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Messages - John Nelson

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General Discussion / Re: Camping on the TramsAm
« on: April 09, 2013, 11:25:15 am »
For me also, the trip would be diminished by the van. But plenty of van-supported cyclists have a great time. To each his own.

A van can save a lot on up-front equipment costs. You don't really have to worry about stretches with lack of food or water. You're not constrained to eating what's available along the route, since the van can go off-route to pick up food. You can quit for the day in the middle of nowhere since the van can shuttle you to where you will stay for the night. The van can stay behind and pack up, allowing the cyclists to get out earlier. It can travel ahead and make all the arrangements for food and lodging. It can shorten the trip by allowing the cyclists to ride much farther in a day. It can detect problems on the route and scout out detours. It frees you up from worrying about most mechanical and physiological breakdowns. It provides emergency shelter during storms. The van driver can take care of daily chores such as laundry and shopping.

A van solves many problems, perhaps too many. It can turn an epic adventure into a series of day rides, not that there's anything wrong with that.

General Discussion / Re: Camping on the TramsAm
« on: April 08, 2013, 09:50:13 pm »
Regarding the van: some yes, some no. The dogs might limit you further.

Most churches, fire departments and town parks probably won't care if you have a van, and probably will be okay with the dogs, although they likely won't let you bring them inside.

Private homes and Warm Showers hosts will be on a case-by-case basis. Be considerate and make sure you call ahead, tell them about the van and dogs, and give them an easy chance to say no. Some of these people may feel that a van-supported group doesn't need their support as much as others, and many are not equipped to handle your dogs.

Hiker/biker sites in Yellowstone and Grand Teton are not available to those with a vehicle. An individual site will be cheaper for you anyway than seven times the per-person rate, although you face the possibility of a full campground. Send the van ahead early to reserve a spot.

I would guess that 90% of the cyclist-only camping spots will still be available to your van-supported group. You might miss out on a few more because of the dogs. You can send the van ahead to check things out. With seven of you, motels will become a pretty inexpensive alternative.

General Discussion / Re: Stanley, Id -93-loop?
« on: April 08, 2013, 04:55:39 pm »
According to the Idaho bicycle map, about 40% of the highway between Challis and Arco has shoulders 4 feet or greater. Another 20% has shoulders 2-4 feet, and the other 40% has shoulders less than 2 feet. The average annual daily traffic for that road in 2011 was only 552 cars. That's even fewer than highway 12 along the Lochsa River used the the TransAm which has an AADT of 569 and has no shoulders at all--that road seemed almost deserted and completely safe when I rode it. I think you'll be fine.

You can call the Idaho bicycle coordinator at 208-334-8272 for more information.

General Discussion / Re: Seattle To Missoula Prevalent Winds
« on: April 07, 2013, 10:18:05 pm »
It's a crap shoot. There will probably be a historical bias for one direction, but in any given year, anything is possible. Also, the historical data will be different for different months, so it depends on when you're going.

It also varies along the route, but suppose I pick Spokane (about midway) as a representative sample, and let me pick the month of July at random. The bias for wind direction for July in Spokane is from the southwest. That suggests you might get some slight benefit of going west to east, but the benefit is just a probability and will likely be small. You will still get some headwinds, and those crosswinds will feel like headwinds anyway.

Note that if I were to pick January instead of July, the bias is exactly opposite. There are slightly stronger winds from the northeast in January, although winds from the southwest are in very close second place.

In April, the southwest bias is even stronger than it is in July. In October, the winds come from almost every direction except the northwest, with southwest and northeast winds still occurring more often than other directions, although there are also a lot of winds from the south.

Winter is significantly windier in Spokane than summer, so choosing the season is more of a factor than choosing the direction. I doubt you'd want to go in winter anyway, and July and August are the least windy, so that's probably when you want to go.

Bottom line: Use some other criteria to decide which direction to go.

Gear Talk / Re: No Stove
« on: April 07, 2013, 12:59:32 pm »
Fruit and vegetables are vanishingly scarce once you get away from the coast. That doesn't leave much besides cereal, confectionary, crackers and cheese.
I found fruit and vegetables difficult to find on the TransAm in Virginia and Kentucky, partially because of the fact that the TransAm avoids all the cities large enough to have grocery stores. But finding fruit and vegetables was not a problem from Illinois through Oregon, nor on most of the Northern Tier.

I buy a lot of apples, bananas, oranges, carrots, lettuce, mushrooms, cucumbers, raisins, etc. and other fruits (blueberries, pears, peaches, strawberries, etc.) where available. If you can't find fresh fruits, you can settle for canned fruit. Bread products, tortillas, bagels, nuts, peanut butter, chips, ready-to-eat or made-to-order sandwiches (veggie or not). Even perishables will keep okay for half a day in your panniers. I typically bury chocolate milk or orange juice in the middle of my clothes to insulate them if it's a hot day. You can get a small box of cereal from the cereal aisle and discard the cardboard box.

Your options increase if you are an omnivore. Canned stews can be eaten cold. Beef jerky (a bit pricey for my taste most of the time), canned beans, canned tuna, deli meats, fried chicken. If I can find a Subway sandwich shop, I often get a foot-long, eating half for lunch and half for dinner. Many grocery stores and even some gas stations can also make sandwiches to order. Most grocery stores have premade sandwiches. A 2-pound $8 sandwich from Safeway provides me the better part of three meals.

Even if you are in an area where grocery stores are few and far between, make your most of the opportunity when you find one.

Gear Talk / Re: Rack mounted tail lights
« on: April 06, 2013, 10:59:41 pm »
I will agree that rack-mount tail lights are in the minority, but you can find them. I was using the Planet Bike Rack Blinky 5 until it broke. Now I use the CatEye TL-LD570 Reflex Auto Tailight. Both were purchased at REI.

You can also buy a rack mount separately, which allows you to adapt most seatpost lights to the rack.

Gear Talk / Re: No Stove
« on: April 06, 2013, 10:21:04 pm »
There is a heck of a lot of food between granola bars and restaurant meals, and much of it requires no cooking. Any halfway decent grocery store will offer hundreds of options, whether you're a vegetarian or omnivore. Because you have panniers or a trailer, you can carry food from where it is available to where you eat it. You don't always have to eat what's available where you are right now.

General Discussion / Re: Shipping Supplies to Yourself
« on: April 05, 2013, 11:39:58 am »
The best bet in my opinion is to use USPS fixed-rate priority mail boxes and have them mailed to you c/o general delivery. They say it takes two days, but it's not guaranteed so allow four. Pick someplace where you will be in four or more days. Use to find locations. Record the city, state and zip code of the post office, as well as noting the hours of operation and the address of the post office so you can find it. I find it's best to pick a town with only one post office--otherwise, you'll have to figure out which post office in that town handles general delivery. I like to plan some place where you plan to be on a Wednesday or Thursday. This gives you some flexibility if you are early or late, avoiding closures on Saturdays and Sundays. Plan your riding so as not to arrive when the post office is closed. Allow enough time to find the post office once you get to town. Note that many small-town post offices have pretty weird hours on some days.

Routes / Re: First trip in the USA
« on: April 04, 2013, 04:05:32 pm »
Three weeks. So if we throw away a couple of days at the beginning and end for logistics, that leaves 17 days of riding. If we assume 60 miles a day, that means a trip of about 1000 miles. So let's say you fly into New York City. I doubt you can get much more of a "big, touristic airport in the east." So let's say you hop on the ACA Atlantic Coast route, using the NYC spur, and ride that up to Brunswick, Maine. Then hop on the Northern Tier across New England to Ticonderoga. Then follow the Adirondack Park Loop down to Albany, NY. Then take the Amtrak train back to NYC. That's probably in the ballpark, a little high perhaps, so you might have to ride 65 miles a day, or there are some shortcuts you could take if you fall behind schedule. You could also use the Philadelphia airport if you prefer.

Another option would be to fly into NYC, take the train up to Albany, do both the Adirondack Park Loop and the Green Mountains Loop, and then take the train from Albany back to NYC.

If you prefer canal riding, there are several nice options, but I'm not qualified to detail them. There are no hills on canal routes but plenty in the Adirondacks and Green Mountains (without being excessively cruel about it).

Connecting ACA Routes / Re: Missoula to the Pacific
« on: April 03, 2013, 11:20:11 am »
You will actually join up with the NT at the junction of 200 and 56. Bull River Campground just south of the junction was nice.
I camped at the Bull River Campground last summer. It was nice enough, but primitive. No electricity, no showers. For just $2 more, I could have stayed at the RV park right at the junction of 200 and 56. It has all the amenities and it doesn't require you to go down and back up the big hill to Bull River. I made the wrong call.

Routes / Re: Avoiding Yellowstone
« on: April 03, 2013, 10:33:33 am »
Because Yellowstone doesn't allow organized group tours through the park, group tours (including ACA tours) routinely detour around Yellowstone. These routes are easy to find on the web. Having said that, I didn't find the traffic in Yellowstone to be any problem at all. I went through in late June. The crazy traffic doesn't really start until after the fourth of July. The campgrounds in Grand Teton and Yellowstone are nice, very inexpensive (for bicycles) and never full (for bicycles). I agree that Old Faithful is overrated, but there are a lot of other great things to see in the park (including many kinds of animals), and the Tetons are spectacular.

The ACA group tours avoid Yellowstone by going through Idaho, via Jackson,  Wilson, Teton Pass, Victor, Driggs, Tetonia, Lamont, Drummond, Ashton, Warm River, Island Park, West Yellowstone.

Gear Talk / Re: Racks
« on: April 01, 2013, 10:59:14 pm »
Not only is it 3 pounds (which itself would be a killer for me), but it seems to lack the structural elements necessary to give it rigidity and keep it from swaying. Most reviewers say that you need three struts for such stability under load.

Connecting ACA Routes / Re: Missoula to the Pacific
« on: March 31, 2013, 10:31:09 am »
Once you get to Missoula, you can ask the pros. But the L&C is quite a bit shorter than the TA.

General Discussion / Re: Training: Schedule Critique Needed
« on: March 31, 2013, 10:23:59 am »
I'm 5'10''. It says I should be between 58-60''. Is that once inch a problem?  8)
Probably not. You won't know until you take it out for a long test ride.

Gear Talk / Re: No Stove
« on: March 30, 2013, 10:36:19 pm »
I did the TA and NT without a stove. I didn't miss it but I did enjoy occasional meals provided by a fellow cyclotourist with a stove. I do not believe a stove is necessary to eat either economically or healthily.

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