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Messages - New Jawn

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Mr. HikeBikeCook,
Thanks for the reply.  From what you wrote, I will join RWGPS.  Just reading through their Help page, I think that I'll be able to handle the basics.

I would like to install all of the Eastern Express maps and then the TransAmerica maps from where it connects in Kansas through Pueblo, CO.  Do you think that my Garmin Edge Explore will have the memory to allow that?  (From Pueblo, I plan to bike to Colorado Springs (where my daughter lives) and stay there for 4-7 days to recover, do bike maintenance, and of course download the rest of the maps from Pueblo to Oregon, then rejoin again at Pueblo).

Do you use the FIT, GPX, or TCX map formats?  It seems that RWGPS recommends FIT.    If I read correctly, ACA files are in GPX, so would it be better to use GPX format throughout?

I received a Garmin Edge Explore as a gift, and I'm very grateful for it, but I've no clue how to use it and it's been a huge struggle to learn the basics. 

All that said, I'm trying to "export" maps from the easternexpressroute dot com to my Garmin.  It is my understanding that "FIT"files work well with my Garmin.  The first prompt when trying to 'export' is do I want "notify before turn" and, if I do, then I have to upgrade/pay RideWithGPS for that service. 

Question 1: So, is the $80/yr. "Premium" for RideWithGPS worth it?  I know it's in the eyes of the beholder, but is that a common purchase for novice riders?  When decent weather returns, I also want to do rides in Michigan's UP and, if at all possible, Newfoundland and Labrador.  So I'm thinking that RideWithGPS would be a good thing to have? 

Question 2: The EasternExpressRoute website says that, beginning Jan. 2022, the site will be taken over by ACA.  I'm a member of ACA, so it's a bit puzzling that ACA maps would be provided through RideWithGPS, for which I have to pay an additional fee to get 'notify by turn' service.  Am I missing the obvious?

General Discussion / A weighty question
« on: October 25, 2021, 12:43:05 pm »
My usual intro, which in this case has relevance:  In May 2022, I will go E-W across these United States, using the Eastern Express to Kansas, then TCA the rest of the way.

I bought a Garmin Express Edge, which has mapping, distance and elevation, and not much else, and that's fine with me since I'm very uncomfortable with tech stuff.
I bought the ACA maps of the TCA and they're just fine.  I'll have to use the magnifying lens, but that's ok.
The Eastern Express maps, available at , are downloadable in PDF files for printing and through Ride With GPS (and many thanks to the people who put together the maps and made them available gratis).
I downloaded/printed the sections I need, and it comes to a stack about 1.5" of 8X11 paper (pic attached).  It's kinda bulky, heavy, and cumbersome.  Now I know that at the end of each day, one can discard the maps completed to lessen the load a page at a time, but...

Questions:  For those who use GPS mapping, do you also carry paper maps?   I can print double-sided to cut the stack in half, but is there a better way? Are Eastern Express maps in a presentation similar to ACA's maps available for purchase?

All replies are extremely helpful.  I have zero bicycle touring experience, and I really appreciate the information and various opinions.

Just a few comments.  First, coming from the distance hiking world where it is not unusual to hear of hikers cutting off ends of toothbrushes or trimming away clothing tags and white margins around maps, I'm always thinking about weight and keeping things as light as possible.  Soooooo, that's my intro into being hesitant to add a front rack and panniers.  The Surly front rack weighs in at a bit over 3 lbs., and the Ortlieb Sport Roller Hi-Viz bags come in at 25 oz.  So to add front capacity, I'm adding 5 lbs just to carry...????  I don't know yet, but my goal is to have no more than 35 lbs of gear.  I totally get that ride stability is critical, and I get that having gear divided into 4 groups would be easier, but...   I have until May to get everything in order, so I'll keep chewing on it.   I never thought about hauling my tent/sleeping bag on the front, and never would have thought about carrying water on the front forks.   My distance hiking "skin out" weight was 32 lbs, which included 2 liters water and 4 days food. 

I have a 2021 Surly Disc Trucker, which can accept a kickstand.  Old habits are hard to put aside.

I'm not rich, so I'm going to tinker with my Shires Tarptent and see if I can add two collapasable poles rather than buying a new freestanding tent.

I had no idea that locks weigh so much, some upwards of 6 lbs.  I have a 30" Arbus chain lock that weighs 2.5 lbs.  I don't know whether to make do or upgrade.

It seems that everyone agrees to keep valuables in handlebar bag and take it with you when away from bike.  I already removed the shoulder strap, so now I'll add it back.

Last Sunday I did at 52 mile ride in 3:40.  No gear, gentle hills, light traffic, but still I was happy 'cause it was my first 50 mile ride and I didn't die.   Progress!

I'll shut up now before I get on everyone's nerves.  I have a $300-400 question that I'll pose later in the week and I want to keep in your good graces.

Thanks again for all the great info and ideas.


Some disparate questions that really are connected.

My broken record intro: I'll be doing a modified TransAmerica, starting May 2022 -- the Eastern Express to Kansas, traditional TA the rest of the way.

1.  I have a good ultra-light hiking tent that I'm happy with but it's not free standing.  I've the impression that free standing is preferable so that when camping in places with a picnic shelter, for example, it's common to set up your tent inside the shelter.   I plan to camp whenever possible.  So, do most use free standing?  If not, are you happy with your stake-requiring setup or, if you had to do things over, would you opt for free standing?

2.  My previous bike had a kickstand.  I loved it.  My new bike doesn't.  The extra weight for a kickstand seems like it would be weight well spent.  I'm hesitant to add it because I'm new at this and keep thinking that there must be great reasons that most (?) don't use one.  For those who do, is there a specific brand/model that you'd recommend?

3.  Locks.  Currently I use a chain lock.  When camping, I see myself chaining my bike TO my tent so that hopefully I would hear someone messing with it and wake up.   For those who camp a lot, how do you protect your bike from theft while you're sleeping?

4.   When camping in city parks and campgrounds, do you remove your panniers,  handlebar bag, etc and keep your gear inside your tent at night?

5.  Finally, my goal is to use the Ortlieb  6 liter handlebar bag and the Back Roller classic panniers for all of my gear, except that I plan on attaching with bungee cords the tent and sleeping bag on the rear rack, and my repair tools carried in a small case under the seat.   However, my bike shop expert tells me that having all of the weight on the back is a bad idea -- less ride stability; instead, he recommends using front panniers AND rear panniers to distribute weight more evenly.
BUT, I've done a lot of distance hiking and I'm 99% sure that I can carry all of my gear using just rear panniers, so adding front panniers would also mean adding 5-8 lbs just for the front  rack and front panniers.
So....?  Thoughts?

Thanks in advance for any advice.

Routes / Nova Scotia to Newfoundland
« on: September 16, 2021, 03:29:32 pm »
I'm usually the last to know, but in case there are others thinking/planning a route through Nova Scotia into Newfoundland, there is a ferry service between them that is available for bicyclists.    If it's stated directly on their website, I couldn't find it, so I wrote and received the following reply:

"Thank you for reaching out to our Customer Relations department to inquire about travelling with your bicycle on our ferry service. Yes, bicycles are permitted on our vessels; the bicycles will be located on the vehicle deck as there is an on board bicycle rack.  Customers travelling on bicycles are charged a passenger fare along with a separate cost associated with transporting the bicycle.  Please visit the following link to the rates section of website which provides a full breakdown of travel costs for our Gulf and seasonal Argentia service "

Even with the link, I didn't see a cost for transporting a bike, but I'm guessing it's nominal.

General Discussion / Re: Hillbilly dogs
« on: September 15, 2021, 11:37:35 am »
After a good bit of reading numerous blogs and threads on the topic, I've decided to better my odds of avoiding hillbilly dogs by avoiding hillbilly country.  I'm going to do the Eastern Express, which connects to the KATY trail, and from its southwestern terminus, a short connector to where it connects to the TransAmerica in Eureka, Kansas, to continue on through Colorado, etc. 

I read a good number of blogs about the TA central, and nearly all report that unchained dogs were quite common in Kentucky and eastern Missouri, with a majority saying that they just assumed that each and every trailer and roadside shack will have at least one semi-feral mutt to circumvent.  This will be my first long solo ride and I just don't need the added stress.

That said, I will still carry a can of bear spray.

If all goes well, my next goal will be putting together a hopefully dog-free, 3-week trip to do both the Cabot Trail (Cape Breton, Nova Scotia) and the Viking Trail (Newfoundland).  I will start a thread on those trails and the planned trip a bit later, but never hurts to post the idea should any of you want to join in. 

Gear Talk / A couple of clothing questions and comments
« on: September 01, 2021, 10:10:01 am »
Quite a few gear/clothing distributors are having Labor Day sales.

Rain coat?  My outdoor experience is all from distance hiking.  For hikers, the dilemma for rain gear is that while it may keep you dry from rain, you'll almost certainly sweat out unless other adjustments are made.  When hiking in warmish weather, I didn't bother to wear a rain jacket or pants.  I carried rain gear more for warmth and to avoid hypothermia if it was raining and cold.   That's the background I'm coming from.
For cycling the TA central route in May-June, did you carry rain gear and was it used?   The Patagonia Torrentshell 3L is on sale this weekend, it got a 'best buy' from Wirecutter, so... buy or pass?

I just assumed that pretty much everyone doing a long tour would use either padded underwear or padded cycling pants.  I've been using padded underwear  and they help.  But Bicycle Touring Pro said he never used them and went further by saying that after wearing them for multiple long days, it's more comfortable to not use them.  Anyone made the switch?

prAna Zion short pants.  Got a pair last month, have worn 8 times cycling, and they get an A+ from me.  Most comfortable short pants I've ever had in this lifetime.  And they don't look like cycling pants 'cause they're not, so you can go into stores/restaurants and no one will think you're wearing Depends.

High visibility safety shirts with reflectivity.  I refuse to look like a rolling billboard for Campari, I want to be seen and avoided by vehicles, and I discovered high-vis safety shirts -- very inexpensive, breathable, and cheap.  They're not clingy, which is good 'cause no one wants to see me in tight clothes.

Cycling gloves.  I was given a pair of Pearl Izumi.  Meh. 

My bike should be finished by next week! 

Happy trails.

General Discussion / Re: Hillbilly dogs
« on: August 23, 2021, 05:34:03 pm »
I appreciate all of the comments -- you people have given this novice lots to think about in the next 9 mths.

I am all but committed to stopping by Colorado Springs on the journey west.  Looking at the ACA routes and other options, I will probably cobble together a combination of various routes.  All will be novel, so hopefully there's no such thing as a bad route.

I wish that I had a partner for the ride but I always hiked solo so I should be used to it.   I didn't give bears on the AT a second thought (tick-borne Lyme disease, yellow jacket nests, and giardia were, in that order, my bête noire), so I hope to get over the fear of pitbulls and bully breeds.

My bike should be ready within 2 weeks.  It's been a huge struggle to piece it together in a time when parts are so damned hard to find.  But I very much look forward to doing some very long rides on the weekends in prep. for going across county.  But truth be told, my first purchase will be a can of Fox Co. or Sabre pepper spray for dogs.

I've got a lot more questions, but I don't want to wear out my welcome so I'll shut up for now.

Again, thanks for your patience and information.

General Discussion / Re: Hillbilly dogs
« on: August 23, 2021, 08:20:03 am »
.... I made my own way from Charleston to Nashville and had to deal with dogs every day. Honestly, they almost ruined my tour.

What I found was that even though I could deal with them .... the thought of a dog up ahead really impacted on my enjoyment.
After a while a simple dog bark drove the anxiety needle higher.
Approaching dogs sent it higher again.
I had a few bad scares which ruined some otherwise good days.

That.  Exactly that.  I don't want to wonder what unleashed dog(s) will come charging out of a trailer to try to bite.

But let me back up just a bit.  Early this summer I started to follow "TobyRail Touring," a vlog on YouTube of two ordinary guys doing the TransAmerica.  They posted a short video nearly everyday, they were unpretentious, non-racing ordinary riders.  That vlog is what got me started.  I'm not a cyclist, but when I saw it, I thought, yeah, I want to do that, I can do that. 

Then episode 61.  They were riding with two other guys for a bit.  One guy got ahead maybe 1/4 mile, and from the vlog, "out from behind a trailer came two massive pitbulls.... I've never ridden faster in my life... One of them hung with me for several hundred yards."

That could have had a very bad ending.  He didn't get bitten, but at the end of the day you could tell he was still shaken up.

So that's when I started paying attention to the issue of unleashed dogs and learned from numerous threads and vlogs that Kentucky and Missouri are where it's a much bigger problem than other sections.  I had no idea.  And the thought of dealing with pitbulls and other similar breeds -- not charging Yorkies or annoyed Basset Hounds -- and me planning on riding by myself... that creates a lot of anxiety.

Now I know that dogs can be an issue in any state, but if I can measurably reduce the number of potential attacks by avoiding those two states, then that's a very tempting solution.   And in my 1,100 miles hiking the AT, not one single time did I confront an aggressive dog.  Black bears were the danger, but I never gave them a thought and didn't carry bear spray.

I'll check out the Eastern Express.

General Discussion / Hillbilly dogs
« on: August 22, 2021, 07:39:50 pm »
I listened to a podcast ("The Pedalshift Project") and the topic was dog deterrence.  Wanting more info, I found "Bike Forums" with numerous threads on dogs and cyclists.  From what I gathered, Kentucky and Missouri are far and away the most problematic states on the TA, with many saying that being chased 3-5 times a day while passing through is common.  The discussions quickly turned to what to do, the merits and demerits of various pepper and bear sprays, staying on your bike versus getting off to avoid swerving into traffic, etc.

All of that makes me want to avoid those two states by taking the Norther Tier route.  Yes, dogs everywhere, but having listened to two podcasts and having read a number of long threads on the topic, Kentucky and Missouri (and a few areas of Texas) are where problems are more likely to occur, so....

For those who've actually done the TransAmerica central route, was that your experience? 

General Discussion / Re: Staying out of the breakdown lane; staying safe
« on: August 18, 2021, 03:01:30 pm »
Sunday, April 1 (yes, Fool's Day), '07.  Trail name: Jawny B.  Left from the base of the falls and dropped dead at Gooch Mt. shltr for first night  My next day was over Blood Mt (didn't carry enough water and staggered into Mtn. Crossings.  There I learned how to use duct tape for blisters and vowed always carry 2 liters. Took zeros in Hot Springs and then again in Damascus, did a near-o in Dalesville, but other than that, all was tenting but for staying at Miss Janet's hostel.  Lots of great memories.  I'm sure  you've the same.

General Discussion / Re: Staying out of the breakdown lane; staying safe
« on: August 18, 2021, 01:11:26 pm »
BikeliciousBabe, neighbor!  I hear Spring Garden called every time I'm on SEPTA.  And in spite of all its many problems, nowhere would I rather be than Philly. 

HikeBikeCook, I saw that you did the AT in 2007, which coincidentally is the same year I did my hike.  I always regret not completing the thru, but I just ran out of time (9 weeks) and had to get back to work.  I'm too obsessive to go with no plan -- I couldn't do it hiking (I followed Jack Tarlin's 20mpd plan almost religiously) and I'm sure that I can't cycling.  Yes, I watch Alff's YouTube videos, also Bike Touring Mike (really enjoy his utilitarian pragmatism), and my inspiration, Jin Jeong (YouTube: Cycling Around the World) and her video, "Toughest Australia Outback Cycling Dirt Road Camping"

General Discussion / Re: Staying out of the breakdown lane; staying safe
« on: August 18, 2021, 08:50:28 am »
Thanks for all of the good answers.  I appreciate the time and thought that went into them.

In response to questions posed, I do long rides on weekends and typically apply chain lube every hundred miles or so.  If I ride in dry conditions, I will degrease chain and cassette every 600-800 miles.

The bike I will use on the TransAmerica is being built (Surly Disc).  If any of you have tried to buy a bike over the past year, they can be few and far between, with parts being equally scarce.  I hope my bike will be complete by late Fall.  Currently I ride a Giant Escape, and I practice all repairs and adjustments on it.

I have quite a bit of  experience with distance hiking -- a bit over 1,000 miles on the AT (Amicalola, GA to Boonsboro, MD) -- so setting up and breaking down gear in all types of weather is not an issue.

For me, "here" -- Philadelphia, Fishtown, E. Dauphin St, about 2 miles from Kensington  -- will almost always be more dangerous than "there." 

Apologies if my post title seems overly dramatic.  I tried to keep things light and not so serious with an attempt at dry humor and exaggeration.  Being new to the forum, I'll work at staying clinical and on point.

General Discussion / Staying out of the breakdown lane; staying safe
« on: August 17, 2021, 08:53:13 am »
I've a few questions for those who've done long tours.  I intend to do the TransAmerica in the spring, and although it's months away, still it seems like a steep learning curve.

Assume that you're not riding in the rain and doing the archetypal 60-80 miles per day.  How often do you apply chain lube?  Every day?  Every 200 or so miles?  Do you carry spray lube for derailleurs or just do the best you can with liquid?

Assume you've been on the road for 1,000 miles, your bike is running just fine, but you have another 1,500 miles to go.  There's a bike shop ahead.  Would you stop to have your chain and cassette degreased/cleaned?  Do riders typically plan town stops in places with a bike shop to have that and other adjustments done that require more than a multi tool?

I'm studying Park Tool videos more intently than I ever prepped for the GRE.  My goal is to be competent in changing tires, adjusting brakes and derailleurs, and replacing cables.  Any other repair skills that you consider "must know" before doing a long tour?

On the ACA maps, I noticed that many small towns, particularly in the midwest and Great Plains, allow riders to camp in a city park (although most require giving the sheriff's office a call to let them know).  For those who've frequently used this option, did you feel safe?  In my city, quite a few parks are the unofficial home of those without homes, many of whom have serious substance abuse and mental health issues, and I'll be blunt here -- I don't know that I would feel particularly safe camping next to people smoking meth.    So for those who've used this option, were things almost always just fine?  Sometimes kinda sketchy?  Keep in mind that I'm going solo.  I probably wouldn't give it a thought were I in a group of cyclists.

Any and all comments and suggestions would be most welcome.


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