Author Topic: Newbie  (Read 6948 times)

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Offline timmori

Newbie
« on: March 13, 2016, 05:53:33 pm »
Hi Folks,
I feel as though you have heard enough from us "newbies" and if so, I would be OK if you just pointed me to the right info rather than responding directly.....

I have been an avid biker for 30 years.  In a nutshell I do about 2000 miles a year on my road bike and perhaps a few hundred on my mountain bike.  I live in the Minneapolis area, so that isn't a bad tally for relatively short bike season.

I retired last year, and with the advent of the '16 bike season, I am looking at taking a few bike trips this year.  I have done RAGBRAI for 14 years, but since that ride caters to us riders I am not experienced at touring on my own.  I love my 'alone time' so I am completely OK with going solo, but I am looking at some input from you experienced folk.  One trip I am looking into is the MRT from Minneapolis to my old hometown of Dubuque Iowa.  My main concern is safety; I am concerned about all the roads without much of a shoulder.... and especially those "rednecks" who love to hassle us bikers when we are out in the boonies.   

Anyone who "gets" my concerns, will likely be the one(s) who can provide some feedback.

Thanks in advance!!!!
Tim

indyfabz

  • Guest
Re: Newbie
« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2016, 09:42:07 am »
I have toured a good deal in "Pennsyltucky," where shoulders are often a luxury and there are lots of pickups. Choose quieter roads and you should be fine. We spent two weeks in MN when crossing the country and don't recall feeling more at risk there than in any of the other 14 states we rode in. Motorists in IA were actually quite pleasant during the four or five days we rode there. I have always assumed that was due in part to the awareness RAGBRAI raises.

Offline RussSeaton

Re: Newbie
« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2016, 11:53:03 am »
Biking along the Mississippi River would be quite hilly.  One side or the other always has lots of hills.  But pleasant in the summer months.  The Northern Tier route goes through Minnesota I believe.  So you could easily do an out and back trip on it during the summer.  No shoulder roads are fine for biking.  That usually indicates they are less traveled county roads.  Shoulders mean busy roads.  I never ride on roads with shoulders.  Too busy.

Offline zzzz

Re: Newbie
« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2016, 08:20:31 pm »
Hi Tim:

Maybe I read the meaning of your question wrong but I read it a little diffirently then the previous answers. I thought that rather than asking if the 2 lane roads between Mn and Iowa were safe to be riding solo on, it was a more generic question about if bike touring solo on rural roads was safe or if you are likely to be running into lots of yahoo's.

Considering a cyclist's vulnerbility, everytime one goes out on the road for a bike ride it exhibits a certain degree of faith that this won't be the ride that you are  going to end up at the wrong place at the wrong time. That said, I have taken 4 long (between 2300-3000 mile) tours, all of them solo. And while I've had a couple of cars or trucks or RV's do something stupid, it's been unusual and certainly at no greater incidence than on the rides I take from my house when I'm not on a tour. Even off the bike, I've walked clicky-clack style with my riding shoes and lycra shorts and jersey into many a cowboy bar/ restaurant or hunting camp long after the drinking started and thought to myself this may not turn out well and I can say I have never been given a hard time.

In fact each trip I have taken so far has done nothing but increased my view that the overwhelming majority of people are decent folks and the odds are very long for running into someone who's really bad news.

Congratulations on your retirement. My advice is to plan your trips with the assumption all will turn out well, because it almost surely will.

Pete

Offline timmori

Re: Newbie
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2016, 10:55:53 am »
Thanks Pete!  That is exactly what I was asking.  I suppose I was just wondering - from experienced people - about the safety factor when out in the boonies alone!   Your answer is about what I expecting.  BTW: do you use paniers or a bike trailer?
Tim

Offline BikePacker

Re: Newbie
« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2016, 11:26:52 am »
Yo Tim - Regarding 'local demographics' and/or absence of shoulders (I try to be alert for both), what has helped me immeasurably is to, if there is anyway possible, car drive the route I wish to take before I bicycle ride it. 
Some related things I have learned:
(1) Because most of my touring has had to be done in segments/legs rather than end to ends I have shorter sections to analyse before launching a tour than the longer distance tourist.  Thus, it has been easier for me to car drive a route in advance; 
(2) The detail found in the ACA maps have been valuable to me in staying on itineraries that are demographically friendlier and shoulder friendlier.  Times I have gotten off the ACA routes (which has been frequent) is when I have most often found myself in riskier circumstances.   

Offline paddleboy17

Re: Newbie
« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2016, 01:17:16 pm »
It is hard to knock rail trail based touring.  You have a couple of possibilities right in your neighborhood.
Danno

Offline timmori

Re: Newbie
« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2016, 01:55:15 pm »
I have biked a lot of rail trails however I haven't found any that one can take for a long distance (i.e. touring across multiple states).  BUT, I haven't done an exhaustive look.  LEt me know if there is a good website?  THANKS!!!!

Offline Iowagriz

Re: Newbie
« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2016, 02:32:50 pm »
Go to Google maps, click on the 3 lines next to the city search box. Click on bicycling. All paths, trails and shared streets will appear.

What bike are you using? If cross, or MTB is available, then take gravel roads. More scenic, safer (In my opinion).

Sent from my SM-N920V using Tapatalk


Offline RussSeaton

Re: Newbie
« Reply #9 on: March 15, 2016, 03:36:45 pm »
If cross, or MTB is available, then take gravel roads. More scenic, safer (In my opinion).

I would question whether gravel roads are safer than paved roads.  Cars/trucks on gravel may be going slower, or not.  Where I live people drive fairly high speeds on gravel roads.  Gravel roads also require you to ride on one of the two packed strips of the road.  These two strips are where all the cars drive.  They are roughly in the middle of the entire roadway where the cars drive.  The two feet between the strips and the ditch and the four feet between the strips are loose gravel.  You cannot ride a bike on this loose gravel.  You can only ride a gravel road on these two packed strips.  So you are right in line with any car coming up behind you.  And in line with any car you meet too.  Gravel roads are really one way roads.  That go one way in both directions at the same time.  You can hope a car will go to the side and into the loose gravel to pass you.  Or you can go into the loose gravel and crash yourself in front of the car and then maybe the car will run over you.  In contrast, on paved roads you are usually riding a few feet from the edge of the road.  So you have a few feet to move over if need be.  And the car can easily move side to side and be on nice fast paved roadway to pass you.

Offline Iowagriz

Re: Newbie
« Reply #10 on: March 15, 2016, 04:34:27 pm »
I'll counter that with....In Iowa there are three packed strips.  One in the middle and one to each side.  Cars stay on their side of the gravel. Even the non-packed parts of the road is rideable (in Iowa).  Benefit of gravel is much fewer cars, you can hear them coming from a distance and they are speeding at 45mph (so much less speed than highway).

Offline zzzz

Re: Newbie
« Reply #11 on: March 15, 2016, 05:58:18 pm »
Hi Tim:

To answer your question to me:

I use panniers. I have the smallest size arkel makes (T-28). On my last trip I had a custom frame bag made for the triangle and put 2 "everything bags" on the forks (all from Cleaveland Mountaineering) and I was very happy with that set-up and will be using it for the forseable future.

https://picasaweb.google.com/nfcbeba/EverythingBags#5837503317164957202


To be clear, I ride a road bike (Ti) that makes essentially no comprimises to the fact I also use it for touring. I travel very light (16-18±lbs) and mostly stay in hotels although I do carry a 1 lb tent and sleeping bag for emergency situations. I was able to fit everything I carry in just the panniers but spreading out the weight in the frame bag and the forks keeps the handling much closer to the way the bike feels unloaded.

I've never ridden w a trailer, the idea of them puts me off a bit and their unloaded weight (7-8 lbs±) is another reason I never thought much about them though they do have their fans.

Pete

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Newbie
« Reply #12 on: March 15, 2016, 08:43:31 pm »
I got gang-stalked while bicycling from Florida to California. I will tell you how it worked. At first I did not notice it that much and thought it was just my imagination. It seemed that every time I came to a bridge, long or short, over creek river, or valley, cars and or trucks, or maybe just one vehicle crossed the first expansion crack from road to bridge exactly the same instant I did. Well, OK, no big deal you might say. But the thing was these vehicles made the loudest, most disturbing, ear-splitting noises you could imagine.I have bicycled about 40,000 miles through 19 countries, and I had never heard anything even remotely like it, except perhaps in the former Soviet Union. Some vehicles may have had low air in the tires to magnify the noise. Others pulled empty trailers that made extreme racket. After a while I became aware of what was happening. I began looking for a pattern. And sure enough, every time I saw a bridge ahead, I watched for the vehicles, and sure enough they appeared and timed their speed to cross the first expansion crack at exactly the same time I was abreast of it, and I mean exactly. It was precisely timed and coordinated. This started in the eastern USA and continued all the way into California. These cars and trucks and trailers appeared in this pattern even on back roads on Sunday afternoons when you might not see another vehicle on the road for ten or fifteen minutes at a time.

Another tactic was crowding. Where there was a wide lane on the road for safe cycling out of the motorized lane, traffic patterns were normal., However, most every time the side lane disappeared, two lanes of traffic appeared crowding me and making cycling less safe. If that had happened only once or a few times, OK then, just happenstance, but this happened consistently 50 times, a hundred times, unquestionably organized, timed, coordinated events. There is a lot more to this than stated here, but this should give you an idea of tactics used by these criminal bastards. Noise attacks and crowding became extremely disturbing after a while, and provoking.

Also, while in a side lane traffic was usual and not contrived as far as was discernible. But sometimes I came across some obstruction in the side lane such as a two-by-four laid across the lane or a branch of a tree where there were no trees. These obstruction had to be gone around by swerving out into the main roadway. Again, almost every time I came to one of these obstructions, a car or truck would come from the rear and pass me exactly, and I mean exactly at the time I started to swerve. Often, two cars and or trucks would come abreast of each other and me at exactly the time I started to swerve. This happened many many many times. There is no possible way it was only coincidence. This happened many times even on back roads where traffic was extremely light. I mean, no traffic for 15 minutes at a time or sometimes longer, but every time I crossed a crack going onto a bridge, came to a stretch of road where there was no side lane, or came to an obstruction the exact same traffic patterns appeared to cause discomfort and disruption and crowding.

It was all illegal as hell. There is absolutely no possible way these traffic patterns were random. They were all coordinated, timed, organized, and criminal. How about that?


Offline paddleboy17

Re: Newbie
« Reply #13 on: March 16, 2016, 12:08:44 pm »
Go to Google maps, click on the 3 lines next to the city search box. Click on bicycling. All paths, trails and shared streets will appear.

What bike are you using? If cross, or MTB is available, then take gravel roads. More scenic, safer (In my opinion).

Sent from my SM-N920V using Tapatalk

You are not going to find a rail trail that goes from Chicago to LA, but there are routes with a couple of days of riding in them.

The Greater Allegheny Passage goes from Pittsburgh to Cumberland (Maryland), and connects with the Chesapeake-Ohio Tow Path which goes on to Washington DC.

The Katy goes the width of Missouri

The Erie Canal Trail goes from Buffalo to Albany.  It is fragmented and sometimes you are routed on low traffic roads.

Many states have bike tourism routes.  I have done the Willamette Valley in Oregon and Route G in Pennsylvania.

As was previously mentioned, the Google Maps bicycling layer is a great tool.  I think Rails to Trails has maps and references.  Most states have bicycle touring web sites.  You should have no trouble coming up with routes with minimal car interaction.

It looks like you can start in Minneapolis and end up in Carver, Victoria, Lester Praire, Cedar Mills, or Hanover.  I think you got options in  your own neighborhood.
Danno

indyfabz

  • Guest
Re: Newbie
« Reply #14 on: March 16, 2016, 02:13:51 pm »
I'll counter that with....In Iowa there are three packed strips.  One in the middle and one to each side.  Cars stay on their side of the gravel. Even the non-packed parts of the road is rideable (in Iowa).  Benefit of gravel is much fewer cars, you can hear them coming from a distance and they are speeding at 45mph (so much less speed than highway).

45 mph maybe in some places. Do 45 mph on these roads and you will be needing some repairs if you don't fall off the side of the mountain:

20+ miles. 3 slowly moving cars the first time and no cars the second time:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/davez2007/14553791121/in/album-72157645062932708/

9+ miles, one car moving about 8 mph:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/davez2007/14555580304/in/album-72157645062932708/