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Messages - canalligators

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Routes / Re: Adventure Cycling Maps - Missing Routes ?
« on: August 25, 2014, 01:35:50 pm »
The Rails to Trails Conservancy the most complete trails listing.  Also check state DOT/AOT sites for state bike routes and traffic volume maps.

Some good suggestions so far.  I'll add:
- Take a repair class.  You should at least be able to do all tire repairs and replace cables.
- Use established cycling routes.  That should keep you off the suicidal roads.
- Start out short and build distance.  Do an overnight, then a weekend, then a week.

Handsome bike.  When I look at that bike, I immediately think to use that one for ultralight or credit card tours, or randonneuring.  You can use your 520 for the heavy lifting.

I love to retrofit old bikes, recently did so on a Raleigh International.  Like you, I replaced some components and kept some.  Generally if the old parts were still in good working order and did what I needed, I did maintenance on them and kept them in service.

An update:
  • For both construction areas, detours have been intermittent and only used when necessary. 
  • Parts of the trail reconstruction, in Pittsford and Fairport, are completed.
  • The highway construction near West Henrietta Rd. is idled at this time (June '14).  I presume they're waiting for concrete to cure on the new bridge abutments before adding bridge sections.

Routes / Re: Route Check
« on: May 16, 2014, 11:24:22 pm »
As mentioned, picking a good route is a lot of work.  Not all states have traffic volume data available.  I'd aim for the paved roads that are the remotest.  In a lot of places, county highways are a good compromise; they are more likely to be paved and have lighter traffic.  Ken Kifer has a good section on how to interpret maps, see

You can check the condition of individual roads with Google Maps street view.  It will tell you the general condition of the roads, and whether or not there are paved shoulders.  You can also find bike/multiuse trails with Google Maps; go to the desired area at close zoom, and click Directions and the bicycle icon.  Green lines will appear on the map for paths open for cycling.  And the roads that are recommended for cycling will have green dotted lines on them.

If your group has a lot of inexperienced riders, I'd make double sure to use low traffic volume roads.  And get everyone to read the PA Bicycle Driver's Manual (, especially chapters 2-4.

Gear Talk / Re: Towards an ergonomic gearing system.
« on: April 18, 2014, 12:26:02 pm »
There are many theories on gear spacing and patterns.  What John Forrester says applies handily for touring.  You need a low enough low, a high enough high, useable spacing and an easily remembered pattern.  Sacrifice higher gears for lower if you need to.  An easy pattern is important when you're riding a loaded bike, especially on uphills at low speeds.

In practice for touring, you want gears with spmewhere around 10% differences.  Closer spacing at the high end is most useful for racing, it is not terribly important for touring.

Gear Talk / Re: Making wheels stronger with a mixed spoke pattern.
« on: April 18, 2014, 12:18:07 pm »
There are many variables, and this discussion has a lot of drilling down to single factors.  You need to look at the bottom line, considering both design approach and construction practice.  In the end, for touring use a conservatively designed wheel built by a good wheel builder.  For most touring applications you should not use radial spoking.  Don't use low spoke count wheels, do use a good brand of spokes in a conservative pattern that doesn't require a tensiometer to build.  Use strong rims.  Make sure they're in good repair before starting your tour.

Gear Talk / Re: Thinking about another tour but need a new groupset
« on: April 18, 2014, 12:07:05 pm »
Why do you wish to upgrade?  If the parts are worn out, you need to replace but may choose to upgrade.  If the parts' performance is unacceptable, you may want to upgrade to improve that.  If you just want "better" stuff, I guess there's no arguing with that.

If we understood better what your situation is, we could probably offer better advice.  What problem are you trying to solve?

Gear Talk / Re: Wheel sizes
« on: April 18, 2014, 12:01:51 pm »
You're going to get a lot of arguments one way or another.  The most important factors are tire width and tire availability.  Until you get some experience behind you, I'd go with 26 because, well, many widths can be fitted to most 26" rims, and many kinds of tires are available.  And they'll certainly do the job, being the most popular touring tire.

Other factors such as wheel strength depend on a lot of variables and are secondary anyway.  And yes, you'll find people with agendas or drilling down to fine points that aren't terribly important in the grand scheme.  Not that they're wrong, but the points aren't critical.

It's kind of like chain lube.  It's almost a religious topic to some people.  All you need to remember is to keep your chain clean and lubricated, with a petroleum based oil (it resists moisture best).

There is also highway construction which impacts the trail in Rochester, between East Henrietta and Kendrick roads.  There is a posted detour.

A direct way to get from Boston to the Northern Tier is to cross Massachusetts (central route)
Use the Charles River and Minuteman trails to get out of Boston.

Then connect with NY Bike Route 5 to Albany

You could continue on Bike 5, but it's busy and the trail, though farther, is lovely: Take the Mohawk-Hudson Bikeway to Rotterdam Jct. (west of Schenectady),

Then take NY Bike 5 or the Erie Canal to Palmyra
This connects you to the Northern Tier.

One option is to take Bike 9 north from Albany and connect to the Northern Tier at Ticonderoga.  This would add a few days to the trip but would take you through the Adirondack Mountains, which are beautiful.

Routes / Re: Erie Canal Bike Trail - Stone Dust trails
« on: April 18, 2014, 11:27:19 am »
A few comments.

Rolled limestone dust is not gravel.  When dry, it is a little slower riding than pavement, about one gear lower.  It does retain most of its traction when wet, certainly much better than gravel which is a combination of dirt and stone.  I don't think I'd go so far as to call wet limestone dust "quasi-quicksand".  It's kinda messy and it slows you down, but that's all.  Note that when it's very wet, say after days of heavy spring rains, it slows you down even more.

The bumps around Rochester can be a problem.  They have recently fixed the worst of it, though ironically, that part is now torn up for highway construction.  Caution, if it's a shady area and you have sunglasses on, you might not see them.  (Except that some unauthorized person  ;)  has marked them with yellow pavement marking paint...).  Current status can be found at the Bump Report  Note that despite the bumps, do use the trail through Rochester, NY Bike 5 is a bad way to go - busy and no shoulders.

Summary article here:

General Discussion / Re: no progress with Amtrak for GAP / C&O
« on: April 18, 2014, 10:26:46 am »
I dont' want to discourage you expressing your interests to Amtrak, because this is important.  But you should realize that individuals asking about it are going to have little effect.  Only by supporting the organizations that are working on the problem (and there are many) will any results happen.

BTW, as another poster noted, AC is working on it.  So is NARP (National Association of Railroad Passengers), ESPA (Empire State Passenger Association), NYBC (NY Bicycling Coalition), NYS DOT and many others.  I'm sure other cycling organizations are on it elsewhere.

As mentioned, the baggage cars are ancient, made in the 1950s.  New ones are being produced, and they do have accommodation for unboxed bikes.  Some of the new passenger cars will too, these replace coaches that are almost as ancient (70s-80s).

Sorry for the confusion.

The Franklin Falls bridge is scheduled to be closed for two weeks in July 2014.

- AC's Whiteface Mountain Alternative, which is longer but has less climbing.
- Connect Lake Placid with Bloomingdale via NY 86 and NY 3, shorter than the main route
- Connect Lake Placid with Lake Clear via NY 86 and Forest Home Rd., shorter yet

I'd recommend the Whiteface Mountain Alternative; this bit of road along Franklin Falls Pond is amazingly beautiful.  The second and third choices are good if your schedule doesn't allow extra distance.

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