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Messages - Figaro

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I did the TansAm with a Trek 520 touring bike and the traditional pannier and handlebar bag set-up. It was ok. This year I bought a Cutthroat gravel bike and have set it up with what I would call a cross between the traditional touring set-up and bikepacking set-up. I like this much better and plan to use it on the Great Divide Route, but if I do the TransAm again, or another road tour, I would still prefer this set-up vs the touring bike/pannier set-up.

The basics of this set-up is BarYak on the front as the foundation of what you see there. Tailfin on the back for the rack--it also has mounts for panniers, but I don't plan to use them. In fact, I've recently used those mounts with some custom made brackets to mount water bottles, small dry bags, etc, like you would traditionally see on the front fork of a gravel bike. With this set-up, everything feels like it's part of the bike--it's very solid.


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General Discussion / Re: A Bicycle Chain
« on: September 30, 2020, 10:57:49 am »
Yea, so far its worked for me, but once of these days if/when a chain breaks on me, I'm sure I'll think, why the heck didn't I change that chain a thousand miles back :-)

Figaro, your method probably works. I could go longer on a chain, even fully loaded. We did the TransAm in 2018, swapping chains in Newton, KS. Probably not needed but peace of mind. Two replacement chains does seem a bit excessive.

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General Discussion / Re: A Bicycle Chain
« on: September 30, 2020, 10:40:31 am »
I did the TransAm 4,300 miles on a fully loaded Trek 520, then another 2k + miles on the same chain. A guy I rode with off and on during the TransAm put 2 chains on his bike during the trip -- unnecessary in my mind, but peace of mind for him. But then again, I change the oil in my car about every 6k, instead of 3k like the places I pay to change my oil recommends. I think a lot of people change chains and cassettes far more often than needed, but to each his/her own.

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General Discussion / Re: IRC 90 psi tire versus Schwalbe marathon.
« on: August 21, 2020, 08:30:20 pm »
I used Marathon Supremes on my TransAm, running on a Trek 520 Touring bike. Loved them and would highly recommend. I'm running them now on my Trek Domane just because of the dependability...no flats in over a year. This year I bought a 2020 Salsa Cutthroat GRX 600 gravel bike for the Great Divide. However, I like it so much that when I do another cross country trip I will use that bike. I run Graveking SK Plus 43mm tires on it--good for pavement and gravel. 

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Routes / Re: Southern Tier this Fall--departure date?
« on: July 18, 2020, 06:44:46 pm »
Quote from: Pat Lamb link=topic=16568.msg86305#
Finally, delaying looks like a wise move for the politicians to start listening to the doctors and epidemiologists and start implementing productive protective measures.  No guarantees -- who ever heard of smart politicians? -- but there are a lot of dumb ones blathering on right now.  It would suck to come down with a nasty case in the middle of a tour, and suck big time if you ended up in a parking lot because the local hospitals were full.

Didn’t think about some businesses being closed earlier...thanks for that.
As for the state of affairs with Covid and how “open or closed” things are, that could still be the one thing that causes me to not do it this fall. Last time I checked ACA still has a sold out Southern Tier tour scheduled to leave in Mid Sep heading East. If that gets canceled the it may influence my decision as well.

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General Discussion / Re: Bike recommendation - Southern trail
« on: July 18, 2020, 10:18:07 am »
So did they close the Great Divide because of C19?  My understanding it's not closed, and that cyclists and hikers are scarce which means you have ZERO chance of getting Covid 19 in the great outdoors where nobody is around.

Sounds like a smart ass question, so here is my smart ass reply...Canada was (maybe still is) closed. I don't think anyone is afraid of getting covid in the great outdoors, but some of us--it seems the vast majority of us--exercise good judgement.

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Routes / Southern Tier this Fall--departure date?
« on: July 17, 2020, 06:34:13 pm »
The southern tier is looking like a go for me this fall. I have the option of leaving pretty much anytime from 1 sep to 1 nov. I'm planning East to West and taking 25 to 30 days. I'll be staying in motels/hotels most of the time, but will probably camp a few times. I can handle heat better than cold. If you were doing this, when would you start? I'm thinking around mid Sep.

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General Discussion / Re: Bike recommendation - Southern trail
« on: July 15, 2020, 06:34:48 pm »
I did the TransAm two years ago on a Trek 520 and it was ok. In Feb of this year I bought a Salsa Cutthroat with the intention of doing the Great Divide this summer, but Covid spoiled that. However, the cutthroat is a great bike. I picked up the GRX600. It's full carbon and is a complete pleasure to ride. Since I had to put off my GD ride this summer, I'm thinking of doing the Southern Tier later in the year--Sep or Oct. I just sold my 520 last week and will be doing all future touring--road or off-road--on the cutthroat and just change the tires depending on the type terrain I'll be on. Lots of choices out there, but hard to beat this one in my opinion. Of course, I think these are pretty much sold out just about everywhere now, but if you run across one it's definitely worth considering. 

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General Discussion / Re: Trans Am Bike.
« on: July 15, 2020, 06:24:47 pm »
Very doable. 54 days in 2018...here is my day-by-day journal. http://steveacrossamerica.com

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Routes / Re: Riding from Greenville, SC to Columbus, GA? Yes or No?
« on: June 20, 2020, 07:23:04 pm »
I rode from Myrtle Beach, SC to Dickson, TN last year. Started on June 16th. I mapped my entire route just using Google Maps using the bike option. Day 1 I made it to Santee, SC -- about 139 miles. Day 2 I stopped in Augusta, 102 miles. Those first two days were really good riding conditions. From Augusta to Atlanta was a PIA, but once I got to the West side of Atlanta and hit the Silver Comet trail it was fantastic riding.

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Routes / Re: Southern Tier in Sep -- Plan B
« on: June 20, 2020, 07:11:35 pm »
Just finished looking at the maps to get a rough idea of daily distance with the idea of staying in hotels/motels as much as possible. At the mileage I'm planning to do, it looks like there will be no shortage of them -- I'm almost tempted to not carry a tent and sleeping bag, but probably will just to be on the safe side.

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Routes / Re: Southern Tier in Sep -- Plan B
« on: June 07, 2020, 12:05:15 pm »

As far as wind and choosing direction of travel...  I wouldn't even factor that in on this route.  I didn't think it was that big of a factor in my trip there or on other trips across the country or parts of it further north.  Surface winds tend to be a crap shoot and really don't follow the prevailing westerlie pattern that folks expect.

Yea, I went East to West on the TransAm in 2018 and I think there is (at least in my experience) something to the idea that winds will predominately be coming out of the SW, W, or NW most of the time. I enjoyed a tailwind a few times, but I believe I would have enjoyed those more had I been going in the other direction. Regardless, I don't let wind direction factor into my decisions.

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Routes / Re: Southern Tier in Sep -- Plan B
« on: June 07, 2020, 11:59:00 am »
FWIW, I believe Alaska still has a 14 day quarantine requirement for people coming into the state.

If OP can stand to wait a couple more weeks, the desert heat starts easing in September.  Mid to late September might be a reasonable start from the west of the ST.  (Plus, you'd have a few months to wind up hurricane season in the Gulf.)

Yea, and I think the Canada boarder may still be closed as well. Regardless, too much risk of Covid related problems. I'm personally not concerned about the risk of the virus itself, just the potential of things being closed and/or people or communities reacting negatively to someone who has the nerve to go outside during a pandemic that could cause me to have to end the trip. I do these trips to get away from drama and stress--don't want it during the trip. Don't get the feeling I would have to deal with that on the ST unless things change dramatically between now and Sep.

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Routes / Re: Southern Tier in Sep -- Plan B
« on: June 07, 2020, 11:51:48 am »
Honestly, it sounds like you are just chomping at the bit to do a big ride, which I can TOTALLY understand.

Whatever you choose to do, have a great trip!  Tailwinds, John

Thanks John and yes, I am chomping at the bit to do a big ride. I turned 60 in March and really wanted to do something big. With the uncertainty of the virus situation, I've just completely ruled out any of the Great Divide this year. Communities along that route are still pretty closed--at least some of them--and I don't want to be "that guy". I'll put that on my list for next year if I don't do a big ride this year or 2022 if I do the ST this year. Unless things significantly turn around for the worse, it seems the states on the ST are pretty much open for business, maybe with the possible exception of CA.

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Routes / Southern Tier in Sep -- Plan B
« on: June 06, 2020, 01:27:31 pm »
I had big plans for this year. I was training to fly with my bike (a new 2020 Salsa Cutthroat GRX600) to Fairbanks, AK. Spend a day or two to see if I could catch a ride to Prudhoe Bay and if so, start from there, if not, start from Fairbanks and head out on the road toward Jasper, Canada. Once there, my plan was to jump on the Great Divide Mountain Bike route and take it all the way to Antelope Wells. I even got drawn for a spot in the DK200 and was going to use that as my last big training ride at the end of May before setting off on this adventure. Thanks Covid for blowing that all to hell.

The DK was moved back to Sep, so at least I had (have) that to look forward to, but doing just a 200 mile gravel race really doesn't compare to what I was looking forward to and hasn't served to motivate me to train very hard for the past couple months.

That's the short background. Now to the purpose of this post. I'm now considering doing the Southern Tier. I'm pretty wide open as to when I could start, but just not crazy enough to set out on that in the summer. My initial thinking is to start in Sep. Maybe even forgo the DK which is scheduled for Sep 12 and start around the first week of Sep. I live in KY, so my initial thinking is that I would rent a car, drive to St Augustine and go East to West. The two pros I see to doing that are: 1) Don't need to box up my bike, fly with it, hope it doesn't get damaged, then assemble it at the start. And 2, Don't have the sun in my eyes every morning. I did the TransAm East to West in 2018 and those were the two major factors in determining that direction. I realize the one downside could be wind direction, but I can live with that. However, I could fly to San Diego and go West to East if there were enough compelling reasons to do that--I just can't think of any.

So, I could go either direction and I also could start anytime. I can handle heat better than cold. I plan to average 100+ miles a day--some may be 50 and some may be 150. I will carry camping gear, but will stay in hotels/motels whenever possible. My personal goal is to do it in under 30 days. And, of course, this all depends on the country continuing to open up.

I just got my maps yesterday and am starting to look over them to do some initial planning for daily miles and stops--I did the same thing for the TransAm and started adjusting my plans from the very start, but I do like to at least go in with a plan.

Any suggestions, things to think about, tips from people who have actually done the route would be appreciated. Also, if anyone else is thinking about this and would like to discuss starting out together, feel free to message me. I had planned to do the TransAm alone in 2018, but connected with two other riders and we started together. We loosely rode together through a lot of the route--was a good way to start the ride.

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