivers on the road to your presence, as in dry spells the dust can kick up and decrease visibility.

Not sure why it took me so long to finish a journal for a three-day bike tour, but my write-up of my fall 2010 ride along the GAP is now complete.

Hopefully it will prove helpful to others contemplating the same ride. Plenty of detail, photos, maps, and resource links.

I also have a write-up of my 2008 C&O ride at

Nice to see a town actively soliciting bicycling services! But running a bike shop is a hard job, and I doubt one could survive on transient riders coming through while touring.

Starting in Cumberland is also an option. To avoid most of the uphill, as well as adding some novelty to the trip, you can ride the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad to Frostburg (with your bikes), and then continue on westward from there. You'll still have something like 8 miles uphill, but it's gradual. Then, west of the Divide, it's gently downhill (not enough to really notice, but still...) to PGH.

I rode the C&O in 2008 and the GAP last October. Both are nice, but my favorite by far was the GAP. Much nicer trail surface (crushed stone vs. double-track dirt), services more readily available in trail towns, and overall nicer scenery IMO. The trail planners have done a great job with the GAP.

I have journals of both rides on CrazyGuy at My GAP journal isn't fully completed; all the photos are up, but I need to add some more text. I hope to finish by this weekend.

I think the nicest section of the GAP is between Cumberland and Connellsville, a total of about 88 miles. Ride it west to east and enjoy a 24 mile downhill into Cumberland at the end, which are almost like "free" miles! I'm also hoping to do a 3-day credit card tour with my family (wife and son on our triple bike) on the GAP this spring, and that's probably the section we'd go for.

I'd skip the section from Mckeesport to Connellsville. It was nice and all, but nothing along that section sticks in my memory when compared with the cool stuff on the other sections (Ohiopyle falls and gorge, viaducts, tunnels, etc.).

Cumberland Trail Connection in Cumberland may offer shuttle services. Although they previously only shuttled bikes, I was talking to the owner in October 2010 and he said they were hoping to have full shuttle services this year.

Please PM me if you have more questions.

A current example of what I consider to be a really well-written, engaging journal is on CGoaB at I've been following it for a while, and eagerly await each new posting. The writer, Sue Gray, does a great job highlighting both the day-to-day aspects of bike touring, as well as capturing the essence of the many people they meet along the way. Definitely worth a read, IMO.

People create journals for different reasons. I usually write and publish mine with an eye toward providing useful info for people who may be planning the same or similar trip. That's a big reason I *read* journals before I go on a trip, as a way of preparing. Mine probably skew more to helping other travelers with info than a blow-by-blow narrative or character sketches (although I'd like to get better at that, too). I like history, too, so I throw some background info in. I'm a writer by trade, but I mainly do business writing (corporate comms and PR), so I'm sure that has something to do with the way I approach my writing.

You can see my journals on CrazyGuy at

I'm in the middle of writing up my October tour of the GAP, but I  have it partially posted above. Also linked from the page above are two journals on my personal website that I did for my bike tours in Europe, as well as a two "how to" resource web pages I created on finding B&Bs while touring in Germany and Austria, and a page on how to take bikes on trains in these countries. I plan to port them over to CGoaB soon, as it will give that info a much wider audience.

One other thing I'd say is to be careful how much personal introspection you put out on the web. A bit of it adds to the journal, too much of it might turn people off as it might end up sounding too much like therapy on paper. Also, the introspection you feel strongly while in the midst of the tour might not seem like something you want the world to read a few months after you are finished. To that end, I suggest keeping two journals, the one "live" one while you are doing the tour, with higher-level stuff, and a personal one where you record your deeper thoughts. Once you are done your tour, give it a few weeks and then review your personal journal and decide what stuff you want to add (if any) to the public journal.

General Discussion / Re: photography and cycling
« on: January 31, 2011, 01:33:40 pm »
I used to tote around my Nikon film SLR and then my Nikon DSLR in my handlebar bag, but have found that the new point and shoots are so good that they do the trick for most of what I need when touring.

The challenge is to move beyond the thinking that all shots have to be something different and not "snapshots." I often fall into that thinking. It's good to try and make interesting, artistic photos, but I've found that there isn't anything to be ashamed of when you are taking adequate pics that help record your adventure.

And, I agree about it being a useful device for getting up long climbs: I rode up Alpe d'Huez in the French Alps mainly by stopping at every second or third switchback to "take pictures"!

Routes / Re: Salzburg, Austria
« on: January 13, 2011, 01:15:06 pm »
Austria Radreisen is one of the biggest bike tour operators in Austria. They have lots of options and I'm sure could also customize something for you. A very nice tour would be a loop tour on the Tauern bike path from Salzburg down to Zell am See and then back (you can do a loop), or my suggestion would be to take the train from Salzburg to Zell am See, then take the train/bus to Krimml, and ride back one-way. Four days is enough for that. The ride from Krimml to Zell am See is one of my favorites in Europe (on a clear day).

I have two trip reports on my website that talk about riding in this area. See

I'd also consider doing a short tour along the Danube instead, starting from Passau and riding toward Vienna. Again, AustriaRadreisen can help. Salzburg and Passau are both an easy train ride from Munich.

Routes / Re: Direction and departure month on Southern Tier in winter
« on: January 06, 2011, 11:50:46 am »
Just perused your blog... I'd highly suggest taking a class to learn how to fix at least basic bike breakdown issues! Or, ask your LBS if they can give you a few hours of instruction after hours for a fee.

Price now includes free shipping in lower 48 US States.

General Discussion / Re: DIY Tips
« on: December 21, 2010, 02:15:12 pm »
Carry a Thermarest or other self-inflating sleeping pad in a stuff sack? Always pack it with the valve facing the open end of the stuff sack. That way if it somehow inflates itself, creating a tight fit, you can easily let air out and then remove from the stuff sack.

Yes, still available if anyone else is interested. Check out the picture in the Craigslist link above, and  you can e-mail me from there, too.

I'm selling a SINGLE (one, uno, un, ein) Ortlieb "Bike-Packer Plus" rear touring pannier. It's brand-new, never used. So what can you do with one pannier? It's great for commuting, shopping, general around-town use, day tripping, etc. Or maybe as a spare for your existing set (Ortlieb does not sell single panniers). How often do you really need two panniers, unless you are actually touring?

Color is red for maximum visibility and safety on the road. It has Ortlieb's "Plus/Light" fabric, which is a waterproof Cordura nylon. Expandable inner sleeve with drawstring and a top hood that fastens with buckles. Has a mesh pocket and a roll-top waterproof pocket on the front. Uses Ortlieb's easy-to-adjust QL-2 attachment system on the back. Super-easy to remove when you get to your destination, just pull up on the handle and you are off, but it also locks securely to the rack when riding.

Works great on all types of racks, including Blackburn and Tubus.

$99 shipped in lower 48 states. I can't seem to get pics to post here; see them on my Craigslist ad at

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