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Messages - tsteven4

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Routes / Re: A California Tour (Pleasanton CA to Mono Lake CA)
« on: January 23, 2012, 07:35:32 pm »
Go Tim.  Sonora Pass is one of my favorite rides in CA.  Having done it both ways (loaded/unloaded) and both directions I can say an advantage to being loaded is your front wheel stays on the pavement!  You will notice the contrasts between the Sierras and the Rockies on your upcoming ride.

Fred, I think the west side is the steepest, 26%.  I seem to recall the east side was ONLY 23%.

See, the over and back is a KICK!  My gearing advice would be ~22/24 front with a ~30/32 rear cog.

P.S. with respect to your statement "But then I think about what Utah & Colorado will be like.", UT and CO will be quite a bit easier.

General Discussion / Re: Crossing Canadian Border
« on: January 16, 2012, 01:40:42 pm »
The only trouble I had was coming back into the US from Canada in Blaine, WA.  We were in line with the cars, close to the front, when someone suggested we could go to the building beside the road and get through with our bikes.  Big mistake.  Agents appeared from the shadows and would not let us return to the inspection line.  They absolutely would not listen to anything we said.  We were forced to wait inside for over an hour as darkness approached.  No bathrooms were available.  Cell phone use was not allowed.  When we finally got to the front of the line inside the agent asked why we were in the line!  Welcome home indeed.

General Discussion / Re: hip pain
« on: September 30, 2011, 07:46:06 pm »
My wife had two total hip replacements this year.

In her case riding was nearly pain free before the surgery, but she had difficulty mounting and dismounting.  The pain was such that we hadn't been able to hike for a few years before the surgery.  She would have sudden pains that would cause her to scream when rolling over in bed.  It was difficult for her to get in and out of the shower, carry heavy items, or walk up and down stairs.  The weight of a normal pair of shoes would cause her hip pain when walking.

Before the first surgery the surgeon said he would allow her to ride without restrictions 3 months after surgery, but she would not be able to do our usual 50-60 mile training rides that include 5000-6000ft of climbing until 6 months after surgery.  The reason for the extra 3 months was because it was anticipated that she would not be strong enough.

After the first surgery the surgeon allowed her back on the bike for limited riding about 1 month after surgery.  She was not allowed to ride with cleats.  At 3 months and 3 days we did one of our previously described rides.

The second surgery was 3 months and 1 week after the first.

After the second surgery the surgeon allowed her back on bike after 3 and a half weeks.  At 2 months and 2 days we did one of our previously described rides, and have continued to do one every week thereafter.

I think her experience is on the extremely good side, perhaps 1 in 1000 cases or better.  She was in the hospital two nights for the first surgery, and one for the second.  The nurse stated she had NEVER seen a THR go home in one night.   My wife would advise you to get in the best shape possible before surgery.  Her hips were pain free immediately after surgery.  Her recovery involved getting the muscles nearby to feel and function normally again.  PT was invaluable.  She still is working through muscle stiffness.

Colorado / Re: Dolores to Pueblo CO
« on: September 26, 2011, 08:15:10 pm »
Nothing bad can be said about Lizard Head Pass or Wolf Creek Pass(10,850), I just think the Million Dollar Highway edges them out.  All three are quite nice.   I agree that May is a bit early, but I think it will be doable, and we are talking about a U.S. Marine.

Here are some records for the state of Colorado:
Highest Average Annual Precipitation         45.35                       Wolf Creek Pass 1 E
Record Maximum Winter Snowfall               807.0         1978-79       Wolf Creek Pass 1 E
Highest Average Annual Snowfall              434.8                       Wolf Creek Pass 1 E

Good call on cedar breaks valygrl, almost 10,600.  A deviation from the Western Express may be required, the road may not be open.

Also note that Red Mountain Pass is not 8,970 as I stated before and the CO bicycling map erroneously shows, it is 11,018.

Tim you can see photos of all three of these variations here:

Colorado / Re: Dolores to Pueblo CO
« on: September 24, 2011, 09:41:11 am »

How bad was the roads from Dolores CO to Pubelo CO taking route 550 to the 50 (Dolores, Montrose, Poncha City and Pueblo)?

Those are some mighty fine roads!  I might be biased, I live in CO.  May is a bit early, but those passes should be open unless you are very unlucky with a late storm.

I think your route goes over Molas Divide (10,910), Coal Bank Pass (10,640), and Red Mountain Pass(8,97011,018) on US550 instead of Lizard Head Pass(10,222) and Dallas Divide(8,970) on CO145 and CO62.  The Western Express Route goes through Dolores to Pueblo, and takes CO145/CO62.  The Great Parks Route goes through Dolores to Durango.  ACA doesn't have a route from Durango to Ridgway were CO62 and US550 join, but this section of US550 is some mighty fine riding.  Either CO145/CO62 or  US550 to Ridgway are good choices, I have done both multiple times.  Its a bit of a toss up but I think I would prefer US550.  On either of these branches traffic is low, with the exception of moderate traffic from Cortez to Durango and the first 15 miles or so north of Durango, and a 9 mile section west of Telluride.  Another advantage of the US550 branch is that you take a side trip to Mesa Verde National park.  It is a bit of a chug up into the park (but nothing compared to all those passes), but I think it is well worth it to spend a day touring some of the cave dwellings.

North of Ridgway traffic is moderate until just before Montrose, then high in town.  This is my least favorite part of your route in CO, but it is ok.  Traffic becomes low again after Montrose through Poncha Springs.  I haven't ridden the section east of Poncha Springs.  The TransAm goes through Pueblo, Canon City and Parkdale, with moderate traffic around Canon City.  The Western Express goes south of Canon City through Silver Cliff and Westcliffe. The Western Express route looks a bit less busy around here, traffic is denoted as low or very low.

You can see traffic volumes on the Colorado Bicycling and Scenic Byways map here:  Note in the fine print on that page that they will send you a paper copy.

You can see the ACA routes here:  The Web links are a bit slow but you may like that option best, you can select google maps as the background.  I won't send you a paper copy, you but the ACA will for a few $.

I would expect cold nights in the mountains.  For example in Silverton the average low for May is 26 deg F, the average May snowfall is 4", average snow depth 0".  You can see climate history here:

Happy Trails,

Routes / Re: Help in knowing what routes to consider
« on: September 21, 2011, 08:00:10 pm »
check out detailed online maps of ACA routes here:
After you pick a route order the real maps here:
To get the most recent version don't order the maps too far ahead of time.

General Discussion / Re: Rain gear on self contained long distance touring?
« on: September 21, 2011, 07:56:44 pm »
Isn't the purpose of bringing rain gear is to make sure it doesn't rain?  And if it fulfills that purpose isn't it worth carrying?

But seriously, as others have said rain gear is good for warmth, especially in the wind, even when not raining. I nearly always bring a rain jacket with hood and pants.   I have given up on waterproof over mitts (they needed drains) and waterproof booties.  If I expect lots of rain I will bring waterproof socks, but I usually leave these behind.  In the west you could be a long ways from any kind of shelter, so planning to sit out the rain could be problematic.  My experience with summer touring in the west is that we may not hit much rain, but in the mountains we usually hit morning  temperatures from 25 to 40 degrees and the extra warmth and wind protection of the rain gear is nice if not critical.  On the coast brightly colored rain gear could save your life due to better visibility in the fog.

It has to be VERY warm, downright tropical, for one to be comfortable in the rain with no rain gear

I have some experience in Hawaii with a rain storm, and it wasn't tropical enough to stop shivering without clothing.  However, with synthetic or wool clothing (and no cotton) you could get by.  And with rain gear your clothes won't be all wet.

its not very joyful to ride in full rain gear
I do loathe riding up hill with rain gear.  You tend to either get wet from the inside or the outside.

Routes / Re: Western Express - Nevada & Utah
« on: August 31, 2011, 08:05:19 pm »
It can be done self supported, we did it in July 2003.  Count on some 85 mile days.  I would recommend carrying water as opposed to filtering it.  I recall days with no apparent natural water sources and no human settlements between towns that were ~85 miles apart.  Our strategy was to ride very early, rolling between 3am and 5am and try to finish by noon.  It hit 115 degrees at Hite, UT.  A better strategy would be to avoid July and August.  I only recall one campground on the route in Nevada east of Fallon, and while you could probably stay just about anywhere, carrying enough water for an overnight would be a daunting task.  In Nevada we stayed in motels which generally had AC, slept in the afternoon, woke up for dinner, and then slept some more.  Most motels are quite reasonable in Nevada.  We carried up to 2 gallons of water each which was sufficient.  Most cyclist we met had run out of water.  You should be self sufficient, some of the roads, e.g. between Milford and Baker, have very little traffic and other cyclist told us most people wouldn't stop.

It is a very beautiful route, we enjoyed it immensely.

Routes / Re: Shelf life of A.C.A. maps
« on: August 23, 2011, 08:12:58 pm »
You can use online versions of the maps I made for planning at  There are google earth versions, online web versions, and google maps versions.  Most of the google maps versions violate google limits on the number of waypoints so the waypoint/route panel is likely to have compromised operation.  The online web versions work well but are slow.  I do not recommend any of these online maps for on route navigation, I would recommend the paper maps.  I have used a number of the old paper maps without too much problem, but I do mark them up with the updates before I leave home.  On the other hand if the online maps meet your planning needs then you could delay your purchase until closer to your departure.

Rocky Mountain / Re: Missoula, MT to Helena, MT Route Suggestions?
« on: August 21, 2011, 09:14:51 am »
I am not from Montana, but we left the great parks route at the junction of 83 and 200 (south of seeley lake) and took 200 east through Ovando (great breakfast at the stray bullet cafe).  At the junction of 200 and 141 we joined the double divide route staying on 200 through Lincoln.  At the junction with the Flesher pass road we left 200 and road over the pass, following the double divide route to Helena.  I would recommend this route.

You can see the double divide route here:
and the great parks route here:

Between them they you can get from Missoula to Helena.

Gear Talk / Re: Your Portable Repair Kit - What's Inside?!
« on: August 10, 2011, 07:48:57 pm »
Was that with anything in recent decades where the left pedal is left-hand threaded?
The pedals were Shimano PD-M770 which I bought in 2009, crank (Shimano FC-M569) threads were in good shape, pedals were new, all threads cleaned and greased before installation.  Left hand pedal has left hand threads, right hand pedal has right hand threads (I have never seen any other pedal thread arrangement, or cranks that would match anything else).  The combination has been fine since I torqued it.

Gear Talk / Re: Your Portable Repair Kit - What's Inside?!
« on: August 10, 2011, 08:50:42 am »
Many pedals now have a hole for a 6mm allen wrench.  Check yours and see if yours have it.
Thanks for the idea, I would love to lighten the toolkit a bit.  Unfortunately the situation is actually worse than I stated.  My pedals have no flats and require an 8mm allen key.  My wifes pedals only have flats.  So we have to take a big allen key and a short pedal wrench.

It can't apply as much torque as a real pedal wrench, but there's no need to get pedals very tight since precession keeps them from loosening as you ride.
Despite the thread arrangement I have had pedals loosen up.  A nice thing about the 8mm hex hole is that you can use a torque wrench instead of an allen wrench (at home).  Shimano specifies a torque of 35-55N-m (26-41ft-lbs), which I consider to be fairly tight.

Gear Talk / Re: Your Portable Repair Kit - What's Inside?!
« on: August 09, 2011, 08:32:29 pm »
I have always carried spokes, and broken quite a few.  As whittierider  mentioned it takes a bunch of heavy tools to remove a cogset, which is necessary to replace a spoke on the drive side of the rear wheel.  A video is at  In the old days it was worse with a wide variety of freewheel removal tools and a not insignificant chance the freewheel would break in the attempt.  But in these modern times I carry some kevlar spokes (fiber fix).  These may be the best thing ever, since I started carrying them I haven't had a spoke break, yet alone one on the drive side of the rear wheel.  They are also work for both sides of the rear wheel and the front wheel, which probably all require different length spokes (so 2 spokes may not cover the 3 lengths you might need.)

I wouldn't carry a chain, but I carry and have used a spare master link that is appropriate for your chain.  I would skip the spare quick release.  I carry and have used spare bolts when some holding the rack jiggled out and were lost.  I have carried a little tube of blue locktite ever since, which may be an over reaction.  I definitely use the locktite when installing the rack.  Personally I don't carry spare cables, but I would recommend a careful inspection before you leave, especially of the brake cable near the fat end in the levers.  Look for broken strands.  Also check any cable stops in the brake system, I have had one disintegrate which leads to a total failure of that brake.  

Some judgement on what to take is required, the answer varies depending no your tour location and the ease of getting new parts.

Ahh, I almost forgot, some latex gloves for messing with the chain.

I would add chain lube to the list.

I know you are not flying, but if you were you would need a pedal wrench, I use a short one as a compromise.

Gear Talk / Re: "SKS" Fenders??
« on: August 06, 2011, 12:11:42 pm »
I agree with happyriding that you have an extreme amount of clearance.  But I don't necessarily agree that you shouldn't be able to see daylight, or that you have too much clearance.  Here is what I would consider to decide:

More clearance is good for adverse conditions when mud/sand/dirt sticks to the tires and rubs between the tire and fender.  The amount of mud that can stick to a tire is about limitless, but at some point it doesn't matter because it is hitting other things like the chain stays.  More clearance is also good if you decide to throw on some bigger tires, for example some knobbies for off road touring or just some really fat ones for crappy roads like you might find in Russia.

In my experience there are two problems brought about by too much clearance.  The first is an overlap between your toe and the fender.  This usually happens on smaller frames with 700c wheels, but it might be an issue with your current setup.  At very low speeds you can turn the handlebars enough that the tire passes by your toe.  The fender may hit your toe.  This is not desirable, but with an experienced rider an overlap isn't the end of the world either.  The second problem is an issue with shipping.  We usually ship the bikes with the rear fender on, and it makes the bike longer which can be an issue with the box.  We loosen the stays and slide the fender towards the tire to mitigate this.  With the style of endcaps you have you might be limited in how much you can do this.  Also, with the rear fender far from the tire it can get caught on the box when you put it in and you can break the fender.  While I have never experienced it a third problem could be interference between the fender and the straddle cable on the brakes.  Note that changing the length of the straddle cable will change the mechanical advantage of the brakes, so it isn't necessarily something you want to do to create more clearance.

Time to get that thing on the road!  Happy Trails.

Gear Talk / Re: "SKS" Fenders??
« on: August 01, 2011, 06:47:23 pm »
My advice would be to see how the fender fits, in the intended position with the front under the head tube i.e. with the fork crown fitting against the rear of the fork, without the stays attached at all.  If it looks good proceed.

Traditionally the "endcap" #1 was much simpler and really was a just a cap that slid on the end of the stay after you cut it to length. The disadvantage of the traditional cap is that it could get knocked off and lost.  An advantage was that you could slide the fender towards the wheel without any limitation from the endcap (although you had to cut down the stays anyway so they don't hit things like your leg and hurt you).  You might be able to assemble the fender without the endcaps at all before cutting the stays and make sure you are happy with the fit.  Make sure you route the stay outside of the bridge on the fender.  Then mark, cut and reassemble with the end caps.  I don't have any experience with these particular end caps, I am just looking at the instructions. 

On every pair of fenders I have ever mounted I had to cut all the stays to length.  This is normal.  I don't find the sentence you mentioned in the instructions here:

Alternatively, just take it to your LBS.  After nearly 40 years of working on my own bike I take this route more and more!  They know exactly what they are doing, they can do it very quickly without any mis-steps, and they have the touch (or a torque wrench for more complicated things) to get it all tightened up right.  I am lucky enough to live near

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