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Topics - Westinghouse

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General Discussion / Miles From Nowhere by Barbara Savage
« on: April 13, 2021, 07:07:46 am »
Miles from Nowhere is a story about a husband and wife. They started cycling in California, and went around the world. It is a book on the market. I think I read it 5 or 6 times. It is an engaging read, detailed, and informative for the average cyclist, tourists, and anyone planning cycling in third-world, developing countries.

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General Discussion / Low profile rugged touring tires
« on: February 16, 2021, 06:44:53 am »
I have this older giant road bike. It would make an excellent bicycle for a long distance touring. I mounted a Schwalbe marathon on a 700 wheel. The tires touch the frame front and rear. Does anyone know about a high-quality, rugged, High mileage touring tire that is low profile and would fit the wheel inside the frame without rubbing?

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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.

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Routes / Southern tier. To cycle it east or west.
« on: November 15, 2020, 05:45:43 pm »
The question frequently asked about the ST is whether to go west from Florida or east from California. The received opinion seems to be that going west will pit you against constant strong headwinds. They will turn every day into a miserable ordeal like climbing a steep and endless hill. It will stop you in your tracks. You will have to stop for days. Well, the received opinion is not necessarily right. Because I have cycled and camped the ST in its entirety five times from Florida, and twice from FL to El Paso, I know a thing or two on this subject. The fact is these celebrated and vaunted killer head winds may not happen to you at all, but they might happen.

In my crossings on the ST I encountered such west to east winds only once. When that happened they hit me from the side as I went north from Marfa to Van Horn, TX. It was a difficult ride into Van Horn. There I met two fellows from Germany. They were going east. They had been riding those winds for days. To say they were elated and very satisfied with their journey is putting it about right. The three of us got rooms in a small motel. The next morning the wind was gone. It was nearly dead calm. The Deutschlanders were gone. I waited a day or two and continued west into New Mexico, Arizona and San Diego. So sure, it is possible that going east to west will run you into seriously impeding wind. But it is not written in stone and it is not inevitable. Frequently winds come out of the southeast. Many come from the northeast and north. Many days or parts of days there is hardly any wind at all. Cold fronts in winter can bring side winds from the north. Many winds come from north and south, and these affect you the same whether you are traveling west to east or east to west.

Several bicycle journalists recorded strong opposing winds when they cycled west to east on the ST. They recorded them going east to west. If you are planning a cross country ride on the southern tier of states, I think you probably do not have to take the trouble to travel cross country to begin on any given coast because of winds you might encounter. I mean, if you choose a coast to begin your tour based only on wind, I suggest leaving from the coast nearest you. The wind very often does not flow the way people say it does. It is way too variable to predict with certainty.

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General Discussion / Southern tier. To cycle east or west.
« on: November 15, 2020, 05:41:20 pm »
The question frequently asked about the ST is whether to go west from Florida or east from California. The received opinion seems to be that going west will pit you against constant strong headwinds. They will turn every day into a miserable ordeal like climbing a steep and endless hill. It will stop you in your tracks. You will have to stop for days. Well, the received opinion is not necessarily right. Because I have cycled and camped the ST in its entirety five times from Florida, and twice from FL to El Paso, I know a thing or two on this subject. The fact is these celebrated and vaunted killer head winds may not happen to you at all, but they might happen.

In my crossings on the ST I encountered such west to east winds only once. When that happened they hit me from the side as I went north from Marfa to Van Horn, TX. It was a difficult ride into Van Horn. There I met two fellows from Germany. They were going east. They had been riding those winds for days. To say they were elated and very satisfied with their journey is putting it about right. The three of us got rooms in a small motel. The next morning the wind was gone. It was nearly dead calm. The Deutschlanders were gone. I waited a day or two and continued west into New Mexico, Arizona and San Diego. So sure, it is possible that going east to west will run you into seriously impeding wind. But it is not written in stone and it is not inevitable. Frequently winds come out of the southeast. Many come from the northeast and north. Many days or parts of days there is hardly any wind at all. Cold fronts in winter can bring side winds from the north. Many winds come from north and south, and these affect you the same whether you are traveling west to east or east to west.

Several bicycle journalists recorded strong opposing winds when they cycled west to east on the ST. They recorded them going east to west. If you are planning a cross country ride on the southern tier of states, I think you probably do not have to take the trouble to travel cross country to begin on any given coast because of winds you might encounter. I mean, if you choose a coast to begin your tour based only on wind, I suggest leaving from the coast nearest you. The wind very often does not flow the way people say it does. It is way too variable to predict with certainty.

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Certain numerously repeated actions by drivers who were passing me caught my attention. It was always on two-lane roads that they happened. When drivers who passed me had a clear lane to pass they gave me nearly the entire lane when they went by. I thought they were incredibly courteous and thoughtful. However, when drivers did not have a clear passing lane they always squeezed in between the oncoming traffic and the cyclist.


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General Discussion / Advice for Newbies about the Weather.
« on: November 06, 2020, 03:15:26 pm »
For those whose first experiences with extended, long-term outdoors activities are their first bicycle tours, this information is useful. Foremost, the weather takes on a very different meaning to you on a long distance, camping bicycle tour. I am talking here about riding the bike across the continent of north America, east to west, or any way.

We live sheltered lives. Ruling out hurricanes, tornadoes and sudden freak storms, we are not concerned with changes in weather. When it rains our vehicles cover us. Let it rain in sheets and storm with lighting. We know our houses are sure defense against these elements. We take for granted that we are protected. There is hardly a second thought about the matter. Well, all that can change in large ways on a bike journey. You will have to take your back-home-on-the-block attitude toward weather, and leave it right there-----back home on the block.

You can be caught in extremely dangerous situations, out in the middle of nowhere. You could be camped, on the road or in some town. In towns it is easier to get out of it. It may be under the awning of an out of business restaurant, or under the overhang of a store or abandoned house, but you can get out of it. When you are cycling and camping it is a very different matter. Be sure to know local forecasts. Be prepared. You can cross the continent free of threatening changes in weather. You can also run into deadly storms several times. It is a matter of probabilities. During one tour from Florida to California, 25 minutes of rain in Slidell, Louisiana was it. The entire trip was free and clear. Another crossing was straight into the jaws of one extreme rain storm after another, and electrical storms that had me saying my prayers. It is a miracle I survived them. Know local weather forecasts. Pack a rain jacket and rain pants. Your best protection from rain while camped is an eight by ten poly tarp, preferably camo. They are only $10.00, and they will stand a driving rain long after an expensive nylon tent is saturated and hammered to the ground. There is more than one way to set up a tarp.
When you cycle a very long route you will see how the way you regard weather events changes if  you are caught out in it.


Lightning storms are the worst of your enemies. They can knock you down dead. But then again, wind speeds and directions can make large differences too, but not life threatening changes that I know of. I mean, you are cycling east in New Mexico in winter and the leading edge of a cold front comes against you at 35 mph from the side. You must stop and wait for the pressure to end. That could set you back a day or two. Occasionally, strong winds blow west to east out of California. That can go on for days morning, noon and night. There is no forward movement against that. The distance achieved is not worth the stress, energy and difficulty. As far as my experiences teach me, such powerful, long term, consistent winds are comparatively infrequent. I cycled from FL to CA five times, and from FL to El Paso, Texas twice. I ran into those kinds of winds only once.

Air temperatures are another variable you have to watch. One summer crossing of the USA I drank upwards of three gallons a day On another crossing I got chilled to the bone inside all cold weather gear camped over night in a  7 F wind chill.

Be advised, your weather conditions can and will change. Those changes can be as meek as a lamb, and they can be as ferocious as demons from hell, or any of a thousand graduations between the extremes. You can not take for granted safe protection. Leave your your old weather complacency behind. Become an avid weather watcher. Be prepared for sudden extreme interruptions to the calm.

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General Discussion / It's the time of the season.
« on: November 01, 2020, 09:51:24 am »
The weather man says the weather will cool down in a while, not that we need to be told that. My Schwalbe Marathon tires just arrived in the mail. My two wheels just arrived in the mail. How cool it would be to do the southern tier this fall-winter. My route on the ST is different from the one mapped by ACA, but also the same in some stretches. When it comes to scenery and quieter roads, ACA's route is better, and also quite  bit longer. I start from southeast coastal Florida, go diagonally across the state, take 19/98 to Perry, FL, take 19/98 to get to highway 20 to Pensacola, FL. 20 is south of 90, much less hilly, but lacking in motels and camp grounds. I get the Fort Morgan ferry to Dauphin Island, and then get to 90. I stay on 90 along the gulf coast. Where 90 intersects with 190 near New Orleans, I take 190 to Slidell, LA and get the Tammany Trace for 31 miles. The bridge over the Mississippi at Baton Rouge is a suicide road. I hitched rides to the other side. It is very narrow, probably built for 1930s traffic, with cars and trucks tearing along at breakneck speeds. I go through Houston to San Antonio. Then I take I-10 where permissible to Casa Grande, AZ, and I-8 from there to hysterical highway 80 into San Diego. Sure, there are variations along the way and other roads. One thing about this route, it is less hilly than ACA's ST. There are always plentiful opportunities for healthful nutritious food, unlike some places along the other ST route on which you might find yourself stuck with convenience store junk non-food for a day or two at a time. I am hoping all my plans for this season will come to fruition.

My Continental contact plus tires also arrived in the mail. They are 26 by 1.75 inches. If all goes well I will mount them on my MTB and do the Great American Rail Trail when the weather warms again. Probably starting in May 2021.

Anybody interested in paring touring gear-weight to the minimum, you would be well advised to check out people who hike the Appalachian trail. They manage to get by with 20 pounds total pack weight including three days food for six months of hiking. You can find them at www.youtube.com.

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General Discussion / IRC 90 psi tire versus Schwalbe marathon.
« on: August 10, 2020, 04:03:50 am »
In the old days, 1980s, I did my long tours on 90 psi, 1 1/4 inch IRC road tires. It is  zippy and smooth and quick. They will go about 1000 miles on the rear of a loaded bike by the time they wear paper-thin and POPPPPSSSSSSssssssst. Cycling from Florida to California I would use up three on the rear and two on the front, no rotations. That was as far as wear was concerned. But these tires were easily cut and punctured. A half inch cut, after repair, would bubble up and turn off the rim. The cut would enlarge. Wrappings of duct tape would get you to the bike store. From FL to CA there might have been 50 punctures, more or less. These tires were readily available in department stores, bike stores, Target They cost about $7.00.

Years later, when I started giving a damn about having better tires, I bought Schwalbe Marathon. They weigh a lot more than the IRCs. They are a little difficult to fit on the rim. They are far more durable than IRC. With these tires there were only 7 punctures from FL to CA. Debris that cut and split IRC tires did not even mark the Schwalbes. You can ride from FL to CA on one set with plenty of tread left over. You can get 4000 miles or more on a rear tire.

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General Discussion / The Truth about $8.00 Walmart Brake Pads.
« on: July 31, 2020, 02:26:59 am »
What is the difference between one kind of brake pad and another? One way to measure that is by durability. How long can we use brake pad A compared to pad B? Exhibit A is a set of four pads from Walmart at $8:00. The set was new when I left from FL to cycle the southern tier to San Diego. One set wore all the way down. A new set was badly worn down by the time I wheeled into the city. That was like completely wearing out six break pads.      I did the same route again using only  two pads on the front wheel.  These pads are exhibit B and they were not Walmart. They were more expensive by quite a bit. The two lasted all the way from FL to CA. There was still good braking with them after that, And there you have it. There is a considerable difference in durability between the the least expensive brake pads, and the more expensive ones.
                                               


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General Discussion / A Bicycle Chain
« on: July 31, 2020, 01:42:58 am »
How many miles of loaded, long distance bike touring can you get out of one chain? A chain can run from $10.00 up to $100.00 and more. Higher price should mean superior quality.  In my 40,000 miles of international cycle-touring, all my chains were, as they call it, low end. That means $10.00 Walmart chains. What would you expect from a chain at the bottom of the ladder? This is the answer. I bicycled from southeast coastal Florida to San Diego, California with that chain. Got a bus back to Florida. I cycled around for six months more on the same chain. I set out again from FL to CA. The chain broke in front of Wendy's restaurant in Mobile, Alabama. I repaired it there. It held together as far as Houston, Texas. It was still good when I changed it out in Houston.

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General Discussion / Great American rail trail
« on: July 03, 2020, 05:40:24 am »
Great American rail trail. In all these years I do not remember seeing anything on this forum about the great American rail trail. It is about 3700 miles from Washington DC to the coast of Washington state. About 2000 miles are already completely paved or exist as hard packed earth good for cycling and completely 100% off the road. That makes it the safest possible route for cycling across the United States. There is an online interactive map for it that costs no money at all. It means no pollution in your face most of the time, no noise from vehicles, and a greatly reduced chance of collision. It seems to me there should be more interest.

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There are three roads crossing north Florida going east to west. Which one is best for you to bike depends on the kind of touring you do. The most popular route is highway 90. It runs from Jacksonville, FL to Van Horn, TX.  If you need designated camp grounds, motels, and you want to visit sites of cultural and historic interest, 90 is your road. One thing about 90 is it can get very hilly. Some hills are quite long and might present a difficult to insurmountable challenge to inexperienced cyclists starting out from Jacksonville. You could also encounter heavy traffic.

Farther south is highway 20. This road is clean. It has side lanes. It is rolling, but it does not have the long steep hills found on 90. It is an easier ride, faster and safer. On my three crossings using 20, I do not remember seeing a camp ground or any sign of one. There is a motel here and there. If you stealth camp, and are looking just to cross the state, 20 is the way to go.

Farther south, following the contour of the shore line on the gulf of Mexico, is highway 98. I used it twice. It is nearly level with small rises here and there. It has many restaurants and motels. It is not a good place to live during a hurricane, but that is a different matter. Certainly there are places of interest. Be all that as it may, there are two reasons I know for avoiding this route. Both times I used it I fought a stiff side wind, south to north, coming in from the gulf. Because it follows the shore line, it adds 60 miles. For many that is a full day of cycling. Add side wind to 60 extra miles, and you question using this road for bicycling, unless you have to.  So, there you are.
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Routes / Three roads across Florida on the southern tier.
« on: March 11, 2020, 08:01:00 pm »
There are three roads crossing north Florida going east to west. Which one is best for you to bike depends on the kind of touring you do. The most popular route is highway 90. It runs from Jacksonville, FL to Van Horn, TX.  If you need designated camp grounds, motels, and you want to visit sites of cultural and historic interest, 90 is your road. One thing about 90 is it can get very hilly. Some hills are quite long and might present a difficult to insurmountable challenge to inexperienced cyclists starting out from Jacksonville. You could also encounter heavy traffic.

Farther south is highway 20. This road is clean. It has side lanes. It is rolling. It does not have the long steep hills found on 90. It is an easier ride, faster and safer. On my three crossings using 20, I do not remember seeing a camp ground or any sign of one. There is a motel here and there. If you stealth camp, and are looking just to cross the state, 20 is the way to go.

Farther south, following the contour of the shore line on the gulf of Mexico, is highway 98. I used it twice. It is nearly level with small rises here and there. It has many restaurants and motels. It is not a good place to live during a hurricane, but that is a different matter. Certainly there are places of interest. Be all that as it may, there are two reasons I know for avoiding this route. Both times I used it I fought a stiff side wind, south to north, coming in from the gulf. Because it follows the shore line, it adds 60 miles. For many that is a full day of cycling. Add side wind to 60 extra miles, and you question using this road for bicycling, unless you have to.  So, there you are.

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General Discussion / Need information on Continental Gatorskin.
« on: March 10, 2020, 05:39:32 pm »
I have here a set of Continental Gatorskin dura skin bicycle tires, 700 by 28. I plan to use them for a long distance, loaded tour. In the past I used Schwalbe Marathons to great satisfaction. If there is a better touring tire, what could it be? I bought Schwalbe new only to find they will not fit the bicycle frame. They expand too far and rub on the frame. I will not buy 26 inch wheels, so here I am with the considerably lighter thinner Continentals. Can anyone give me a good idea of what kind of distance these tire will go before needing to be replaced? Is there anyone who has toured on a loaded bicycle with these tires? I read some entries on a forum, but the numbers varied so much it baffled me. One said 200 miles and I know they are much better than that. Another said 10,000 kilometers, , and I think we all know better than that. If you have seriously toured on Continental Gatorskins, what can I expect for mileage?

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