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Messages - leicrao1

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General Discussion / Re: Camelbak / Water Bladder
« on: May 08, 2011, 01:41:42 pm »
I found my 3L camelbak really convenient. Its ability to keep cold water cold throughout the day for a start. Plus, I endorse the comment about it helping you consume small amounts frequently. I stuffed it with the additional lightweight things essential for a long trip (nail clippers, spare pair of socks) and the weight never became difficult. Weight distribution is a personal matter. My companion had nothing on his body at all but two panniers dragging at his back wheel all day. He ended up mailing one back to the UK from Utah and spent the rest of the trip with a heavy pannier on one side. I had my camelbak and two bum bags (fanny packs???) and virtually nothing on my bike and it really worked for me. I am a 170lbs male. If you are slighter than this then perhaps 2L would be the equivalent. Try it out and see.

One word of advice is to make sure you have spare mouthpieces if you are using a camelbak. Without warning they can fall off with lots of use and then the entire unit becomes useless. Luckily the only time it happened to me was in a gas station queue in Ohio somewhere and the only down side was having to clear up a large puddle of water/gatorade mix. But it did make me think what I would have done if it had fallen off while riding along and disappeared into the verge never to be seen again.

General Discussion / Re: Shakedown Trip, still concerned
« on: April 30, 2011, 01:51:14 pm »
I'm from the UK and did LA to New York through Mojave desert last year (July/August).

My advice: cycle on reasonably busy roads. This will give you a gas station or some kind of refueling point every 40-60 miles at least. I had capacity for 7 litres of water and never came close to running out. Hydrate fully before you set off, and again at each stop, and chances are a three-litre camelbak (which I had) and a couple of litres on the bike should be enough. We did I-15 from Barstow, through Baker, to Las Vegas. My camelbak was really well insulated. Fill it with ice in the morning and it is still cold six hours later. The ice I had in the bottles on my frame were warm/hot water within half an hour. Start at 4am and cycle until 11am or noon. Good quality shades are essential, particularly if you are going West to East. You will be fine.


General Discussion / Re: Free Camping in Europe??
« on: April 09, 2011, 05:11:28 pm »
My advice for the UK:

Choose a nice area (recreation ground on an edge of a village for instance) and camp where you like. If anyone asks you what you are doing there, just explain that you are visiting from the US and people will be fine.

Avoid urban areas.

General Discussion / Re: Evening rides...
« on: March 30, 2011, 01:48:05 pm »
Depends what you consider the main danger to be. We rode extensively in pitch black night on our transam last year (me and brother-in-law). The heat in the day during July and August made this essential.

It is essential to have front lights that are strong enough to illuminate the road surface in front of you and not just bright enough for other road users to see you. Holes in the road are not fun in the dark. Have enough flashing LED type lights dangling from your back and your bike so that you are immediately apparent to cars approaching. These are extremely light and cheap and we had dozens of them all over our backs.

Riding at night is paradoxically safe in one key respect. You can see cars coming for miles on end, and this gives you a lot of time to pull over out of the way.

We rode I-15 from Baker CA to the Nevada border overnight. Absolutely unforgettable experience.

I can see how riding in the dark increases your sense of isolation and you lack the safety in numbers that you get riding in the day time with lots of other road users. However, the overwhelming danger as a cyclist remains getting hit by a car, and not being targetted by a psychopath, and therefore night riding, with the necessary measures taken, felt fine.

General Discussion / Re: Cross Country Trip: Money, What To Do?
« on: March 20, 2011, 05:22:54 pm »
$100 in cash at all times kept in different places about your person and bike, and a couple of credit cards with someone at home to pay the bill when it comes through.

Routes / Re: newbie needing advice
« on: January 29, 2011, 05:29:09 pm »
32 East of Lebanon

Routes / Re: newbie needing advice
« on: January 29, 2011, 05:20:49 pm »
We cycled through Indiana last year as part of LA to NY. Entered East of Decatur IL, into Montezuma then Rockville and headed just to the North of Indianapolis and then through Pendleton, Sulphur Springs, Lynn, and into Ohio near Greenville. No serious hills whatsoever. The bit after Indy was lovely, but heading into Indy from the West found us on some really horrible busy narrow roads (22 East of Lebanon was bad if I remember rightly). Choose your route carefully but the terrain is lovely and the road conditions pretty good

Routes / Re: Getting Across The Desert
« on: January 29, 2011, 05:06:03 pm »
Havent read the whole thread so do not know if I am repeating what others have said.

I am 45, a keen amateur cyclist rather than anything super special or competitive. Last summer my brother in law and I left LA on 28th July and took 29 days to get to NY, stopping in motels all the way. For those of you in the US (we are British), you may remember it was particularly hot. The first few days took us through Barstow and Baker and the Mojave Desert to Las Vegas and then to St George and across southern Utah.

So I have ridden the desert in late July early August and I would say go for it, but be very prepared. From Barstow, we took the I-15 to Vegas and beyond to Mesquite where we took the back road over Utah moutain. I-15 was one of the most enjoyable bits of the trip. I had capacity for 7 litres of water (3litre camelback, 2x1litre bottles and 4x500ml bottles in my bar bag). Even though I would start the day with all 7, at no point did I come close to running out. We started early (4am out of Barstow, leaving Baker at 10pm and cycling through the night to the Nevada border) and we made sure that when we stopped we fully hydrated as well as topping off the bottles. Cycling at night was essential not just here but in the mid-west as well where the humidity made it even worse. Get good lights. Enough to light up the road in front and not just those designed to ensure cars can see you. I was lucky in not having any major mechanical malfunction. Paul had a puncture five miles short of Baker at about 12noon (I was already there) and there is absolutely no shade except the odd bridge you go under. Indeed it is only when you stop, and lose the breeze, that you realise just how hot it is. Also, plan not just the route but also the elevations. We got into Baker around noon after a lot of downhill from Barstow and feeling relatively fresh despite the heat. It would have been tempting to plough on but my research had told me just how long a gradient it is heading East out of Baker so we were able to hole up and wait until dark.

I would advise choosing routes with sufficient cars on them. If anything goes wrong mechanically, I would rather be on the shoulder of I-15 than some deserted back road.


General Discussion / Re: Novice coming to America !
« on: October 10, 2010, 12:48:50 pm »
Never got on with cleats, personally. The textbooks say they are more efficient. Perhaps they are for racing, but for long distance touring, I just need to be able to adjust the position of my feet with more freedom. I didn't want to carry two pairs of shoes also.

General Discussion / Re: Novice coming to America !
« on: October 05, 2010, 11:14:23 am »
The aim of our trip was to cover the distance quickly. We did LA to NY in 29 days stopping in motels and having no rest days. The time factor meant camping, or carrying extra equipment, was out of the question, so it was motels all the way in a fairly straight line planned using Google maps. I would agree with whoever said that sticking to ACA routes will mean you meet more cyclists. But it depends on whether this is important to you.

Crime: We felt safer than if cycling through Leicester after dark. Maybe some of this is a false sense of security, maybe it was our route through small-town America, I don't know. But there was a complete absence of that irritating anti-social behaviour that blights the UK (youths hanging around on the streets looking to abuse passers-by, children drunk in parks etc). The exception was North Las Vegas, and after dark in Newark New Jersey. The latter made Peckham resemble a sleepy village. My perception (and I may be wrong) is that crime in the US is much more concentrated in particular areas of towns, whereas in the UK you can just as easily get mugged in the good and bad parts of town. My advice would be route around major urban centres unless you have detailed local knowledge. We did that around Indianapolis and Columbus and it seemed to work well

Kit: Be completely comfortable with your equipment. Get all your kit together three months before you go and be sure you can carry it comfortably and ride some distance with it. Don't think you have to train 100 miles a day in preparation. Your fitness and conditioning will come. But don't make the mistake my brother-in-law did of buying a brand new bike and setting off from LA having only done about 10 miles on it previously. Take your own bike rather than buy one there. We flew Virgin and it is free to take it with you, and they are really flexible.

Route: We had the wind behind us for about 27 of the 29 days although to be fair it was never more than 5-10mph in any direction. Maybe we were lucky. However, the couple of days we rode into 10mph winds were noticeably more difficult and far less enjoyable, so I would defend West to East every time.

I've typed enough. Will add some more latrer.


Routes / Re: Coast to Coast with child
« on: October 05, 2010, 10:56:15 am »
I am from the UK, have a nine year old boy, and have just returned from doing LA to NY in August. This summer broke all sorts of records for temperature and we regularly had 105 degrees to contend with, plus the humidity. Long stretches have absolutely no trees or natural shade at all.

Your offspring are no doubt well in advance of mine cycling wise, but I simply would not dream of doing it with my son.

Another reply mentioned decision-making. I can only re-iterate this. The ability, almost subconsciously, to compute the sound of an approaching vehicle from behind, it's speed and size, with the likely passing point with a car approaching from ahead, along with an approaching pot hole and narrowing of shoulder etc. takes so much concentration. Tiredness is lethal. I can remember some of the decisions I made as a cyclist/pedestrian as a boy and I still feel lucky to have made it into adulthood.

What about combining the Great Allegheny Passage with the Chesapeake and Ohio canal trail. About 350 miles of traffic free riding all the way from Pittsburgh to Washington? Thinking about taking my boy on that in two or three years.

General Discussion / Re: Novice coming to America !
« on: October 03, 2010, 01:46:07 pm »
Hi Tim

Don't know if you are still reading this thread. I am from Leicester and have just done LA to NY with my brother-in-law, also from the UK. If you are interested in advice from the particular perspective of a UK person who had never cycled in the USA before then please say so and I can start typing.


Routes / Re: From Pennsylvania to New York City
« on: September 24, 2010, 01:55:17 pm »
My brother in law and I have just returned to the UK after doing LA to NY in 29 days. We rode through the northern suburbs of Indianapolis, similarly around Columbus, crossing the Ohio river at Wheeling and then taking route S (mostly) through southern Pennsylvania, crossing the Delaware at Lambertville and following the Delaware Raritan trail to South Bound Brook. We then ploughed straight through some of the most godforsaken parts of Newark (I thought parts of south London were grim!) before checking into the Hilton opposite Penn station. Then it was the PATH train over to ground zero in the morning as we couldn't face the ride up the river to G Washington bridge and back down. Someone on here was saying heading to NY through southern PA was really horrible but we found it great. Let me know if you want any specific advice.


Mid-Atlantic / Re: Youghiogheny Trail/Great Allegheny Passage
« on: December 14, 2009, 03:11:36 pm »
Thanks for all the help. And I can assure you I am taking it very seriously.

I am in no doubt how tough it is going to be. My original temptation was to take a more southerly route through Louisville, and then Charleston WV onto Washington, and then up to New York. However, it seems the Appallachians are even more severe further south. (However, I will look at this C and O trail as it is not too late to head to Washington). Therefore, the current route is to head through Indiana and Ohio to hook up with route S at Wheeling. Would you guys suggest going even further north into PA, and taking route V through Clarion, Jefferson, Clearfield, Centre, Union etc. counties? I calculate this will add around 100 miles compared to taking route S. This will be a price worth paying if it substantially reduces the climbs (number and/or severity), but if we do the extra 100 miles and the climbs are almost as bad as on route S, then is it worth it?

I will try and get hold of the software you suggest, although I am not hugely confident in my skills in that area. And there is a limit to how finely tuned our planning can be from 3000 miles away. I would love to drive down there to take a look at some routes, but can't!. It strikes me it will be impossible to avoid significant climbs, so to bite the bullett, adjust our chainset and head across on route S is the best compromise.

Welcome your thoughts on taking route V in its entirety though.

Best wishes


Mid-Atlantic / Re: Youghiogheny Trail/Great Allegheny Passage
« on: December 05, 2009, 01:37:13 pm »
Many thanks for the advice.

I have been following route S for the most part of the planning process, with a detour from Somerset to Shanksville as a possibility to see the Flight 93 memorial. I have also had a suggestion to do a section of the abandoned turnpike after Breezewood which, apart from looking great fun in itself, also cuts out a couple of particularly difficult climbs (apparently).

I have to bear in mind that we will be 2500 miles into our journey by this point and will not want unnecessary detours, especially as they may only delay some of the climbs rather than avoid them altogether. I am inclined to stick to route S, with the option of taking busier highways for a more direct route if we are in time trouble or are seriously fed up of climbing. I assume that the same logic applies in the US that the busier routes are contoured more gently given that they are designed for freight to use and cannot have excessively severe gradients, whereas some of the quieter back roads are more likely to have the severe climbs.

Many thanks once again.


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