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Messages - staehpj1

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Gear Talk / Re: Camp Stove
« on: January 08, 2017, 08:02:49 am »
I use my pop can alcohol stove the majority of the time.  It is very light and uses readily available fuel (yellow bottle HEET).  I have never seen it get hot enough on the bottom to scorch a table.  The fact that the flame is hard to see is no big deal once you know that is the case.

Despite folks saying it is available at any walmart, I have not found canister fuel to be quite as widely available as claimed and have at times had trouble finding it.

I typically want to carry only a small amount of fuel so Coleman fuel is out since a gallon is about 10 times as much as I want to carry.  The 12 ounce bottle of Heet is about right.

If I wanted a liquid fuel stove other than alcohol I'd go with one that can burn gasoline.  You can dribble enough out of the hoses at a closed gas station to cook a few meals.  That or just carefully pump a few ounces.  It is a bit touchy but possible to fill a bottle with no spillage.

Gear Talk / Re: Lightweight touring bike?
« on: January 08, 2017, 07:49:30 am »
My light touring bike for my past tours bike was a little heavier than 20 pounds, but still fairly light.  I used my old 1990 race bike (a Cannondale Crit bike).  It wasn't too heavy and most of the extra weight was in areas like more substantial wheels so I felt like it was a good choice.  In fact I think it was pretty close to optimum for UL touring.

I don't think that at 18 pounds of gear weight (unless you are counting food and water) it makes sense to go too crazy cutting weight on the bike itself.  There is a good bit of room between a heavy touring bike and an ultralight racer.

Routes / Re: Northern Tier vs. TransAm
« on: January 04, 2017, 07:15:17 am »
If you are going to be self-contained and this is the first tour for most of you -
I would suggest either a shorter route or more time.
The timeframe is doable for a first timer, but I think it wise to have either an open ended schedule with some extra time built in or a flexible end point.  On a coast to coast trip the flexible end point may not make sense so allowing some extra time is more important.

Two things that can suck the joy out of a tour are a rigid schedule and a strict budget.  You don't need to take a long time or spend a lot, but should have enough extra time and money available that you don't need to worry too much about either.  If possible, I'd suggest having at least an extra week available over and above what you plan to need.

Routes / Re: Start date for NB Sierra Cascades route.
« on: December 21, 2016, 07:50:59 am »
How long is your GC hike?  March or April sound way too early for the SC to me. A May or even June start do not guarantee that Tioga Pass will be open.  This is a difficult trip to plan for decent weather.  It is possible to have freezing temperatures and extreme heat in close proximity to each other.  We had 110+ F (43+ C) heat and freezing temps at night within 48 hours of each other.

The opening of Tioga Pass is key and it varies widely from year to year depending on the snow pack.  The year we rode the southern half of the SC we started on June 4th and services in Yosemite were still not available anywhere except the Valley due to repairs from winter damage.  I think they were finally back to normal around July first, but we managed anyway.

That year it was already brutally hot for most of our ride despite the fairly early start.

My advice is to wait until the last minute to pick a start date and to go as soon as it looks like Tioga pass will be open.

Historic Tioga opening dates:

I think that there is usually a thread on Supertopo as Spring approaches that discusses likely opening dates for any given year:

Routes / Re: What is Your Favorite Cross Country Route and Why?
« on: December 18, 2016, 07:58:31 am »
One possible combination is the Pacific Coast route north from Seattle to the Northern Tier to Glacier National Park for a ride up the west side of Going to the Sun and back down then back track and take the Great Parks North to Missoula to the TransAm.
We made friends with some folks who did about the same.  It sounded like a pretty good choice, Not that the regular TA isn't nice as well.

Assuming a summer ride
That is definitely something to consider.  You couldn't pay me to do the ST in Summer.  It was nice when I did it in a Feb.-Mar. time frame though.  Nights were chilly and at times and even cold, but it was always nice by mid morning.  I like cooler weather though.

Routes / Re: What is Your Favorite Cross Country Route and Why?
« on: December 16, 2016, 06:47:11 am »
I'll give another recommend for the Trans America.  It is a great route with a lot of tradition going back to Bike-centennial in 1976.

When it comes to coast to coast routes, I have only done the Trans America and the Southern Tier so I don't have experience with the Northern Tier.  The Southern Tier was okay and had the advantages of being able to go in the winter, minimizing the climbing, and being much shorter.  Unfortunately I found the scenery pretty drab, day after day after day of brown scrub brush.  Lots of interesting people and food made up for the scenery to some extent, but I still much prefer the TA if I have to pick a favorite.

General Discussion / Re: How to transport bike box?
« on: December 09, 2016, 07:08:32 am »
My preference is to take my bike on the plane with me (on Frontier or Southwest), assemble it in the airport and ride out the door. On the way home, it depends on whether I have a friend with a car who can drive me to a bike shop to get a box, and then the airport. If I do, I'll bring it home the same way. Otherwise I'll ride to a bike shop, have them do the pack and ship, and take public transportation to the airport.
That is my preferred way to get the bike to the start of the tour.

On the way home I have generally found it easier to just drop it at a bike shop and let them pack and ship it like you do as your second option.  That has always cost me around $100 including packing and shipping.  I figure it is worth it at the end of the tour to be able to just drop it off and forget it rather than deal with boxing a bike in a strange city and then getting it to the airport.

The bike shops seem to get a better price on the shipping than I would if dealing directly with the shipper, so some of their packing charge is offset by that.\

BTW, I avoid going to a UPS store and having them ship.  Both times I did that the price was crazy high despite it being the same size and weight as when I paid way less via a bike shop.

I think that since I moved to Florida it may be a little more expensive, because when we shipped our  bikes home from Reno my bike was ~$100 to Baltimore and my daughter's was ~$125 to Tallahassee. That was with same size boxes and about the same weight (actually her's was slightly lighter).

General Discussion / Re: Lions and tigers and bears oh my!!!
« on: December 06, 2016, 07:01:47 am »
Use good practices with regard to food, toiletries, and other scented stuff and having problems with bears will be very unlikely.  If something bad is going to happen it is far more likely to be in the form of a vehicular accident.  Ride safely, camp safely, and enjoy your trip.

You will be lucky if you even get to see a bear at all.  I know we didn't see any on the Trans America or the Southern Tier.  I did see a number of them when I did the southern half of the Sierra Cascades route.

Dogs can be an annoyance on the TA especially in Kentucky and Missouri, but they are not that big of a deal.

Gear Talk / Re: trailers vs panniers
« on: November 29, 2016, 12:14:05 pm »
Thanks, everybody, for trying, but not not much help. I've done tons of research, but was hoping my fellow ACA folks could be more specific/aggressive in their advice.
So, sigh, I'll go to trial and error.
OK then, so here is my "more specific/aggressive advice"...  Unless you have specific requirements or preferences for using one forget the trailer.  Far more people tour with panniers many are heavier than you and carry fairly heavy loads.

There is nothing about your weight that makes a trailer an especially good option unless there are particular reasons that you prefer a trailer.  People tour on tandem bikes and there are not many tandem teams that don't weigh more than you.  So I advise packing reasonably light and using panniers.  If you are a  minimalist ultralight packer, then even the panniers could possibly be overkill.

Consider the need to ship or fly with your trailer to and from your tour start or finish.  For me that is a fiarly significant reason not to use one.

OTOH, there actually are a few special reasons why you might go to a trailer...  Travelling with a lot of heavy and or bulky gear.  Riding a very lightly built bike with more load than you want to carry on it.  Riding a mountain bike and wanting to be able to unhook the load quickly to go trail riding unladen.

Bottom line most folks use panniers and are better off for it.

General Discussion / Re: Trangia Stove / Meths
« on: November 09, 2016, 06:47:45 am »
the one at the Nez Perce* reservation in Idaho is superb.
I second that.  It was a very interesting stop.

Gear Talk / Re: Shifters-integrated vs bar-end
« on: November 08, 2016, 06:50:12 am »
I actually went with a 39/26 with a 12-28 (7 speed) on a coast to coast tour and was pretty happy with it.  That works out to a range of 25.1 to 87.8 with the wheels and tires I was using.

When I wanted to go faster down hills, I just spun up a quick burst at the top of the descent to get my speed up and then coasted.  That quick burst was often way above any cadence I could maintain for any distance.

The 25.1 might be kind of high for those who want really low gears and pack heavier, but I found it just fine for me on that trip.

Some of the newer Sram MTB drive trains have a 10-42 cassette and I have seen conversions that allow a 9 tooth cog so you can have a very wide range even with a 11X1.  I have found the gaps between gears to be acceptably close, but YMMV.  I think that if I were specing a loaded touring bike from scratch I'd probably use an 10X1 or 11X1 Sram MTB drive train with Sram road shifters.  That probably won't happen though since I have too many bikes already.

Gear Talk / Re: Shifters-integrated vs bar-end
« on: November 07, 2016, 02:32:40 pm »
Most touring bikes have triple cranksets.
True, but the new MTB group sets have wider range rear clusters and are fine for touring with double.  Some folks might even opt for a 1X10 or 1X11.

General Discussion / Re: Trangia Stove / Meths
« on: November 07, 2016, 06:17:43 am »
Alcohol stoves are very appealing as a light and simple piece of gear and I know they have many fans.  But with BTU output at around half that of a butane or white gas stove I just never could justify taking one on a trip of any length.  Butane canisters are readily available as is white gas, and many gas stoves (my favorite is the MSR Whisperlite Internationale) also burn unleaded auto fuel which is super available.  Gas stoves lose out on the weight and simplicity factor, and cartridge stoves leave you with canisters to dispose of that never seem to get entirely empty, but they are good options for half the cooking time and half the fuel weight that you'll pack along.
And with all that, I do appreciate that sticking with what you know and are used to is of value as well.
I find the btu output, while less to be just fine.  When cooking for a group I prefer the extra output of butane.  Also if backpacking and melting snow for water extra output is nice.

I have found butane canisters less available than alcohol and have sometimes gone considerable distances without seeing any for sale.  White gas is almost never available in small quantities.  Often there are only gallons and if you are lucky quarts.  On a bike tour I'd rather not carry that much since you can restock more frequently to keep the load light.  The 12 ounce Yellow Heet bottles are just about right for me.

Butane and white gas both have higher btu per weight than alcohol, but that doesn't offset the extra weight of the stove unless you are carrying fuel for longer distances between restocking points.

BTW, Probably the most widely available fuel is gasoline.  It is very energy dense and can be either cheap or free if you just get the little bits of gas that comes out of the hose when the pumps are not turned on.  It does stink if you spill any on your gear or clothing and require a similar stove to a white gas stove.

For me the alcohol stove wins out on most tour where I am cooking for one and butane for group tours (for two people I consider it a tossup) or long backpacking trips.

BTW, my go to alcohol stove is a sub half ounce pop can burner.  With pot stand and wind screen it is still under an ounce.

General Discussion / Re: Trangia Stove / Meths
« on: November 04, 2016, 07:23:07 pm »
I use yellow bottle Heet and have generally had an easy time finding it, but if you have trouble ask for "denatured alcohol" at a hardware or paint store.

Some also use "grain alcohol"  or "Everclear" which is sold for drinking.
If HEET is denatured alcohol (Ethanol) it is not methanol.  Methanol is "wood alcohol" and is a different chemical.  It is also rather toxic.

"Everclear" is 190 proof Ethanol and is potable if diluted sufficiently.  It is also extremely expensive since it is taxed as an alcoholic beverage.  There are a lot better things to burn in your stove.
Yellow Heet, my first choice, is 99% Methanol.

SLX Denatured Alcohol by Klean Strip is 45-50% ethanol, 50-55% methanol, 1-4% Methyl isobutyl ketone.

Other denature alcohol that I have seen typically contains similar amounts of ethanol and methanol.

In my experience, yellow heet and the denatured alcohol I have tried all burn fine in my stove.  The get to a rolling boil in a reasonable time and burn cleanly.

General Discussion / Re: Trangia Stove / Meths
« on: November 04, 2016, 05:27:11 pm »
I use yellow bottle Heet and have generally had an easy time finding it, but if you have trouble ask for "denatured alcohol" at a hardware or paint store.

Some also use "grain alcohol"  or "Everclear" which is sold for drinking.

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