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Messages - John Nelson

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Gear Talk / Re: Ultra Light TransAm Ride
« on: June 03, 2013, 09:57:26 am »
"9 speed" is still incomplete information. What is the number of teeth on the largest and smallest cogs?

There are a number of good handlebar bags. I use and like the Ortlieb Ultimate 5 Classic medium.

If your experience tells you that you don't need a sleeping pad, then save the weight. Most people, however, need one or at least think they need one.

Gear Talk / Re: Ultra Light TransAm Ride
« on: June 03, 2013, 12:17:22 am »
I plan to leave San Francisco in mid-June and arrive Sag Harbor, NY... well sometime in early August.
That is a cross-country ride, but it's not the TransAm.

1) Should I upgrade the drive train and/or change the gearing ratio.  I read everywhere that you need 26 or 28 on the low end. If you're young, strong, have good knees, well-trained and don't mind walking some of the hills, then keep what you've got. You only gave half the equation (chainring specs), however, so we really don't know what your gears are. What cassette do you have?
2) Should I ditch the auxiliary brake levers.  They are handy in traffic, but seem to really restrict front bag options. There are extenders for handlebar bag mounts if you want to keep them. I, however, find the levers unnecessary.
3) Should I change my saddle?  Saddles are very personal. If you have a lot of comfortable miles on it, keep the one you have.
4) Should I go for a full rear rack instead of the Arkel Randonneur?  Huge difference in weight carrying potential. If you're going ultralight, you don't need weight-carrying potential.
5) Are 25mm tires OK or should I move up to 28s? I would move up, if they will fit. Wider is more comfortable for the long term, and is easier on the wheels. But if you are going ultralight, the 25s will work.
6) What is the best front bag IF any at all. There's no such thing as "best". Do you mean front panniers or handlebar bag? If you're going ultralight, you don't need front panniers.
7) Sleeping pad.  Do I really need one?  Done a lot of camping and have been OK in 9/10 situations. If you can sleep comfortably and warm directly on the ground, then no, you don't need one. But remember that pads are as important for insulation as for warmth. Have you camped in the mountains before? When are you starting?
8) Computer... Does it make any sense to bring a laptop?  Or should I just stick with my iPhone and coffee shops? Entirely a personal choice. A laptop is not entirely consistent with "ultralight."
9) Is a Garmin GPS device even remotely necessary? ($$) I don't think so, especially if you have good maps. Life goes by slowly enough on a bicycle that you usually have plenty of time to figure out where you're going.
10) Adventure Cycling Maps of the TransAm route.  Are the necessary? If you're on the route, they'll pay for themselves by finding you free places to sleep, and they will keep you off of dangerous roads (for the most part). If you're not on the route, they're useless.

General Discussion / Re: Shipping bike box to final destination
« on: June 01, 2013, 11:56:09 pm »
I don't know anything about shipping in Europe, but when I've checked into shipping a bike box in the U.S., I found that it's as expensive to ship an empty box as to ship a full one.

General Discussion / Re: Cleaning your bike on a long tour
« on: May 31, 2013, 01:28:41 pm »
The bike I have has come with two spare spokes attached, so I guess that I can use those.
Maybe, maybe not. Bikes almost always use at least two different length spokes, and sometimes three. The spokes that typically break are the drive side rear, and those cannot be changed unless you also bring something to remove the cassette with (e.g., the Stein Mini Cassette Lockring tool). If you get a FiberFix (about $10), you can temporarily replace a spoke anywhere with no tools. Those two spare spokes attached may come in handy, however, even if you don't have the tools to use them, if you happen to come to a bike shop that is out of spokes in your size.

General Discussion / Re: Cleaning your bike on a long tour
« on: May 31, 2013, 10:45:11 am »
- Wet lube + rag / cloth Lube--yes. rag--no, you can use paper towels or napkins you get along the way
- 1x spare inner tube Yes, definitely. I'd take two.
- Multi-tool Yes, as long as it is bicycle specific and is has only what you need (i.e., is one of the smaller ones)
- 1x spare brake pads Yes, maybe even two sets
- Hand pump Yes. I prefer one with a built-in gauge like the Topeak Road Morph
- puncture repair kit Yes, definitely
- Spoke tool Yes, although the multi-tool usually has one
- Chain tool Yes, although the multi-tool usually has one

Other things:
 - Something to fix a broken spoke. The minimalist approach, which is sufficient for most problems, is a FiberFix or two. Get a real spoke at the next bike shop you come to, and put the FiberFix back in your kit for later reuse.
 - Tire?? Probably not needed if you start the tour with new, high-quality tires. But if you have crappy or worn tires, you probably want to take a spare.
 - Tire lever(s) to remove tire when you fix a flat. The multitool may have one or more.
 - Spare bolts for your rack
 - Spare cables, one of each brake and derailleur
 - Something to serve as a tire boot, like a 3" piece of an old tire with the bead cut off, or maybe just a piece of Tyvek
 - Spare master link or two (in case your chain breaks or gets mangled)

General Discussion / Re: Cleaning your bike on a long tour
« on: May 31, 2013, 09:44:49 am »
Do people ever tend to bother with bike cleaners on tour?
No. You should focus your thoughts on what not to take, rather than what to take. Bike cleaners are way up there on the "not" list. The fact that you would even consider it suggests that you have the wrong mindset about your equipment list. Try thinking, "what do I need to stay alive?"

Depending on where you are, "summer" can be pretty damn cold. Clothing choices should be made based on expected weather for when and where you will be. No blanket advice applies.

Trek has produced the 520 for years. Comments have been weak rear rack and not low enough gearing.
Old information never dies. Prior to 2009, the Trek 520 had road-bike components and was not ideally suited for touring despite being a touring bike. Starting with 2009, however, the Trek 520 has mountain-bike components and has as low gearing as any other touring bike.

It is true that the standard rack on the 520 is not the strongest rack around, but many people use it without problems. If it still makes one nervous, however, it's easy enough to replace it with a Tubus.

General Discussion / Re: In low gear and can't ride up hill!
« on: May 26, 2013, 04:25:48 pm »
No, it's not normal. Yes, your legs could use more training. No, it is not what you should expect. In addition to stronger legs, you also need lower gearing. You'll get there.

General Discussion / Re: Anyone know about Steven P.?
« on: May 25, 2013, 11:53:52 pm »
You are referring to Stephen Plummer. He rode 3400 miles in 5 months in 2011 before taking a train home. You can try to email him at stevenp at integra dot net. He left you a message over at CGOAB on March 6, 2012, to which you responded on September 29, 2012.

Pacific Northwest / Re: route
« on: May 24, 2013, 09:47:51 am »
Unless you already have plane tickets to Seattle, I would recommend flying into Bellingham. Frontier, probably the most bike-friendly airline in the world, flies into there and my flight to Bellingham was cheaper than a flight into Seattle. Furthermore, my bike and equipment bag flew free. Bellingham is a small airport. You can assemble your bike right at baggage claim and it's an easy ride out of the airport. You can follow the Pacific Coast route the short distance down to Bay View (or on to Anacortes if you prefer, like I did) to pick up the Northern Tier.

Routes / Re: Hotels in Astoria, OR
« on: May 23, 2013, 11:58:21 am »
In 2010, I stayed in a hostel bunk at the Norblad Hotel for $20.

Some people swear by their Leatherman, but before you buy and carry one, ask yourself exactly what maintenance on the bike requires one. Very little to none. Yea, sure, there are some theoretical things you might do with it, but most are unlikely and you can figure out other ways to do those things.

Sure, you can ship anything.

Most tandems are set up so that both people pedal at the same cadence.

It's best to get a bike shop to help you through all the decisions to find what's right for you. You can also study the information available on the Co-Motion web site. You usually pick a base model from their standard selection and then select the options from there. Check out the Co-Motion Speedster line. It might be what you want. You might want a bit wider tires. The custom sizing adds $450 to the price. Couplers, if you need to travel by air, adds another $2000 and the travel case another $720. Racks add $250. The Thudbuster $140. You're above $9000 now. You don't need them, but you might want to go farther and get the belt drive and Rohloff hub.

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