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Topics - Westinghouse

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General Discussion / It's about the bike. It's about you.
« on: December 09, 2019, 02:06:59 pm »
When does your bicycle become something more for you than simply--a bicycle? The long distance touring cyclist comes to harmonize with some affinity to his bike. And why is this? Does anyone know why? Do bikes go somewhere after they die? Will we meet them again in a future life? When a woman cries and prays and laments at her  memory of a long-lost bicycle, what are we to bring away from it as a lesson to be learned?

General Discussion / Coordinated stalking on the road
« on: October 01, 2018, 10:59:53 am »
"Absolutely no need for this at all. A beautiful wide shoulder, totally destroyed for all intents and purposes by this chip seal rubbish. Brutal to ride on, but you have to go there when trucks approach. How do you know a truck is coming from behind? Theres a car coming from the front too. Never ceases to amaze me, no traffic for hours, and then one from fore and one from aft, cross right next to you. Incredible how often this happens."

The quote above comes from Search southern tier. The first entry should be Rufus and Dave do Alaska to Florida. Go to page 68 on his journal. Has anyone else seen that kind of deliberate coordination of vehicles to intercept cyclists? I have seen it many countless times. I have seen it used for illegal stalking and annoyances. Has anyone here encountered these four-wheeled miscreants on tour?

General Discussion / Cycling Ukraine: September 3, 1994
« on: September 29, 2018, 04:20:00 am »
The western edge of Ukraine looked like the outside of a prison. On the border was a tall, electrified, metal fence. The land had been completely cleared of trees and brush about 100 feet on both sides. Another T-shaped barbed wire fence stood at the edge of the cleared strip. At first the country started to look attractive. Large, verdant, green fields of short grass bordered both sides of the road. Cattle grazed lazily in those fields. Horse-drawn wooden wagons hauled hay from those fields. Men hand-pushed bicycles loaded down with burlap sacks full of potatoes and other crops. In a short distance, however, came a perceptible decline in living standards, noticeably lower than in Poland. Side roads were dirty, rutted muck holes. Buildings were dirtier and even more run down looking. I saw a man and a child with swollen infected limbs. It was some time before a restaurant came into view. Hungry as hell and looking forward to a nice big nourishing meal with  small price tag,I had been in eastern Europe long enough to know that only the small price tag on my fantasy would come true. Yet, I still permitted myself this singular delusion. It was impossible to shake the expectation after living 44 years in countries where big nourishing meals were a  birthright. I entered its small,dark, rectangular gloom. The sickening smell was the first thing that distinguished it. It smelled putrid like rancid flesh or road carrion rotting in the summer heat. Out of sight there must have been a big, dead rotting animal hanging from a meat hook. The worn tile floor was covered with layers of ground-in filth. A glass display case held a one-foot diameter round of cheese. On top was a hunk of long-gone meat. The walls and tables were gloomy, grimy and dank. The few dirty mucent characters standing at one table looked more sinister than anyone pictured in the FBI's most wanted flyers. There was no way in hell I was going to eat in that sty.

General Discussion / Cheap tires cost more than expensive tires.
« on: September 13, 2018, 11:12:55 pm »
 I used to carry a spare tire. That was when I used less expensive tires. For example, with cheap tires you might use 4 on the rear and three on the front from Florida to California. With cheap tires, if you get a small slit, it gradually gets larger, and eventually it balloons up, and starts twisting off the rim. Thump bump thump bump thump as you wheel along looking for a place to replace your fourth rear tire in 2000 miles. There are millions of bits and pieces on the road to pierce tires.
With stronger tires, Schwalbe Marathon, the tires can take those bits and pieces with no slits and holes. If the tire does get cut or holed, is stays perfectly together. They hold together. You need only one set from coast to coast. I used to carry a spare. The last few tours I did not because I used tires that were stronger and more reliable.

Don't go anywhere without a patch kit, levers, and a pump on long tours, no matter what kind of tires.


General Discussion / Free Ranging Dogs and the Cyclist
« on: August 28, 2018, 11:25:26 pm »
Here is a detailed answer about dogs. I wrote it on another thread for a person planning a transcon on a recumbent.
As for dogs on tour, I have had many experiences with them. Some cyclists might carry pepper spray, which I have done but never used. I saw another advise carrying a water pistol containing a mixture of water and ammonia; this I have never done. The fact is that dogs can be an occasional annoyance or hassle or whatever, but by and large they are not a real danger unless one comes charging at you from out of nowhere, startling you, and causing you to involuntarily swerve out into traffic. It happens.

There is something about the movement of cycling that sets dogs off into a headstrong frenzy of barking and chasing. I mean, you come along, and there is some dog in a yard. It has been lolling around all day perhaps. It catches sight of you going by on your bike, and it immediately goes nuts. It starts barking, snarling, yelping, and growling, and chasing you at high speed and going for your heels with all its might. I have seen dogs go absolutely bananas at the sight of me cycling, even if I was two hundred feet away from them. I have seen them come charging out at me, stopped only by a fence around the property. They would follow all along the fence line to the end, and then go ape trying to jump over the fence or tunnel under it.  This kind of reaction comes from dogs of all sizes from the largest dogs to even those little Mexican Chihuahuas. That is no kidding. I was cycling through some town. Somebody was carrying one of those little Mexican dogs. It saw me. It went crazy trying to jump from its owners arms and chase along.

I have worked out a manner of dealing with dogs. In spite of all the noise and chases not one dog has ever actually bitten me.  However, they do seem to be fond of going for the feet, and some have come close to biting. First, slow down a bit, look at the dog and yell out a loud, sharp report, and when I say loud and sharp that is what is meant; something like you might expect to hear from a marine corps drill sargeant. You might have to yell a number of times. The yelling will bring some dogs to a halt. Some will stop temporarily and continue, and slow down or halt every time you yell. Just yell out hut or ha loud, sharp, and clear. If that does not dissuade the cur from pursuing his pleasure or whatever it is he gets out of the chase, come to a dead stop and give him the yell. He will stop. He may turn around and take off. He may tarry a while and snip and growl. He may come close, but my experience is the actual attack will not happen. I have cycled 34,000 miles through 19 countries, and six or more times across the USA, so I know of what I speak.

I have always ridden an upright touring bike, therefore, having a dog running along and chasing at my heels is a different matter from riding a recumbent with the animal more nearly at the vital parts such as torso, head, and throat. My general advice is this. If you are concerned, do what I have told you, and carry a water pistol with water and ammonia in it, if legal to do so, or a very good pepper spray, not one of those little key chain things, but a canister with a real fog or large volume spray that comes out, but do not use it as a first response. If you yell and stop and yell, the dog will stop his pursuit. In other words, do not run and it will not chase. Often, as you are stopped at the roadside waiting for the animal to lose interest, its owner will come out and call it back, and it trots on home. If you stop and it stops and loses interest, it might head back to its territory on its own, but if you take off it will turn around and continue chasing. Dogs, for the most part, are a temporary nuisance, but not a real serious danger. However, I am sure cyclists have been actually attacked, and perhaps even injured.

When stopped, the hound may come close, but will not actually sink its teeth into your hide. If it is particularly vicious or mean, give him a whiff of the pepper spray or whatever, but I have never found that to be necessary. If you get off the bike and walk a ways, which you would not or might not be able to do, it could lose interest; get back on and cycle away, and it will pick up where it left off, or just go home.

Try not to let a dog catch you by surprise in close quarters. That happened to me once, and I tipped over injuring my ankle. It was at night on a quiet, placid road. A very large dog came charging aggressively from out of the bushes near the side of the road. All of a sudden I heard this very loud barking and snarling, and saw a blur out of the corner of my eye. In an attempt to stop, dismount immediately, and get the bike between myself and the attacking dog, I forgot my feet were strapped into the pedals, and tried to get off on the right of the bike, I fell over and twisted my ankle. Well, at least I fell over away from the dog and not toward it. After all that the dog just stood there looking at me, and turned around and left. It was one of the larger breeds of dog, and I am sure it would not have harmed me, but it caught me completely unexpected, and I reacted unthinking with a start. There was no time to think through what to do. The subconscious mind told me I was under attack and needed to respond, and I did.

You might have dog problems in some areas at times, and no dog problems whatsoever in other places. In 1984 in winter along highway 90 in Florida free ranging dogs were all over the place, and I might add, were often seen dead along the roadside after having been slammed by motor vehicles. In 2007 I cycled 90, and there was not the first problem with the first dog; very different from 1984. In countrified areas dog owners may be more disposed to letting their dogs roam free. Some may be fenced in, but have some little tunnel dug out under the fence in some bush-covered corner. They actually seem to be smart enough to try and cover or hide their tunnels. Anyway, that is about all I can tell you. If you go into Eastern Europe, you may find canines of a very different stripe; very different from the friendly domesticated kind we are used to in the USA.

As for some of those dogs I encountered in eastern Europe, nothing short of a firearm would save you.  Some of those would run you to earth and kill you and eat you. I had never seen anything even remotely as vicious as those, and have not seen anything like it since. If there is any such thing as a homicidal, insane, psychotic, murderous, savage dog, those dogs were it. Thank God for chain link fences. They must have been raised to be that way.

General Discussion / Southern Tier---Non ACA
« on: December 31, 2017, 09:41:38 pm »
I will take another shot at cycling the southern tier. I have done it five times. The beginning of the new year is good for a start. For the most part I follow a route different from ACA's, mainly because mine is shorter, less hilly, and almost as interesting. East coastal Florida to San Diego is the way to go. Instead of taking hwy 90 across north Florida I take 98 to 267 to 20. I take 90 through AL, MS and LA to Tammany Trace to Covington, LA. Then I get 190 and find my way to Houston, and get I-10 frontage roads and 90 to San Antonio. From here I can Take I-10 and roads to El Paso and Las Cruces and I-10 to Yuma, AZ.After that is the road from hell to Ogilby Road,and then west to hwy 78 and Glamis and Ocotillo and then hysterical hwy 80 to Pine Valley and roads into San Diego.

On my last trip my cyclometer turned over to 2803 miles as I pulled up to the Point Loma hostel in S.D. I think it's going to be a cold trip.

I can take different roads from the roads mentioned here. Being a 68-year-old man traveling alone, I usually take the path of least resitance.

General Discussion / Demands on energy
« on: May 15, 2016, 10:45:41 pm »
Wholesome food provides the necessary nutrients for daily activities. But, can it serve well for a man on a fully loaded touring bicycle carrying 40 pounds of gear against headwinds, and over hills and mountains? At my age, 66, I have found it necessary to supplement my energy needs. Sure, there are canned drinks, e.g., Monster, Red Bull, Rockstar, etc. I have found these drinks to be helpful at times. The real shot in the arm comes from the small shots of energy drinks. EE, eternal energy, works almost as well as 5-hour-energy, and the cost is only 88 cents a shot. Redline works very well, too. Both are on the shelf at Wal Mart. In WM EE is $5.00 and change for a six pack, and in Walgreens it is over $9.00. On tour, I would down one EE in the morning, and a Redline in the afternoon. The difference was easy to feel. It works.

General Discussion / The wearing of the green
« on: March 15, 2016, 08:24:08 pm »

General Discussion / Cycling Partner
« on: December 08, 2015, 10:49:26 pm »
Certainly there is a designated section for cycling partners, and that is limited to members of ACA. However, I am thinking about doing another transcontinental bicycling tour this winter by way of the southern tier from Florida to San Diego or Los Angeles. I have already cycle toured about 40,000 miles through 19 countries ---USA, Canada, Mexico, England, Scotland, Wales, France, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Czech, Poland, Ukraine, Moldavia, parts of Romania and Bulgaria, Greece, China and a little in South Korea, Ireland.

I have done the southern tier 5 times and twice from Florida to El Paso. By southern tier it is meant the southern tier of states, part on and part off ACA's mapped route.

I am 66 and expecting to meet a female companion for the trip, and while it is surely not to be, it is here for the doing, and as usual the trip will most likely be done alone.

Routes / Southern Tier in North Florida
« on: October 07, 2014, 12:04:13 pm »
ACA puts you on highway 90 in north Florida. In its full extent, 90 runs between Jacksonville, FL and Van Horn , Texas. There are three main possible routes through north Florida, each with its own positive and negative values as far as cycling is the matter.

90 has many motels and campgrounds and wooded areas for free camping. The many trees help fend the north winds of winter. Restaurants abound. The scenery is good. You have a side lane to yourself most of the way. It is historical. There is the used-to-be infamously cruel Chatahoochie mental hospital. There is the even worse state training school in Marianna, FL where forensic anthropologists have unearthed 91 of the 31 bodies of boys the state said were there. Yes, 91. Seems many just disappeared, probably beat to death. 90 is also very hilly.

There is highway 20 running E and W many miles south of 90. 20 is much closer to level than 90, and thus faster and easier to cycle. There are many places for free camping. Traffic is comparative light. There is plenty of room for safe cycling. However, 20 can be a nutritional nightmare. Once west of Wakulla Station, only one store or two have anything resembling real food. You have three days of mainly junk food.

There is 19 / 98 running along the contour of the gulf coast. This road is about level. There are many places for camping, legally and stealthily. Restaurants are aplenty. Food stores with nutritious food are available often enough. The downside is sea breezes off the gulf are not always just breezes and they can slow you to a crawl. This route is about 60 miles longer than 90 and 20.

All in all, there is a good argument for choosing 90 as the best of the three.

General Discussion / Safe to cycle the USA? Things do happen.
« on: September 16, 2014, 08:25:47 pm »

A man cycling from the NE USA to Miami, FL went to stop at a McDonalds in Vero Beach, FL. An apparently paranoid schizophrenic homeless man just walked up and stabbed him to death.

General Discussion / South Tier
« on: February 02, 2014, 04:30:44 pm »
I am doing a good part of the ST now. There has been snow, ice, sleet, freezing rain, and 19F with a 7F wind chill. Foggy dew surrounds me. Do not take hwy. 90 west out of New Orleans. It's  a  debris field in the side lane.

General Discussion / Cycling partner(s)
« on: March 28, 2013, 05:50:55 am »
I know there is a section for this elsewhere. However, here I go. I am looking at the strong possibility of doing a transcontinental tour beginning in or just after June this summer. I have cycled 37,000 miles (59,000 kilometers) through 19 countries, including several crossings of the USA. I am knowledgeable and experienced in the matter under discussion. Right now I am thinking the ST, E to W. I am also considering the Atlantic coast. There is also the possibility of the PCBR. I have thought about the US, Mexico, Central America, and South America. Then there's Western Europe. These are all possibilities, but for now the most likely route would be the ST.

I am not a spring chicken anymore. I am 63 and I work out regularly at a gym. My first choice of a cycling companion would be a woman with some cycling experience, but not necessarily with cycling experience.

I do a lot of stealth camping, with motels perhaps twice a week. Sometimes more than twice a week. I completed my last 3400 miles crossing in 54 days total and 43 days actually on the road. That is an example of my daily average. Of course, I am more than willing to compromise on mileage. I cannot expect anyone else to go my way. I usually eat in restaurants or out of food stores. The way I tour is inexpensive compared to what others pay for a tour of similar range and time.  I have bike toured in the USA, Canada, Mexico, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, China, and elsewhere. I have done the ST a number of times, the atlantic coast three times and more, 2600 miles of the NT, the pacific coast, and several other areas of the USA.

Gear Talk / Cheap Breathable Rain Gear and Shelter
« on: December 14, 2012, 08:35:45 am »
Tyvek is a material that is cheap, breathable, waterproof, windproof, and light weight. Trace lines on the material that will fit your size for jacket and pants. Cut out two pieces for each. Tape them together with Tyvek tape and there you are. Tents, bivy bags, jackets, rain flies, and tarps are easily made. It breathes like Gore Tex. It is more durable than Gore Tex. It is very light in weight.

Of course, it does not look all that spiffy like some people all decked out in $400.00 Gore Tex jackets riding $1500.00 touring bikes, but it does the same thing and has the same benefits to its users. One guy got a 50 foot by 9 foot roll of it for $50.00 at Craigslist. It could cost $150.00 at Home Depot or Lowe's for a 50 by 9 roll.  It sells by the yard in some places. It cuts easily but is very difficult to tear. You could make a breathable waterproof lightweight tent with plenty of space with a floor for maybe $25.00-$45.00, maybe less. No sewing. Just use Tyvek tape or outdoors, doublefaced, carpet tape for the seams.

Gear Talk / Efficient Lightweight Stove
« on: December 14, 2012, 08:08:13 am »
In anticipation of another long bicycling tour, I have been scouring the internet for a highly efficient, lightweight, inexpensive, camp stove, and somehow those criteria just don't go together. Alcohol stoves weigh nothing, but what about the fuel which is sold in quarts only. That ups the weight to that of a multi-fuel, Coleman, one-burner with a full tank which if much more efficient than the alcohol burner. The Coleman is nice. It costs about $95.00. The other lightweights that use separate pump-bottles are efficient and hot, but $129.00 for some little few ounce apparatus? Ha. You must be joking, or rich. The Sierra Zip woodburner is nice too, but here again look at what they want for it. It takes a lot of space in your panniers too. There are various homemade wood gas stoves that burn nearly smoke free. They are reasonably hot and efficient, but not reasonably enough in my estimation. Then there is the Vital Stove. IMO, this stove is much more directly to the point, except it weighs much more than is necessary to produce that kind of heat which they say can top 12,000 BTU.

See the Vital Stove on Youtube and you will see the sense in my modification of the idea. Just cut four rectangles from an aluminum sheet, cookie sheet, pie plate or whatever about seven inches long and five inches wide, or some other sizes that will work. Drill holes near the edges of the lengths of four pieces and attach them with wires so that they can be folded over like a deck of cards. Not all sides would be wired. Cut an opening at the bottom to allow a flow of air. Form an air conduit with aluminum foil. Tape a small computer cooling fan to one end of the conduit. Fit the other end into the opening at the bottom of your standing burn chamber. Fill with wood. Light. Turn on your fan and there you have it.

It weighs much less than any other stove with comparable heat and efficiency. It costs anywhere from 10% or 20% of of what you would pay for other stoves. There is no need to buy and carry fuel. All you need is a couple of AA batteries which may last 20 hours or so. No repairs. It can produce a flame two feet high at 12,500 BTU and more. You can see the design at work on youtube. It works very well. It folds together and takes only a little more space than two decks of cards. If you want to avoid burning the ground or the surface it is on, put some aluminum foil underneath.

There are some downsides to this stove. You have to collect small bits of wood. In my estimation, it is no problem. I have been by many places on tours where fuel like that was readily and amply available, but it does take time to do. It also blackens cookware with soot. If you are cooking a full meal, you have to feed the burn chamber repeatedly. It must be kept in its own pack to keep the soot out of your panniers. Cookware must be cleaned externally and packed in separate bags.

All in all, when it comes to light weight, low cost, smallest volume,  highest burning efficiency, low maintenance, and fuel costs, this homemade stove is the best. In essence it's the Vital Stove minus the excess, unnecessary weight and raz mataz.

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