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Messages - mcparsons

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Routes / Re: A Brit in New Mexico
« on: May 19, 2013, 07:44:48 pm »
1.  We ride on the right hand side.
2.  It will be hot.   ;)

General Discussion / Re: Cycling US = Crazy?
« on: March 25, 2013, 08:39:22 pm »
I'm not sure if it is a fair comparison but it would seem that drawing conclusions about cycling in the US based on experience in southern California would be like deciding drivers in Europe are insane based on a trip across Milan. 

But I'm pretty sure that:
"Starting a bike tour from LA to Grand Canyon without researching the route" = "kinda Crazy"  ;)

My first thought was, "Of course not." But then last time we went through this they paid park rangers overtime to turn people away from unmanned parks.  ::) I

General Discussion / Re: Campsites and bike theives!
« on: February 22, 2013, 03:55:50 pm »
We always keep valuables in our handlebar bags which we never let out of our sight.  The rest of our gear is cheap and not worth pawing through the dirty clothes to get.  But I do worry about having our very precious touring time ruined by someone taking our bikes or some other essential.  My son forgot his lock combo and was able to open his lock in less than a minute by feel (Google to see how easy it is).  So we don't count on that to do more than stop the casual thief. 

General Discussion / Re: Around the world cyclists killed in Thailand
« on: February 22, 2013, 03:49:13 pm »
Really sad and a terrible loss.   Having lived in Thailand for several years I can say that road fatalities are pretty common. But reading the details it appears this was the result of a driver taking his eyes off the road - could have happened anywhere.  That's why I'm never comfortable near high speed traffic in any country.    The area they were riding in is a very industrial region with heavy traffic and lots of trucks. I can't imagine many paved roads in Chachoengsao I would be willing to ride.

General Discussion / Re: Guide to Poor Woman's Cycling
« on: February 17, 2013, 10:15:08 pm »
You don't say how much cycling experience you have.  That makes a difference in what kinds of advice you need.  I'm a big fan of traveling cheap and it can be done.  Some examples:

1.  I use a Coleman tent - you might find one at Goodwill or a garage sale otherwise you'll spend $50.  The Hooligan is a 1 person tent that won't feel claustrophobic.  Not light but unless you go with just a tarp and rope your lightweight options cost money.
2.  I bought a gas stove on Amazon (this one but there are others).  And no-name fuel canisters are cheapest at Walmart.  Or get a dual fuel stove that uses unleaded gas.
3.  I use a second hand pot with the handle removed.
4.  Low temp sleeping bags are expensive.  Use a bag liner and extra clothing layers to stretch what you have.
5.  If you don't do your own maintenance spend some money on having your bike checked.  Mechanical issues can create lots of expense and make your trip miserable.
6.  If you don't have a bike, look for a name brand hybrid on Craigslist.  A Trek FX, Giant FCR or similar will cost you $250 to $350. 
7.  Nashbar has suitable, cheap gear like racks and panniers though you can get by with some other arrangement like Tidy Cat panniers or some kind of sturdy duffel. 
8.  Food is your biggest expense on the road and will cost you more than you think.  5000 calories a day won't come cheap.  Oatmeal, noodles, and rice can give you energy but you need protein too.  But I've found that beans with hotdogs in them taste amazingly good on the road.

If you make the budget part of the adventure it can be fun - but it often won't be comfortable.  As I told my wife, "I'm not on vacation, I'm practicing being homeless."

Only you know your limits and your motivation.  But don't let your complete lack of preparation or resources stand in your way.  People have done it with less.  (Like this guy:

Routes / Cycling in Romania
« on: February 07, 2013, 07:20:20 pm »
We are moving to Bucharest this summer  ;D .    I've read all the Crazy Guy journals and other journals covering the area.  There are a couple of organized touring companies. I'll be riding with my two teenagers.  I've seen that there are issues with stray dogs, narrow and few roads, and crazy drivers.  But I'm hoping someone here has enough experience to put these in perspective. 

- Is it reasonable to expect to free camp in rural areas?
- Any specific routes that I should look at?  Considering Bucharest to Istanbul along the Black Sea.
- Other safety concerns?  How do locals view cyclists and foreigners?
- Cheap accommodation options?
- Frequency of services, food sources?  Availability of fuel?

Any other considerations?  Really excited about exploring this country.

Midwest / Re: Katy trail, MO
« on: January 13, 2013, 07:53:03 pm »
I rode the KATY with my two young sons in July 2010. 

July/August are likely to be hot and that is an understatement.  We had  105F+ and the trail runs right next to the river where it is very humid.  Mosquitoes will also reach horror movie concentrations - swarms that would cover any exposed flesh.

The trip planning website (  has everything you need to know but don't expect to find lots of eating places open.  Some are only open a few days a week and a few places were long abandoned. 

The only indoor night we had was at Doug Rendleman's place near Bluffton.  He is an easy going character, fed us well, told us stories.  If you are laid back it's a great place to stay but you need reservations. 

Everywhere else we camped - very relaxed, just throw a tent up on the local ballfield (we even watched some softball).  Don't expect people to go out of their way to meet you but everyone is pleasant and helpful.  Don't expect any services after 9:00 PM.

Hermann is popular with people who like charm, wine, antiques, etc.  A little too fancy for our tastes.  I'm sure you will find lots of places to stay.  Rocheport also caters a lot to bike tourists.  N. Jeff City is a ghost town since an earlier flood.  You will need to ride into Jeff City proper to get any services.

The ride out as far as Rocheport is stunning (by Missouri standards).  They did a great job documenting the Lewis & Clark expedition and you will ride with Bluffs on one side and the wide river on the other.  2010 was  a flood year and we had one detour and one spot where we were in over our chainstays. 

After Rocheport you hit some open farmland until Booneville.  Not much to see but not a long run either.  From Booneville south you are on elevated rail bed and in timber.  Very nice.   

Trail surface is pretty well maintained - one of the best I've seen.  You won't need fat tires but very narrow tires could be a problem.  Mine were 28s and no problem.  Prepare for flats though - there are thorns and other hazards. 

If you have any other specific questions let me know.  We had a great time in spite of the bugs and heat.

If I were to do it again I would bring along a copy of Lewis & Clark's journal and read about the trip as we went along.  It makes your journey seem pretty comfortable by comparison.

General Discussion / Re: Gross maximum trailer weight
« on: August 11, 2012, 11:48:06 am »
Well this one claims to weigh on at 45 lbs:

I have pulled over 60 lbs before with distances of 30 to 40 miles per day.  You do need some really low gears though or you may find hills you can't climb even with all of your weight on the crank.  I have a 19 inch gear on mine.

Seems awfully fiddly for something that basically just avoids the weight of two short fiberglass poles at either end. 

Gear Talk / Re: Gear increments
« on: June 23, 2012, 10:04:32 am »
+1 on going with the smaller triple. 

With the stock gearing on my bike I used maybe 5 gear combinations 90% of the time.  Most of that on the smallest chain ring.  And I could not pull the trailer up some hills even when standing on the pedals. 

I counted teeth and created a gearing chart, converted to inches, with the gear combinations that I used highlighted.  I took that to my LBS and he found a 22-32-42 triple that really opened up the power train for me.  Now I use 10 gear combinations 90% of the time.  Even better, the whole thing is arranged so that the first chain ring has all my climbing gears, the second is for flat or shallow grades and the third is for those rare, smooth downhills where I want to break 30 mph. 
My lowest gear went from 27" to 18".  I have not met a hill I can't climb with a 50 lb trailer load (yet). 

Youth Bicyle Travel / Re: taking the family across the country?!?
« on: April 01, 2012, 10:28:15 am »
I tour with my children (10, 14 and up).  It is my favorite activity and some of the best time we spend together. 

I recommend building up to it.  Our first 30 mile ride nearly ruined it for my youngest (then eight) because I pushed it too hard.  Don't expect kids to have the same motivation you do.  You may see it as a challenge - they may see it as a chore.  If you start small and work up they will learn that it brings time with you which is what they want most.  Having a few adventures along the way that you can talk about will make them want to do more.  My 14 year old (also, scrawny and non-athletic but a fine cyclist) loves the adventure and the praise he gets from adults along the way.  After a week long trip my athletic 10 year old said, "You know, Dad, biking is just moving your legs up and down, up and down."  His motivation is unlimited Ramen and audio books on his iPod.  So start with day trips and short overnighters. 

Quality equipment makes a difference.  But it does not need to be outrageously expensive.  We do fine on hybrid bikes.  It's good if they can learn some basic maintenance too.  My youngest did 40 to 50 unloaded miles a day on a garage sale bike so bad he had to peddle downhill.  I recently upgraded him to a 15 inch road bike and it has made a real difference.

I'm fanatic about safety when I'm with the kids.  Speed is not the issue - situational awareness is.  I know one parent who runs regular "ditch" drills - I have not but I regularly ride inboard and behind to force traffic away.  Starting with trails will be less stressful for you and your wife until their handling and awareness improves.  I find riding with kids is harder on me than riding alone - the pace and the need to stay alert.  So trails makes it more fun and less stressful for everyone.

I wish we home schooled - you're fortunate there.  You could find a lot of learning opportunities: gearing and mechanical advantage, biology and physiology, mapping and navigation, local history and geography.  So I guess my recommendation would be to not fixate on the Transam (that sounds like your dream not theirs) and instead plot some 2 - 7 day rides in your region with fun and breaks built in.  Get them hooked and let the desire for the longer rides develop naturally.  Good luck!

Gear Talk / Re: Folding tires
« on: January 26, 2012, 04:12:00 pm »
I've used the dollar bill trick on 2 inch blowout.  It got me 12 miles to the next town and made feel all McGuyver-like.   8)

Routes / Galena IL to Dubuque IA
« on: January 10, 2012, 01:18:30 am »
Planning this spring's adventure through northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin.  I'm trying to find a route from Galena, IL to Dubuque, IA.  It's only 16 miles on Hwy 20 but that looks unpleasant  - no shoulder and fairly heavy traffic.  Any locals that ride this route?  I may have to give up on Galena and come in through Wisconsin  (Fairplay or Sisinawa).

Gear Talk / Re: DEET dissolves helmets
« on: August 26, 2011, 08:43:03 am »
I can say with some confidence that it does not dissolve your skin.   ;)

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