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Messages - New Jawn

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General Discussion / Shifting gears: I have 27 and use 4
« on: September 12, 2022, 01:45:23 pm »
After 325, 850, and 400 mile trips, I'm beginning to get a much better idea of what works for me.  I have a Surley Disc Trucker that came with a 3X9 gear set-up.  I rarely use more than 4 gears.   I mentioned this to two different bike mechanics at two different shops and said that whenever stuff wears out or I win the lottery, I'd like to change to maybe a 1X9 or 1X11,  and both said that was a very common swap.  The "Path Less Traveled" guy on YouTube echoed the same.   I can't swear to it, but I think that Hyojeong Jin swapped out long ago, too, but she's never spoke directly on the subject.
Has anyone done this?  Happy with the change? 

Did some traveling and camping last week and did this loop.  It had several big climbs and two really big descents.  The road had no shoulders, often crumbling near edges, every curve was blind, and a good bit of rocks, walnuts, and debris in the road.  Had to go through a long one-lane tunnel with no lights, so I waited until a car was going my direction and asked if I could follow in behind.

Had no packs other than Ortlieb handlebar pack and carried nothing with me but spare tube and tire levers, multi tool, 1/2 liter of tea, snacks, and two cans of Halt II and 6" lock blade knife. 

Top speed on a descent was 27, and that was more than fast enough for me.  I noticed that I have a tendency to ride the brakes, so I guess that I have to learn and practice new ways to slow down.  I do not feel comfortable at all going fast.  I also don't have a good plan for what to do when being passed by car and pushed near crumbly road edge.

I did the ride in both directions, clockwise in morning, counter in afternoon.  The heads-up cautions in the notes were helpful.

General Discussion / Long, steep descents -- questions about safety
« on: July 02, 2022, 04:05:51 pm »
Not long ago I finished a section from Oxford, OH to Newton, KS -- yes, some hills but nothing that I would call mountainous.  Now I'm looking at some long rides that will definitely have steep descents, some perhaps long, continuous descents (think western CO) or long descents with lot of curves (Appalachian Mts). 

So, just let it roll unchecked?  I would guess that speeds  could easily go over 40 mph and perhaps higher?   Just thinking about it makes me a bit nervous.  Assuming the road isn't too curvy, just not worry about how fast I'm going?   I've seen Tour de France footage of those guys going downhill like rockets and there's no way ever that I would have the guts to do it. 

If I try to keep the speed down, I'd think that my brakes could overheat (Surely Disc Trucker), so alternate front and back brake?

Any advice on how to address long, steep descents in a safe manner?

Thanks in advance.

Mr. HikeBikeCook,
Thanks for the reply.  From what you wrote, I will join RWGPS.  Just reading through their Help page, I think that I'll be able to handle the basics.

I would like to install all of the Eastern Express maps and then the TransAmerica maps from where it connects in Kansas through Pueblo, CO.  Do you think that my Garmin Edge Explore will have the memory to allow that?  (From Pueblo, I plan to bike to Colorado Springs (where my daughter lives) and stay there for 4-7 days to recover, do bike maintenance, and of course download the rest of the maps from Pueblo to Oregon, then rejoin again at Pueblo).

Do you use the FIT, GPX, or TCX map formats?  It seems that RWGPS recommends FIT.    If I read correctly, ACA files are in GPX, so would it be better to use GPX format throughout?

I received a Garmin Edge Explore as a gift, and I'm very grateful for it, but I've no clue how to use it and it's been a huge struggle to learn the basics. 

All that said, I'm trying to "export" maps from the easternexpressroute dot com to my Garmin.  It is my understanding that "FIT"files work well with my Garmin.  The first prompt when trying to 'export' is do I want "notify before turn" and, if I do, then I have to upgrade/pay RideWithGPS for that service. 

Question 1: So, is the $80/yr. "Premium" for RideWithGPS worth it?  I know it's in the eyes of the beholder, but is that a common purchase for novice riders?  When decent weather returns, I also want to do rides in Michigan's UP and, if at all possible, Newfoundland and Labrador.  So I'm thinking that RideWithGPS would be a good thing to have? 

Question 2: The EasternExpressRoute website says that, beginning Jan. 2022, the site will be taken over by ACA.  I'm a member of ACA, so it's a bit puzzling that ACA maps would be provided through RideWithGPS, for which I have to pay an additional fee to get 'notify by turn' service.  Am I missing the obvious?

Routes / Nova Scotia to Newfoundland
« on: September 16, 2021, 03:29:32 pm »
I'm usually the last to know, but in case there are others thinking/planning a route through Nova Scotia into Newfoundland, there is a ferry service between them that is available for bicyclists.    If it's stated directly on their website, I couldn't find it, so I wrote and received the following reply:

"Thank you for reaching out to our Customer Relations department to inquire about travelling with your bicycle on our ferry service. Yes, bicycles are permitted on our vessels; the bicycles will be located on the vehicle deck as there is an on board bicycle rack.  Customers travelling on bicycles are charged a passenger fare along with a separate cost associated with transporting the bicycle.  Please visit the following link to the rates section of website which provides a full breakdown of travel costs for our Gulf and seasonal Argentia service "

Even with the link, I didn't see a cost for transporting a bike, but I'm guessing it's nominal.

General Discussion / Re: Hillbilly dogs
« on: September 15, 2021, 11:37:35 am »
After a good bit of reading numerous blogs and threads on the topic, I've decided to better my odds of avoiding hillbilly dogs by avoiding hillbilly country.  I'm going to do the Eastern Express, which connects to the KATY trail, and from its southwestern terminus, a short connector to where it connects to the TransAmerica in Eureka, Kansas, to continue on through Colorado, etc. 

I read a good number of blogs about the TA central, and nearly all report that unchained dogs were quite common in Kentucky and eastern Missouri, with a majority saying that they just assumed that each and every trailer and roadside shack will have at least one semi-feral mutt to circumvent.  This will be my first long solo ride and I just don't need the added stress.

That said, I will still carry a can of bear spray.

If all goes well, my next goal will be putting together a hopefully dog-free, 3-week trip to do both the Cabot Trail (Cape Breton, Nova Scotia) and the Viking Trail (Newfoundland).  I will start a thread on those trails and the planned trip a bit later, but never hurts to post the idea should any of you want to join in. 

Gear Talk / A couple of clothing questions and comments
« on: September 01, 2021, 10:10:01 am »
Quite a few gear/clothing distributors are having Labor Day sales.

Rain coat?  My outdoor experience is all from distance hiking.  For hikers, the dilemma for rain gear is that while it may keep you dry from rain, you'll almost certainly sweat out unless other adjustments are made.  When hiking in warmish weather, I didn't bother to wear a rain jacket or pants.  I carried rain gear more for warmth and to avoid hypothermia if it was raining and cold.   That's the background I'm coming from.
For cycling the TA central route in May-June, did you carry rain gear and was it used?   The Patagonia Torrentshell 3L is on sale this weekend, it got a 'best buy' from Wirecutter, so... buy or pass?

I just assumed that pretty much everyone doing a long tour would use either padded underwear or padded cycling pants.  I've been using padded underwear  and they help.  But Bicycle Touring Pro said he never used them and went further by saying that after wearing them for multiple long days, it's more comfortable to not use them.  Anyone made the switch?

prAna Zion short pants.  Got a pair last month, have worn 8 times cycling, and they get an A+ from me.  Most comfortable short pants I've ever had in this lifetime.  And they don't look like cycling pants 'cause they're not, so you can go into stores/restaurants and no one will think you're wearing Depends.

High visibility safety shirts with reflectivity.  I refuse to look like a rolling billboard for Campari, I want to be seen and avoided by vehicles, and I discovered high-vis safety shirts -- very inexpensive, breathable, and cheap.  They're not clingy, which is good 'cause no one wants to see me in tight clothes.

Cycling gloves.  I was given a pair of Pearl Izumi.  Meh. 

My bike should be finished by next week! 

Happy trails.

General Discussion / Re: Hillbilly dogs
« on: August 23, 2021, 05:34:03 pm »
I appreciate all of the comments -- you people have given this novice lots to think about in the next 9 mths.

I am all but committed to stopping by Colorado Springs on the journey west.  Looking at the ACA routes and other options, I will probably cobble together a combination of various routes.  All will be novel, so hopefully there's no such thing as a bad route.

I wish that I had a partner for the ride but I always hiked solo so I should be used to it.   I didn't give bears on the AT a second thought (tick-borne Lyme disease, yellow jacket nests, and giardia were, in that order, my bête noire), so I hope to get over the fear of pitbulls and bully breeds.

My bike should be ready within 2 weeks.  It's been a huge struggle to piece it together in a time when parts are so damned hard to find.  But I very much look forward to doing some very long rides on the weekends in prep. for going across county.  But truth be told, my first purchase will be a can of Fox Co. or Sabre pepper spray for dogs.

I've got a lot more questions, but I don't want to wear out my welcome so I'll shut up for now.

Again, thanks for your patience and information.

General Discussion / Re: Hillbilly dogs
« on: August 23, 2021, 08:20:03 am »
.... I made my own way from Charleston to Nashville and had to deal with dogs every day. Honestly, they almost ruined my tour.

What I found was that even though I could deal with them .... the thought of a dog up ahead really impacted on my enjoyment.
After a while a simple dog bark drove the anxiety needle higher.
Approaching dogs sent it higher again.
I had a few bad scares which ruined some otherwise good days.

That.  Exactly that.  I don't want to wonder what unleashed dog(s) will come charging out of a trailer to try to bite.

But let me back up just a bit.  Early this summer I started to follow "TobyRail Touring," a vlog on YouTube of two ordinary guys doing the TransAmerica.  They posted a short video nearly everyday, they were unpretentious, non-racing ordinary riders.  That vlog is what got me started.  I'm not a cyclist, but when I saw it, I thought, yeah, I want to do that, I can do that. 

Then episode 61.  They were riding with two other guys for a bit.  One guy got ahead maybe 1/4 mile, and from the vlog, "out from behind a trailer came two massive pitbulls.... I've never ridden faster in my life... One of them hung with me for several hundred yards."

That could have had a very bad ending.  He didn't get bitten, but at the end of the day you could tell he was still shaken up.

So that's when I started paying attention to the issue of unleashed dogs and learned from numerous threads and vlogs that Kentucky and Missouri are where it's a much bigger problem than other sections.  I had no idea.  And the thought of dealing with pitbulls and other similar breeds -- not charging Yorkies or annoyed Basset Hounds -- and me planning on riding by myself... that creates a lot of anxiety.

Now I know that dogs can be an issue in any state, but if I can measurably reduce the number of potential attacks by avoiding those two states, then that's a very tempting solution.   And in my 1,100 miles hiking the AT, not one single time did I confront an aggressive dog.  Black bears were the danger, but I never gave them a thought and didn't carry bear spray.

I'll check out the Eastern Express.

General Discussion / Hillbilly dogs
« on: August 22, 2021, 07:39:50 pm »
I listened to a podcast ("The Pedalshift Project") and the topic was dog deterrence.  Wanting more info, I found "Bike Forums" with numerous threads on dogs and cyclists.  From what I gathered, Kentucky and Missouri are far and away the most problematic states on the TA, with many saying that being chased 3-5 times a day while passing through is common.  The discussions quickly turned to what to do, the merits and demerits of various pepper and bear sprays, staying on your bike versus getting off to avoid swerving into traffic, etc.

All of that makes me want to avoid those two states by taking the Norther Tier route.  Yes, dogs everywhere, but having listened to two podcasts and having read a number of long threads on the topic, Kentucky and Missouri (and a few areas of Texas) are where problems are more likely to occur, so....

For those who've actually done the TransAmerica central route, was that your experience? 

General Discussion / Re: Gear list: am I on the right road?
« on: August 11, 2021, 07:57:44 pm »
Many thanks for reading through my initial packing list and for the helpful comments. 

I have Schwalbe Marathon tires.  I've never used, and for that matter only heard of last week, thorn-resistant tubes.  If they're heavy and stiff, I'll just carry two regular tubes.  Or perhaps start with a thorn-resistant set on and two regular spares.

I never thought about carrying a pair of swim trunks, which would be useful for when doing laundry, particularly if I can find a pair that could almost pass for normal short pants. 

The multi-port USB thing sounds great. Better to charge devices concurrently than consecutively.

I use racing flats, so I'll have just one pair of shoes.  If I've extra room and weight to spare, maybe add a pair of flip flops to wear around camp and in public showers.

Yes, ear plugs.  A 2 oz. bottle of gelled alcohol, Imodium tabs,  sunglasses, extra pair of regular glasses, and an inflatable pillow added, too.  I'm drawing the line at the coffee grinder and espresso machine, though.    But on a serious note, I think that I'll be in good shape keeping things somewhat light.

Thanks again.  Additional suggestions always welcomed.

General Discussion / Gear list: am I on the right road?
« on: August 11, 2021, 12:15:50 pm »
I've never done a long tour before, so this is my first iteration of a packing list for a solo TransAmerica (central route) starting late spring/early summer.  If they are available, I hope to use Ortlieb High Viz rear panniers and a 7.5L handlebar bag. 

For those who've done a long tour, am I on the right road?

Riding clothes: 2 pair padded underwear, 1 mtn. bike short pants, 2 socks, 2 shirts.

Camp clothes: 1 pair convertible mtn. bike pants, 1 underwear, 1 pair socks, 1 long sleeve tee-shirt.

Inclement weather clothes: rain jacket and pants.

Shelter and sleeping: Tarptent Double Rainbow, Tyvek ground cloth,  Western Mountaineering Summerlite bag, Therma-Rest pad, headlamp

Cooking: BIC lighter, Snowpeak Giga stove w/ 220 gram propane cannister, Snowpeak titanium bowl and mug, spork, cutdown scrub pad

Shower kit and meds: travel-size tooth brush and paste, dental floss, travel-size soap and cut-down nylon Japanese scrub cloth, disposable razor, travel-size deodorant stick, PeptoBismol tabs, Advil, Chamois Butt'r packs

Bike repair: 2 thorn-resistant tubes, chain oil, chain break tool, multi-tool, tire irons, zip ties, 2 spokes

Food: Coffee, Emergen-C, powerbars, 2 ramen

Junk drawer: Halt! dog repellant, power pack, paperback book, notepad and ballpoint pen, maps, earbuds, Leatherman multi-tool, cell phone

On the bike: front and rear rechargeable lights, pump, 2 water bottles, orange triangle attached to pannier

Explanations:  I tried to pick camp clothes that could also be used for riding.  If temps turn cold, raincoat and long-sleeve tee would hopefully be enough.  By "food," I mean stuff that I will carry everyday to use if/when I can't find a store/restaurant.   For bike repair, I'm thinking only what is necessary to keep me on the road and moving until I can find a bike shop (I have a Surly Disc Trucker, and there is a place on the frame to carry spokes).  I plan to camp as much as possible. 

I intend to carry the tent, sleeping bag, and pad in a stuff sack bungee'd to the pannier rack.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

Very helpful information and I appreciate it very much.

I had not heard of the apps mentioned and I'd never thought about creating my own gpx files.  I'm not tech savvy and am easily daunted by what is seen by most as basic computer literacy.  I check those mentioned and try to find one safe for idiots.

I have the same sentiment as does staehpj1 in that I don't want to be constrained by battery limitations, thus the appeal of the Garmin 530, which promises 20 hrs between charging.  My cellphone, Samsung 6, can do about 8 hrs. if I'm using GPS.  I intend to camp as much as possible, so I'd expect that charging opportunities may be limited.  To continue down the tech rabbit hole, a common charging pack would allow 3 charges, thus boosting my time away from an outlet to 80 hrs.

About the ACA maps, and I'll be going west bound, once you get to western Missouri, there are far fewer road junctions and changes to worry about.  I will probably use the Ortlieb 6 High Vis. for a handlebar bag, which allows you to drape a Map-Case over it.     I've hiked 1,100 miles on the Appalachian Trail with just maps rather than GPS, so I'm comfortable with them, but then the AT has very, very few trail junctions and even those are nearly always blazed.

I'll check out making my own GPS files, though.  Garmin is tempting, most probably because I have one in my car and it's so helpful.

In May 2022, I will do a 1,800 mile section of the TA.  I've ordered and received the ACA printed maps for the relevant sections.  They look fine to me, BUT...
 ... having a Garmin 530 mounted on the handlebar with turn-by-turn navigation is very tempting.

For those who've done the TransAmerica or another long, popular route, did you use maps, GPS, both?  Were you to do it again knowing then what you know now, would you make changes regarding navigation?

Being not tech savvy, I assume that with the  purchase of a Garmin 530 along with their "Cycling America...." download maps, still to get the same ACA route would also require purchasing the GPX data from ACA?

Thanks in advance for any info.

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