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Messages - staehpj1

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Routes / Re: Western Express challenges?
« on: October 02, 2010, 12:43:36 pm »
I am planning a West-East ride, April/May departure.  I will ride West Exp picking up the TransAm.  Thanks.
I think you will be likely to have some cold and snow with that schedule.  Personally I would start in the east if I had to start then.  Also I'd probably do the whole TA and skip the WE.  But that is my preference.

Have a great trip whatever you decide.

Gear Talk / Re: Bike pulls to the left dramatically
« on: October 01, 2010, 08:07:19 am »
Unfortunately if you have 27" wheels, almost none of the best-performing tires are made in 27" anymore.
Continental Ultra Gatorskins come in 27X1-1/4 and are a very nice touring tire in my opinion.  Interestingly enough the new Continental Gator Hardshell also comes in a 27X1-1/4 and may be the ticket if you want a heavier duty tire.  Also I have heard good things about the Panaracer Tourguard Pasela which comes in a 27X1-1/4 and a 27X1-1/8.  So I don't think lack of suitable tires available should be a reason to worry much.

General Discussion / Re: Is it ok to travel solo...
« on: September 30, 2010, 11:02:29 am »
I guess it does make sense to understand that a couple of days into it, my confidence level will rise. I am beginning to think about it more and more.  Maybe a solo trip would be nice.  I have been looking into everything that I think I may need... camping gear, clothes,  the "Spot" device that was mentioned and even freeze-dried foods from Mountain House that look pretty good.  I'm really excited. I feel like a little boy getting ready for his first big camping trip. LOL. Any other suggestions would be great. I think I'm gonna have the time of my life! Thanks, everyone.   

You worry too much...  A solo trip is great, just go and enjoy yourself.  A trip with someone you want to spend time with is great too, but a trip with a stranger is a crap shoot with a high chance for failure.  I met plenty of folks who started with someone and split up due to the friction between them.

In my opinion those Mountain House meals are just barely passable for an emergency meal if caught out or maybe for backpacking where you might go a longish ways without restocking options and must carry many days worth of food.  I don't usually use them for bike touring.  On a bike tour across the US you will be able to buy fresh "real" food daily most of the time and every 2-3 days at worst.

Personally I think the spot device is a unnecessary expense and wouldn't bother.  Worst case you can flag down a passing car.

But will I actually have the nerve to ask someone if I can set up my tent in their yard? I have lots of doubts about touring alone. I'm a grown-ass man, but being alone for three months... I dont know.

I would suggest that you use one of the standard Adventure Cycling routes.  The maps will have tons of places to stay marked on them and after a while you will have a better feel for when and where to ask if you go off route.  Additionally by using a popular route like the Trans America you will undoubtedly make some friends with other tourists along the way.  You will certainly have a chance to ride with or camp with others if you choose to do so.  I know that I met another bike tourist at least every few days on the Trans America.  On more "off the beaten track" tours I met no other cyclists, but even then I met lots of local folks

Routes / Re: Pacific Coast North to South latest start?
« on: September 30, 2010, 08:49:31 am »
I cannot help with the start date, but will suggest a side trip to Yosemite if you have not been there. I did just that on my Pacific Coast ride and would do it again without doubt. It takes a couple of days each way across the Central Valley and a minimum of two days in the park. Off season will be nice there.

Yosemite is awesome.  If you go there it is worth spending several days to a week hiking.

That said...  It is a pretty big side trip from the coast and I would be inclined to visit it as part of a different trip that would possibly also include Sequoia.

Also be aware that Yosemite is not the most cycle touring friendly place in the world.  There is road work for construction that I think will be going on for a couple years 24/7.  The construction zone is pretty long too.  They make no provision for shuttling bikes so it is a bit of a hassle to get over the long section of construction.

Also be aware that unless you have reservations you will probably need to camp one night in the North Pines Backpackers Camp and then move to Camp 4.  They allow touring cyclists one night at North Pines and then you either need get up at the crack of dawn to get in line for a site at Camp 4 or to move on.  That is what we did, but be aware that even though we got up at 4 AM we were not first in line at Camp 4 and by 8 AM there were maybe 50-60 people in line.

Off season may be less booked at Yosemite than when we were there though.

Gear Talk / Re: Music From Your Jersey
« on: September 30, 2010, 08:33:02 am »
I don't generally listen to music or audio-books while riding, but I will say that riding across the monotonous and lightly traveled roads of eastern Colorado and Kansas I wished I had something to listen to.  If I had my iPod along at those times I definitely would have used it.

Routes / Re: Trans Am Ride
« on: September 27, 2010, 11:24:43 am »
I generally agree with what John said.  Weather is probably better with a East to West ride since you miss the heat and humidity in the East and get to the Rockies when the snow is gone.  That said there are good reasons to go either way, but either will be a great experience.

In the West Portland OR is probably the best airport to use.  I had never heard of anyone using the Newport News airport, but it does look very convenient to the route.  Newport News looks like a pretty small airport so you will probably have to fly in to somewhere else like Reagan or Dulles in Washington DC and then get a flight to Newport News.  Alternately folks take a bus, ride their bikes, or rent a car to get to the start from one of the DC airports.

The TA is pretty nice without the need for any diversions.  We made a few local diversions but only because of specific to us reasons.

As far as how long it will take...  That is pretty dependent on you.  We took 73 days, which I think is fairly "normal".  Some take substantially more or a bit less.  Personally I like to have a very open ended schedule if at all possible because I hate to be a slave to a schedule.  That may not be an option for you though, given the demands of international travel.

General Discussion / Re: what cycling computer to get?
« on: September 25, 2010, 11:10:41 am »
I agree with Paddleboy17, I like knowing my cadence.
Just another perspective on that...  I find it kind of like my heart rate monitor.  It was interesting for a few weeks and then I pretty much knew what each heart rate felt like.  Similarly I can pretty closely guess my cadence.  I do use it sometimes on my road bike, but I don't think I have ever bothered to switch to a mode that displays cadence when on tour.

So if you use a cadence meter religiously when training or performance riding you may like one on your touring bike too, otherwise there is a good chance you may not wind up using it much or at all

Routes / Re: Sierra Cascades Advice
« on: September 24, 2010, 07:39:26 am »
Our experience may or my not be typical, but you might find some useful info in our journal.

If nothing else it is worth looking at the pictures of the stunning scenery.

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.

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