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Messages - MNRider

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General Discussion / Re: Traffic conditions around the ACA routes?
« on: March 07, 2013, 09:04:13 am »
Speaking of the Norther Tier, be very cautious about the western end of North Dakota. There is a huge oil boom on and the roads are carrying much more truck traffic than they were ever designed for. You will frequently encounter wideloads of oil field equipment and the oil industry has a sense of entitlement in the region so even law enforcement doesn't really mess with them. There is also a major lack of housing in the region so most motels and campgrounds are clogged with oil workers. I've even heard that Theodore Roosevelt National Park and Medora (one of my previous favorite family vacation areas) is no longer family friendly and has become a party place for rowdy oil workers who are often young single men with big pickups and lots of disposable income. The crime rate in that area has boomed as much as the oil industry and the LEOs can't keep up. Ignore the oil industry propaganda about how much good they are doing for the state. Plan your trip so that you can make it through that area in a single day without an overnight stop if possible. From Bismarck on, ND is still a great place for cycle touring.

General Discussion / Re: Bike and Cars - share the road
« on: January 18, 2013, 01:40:46 pm »
- Obey the law
- Practice courtesy and respect even when it is not returned
- Stay visible and signal your intent
- Realize that many non-cyclists aren't aware of cycling laws and practices and that there has been very little done to educate them in a civil and productive manner

It bothers me when riders fail to give right of way to those who legally should have it or are otherwise discourteous or rude. Not everyone does it, but it doesn't take many instances before everyone on two wheels gets a reputation by association. How we act does reflect on other riders and vice-versa so we should all be advocating for improved relationships with drivers and pedestrians beginning with conducting ourselves as civil and mature human beings.

In my ideal world, we'd all drive and ride like we had each other's backs instead of as if we were in each other's way.

Midwest / Re: North Dakota route
« on: December 16, 2012, 04:32:13 pm »
If you do take the Cooperstown route, the community has a nice park/campground, a grocery store, a couple of convenience stores, and a few restaurants or bars with food. The next town to the east is Finley which has a community park with restrooms, a restaurant, convenicence store, and grocery store. Nice territory (I used to live in Cooperstown) with lots of cyclists throughout the summer.

Routes / Re: Need help with getting ready for bike tour
« on: December 16, 2012, 03:57:08 pm »
I'm also relatively new to touring and have only been seriously cycling for a couple of years, doing mostly centuries and other single-day rides. In all honesty, your plan sounds extremely ambitious for a new touring rider. The distances alone are daunting, but if I understood correctly, you are planning on crossing the Northern Tier in January with little experience and relatively untested equipment. I live in the middle of the Northern Tier and the weather and road conditions up here can be extremely variable. I ride year-round but there are quite a few days in the winter that I don't venture out. In January we can have anything from 20F and sunny (beautiful for a winter ride if the roads are good) to -40F with a howling blizzard, sometimes in the same weekend. Roads can be perfectly clear and dry or they can be black ice edged with deep frozen ruts, or covered with six inches of snow with drifts several feet high that are impassable until the snow plows go through. There are lots of places where it is 20-30 miles between any kind of town or even several miles to an occupied house. The amount of clothing, gear, and food you will need to safely traverse MT, ND and MN during the winter, even in good weather, will be extensive and cumbersome. I'm not saying it can't be done, but you better know what you are doing.

I would really suggest that you do a couple of overnight or weekend tours with all of your equipment, under the conditions you are considering, before trying something of this magnitude.

Good Luck to you, whatever you decide.

General Discussion / Re: Tire Pressure
« on: November 11, 2012, 09:14:04 pm »
Since then, I've tried to take the downhills easy enough that I felt like I could slow or stop well before I was in the danger zone.  At least while touring.

Very wise but sometimes you don't get a choice, like when an inexperienced rider swerves in front of you or you have to dodge an unforseen obstacle.  Even when you are trying to be careful, circumstances will occasionally arise that make you glad for every bit of traction and handling you have. 

General Discussion / Re: Tire Pressure
« on: November 10, 2012, 06:03:49 am »
Yes, tire pressure can be different front and back and can/should reflect weight distribution. What you want to shoot for is roughly equal tire drop while riding so that your traction characteristics are about even or slightly favor the front. If you fill the tires equally within their recommended range and then load the back more heavily, the rear contact patch will be larger than the front which will affect handling and could contribute to a dangerous front wheel slideout on a wet corner. Granted the difference wouldn't be huge but when you are pushing your luck on a wet downhill corner, every little bit helps.

The exact tire pressure you want will depend on a number of factors; your weight, riding style, load, and your preferred balance between rolling resistance and traction/comfort. Higher pressures allow a tire to roll easier at the cost of some traction and ability to absorb road vibration and small bumps. Excessively low pressures increase the chance of pinch flats.

Gear Talk / Re: Outfitting a Trek 7.5 FX for a full summer tour
« on: November 06, 2012, 06:14:50 am »
The Sora FD on the 7.5 FX should handle a triple and the R440 shifters are listed on Amazon as 2/3 x 9 so your shifter may be OK as well. Your bike shop will be able to tell you for sure. I'm not sure what bottom bracket the 7.5 FX has but if an Alivio crankset will fit (square taper or Octalink versions available) you can get 48/36/26 or 44/34/24 versions for around $50. Worst case scenario is a swap of the Sora derailleur $35, the left shifter $35 and the crankset $50 comes out to about $125 + about $50 labor and gives you all the gearing you could ever want for touring. If the FD and shifter will work you could get by for half that. According to Sheldon Brown, the 44 x 11 combo would give you around 28 mph at a cadence of 90. If you spin out at a cadence of 120 you will be at nearly 40 mph, plenty fast for a controlled downhill. The 24 x 34 combo should climb like a mountain goat even pulling a lightly loaded trailer.

Wheels are still going to be an issue and could be the deal breaker. You can get into a decent set of 32-spoke wheels on Deore hubs with butted spokes and double-wall eyeletted rims for around $300. Another option would be to check with your LBS to see if they can get a wheelset for the 7.4 FX which comes with 3-cross 32-spoke wheels. Sometimes you can find good used higher spoke count wheels from an LBS when a customer "upgrades" to a lighter racing/road wheelset.

Side Note: I am all for supporting your LBSs. Some people get all up in arms when you mention Amazon but many of the sellers on Amazon are LBSs (including one of three that I frequent) and have both retail and online stores. It really doesn't matter to me as one of my LBSs is an Amazon seller and it and one other shop in the area price match Amazon, so I have no reason not to buy locally unless there is something the local shops can't get.

General Discussion / Re: Overcoming butt pain
« on: November 05, 2012, 08:42:02 am »
I'm new to multi-day touring but have been riding 100+ mile single days for a while and my recommendations reflect some of what has already been said:

  • Get a good bike fitting from an experienced professional fitter, working at a bike shop for a few years does not qualify one as an expert fitter.
  • Find good cycling shorts that work for you. You can use traditional touring shorts, MTB shorts, or undergarment type shorts. Beware of overly padded shorts that feel like you are wearing a diaper. A chamois is intended primarily to reduce friction, not provide padding. A well designed thin chamois is better than a thick wad of padding.
  • Find a good saddle that works for you. Too often riders go to a new saddle as their first fix for crotch or butt discomfort. Avoid cushy, wide or gel padded "comfort" saddles which are usually only comfortable for short rides on cruisers. More expensive does not mean better and nobody else can tell you which saddle will work best for you. Test rides are of limited value as you have to break in and get used to any new saddle which can take several hundred miles. A test ride will point out glaring problems but won't tell you much about how the saddle will feel three days into a tour. Avoid the tempation to tweak saddle position or get a new saddle within a couple days of a tour.
  • Do a long distance ride of 60 miles or more on your touring bike with at least a partial load at least once a week for training purposes. This is good for both conditioning and to try out equipment, load distribution, etc. Fine tune everything possible before you leave for the tour. Inadequate training is #2 right behind poor bike fit in saddle discomfort.
  • Take a break off the bike every hour or so. While riding, stand up and pedal for 20 revolutions or so every 15-20 minutes. Changing grip positions, especially from the tops to the drops, can change saddle position enough to give aching spots a break.
  • Don't go crazy with chamois creams, if you use them at all. A thin coating on friction areas is all that is needed. More doesn't reduce friction any better. You don't need expensive creams either, many riders use petroleum jelly or cocoa butter with fine results. Store brand hemorrhoid creams can be used to reduce friction and decrease inflammation on saddle contact areas but don't use these if you have skin breakdown. A&D or other zinc oxide ointments can be used on inflammed skin but can stain clothing.
  • If it is hot and humid or raining don't ride for extended periods in wet shorts. Carry an extra pair of bike shorts and a towel in a ziplock bag and take a break to dry out and change before skin breakdown begins. It is better to lose a couple of hours drying out at a rest stop than to spend days of misery due to skin breakdown.

Gear Talk / Re: MTB tires
« on: November 03, 2012, 10:49:52 am »
I've never used them for a multi-day event, but my mixed surface trail bike has Schwalbe Smart Sams and I'm very pleased with performance on paved surfaces as well as relatively stable turf, gravel and packed soil trails. They fall short when you get into serious mud or deep sandy surfaces.

Gear Talk / Re: Bushwhacker bags and panniers
« on: October 28, 2012, 06:07:30 pm »
Thanks for the replies.

There are no bike shops within 100 miles that I haven't been in before (several know me by name) and one of the two LBSs I frequent carries some Bushwhacker and can order any of their products. They also price match so my business stays local whenever possible. I just used Amazon for a link because it was a convenient way to find pictures and product descriptions. I have a Bontrager rack from an LBS and have been using it with a waterproof stuff sack and bungees to carry rain gear or an extra jacket when needed.

I'm still hoping to hear from someonewho has used Bushwhacker as they seem to be on the lower end of the price spectrum for LBS quality bags. I've had good luck with some less expensive, utilitarian but decent quality, cycling products and am wondering if these hold up well. The next price point up at my LBS is almost double the price. I'm not looking for cheap, just the best bang for the buck.

Gear Talk / Bushwhacker bags and panniers
« on: October 27, 2012, 08:16:09 pm »
Has anyone here used Bushwhacker trunk bags or panniers? I'm an avid day cyclist but am interested in getting into some weekend tours. Unfortunately the budget is very tight so I'm looking for a basic but durable set of bags for the rear rack to get started. I don't mind utilitarian but I don't want "cheap" bags that don't do the job or don't hold up.

Here is an example of what I am looking at:

I'm open to other suggestions for a set in the under $150 range if possible.

General Discussion / Re: Numbness, Tingling and Loss of strength in hand
« on: October 27, 2012, 07:41:48 pm »
+1 on getting bar ends if you ride with a flat bar. I've got Ergon GC2s on my flat bar touring bike and they give me multiple hand positions very similar to those I use on my drop bar road bike. On the drop bars I ride with my hands on the hoods probably 75% or more of the time and the GC2s give me an almost identical position on the flat bar.

I think one of the biggest hand and wrist problems is that I see many people riding "slammed" road bikes with the bar top well below the saddle. Great for sprints or short fast rides, dang rough for touring unless you are exceptionally flexible.

While riding I freqently open and close my hands multiple times, wiggle my fingers, or ride on level straightaways with my hands loosely resting over the bar ends. I catch myself locking my elbows when I'm tired and have to fight that tendency or my hands get numb. When it is safe to do so, I'll sit up a bit and take one hand at a time off the bar for a minute and let it hang while doing some wrist movements.

I also think that a lot of riders neglect training their upper bodies and loose strength and support in their upper backs, arms and wrists.

Urban Cycling / Expanding cycle touring in agricultural areas
« on: October 14, 2012, 10:17:50 am »
I live in the Red River Valley, a rural area of western MN and am lucky to have access to a huge network of well paved rural farm to market roads. These roads are designed for heavy farm equipment and loaded produce trucks, primarily sugar beets in this area. Because of this most are wide, heavily paved and well maintained. Outside of a few weeks in the spring and off and on again in the fall, the roads are very lightly used by traffic and almost not at all by cyclists. I find this unfortunate as this is beautiful country, flat to gently rolling, with lots of small rural communities filled with local restaurants, stores, and seasonal shops and stands. I often ride 75-100 miles seeing a vehicle only every 5 to 10 minutes and stopping in a small town every 15-20 miles. During 3/4 of the warm months it is ideal recreational cycling. There are college cities with active cycling communities within an hour or so in every direction, and the nearby lakes region is teaming with cyclists during the summer, but few people seem to have discovered this untapped region.

Any idea how to get the ball rolling on promoting this area as a cycling destination or at least a stop along the way for tours from the plains to the Great Lakes?

Urban Cycling / Re: Cycling in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota
« on: October 14, 2012, 09:29:29 am »
+1 for the Detroit Lakes Midsummer Tour. This was my first year as well and I found the event very well organized and the community festival a lot of fun. If you go, don't miss the post ride munchies at Zorbas, you get a coupon among the promotional items with your ride package.

OP, if you are still following this, I think I rode along side of you part of the way. Is your LHT black with a pannier? I was the guy on the red Trek 700 if you remember.

Urban Cycling / Re: top bicycle-friendly cities and towns
« on: July 09, 2012, 08:38:09 am »
The Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul MN are very cyclist friendly, especially around the U of M but many of the suburbs and recreational parks and lakes in the area have caught on too.

My vote for number one has to go to Fargo ND which is going all out to promote cycling and other healthy lifestyles. Wide MUPs been added throughout the city and are being included in all new development, but, beyond that, the city has restriped many of the main arteries through the city with well marked bike lanes and downtown there are signs everywhere that state "Bike may use full lane". There are nice bike racks everywhere in much of the city both in public places and in front of businesses. There are three separate high quality bike shops and an active bicycle co-op, several cycling clubs, numerous parks and trails, including long uninterupted paths along the river. There is even a cyclocross/MTB park and a skateboard/freecycling park. There are bicycle mounted police who are also active in the cycling community and don't hesitate to ticket anyone harrassing riders or illegally crossing/driving in the bike lanes. It doesn't get the publicity of some of the bigger cities, but for absolute bike friendliness, Fargo should be at the top of the list.

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