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Messages - mathieu

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In 2009 I rented a van at Dulles airport, big enough to hold a boxed bike, and rode it to a hotel in Williamsburg. The next morning I returned the car to Dulles, took a shuttle to DC and had time for sight-seeing  before the afternoon train to Williamsburg.
Travelling with a boxed bike on trains is almost impossible, especially if you have other luggage.
The car rentals were glad to hand me a big car at no extra cost, because the fuel bill was on the customer and petrol prices had just gone up considerably. The van was a wallflower at the time.

General Discussion / Re: Continental divide advice
« on: January 09, 2014, 03:15:58 pm »
There is nothing wrong with racks and panniers. I suggest to fit the widest tires that your bike frame allows, both to cushion your body for the rough, often washboarded roads and also to protect spokes and rims from heavy impacts.
I would also mount a horizontal bar or riser bar instead of a drop bar.  It is more important to look constantly ahead for obstacles and potholes than you are used to on a road bike and aerodynamics is of lesser importance.  It also gives your body a more relaxed position.
Further recommendations on

Gear Talk / Re: Can we survive the Transamerica with no cyclocomputer?
« on: December 02, 2013, 06:02:48 pm »
If you ask people in a class who have learned to paint by the numbers whether they need the numbers, the answer is obviously a resounding: yes! But you did well so far without, so why not try? I recommend to buy a cheap wired odometer but bury it deep down in your panniers.

I once did a mapped route in Italy from south to north with a guy without odometer. The road network there is much more dense and warped than anywhere around the TransAm. He had developed an amazingly accurate calibration for distances and memorized the critical maps details in a glance, much better than I could. Don't spoil this ability.

General Discussion / Re: Start date spring 2014
« on: November 26, 2013, 11:02:59 am »
Why not south-west-south, taking the TransAm between Missoula and Florence (OR)? My guess is that you can start late-May, as Lolo & Santiam Pass clear earlier than the Washington passes. Though, a bonus of starting later is that you can take the beautiful McKenzie Pass.

Routes / Re: Transam Motels around Jeffrey City, Wy?
« on: November 15, 2013, 12:51:13 pm »
In that kaleidoscope of American landscapes and historic places that the Transam aspires to be, I found Jeffrey City one of the most memorable places, a highlight.
I am glad I didn't miss it and was fascinated to read more about its history in

Routes / Re: Transam Motels around Jeffrey City, Wy?
« on: November 14, 2013, 08:04:47 pm »
Adventure Cycling's 2012 June Curry Trail Angel Award was given to a trio from Jeffrey City for providing resources and shelter to cyclists.
I camped in his yard, but Byron, the owner of Monk King Bird Pottery, had also offered me accomodation in a trailer or on the floor of his studio.
It's not a motel, not even a business, but good old private hospitality.

Gear Talk / Re: Front Platform Racks
« on: November 13, 2013, 06:14:28 pm »
Hi Brett. I am sure you got the point, but for the casual reader I like to modify your catch phrase "don't load up on suspension forks". Suspension forks consist of two parts, linked by a 'spring'. You can load up on the part that is fixed to the frame and handlebar, but you shouldn't add load to the part fixed to the wheel.

If I can,  I am happy to answer further questions on my contact email or if you post them on this forum.

Gear Talk / Re: Front Platform Racks
« on: November 13, 2013, 07:51:40 am »
Brett, I suppose that your question is related to another post, riding the Great Divide on a mountain bike. If this is a bike with front suspension, then I would like to point out that all front racks that are connected to the wheel axis or the lower fork legs are bad from a mechanical point of view. A front suspension fork is designed to enable a relatively low mass (wheel + lower fork legs, say 2.5-3 kg)  to move rapidly in adapting to surface roughnesses. Adding a significant load of rack with panniers to this unsprung mass would severely affect the operation of the fork.

With front suspension, the only sound design is one that is mounted on the fork crown or steering tube, such as the Tubus Swing
Unfortunately I saw that Tubus has stopped the production, but you may still find one in bike shops or on eBay.

I had bought a Tubus Swing for my GD ride, but in the end decided to go without front panniers and use a small frame bag for storing a few heavy tools. This worked fine, but next time I will take a bigger handlebar bag to get a better weight balance between front and rear.
Naively, I had mounted a bottle holder on the fork leg with zip ties. Just a few miles after leaving Banff on a mildly rough trail, the bottle + cage suddenly catapulted into the banks of the Spray river. Luckily I could retrieve the bottle. The zip ties had snapped. It shows that any mass connected to the fork legs is subjected to high accelaration forces, caused by the almost instantaneous movements over a few inches. It could easily have lead to collateral damage. See a current topic on,6135.0.html

Routes / Re: help on banff-yellowstone roundtrip
« on: November 06, 2013, 05:00:42 pm »
The snow was soft and up to my hubs as far as the eye could see.

Somehow the pics didn't pop up on my display.
But this possibility is exactly why I advocated to do the GDMBR on the return. It's later in the season and the southbound Tour Divide racers can report all snow and mud conditions.

Routes / Re: How do I get a copy Cycling British Columbia? Please help.
« on: November 06, 2013, 11:12:28 am »
It is now they want $101.09!!!!

I noticed before that there seems to be a cunning pricing mechanism in this book search site. I don't remember the exact price when I first found the book, something like $40. Then after repeated viewings the price shot up to about $60. It might be an automatic step-up, driven by 'demand'.  I would give the seller a $50 take-it-or-leave-it offer.

Routes / Re: help on banff-yellowstone roundtrip
« on: October 31, 2013, 05:34:28 pm »
Because you are living in the cold north and probably not daunted by short hike-a-bikes on small snowfields, I guess, contrary to the previous reply, that you can probably do this round trip.

I would start from Banff by mid-May on the paved roads of the Great Parks Route to Missoula (about 600 miles). From Missoula you could follow the TransAm through Yellowstone Park to Flagg Ranch (400 miles; but take half a day extra to visit Coulter Bay to see the Tetons in full majesty).

From Flagg Ranch, probably by the second week of June, you can pick up the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route northbound to Banff (1040 miles). You will meet the southbound Tour Divide racers (they start from Banff second week of June), who will give you full details about the conditions of the possibly snowed-in passes ,like Richmond Peak, Whitefish Divide, the Canadian Flathead and Elk Pass. Normally, by the third and fourth week of June, there will be little snow left.

All in all, about 2000 miles in 6 weeks, that should be do-able for an able youth. You will have the trip of your life!

Routes / Re: Idaho Hot Springs Mountain Bike Route
« on: October 05, 2013, 06:31:41 am »
Tell me more about this Idaho Hot Springs route.  This is the first I've heard of it.,5853.0.html

Routes / Re: How do I get a copy Cycling British Columbia? Please help.
« on: September 28, 2013, 03:59:10 pm »
This bookseller has two copies, new and used. Prices a bit higher than at thriftshop, but not yet hundreds of dollars.

Routes / Re: Edinburgh, UK route advice?
« on: September 02, 2013, 02:47:27 pm »
I recommend to go south-east and buy the Sustrans map Coast and Castles South. It has a circuit Edinburgh - Berwick-upon-Tweed - Melrose - Innerleithen - Edinburgh, following bicycle paths and quiet backroads (176 miles). The ride to Berwick follows more or less the coast line, the stretch to Melrose follows the River Tweed and between Innerleithen and Edinburgh you'll ascent a pass of 400 m altitude. There are many scenic alternates in the Tweed valley suggested by the map if you would aim for 100 mi/day. 

General Discussion / Re: complete newb, GDMBR in 2014
« on: August 25, 2013, 07:56:29 pm »
Bike issues:
1. There is nothing wrong with using a 26" MTB on the GDMBR. Yes, 29" wheels run more smoothy over a rough and washboarded trails, but the difference is gradual, not decisive.
2. More important is how to carry the gear. As a backpacking expert you probably know how to limit your load to essentials. Still the gear volume is probably too big for mounting all on handlebar, frame and saddle, like the Tour Divide racers do.  Especially if you aim for 50 miles/day, you need more volume for food and liquids between the resupply points. This implies either panniers mounted on a rack or a trailer. I prefer panniers if the rack can be mounted with screw eyelets on the frame. I wouldn't trust clamping constructions for the rack, so if the frame has no screw eyelets I would go for a trailer.
3. I understand that the Specialized Hardrock is a hardtail with a basic suspension fork. This is OK, because the GD goes mostly over dirt roads and forest roads. There are no big jumps or intricate slaloms that require a high-end suspension fork. You will appreciate the suspension on the washboarded and rough roads of Wyoming and New Mexico. Half of the TD racers use a rigid fork, but this is because low weight and robustness is their prime objective. For you the prime objective should be to stay healthy on the bike, i.e. soften the impact on hands, joints and butt. However, a lockout on the front suspension is desirable to prevent it from absorbing pedalling power during climbing.
4. If your bike would be a full-suspension, you  need a trailer because it is almost impossible to mount the rack and gear on a frame where tubes are flexing relative to each other. So I do not agree with MrBent on this point. I have never heard of or read about torquing destroying the bearings. However, I have experienced myself that torquing does reduce control over the bike on loose or sidewards-sloping surfaces, resulting in spills.
5. Improvement suggestion: fit the widest tires that your frame allows. The wider the tire, the lower the required pressure, the lower the imprint on a soft surface. Hence the lower the rolling resistance. Lower pressure also means more suspension, hence lower impact of shocks and ripples on body and wheels.
6. Improvement suggestion: Ergon-like grips.

Direction and season.
I have done the GD route in both directions and there are pros and cons for either choice. Based on my own experience and reading many blogs, I have constructed a chart. This is not rocket science, but a statistic of weather and road conditions over several years. I know that the Tour Divide race starts early June, mocking my N-to-S window, but hardships from snowed-in passes are part and parcel of this race. If you like to start in Banff and have some time-flexibility, I recommend to start between mid-July and early-August.

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