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Messages - nlsteve

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Gear Talk / Re: Touring Bikes - Surly LHT vs Novarra Randonee
« on: November 16, 2012, 04:05:57 pm »
I have the 2012 Randonee. Great bike, and I would buy it again in a munite.  I am about 6'0 and have the large, which I believe is 58 cm (not sure).  I recommend you try both the L & XL.

The Surly LHT is a great bike and is the most fashionable touring bike right now. But my advice is to widen your net when looking for the right bike, right bike shop, best deal, and so forth.  The bikes in this price range are generally comparable to each other and are good touring bikes. You may find one that's best for you, but it's really not possible to say that any particular model, including the LHT, is the "best," period.  I'm not knocking the LHT by any means, just saying that there are other great bikes out there as well, but with smaller fan bases.


Gear Talk / Re: What kind of bike?
« on: October 06, 2012, 10:31:52 pm »
FWIW, the fall sale at REI is going on right now and you can get an item such as the Novara Randonee for under $1000 with the members' sale coupon.

FWIW, the 20% off is not towards bikes:
Scroll down to Full Coupon Details and Exclusions

Sorry, I stand corrected.  I did get the discount during the Spring REI event, but this is a different sale.

Gear Talk / Re: What kind of bike?
« on: October 06, 2012, 07:05:44 pm »
FWIW, the fall sale at REI is going on right now and you can get an item such as the Novara Randonee for under $1000 with the members' sale coupon. I have this bike and it's a good dedicated touring design.  The sale goes through 10/14 and it is worth the one-time membership fee to take advantage of 20% off one item.

The Randonee is comparable to the Surly Long Haul Trucker, Trek 520, and so forth, so if you find a comparable bargain among these other models in the same original price range, check them out.  Watch for closeouts and such.  They generally have the gearing and features you will want.   They're all good bikes. 

I don't know what REI's policy is on swapping out saddles, but if you're not pleased with the stock saddle wherever you buy, consider asking them to credit it against a replacement saddle.  I went with a Brooks and am happy I did, but I might have saved a few bucks if I did it at the time of purchase.


Gear Talk / Re: Tablets/IPad or laptops
« on: October 03, 2012, 10:44:06 pm »
I hope the OP doesn't mind me supplementing his question with this one --

What about using the voice recording feature on a smartphone as the place to take notes for the journal? Type 'em up or write them up when a hotel or library computer presents itself, or wait til you get home to listen to your voice notes. Seems like with a mini camera and a smartphone, you might be covered.

Anybody out there tried this method? 


General Discussion / Re: Swiss Alpine Bike Tour 2012 - Photo Gallery
« on: September 20, 2012, 04:55:48 pm »
Thanks for the link.
Beautiful photos!


General Discussion / Re: Back In the saddle again...
« on: September 01, 2012, 01:13:22 pm »
Welcome back, Joe.

Something else to consider: a recumbent bike has a more "open" body position than an upright bike. It's a bit more like stair-stepping, with less bend at the hips while pedaling.  I don't know if that would be easier for you.  (I have both an upright and a recumbent and love 'em both for different reasons).


Gear Talk / Re: map cases
« on: August 14, 2012, 11:42:34 am »
Old Guy says:

"The ACA maps have a lot of great features, but I couldn't read one while I'm riding, especially through plastic. The details are too small. If you really plan to use the ACA maps while you ride, you'll probably have to stop to give the map a careful look, which means storing the map in a jersey pocket would work as well as anything."

I find a map case convenient not when riding, but when stopped. Having a map case makes it easy to just stop the bike and study the map without dismounting.  I'm not trying to change Old Guy's habits; I'm just mentioning this for those who maybe haven't used a handlebar map case of some kind (either a standalone map holder or handlebar bag with holder) before. 


Gear Talk / Re: handlebar bags
« on: August 10, 2012, 07:15:32 pm »
There are different ways to do it, but may I suggest either a small or medium handlebar bag to serve as your "purse" and carry your frequently-wanted items and valuable stuff (and be removed from the bike when you go into a restaurant or something), combined with:

-- A rear rack and small/medium panniers, or

-- A rear rack with a lightweight backpack or duffle or ultralight bag strapped on top of it.

Carry all the overnight stuff in the rear bag or panniers.  Carry your wallet, sunscreen, lightweight windbreaker, camera, phone, snacks, etc., in the handlebar bag.  Get a handlebar bag with a mapholder on top and an easy system to mount/dismount the bag from the handlebar.


General Discussion / Re: Greetings!
« on: August 10, 2012, 07:07:02 pm »
I think most cyclists would continue to wear just shorts if it's raining but the weather is still mild.

Most of us would only go for rain pants if it is pretty cold and wet.  Even the best rain pants are not very breathable and you would get warm and clammy wearing them in mild weather.

Sounds like you have planned a great first trip.  Have fun.


General Discussion / Re: Greetings!
« on: August 08, 2012, 06:06:50 pm »
You're getting good advice here so far.

Let me rephrase it a bit:  Plan your first trip or two so that you do too little rather than too much.  Make sure each of you gets off the bike at the end of the day feeling you could have gone a bit farther, as opposed to "ouch, that hurt, and man, I'm tired, and why the hell didn't we do this on a motorcycle instead." 

Make sure the intro to cycle touring is a pleasant one, or the concept will be DOA.


I concur with those above.
As long as you are OK with expecting the unexpected and rolling with the flow, why not?

Keep your mileage goals modest and have fun.


General Discussion / Re: How much water to carry?
« on: July 09, 2012, 02:23:34 pm »

The above advice is good.   Let me put it another way:

You will be able to get water from gas stations and other establishments most of the time.  So the question of how much water to carry is really a question you will look at on a daily basis, after considering the route map, the weather, and the amenities on the road ahead of you.

If you have places to carry three water bottles on your bike, and an empty water bladder or something in your pack that you can fill up when needed, you will have the tools you'll need.  And of course you could buy some bottled water if you need to in advance of a dry stretch, and stash that in your packs or on your rack.  Most of these bottles will also work fine in your bike's bottle cages -- use them a while, then recycle them.

I think that, most of the time, you will top up at least two of your frame-mounted bottles every chance you get. 

The rest will work itself out during the trip.


General Discussion / Re: Pacific Coast September 2012
« on: June 28, 2012, 07:53:27 pm »
I did that many years ago (flew into Vancouver, went to Victoria & West Vancouver, then downthe coast just across the Mexican border) and it took about 5 weeks.  We were heavily loaded & mostly taking it easy.  So yes, you have a generous budget for some extra sightseeing and touring.

The suggestions you're getting are good.


Yup, a smartphone would be an especially good way to stay in touch if it has capability to Skype.  Also, look into changing your cell phone plan just before you travel so your cell or smartphone will have reasonable pricing on international calls between U.S. & U.K.  You will pay more per month, but the "per call" rate will be much better.

Texting is not only affordable, but it is often the best way to communicate from a remote area where cell phone service is spotty.  You can often get through with a text (although not necessarily immediately) when "there aren't enough bars" for a phone call. Incoming texts can reach you easier than phone calls, too.

Also, a lot of public libraries will allow you to use their public computers for internet service when passing from town to town.


Hello Colin:

A lot of the basics of bike touring are covered in the "how to" articles on this website, so I suggest starting out by browsing those articles and then asking specific questions here about whatever remains unclear.  The route maps for sale on this site have a lot of information about where lodging, water, food are available along each route, and about the challenges of each route and at what time of the year each is feasible.

As far as tipping in American bars and restaurants, my own rules are about as follows:

For full-service restaurants: 15% of the bill for acceptable service, 20% for "very good" service.  Opinions vary on whether you should calculate that based on the bill before taxes, or after.  I think calculating it before tax is fine.

For establishments with partial service, such as when you order at the counter and they bring you your food, silverware, etc., (but they don't keep coming back and providing more service) I tip maybe 5-10%.

For counter service in a place with a tip jar: leave a few coins behind if you like.  If the employees aren't really serving you from behind their counter, tipping them is purely optional.  I generally drop 25 cents or 50 cents into the jar when I get a coffee drink and a muffin somewhere like this.  I drop a buck or two in the jar if I'm getting a couple of sandwiches and drinks.

In a bar, I am ashamed to admit I have less experience.  But I think 10% to the bartender (if there's no table service) seems about right.  If a server or the bartender is really waiting on you, then 15-20%.  Legal drinking age varies by state, but your 21 or 22-year old son will be good to go in any state. He should be prepared to show his ID (passport, in this case) to verify his age.

Some of the more corporate-type fast food restaurants, such as McDonalds, have neither full service nor a tip jar on the counter. Tipping is not at all expected in these locales, just as I believe is the case is in your neck of the woods.

As for gathering bike touring knowledge, you have plenty of time to learn the basics before your trip, so don't worry.  Just keep biking and accumulating knowledge and you will have plenty of time to pull this off well.  Make sure to plan some short "practice tours" before the big trip, and field-test your gear and yourselves.  That practice, too, will answer a lot of your questions and worries.

When you know the details of your trip such as which direction you are going on which route, you can get some advice here concerning how to get to the start and so forth. 

Also, check out to get an idea what gear people take and what their experiences are like.

Bon voyage!


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