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Messages - canalligators

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Do you generally have trouble keeping your hands warm?  If this isn't especially hard for you, go ahead and listen to the general advice.    If you find it difficult to keep your hands and feet warm, be aware that you'll receive a lot of information that isn't helpful.  For that case, I recommend this:  Below 35F, insulation alone will not do the job.  You will need to add heat, using electric or chemical hand warmers.  On a long tour, chemical might be better as they last hours and you won't have to keep batteries charged or carry spare batteries.  They are available in a smaller size for toe warming, too.

p.s. Inexpensive electric warmers vary widely in quality.  I bought some and they were totally ineffective - because they only drew a few watts (I measured it).  So if you decide to go electric, get some good ones.  These will also have good rechargeable batteries.

General Discussion / Re: Transamerica trail temperatures
« on: March 01, 2017, 09:43:21 am »
If you aren't already aware of it, most sleeping bag ratings are overly optimistic.  (Except for military equipment.)  My 45F bag is useless below 60.  Had to stop at a Wallymart and buy a fleece bag to put inside of it.  It's a good thing I did that, we had frost on the bags the next morning.

Routes / Re: Route advice - Oregon to Maine
« on: February 28, 2017, 12:23:46 pm »
More info on the Erie Canalway corridor:

Gear Talk / Re: Rohloff Speedhub
« on: February 26, 2017, 09:52:22 pm »
I like hub gears, love the old Sturmeys and use them a lot.  But I can't get past $1200 for a hub.

If you're outspun with your current gearing, you have three options:
1. Learn to spin faster (your knees with thank you)
2. Change your cassette to a higher high
3. Coast down hills.  How often are you in your highest gear?  Also, any power you add above about 25 mi/hr is mostly getting burned up as wind friction anyway.  You might as well coast.

Routes / Re: Route advice - Oregon to Maine
« on: February 26, 2017, 09:47:12 pm »
Re Canadian route, Canalligators, thanks for the heads-up.  Unless there is a Canadian equivalent of Adventure Cycling Assoc, it may be difficult to find out too much route information.  I could reconnect with the NT, but I'm still going to look for options that head directly toward Montreal, if possible.  Do you know of any good sources of info for possible Canadian routes?

Unfortunately, there is no Canadian nation-wide touring association.  My general rule on Ontario is to avoid the busy roads.  They seem to be quite allergic to paved shoulders (don't get me started on the Ministry of Cars, er, Transportation).

From Mackinac Island, I'd probably head south down the east side of the Lower Peninsula and pick up the AC Great Lakes connector across Ontario.  Then use the Hamilton-Brantford Rail Trail to Burlington, and the Waterfront Trail across the north shore of Lake Ontario.  In Quebec, consult the Route Verte website, the province has a wonderful network of long distance cycle touring routes.  Otherwise, if you want to brew your own route, check out the MapWorks series, they have detailed maps of various regions, for much of Canada.

If Mackinac isn't a hard destination, you can go from the Twin Cities across Wisconsin on the Lakes Connector, take the SS Badger to Michigan (my favorite), then across Southern Ontario.

General Discussion / Re: Transamerica trail temperatures
« on: February 26, 2017, 09:30:15 pm »
When I was prepping for a backpacking trip in New Mexico (Philmont), I was advised to be prepared for 35F and raining.  It sounds like that' what the OP was looking for - what does he need to be prepared for?  Couldn't someone just give the poster that kind of answer?  I don't think that's too much to ask, and it wasn't an unreasonable question.  Quite a good question, actually.

Gear Talk / Re: Sources for Ultra Violet Protective Clothing
« on: February 24, 2017, 01:22:13 pm »
...Bottom line: UV protective clothing is marketing hooey.

I disagree.  I have no doubt that it works, but the situations where you can wear it comfortably have their limits.  Too hot/humid and you'll steam yourself.

Gear Talk / Re: How to know tire size
« on: February 24, 2017, 01:18:10 pm »
I agree, John.  The only diff is that I don't keep the next tires around.  If I see one go bad (or it's worn and I'm about to start a tour), I replace.  If one tire suddenly goes bad, well, that's the excuse I use to justify having other bikes around.

I do keep a spare for the front of the recumbent tandem, because there's only 406 tire made that can survive the weight w/o being very heavy - and it goes in and out of stock.

Routes / Re: Route advice - Oregon to Maine
« on: February 24, 2017, 01:12:24 pm »
I haven't ridden the part across the north side of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay on Hy. 17, but it is not highly regarded by many cycle tourists.  It's said to be busy, with many trucks, and does not have paved shoulders.  And it's the only road for most of it.  The part south from Espanola and the ferry across Georgian Bay gets good press, though.  You might better use the other part of the connector and go across Michigan and Southern Ontario, then pick up the Northern Tier.

Gear Talk / Re: New to Touring
« on: February 22, 2017, 10:46:07 am »
Sounds like a plan.   Four small panniers makes a lot of sense.  Have fun!

My daughter ended up putting a triple crank on her Cannondale.

Gear Talk / Re: How to know tire size
« on: February 22, 2017, 10:41:25 am »
I was just commenting on canalligators comment vs yours dkoloko - probably didn't come out right.

Anyway, I think I agree with you both.  I'm not going to rotate the tires, planning on replacing them.  And yes, if I was going to rotate to extend their miles I think it makes much more sense if I would have done it along the way.  I have been known (by my wife) to wait to long to rotate my car tires

BTW: thanks all for the help in the original question about figuring out tire size options - much appreciated. I'll probably not try all the sizes to see how big I could get - although that makes sense if I had to know.  Perhaps a practical solution would be to just move up to the next size 35mm for my next set and use them for the next year.

Then I can decide next year if I want to try something larger or stay with 35 or return to the 32mm

I should have used a consistent description.  By 50%, I meant that the front might last one and a half times longer.  I don't think it would last three times as long.

And as for using a 35 vs. a 32, the difference isn't significant - given the same tire in two sizes.  The more significant factors are whether it has a puncture prevention belt, inflation pressure and general quality of the tire.  Stick to a good brand name such as
Schwalbe, Continental, Maxxis, or other as recommended by a friend or trusted dealer.  As a general rule, avoid tires that have a very low inflation pressure, i.e. 50 psi.  A tire that's made for high pressure has a stronger cord structure.  You don't need to run it at max pressure, but that's another long discussion in itself.

And starting the tour with new tires is excellent advice.

General Discussion / Re: Application for keeping a journal
« on: February 22, 2017, 10:21:04 am »
All good points.  But I will plug hand writing and transcribing when you get home.  That would depend on how fast you type, I guess; last time I tested myself, I was at 50+ wpm.  I can transcribe and edit the text in a couple of evenings, then spend another evening or two uploading the photos.

General Discussion / Re: Recommendations for a tour beginning in Chicago
« on: February 22, 2017, 10:15:52 am »
We did the Northern Tier in sections, each about the length of time that you have available.  The NT mostly parallels Amtrak's Empire Builder.  We are in NY, so we flew to Seattle, then returned from Shelby MT by train.  Next year we took the train to Shelby and rode to Fargo, returning by train.  Next segment was Fargo to Winona, then Winona to Chicago, these last two were shorter.  I'd recommend a shorter westerly segment, maybe ride Anacortes to Whitefish or Glacier.

See my article on Amtrak, with user input, here:

Remember to include transit time in your available time windows.  It can add a day or more each way if you use the trains.

For the other approach, I'm sure you could make a loop using Wisconsin rail trails.  Or get the BikeFed maps and figure out your own loop.  Illinois and Minnesota bike maps are pretty good too. 

Gear Talk / Re: How to know tire size
« on: February 16, 2017, 02:38:49 pm »
Rotation: Rear wears 3x front. If you put worn rear on front you risk crashing in blowout.

Rear wearing that much faster is not my experience.  Maybe 50% faster.  And I'm over 200#.

Like on a car, rotating tires should be a preventative action, not a corrective one.  Don't rotate because your rear is worn out, rotate earlier to prevent the rear from wearing out sooner.  Tire rotation is an economic strategy, not a safety strategy.

That said, I don't put much credence in bike tire rotation. If you inspect your tires regularly, and replace when the tire is unsafe to use, you have done what you can to prevent a blowout.  Tire failures usually happen because they're damaged by road hazards or the cord starts to fail (it develops side-side distortion).

Gear Talk / Re: New to Touring
« on: February 16, 2017, 02:27:29 pm »
Do you plan to go light, i.e. light packing or so-called "credit card" touring?  Or will you be self-supported, with tent and possibly cooking gear?

Either way, I bet your low gear isn't low enough.  Most tourists recommend a low gear in the 20-25 inch-gear range.  You need it at least this low for loaded touring.  Probably get away with it a little higher if you're packing light.

If you're planning to load up and go self-supported, you need to either add stronger wheels or tow a trailer.  Caution: if you're going to load up with panniers, the short chainstays on this bike may give you heel interference.

Does this bike handle well at very low speeds, with the intended load?  How about at 40 mi/hr?  You might change the fork for better stability; my daughter replaced the alloy fork on her CAAD3 with a straighter carbon fork, that gave her more comfort and more stability.  Note that loading on both front and back is usually more stable than rear-only.

Without any more info, I'd  think your best choices are:
- Use the bike mostly as-is (gear it lower), plus a trailer, or
- Rebuild the wheels and gear it much lower, and use four smaller panniers

And by the way: start out short.  Take an overnight, then a weekend, then a week long tour.  This will help you to perfect your gear and help you to learn about touring.

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