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Messages - LouMelini

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Gear Talk / Re: How warm should your sleepingbag be?
« on: April 02, 2024, 09:37:47 pm »
John: Just to be clear, the bag has been washed (down specific soap) many times. It comes out warmer but the bag probably needs more down.

General Discussion / Re: Best Tips for Cooking on the Road
« on: March 30, 2024, 10:30:14 pm »
It appears that "best tips for cooking" has now changed so I will keep the cooking tip short. Julie and I eat well on our trips. The tip I will add to the group is for clean-up, a GSI pot scraper. It makes clean up a lot easier especially if you are camping somewhere without cleaning sinks such as a forest service campground. It won't however make your bike safe from theft.  :)

Gear Talk / Re: How warm should your sleepingbag be?
« on: March 30, 2024, 10:11:09 pm »
There are a lot of variables when it comes to sleeping systems (bag and pad) as Davidbonn stated. He said "most backpackers and bicycle tourists are carrying a too warm and too heavy and too expensive sleeping bag". I will focus on the "too expensive" Good quality bags will be expensive. However these bags will probably have a true temperature rating, be light-weight due to a higher quality of down (my preference), and last for a long time making the initial purchase price seem cheap over the lifetime of the bag. Julie and I have had a sleeping bag for the two of use since our marriage nearly 42 years ago. It is a Marmot, down (not sure what rating of down), with a gore-tex shell. It is no longer as warm as it was when we purchased it. Most of our outdoor travel has occurred since 2004 when our youngest son graduated high school. The Marmot bag has been on most of our 16,000 miles of bike travel we have done (maybe all). That bag has also been with us for most of our backpack trips that include an Appalachian Trail thru-hike (we used our Western Mountaineering for the final 400 miles). The Marmot bag weighs 3 pounds (for both of us) and cost $200-300 in 1982 (I don't remember the exact price). As you can imagine, we have had cold weather at times (near 20) in our travels. As Jamawani astutely stated we keep clean socks and beanies handy, and lately (due to our age) long underwear (top and bottom). I will keep in mind to use the glove liners in the future. We also have a Western Mountaineering bag that is warmer for outings that we know will be consistently near or below freezing. This bag is "only" 15 years old and cost about $400. Both of our sleeping bags open up into one large quilt. We purchased "couplers" that zip onto the sleeping bags underneath us that keep our sleeping pads from sliding. The couplers are a thin fabric that keeps the system intact and reduces some heat loss. We have used a variety of Thermarest products for sleeping pads over the years. My current favorite is the Neoair Xlite NXT for both comfort and warmth. We always sleep in a tent.

General Discussion / Re: Traditional Trans America group tour
« on: November 13, 2023, 10:13:48 pm »
Given the history, the TransAm is the premier route to quote staehpj1. I am glad I did the route with Julie (2018) but once is enough. However, the 500 miles of car-free riding noted in the TransAm Express route would have been enticing had we know about the route. It is van-supported. We would prefer a self-contained ACA tour.  Jamawani presents and interesting thought of self-contained touring is a thing of the past; all the ACA tours in 2024 over 15 days are van-supported. Julie and I have signed up for the Denali self-contained tour in 2024, our first ACA sponsored tour.

General Discussion / Re: Neck injury/pain issue
« on: October 10, 2023, 05:55:26 pm »
I assume if you know you have a few missing discs in your neck that you have consulted a physician, either a neurosurgeon or orthopedic physician (either operative or non-operative). What did the consulting physician have to say? Have you seen a non-operative orthopedic surgeon that has a sports medicine specialty? Or perhaps a Physical therapist that has a cycling background, perhaps with bike fitting capabilities?

I live in Salt Lake City. My wife and I have done 2 or 3 late March/early April trips over the years though the last trip has been about 8 years ago. Each have been a week or so. The weather can be quite pleasant during the day. However mornings can be cold and down to freezing. Fortunately we have not had significant precipitation on our trips. Wind is frequent. Many campgrounds don't open until April 1st. As Jamawani noted, Bryce is high and can be snow covered, but Kodachrome State Park is just east of Bryce and is a nice walking park usually bypassed by the Bryce crowd. I won't discourage you with your plan, but pushing it to early April would make lodging easier, if you are planning on camping, plus a better chance of good weather. Keep in mind Sunday closures in the small town grocery stores.

Jamawani, as usual, posted good advice. There is a primitive campground (Sheffield) with pit toilet, bear boxes and a nearby stream one mile south of Flagg east of route 89 (191/287), that may be useful to you. I got there late and had to share a site. Food and filling up with water at Flagg is convenient. Hiker/Biker sites in Yellowstone are still operational.

General Discussion / Re: Waterford/Gunnar Closes
« on: June 02, 2023, 05:10:16 pm »
Thanks for posting this. I and my wife have owned multiple Waterfords over the years, road, touring, cyclocross and hard-tail mountain bike from a bike shop where my son worked. We visited the Waterford factory once during a Wisconsin bike tour and as you said Richard was gracious and enjoyed our visit.

Danny: I read and re-read your request, though I am not completely sure how to reply.  I have over 2 years of bike travel and backpacking experience (mostly with my wife) that includes 2 rides across the U.S (each 70 days or so) and a near 6-month thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. The first time I rode across the U.S. was in 1975 when I was 24 and the 2nd time was in 2018 when I was 67. So I hope to reflect back to my ride when I was young (like you I assume), but give "fatherly" advice from my older ride across the U.S. I have had deep respect for jamawani's posts over the years in the forums. His advice to you, as always, is very good. My wife and I would concur when he says "I recognize your energy and commitment" and to take advantage of the opportunity you have.

I do not know what your time frame is for your ride nor how long you plan to ride each day. Remember, at the end of the day, you will be a bit tired, hungry, thirsty, dirty and may need to have a plan to find lodging along with laundry duties and perhaps some bike maintenance. Interviewing someone for a graduate school internship may not happen until you satisfy your hunger, thirst, etc. In my experience hosting Warmshowers guests that have similar goals that you have, the guest needed an extra day with us stay to accomplish the interviews/goals. You may need to plan for extra time.

"Interview folks along the way about their connection to place and their environment" sounds a bit vague, but that may be purposeful to allow you to not be locked into a specific topic. Does your graduate program require a more specific goal, perhaps talking to people in rural America such as Scott City/County in Kansas (like jamawani I rode through there) that are in charge of issues such as water quality and pollution from farm runoff or trash disposal and recycling (which probably doesn't happen in rural communities). This would probably require you to contact the city manager to set up appointments. I also do not know if your background is living in an urban, suburban or rural community. Simply documenting the contrasts you see in the environment of urban, suburban and rural communities may be an enlightening project for a podcast/blog.

I hope that I am providing an answer to your not tell you what to do. With regards to your request for "trails to take" I will add that the Adventure Cycling bike routes such as the TransAmerica, are helpful and time saving, but in this day and age one can 'google' places to stay and for obtaining food.

Julie and I wish you luck and hope that your project goes well.

General Discussion / Re: Gravel Bike for CX
« on: January 16, 2023, 06:08:39 pm »
I have raced cyclocross since 2004. There was a time I was pretty good in the over 55 category (the oldest local category) but I am now 72 racing against youngsters. I plan on riding a gravel bike for the next race season. I will put on lighter wheels but mostly at this time of my life, I am there for the socialization. As you race more you will find tires that you like. As a beginner you will go crazy trying to micro-manage the choices. Depending on mud, sand, cold, steepness of hills, and twists and turns of each course, it seems each tire has its pros and cons. Not knowing where you are from, how much mud do you expect to encounter, and will running through the mud be a better option. Go race and learn what upgrades you need, but mostly enjoy.

General Discussion / Re: Getting to Your Starting Point
« on: October 18, 2022, 03:35:05 pm »
Jamawani: You have said in other posts that you are from Wyoming, and I am assuming western Wyoming. There is a bus service, Salt Lake Express that I have used several times on tours here in the west. The bus serves Las Vegas and Reno, northwest to Boise, north to Ketchum, Idaho, Jackson Wy., Butte, Great Falls Montana, Seattle and Spokane, and of course most of Utah including Moab. Great service. Call to let them know you have a bike ($10 surcharge). I have not had a problem loading my unboxed bike onto the back of the bus in in a trailer they will pull if the bus service knows that you have a bike.

General Discussion / Re: extremely new to cycle touring
« on: September 08, 2022, 06:54:52 pm »
My only experience in Europe was a 2-week tour along the Danube and a few other places in Southern Germany in 2011, so my information may be dated. The Danube (Danau in Europe) is one of many bike trails in Europe that you will find through EuroVelo. There are 13 routes. If you are going alone or with a small group that is one resource to use. Unless you have language proficiency, I would concur with Pat and look into a packaged tour or some type of guide service. Despite assurances that we would find a lot of English speakers in Germany, that turned out not to be true. Julie and I struggled, even with her ability to speak and understand some German. Accommodations along the Danube were good. Stealth camping in Germany is illegal. There is more information on my Germany tour in titled "Tales from the old Country".

General Discussion / Re: Tents and panniers
« on: August 05, 2022, 11:28:44 am »
CrepitusCritch: I have about 25,000 miles of bike touring and nearly 4,000 backpacking, more than !/2 with my wife Julie. No matter what stove, fuel system, tent, sleep system, light or heavy weight or somewhere in between did I wish I had done things differently. Every trip was in some way unique and memorable. That is why I keep doing more trips. If you love your Trangia 27 then use it. Using a lighter cook set or no cook set brings a different experience, nothing good or bad. On one trip Julie and I did, she did not want to take a stove in order to experience German food, our only overseas tour. I did not like German food but the bike tour was still memorable and I ignore the the issue of the stove. You will not make a right or wrong answer, just experience a different style of your bike tour.

General Discussion / Re: Tents and panniers
« on: July 09, 2022, 08:04:08 am »
if I recall correctly, WalMart was my primary source of canister fuel east of Breckenridge area of Colorado on the TransAm. We went west to east and had quite a few canisters as we headed towards Kansas.

General Discussion / Re: Tents and panniers
« on: July 04, 2022, 06:01:45 pm »
I use a 2-person tent when alone, 3-person when traveling with my wife (We did the TransAmerica in 2018). The extra room is luxurious and the weight penalty is not much. I leave my panniers on my bike. I have Ortlieb security cables, but I rarely use them. A stove is a must for me. My set-up is a bit lighter than your set-up, but for a TransAmerica ride you will enjoy the additions. Good advice posted by the other contributors to your question. You will add or deduct stuff during the course of the ride and make it your set-up that works for you.

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