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Messages - John Nelson

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Gear Talk / Re: Bring or buy?
« on: December 08, 2009, 10:34:23 am »
Shipping a bike can be expensive so it's at least worth considering buying after you get there.

Note that you'd do best to pre-order what you want from a particular bike shop to ensure that what will work for you is in stock. This includes the racks and panniers and tires you want. I would suggest that you ride the exact model and size for a while before you come so that you know what will work. Perhaps you could rent the bike you are considering buying. It would be a big risk to start a cross-country trip on a bike with which you have little prior experience.

Personally, my risk level would suggest that I bring, even if it costs more. Too many variables when you buy just before the trip. Also note that you'll pay return shipping in either case, so you're only taking about $200 difference.

Routes / Re: Pueblo, CO to Durango, CO
« on: December 06, 2009, 10:03:07 pm »
Follow the ACA Western Express Route, Section 4, from Pueblo to Ridgeway. From there you can take highway 550 south to Durango. Or, for a somewhat longer route, take highway 62 and 145 to Cortez, and then highway 160 to Durango. The scenery in southwestern Colorado cannot be beat.

For other ideas, go to and click on "About Us" and then "history". You'll find 23 years of old routes. Pretty much any road used by RTR is an acceptable road for cycling.

Generally, the higher the traffic load, the wider the shoulder. It's hard to find low-traffic roads with wide shoulders. The widest shoulders are on the Interstate highways, which are legal to ride on in much of the West but you need to check because they are not all legal to ride on. Interstate highways, however, aren't much fun to ride on in my opinion and the shoulder sometimes has a lot of debris. A compromise perhaps is to stick with US highways, which have less traffic than interstates but often still have good shoulders.

You might consider the wide cart to be a safety advantage. Drivers will typically give you a bit more leeway (even if they do it subconciously) with a wide trailer, and if they do hit you, it will be more likely that they'll just hit the trailer.

General Discussion / Re: Advice for a cross-country trip
« on: November 30, 2009, 07:23:12 pm »
A month and a half is tight. That's approximately a century a day, certainly doable if you're in great shape, but doesn't leave much time for smelling the roses. I'd try to extend the time available if possible. You might consider combining the TA with the Western Express to cut off almost 500 miles. Pack light, very light.

Routes / Re: Which Direction TransAm Best -E to W or W to E?
« on: November 17, 2009, 10:04:51 pm »
I only know what I read. I've never ridden the hills of the Appalachians or Ozarks, but I have ridden extensively in the Rockies. I think it's not just that the eastern hills have steeper gradients, but that there are a hundred of them in a row. Perhaps this is because the TransAm follows the back roads which have not been extensively graded. But there aren't many back roads through the Rockies because there are far fewer roads in total.

Routes / Re: Which Direction TransAm Best -E to W or W to E?
« on: November 17, 2009, 02:42:46 pm »
Pete has given some good reasons for west to east. I'm choosing east to west for the following reasons:

 - It allows an earlier start, avoiding the worst of the heat in the midwest and the worst of the cold in the high-altitude west.
 - The earlier start affords me longer days (on average), centering the trip around the summer solstice.
 - Since more of my riding is likely to be in the early morning than in the late afternoon, I avoid more of riding into the sun, and avoid more of having the drivers behind me blinded by the sun.
 - I get the worst hills over with earlier, and save the best scenery for last.
 - Donna Ikenberry's book asserts that east-to-west riders have a statistically higher probability of success. I think that might be mentioned somewhere on this ACA site as well.

General Discussion / Re: Florida Keys: Safe to ride?
« on: November 16, 2009, 11:40:09 pm »
I'm glad to hear things are better these days. After reading Miles From Nowhere, I wouldn't go anywhere near Florida, let alone the Keys, on a bicycle.

Gear Talk / Re: Question about Trek 520 on ebay
« on: November 12, 2009, 12:54:47 pm »
Well, it's not a 2005 Trek 520 as you can see from this picture from the Trek site:

But you can see that other years, such as the 2003, did have more top tube slope:

The angle of the ebay photograph (i.e., not straight on) distorts the slope somewhat, so it's difficult to do a direct comparison. The downtube shifters on this bike give it away as being much older than 2005. Trek's online archives don't go back any farther than 2003.

Routes / Re: TransAm Map Set Update Schedule?
« on: October 31, 2009, 01:12:10 am »
I'm not quite sure how you're going to "keep your eyes out for any updates." It's not easy to tell when updates are available, nor what version you'll get if you order.

Gear Talk / Re: Tire Question
« on: October 29, 2009, 10:44:00 pm »
I only have 100 miles on each pair, all on paved roads, and so far I don't notice any difference. But I'm not that sensitive to tire feel.

Gear Talk / Re: Tire Question
« on: October 29, 2009, 06:04:32 pm »
Just FYI, a few months ago, I ordered a pair of Marathon XR and a pair of Marathon Supremes, both in size 700x35 and both from the same vendor at the same time. When I got them, I weighed them on my kitchen food scale. As you might expect, the actual weights didn't exactly match the advertised weights, presumably due to manufacturing variations. Here are the numbers:

Marathon XR: Advertised=590g Actual=497g
Marathon Supreme: Advertised=440g Actual=431g

So the weight difference between the two was not as great for my tires as the difference you would expect from the Schwalbe specifications.

Gear Talk / Re: Tire Question
« on: October 29, 2009, 12:44:09 pm »
The Marathon Racer is a perfectly acceptable touring tire. Compared to the Marathon XR, it sacrifices a bit of puncture protection and durability for speed. It's also somewhat less expensive than the XR. It's a tradeoff you'll have to make, but both options are good. I think if I was planning a 4000-mile trip and hoped to make it on one set of tires, I'd stick to the XR. But if your trip is shorter or you're willing to change tires, the Racer is fine.

Gear Talk / Re: Emergency Cassette Lock Ring Removal
« on: October 28, 2009, 10:45:17 pm »
Interesting discovery, but I don't think I'd want to rely on that working when I needed it to. If I ever get into a true emergency, however, I might give it a try.

Routes / Re: TransAm Map Set Update Schedule?
« on: October 28, 2009, 09:21:05 pm »
Several of the sections (e.g., 9, 10, 11) already have 2009 versions. I would guess that the rest of the sections will get new versions before your trip. I know you are eager, but hold off. You don't need the maps yet (I know that you want them now, but you don't need them now). From my experience, ACA does not provide an answer to the question you asked. They still need to clear out their existing inventory.

Gear Talk / Re: Tire Question
« on: October 28, 2009, 04:33:46 pm »
I guess its between the Extreme, Supreme, XR or Plus?

Here's my take.

Chose the Plus if you place a very high value on puncture protection, and little value on anything else.

Otherwise, choose the Extreme if the majority of your riding will be on unpaved roads.

Otherwise, choose the Supreme if you place a high value on low weight.

Otherwise, choose the XR. When in doubt, choose the XR.

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