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Messages - staehpj1

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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.

Gear Talk / Re: Best brakes and wheels for S&S Coupled touring bike?
« on: November 20, 2017, 09:12:03 am »
Personally I can't see the point of having S&S couplers. Unless you are travelling regularly they don't seem good value. And then you have to store the case or forward it to your end point.
Yeah, it depends on the usage.

For Tim's stated usage, it makes a lot of sense.  I bought mine to take on business trips right before the airlines decided to charge for every piece of luggage (and no, neither Frontier nor Southwest flies out of my hometown).  Even so, and even with just a few trips a year that are long enough to make taking the bike worth the trouble, I'm about half way between the S&S couplers and case paying for themselves, and the whole bicycle paying for itself, just on the difference between "second piece of luggage" and "checked bicycle" fees.
I agree.  I only posted my advice for others who may be reading because it seems that sometimes folks just assume couplers will work out without really thinking through their usage case.

Gear Talk / Re: Best brakes and wheels for S&S Coupled touring bike?
« on: November 20, 2017, 07:57:01 am »
Personally I can't see the point of having S&S couplers. Unless you are travelling regularly they don't seem good value. And then you have to store the case or forward it to your end point.
Yeah, it depends on the usage.

For me couplers are of little to no benefit since I typically fly to one city and fly home from another if I am not riding toward home.  For point to point trips like the TA, NT, ST, PC, SC, and so on having a case to deal with creates more problems than it solves.

They are great for someone who flies to other cities and either does a loop and returns from the same city or just does day riding there.

Another thing that makes them less suitable for me is that over my touring career I have done different types of tours on different bikes.  So I'd have had a harder time getting my money's worth of savings since I'd have needed them on three different bikes (loaded touring bike, old 1990 race bike with U/L load, and old 1990 MTB).  My next tours are likely to be on two additional bikes (new road bike or new MTB if off road).

My usual advice is to think about how and where you travel and what your future bike plans are before deciding on couplers.  They may be a real savings in the long run or they may not.

General Discussion / Re: Bike Computer
« on: November 16, 2017, 06:55:24 am »
Why not wireless computer? What is better when using a cable?  8)
On our coast to coast tour my companions with wireless had issues with bogus readings.  These were in the form of interference usually when parked close to a neon sign outside a general store or diner.  Sometimes they acted up around electric fences or high voltage power lines where we'd see crazy high speed readings.  The computer would log miles while it was sitting still outside the diner.  It typically wasn't enough to be a big deal on the total mileage for the trip, but was enough to throw off calculations about where an upcoming turn or stop was.  They never noticed this problem around town at home but it was a constant source of annoyance on our long tour.

Battery life was not a problem for wireless models that I have used.  They all lasted at least a year or two.

Some wireless models used to need to be turned on at the beginning of the day or after longish stops.  I don't know if any current models are like that but if so I'd avoid those models.  It is just too easy to forget.

On my mountain bike I tend to shred cables so I run wireless on it.  I typically used wired models on my road bikes.

Yes there was traffic, but the beauty of the trip was worth it.  The worst of the road/traffic issues were because there was major road work the year we were there.  I tend to be pretty traffic tolerant though so YMMV.

The trip had an insane amount of steep climbing, that I thought was far more challenging than the traffic, but again the rewards were amazing.

Routes / Re: Trying to remember the name of...
« on: November 04, 2017, 07:37:00 am »
A google search for "squirrel cook off" yields lots of hits for Washington Louisiana.

Routes / Re: Should/could I take my dog on the Great Divide Route?
« on: October 27, 2017, 06:53:50 am »
Taking her sounds like a bad idea to me, but it might be doable you are willing to make some allowances in your pace.  That may mean less daily mileage than you think.  IME dogs are MUCH slower on the downhills and probably able to go faster on the steeper up hills.  It would seem that would make it a lot harder for both you and your canine friend to manage the kind of miles you are planning.  Given that there will be long climbs and descents that seems like a serious challenge to me.

Also does well trained and obedient mean that she can be trusted to not chase wildlife or cattle?  If not John's points on those issues become super important.

I met a guy on the ST who was living on the road full time with a greyhound mix.  His pooch rode in a trailer on the descents and he said that worked well to even out the difference in their relative paces over varying terrain.

Full disclosure... while I have done a lot of trail running, a little mountain biking, and some backpacking with my dog I have not taken her on any tours.

Your dog may be better suited to longer days, but I found that 20 miles was a long day for mine when she was young and fit and that was at my running pace (I am 66 and was never very fast).  You need to be careful because dogs are often so driven to please that they won't use reasonable restraint.

I have not ridden the GDMBR, but places where I crossed it on my tours I got the impression that it had a good bit of road miles and required riding through towns.

Food Talk / Re: to cook or not to cook?
« on: October 16, 2017, 10:07:54 am »
I'll ask a local when I eat out, then discover that non-franchised, "best kept secret", amazing bistro or the like!

Bistro?  You tour where there's a bistro??  Heck, I thought a Subway or Pizza Hut was fine dining most days!
Yeah, I don't see many bistro's on my tours either.  I do like to sample the local food though, regardless of whether it is at a diner or even a gas station.  Things like locally made tamales or home made biscuits and gravy at a gas station, diner, general store, or whatever are more likely to show up on my tours than bistro food.  Good barbecue, great local seafood,Tex Mex, Cajun, and so on really do make for an enjoyable trip when you get to eat the genuine article.

Sampling the local regional food for me is part of the fun, but I still like to cook.

Gear Talk / Re: Hydraulic or cable disc brakes for the Trans Am?
« on: October 14, 2017, 06:47:42 am »
My experience with hydraulic disc brakes is that they are pretty maintenance free.  I'd say the odds of problems are very low.

Routes / Re: Pacific Coast question - advice hugely appreciated
« on: October 06, 2017, 08:50:23 am »
I rode mostly on the AC route from Seattle using the Bremmerton Ferry.  I will say that I didn't really care for the Washington part of my ride and if doing it again I might either try a more coastal route or just start in Astoria.  I'd rather ride further in California than ride the Washington portion again, at least based on my limited experience there.  I think California is really nice down to Santa Barbara.

On the maps...  For Oregon, the free ODOT bike map of the coast was nicer than either the book or the AC maps IMO.  The AC maps do have more services listed, but the ODOT maps covered the state parks that I stayed in.  It also worked way better as a map to look at while riding.  You can see everything about where you are with no flipping of pages.  The mile markers are right there and it is easy to see how close you are to approaching services.  I carried both but only looked at the AC one once in a while when looking for some service not on the ODOT map.

For the rest of the trip I liked the AC maps a lot better than the book to the extent that I wouldn't even carry it.  The book was nice for reading at home and dreaming about the trip, but kind of awkward for day to day use.  It is also somewhat out of date unless there has been a more recent version than the fourth edition (Mar 2005).  As far as I know that is the newest version and being 12+ years out of date is significant IMO.

General Discussion / Re: Absolute necessities?
« on: October 02, 2017, 07:27:15 am »
Before phones came with decent GPS and nav apps, I went without on most tours.  When I took it on the TA I actually mailed it home.  These days, since I always take my phone and it has a good GPS and app, the GPS is always along.  I typically do not use it for all day turn by turn directions on road tours, but find it handy in town and for locating services.  It definitely is not a necessity, folks toured long before GPS technology existed, but it is nice to have at times.

I never use a dedicated GPS on road tours, but might consider taking it for off road or off the beaten track dirt road touring.  The reason I might take it is that it uses AA batteries so it is easier to keep it in batteries for all day usage off the grid.

Routes / Re: Pacific Coast Northbound advice wanted
« on: September 30, 2017, 07:41:51 am »
John covered most of what I would have said, but I found there was more often a NW component than John's post implies.  On the other hand there can be a lot of variation and winds may even be out of the S or SW when a front rolls through.

When I rode the PCH I found that I missed the worst of the wind by getting on the road very early in the morning.  The wind will be a bigger issue for those who roll out of camp mid day than those who roll out at the crack of dawn.

One other advantage to southbound riding on the PCH is that you will typically meet others traveling the same direction.  I know that I made quite a few friends and camped with a fun group most nights.  I still chose to ride alone, but having friends in camp was a big plus.

General Discussion / Re: Appropriate Tires for GAP/C&O
« on: September 29, 2017, 07:31:57 am »
I rode part of the C&O a few days after rain with 32s.  I'd have preferred something wider, especially with the slick mud.  I never went down, but I felt pretty smug about staying up going through some of those puddles.  Dang, I'm good! kind of thing.  Not to mention the buzziness of the gravel sections. 

If your bike will take 35s, go wide!
Not sure how much the condition of the trail has changed has changed over the years, but I recall that when I last rode it there were sections of deep mud and standing water.  That was after a period of really wet weather.  At that time a mountain bike would have been most suitable.

On the other hand, 28mm tires wouldn't be out of the question when it is in good shape.

Food Talk / Re: to cook or not to cook?
« on: September 21, 2017, 08:27:42 am »
If I use my homemade pop can stove I find that I can assemble cooking/eating gear that weighs as little as 7 ounces plus fuel, so I never leave it home.  I often eat cold food, but it is really nice to have the option of hot food or a hot beverage some of the time.  You can't do very elaborate cooking with the 7 ounce setup, but it will suffice for me on most trips.

I carry more stuff if I want to do more elaborate cooking, but can still keep it super light.  Even on a backpacking trip where I was catching and cooking trout and making other more elaborate than usual meals I got by with about a pound of cooking/eating gear.

So for me even if I plan to go ultralight and keep meals simple I take cooking gear.

As far as cooking being trouble...  It is often easier than riding into town to a diner and not much more trouble than making a sandwich if you keep it simple.

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