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Messages - staehpj1

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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.

Have to agree with alfonso.  Grant (at Rivendell) has different ideas from conventional wisdom on how a bike should fit.  As long as you've got a long enough stem, you may be able to ride the Atlantis forever, despite what a racer boy fitter would say.

So unless you've got some sort of pain from riding the bike, I'd be inclined to say, "Thank you very much" and keep riding!

I like my frames much smaller than Rivendell recommends.  The Rivendell recommended fit is generally two full sizes bigger than I personally prefer.

In spite of my bias toward smaller frames I have to say that many of their customers like the fit that Rivendell recommends, so since you have the bike already I'd say give it a chance.  You just might find you like it.

OTOH, if it is too big even by the Rivendell sizing charts, then yeah replace it for sure.

Routes / Re: Virginia routing help.........
« on: August 31, 2010, 11:45:53 am »
It doesn't look great, but I've probably ridden worse bridges.  If traffic looks bad when you get there maybe hitch a ride across?  It looks like the little town of Warsaw might be a good place to ask around for a possible ride across.

General Discussion / Re: Have any of you gotten sick on tour?
« on: August 27, 2010, 08:29:34 am »
Hi - depends where you are planning to ride.  I feel confident here in USA that help is just about always just a cell phone call away.  Not an emergency take time off in a motel.  As for minor ailments wow I've never seen so many pharmacies, you feel you are never more than a day away from one at the most.  OK OK I've been through some isolated places here so just make sure you take precautions.
Regarding that...  I would have to say that is a bit misleading.  In parts of the US I found fairly long stretches without a cell signal (at least a full day of riding at times, maybe more) and long stretches without much in the way of services.  At least once it was 80 miles between any kind of services, with not even a place to get water.  I certainly went several days without passing a pharmacy on more than one occasion.  That said I agree that there is no need to worry much in the US because in an emergency you can always flag down a passing motorist.

To the original question...
Yes I was pretty sick on my Santa Fe Trail tour.  I just got a room and pretty much slept for 36 hours straight.  I figured I'd try to tough it out and abort the tour only if my illness lasted more than a few days or became a real emergency.  I felt much better after 36 hours of mostly sleep and continued the tour.

Gear Talk / Re: Panniers- EZ on/off
« on: August 25, 2010, 06:36:14 pm »
95% of long distance bicycle travelers use Ortlieb Panniers.

And you get your statistics where?

Remember, studies show 78% of all statistics are made up on the spot.   ;)
If my observations are anywhere near correct that one was definitely made up.  Ortleibs are popular, but nowhere near 95% of the folks I have met on long tours were using them.

You might try asking John Egan over on CrazyGuy when it comes back on-line.  John has traveled extensively in that part of the country (lives in WY).  One thing I see is that you could very easily have northern Rockies passes that are closed due to snow after October 1st.  He would know.

Sorry I can't help but I am positive John can.
John might also pipe up on Bike Forums or you can PM him there.  He goes by the name Jamawani on bikeforums.

John has a ton of experience and is a wealth of info.  FWIW, his preference is to find very lightly traveled roads, more so than I would prefer myself.

From W. Yellowstone, stay on AC's TransAm route to Missoula, MT then take their Great Parks route to Whitefish, MT where you can pick up the Northern Tier route.  I did the same in reverse back in '00.  Nice route with plenty of places to camp.

If you have a few extra days before heading from Whitefish to Eureka on the Northern Tier, you could ride out and back to Glacier National Park and ride up and then back down the west slope of Going to the Sun Road to Logan Pass, one of the most scenic mountain roads in the U.S.  Whitefish to Sprague Creek Campground (a great place to start the climb) in the park would be one day.  The next day you could ride up to the pass and back.  The third day ride back to Whitefish.  You might choose to ride back to Whitefish the same day after you do the climb to save a day, but there are bicycle restriction in the park.  You basically cannot ride west from Spague Creek Campground until 4 or 5 p.m.
That is exactly what I would have advised.  I have ridden the TA and found that section pleasant.  You could use the Great Divide instead of the TA for that portion if you really wanted to and if you are riding a dirt friendly bike, but I think I would do that on a different more exclusively off road tour if I were you.

Gear Talk / Re: Rain Pants
« on: August 24, 2010, 08:08:11 am »
I need some rain pants. Any recommendations? Just looking for something durable, breathable, and fairly inexpensive.
My advice is to forget the breathable requirement.  You will be wet when it rains either with rain or with sweat.  Goretex and other breathable fabrics just don't work very well in my experience.

I like the fairly inexpensive coated nylon stuff like the Sierra Designs ones that pack in a tiny sack.  I got mine at REI.  I typically only wear the pants in camp.  On the bike I am warm enough with just leg warmers until sub freezing temperatures.  I do wear the jacket on the bike quite a bit.

General Discussion / Re: Gators in FL
« on: August 24, 2010, 07:54:43 am »
what would you do if you saw one by the side of the road 50 feet ahead?
Gators on dry land by the side of the road are not hunting and are not that much of a threat.  On the bike trail at Shark Valley probably hundreds of tourists on rental bikes ride withing 10 feet of gators every day by necessity since they are all over the path.  We rode by hundreds of them in the few miles of that trail and for dozens of them it was impossible to not ride withing 10 feet.  Based on that I'd give them as much space as you can, but definitely wouldn't obsess over riding where they live them.

Just to put this into perspective, gators killed about 12 people in 2001-2007 (over 500 people were killed by lightning strikes in the same period).  Take from that what you want, but to me that means the risk is pretty low.  I wasn't a bit concerned when canoe camping in the Everglades, but would avoid swimming places that were prime gator habitat.

I didn't pass through there that time of year (we passed through about three weeks earlier in 2007), but...  I am guessing that you will have no trouble.  The pools may be closed but I doubt you will have trouble camping there.  You may have to find rest rooms other than in the park in some towns, but as I recall some of the town parks we stayed at didn't have any anyway.  In general we found the small towns in Kansas extremely friendly and accommodating.

BTW we felt like crying when we had to head east out of Pueblo.  We really missed the mountains and were not crazy about the monotony of Eastern Colorado and Kansas.  That said, the people were super nice and helped make up for the boring scenery.  We enjoyed staying with Gillian Hogard in Ordway CO (look her up if there) she has kindly hosted hundreds of cyclists and is a very nice lady.  We also enjoyed an overnight stop at the Lutheran Church in Walnut KS, Pastor John and his wife treated us great.  There will be no problem in Cassoday, we pitched our tent in the Gazebo and had a great visit with the locals in the gas station/market (they were a bunch of fun older folks and shared stuff from their gardens with us).

Gear Talk / Re: liquid fuel or canister fuel stove for Southern Tier?
« on: August 17, 2010, 07:04:44 pm »
I've been told that this doesn't work at all post offices.  They recommend you check with them before you mail anything.  They have an 800 number (800-275-8777).
It can't hurt to check.  I do that next time if I remember, but we have just mailed without checking quite a bit and never had a problem.  That may be because we usually pick a town small enough that only has one post office, but not so tiny that postal services were contracted out to a private vendor (like a broom closet in a general store).

In the few cases where we mailed to a town with more than one Post Office it always went to the central post office for that zip code.  In those few cases we called to check where it went after the fact when we wanted to pick it up.

Gear Talk / Re: liquid fuel or canister fuel stove for Southern Tier?
« on: August 17, 2010, 02:54:15 pm »
Thanks for the reply!
so i can mail stuff to any post office along my route using that protocol?
Yes, pick a town with only one post office or one where you know where the main PO is for the zipcode.  If you pass through the town when the PO is closed.  You can stop at any PO and ask that it be forwarded to another.  Ditto if you are just not ready for it yet, just forward it ahead.  They do not charge for forwarding and a few times we forwarded something more than once.

Be aware that they only hold packages for 30 days.  You can probably get that extended by asking that it be forwarded.  That worked for us.

The addressing is something like:
Joe Blow
C/O General Delivery
Some Town, Some State
Some Zipcode

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