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Messages - matthewjsteger

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Routes / Re: Avoiding Yellowstone
« on: April 17, 2013, 08:48:36 pm »
But ... it's Yellowstone!  While crowd and traffic avoidance is critical for an adventurous tour (the exception being urban tours, of course), Yellowstone is worth the hassle.  It is especially worth it if you have never seen it before and/or are interested in venturing off the roads, via foot, a mile or so back where there aren't nearly as many people.  Don't skip it.  It's a very special place.

Just my two cents.

General Discussion / Re: Bears
« on: April 17, 2013, 07:29:59 pm »
The risk of bear (e.g. grizzly) encounters are serious while riding the Continental Divide Trail.  While on that ride, I'd suggest keeping a whistle tied around your neck through ALL of the Northern Rockies.  Blow real hard and say your prayers if you have an encounter with one and are actually danger.  Skip the bear spray (it won't stop one) and the gun (you won't react in time).  That's just my own advise and opinion for the Continental Divide Trail, of course. 

I think that the risk of encountering them while riding the TransAm, on the other hand, is very low, unless you're camping in some serious off-route backcountry.  While riding the TransAm through the Northern Rockies, it's plainly obvious where bears will be a threat.  You'll see bear-proof dumpsters and garbage cans lining those portions of the route.  Bear-boxes, in which to store your food at night, are omnipresent at campgrounds in that region.

Appalachia does have black bears and they're known to be a nuisance, but they are not a threat.  In the event of a middle-of-the-night campsite encounter with a black bear, the only real threat they pose to you is when they tear your gear apart and ruin it in order to get to your food.  Mice, of course, can do the same kind of damage.

While riding the TransAm, the only precautions I took when in bear country were the obvious ones:  use the bear boxes available and, when they're not available, don't sleep with any food.  While it is sage advice that you should do your cooking, eating, washing, and storage of anything and everything that might be food-related (including the clothing you wore while cooking your food) at a soccer field's distance from where you sleep, it is advise that is complete overkill (no pun intended) for 98% of the campgrounds in the Northern Rockies.  The ubiquitous food-stocked RVs, which turn many of the Northern Rockies campgrounds into 'Walt Disney World Goes Camping', should provide a bit of perspective on this.

When I wasn't in bear country, I took precautions to keep the mice at bay in the event of them wanting some of my food.  Their threat is completely underrated, in my opinion.  No, they won't kill you.  But on the other hand, they can chew holes in your expensive gear (good-bye waterproof capabilities).  To prevent this from happening, I'd keep my food, toothpaste, and soap in a bag that I could afford to lose.  This bag would stay with me under my tarp/tent, coddled in my arms and at the ready for my insatiable midnight snacking (soap and toothpaste excluded), or in any other convenient spot, so long as something expensive couldn't get chewed through if one of those miniature-grizzlies waltzed onto the scene.

In summary, I skipped the bear-bagging, bear spray, whistle, and 357 magnum while riding the TransAm.  I'm comfortable with the choice I made and would do it the same way again.  The less weight, the better!   

Interesting fact I learned from David while staying there:

The Historical Society property is actually an amphitheater.  He had the thing "tiered" years ago, in hopes that there might be performances there one day.  It wasn't immediately noticeable when arrived for my stay, but once he mentioned the fact I immediately said "AAHAAAA!!!".  Pretty nifty, if you ask me.

Hi Matt,

I used the Garmin 705 on my TransAm ride.  I had a love/hate relationship with the thing.  Since the 705 only holds 100 waypoints, I had to manually enter each and every waypoint that I deemed useful along my route.  This was easy when travelling out West, when there weren't many "turns" in the route.  But once I got East, it turned into a total ball and chain!  I really liked having the Edge for the ease it lended me in finding the McDonald's(es) and Walmarts along the way (although, that's something any ordinary smartphone is capable of).  I also really liked it because it kept track of things like my mileage, speed, direction, and time of day.  It also helped me easily get back onto the trail after I had drifted off course on a few occassions.  While the Edge is very good at these things, I just don't know if (especially in my own case) it was money well spent and worth the hassle of having to recharge it every dang day.  In any event, it was an 'okay' toy to have along for the trip.  I know that if I had a dynamo hub and an eWerk station, my story would be quite different, but that kind of gear is a tad expensive for me.  The ACA maps (yeah, the ones I sold to you) are plenty enough, in my opinion.  Cheers!

ps- I used City Navigator

General Discussion / Re: Shipping Supplies to Yourself
« on: April 10, 2013, 07:29:54 pm »
I shipped a few trinkets to myself while riding the TransAm last fall.  My advice is to skip it if you can.  It's far more effort than it's worth.  The only thing that was "useful" in those packages were the home-baked items that my super kind friend had included. 

General Discussion / Re: Getting hungry too fast while riding
« on: April 10, 2013, 07:20:30 pm »
No I don't drink pure olive oil, but I do enjoy a tub of Duncan Heinz cake frosting each day I ride.  Just kidding! 

In all honesty, I have the same riding style as you do and have experienced the very same issues.  I've resigned myself to simply accepting that if a Snickers (or your favorite candy bar) can't fix it, then nothing can.   


General Discussion / Re: touring without "eating out"
« on: April 10, 2013, 07:13:28 pm »
Depends on how "remote" your ride is, I guess.  During my TransAm ride last fall, I remember that food was freaking everywhere!  I also remember thinking it was odd that so many other cyclists I met along the way seemed to pack enough food for two weeks worth of backcountry backpacking.  I would suggest skipping the "no restaurant" approach, as there are plenty of lovely crossroad diners throughout each of those three states which you'll probably regret not stopping for (for at least chit-chat, if for nothing else).  Good luck!

General Discussion / Re: Weather on the TransAm
« on: April 10, 2013, 06:58:36 pm »
PS- My average weekly expenditure was between $200 and $300.  I stayed in no hotels or motels.  The only "advanced" planning I did was having to call 24 hours in advance for some of the cyclist only lodging options listed on the ACA maps.

General Discussion / Re: Weather on the TransAm
« on: April 10, 2013, 06:53:34 pm »
I rode West to East in September through October of last year.  I would highly recommend doing it that way because of the weather issues AND because you'll get to see the most awe-inspiring fall colors of your life.  Trust me.  If you'd like additional information about my ride, send me a message.

I passed through Hindman last October and, boy oh boy, am I glad I stopped at the Knott County Historical Society B&B.  David Smith, Historical Society President, is a real hoot.  The night I spent there was one of the highlights of my TransAm ride.  If you decide to stay, don't let him find out that you know about the Kentucky moonshine!   

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