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Messages - staehpj1

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Routes / Re: Pacific Coast Road Quality
« on: June 07, 2017, 06:58:48 am »
Sept. and Oct. are very nice times to do the PC.  The tourist traffic dies down a lot after Labor Day.

The road conditions vary widely, but are generally good as long as you are somewhat traffic tolerant.

You could ride the PC on just about any tires but the best choice will vary with your weight and how much you are carrying.  Personally I would run 28-32mm tires if packing heavy (40 pounds of gear, not counting food/water).  I typically pack pretty light (15 pounds plus of minus a few pounds) with minimal camping and cooking gear and tend to run 25 mm tires these days.  I did half of the Southern Tier on 23 mm tires and half on 25mm tires and the 25mm were definitely nicer on the Texas chip seal roads.  That was carrying only 15 pounds of ultralight gear and at a body weight of about 210.

I tend to like skinnier tires than most tourists, so factor that in.  Even so, I don't see much sense in using tires narrower than 23 mm in any case for any kind of touring.  I don't think many folks run 18mm tires even for racing.

EDIT: One other thing...  Make sure to plan ahead for road closures.  I think you will find a huge detour at Big Sur as there was a huge slide that is unlikely to be fixed any time soon and with no easy way around it.

General Discussion / Re: Another Beginners Question
« on: June 06, 2017, 11:36:06 am »
Based on encountering thousands of touring cyclists on the road, I estimate that only about 25% of people doing a bicycle tour use a trailer.
I am surprised you put the number that high.   I would have guessed that the number would be 10% or less.  I never actually counted or paid close attention though so I may be wrong.

General Discussion / Re: Another Beginners Question
« on: June 06, 2017, 06:27:45 am »
One last question...  How the heck can you guys and gals afford to do this kind of long distance ride?  Do you get a lot of vacation every year, retired, win the lottery?

What would you estimate you've invested for taking a trip like this, not counting the bike you're riding. 
My trips vary in cost depending on how frugal of an approach I have for any given trip, but I don't find the expenses to be a crushing burden.  My first tour was the Trans America.  It cost about $1500 for the 73 days and 4244 miles including airfare.

I have spent more per day on some tours and less on others, but the TA was fairly typical in cost for me.

On at least one tour, my wife commented that I was spending less than I do when at home and I think she was actually correct.  It think that was in large part due to not driving and putting gasoline in my car for that period.

All that said some folks can go for months on $5 per day while others might spend $100 or more per day.  I figure that a pretty large percentage of folks fall in the $15-30 per day range

Lastly, how many of you are pulling trailers of one sort or another?
I prefer to avoid trailers for most types of touring, but some folks use and like them.

General Discussion / Re: Another Beginners Question
« on: June 05, 2017, 06:27:06 am »
There is a wide range of what and how much folks carry.  I tend to carry about the same thing as I would backpacking except I restock food more frequently and can therefore carry very little of that.

I wrote a little article back in 2011 about my adventures in going lighter and lighter.  It includes packing list advice, but is biased toward the minimalist end of the scale, but I have actually gone lighter since I wrote the article.

I recommend taking a little less than you think you need, but either way you can either buy stuff or send stuff home along the way if on a long tour.

I also recommend thinking about your packing list and refining it before, during, and after each trip.

General Discussion / Re: What state is your favorite to ride in?
« on: June 05, 2017, 06:18:04 am »
I'd find it hard to pick one favorite.  Oregon is one of my favorites and I guess if I have to pick one right now it might be it.  That said Montana, Wyoming, Missouri, New Mexico, and Virginia were all nice.  Kansas had some of the nicest people and there were even beautiful green hills in the Flint Hills area.  There is some great riding in California as well.  The coast and also the Sierras offer great scenery and good riding.  The ride along the Lochsa River in Idaho was amazing too.

I am sure that there are a lot of other gems that I either didn't mention or have not yet discovered.

Routes / Re: Blue Ridge Parkway or TransAm?
« on: June 02, 2017, 08:17:19 am »
I really enjoy meeting the local small town folks along the way.  You will have less of that on the BRP.

Also the BRP often involves riding down long VERY steep grades to get to services.  While descending may be fun, riding back up in the morning isn't IMO.

Personally I think that the TA follows enough of the BRP to give a nice sampling.  I'd say ride the TA and save the BRP for a dedicated trip at some point in the future.

Routes / Re: Trans Am Company?
« on: June 02, 2017, 08:10:54 am »
Dear all,
As I will be heading out West from Astoria, Oregon on the 15th of June I was wondering if there are other people taking the trip to the East (also if you start later, maybe catch up?).
If you are interested in company, let me know :)
You will meet other folks along the way.  We made quite a few friends on the route.

We also read some journals of folks who planned to be on the trip the same time as us.  We corresponded with some of them a little before our trip.  It was fun when by chance we ran into some of them.

Gear Talk / Re: Bottles or Backpack with Water Bladder?
« on: June 02, 2017, 08:07:07 am »
Personally my preference is to use regular bike water bottles for drinking.  I use two bike bottles in cages on the frame, but supplement as needed with recycled sport drink or bottled water bottles carried in the bags or sometimes in a jersey pocket.  The ability to pick up or discard capacity on various sections is nice.

I did use a camelbak on one trip and it was ok.  I filled it with ice on hot days and it remained cool on my back all day even in 100 F heat.

I do sometimes carry a small ultralight backpack and at times and may carry some water bottles in that for days places where it is a long way to the next water.

At times I have also carried one water bladder, but I wouldn't take one with the maximum capacity that I might only need here and there, preferring to just use discardable bottles where extra capacity is needed.

If you're going on an AC route, I've never needed anything other than their paper maps.
Good point to bring up AC routes.  They do make it really easy to follow with their paper maps.  I never really needed anything else when on an AC route.  Still I did usually pick up a paper state map for each state as I went ( I discarded or gave them away as I left each state).  I did that mostly because I am sometimes inclined to go my own way for a while rather than stick to the AC route exclusively.

The paper state maps are also way better than the AC strip maps or a phone app for visualizing the big picture route wise.  One shortcoming of the AC maps is that you can go by stuff pretty closely and not know it due to the blinders that strip maps impose.  Having the state map solves that.

For me it depends on the trip, but usually I do not like having to rely on battery powered devices for all day navigation.  So I usually use paper maps and supplement with my phone mostly for in town directions or if lost to reorient myself.  The rest of the day I leave it turned off or at least put in a mode that uses less battery.

I have used a handheld GPS on one off road trip where there were lots of obscure turns and I had a good track file, but typically I have not done that.

General Discussion / Re: Canada+USA: Biggest accepted bill?
« on: May 29, 2017, 11:42:15 am »
A credit card is more secure and accepted nearly anywhere for any amount.
Many small town general stores frown on plastic especially for small purchases, so carrying some cash is essential IMO.  I tend to carry a limited amount of cash at any given time, sometimes it might get down to as little as $50 and I typically never carry more than a couple hundred.  I typically have it mostly in tens and twentys.

Sometimes I have stayed in campsites with honor boxes that allow no provision for making change so either having some small bills to make exact change or a checkbook is a good idea.  I pretty much never use checks in normal life, but on tour they can come in handy.  Some small town general stores actually prefer them to plastic, but I usually use cash there.

I really see no need to carry enough cash that bulk is a big issue even if it was in fives and tens and with tens and twentys I definitely can't imagine myself carrying enough that bulk or weight was a big problem.  In bigger towns you can either hit an ATM or get cash back with a credit/debit card purchase, so I never feel the need to carry enough cash for long periods.

General Discussion / Re: Bike Storage During Trip
« on: May 27, 2017, 07:35:32 am »
Most likely you will find Warm Showers hosts willing to store. Otherwise try bike shops.
I'd suggest the same.  Especially if it is short term storage it should be easy to find either a bike shop or a warmshowers host that can help.

Alternately if there is a bike club in the town you will be pausing in, they'd likely have a member who can help.

General Discussion / Re: Case for flying WITHIN airline sizes
« on: May 19, 2017, 11:40:54 am »
1. 6kg for a 3 week trip isn't particularly realistic when you are away for 3 weeks and leading a group
I have not found that length of trip makes much difference in what I carry.  I typically carry the same on a multi month trip as on a 10 day trip.  I went coast to coast with 6.4 kg of "everything else".  That was packing super minimal and I am not suggesting that you go that light, but there is a lot of room for more stuff between that and your limit.

I was not leading my (non group) trips though so I don't know what you need to carry as leader that you wouldn't otherwise take.

Also I can see where locale might be a factor, but the ST where I carried 6.4 kg of stuff isn't exactly loaded with frequent services.  Also I was prepared for the cold-ish temperatures of the ST in February.

2. Airlines are pretty strict and yes I do sneak the 1.5kg digital SLR into a smaller bag
You need to sneak it in?  I'd think that it would be well within the rules to take it in your personal item.

3. Maybe the toothpaste but you really can't source the things you realistically need and it's a bit of a waste if you do as you still need to bring it home and International airports outside the US and Europe are legendary in their ability to weigh baggage to incur extra charges
Still, I'd do this with as many things as you realistically can without adding too much cost.  Some things may be cheap enough to discard at the end of the trip.  If toothpaste is the only item that you can do this with you can at least do that if you need to.  It all adds up.

All very interesting and I have done this maybe 80 times, so if anyone can point me in the direction of a lighter bike box so that next time I visit the USA I have a spare 3 kg capacity to bring home the maple syrup I'd be really grateful.  ;)
Have you considered a cardboard box or a soft case?

I have a friend who uses a cardboard box specifically sized to fit his coupled bike.  He buys them specifically made for that purpose if I understood him correctly.  Also you could resize a box by cutting and taping a larger size.  All new bikes manage to get to the bike shop packed in a cardboard box.  Not sure how the weight compares to your case, but it might be worth considering.

I used a soft case on a couple trips and managed to keep the fully packed soft case including all my gear well under the 26 kg limit with a good bit heavier bike than your bike.  It had a shoulder strap that let me carry the whole deal pretty easily to get to the check in and from baggage claim.

26 kg really is a pretty generous allowance for anyone who is willing to pack carefully with minimizing weight as a factor in all packing decisions.

General Discussion / Re: Case for flying WITHIN airline sizes
« on: May 19, 2017, 06:50:28 am »
12kg EVERYTHING else
A few suggestions...
1. Consider packing lighter for the everything else.  I have not had my everything else not be less than 12kg for a long time.  These days it has been closer to 6 kg for me.  So you should be able to get down below 12kg without even getting into the weight weenie category.
2. While the 26kg limit includes the carry on you can typically take a personal item.  You could carry a very small bag backpack as a personal item with a couple kg in it.
3. You might look at whether there are any items in your everything else category that you can buy when you arrive.
4. If you are close to weight, you might wear some of your heavier clothing to save that last kg or so.

Hello everyone:

It was suggested to me that I post on here to try get a question answered or maybe be pointed in the right direction. I biked the TransAm last summer with my boyfriend and I was hoping to figure out if I was the first Black woman to do so. If I'm not, I would like to know who was or if there's a way to find this information. I, of course, spoke to Greg Siple, the now-retired Historian of ACA but he was unfortunately unable to confirm, and the Adventure Cycling office does not/has not previously noted this kind of demographic information.

That said, does anyone know of any resource to help me find this information? Or does anyone happen to personally know another Black woman that has completed the TransAm or another cross country trail? Thanks in advance everyone! Feel free to also reach me via e-mail at

First congrats on your ride.

It is always hard to determine much about who (or how many) have done the TA or other routes.  That said, I'd be surprised if you were the first black woman to do the route.  A lot of folks have ridden the route over approximately the last 40 years, so it seems likely that most demographics have been represented at some point.  Many of those folks just did the ride with no public journal or other available record of their ride.

You might try asking on the forums.  There are a lot of folks there that follow or have read many TA journals.

If I stumble across any info I'll let you know.

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