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Messages - Westinghouse

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Routes / Re: East Coast, Maine-Fl or Fl-Maine
« on: January 23, 2009, 01:07:45 am »
I have read Litespeed's comments about some parts in South Carolina. Again, Litespeed has hit the nail squarely on the head. So it was not just me. Where I cycled in some parts of SC some of the motorists were nothing short of being terrorists on wheels. Even where there was plenty of room, some took the attitude that---He or she is driving in his lane, and not not about to shift an inch one way or the other for anybody on a bicycle, and they will warn with the horn, and if the cyclist does not get off the road, he is a dead man. Believe me, quite a few times it was really and seriously that bad. Deplorable, sinister, criminal attitudes. They deliberately ran me off the road several times, and if I had not run off the road I would have been killed there on the spot. You might think I am exaggerating, but I am not. I am understating the matter. That was a long time ago in 1994, but some of the motorists were absolutely terrorist, and criminally offensive, very very life threateningly offensive.

I had long ago forgotten all about those incidents, but Litespeed's comments brought them back to mind. I have some ideas about what to do about that part of the country, but it would be inappropriate to state them on a bicycling forum.

Routes / Re: Handcyle with wheelchair
« on: January 23, 2009, 12:15:52 am »
If I were you,  what I would do is this. I would do some practice riding like you will be doing on tour, and work it out. You could put your gear on the WC using it as a trailer. Because I am not familiar with getting around as a paraplegic, I am not able to advise you on that. Perhaps it is possible for you to rig up some sort of release on the connection between the bike and WC that can be thrown by pulling a wire or something. Once it is released you could cycle back around to the WC for what you need to do. A problem might be relieving yourself. You most likely will find yourself out in the middle of nowhere, and much in need of a private place to take care of bodily necessities. How would you get off the road, and maybe over a guard rail or fence, and off into the bush?

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 lolloing 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 thge 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 wa 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 sargent. 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 whif 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 beteen 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 ther 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. For some of those dogs I encountered in eastern Europe, nothing short of a 12 guage shotgun would save you.

General Discussion / Re: Tour Report: cycling across the top of the world
« on: January 22, 2009, 11:22:50 pm »
I have never cycled in that part of the world. Looking at the pictures reminds me of the book "Miles From Nowhere" written by Barbara Savage. If you are going to see that area, cycling is the way to do it.

General Discussion / Re: Hamstrings
« on: January 22, 2009, 11:17:08 pm »
I agree, the body doesnt respond like it used to. I did the weight thing for years and now at 52 the tone just isnt there like it once was.Time to accept father time.I had noticed after 30 minutes on the stationary this winter my left hammy is tightening up and i kind of felt it last summer in the right. Once biking season starts Im hoping being in my normal riding position on the bike I will feel ok. In the meantime I will give the stretching a try.

Be sure to get a good book on stretching that gives detailed instructions. With stretching, there are small and seemingly unimportant little details that are in fact crucial, and if you do not do those seemingly insignificant little things, you might not get the full benefit of the stretch, or you could really injure yourself. You have to attend to details. Once you have it down right it becomes a routine.

Routes / Re: Does anyone have experience with Illinois to Florida tours?
« on: January 22, 2009, 04:22:06 pm »
Litespeed's comments about Georgia's road shoulders and rumble strips echo my own thoughts, for I too have cycled across that state south to north and vice versa. The way the rumble strips were placed in some stretches of road showed that whoever put them there had not given much if any thought for cyclists. First you have the white line circumscribing the side of the driving lane; next were the rumble strips; then came the edge of the paved surface which met the grass. The beginnings of the rumble strips began in from the white line at such distances that the strips took up nearly the entire shoulder, with not quite enough free shoulder-surface to cycle on comfortably, or at all. Had the rumble strips been emplaced near to the white line, there would have been plenty of room for cycling nearer the edge of the paved surface. The roads were built only with motor vehicles in mind.

Routes / Re: Prague to...
« on: January 22, 2009, 03:42:59 pm »
I have done some bicycle touring in Czech. I did not get to Praha. I entered Czech from West Germany near Schindring, Germany and Selb. The first thing I noticed at the border was that the general, overall, standards of just about everything took a plummeting decline. In Czech things seemed to be in shambles. The roads were ok, but in some places they were unbelievably potholed, crumbling, and rutted. The vehicles were very old and worn. They used low-grade, leaded gas which produced dense, voluminous, clouds of gray and black poisonous fumes. The prices for food in restaurants were extremely low by American standards. Check this out: large meal with salad, apple pie, and two Pilsner beers for about forty cents; no charge for the virulent dysentery and the viral hepatitis. It was one of the nastiest places you could possible imagine. Keep in mind, I was cycling through that area to see the country, and not as a tourist who goes to some tourist area for a quick time and flies home. I was out seeing how people live in the countryside, and in the farming areas. I already knew about European cities and tourist circuits. I have spent years in Europe. Take out anything sweet out in the countryside in Czech in summer or in warm weather,and you will soon be swarmed by honey bees. I do not want to put the place down, but where I cycled in Czech, and I went all the way through the country by bicycle and into Poland and Ukraine and Moldavia and much farther,
it was nasty and filthy beyond belief. I could give you detailed, vivid descriptions from my highly detailed journal, but let it suffice to say it was a very low-grade part of the world at that time which was 1994.

Here is where I went on that tour. I flew from Florida to Paris. Cycled from Paris to Germany, and across Germany to Czech. I cycled across Czech to and across Poland, and into Ukraine. I got to L'vuv, Ukraine and cycled across to Kiev, and south to Odessa. I cycled to Ilyachovsk. I went to Michaeliav. I got a bus from Michaeliav to Odessa. Then I got a bus into Moldavia. I cycled across Moldavia and into Romania by way of Layoshina and Hoosh(pronunciation not spelling). I took trains through Romania and Bulgaria, and cycled into Greece, and trained to Thessoloniki. Got a bus to coastal Greece, and shipped to Brindisi, Italy at the eastern terminus of the ancient Appian Way. I cycled 660 miles north to Milano where I got a flight to JFK airport in NYC. Then I cycled from JFK to south Florida, ending November 9, 1994.

I know I have not given a very flattering description of Czech, but I assure you I kept highly detailed descriptive records of everty day of that entire tour from beginning to end. It may not be a nice description, but it is a true and accurate one from that time. Ukraine was quite a bit worse than Czech. It seemed that the farther east you went, the more the standards declined. It was gone to the dogs.

If you have any particular matters you are concerned with for cycling in that region, maybe I can answer them for you.

General Discussion / Re: Hamstrings
« on: January 22, 2009, 02:58:00 pm »
I have a stretching routine I go through. If I do all stretches, one after the other without breaks in between, it takes roughly two hours to do. There are stretches that target the hamstrings. Now that I am getting older, I am beginning to have some discomfort with muscular tension. The stretching exercises are very effective in relieving tension, tightening, and stress. There is a book named "Sports Stretching." It will let you know how to get at the hamstrings. The muscles definitely change as you age. When I was in my thirties I worked out with weights quite a lot. I got very strong and toned. Now, no matter how much I work out, the muscles just cannot do it anymore; they just do not pump up the way they did when I was younger.
If the hamstrings tighten too much, it can cause problems with your range of motion. Try some serious stretching for a while. You might just be surprised at how much difference it can make. There are also stretching routines targeting the particular muscles used in certain types of sports activities, including cycling.

General Discussion / Re: How do you like the new forum?
« on: January 22, 2009, 02:45:31 pm »
I think it is pretty good.

General Discussion / Re: Gearing up
« on: January 22, 2009, 02:44:03 pm »
I have always used panniers in some 34,000 miles through nineteen countries, including going over the Rockies, the Alps, and many other lesser precipitous landforms; hills, hills, and more hills. I cannot say using panniers as opposed to a trailer will bring you some great advantage, or that a trailer is definitely better for such a tour than panniers, or for or against any combination of the two ways of carrying gear.  I can say that panniers, whatever their advantages or disadvantages may be, are just fine for what you have mentioned. I can say many journals I have read on CGOAB attest to the suitability of using a trailer. Which method would be best? I do not think I could say. If I were going to cycle the route you have mentioned here, I would overhaul my touring bike, put on two front panniers, two rear panniers, and a handlebar bag, and take off. I would also mention that I would do it that way because I already have all the gear, and it would not make sense at this point to buy new gear for some theoretical advantage.

If you use a trailer and panniers, keep the panniers over the front wheel. I mean, if you use a trailer that can reduce the load over the dished rear wheel, what is gained by then hanging panniers over the rear wheel? It is the rear wheel that takes the load. I remember clearly wearing out three rear tires to one front tire. I do not remember ever having even one broken spoke in a front wheel. I remember replacing many spokes in rear wheels. If a trailer reduces the load on the rear wheel, keep it that way.

General Discussion / Re: MB Touring
« on: January 22, 2009, 02:07:19 pm »
I am not anyone to tell someone what kind of bike to tour on, but of course on an RTW tour I would recommend you get a high quality one. My own personal preference is the standard touring bike, but as has been pointed out on this thread, there could be a problem getting 27 1/4 inch wheels and tires in the lands of scant goods and services. Many people tour on MBs. I met two fellows from Germany in Van Horn, Texas. I had cycled the extreme gulf coast roads from Florida to Brownsville, TX, and then gone north along the Mexican-American borber to Van Horn. They had started from San Diego. They were both riding mountain bikes. I think they had those waterproof Ortlieb panniers. They said they were extremely satisfied with using mountain bikes for long distance touring. I read a journal written by a married couple doing an RTW tour. The journal had pictures. They were using MBs too. A lot of people use them. My only  advice would be this. If you choose a MB, make sure it is one of good quality. Other than that I would say do your homework, and make the best educated decision you can with the information you have.  I toured in China with a MB. It was ok. I still prefer a good touring bike.            

General Discussion / Re: Winter Pacific Coast tour
« on: January 20, 2009, 10:04:31 pm »
Cycling the PCBR in winter is a choice one has to make. It is an individual thing. Sure, it can be done. In my own personal point of view I think against doing it in winter. For someone else it might be just the thing to do. After reading some descriptions here of what to expect on such a tour I am confirmed in my opinion that, if I ever do the PCBR again, it should not be in winter.

With the right and appropriate equipment you can do it.

Routes / Re: Orlando FL to Houston TX
« on: January 19, 2009, 12:48:05 pm »
That seems like a good way to go. I have also followed the gulf road if that is 98. It is flat about everywhere with the gulf waters often immediately to your left going west. It does rise here and there, and of course when you cross bridges. 90 through Mississippi can be a bit highly trafficked. If it gets too hectic, you should be able to find a concrete sidewalk on the gulf side to use intermittently. Sidewalks across the street from the gulf side were very old, broken, occluded, and generally in disrepair and moved about by the roots of old trees. I remember having to cross from one side to the other more than twenty times in one area because the road was too busy and narrow to cycle, and cyclable surfaces on either side of 90 began and ended intermittently. Traffic slacks off just about everywhere on Sundays. Much of what I write here about Miss. may have changed after hurricane Katrina. Lately they were paving in new roads. Your chosen route ought to be all right. There may be others with much more experience cycling all these different routes who can give you better advice than I can.

The gulf route has nice scenery. There is plenty of fresh air. There are beaches. There are quite a few places for free camping. I got lost twice trying to regain 90 west out of Pensacola. Maybe it was just me, but it seemed to be somwhat confusing getting through the city and staying on 90. 90 into New Orleans is a good ride. There is a ferry near Franklin Street that will take you across the Mississippi River. 90 can take you through real Cajun bayou country. It is all flat in that area. Expect to see narrow roads bounded by canals. New Orleans in below sea level in areas. That region has a major project controlling water. The mouth of the Mississippi keeps wanting to move, and they need to keep it where it is. The region is a flood plain.
They want to build a sea wall around Houma.

General Discussion / Re: Winter Pacific Coast tour
« on: January 19, 2009, 12:13:26 pm »
I know I would not do it in winter. Not after what I found out. The S-tier is good in winter, definitely, but the northern part of the PCBR in winter?
No. Not to be redundant, but you are being advised against doing it.

Routes / Re: Orlando FL to Houston TX
« on: January 17, 2009, 08:49:40 am »
About litespeed's comment to avoid highway 190 crossing Louisiana, I wholeheartedly agree. I took 190, and that is why I said to follow ACA's mapped route after 90 in Florida. 190 might be ok at times, but the last time I used it in 2007 on my way from Florida to El Paso, it was none too good, and there was definitely some monkey business going on with the motorists. It also gets like a rollercoaster on towards San Antonio. I got off it, onto 46 going around SA, and got onto I-10 when I could. 190's surface also got quite rough, joggling the bike, body, and hands continuously. Some extents of 190 might be ok at times, but it is a road to be avoided in general.

Routes / Re: East Coast, Maine-Fl or Fl-Maine
« on: January 16, 2009, 08:05:53 pm »
Use coastal Florida barrier islands. In some places you must take causeways back to the mainland to get around inlets. You must also get off and return to the mainland to go around Cape Canaveral and NASA. I found one causeway bridgeside to be extremely cluttered by debris and impossible to cross without tire trouble. Generally, the islands route is pretty good, and it is preferable to using highway one which can be loaded with traffic at times. Some parts of one are ok to use. Farther south in FL it is a good idea to stay on the islands. It is pretty much solid city from West Palm Beach south to Miami and south to Homestead. If you go to the Keys, there is a paved cycling path starting around Miami and going a long way south. It winds along for quite a distance underneath the elevated tracks of metrorail. I believe it is called metrorail. It is good riding all the way to the Last Chance Saloon, if that is what they still call that place. Getting over to Key Largo is another matter. This road, US 1, has a nice wide cycling path connected to it, or at least it can provide room for safe cycling in places, but it has cat eye reflectors crossing it in lines at intervals so that you have to keep an eye on the reflectors to avoid running over them, or ride out in the traffic lane of this narrow, moderately to highly trafficked road.  An alternative which you can find on a road map is Card Sound Road which may be a longer way around, but safer and more comfortable.

Once you are in the Keys it is easy going with plenty of room on the roads, and many good sidewalks. There is a dedicated cycling path which runs right along the water on the west side. In some areas you would have the shallow water immediately on one side of you, and trees and bushes between the path and the roadway. There is a seven mile bridge, and several shorter bridges which will expose you fully to any sidewinds.

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