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Messages - staehpj1

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Routes / Re: Current aerial shots of Tioga Pass snow removal.
« on: May 13, 2017, 09:07:44 am »
Yosemite N.P. road status web page -

Tioga Pass is unlikely to open before mid to late June.
You are probably more familiar with the situation there than I am, but I would have guessed sometime in July given this year's snowpack.

For those doing the TA, McKenzie Pass is looking like it may be later than usual as well.  They are plowing it, but say it might be July before it opens.  Since it is typically open to bikes a week or two sooner, cyclists may be able to ride it before it is open to cars (late June?).   Alternately Santiam Pass is an alternate option, but it is a shame to miss McKenzie Pass.

To insert some more reality for those unfamiliar with weather in the western mountains, it is apparently snowing on McKenzie Pass now and snow is likely through Tuesday.  Overnight lows on Tioga Pass this week are still below freezing and more fresh snow is always possible there.

Gear Talk / Re: front rack questions
« on: May 07, 2017, 07:26:57 am »
I have had good luck with house brand Blackburn low rider clones from Nashbar or Performance.  I found them to be light, inexpensive, and quite adequate.  Our group of three used them on the Trans America fully loaded, I used them on other loaded tours.  Later as I went lighter I used only front panniers with them.  These days I have been going ultralight and have not used panniers at all so the low riders have been left home lately.

Hi! Yea, the plan is to do the trip in approx 1 month... but I could extend it to 5 weeks if needed...
I plan on getting down to Mission Beach & then relax somewhere near San Diego for a few days, before packing up & flying home!

I suppose if I take lots of detours, the time & miles will add up very quickly.....
Dublin Dave.
One thing to consider is that if you want to use the state park hiker biker sites (which I recommend) it will to some degree dictate your choices of how long your days are.  So you may need to do longer or shorter days than you prefer to hit a state park at the end of the day.  That said averaging 60 miles per day works out well in my experience there.

FWIW, if I was going to do the PCH again I might skip Washington state.  I took the ferry from Seattle and rode the ACA route in Washington from Bremerton and while the ferry ride was nice Washington was far and away my least favorite part of the tour.  So, especially if you are limited on time, maybe consider starting in Astoria.  Oregon and Northern California were awesome in my opinion.  On the PCH you really don't need to have a super firm end point.  If you get close to running out of time you can typically hop on a regional bus to get to the town you want to end up at.  Also, that works to either lengthen or shorten your tour.

I found the route interesting enough that I didn't feel much need to do many detours.

General Discussion / Re: Bike touring safety... USA...
« on: May 04, 2017, 07:39:11 am »
Yes I come from England....but have spent maybe 18 months cycling about half of the States, including up the Atlantic Coast, up the Rockies from Salt Lake city to Vancover, down the pacific Coast on a 7 month tour. As a volunteer leader for CTC Cycling Holidays (akin to the holidays offered by ACA) I have led 5, 3 week tours in Oregon, Yellowstone, Washington/Carolina, New England and Colorado, so guess I do know what I mean.

Shoulders are on the more minor roads as well in the States, (not just major roads) more prevalent on the west than east coast. They are also good to ride in nearly all cases. The main issue is debris. The shoulders are often wide. (In the UK we have few shoulders)
Interstates can also be ridden though only when an alternative isn't available. We had to use one in Oregon last year but i wouldn't recommend it.

Americans who are only used to American roads are unaware of just how good the riding is in the USA compared with the rest of the world snd i've listed some of the reasons. The main point I make is that the average american driver is supremely courteous. I could go on and on about how good the States are......
Interesting to hear your take on this.   I agree that on my tours I found a rideable shoulder more often than not.  It does vary with the location, but I have not usually found it hard to find nice rideable roads in most of the US.

On courteous drivers...  Again it varies with the location, but I have actually found that I was surprisingly often annoyed at how timid some of the drivers were about passing.  Some hang back behind and refuse to pass unless they can completely leave their lane and cross the double yellow line with all 4 wheels.  Personally I figure that in most cases giving me 3' of clearance is adequate and I prefer that cars don't make a big show of swinging super wide around me.  I really hate it when they pass super wide and annoy or scare drivers coming the other way.

As far as interstates go...  I actually like to ride on the interstate across some of the more desolate parts of the American West.  My first choice is fairly often roads with the US designation, like US 90.  I do like to mix it up with some small rural roads, some US highways and even some interstate depending on the area.

FWIW, the coldest I've slept outdoors is 20F, and every time it got that cold I was happy to have a mummy.
I too found that for me a mummy bag has worked out better than a quilt.  If I use a quilt it needs to be wide or have some means of keeping it in place and the draft out (straps, skirt, etc).  As a result it winds up being as heavy (or heavier) than my 17 ounce Mountain Hardwear Phantom 45.  When I want it to be like a quilt I zip it open and use it like one.  When I want maximum warmth I zip it up and pull the hood drawstring to leave only a small opening to breathe through.  Despite being a nominal 45 F bag it has served me well down into the teens F.

I have in recent years switched to using a bivy on most trips.  That has me wondering if a quilt might work well with a bivy, since the bivy would keep the edges tucked and sealed when in the bivy.  I have not bothered to experiment with that though since i love my Phantom 45 and there just isn't much weight to be saved when it is just over a pound.

Also I wonder why you would use a full closed liner with a quilt.  Wouldn't an open bottomed liner have any of the same advantages or disadvantages the quilt has?  That or an outer cover like a bivy.

BTW, the bivies I am referring to are not the tiny tent type withe sturdy materials, hoops, and what not.  I prefer the ones that are just an envelope (5-7 ounces).  If I am going to go with a bivy that is a lot heavier than that I will go to a regular light weight tent.

I find a setup like I use infinitely variable.  I can sleep on top of the whole rig.  Then as it gets cooler and breezier can progressively, sleep under the zipped open sleeping bag (maybe with an arm or leg out), get in and zip the bag, climb in the bivy, pull up he bag's hood, and then draw the drawstring tight.

I also adjust what I wear in the bag and sometimes pile any extra clothes on top of me for extra warmth.  I also find a pair of very warm, dry, loose fitting socks a must in cold weather.

General Discussion / Re: Bike touring safety... USA...
« on: April 28, 2017, 07:49:14 am »
I feel pretty safe on tour.  Overall the biggest risk is vehicular accident and I don't rate that as any higher for touring than riding around town at home.

Some of how risky it all is would depend on where you tour and what choices you make.  I would say that for me it is a 9.5 and the few times there was some worry it might have happened around town at home or when traveling by car almost as easily.  I consider touring to be a pretty safe activity.

It's a matter of guessing the weather months in advance, of course.  If I had to guess, figure on getting across Idaho by the end of September, and back it up by how long you think it'll take you to get there.  Otherwise, you might want to reverse the direction of your trip and go from west to east and plan on getting to Pueblo, CO by the end of September.  If that's still too early, how about the Southern Tier?

Either way, the plains are going to be hot in July and August.
Pat said about what I would say, so I'll just second that.

Mid May is prime time to head west on the TransAm.  The gaps in the Appalachians in the east are already clear, and the Rocky passes will be clear by the time you get there.  Missouri and Kansas may be hot, or maybe not.  You may have a few chilly nights in Virginia and Kentucky, and will probably have a few chilly nights in the Rockies; that's part of the adventure.

I put that bit in about Idaho not knowing when you were going to start; if you started in, say, August, you might have had a good chance of snow in the Rockies' passes.  Unless you're averaging 25-30 miles per day, that should not be a concern.
Not sure I'd call it prime time, but yeah certainly OK.  Since I hate hot weather, I might be inclined to use a bit earlier start date if starting in the East, but if mid-may was when I had the time I would go then.

Unless told otherwise, when folks ask this kind of question I assume 50-70 mile average, so I am thinking of that range when I comment.  If you are doing especially long or short mileage you may need to adjust the dates accordingly.

General Discussion / Re: Is touring the Pacific Coast in July safe?
« on: April 17, 2017, 07:33:37 am »
Do you think this route is safe?
Yes, but do have bright colored clothing for the inevitable fog that seems to roll in or out at seemingly random times of day.  The PCH is a great ride IMO and I highly recommend it, at least the portions I have done.  I did the parts between Seattle and San Luis Obispo and loved the Oregon and California portions.  I was less crazy about the Washington portion and suspect I would also be that way about the most Southern part, but I would do them if I wanted to say I completed the whole coast.

I really didn't give the traffic that much thought before going and still wouldn't be concerned much about it after having ridden the coast.

Yes, do it!
I agree.  It is a wonderful ride.  Be careful, but don't obsess over the possible risks, they are no worse than riding pretty much anywhere else I have toured.  I see the rental RVs as a negative, but feel it is largely offset by the fact that folks are very used to seeing bicyclists on this very popular route.

If you really want to minimize the vacation traffic negatives, going after labor day helps, but I wouldn't skip the route if July is the only time you can go.

How would you guys rate the West Coast in terms of bike safety and bike friendly compared to other places in the US and in the world?

I find that the more used to seeing cyclists the local drivers are the safer it is.  By that metric the Pacific Coast is pretty safe.

Personally I always figured that you safer riding on tour than riding around home as long as you live in either a city or a suburb.

Does GPS work when phone is in airplane mode (android)? I've read several articles/blogs and there doesn't seem to be a consistent answer.
I can't say for sure about all phones, but I have done just that with a previous android phone as well as with my android current phone.  You may or may not need to specifically turn on location services.

It always puzzled me that folks suddenly start talking about mirrors for a tour.  Whether you do or don't use one at home I really don't get why a tour would be different.  Personally I rely more on my ears to monitor traffic from behind.  The majority of my riding on tour is on the open road with very few in town miles.  On the open road it is easy to hear approaching traffic.  So I figure that if anything I am less likely to use a mirror on tour.

Oh and before someone mentions how quiet electric cars are, I say that it is the tire noise that you hear not the engine so gasoline, electric or hybrid make little difference on the open road.  In a parking lot or other low speed situations that can be different, but those are not typically overtaking situations.

I don't think either is a necessity, but a tail light is good idea for tunnels, foggy days, or if you will ride in twilight or at dawn.  I usually take a little light weight blinkie, typically picked up for $5-6 on sale at Performance.

If you use a mirror for your riding around home then I'd use one on tour.  I personally see no reason to do differently just because it is a tour or because of anything about that specific route though.  I don't use one at all myself.

General Discussion / Re: Bike Safety
« on: March 31, 2017, 07:59:13 am »
Almost everyone I have met on tour uses a light cable lock combined with a lot of care about where they leave their bikes unattended.  A few go with no lock, and ever fewer carry a big heavy lock like you would use in a major city.

I have gone with a very light cable lock on most tours, but have also gone with no lock at all.  In places I perceive as high risk I don't let the bike out of my sight.  I seldom stay in cities or even large towns preferring to avoid larger cities in favor of rural small towns.  In rare cases where I have stayed in cities I usually just got a room.  I have wheeled my bike up and down the aisles at walmarts or grocery stores a few times where I thought the risk especially high.  I have also taken it inside and parked it in the front of the store a couple times.  In small town general stores or diners it is often leaned against the front of the building often not locked.

Many of the towns I stop in have populations with two digits and folks don't lock their houses or cars.  I never bother to lock in places like that.  I start to consider it a "big city" when the population has a comma in it :)  At that point I may get more serious about locking or watching the bike.

It helps to ride a bike and use gear that you can easily afford to replace.  That reduces the worry greatly.  The very worst case I'd be delayed a few days assembling new gear or having it shipped from home on a long tour or maybe ending a short tour.  With some minimal attention I think it highly likely I will never have to do either due to a bike theft.

It also helps that I am carrying mostly dirty clothes and used camping gear, on a relatively inexpensive bike, and a minimal amount of those.

Bike friendly cities are the worst since there is usually an established cottage industry of bike theft.  Use great care there.

Thank you for your response. I am trying to record my tour to show to others via blog.
Do the people following your tour really care exactly what roads you use?  If not the tracking may not really add much useful info.  I found that my friends and family were fine with a short text entry each day saying where I was staying, how far I rode, and mentioning any interesting points or events along the way.  They especially like it if I add some pictures and interesting anecdotes now and then.

Otherwise I kind of like mapmyride when I want more data.  For me that is more for my daily rides around home, not my tours.  Great_egret is spot on about airplane mode with location services on.  That really extends battery life, especially in remote areas where battery is used up searching for a cell signal.

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