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Messages - Bclayden

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Gear Talk / Re: Can I use a carbon road bike for ultralight touring
« on: January 15, 2018, 09:19:58 pm »
I've toured extensively with an off-the-shelf Trek Madone road bike.  Upgraded the wheelset from Bontrager to Mavic but otherwise stock.  I travel super light CC style with one medium saddle bag and a 2 Liter Camelback backpack....that's it.  It's a good setup for covering high mileage. Bike has over 30,000 miles with no problems.  Traveling with heavy panniers and other weight might be a bit much for my lightweight rig however.

In June/July it’s light enough to begin riding at 5-530am. I’m a big fan of this as 5am starts are a huge advantage with little to no traffic, for the first few hours in the western states, and the wind and possible severe weather gets cranked up after noon when you will likely be finished for the day or nearly finished. As mentioned you can avoid the hottest part of the day this way too. The only disadvantage with the 5am starts is most small towns won’t have a place to grab a hot breakfast this early.  I’ve resorted to leftover cold pizza for many breakfasts...and if you’re a coffee drinker bring your own good coffee. Motels always have a coffee maker but their coffee is crap.

Thanks for the input all.  I completed the ride in September and never joined the Trans Am until I reached Jamestown, VA at which point there were perhaps 15 Trans Am miles remaining til Yorktown. 

The route I took from Louisville-Lexington, KY worked out well.  Generally...Aiken Rd, Benson Pike to Frankfurt then McCracken Pike to Versailles, around the south end of Blue Grass Airport to Lexington. 

The rest of the journey's route was equally Home Brewed with only one disappointment.... Logan, WV is in a Dry County. A cold beer always a nice reward after a long day on the saddle but not in Logan. A sympathetic hotel employee offered me some moonshine but I passed. And I thought Utah might be a challenge to find a cold beer but it's not..did not expect it in WV.

Thanks again and happy trails.


General Discussion / Re: Absolute necessities?
« on: November 18, 2017, 08:48:32 am »
I concur...if one is good at maps GPS is a crutch, in my opinion, and much of the adventure is lost when the mapping is done for you. For me a big part of the process is the planning at home, with maps and internet resources, to build a good route. Turn cues are noted on paper, laminated, and taped to the Bike frame for reference. The planning process helps to simulate the ride beforehand and much of the usual hazards...narrow shoulders, busy roads, gravel roads,...can be avoided this way.

Yes, occasionally road names or expected turns don’t match my notes and I’m forced to ask for some local guidance or go with the gut but that’s all part of the adventure.

I’ve been naving this way for years...even completed a US crossing in September...CA-VA (<10% ACA routes, the rest home brewed) and this technique works  great, weatherproof and doesn’t require batteries. This still works....even in the 21st century!

GPS is a good tool for most but I wouldn’t say one is absolutely necessary.

Cycling with a passport? That sounds lame.

Have things changed at Fort Hunter Ligget?  I’ve cycled through the fort on Jolon Rd/N-F Rd many times and have never seen the security gate manned. I don’t go onto the central base proper, however, just pass through.

The last time I was there was in June, 2017 and many times before that.

General Discussion / Re: What state is your favorite to ride in?
« on: September 24, 2017, 10:32:40 am »
I know this is not everyone's cup of tea but I discovered that by flying a small US flag from my saddlebag I gave myself, or it appeared so, an advantage. Good 'ol Boys in trucks always gave me a wide berth and I crossed the country Coast-to-Coast trough 12 states and some very diverse parts  of US and not once had even a horn blasted at me. No flying beer cans or nasty taunts to be sure. All very mellow. The flag is neutral and I'm not making a political statement, just a friendly gesture.

Maybe I was lucky but the flag, if you are into it, can't hurt....especially in the Red Neck states...which, let's face it, are most of them not on the coasts.

Routes / Re: Western Express EB start end of this month
« on: September 18, 2017, 07:12:16 pm »
WE eastbound has some big climbs but nothing terribly steep. Carson Pass is a grind at about 6% for a long day. Sacramento-Woodfords took me 10 hours.  My log says 122 miles and climbed 10,000' that day.  Carson Pass is not 10,000' high but there is some up and down along the way that adds up. 

Once in Nevada the climbs are much shorter and way more mellow.  Still lots of climbing across the Basin and Range though. You might climb 3 passes in a day but I would say 3-4% grades on average.  NV passes are the 7000' variety but you're in high desert so valleys are 4-5000'. I didn't find it difficult at all.

I left the WE at the Utah border so I can't help you with Colorado. 

Routes / Re: Another way to cope with dogs
« on: July 16, 2017, 02:46:31 pm »
turn off the headlight,
Do you ride at night?

Umm, no.  That would be unsafe. Let me you ask this...when you're driving your car, day or night, who do you notice coming toward you first..the cyclists with or without the bright headlight?

Routes / Re: Another way to cope with dogs
« on: July 15, 2017, 08:19:02 pm »
Just completed an Eastern Kentucky, Southern West Virginia crossing (not on any of the Trans Am route) and I had quite a few dog encounters but nothing gnarly. The trick is to see them before they see you. Learned to scan the front yard for any dog that might be near the road, turn off the headlight, never freewheeling as the clicky-clack would be a dead giveaway, picked up speed and always beat the dog to the end of his property. In a dozen or so dog races I did get caught on a steep uphill once. In my experience the KY dogs are just another element like weather and traffic and wind....Not ideal but part of the adventure.

General Discussion / Re: What state is your favorite to ride in?
« on: June 08, 2017, 08:49:39 pm »
They're all one way or another.  I've toured in 30 states so far and sure, the spectacular scenery of the West, New England and its history, the vast countyside of the Plains, is all good, but one of my favorites is, perhaps surprisingly, Nebraska. During a Coast-to-Coast ride I had low expectations for NE.  After 5 days crossing the entire width of the state I didn't want it to end. Plenty of Friendly folks and quality country roads. Nebraska not likely to be on the bucket list for many but I will be back.

I have noticed road maintenance and quality varies quite dramatically from state to state. In my experience NJ and CA (where I live) are about the worst. KY is pretty good,  Hawaii about the best I've seen outside of Europe.  A discussion about states (or counties, as they vary also) and the quality of the road might be good for another topic.

Routes / Current aerial shots of Tioga Pass snow removal.
« on: May 12, 2017, 09:22:50 am »
Planning a Sierra Nevada crossing this spring? You might need to wait a bit longer than usual. Here's a great vid and fly past of Tioga Pass Rd from east to west showing a relatively current situation. Looks like a lot of work still to be done. 50' snow drifts, etc. Tioga Pass tops out at about 10,000'.

General Discussion / Re: Arriving by Amtrak
« on: May 11, 2017, 12:28:06 am »
I travelled on the California Zephyr to return from a Sacramento-SLC ride with the bike, in a box, checked into the Amtrak baggage. No other luggage. All worked fine except for the Reno Police checking on me during the short layover there. They asked why I was... travelling alone, with no bags, last minute one-way cash ticket, etc. Cops said I fit the profile for running drugs and weapons across country. "You rode your bicycle, alone, from Sacramento to Salt Lake City?" Cop was skeptical...Then I showed him my epic farmer tan.

I live along this route (Santa Cruz, CA) and ride up and down the coast often. Low visibility is a way of life during the summer fog season. I always use both a flashing headlight so cars ahead see me coming and taillight for the texting driver coming up behind. There are no guarantees but I'm one for reducing risk as much as possible.

Most of your route is rural of course but you will be spending time in congested areas with some heavy traffic during commute times of day.  Lots of lights are a good thing.

For years I've used the drop down handlebar mirror mentioned. It eventually becomes part of your scan and gives you good situational awareness but not much for detail. You can't really spend time staring at it because you must take your eyes off the road. Only a quick glance. It's an I--see-something-big-coming-but-can't-identify-it-exactly sort of thing. Also, if you sweat a lot, as I do, it will require a regular wipe-down. And like any mirror is only effective if you're looking at it.

General Discussion / Re: Best way to ship bike to hawaii
« on: April 13, 2017, 06:01:10 pm »
Have you checked out  They have contracted rates with FedEx that should be cheaper than doing it yourself. They usually ship FedEx Ground so I'm not sure how they would handle your request. I have used Bikeflights on the mainland and can recommend them.

You can always rent a bike in Hilo. Many visitors do this. Hilo is a college town and therefore has a few bike shops. 2 that I am familiar with are Mid Pacific Wheels and Hilo Bike Hub.  I would suggest talking to Mid Pacific first. Also, if you ship your bike they might be able to accept the shipment...and for a fee will reassemble so it's good to go when you arrive.

Hawai'i Island is a good 250-300 miles around...depends which route you take.  There is no way to avoid ALL the Tradewinds but if you circle the entire island ounterclockwise it USUALLY works best.

Over the years I've spent more time touring Hawai'i Island than just about any other place and quite familiar with the place from a cyclists perspective..except I use hotels and know nothing of camping there.  if you have questions send me a message.

Have fun and Aloha.

Routes / Hawaii Big Island Saddle Rd conditions
« on: March 27, 2017, 09:10:21 am »
I rarely see mention of Hawai'i riding routes on this forum but I frequent the Big Island which is popular with touring cyclists so thought this info might be helpful to someone:

The most direct route from Hilo (east side of island) to Kona (west side) is via Saddle Rd/Rte 200..a 65 mile bisect of the island which climbs to 6700' along the way. A unique cycling experience to say the least.

Saddle Rd has been under a realignment project for several years and is nearly complete but at the moment, between miles 8-12, it's an active construction site with gravel, mud, one-way traffic, heavy machinery, and more gravel and mud. Passable on 700x24 tires but just barely. If not for Gatorskins I would have walked it due to threat of puncture from the sharp lava gravel road base.  Otherwise all good on Saddle Rd.

This was March 25, 2017.  Project appears to be another couple of months from completion. 

Anyway, maybe this info will help someone. 

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