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Topics - RossKB

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Gear Talk / Windy--App Recommendation
« on: July 13, 2024, 03:23:41 pm »
I just finished a TransAmerica tour on Monday and I wanted to recommend an app that I found very valuable.  The windy app (different from provides almost hourly wind predictions across a wide variety of locations.  Last week I was biking down the Columbia River Gorge and with the extreme heat (sometimes afternoon temps getting up around 100), I am not sure I would have been able to continue if I hadn't had pretty good confidence that the winds would be mild.  Obviously there is not much one can do about the winds, but the windy app can give you a sense of how much you can gain by time-shifting your riding.  (Usually earlier in the day.). I learned about this app during a stop at Adventure Cycling in Missoula.  Thanks Jeff.  Best, Ross Bassett

General Discussion / Avoiding Grizzly Encounters While on the Road
« on: June 17, 2024, 02:56:43 pm »
I suppose this is an ever relevant topic, especially with the TransAm going through the Tetons and Yellowstone.  Understandably most of the posts in previous threads I have read have been related to camping, but I wonder if people can give any guidance on avoiding bear encounters when on the road.  I am doing the TransAm solo and am coming to Colter Bay from DuBois this Saturday.  Specifically:
--Is there a time that is too early to ride?  I like to start early, even before sunrise (sometimes 4:30am)  to get miles in and enjoy the quiet.  Maybe that could be problematic in grizzly country on several levels.  Maybe there would be increased bear activity at this hour of the day.  Also I would imagine a decent level of car traffic would lead bears to stay clear of roads, but if there aren’t cars around….  (Maybe in this case, cars are your friend.).   I see from a 2013 AADT that there is a good level of traffic on 287 into Moran Junction.  (but in the early morning?)
--Maybe the risk is super small, but with all the talk about storing food-bearing panniers, it seems to me like whatever food-aroma comes from panniers on a moving bike, could be the equivalent of the music coming from one of those old-timey ice cream trucks.   Also if bears are more and more used to humans does the old advice about making noise (attaching bells, etc.)  still apply? 
--It seems like there are different opinions on bear spray.   My gut feel is that the risk of a bear encounter is  small and I would be unlikely to use spray effectively, but I would be interested in hearing any thoughts. 
Thanks a lot.
Ross Bassett in Saratoga, WY

Gear Talk / Flat Bar Touring Bike--Upgrade or New?
« on: January 18, 2023, 11:14:33 am »
I am planning on doing the TransAm leaving at the end of April.  I have a 29er Cannondale Trail (I forget the number—somewhere in the middle) that I have had for three years and really like.  I put around 5000-6000 miles on it a year, often carrying heavy loads (I do my grocery shopping with it) and have done several Eastern tours of 600-700 miles with it.  My thought was to take it in to my LBS where I bought it,  get a new 1x drive train with lower gearing (my lowest gear is around 29” now), replace the suspension fork with a carbon fork that had mounting points for a front rack (which I may or may not need), and get new and stronger wheels.  When I went to my LBS, which I have been going to for 20 years, they said, “You need a new bike,” and they then proceeded to suggest a Cannondale Topstone 2 gravel bike.  (around $2000). I have ridden flat bar bikes for the last 15 years.  After telling them that, they gave me the lines about drop bars being more aerodynamic and providing more hand positions, which they said would be needed for the TransAm.  When I said I didn’t think it wise to change my biking style at this point, they offered to switch it over to flat bars.  The Topstone I was looking at had a lowest gear of around 25” and when I expressed concern about that, they offered to change the drivetrain.  They offered to make any mods necessary to make it work for me.  After leaving the LBS I wondered if there might be a new bike that might be better suited to what I want to do and came across the Surly Bridge Club.  It is an all steel bike and may not have the most “modern” features, but it seemed to be well suited for my ride.  There was a review of it in Adventure Cycling that had a paragraph that resonated with me.  “You can devote a lot of mental real estate to thinking about this bike or that bike, these parts or those parts, but sometimes what you really want is a bike you don’t think about at all.”  That’s what I want. It doesn’t have to be the lightest bike or the most high tech bike, but a bike that just lets me ride without requiring a lot of mental effort spent on the bike. One of the things I love about bike touring (I always ride solo) is being able to ride my ride.  Is it unreasonable to upgrade my existing bike?  I am someone who is conservative by temperament and I don’t like to change things just for the sake of change. (I am looking at you software upgrades!).  Does anyone have experience with the Surly Bridge Club?—it seems like it would require little modification for what I want.  I don’t doubt the good faith of the folks at my LBS, but maybe our temperaments are different.   Thanks a lot for any thoughts people might have!!

Routes / Western Variants for an East to West Trans Am
« on: January 09, 2023, 09:21:24 am »
I have been lurking on these forums for some time and really appreciate the spirit of camaraderie and the wisdom people are willing to share.

I am a 63 year old man planning to solo across the country east to west starting at the end of April.  A couple of my key desires/constraints are that I would like to stay in roofed lodging as much as possible and I would like to do rail trails to the extent they are reasonable options.  I figure that staying in roofed lodging makes me happier, gains me a couple of hours every day and gives me wife peace of mind that I am out of harm’s way for some hours of the day.  I have done a lot of solo touring in the East, but I understand Eastern solitude is nothing like Western solitude.  I plan on doing the Eastern Express, then doing the Flint Hills Nature Trail to Council Grove and then joining the TransAm in Great Bend, taking it basically up to Missoula.  I had a couple of questions:
--Given the traffic and sparse lodging facilities in the Tetons/Yellowstone, does it make sense to do the ACA bypass west, staying in Ashton?  I am imaging that lodging in Yellowstone is sold out well in advance and won’t work well with a schedule that may have some wiggle in it. (I have been to Yellowstone a number of times before.)
--I had been intrigued by the possibility of going west from St. Regis, Montana largely on rail trails, but discussions in previous forums (thanks jamawani) convinced me that the Cascades to Palouse trail was a bridge out too far—especially for someone going solo.   But I would still like to do the Trail of the Coeur D’Alenes, so I was thinking about taking it to Plummer and then taking 95 down to Lewiston/Clarkston and then doing the Lewis and Clark to Oceanside.  The Idaho bike maps seem to show that 95 has good shoulders.  Does that make sense? 
--In the east I feel comfortable knowing I’ll be able to find roofed lodging, but out west, having a tent/sleeping bag backup seems essential.  I am thinking of sending my camping gear out to myself in Great Bend, Kansas or thereabouts. 

Thanks for any advice people can share!

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