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Messages - staehpj1

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Gear Talk / Re: Can I use a carbon road bike for ultralight touring
« on: January 12, 2018, 08:07:57 am »
I have toured on a light road bike and see no reason you shouldn't if you pack in a way that makes sense for that bike.  Three approaches come to mind:
  • Using a trailer with medium light to medium heavy gear.  I have met quite a few folks happily going this route
  • Packing ultralight with backpacking gear.  I did the Southern Tier with 14 pounds of gear and was able to cook and camp comfortably.  With a load like that you can not only get by with a light bike, but one is probably preferred.  You can do as I did using a rack and strapping on the gear using just stuff sacks or you can use bike packing rack-less type bags.  Another option would be one of those big seat bags like Carradice makes.  A few folks like that route.  My next trip, I plan to go rack-less.
  • Credit card touring.  Staying in hotels you could get by with just what you can carry in your jersey pockets, but would probably want a handlebar bag too.  If you want to carry more you can add a seat bag.

Thanks to all. I'm considering the cheap suitcase or duffle, maybe even the cardboard box. One additional problem is having to acquire the same thing at the end of my ride (Minot, N.D.) as I am not cycling round-trip. Would have to either find something in Minot (could be tricky) or ship the suitcase/duffle in the Aircaddy or separately, from the bike store at the start of the ride to the one at the end.
I don't know much about Minot, but a quick google search shows a goodwill thrift store 3 miles from the airport and a walmart 5 miles from the airport.  So picking up a cheap duffle or used suitcase in Minot should be easy.  I have done this quite a few times in a bunch of different cities and never had trouble finding  a used suitcase or a new cheap duffle in any city big enough to have a commercial airport.

If you are shipping the empty air caddy to your end point any way, putting the empty duffle in it seems like an easy option.

I ship my bike itself using, but box won't accommodate a filled pannier.
The shipbikes aircaddy is pretty big, you could probably stuff empty panniers in easily and pack the gear in the empty spaces.  Maybe use multiple plastic bags in sizes to fit the spaces.

Going cross country so need all four panniers.
Personally I never found that I needed more for going cost to coast than I do for any of my shorter trips.  I have gone coast to coast with as much as 55# of gear and as little as 14# of gear.  On the U/L tour I had full U/L backpacking gear (14#) and the bike (38#) all in my soft case (mailed it home at the start).  It was all still easily within the airlines weight limit and it was easy to carry the whole thing into the airport unassisted.  If I wanted to carry more a second bag would still have been free since I was flying with southwest.

So there is a wide range of approaches ranging from not even needing panniers (I have used a couple stuff sacks on the rear rack, or one in a bar roll and one on the back) to fully loaded with 4 panniers and stuff on the rack top.  Then there are bikepacking bags which work especially well for lighter loads.

Having done the wide range of packing styles, I have found that I prefer the lighter end of the scale.  It is really a joy to ride a sportier much lighter loaded bike.  It may not be for everyone, but it is one option to consider.

As Ron says, put all your panniers inside something. You can use a cardboard box, a cheap duffle bag, a thrift store suitcase, etc. I usually use a 20x20x20 cardboard box from an office supply store. Throw the container away when you arrive. If you use a duffle bag and you don't want to discard it, send it home in a fixed rate postal service box.

Take a front pannier or your handlebar bag on board as your free personal item. If the airline doesn't charge for carry-on, you can take two on board. A front pannier is within the personal item size limit.

A few things I have done...
  • Packed my stuff in a thrift store suitcase.  I have typically paid $6-7 and discard them on arrival.  Be sure to ask where it is okay to leave it.
  • Used cheap duffel bags.  Walmart has some that are a good size and pretty cheap.
  • Packed everything in cardboard cartons and either shipped them or checked them as baggage.  When checked as baggage they did make me sign a waiver that there were only responsible for loss, but not damage.
  • Used an airline that doesn't charge for the first two bags.  I usually fly Southwest, but I typically tour in the US only.
  • When I pack really light, I have managed to fit everything in a bike soft case with the bike and still stayed under 50# total.  If I was over 50# I'd take a second bag or even just put some stuff in a carry on, which in my case can actually be a backpack small enough to be considered a "personal item".  Most folks may not want to travel that light, but I have found that using ultralight backpacking gear, it can be done.
  • I have also gotten by with attaching a pair of panniers together, but I have heard of others having trouble with this approach.  I don't know if I was just lucky or did a better job of making it look like a single item.

I did the TA west to east in that time frame.  I really only remember being really cold once when we went over a pass in the late evening.  Other years there may be more cold weather.

I do remember being extremely hot most of the way.  I really hate hot weather, but it seems to like me and show up where ever I tour.  We saw record or near record highs often during our TA, and the headlines were usually about the heat wave when we saw newspapers, so it wasn't a typical year.

Bottom line you need to be prepared for overnight lows around freezing and especially if you camp at altitude a bit lower sometimes.  You also need to be ready to deal with 100F heat.

General Discussion / Re: Bike Computer
« on: January 07, 2018, 08:36:39 am »
The last time I looked at a CatEye, their products had two buttons and  you had to do a litany of presses to change the display.  And initial programming was far worse, including missed steps in the instructions. 
The wired Cat-Eyes I have do have two buttons.  One toggles through the display (trip distance-->odometer-->ride time-->max speed).  If it is held down it chooses a second trip distance reading so you can monitor both a daily ride and, say, a longer trip.   The other, pushed simultaneously with the first, is used to reset the displays to zero between rides.  The two trip distances can be reset independently.  So that's the "litany of presses".

Initial programing consists of setting the miles/km choice and the wheel circumference value from a table included with the cyclometer or a roll-out measurement.  If you are not intimidated by this very complex procedure so far you can set the clock too.  If you miss a set-up step going back is very easy.  Typically set-up only has to be done once on a new cyclometer and repeated only after several years following a battery change.
Yes they are pretty straight forward.  It might not be obvious at first glance, but once through the instructions and I was set.  I have found it a bit annoying that different brands/models have different  set up, reset, and mode change options, but none that I have tried were hard to get used to.  Still it would be nice if there was more consistency across brands and models.

I have generally used wired Cateye models over the years too, but in recent years have come to like the Planet Bike models.  As I get older I like the larger display.  Also I like the temperature reading, which is surprisingly accurate as long as you are either moving or in the shade.

Gear Talk / Re: Lightweight stoves
« on: January 03, 2018, 11:05:30 am »
As to simmering with Whisperlite, I've used the upgrade model, simmers fine.
Good to hear.  That sets my mind at ease.  I only need decent simmering not great simmering.

As to getting by TSA; done it. Stove and bottle should be clean and odor free.
Care to comment on how you cleaned it and how much effort it was? was the cleaning after using gasoline?  Also how many times have you been through TSA with it?  Do you know if they ever actually inspected it?  Did they swab it?

Is cleaning it a bigger deal if you use gasoline or kerosene?

Sorry for so many questions, but I am on the verge of pulling the trigger on a whisperlite and want to have a handle on the issues.

Gear Talk / Re: Lightweight stoves
« on: January 03, 2018, 10:21:14 am »
Liquid gas is not as readily obtainable in campgrounds as it used to be.
If you use a multi-fuel stove it will work fine on unleaded regular gasoline from any gas station.  If you go around to pumps that are not in use you may be able to fill a typical pint or quart fuel bottle at no cost  by draining the left-over gas in a few hoses.   Otherwise a quart will cost less than $1.
Yes gasoline may be the most frequently and universally available fuel that you can use.

My complaints are that gasoline stinks if spilled on hands, gear, or clothing and the stove is heavier than my pop can stove.  Also pressurized liquid fuel stoves tend to be a little more fiddly and much more expensive.  Oh, and it seems like it would be a bigger pain to fly with it.  I could see getting it clean enough to be sure of getting it and a fuel bottle through TSA inspections

There are a bunch of advantages for liquid fuel stoves though and while when going light I like my pop can stoves, I have often considered buying a Whisperlite for some of my trips.  It is about 10 ounces heavier than my pop can setup, but for longer backpacking trip or bike tours with more people along it looks like a great stove.  It both has more heat and probably simmers better (but in the reviews I have seen isn't noted for being great at simmering).

Can anyone comment on their experience simmering with the Whisperlite?  How about problems with TSA?  It would be a shame to have them confiscate a $80-120 stove and bottle.

Gear Talk / Re: Lightweight stoves
« on: January 03, 2018, 09:02:20 am »
Liquid gas is not as readily obtainable in campgrounds as it used to be. I have bought a gallon at a hardware store, and either sold back half the can to the store, or gave the other half to a bike shop, saying give to next touring cyclist.
Even selling or giving back half, a half gallon is still an awful lot of fuel to carry IMO.  I'd generally not want to carry more than a quart if even that.  Coleman fuel is sometimes available in quarts, but not reliably enough that I am willing to use it on multi week or multi month tours.

I like to use a pop can alcohol stove on most trips.  The 12 ounce yellow bottle Heet is a nice size to carry and widely available.  Folks complain about the alcohol stove taking a few minutes longer, but I don't get why that is such a big deal.  Once in camp I don't see a few minutes one way or the other to be a problem.  Besides I am typically doing multiple things at a time so I am not going crazy worrying a bout how fast the stove is.

Gear Talk / Re: Does anyone pack Cycling Thermal Tights?
« on: December 24, 2017, 07:58:00 am »
I did the ST in mid Feb to Mid March and found regular tights to be sufficient, but I did take ultralight water resistant wind pants to wear over them when it got extra cold and windy.  During that trip I only wore the wind pants a few times for riding, but did wear them in camp in the evening sometimes.

I have some tights that are insulated and wind proof in the front only. I typically only wear them when it is really cold (like 15 F and under).  I never took them on tour and since I moved to Tallahassee I have found no need to wear them.

Routes / Re: good months for the southern route
« on: December 20, 2017, 08:40:14 am »
I have a week off in February, and was thinking of flying out from my icebox (Colorado) and biking from Mobile to Austin, TX.  Does anyone know what weather conditions I might be likely to encounter?  I was going to do the last week in February to maximize light and temperatures.
I rode a modified ST from San Diego to Pensacola from mid February to mid March and thought it was the perfect time of year for the route.  I had frost quite a few nights, but the temperatures got at least to the 50s every day and the riding was pleasant.  I much prefer that to hot weather.  I did have one very cold night (18 F) on top of a pass, but I don't think you are as likely to have that on the section you are planning.  I also saw a little snow by the side of the road on a couple passes, but again not on the section you are asking about.

On the other hand, I rode with a guy from south Florida and he complained about the cold.

Bottom line...  If going again I'd probably pick the same time of year.

Gear Talk / Re: Best type of saddle (besides Brooks)
« on: December 04, 2017, 07:55:29 am »
I have only used Brooks saddles while touring, but I would like to know if anybody uses a different type of saddle? If so, what kind? How do you like it for LONG DISTANCE riding??
I have done a couple coast to coast rides and several other long rides on whatever saddles came with my bikes.  That includes some low end saddles that came on fairly cheap bikes.  I never had any major regrets about using them.

Interestingly enough unless you go back to the saddles I used in the 50s and 60s, the Brooks is the one saddle that I have owned and really disliked.  It was just okay, but nothing special when new and for me went down hill from there.  By the time it really started to show sit bone dimples I really hated it.

My current favorite saddle choice would be one from the WTB Volt line.

FWIW, I use similar low bar cockpit setups (bars 3-5" lower than saddle) for both touring and performance riding so I like the same saddle for all of my road riding whether touring or not.

Also I find that the Volt works well on my mountain bikes, despite the bars being higher than on my road and touring bikes.

Routes / Re: Southern Tier with hammock or tent
« on: December 01, 2017, 06:46:23 pm »
Thanks for the reply. I have decided to take an very light hammock for times I can find trees and it's not raining. Otherwise, I'll use a solo tent fly and footprint minus the actual tent to conserve on weight. It's a compromise. I could go with just an ultra light tent but I can't let go of the idea of the hammock.
Wishing wind at your back, Tomoko
There will be times when the hammock will work, not enough that I'd take one though, but of course it is your call.

I took a small tarp and a bivy rather than a tent or hammock and it worked out well until Louisiana where the mosquitoes were terrible and it was really sticky in the bivy.  If I were doing it again I'd switch to a bug bivy a little before I left Texas, maybe as early as Del Rio (assuming W-E travel).  Since you are using the tent fly and footprint, you might consider having the tent body sent to you around then so you aren't eaten alive by mosquitoes.

FWIW my ST tour started in San Diego in mid February to mid March and ended in Pensacola FL.

Gear Talk / Re: Should I buy a road bike?
« on: November 28, 2017, 10:07:47 am »
I'll argue the opposite position.  (Except for RussSeaton's position on tires; find yourself some nice 28s, light with flexible sidewalls; that'll give you 1-2 mph extra.)  A touring bike is fine for most any ride.  Yes, you'll have to work harder to climb hills and starting off from a stop sign or traffic light, but let's face it: most groups are clumsy coming off a stop, so if you accelerate smoothly, you'll fit into the paceline by the time it's rolling.  I ride a touring bike for 95% of my group rides.  I can stick with the 15-18 mph group, even when they average 20 mph.  (I can't hang with the 18-21 mph bunch that rides 24-27 mph, but I've got 25 years on most of them and frankly, I'm not in shape.)

The biggest problem you've got is that you're used to riding 14 +/- 0.5 mph.  The best way forward for you at this point is to incorporate intervals or "fartlek" into your riding to get in condition to ride faster.  Yes, a new, lighter bike(regardless of frame material) is fun to ride, so get one if you want.  You'll likely find most of the faster feeling turns out to be how twitchy the bike steers, and without additional speedwork you'll be riding an average of 14 mph on the new bike.
Pat's points are good ones.  As he and Russ mentioned, tires are a big part of the performance difference.  If you are running heavier tires with stiff sidewalls it can make a big difference, especially some of the super heavy and super stiff ones that some folks choose for their flat resistance.  The weight of the wheels themselves is also a factor, but less so than the tires.  The frame probably does make less difference than wheels and tires in performance.

The quicker handling that Pat referred to as twitchiness, is as he says probably not a big help in actual speed, but IMO it is still a very positive factor in riding enjoyment to me.  I look at it this way...  It is kind of like the difference between a sports car and an F150 pickup truck.  Some people choose to drive the F150 even if they aren't hauling anything, but if I had a sports car and an F150 in the driveway I'd hop in the sports car if going out for a drive with no need to haul stuff.

So my touring bike has not been ridden since the last time I toured with a full load.  Given that I have in recent years found that I like to tour with a minimal amount very light camping gear, it may never be ridden again.

Some folks like to ride theirs all the time, just like some folks drive an F150 all the time.  Either way is doable, pick the one that is most fun for you.

A middle ground is, as was mentioned, using some sportier tires or better yet sportier wheels and tires.  With two sets of wheels the bike can be transformed pretty quickly from one mode to the other.

Gear Talk / Re: Should I buy a road bike?
« on: November 28, 2017, 07:13:44 am »
I love my road bike.  It is very different to ride compared to my loaded touring bike even when the touring bike is unladen.  My suggestion is to find a nice local bike shop that will let you take a longish ride on a road bike to see what you think of it.  My guess is that you will most likely be hooked.

Just me, but I have never ridden my touring bike much unless actually doing loaded touring.  The road bike is just so much more fun to ride.  I even went so far as to switch to an older race bike for my last coast to coast tour and plan to ride my new road bike on the next tour.  I wouldn't do that if I wasn't packing super light these days, so unless you are inclined toward touring with minimal ultralight backpacking gear (or alternately credit card touring) you will still want to tour on your touring bike.

The bottom line is that not only are road bikes faster, they are just sportier and more fun to ride.

Some folks find their touring bikes more comfortable, so there is that.  On the other hand I find my road bikes supremely comfortable and actually tried to match my road bike riding position and posture on the touring bike as closely as I could.

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