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Messages - Westinghouse

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General Discussion / Re: Newbie bicycle tourists, Don't get fooled.
« on: December 01, 2020, 09:11:36 pm »

I would agree that any functioning bike can be, and probably has been, used to do a tour.  I have personally met two people riding old Huffy bikes they bought from walmart.  While I do have an expensive touring bike, I can tell a difference of how they ride.  Like you I am not able to scientifically quantify it but can tell you that a high end bike does indeed ride better, makes the handling better, carries the load better, etc. than even a "ordinary" touring bike. 

I would caution you though that while I agree with most of your qualities of "what touring is all about", there are others who may have vastly different qualities and needs, i.e. they enjoy seeing the world or parts they are unfamiliar with; they enjoy the pace of touring vs. a car or plane or hiking; they are carrying a ton of gear due to an worldwide adventure or just like to bring the kitchen sink with them; they like to go fast and light; they like to have extreme reliability where-ever they go; they want to be physically as comfortable as possible; etc.  No one quality is better than others; they are just different.

Personally, I am fortunate enough to have any bike out there.  However, my last new bike was in 1990.  Since then, I have only bought high quality bikes (and most equipment) used for a minimum 50% of the list price.  I once got a 6-month old Thorn Nomad MkII with 1100km (less than 700 miles) on it for ~58% off the new price.  My current "most favored" bike I got at 51% off new.  My mantra for beginners or for those who have a restrictive budget (or even those who don't) is to buy quality gear used. The quality lasts for years or even decades.

All that said, I totally agree with you that almost anything that will work, works.  It is just a personal value choice as to what is important to you.

Tailwinds, John

Using a cheap old Huffy will get the person there, but it is not advisable. Those bikes are too much of a drag. I knew almost nothing about bicycles when planning my first long tour. So, of course, me and my ignorance went to Target and got a Huffy for something like $79.00. I put on a $7.00 rack, tied a 20 pound weight on the rack and went riding for practice. It felt OK to me, but I had nothing for comparison.

I took a break at a riverfront park in Fort Pierce, Florida. A young man approached and started a conversation. I told him I was training for a long bicycle tour through England, Scotland and Wales. He said, "On THAT bike?" The message was clear as a bell. As they say--A word to the wise.

I went to the library and found books on bicycles and bicycle touring. I followed the advice. I got a Schwinn Le Tour with all the necessities for racks. I could have raised the handlebars, but I did not know to do that, then. One thing is for sure, the difference in speed and overall efficiency was definitely noticeable. It was a big change. I rode that bike all over hell and back with all kinds of loads. The frame is still in very good condition. Well, one seat stay weld broke at the top, but that was the airline's mishandling. They did pay for the repair.

General Discussion / Re: Best Tips for Cooking on the Road
« on: December 01, 2020, 08:41:52 pm »
This might require access to food in Wal Mart. Get an already cooked chicken, $4.50, maybe $3.25 cold. An onion or two, a green pepper, and celery are good. Then there is the stir fry sauce. There are different kinds and flavors. I do not like the Teriyaki. You also nee a little virgin olive oil, any in a pinch. Oil in pot or pan. Add broken up pieces of chicken meat, and recook. Next, stir in cut diced veggies. Use some sauce while cooking. Add sauce when finished cooking. Very tasty. Be careful not to overdo the vegetables. Heat damages vitamins. It changes them to non organic nutrients, and they will not do it for you like they should.

General Discussion / Re: Advice for Newbies about the Weather.
« on: December 01, 2020, 08:31:40 pm »
No problem. I got caught out in  some seriously lethal type weather. I learned to pay much more attention to weather forecasts and not to be too sure of myself. The next time the weather man says severe weather is coming, I am going to take all possible measures for safety

General Discussion / Re: Newbie bicycle tourists, Don't get fooled.
« on: December 01, 2020, 08:07:28 pm »
I'm certainly not going to argue with the OP's post. All very true. However, if you can afford it, I think it's usually better to pursue an activity with gear that's designed specifically for it. I've toured and camped with lousy equipment and with good equipment. I prefer good equipment. But like the OP said, do not let the lack of high end gear prevent you from following your dreams.

That is all true what you say, but let's get this false dichotomy out of the discussion. This is not and never was a matter of using the best equipment as opposed to lousy equipment. Some of these MTBs are very good quality. They need only minor, easy, inexpensive modifications to match the touring bicycles.

General Discussion / Re: Newbie bicycle tourists, Don't get fooled.
« on: December 01, 2020, 07:56:53 pm »
Good to be reminded of this once in a while.    Great stuff.

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

Thank you. I am one of those who who cannot afford to spend so much on a bicycle. I always rebuild.

General Discussion / Re: Max speed unavoidable critter crashes?
« on: November 30, 2020, 02:40:54 am »
If somebody wanted to get experience dealing with critters in 1984, he could bicycle the length of highway 90 in north Florida. That is what I did. Free ranging dogs were all over the place everywhere. They were seen dead along the roadsides. I did not drive into any.

I don't think there are all that many there these days at least that is my impression of the portion I have ridden (I live just off of US 90 in Tallahassee these days).

Missouri and Kentucky had a lot of chasing dogs in my experience.  Also I am old enough to have lived in a time when I had dogs chase pretty much every rural ride in Maryland.  Most just loved the chase, only a few out for blood.

Only once did I actually fear for my life and that was from a trio of blood thirsty curs in the central valley of California.  Actually I think only one of the three was truly blood thirsty or I might not be here today.  The others were his willing accomplices, but were less in for blood.  They caught me on a steep enough uphill that I had zero chance to out run them so I dismounted.  I managed to intimidate the two more hesitant ones enough to keep them back a bit while keeping the bike between myself and the badass.  I was prepared to bash him with the bikes chainrings if necessary.

In the SW some of the reservation dogs seemed half feral and like maybe they could be aggressive, but were mostly too lazy to bother.

If you had encountered on that hill the two dogs I met in Czech in 1994, I guarantee you beyond any possible question or doubt you would have been viciously slaughtered right there immediately, and probably devoured. They were psychotic, ferocious, maniacal. There are simply no words in the dictionary to convey the meaning. I had never seen anything even remotely like it before then. I have not seen anything even remotely like it since then, not in real life, not on television, not even in horror movies using special effects to exaggerate. I say about that point in my life--Thank God for the chain link fence.

General Discussion / Re: Newbie bicycle tourists, Don't get fooled.
« on: November 29, 2020, 05:54:17 pm »
While I agree with all you say (that it is possible to tour with the equipment you described), I would say it is better to have purpose built equipment.  As with anything, a better tool makes life more enjoyable.  Do you NEED better bike/equipment?  No, but it sure makes things nicer.   It is a lot like being in riding shape before a tour.  You don't have to be in great shape (I usually am not) but it does make it easier and more enjoyable if you are.

I would like to know who thinks Ortliebs are indestructible?  I have found they are not by any means.   

Out of curiosity, what do you normally ride on tour and what is your normal equipment?

Tailwinds, John

I  cannot argue against that. The thing is that many people simply cannot spend the money for a bunch of expensive bicycling equipment. They already have these bikes. It is easy to modify them to eliminate whatever it is about them that makes them less than highly suitable for loaded, transcontinental cycling. No question that  a new expensive touring bicycle is the best bike to have, but in terms of actual function cycling across a continent, there is little to no difference at all, but a very large difference in cost.

I have modified an old Mongoose IBOC mountain bike, $1500.00---$2000.00 when new, exactly as I have described here. I have cycled around locally on it. It is surprisingly responsive. It is perhaps the most responsive bicycle I have ever ridden. I say perhaps because I have no way of precisely measuring cycling efficiency except by giving an observation of how it feels. I have not used it fully loaded at distances, yet. I am looking at the ST east to west for this winter which I have already done 7 times, 5 times completely, and twice from Florida to El Paso. As they say, the proof is in the pudding. There is one way to find out, and that is by doing it. I have familiarized myself with the experiences of others who used MTBs  for fully-loaded, long distance touring, modified or unmodified. From what I have learned, there should be no problem with it, but I cannot really know until I know. I will let experience my teacher.

I did not say in any way shape or form that doing this is a mere possibility. I stated it in terms of hard tangible realities. People have toured around the world on MTBs. I notice on this forum posts starting out with misstatements of original posts, and continuing a line of reasoning or argument based on a false premise. I have not read or heard any complaints from people using MTB frames.

Once a bike is modified to exactly the same riding geometry as a touring bicycle, or nearly so, how can the expensive bicycle provide a superior function? The fact is it cannot.

Pulling into a camp ground or hostel or some place along an etablished touring route with a $2000.00 bicycle, and panniers and handlebar bag that cost $500.00, with a jersey that cost $75.00 and $125 shorts and $150 shoes, all shining and glistening in the sun conveys a sense of finance and status, and that is what that is mostly about. That is not what cycle touring is about. It is about travel, healthful exercise, fitness, discovery, exhilerating the senses, increasing the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood. It is a beneficial way of expressing personal freedom. It can have its hardships, yes, but that is life. Fact is, many people cannot afford the status symbol equipment. Fact is they can do the same thing for far less.

After the MTB's geometry is the same or nearly the same as the touring bike, what makes the high dollar machine superior in function? It is easy to say the touring bike is better, so, exactly what is its function that is so much better, precisely? I can think of one thing. The 26 inch wheels and tires seem to pick up every little bump and crack and deliver it through the frame. That is one difference I have noticed between a touring bike and MTB. I do not like that at all. It feels weird, but I suppose one can adjust to it and not be bothered about it after a while.

General Discussion / Re: Warmshowers now charging.....everyone!
« on: November 29, 2020, 03:15:10 pm »
From what I have experienced so far, my impression is that long distance cyclists are a good bunch of people. But, as the Bible points out so effectively, even the garden of Eden had a snake in it. Why is it so often the case that one person messes things up for everybody else? I am considering doing the ST this winter. I was thinking about using warm showers occasionally, but now I am not so sure. I do not need them and never have. I am a member, but have so far had no experiences. I would readily allow a bicycle tourist to rest here. I have bike tools. A bike shop is close by. Restaurants and food stores are all over But then again, there is that slight element of risk. As for myself, I am not worried about it.

I have not been open to guests lately. An old buddy of mine was in the hospital. He is applying for disability compensation. He worked all his life. He had an operation and was taking prescription meds and antibiotics to protect him from post operation infections. He got out of the hospital in pain with no place to go. I invited him here. I bought him plenty of food and gave him a private bedroom. That lasted 76 days. I took him back to Stuart three days ago. He should be fine.

I have not had any warm shower people contacting me and that may be why, because I have been closed to accepting a guest.

Here is a suggestion. If you are taken in as a guest, give your host $3.00. And I agree 100 % that charging anyone $3.00 a month for extending courtesy and hospitality gratis to a bicycle tourist is  crazy. I noticed WS were looking for donations to keep their operation afloat. Maybe people did not donate. I did not donate. There may be costs involved in keeping that organization going. If they cannot get enough in donations, they have to charge nominal fees.

General Discussion / Re: Cycling across the US (east to west)
« on: November 29, 2020, 04:36:11 am »
Well? How did it go, or how is it going, or did it get going at all?

General Discussion / Newbie bicycle tourists, Don't get fooled.
« on: November 29, 2020, 03:10:02 am »
There is a young man who toured by bicycle across the USA on a mountain bike. He thought it was great. He has a video on You Tube. On two other videos questions were raised about the practicality of using the mountain bikes for long-distance touring. Some people had bikes in the garage or in a shed and they asked about using them for that purpose. Two people said such bikes were not suitable for loaded touring. They stated the reasons why, and they suggested they should buy touring bicycles. They pointed out three features of the MTBs that they said made them unsuitable. I will take those features one a a time and show it it just is not so.

1  They said the chain stays on MTBs are shorter than on road bikes and touring machines. They said panniers could not be positioned far enough back to avoid heel strike. Well, I compared the length of the stays on the MTB here with the stays on the touring bike. Sure enough, the MTB stays are about 30 millimeters shorter just like they said. It has eyelets above the dropouts, so I mounter a rack and fastened it. I put my shoe in position on the pedal and rotated backwards.There is plenty of clearance.

2.  They said that MTB handlebars are typically set well below the level of the saddle. This sets the rider in a too far forward front leaning rest position. It causes excess pressure on hands and ulnar nerve, pain, numbness, a sore back and sore neck. All of that is true. It is a problem, but also one of the easiest in the world to solve.  It is a simple matter to get a riser to raise the position of the bars, and put on drop bars. You may have to buy new cables and housings for the extra length to brakes and deraileurs, but that is a very small cost compared to the price of a new touring bicycle.

3.  They said that there would typically be no eyelets for mounting racks. That is true, and it is irrelevant
Mine has eyelets on  the rear and not on the front. Rear eyelets can be drilled. Very easy thing to do. And rather than spend $1500---$2000 on a new bike I opted for putting out $2.50 for a set of P clamps. Fasten the clamps and put your screws through the eyelets of the clamps and the holes on the struts of the racks, and done. It is a very simple and inexpensive matter to modify an MTB  for long-term, loaded touring.

If you are one of those people with an MTB out back in the shed or in the garage, and you want to tour, do not be deterred by the high costs of gearing up. Go ahead and make your dream a reality. I have done this similar thing many times and it worked out just fine. Do not be persuaded to shell out money for a new touring bike. It is not necessary.

Another matter is panniers. The big items these days are Ortlieb panniers. Described as indestructible, which they definitely are not, and as water proof, which they definitely are, they are displayed in bright pleasing colors and a very high price. Totally unnecessary for wheeling across the continent. Any old panniers do the job just as well. Get an old used set. Line them with industrial strength, contractors' plastic, trash bags. I have done it many times. It keeps everything dry even in an extended driving rain for hours and hours as long as it rains.

Now come tents and other shelters for camping. They might try to sell you a very expensive nylon tent. That night be a very good thing for sleeping. It repels the rain and dew and keeps out the bugs. People are using them on every cycling video I see. But you need not go to the expense. A home made tarp of tyvek is ultra light and completely water proof. There are effective ways of keeping insects away. I used tarps on quite a few winter tours across the southern tier of states. No problem, but bugs in summer can be a son of a bitch. There are ways of keeping them off you completely. A $10.00, 8 by 10 poly tarp will stand a powerful driving rain long after an expensive fabric tent is wetted through and hammered to the ground.

Before you let a bike business shill influence you to dish out large bills for your ride, remember you can easily and cheaply improvise. I have outfitted a bike completely, got all my gear, and completed a transcontinental bicycle adventure for less than 30 % of what some people paid only for gearing up before getting out the door. Judging from the many cycle touring journals I have read, I always got there every bit as fast as efficiently and as comfortably as the big spenders who threw their money down the hole.

If you have the bike, fit it out and go. Do not let them get their hands in your pockets. Use the cash you save by not throwing it away on a useless bike, and fund your trip with it.

General Discussion / Re: Warmshowers now charging.....everyone!
« on: November 29, 2020, 01:56:22 am »
Heard of it. Never tried to use it. It sounds like a good concept.

General Discussion / Re: Max speed unavoidable critter crashes?
« on: November 27, 2020, 07:18:30 pm »
That is right about highway 90. Many years later I cycled that roadway again. The free-ranging dog problem had almost completely disappeared. As a matter of fact I think there was not the first problem with them at all. But in the winter of 1984 they were a constant and continuous problem all the way.

If I remember correctly, that woman was killed by dogs on or near a reservation. I am not saying there is absolutely no reason whatsoever for any caution or concern. I think there is a very high statistical probability that the aggressive house dogs will not harm anyone. Can it happen? It damn sure could happen.

General Discussion / Re: Cooking on the Road
« on: November 27, 2020, 06:33:42 pm »
My problem is I frequently brought cooking materials with me on long bicycle tours, but did not use them. I am baffled why this was so. There was one tour from Florida to California where I cooked about 98 % of my own meals. It was the only US tour where I did not get sick from eating in restaurants. I am also well versed on taking only bare necessities, but I still over pack and carry what amunts to dead useless weight. I am going to have to figure this out for myself some day. I know it is irrational.

Many years ago there was this one cyclist talking about going through this so called dreaded middle third. The wind was so strong, long term and consistent he ended his journey there.

Wind kept me off the road a number of times, but it did not turn me back or end my travel.

General Discussion / Re: Max speed unavoidable critter crashes?
« on: November 27, 2020, 01:23:59 am »
If somebody wanted to get experience dealing with critters in 1984, he could bicycle the length of highway 90 in north Florida. That is what I did. Free ranging dogs were all over the place everywhere. They were seen dead along the roadsides. I did not drive into any.

About domesticated dogs in the USA. You need not be concerned with your safety. They are pacified, fed, kept, and soft. They snip and snarl, bark and fart. They become aggressive. My long experience says they will not seriously attack. It might actually happen, but it has not to me. One hint. Stop cycling and they stop chasing.

The movement of the legs sets them off. Maybe it is something in the primitive brain set there for survival, the hunt, the chase, and killing the prey. My experience is the actual attack will not happen. It could happen, and there are always statistical anomalies and one in a million chance happenings. Keep in mind, dogs are descended from hundreds of thousands of years of evolution. During that time hunting and killing were their means of survival. It is hardwired into their DNA. It is born in the blood. No matter how domesticated and docile, those impulses are still within. Nature assures they are transmitted generation to generation, and when nature does the same thing endlessly and repeatedly, there is a reason for it. This whole pet dog thing has been around for a comparatively short time. If conditions change, they can rely on ancient instincts for killing. Those instincts are why normally placid fido goes bananas when he sees you flying past on your velocipede. He will not jump on you. I seriously doubt he will sink a fang into your hide.

On the downside of the curve, a pack of dogs attacked and killed a woman in New Mexico. Well, yes, things do happen. Many thousands of people are killed by dogs annually worldwide. The dog will not tear at you. We too have instincts for survival. Rover does not want to go up against that.

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