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Messages - John Nelson

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Routes / Re: Across U.S.A
« on: February 22, 2014, 10:10:31 am »
Check out the Adventure Cycling system map to see how much of it you can use on this trip.

Gear Talk / Re: Bear Resistant Canister
« on: February 20, 2014, 11:34:50 pm »
I agree too. There aren't enough nights where bears will be a problem. You can ask at NPS and NFS offices about recent bear activity in the area. If a bear box is available, use it. If not, hang your smellies (food and toiletries) far from your tent. Even if you don't hang it well enough, it will be far enough from your tent that all the bear will get is your stuff and not you. If other campers are in the area and they have vehicles, you can ask if you can put your smellies in their vehicle for the night. If there are no bear boxes, but there are bear-proof trash cans, then put your smellies in the trash can, underneath the trash bag.

When I did the TransAm, I used bear boxes in Grand Teton, Yellowstone and the Beaverhead Deerlodge National Forest (Montana). I hung my smellies in the Clearwater National Forest (Idaho). Those were the only five nights of the whole trip where bears were a concern. Much of the time you will spend overnight in a town, where bears are pretty rare.

Routes / Re: Pedalcycling across USA from Boston to Seattle within 20 Days
« on: February 18, 2014, 04:53:11 pm »
Wow, that's certainly a challenge, about 170 miles a day. I don't know anybody who's done that outside the Race Across America, but your prior adventures indicate that it's not that far outside your experiences. I'll sure be interested in hearing how it comes out! Good luck to you!

General Discussion / Re: touring in the rain?
« on: February 18, 2014, 02:58:05 pm »
Yes, I ride in the rain, mostly because sitting around in the rain can be pretty boring. I might take cover from time to time when there's a lot of lightening or hail, or when the rain is so hard I can't see where I'm going, but cover is not always available.

As to how I cope, it depends a lot on the temperature. If you tour in the summer, a lot of the time it's okay to just get wet. But if it's cold, I might start adding rain gear. If you're climbing or otherwise working hard, you will likely still get wet even with rain gear on. There's not much you can do about that. Pick your poison.

I don't consider rain covers for my shoes worth the weight and trouble. But I do take waterproof socks. Of course my feet still get wet from the sweat, but somehow it feels better to me.

International / Re: Flying into Paris
« on: February 17, 2014, 11:37:40 pm »
Do you want to visit Paris? Or is it just in your way on your route to Spain? Any chance you could switch your flight from CDG to Orly? That would get the city out of your path.

Discussions on "protection" come up from time to time. Given the debates in this country over the second amendment, it's a sensitive subject. If someone feels they need protection, it's hard to convince them otherwise. I recommend that you carry the same protection on tour that you carry around your home town, given that you follow all applicable laws of the states you tour through of course.

Gear Talk / Re: Retiring, getting into self contained touring
« on: February 17, 2014, 05:07:38 pm »
Having met hundreds of touring cyclists on the road, it seems to me that most of them are traveling heavy, many more use panniers than trailers, and more than half use all four panniers. So if you have no idea what you're going to like, and if you believe in the wisdom of crowds, you might consider a bike that can go loaded.

Comparing the Jamis Aurora Elite with the Raleigh Sojourn, I'll note that both have road-bike gearing. If running heavy, I strongly prefer touring bikes to have mountain bike gearing to get lower gearing. The Raleigh, however, has lower gearing than the Jamis. The Jamis has a lowest gear of 27 gear inches. The Raleigh has a lowest of 24 gear inches. Note that the LHT and the 520 have a lowest gear of 20 gear inches, which I think is just about right. Both are suitable for heavy loads, having 36-spoke wheels, and a steel frame and fork. The Jamis has higher quality derailleurs, but costs more (probably due in part because of that). Both have wide tires (Jamis has 32 and Raleigh has 35--I would personally prefer the 35, but that's not much difference and easily replaced). The Raleigh comes standard with a Brooks B-17 saddle, which I consider a great plus.

Given the two above, I'd probably go with the Raleigh. But I'd rather have a Surly Long Haul Trucker or a Trek 520 instead of either of those two. If you decide to go ultralight, I'd look for a good aluminum road bike with 32-spoke wheels.

Connecting ACA Routes / Re: ACA Northern Tier
« on: February 17, 2014, 04:32:03 pm »
I know very little about riding a bicycle in Maine except what I experienced on the Northern Tier. Campgrounds along the NT in Maine seem to be mostly private, and pretty expensive in peak season (so you might want to go before Memorial Day or after Labor Day). There does seem to be a reasonable supply of Warm Showers hosts along the NT in Maine. I stayed with two. I also liked Whitney's Wilderness Cabins near Woolwich, which gets you a cabin with electricity but no running water for $25.

As you know, Maine has lots of sleepy roads, lots of trees, lots of rivers, lots of bridges, and lots of hills.

It seems a fair way from where you live to the Northern Tier, but depending on how much time you have, you could work your way up to Fryeburg, across to Bar Harbor on the NT, and then back home on a bus along the coast. Within Maine, the NT goes through Fryeburg, Lovell, Sweden, Bridgton, Naples, Webbs Mills, Shaker Village, Danville, Penleys Corner, Durham, Brunswick, Bath, Woolwich, Wiscasset, North Edgecomb, Newcastle, Damariscotta, Waldoboro, Warren, West Rockport, Rockport, Camden, Lincolnville Center, Belfast, Searsport, Stockton Springs, Verona, Bucksport, Orland, East Orland, Ellsworth, Trenton, Mount Desert, and Bar Harbor.

General Discussion / Re: Gastric Bypass and EPIC bike rides.
« on: February 16, 2014, 09:31:05 pm »
Running marathons is not a good comparison for bicycle touring. Marathon runners often take in no calories at all during the run, and if they do, it's almost certainly liquid (e.g., Gatorade). As a cycle tourist, you will have to take in calories as you ride or you won't make it. And your recovery will rely on you being able to take in more calories after you stop.

I think you should ask your doctor how many calories it is possible for your body to absorb over a given period of time if you have the surgery. My guess is that this is limited (which seems to be the point of the surgery). I seriously question whether you would be able to successfully ride six straight hours after the surgery. But I would certainly think you would be able to do the TransAm anyway. The question is only how long it would take you. Maybe you could alternate an hour of riding with an hour of resting.

I agree with your objective to find another long-distance bicycle tourist who has had this surgery. You may get lucky here (or over at CGOAB) and find one to give you advice. If not, however, your doctor can hopefully guide you--using better equivalents than marathons. Specifically, you should ask your doctor what strategy will allow you to engage in vigorous exercise for six hours a day, day after day for months. If this is not possible, then ask how many hours of vigorous exercise you will be able to do a day, day after day for months. Even if it's only three hours a day, you can still get across the country. It'll just take longer. But hey, you'll be retired. Practically, you'll have at least from May through September. That's five months. Even at three hours a day and 9 MPH, you'll make it across.

General Discussion / Re: Gastric Bypass and EPIC bike rides.
« on: February 16, 2014, 10:59:30 am »
Sorry, I got nothin' either. But I like the idea of doing the TransAm this year rather than later. There's always some reason to wait before you do your epic ride, but you just have to decide to go anyway. People who are completely out of shape can still do the TransAm if they take their time and start slowly. You get in shape as you go.

Routes / Re: Pacific Coast Route Northbound
« on: February 14, 2014, 05:18:52 pm »
weather patterns are dependent on where in the world you live
Correct. Well, I guess it doesn't really depend on where you live since the weather patterns in San Francisco are the same whether you or I live in Cleveland or Miami. But weather patterns do depend on where you are looking.

Routes / Re: Erie Canal Bike Trail - Stone Dust trails
« on: February 14, 2014, 11:55:59 am »
I should have mentioned that my 100 miles were from Lockport to Palmyra. I don't know anything about the condition of the canal in other places.

Routes / Re: Erie Canal Bike Trail - Stone Dust trails
« on: February 13, 2014, 08:20:18 pm »
I rode a hundred miles of it in the summer of 2012. It rode almost exactly like pavement, other than the fact that you bike gets dusty. Don't give it a second thought. It will be no problem at all. And you'll never need to shift gears as it is dead level.

Routes / Re: Northern Tier - bike shops in Bangor or Bar Harbor
« on: February 13, 2014, 09:44:51 am »
I used the Bar Harbor Bicycle Shop ( to ship my bicycle home after finishing my Northern Tier in 2012. They were very professional and very competent, although a bit slow. It took a full month for my bike to arrive home. I fact, my bike sat around in their basement so long that they had to contact me to make sure which bike was mine.

General Discussion / Re: Best routes for newbies?
« on: February 13, 2014, 08:05:41 am »
In my opinion, the TransAm is best for beginners. It is the oldest route, has the most infrastructure and support, is mostly on sleepy back roads, and passes through areas of great scenic and historic interest. You will also meet many other touring cyclists. The weather is generally cooperative in the summer.

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