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Messages - cdavey

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Routes / Re: New York State Bike Routes vs. ACA Northern Tier?
« on: July 10, 2012, 11:21:07 pm »
I've ridden Route 17 from Corning west to its terminus at Barcelona (with a detour through Hornell and back by way of NY 21). With one exception, it has a wide shoulder for most of that distance that keeps you several feet away from the passing cars. The exception is at Celeron west of Jamestown where you have about 3 miles of two lane traffic each way with a concrete curb that blocks any possibility of an escape route. Not for the faint of heart.

The route is busy in a number of places. I found that after 3-4 days I was getting really annoyed by the incessant noise of traffic passing me. But I never felt unsafe except for the stretch at Celeron.

The only grade of major size is at Norton Summit west of Wellsville.

I wouldn't hesitate to ride it again.

General Discussion / Re: best pre-ride food
« on: May 11, 2012, 10:35:08 pm »
I've got a sloppy metabolism that has to be fed -- a lot. From experience I have learned that for me anytime I am touring or if I am doing a long ride (30 miles or more) around home, breakfast needs to be scrambled eggs, sausage, toast, and homefries/potatoes or pancakes. Otherwise sooner or later I bonk.

This past Saturday I was in a morning group ride that rode 30 miles round trip to check out a new diner/restaurant in a nearby town. I ate two slices of toast (homemade oat bran bread that is really filling) and jelly before I went to fuel me till we arrived. I was in the middle of the above breakfast when two guys came into the restaurant who were out for a 70 mile day ride. (They had seen all our bikes out front and decided to stop in.) During our conversation one of them looked at my plate and said, "Isn't that a lot of food to eat on a ride?" I said, "Not for me it isn't."

Like DaveB said, everyone is different when it comes to this when they ride. I never have trouble riding after eating like this because I ate too much. I actually have trouble riding until it digests enough to kick in and fuel me.

Routes / Re: Pittsburgh to Washington, DC
« on: March 24, 2012, 03:04:37 pm »
A caveat to james2u post.

Yes, they did. It's part of the Montour trail system that runs from Coraopolis to McKeesport in a semicircle west and south of Pittsburgh. McKeesport is on the GAP. So yes, you could fly into Pittsburgh, put your bike together, hop on the trail and head off. There is a fly in this ointment, however. The Montour Trail still has some gaps in it that you have to road ride. It's certainly doable. I just don't want you think that you would be on a trail the entire time to McKeesport because you won't be. The Montour trail maintains a good website you can check:

Also, when I rode it back in 2007, the GAP trail alignment through McKeesport was not the easiest thing to follow. At that time most people started at the trailhead south at Boston. I think this may have changed since then with the opening of an old RR bridge over the Monongehela River. But you could check that also.

Routes / Re: Pittsburgh to Washington, DC
« on: March 08, 2012, 10:58:08 am »
While I understand that you would enjoy Maryland road riding vs. the trails, keep in mind that you are crossing the Appalachin Mountains here. Don't let the fact that they are only 2000' - 4000' high fool you. They aren't hills; they really are mountains. The hillsides are steep, and the roads were built before they had dynamite, so they go over the hills not through them. Grades in the teens are common. Unless you can work out a stream valley route, expect to have to deal with this. If I were considering this, I would want to spend some time studying the topo maps to see what I was getting into so I could plan and train accordingly -- and you will need to train to do the grades especially of you are already loaded touring.

Not to discourage you, but the point of planning is to know what you are dealing with. Of course, if you have a great VO2, and like to climb hills, you're set to go! :-)

Routes / Re: Best Novice Route Under 500 Miles
« on: February 02, 2012, 09:48:55 pm »
You might consider the Great Allegheny Passge (GAP) and C&O Towpath from Pittsburgh PA to Washington DC. It runs about 320 miles. If you are willing to poke around in the towns you can things worth stopping at in most of them. If you willing to do that, then there are only two criteria it may not meet:
1. The surface for the most part is crushed limestone (GAP) or dirt (towpath - but they are supposed to be limestoning it at some point to make more suitable cycling). If "gravel" means road type gravel, you're OK; if it includes crushed limestone, you're not. When you say "moderately smooth" I am taking that to include crushed limestone surfaces.
2. The towpath may not please your wife as a good part of the time you are riding in a tunnel of trees and there is not a lot to see around you.  Even though the Potomac River is nearby you often cannot see it.

I've always thought the best part of the GAP is the ride from Meyersdale to Cumberland -- viaducts, the Big Savage tunnel with a spectacular view on the south end when you come out of it, and a 20 mile downhill ride. On the C&O probably the last 15-20 miles as you come to DC is the best. You can spend time in DC being a bike tourist and avoid the hassle trying to drive there. I've done it and it's amazingly different. Don't worry about the traffic. The street lanes are wide and drivers are used to see bikers, runners and skaters. I wouldn't want to tour DC any other way but by bike.

General Discussion / Re: New York State cycling Maps
« on: February 02, 2012, 09:19:13 pm »
I've ridden Route 17 east to west from Corning to its end at Barcelona. The biggest hill going that way is Morton Summit west of Wellsville, about 3/4 mile of 6% (more or less) grade. There is a long upgrade from Salamanca to Little Valley of about 2%. If you're going west to east on that stretch then by far your worst climb will be out of the Lake Erie valley at Westfield. I'd guess 10%.

Biggest drawback is that the road is busy. You have full 8' pulloff lane for a bike route for most of it, but I found after three days of riding that the endless traffic noise really started to bother me. There is only one not-for-the-faint-of-heart stretch of about 2-3 miles in Celeron west of Jamestown -- 2 lanes each way, a concrete curb and nowhere to go with cars passing about 2' away.

For fun, try to get Chatauqua on Sunday when they are in season and you can get in free. Also consider detouring through Hornell to ride the Canisteo river valley. That's a sweet ride.

All in all, it's a well planned route.

General Discussion / Re: TransAmerica 2012
« on: July 29, 2011, 11:28:58 pm »
webm8 -- you might also check out this journal by Marilyn Hedges and her husband Mike Sorenson on their TA trip in 2001. It was the first bike journal I ever read, and it still remains for me the best one I have ever read. There may not be a lot of overt literal nuts and bolts advice (though nuts and bolts are there at least by implication), but it will give you an excellent sense of what this trip will be/should be about for you.

General Discussion / Re: ACA Maps
« on: April 28, 2011, 12:15:41 am »
I agree with rabbitoh.

I am a map guy. Hand me a map and I can immediately get lost in looking at it and studying it for 30-45 minutes oblivious to anything around me.

The ACA maps rise far beyond their utility value to practically being a work of art. I have never seen so much information packed into a map of that size. So much so, that when I got my first set of them, it took me an hour of study just to digest the format and what I could find on them. And as I said I'm a map guy who is good with maps.

Granted, depending upon what features your GPS may have, you might be able to come with more detailed information for any given town that you can get off the ACA maps. But then, you don't have the extra weight of a separate GPS unit if it isn't in your cell phone. You won't coverage issues to worry about in places like Wyoming if the GPS is in the cellphone. And you won't have to worry about trying to recharge the phone of GPS unit because it might go dead in the middle of nowhere -- and well, cue the coyotes again!!

My advice -- Part of the fun and adventure of bike touring is to have enough of a framework of information sufficient to get you from place to place without unpleasant surprises but not so much that there are no surprises at all. The ACA maps will help you do that. Spend the money, buy the maps, skip the GPS, and go have fun.

Routes / Re: Best Route - Philadelphia to Missoula
« on: March 20, 2011, 02:44:27 pm »
I would second that you should consider getting to Erie or the Lake Erie shore and picking up the Northern Tier route there. As has been already pointed out, check the PennDOT web site for the PA Bike Route system, or go further north into NY state and take NY Bike Route 17 across NY. That would put you on the Northern Tier route at Westfield, NY heading SW to Erie.

It's also possible to continue west into Ohio from PA before you pick up the Northern Tier, but the problem is that as far as I been able to find, all the bike maps in Ohio are privately published and you have to buy them in order to lay out a route through there. It's also fairly hard to find the list of sources. It would be easier and cheaper to use the PA and NY DOT sites for your research.

FWIW, I have ridden NY Route 17 from Corning to Westfield. It's a nicely thought out route with only a few hills. Can't say anything about the part of NY 17E of Corning, though. That may be more hilly since that's where the Appalachians pass throuigh NY state.

General Discussion / Re: Tennessee to Northeast PA
« on: March 20, 2011, 02:20:51 pm »
I'll ask the same question from the other end. Where in NE PA do you want to end up? You can consider PA Bike Routes (laid out by PennDOT) G, J and L for north-south routes. I have ridden the entire length of G. It's great, and it gets you through the Appalachians of central PA with only about 5 big hills -- which is no small trick. Can't say anything about the other two. Here's the link to the map. Click on whatever route you want to look at. It will take you to a separate map of that route from which you can look at and download individual map segments of that route.

Having ridden both the GAP anf the C&O in their entirety, I agree that for a family bike trip with kids/teenagers, Connelsville to Cumberland would be the trip to take. The high and low bridges at Ohiopyle, the Salisbury and Keystone viaducts at Meyersdale, the wind farms, crossing the Eastern Continental Divide, the Savage Mt. Tunnel, the signature picture of the view to Cumberland that you'll want to take when you come out of the tunnel, the Helmstetter curve -- highlights just keep coming and will provide lots for everyone in the family to look at and look forward to, including the kids. And then as the finish there's the 20 miles of downhill on about a 2.5% grade that you'll fiind yourself cruising along at about 15-18 mph with almost no pedaling! And you might meet the scenic RR train coming the hill past you! Cumberland is a neat town too, if you have time to poke around.

There are 2-3 shuttle services available. Check out the GAP website and you can find a list of them.

As for Gettysburg, look into hiring a licensed guide instead of the standard two hour bus tour or self guided
tour. You can hire them for as much time as you would like and can also have them custom design a tour for you around a specific subject if you want as well as getting a general tour. I've done it this way when I've been there, and my opinion is spend the money and do it if you want to understand what happened there. Days 1 and 3 are easy. It's Day 2 that is the confusing one.

You guys are going to have some fun with this one!!

General Discussion / Re: Touring Nutrition
« on: October 27, 2010, 01:29:04 pm »
I have to concur with everybody. I have a sloppy metabolism and some sensitivity to low blood sugar. I have to eat breakfast or I am bonked from the get-go in the morning. I have always been able to eat a lot without it showing much and if it does I can take it off pretty easily -- really I have to eat a lot or I don't function well mentally or physically.

In non-touring life, regular meals are low meat, lots of vegetables, whole grains including homemade breads with fresh ground grain. Standard what-is-now-considered-healthy diet. I didn't train myself to eat this eat this way because it was supposed to be healthy for me. I did it because I realized I felt better when I did. You get the picture. But when I go on tour....

Breaskfast - Camp breakfast is never enough. I can't function. (In general camp meals never are enough no matter whether it's breakfast, lunch or dinner.) Camp breakfast has to be followed by more. Typical breaskfast - eggs, bacon/sausage, toast, hash browns/pancakes, juice.
Lunch - Hamburger or similar, french fries
Dinner - pasta, pasta, pasta, and salad.
Snacks - often one in the morning. Certainly one in the afternoon. Gatorade or something similar in there for fluid and electrolytes.
In general -- LOTS of fats, carbs and a fair amount of protein.

I would never eat like this at home. I'd consider it a heart attack waiting to happen. But I have found it is what works for me touring. My body is telling me this is what it needs to be able to tour day after day.

Routes / Re: PA Route G
« on: July 28, 2010, 10:56:30 am »
Good to hear back from you.

Well, this is PA, not exactly the land of progressive planning. PennDOT has changed their construction standards in the last 10-15 years to include emergency pull off lanes on state roads that will double as bike lanes, gradually re-constructing existing roads to those standards, but they have a long way to go. As to speedy drivers, well yes. After a while we all figure out that the suggested speed limits for curves are 10 mph slower than what you can actually take them at, so why would we drive any differently on the straightaways? :-)

You're off Route G more than I expected, so I don't have first hand knowledge of those parts. However, I did check PennDOT's traffic volume maps to get some feel for those parts of the route. That said, I think you probably don't need to be too concerned. If you want to check those maps yourself, here's the link.

I can't comment on the road out from Jersey Shore to Route 44 as I came up the other way from Lock Haven. However, the traffic maps suggest this is going to be basic small city urban riding out to Route 44.

Once you turn right onto Route 44, as I recall the road is fairly wide, there isn't much shoulder, but the traffic is modest and the sight clearances are fine since the Pine Creek valley has widened out here. You're only on the road  2-3 miles before you come to the rail trail.

Once you come off the trail onto Route 6, the traffic is again modest, but you have a 3-4 foot shoulder to ride on. I turned off at the intersection with 287 and didn't have time to go into Wellsboro. The traffic maps suggest that this strech of 6 is somewhat busy, and I don't know what kind of shoulder you may have here.

I assume you will be going out Charlestown Road to get to the camp ground. The traffic maps indicate that these are local access roads with very light traffic -- a few hundred cars in each direction every day.

Route 287 into Tioga is wide and flat with modest traffic. I don't recall any shoulder, but the lane is so wide and the sight clearances are so good that you really don't need one.

When I rode it, 287 ended in Tioga and you took Route 15. That was a busy road. However, they were in the process of finishing a 4 lane version of  Route 15 that has since been completed. (Getting through the construction on a bicycle was lots of fun.) The old two lane version was renamed as an extension of 287. It appears now to be basically a main connector road between Tioga and Lawrenceville for local traffic with a couple thousand cars in each direction every day. As I recall it has shoulders, since the trucks could blow by me fast enough that I kept getting hit by their backdraft. That probably is no longer an issue with the new four lane.

PA law provides that bicycles shall keep to the right as far as is practicable. How far is practicable? You know the drill I'm sure -- use your common sense and judgment depending upon the situation, otherwise ride far enough to the inside of the lane to force them to pass you like a car, and take the lane when necessary. You'll be fine. Don't worry.

By the way, I didn't plan a trip this year. I'm envious.

P.S. Bring bug dope for the trail. It's fairly buggy.

Routes / Re: PA Route G
« on: July 23, 2010, 02:29:24 pm »
I rode Route G end to end in 2007 as part of a trip through MD, PA and NY. Tell me specifically what you want to know and I'll be happy to see what info I can provide you with. Route G is well thought out and you won't be disappointed with it. It was the highlight of my trip.

Mid-Atlantic / Re: Youghiogheny Trail/Great Allegheny Passage
« on: December 13, 2009, 02:54:23 pm »
I saw your response dated Dec 5, and this caught my eye:

"I assume that the same logic applies in the US that the busier routes are contoured more gently given that they are designed for freight to use and cannot have excessively severe gradients, whereas some of the quieter back roads are more likely to have the severe climbs."

Well, maybe. If I were you, I would assume nothing about the roads here in the East that I might be using until I had researched them.
(1) Here's an example. I have not biked this but have driven it. I-68 runs east-west across WV and MD. It also carries the designation of US 40. I-68 replaced Old US 40. Old US 40 stills exists and in many places parallels I-68 just a few hundred feet away. US 40 is the old National Road route that in various incarnations goes back to about the 1820s. Old US 40 was THE main route through this area before I-68 replaced it. I-68 has the 3% gradients you are talking about. Old US 40 is a roller-coaster of endless up-and-down rollers. Riding rollers like these all day is more demanding than you might think. And this is a main road of its day.
(2) Many of these main roads would be state or US highways. However, many of them have a shoulder no wider than 2 feet or less, or no shoulder at all. Here in PA, PennDOT is gradually putting shoulders on state roads as it does major reconstruction on them, but the majority of the roads haven't been done. If you want your bike trip to be a memorable adventure, just wait till you have 18-wheel semis with trailers and their accompaning wind drafts go by you at 50-60 mph 2 or 3 feet from you -- I guarantee it will be.

I would suggest you consider some combination of the following:
(1) Get online and at some topographical map sites and study the maps covering your routes. Some sites charge, some don't. From the maps you can get the elevation gain and from the map scale some idea of the distance of the climb, and roughly calculate the gradient of the hills.
(2)Also for state highways, most states through their DOT website have traffic volume maps of state highways so you can get some idea of how much traffic is on a given road.
(3)You might consider buying a topo mapping program like DeLorme's Topo 8.0. It will allow you to experiment laying out your own routes. It will also give an elevation profile for the mapped route. You drag the mouse over the profile and it will give you a running gradient. Some of these gradient numbers will seem fanciful in the course of running the mouse over the slope, but you can still calculate an average gradient based on the distance and elevation gain.

I hope you will see this and consider aozolins and my advice to plan this part of your ride carefully. Good planning lets you know in advance about issues like this one, so you aren't surprised. Bad planning does not. You've got two people who live and bike in the region telling you that this ain't easy, dude. A word to the wise...

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