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General Discussion / Re: Complete newb, TA in 2014
« on: August 28, 2013, 12:21:16 am »
for what it's worth I have a 16 year old? REI Randonee.  I used it to do Portland to SF 15 years ago, and plan to do the TA with it next summer.  There were a couple of hills where the 25 inch low wasn't enough, and I swapped the 26 granny ring for a 24 a couple years back to give a 23.  That will be borderline for the TA I think but OK.  And of course some components have worn out and have been replaced over the years, but it's a good steel frame. It sits outside at work about 4 days a week, and the paint is cooked from the AZ sun, but it still rides just fine.

Guess the point is, get a good solid mid range bike and it will last you for years.  Expensive frequently means ultra light which means fragile.  Cheap means poor quality which means quick wear out.  In the case of mine, the only significant "non-wear" item to break was the STI brake/shift levers.  Replaced with straight brake levers and down tube shifters and never looked back.

Only thing I need do before the TA is grease, new cassette, chain, tires (worn from commuting), and seat (16 years old, sun cooked).

Now I did spend a bunch on a new tent, sleeping bag, pad, new Panniers....

General Discussion / Re: Self inflating pad / Neo air reliability
« on: August 28, 2013, 12:08:39 am »
Well, I went ahead and bought it.  I also picked up a set of REI "Gotham" panniers to replace my aging REI "Explorer" panniers that are coming apart after 15 years of commuting.  I figure that they should be fine, and at $63 a steal.

So now I am pretty much set, unless I decide to replace my Trangia alcohol stove (unlikely).  I just have to wait for June.  I had hoped to go this year, but my boss said no, project is too important. So next year...

General Discussion / Re: Self inflating pad / Neo air reliability
« on: August 26, 2013, 05:23:51 pm »
Thanks John.  Good input.
I realize the neo isn't technically self inflating, but it's closer to that than a traditional air mattress.
If I get one (likely), I'll remember to NOT leave it inflated in the sun!

General Discussion / Self inflating pad / Neo air reliability
« on: August 26, 2013, 03:02:40 pm »
Planning for Trans AM - REI has Neo air on sale this week, but the guys there told me not to use one due to reliability risk.  They said to use a foam pad or Z rest.

The price is right, and affordable for me, but I don't want a crisis half way thru an 11 week Trans am trip.

Are the sales guys over reacting?
Should I just buy one and not worry?

Routes / Re: Southern Tier timing and direction
« on: June 20, 2013, 11:40:18 pm »
My Son lives in LA, so I was thinking I'd drive over, have him take me to San Diego, and leave my truck with him.  Then I'd fly back to LAX and drive home.  Or drive to LA, have him drive me to LAX, then ride west and have him pick me up in San Diego.

So, I'd do it all in the same direction, and could do either.

Routes / Re: Southern Tier timing and direction
« on: June 19, 2013, 07:50:59 pm »
Thanks - I'm going to make an off hand guess that if ACA has a paid tour almost exactly matching my plan, I must not be too far off.

Good info.  That would suggest that West to East does make sense.  I can manage our "dry heat" (my 10 mile ride home from work yesterday was at 110*).  But climbing into a sleeping bag still slimy on humid nights... not as much.

Routes / Re: Southern Tier timing and direction
« on: June 18, 2013, 07:41:45 pm »
staehpj1 - I did do some searching and say that you suggested to several others to start in February.

I do have a bit of limitation here though. 

I am hoping to take an early retirement package that requires I leave by Dec 31. And I have a Sabbatical that I want to use, so I must start by mid October at the latest. 

The ACA site says Sept - Mar, and being a desert dweller, I felt earlier would work.

W-E is likely a bit easier for me as well, but E-W isn't that much harder, so I am looking for things like weather, wind, ....


Routes / Southern Tier timing and direction
« on: June 18, 2013, 03:30:42 pm »
Looking for some advice here.  I was planning to do the Trans Am this summer (like about now), but job says no.  So either I wait a year, or more likely do the Southern Tier later this year.

So - My thought is to do the southern tier mid Sept to Mid Nov.  I am thinking 8-9 weeks, which seems a pretty leisurly pace? 

I live and cycle commute in Phoenix, so I do have some heat tolerance.  I know that late Sept is still warm in the desert Southwest, but nothing I can't handle.  What I don't know about is the rest of the route.

Also, I could realistically do either direction... What are the pros and cons of each?



Gear Talk / Re: shifters
« on: November 29, 2012, 11:14:18 pm »
Interesting, but pricey.  My 7 speed STI level died so i just bought some NOS shimano 105 down tube levers for about $30.  Franly, i adapted back in minutes.  I doubt i'll bother with STI again.

Routes / Re: Timing and weather
« on: October 29, 2012, 09:47:21 pm »

Thanks for the info - we should talk as I am also in Mesa, about the same age, and gee, I have a son Mark M (but he lives in LA).
I left you a PM


Gear Talk / Re: Thermarest pads - are Neoairs that much better?
« on: October 22, 2012, 03:14:49 pm »
Good inputs.  I looked up the Exped SynMat, and while it is cheaper, it is MUCH heavier.  Yes, I am in the AARP age group (56), but i sleep on my stomache or back more than on my side, and prefer a firm matress. But I will admit that while the 1 " thermorest I have now is OK, it's not super comfy.

Guess I'll be watching to see if someone put's the Neoair's on sale. If not, watch for another REI 20% one item in the spring.

Gear Talk / Re: Well, here we first touring bike is........?
« on: October 21, 2012, 10:26:40 pm »
Fit is king. Since you have a significant background, I presume you have at least one bike that just fits and feels like it's part of you.  If so, which of the two matches the best?


Gear Talk / Re: REI Novara Safari
« on: October 20, 2012, 08:51:02 pm »
I too have a Randonee. Mine is about 15 years old. Only one long tour under it so far, that was Portland to San Francisco on the ACA Pacific coast route. Other than being a little short on gearing for a couple of the more severe climbs, it did great. In the 15 years since, it has done commute duty, being left out in the hot Arizona sun all day, and other than the paint being faded, it works just fine. Oh yes, the STI shifters that my year came with gave up the ghost a year or so ago, and will replaced with downtube levers .  But the New models use bar end shifters anyway, which is a better choice.

From what I see in the specs, the new ones are even better yet in terms of the equipment that they have on them. So you should be fine.

I intend to use my now 15-year-old bike to do the Trans Am next summer. Other than the smallest chain ring which I have already swapped from a 26 to a 24, the previously mentioned shifters, and replacement of wear items, I expect to use it as it sits, and doubt I'll have any issues.

When I bought mine, the Randonee was more like half the price of alternatives such as TREK. Nowadays it's still cheaper though not by nearly as much. Still when you consider that it is cheaper and you get 10% back at the end of the year, I think it's one of the better values out there.

Just the two cents from a satisfied owner.


Gear Talk / Re: How much does a sleeping bag liner increase warmth?
« on: October 20, 2012, 08:41:30 pm »
Well, the sale reappeared today, so I bit.   

Staehpj1-I decided your advice was good, and in looking at the numbers and realizing that the EN rating of my old bag is actually 17°, and that most the time I sleep a little colder than many people, I decided that yes the Phantom 32 was a better choice. So it looks like this decision is made now.

So I got the Big Agnes fly Creek UL 2 4 a tent, Nashbar waterproof front panniers to replace my worn-out REI rear panniers, a Phantom 32 as a lighter less overheating replacement for my marmot bag. Now I guess all I need is to replace my obsolete thermal arrest pad, find my old Trangia stove, and wait nine months to start.

Guess I'm getting anxious!

Gear Talk / Thermarest pads - are Neoairs that much better?
« on: October 20, 2012, 10:51:10 am »
Another gear question from me...

I have a ~15 yr old 3/4 lenght Thermarest pad. It works and holds air fine.  It has been stored uncompressed, so still fully inflates.

But I read about these new neoair pads - much thicker, cushier, warmer, lighter......but spendy at $130-$200.

Does anyone have experience with both the old and the new?  Are the neoair pads worth the upgrade cost.
This is for 11 weeks TransAm next summer (and likely other shorter rides in the future).

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