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Messages - staehpj1

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Routes / Re: Sierra Cascades Advice
« on: September 24, 2010, 07:05:16 am »
I would suggest that you either allow more time than you think you will need or plan to be flexible about your finishing point.  I found that I could make much poorer time than I expected due to the heat and difficulty of the climbs.  This is a very tough route compared to something like the Trans America or at least the southern part is.  At least that is my impression after having ridden the whole TA and the southern part of the SC,  Also there are places along the way that are worth spending some time.  I highly recommend spending some time hiking in Sequoia and Yosemite national parks for example.

Weather is a difficult thing to plan for on the SC.

Starting in the South...  Once the passes are open the desert is likely to be brutally hot.  We started in early June and my little thermometer while not reliable, read 115 F at times.  I know that I could have definitely done with less desert and less heat.

You might be able to do better starting late-ish in the season in the North.  How late?  I am not sure, but looking at the closure dates for Tioga Pass from previous years may give some clue of how late you can still get over the passes.

General Discussion / Re: what cycling computer to get?
« on: September 24, 2010, 06:54:11 am »
So I am putting the finishing touches on my dream touring bike (pics to come) and I know 0 about cycling computers, I think wireless is a must, besides that.... I really don't have clue. I have access to QBP so if it is a brand they carry that's a plus. Otherwise what can you guys recommended?
I agree that the Cateye models are nice, but recommend wired.  I like the MTB model with a heavier duty wire (Enduro 8?).

I have tried a variety of wireless in a variety of brands and found them all to be prone to interference.  Too often you come out of a diner to see that your bike parked by the neon sign thinks it went 60 miles while you were eating.  Then there are the times when it thinks it is going 80 mph while sitting under a power line or electric fence.  I gave up an only use wired ones.

Routes / Re: Renting a van to transport bicycles
« on: September 21, 2010, 12:10:47 pm »
The only way to transport myself and my bike one way that I have found is U-Haul. Everyone else makes you bring the vehicle back to the point of origin. I just ask for the smallest thing they have. They used to have little Toyota vans but apparently they are no longer available.

If you do use U-Haul, carefully check the van for dents or any damage, cleanliness, fuel level, etc. before signing for it. Some of the yards are pretty lax about such things. I got a truly dirty van with a faulty fuel gauge in Moab UT.
Check the prices against the rental car places for one way rentals.  I have found way better rates from rental car places than I have from U-Haul and by a pretty large margin.  When we rented one way from Portland OR to Newport OR (in 2007) I think the price quoted for the smallest U-Haul they had on hand was 2.5 times what Enterprise charged us.  My experience is limited and it may vary regionally, but do check prices first.

Routes / Re: Renting a van to transport bicycles
« on: September 21, 2010, 06:47:02 am »
You'll be sharing the bus with some normal poor people, but a lot of crazy alcoholics and drug addicts.
Between my family and I, we wound up sitting next to some "interesting" characters almost every time we used Greyhound.  These characters included drunks, a pimp, and newly released convicts on their ride home from prison.  I don't especially recommend the Greyhound, but it usually does result in a good story.

Take the Greyhound.
It's a dog of a way to get around.
Take the Greyhound.
It's a dog gone easy way to get you down.
(from the Harry Chapin tune)

Routes / Re: Eugene to Baker City
« on: September 19, 2010, 03:42:17 pm »
I heard one couple assert that McKenzie Pass from the west is the toughest climb on the TransAm, although I'm not sure I buy that. It is beautiful, however, and I wouldn't want to miss it.
Definitely far from the hardest IMO.  It was very pretty and also interesting with a wooded climb, big lava field, good vistas, and the observatory at the top.

Routes / Re: Eugene to Baker City
« on: September 19, 2010, 12:54:07 pm »
We did it between June 15th and June 20th and had good weather.  The only thing is that McKenzie Pass may not be open that early some years.

If your schedules is flexible, I'd say to try to catch McKenzie Pass when it is open to bikes, but not yet open to cars.  It is fun to catch it before cars are allowed.

If you have to pick a date ahead of time, I'd try to pick a date when McKenzie is likely to have recently opened and then if it is closed use the less desirable Santiam Pass alternate route,

Check out for the dates when McKenzie has opened in the past.

Routes / Re: Help required for current trans america-rockies or not?
« on: September 18, 2010, 12:39:20 pm »
Its apparent some people have never ridden in the Rockies. 
I find it amusing that the person you seem to be referring to lives in, rides in, and has toured very extensively in the Colorado Rockies.

You say it only snows at "higher elevations" in Spring thru Fall, but what do you call higher elevations?  In Colorado the Trans America doesn't dip below 7,500' for about 190 miles and the large majority of that is above 8,000'.  It tops out a bit over 11,500' and I personally consider the whole 190 mile section to be at "higher elevations".

I won't comment on whether it is wise for the OP to go that route in the suggested timeframe since I have no experience with the area at that time of year.  I will say that I would definitely give serious consideration to valygrl's advice about the area, knowing that she lives there and has toured there extensively.

In the US, Southwest Airlines and Frontier charge $50 per one-way trip (not per flight if you have to change planes)  - so if you can use one of those it doesn't really add that much to the cost.
I would add that they don't charge for two checked bags (the bike counts as one though) so the $50 includes the other bag that most other airlines would charge you for making SW (Frontier too?) an even better deal.

Also, think about what you are going to do with the bike box during your trip.  With a real bike case you have to ship it to your destination and/or have it stored, with a regular bike you can just get a new cardboard box for free at a bike shop at the end of the trip.
+1 The fact that I would have to deal with a case on either end would be enough to negate the benefit of couplers.  Since I generally never start and finish my tour in the same city I would have to either ship or carry the case for the whole tour.  For me that would be unacceptable unless the rucksack is very light in which case I would be worried about damage to the bike.

Note that I am not saying that the couplers aren't great for some riders, just that you should consider the points mentioned before deciding.

Routes / Re: Route Advice
« on: September 16, 2010, 02:21:46 pm »
Isn't it interesting how two people can look at the same facts and come to opposite conclusions?  We went E-W because:

Yeah, it can be spun any number of ways depending on individual wants, needs, and preferences.

BTW, do you still think the Appalachians were harder than the Rockies?  Some east-bounders were in such good shape by the time they got to Kentucky that they didn't think they were hard at all.  I thought the Appalachians were about twice as hard as the Rockies.  Appalachians were 3x as steep in places, but not as high, and after 30 minutes, what difference does the length of the climb make?.

On the TA, yes I still think the Appalachians were harder than the Cascades or Rockies.  On a different route maybe not.

After the TA, I thought that western climbs were just generally easier, other than being long, since they were typically better designed and graded.  We spent very little time in the west climbing at more than 6-8% on the TA.  Then I rode the southern part of the Sierra Cascades route and realized that there were some very hard climbs in the west.  That trip was quite difficult for me and I now have a new respect the climbs out west in general.

General Discussion / Re: Invitation to join
« on: September 15, 2010, 11:30:28 am »
;D :-\ Staying with strangers on their property or in their homes is very dangerious.
We have no idea what kind of people we are staying with are like. What are you're thoughts.

Since you asked...
Given that your two posts so far are this one and one asking if it is safe to carry a small propane cylinder in your trailer, my thought is that you are either trolling or more than a bit paranoid.

Stays with strangers are usually some of the high points of my tours.  As far as risk goes I figure I am more likely to be harmed by a car or truck than by a host.

General Discussion / Re: Amtrack confusion - policy vs reality?
« on: September 15, 2010, 09:15:58 am »
A check of prices for UHaul finds that it isn't cheaper than Amtrak.  It may be faster but it is anything but cheaper.  Don't forget to add the price of gas.  At $3 per gallon the vehicle will get about 10 miles per gallon so the cost will add up quickly.
Not surprising.  If I remember correctly, when we were looking to rent a vehicle to haul three of us and our bikes from Portland OR to the coast, U-Haul was a good bit more than double what we paid Enterprise for a one way rental.

Routes / Re: Route Advice
« on: September 13, 2010, 06:30:41 pm »
Agreed. Unless you have other constraints, go east-to-west. That direction has everything in its favor and nothing against (not even wind).
Weather can be much better E-W and there is generally a lot in favor of that direction.

Also I agree that prevailing winds are not a good reason to go W-E.  On the route the OP is proposing it is probably a wash.  On the TA I think E-W has an advantage.  On the NT I suspect W-E might have an edge wind wise.  In any case I don't think that wind should be a major factor in choosing direction of travel for a summer XC tour.

That said I can't agree that there is nothing in favor of W-E.  There are quite a few reasons why someone might choose W-E (like we did in 2007).  Here are a few reasons why we did:
  • We wanted the air travel out of the way up front.
  • We think that the Appalachians are the hardest part and wanted to do them when we were a bit road hardened.
  • We thought that starting far from home made bailing out harder.
  • It was awesome that we finished close to home and were greeted by friends and family at the end.

There are lots of reasons why someone might choose one way or the other. 

BTW, I personally would much rather start or finish in the PNW than in San Francisco.

General Discussion / Re: Newbie has pannier capacity question
« on: September 10, 2010, 05:45:34 pm »
Arkel makes some excellent panniers but they are not waterproof and quite expensive.
I would add that they are quite heavy for those who like me care about an extra couple pounds.

I think that one of the key things to decide is whether you like multiple compartments of one big pocket.  The one big pocket ones, my preference, are typically waterproof which I see as a bonus.  Rather than have stuff in a bunch of pockets I prefer to organize in one big pocket by using ziploc bags.  Just open one compartment and you can see what is in all of the bags.

Nashbar or Performance waterproof panniers are my choice.  Very inexpensive, waterproof, and durable enough.  Mine have a trans america and a couple other longish tours on them and are still pretty much like new.  I expect that they will last for many more longish tours, but if they don't they are often on sale at very reasonable prices.

General Discussion / Re: Newbie has pannier capacity question
« on: September 09, 2010, 09:56:59 am »
Buy smallish ones intended for the front and put them on the back.  Then later you can use them on the front with some larger ones on the back if you require more space later.

Also remember that it is pretty easy to strap some items on top of the rack if need be..

Routes / Re: Choose 1 of these 2 for kick starting the Southern Tier
« on: September 08, 2010, 10:55:25 am »
It probably depends on what your goals for the ride are more than anything else.  The only reasons I would consider the Southern Tier would be either to do the shortest possible coast to coast trip or to do one in late fall, winter, and/or early spring.  Even those may not be reason enough to ride what would for me be a pretty tiresome route.  If you are chopping out a major portion by using the train, plane, or bus then you are losing the coast to coast attraction.

Not everyone likes the same kind of touring so the ST may be exactly what you want, but I have found that touring is so much nicer when a more major portion of it is in forested areas.  If you are not locked into a time frame that requires the ST or similar, the TA or NT are much more varied scenery wise and I suspect most people would find them much more pleasant.  I do know a guy who rode all three and prefers the ST though.  So if you like riding in the desert great, just be fairly sure that is really what you want.

Personally I'd rather fly than sit on a bus or train for 12-22 hours.

I've never used Greyhound, but I did find Amtrak nice to deal with.  Unfortunately sitting on a train that long was pretty uncomfortable and any of the sleeper options are really expensive.  If you can stand the seats for that long Amtrak is pretty easy to deal with logistically as long as there are baggage stops where you want to go.

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