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US Route 83 - the road to nowhere

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US Route 83 - the road to nowhere

Old 07-26-18, 11:48 AM
  #26  
mev
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Completed to Abilene to Canadian border section and am currently on Amtrak on my way back:

https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/mev-route83-2018

Overall a good ride with busiest parts in KS (where I actually mostly took KS 23 instead - still a moderate amount of farm harvest traffic and less shoulders so 83 might have been better).

When the weather gets cooler in South Texas, hope to go back and ride Brownsville to Abilene.
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Old 11-25-18, 07:07 PM
  #27  
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Originally Posted by mev View Post
When the weather gets cooler in South Texas, hope to go back and ride Brownsville to Abilene.
Time to plan the next segment, most likely plan is over Christmas.
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Old 12-24-18, 05:42 PM
  #28  
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Originally Posted by mev View Post
Time to plan the next segment, most likely plan is over Christmas.
Made it from Brownsville to Leakey. Unfortunately, had a crank arm snap, so will come back later to do the la
st bit.
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Old 12-28-18, 01:48 PM
  #29  
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Route 83, the boulevard of broken dreams (and cranks)
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Old 12-29-18, 12:58 PM
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i'm somewhat disappointed, as many others must be, that you didn't find a local farmer that can fabricate a new crank arm.

Part of the responsibility of being a forum member is to find a way to continue on without the use of an automobile. There needs to be a better story than the one you presented (did you call your wife? Did you pedal with one leg for 40 miles?)

It might have been more fun to ask the forum for advice while you are sitting on the side of the road.
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Old 12-30-18, 10:13 AM
  #31  
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Sorry to disappoint.

Happened without warning around noon on December 24th about 28 miles south of Junction, TX. My foot kept going after it snapped and I fell to the right. Got a scraped up knee and bent handlebars, but otherwise all was fine.

I did a quick diagnosis and decided to head towards Junction rather than Kerrville which was 50 miles away. Kerrville has a bike shop and perhaps slim chance they might be able to replace on the 26th and I could still make it to Abeline - but further distance and cooler weather projected had me decide to hang things up for this trip. I tried to see about cycling with one foot, but unfortunately lack of a perch to place my right foot altered the balance enough that it wasn't going to happen.

I walked for about 90 minutes, ~5 miles. As trucks passed I would hold out my thumb, but I wasn't having much luck. Some I expect was the 75mph speed limit. At the five mile mark, a pickup was turning into a ranch driveway and paused long enough for me to ask if I could pay him to drive me to Junction. Nice guy who made the drive and we had a good conversation about the area. He wouldn't let me pay him, though I insisted long enough to give him some "gas money" and he relented.

I was at a motel in Junction and nothing was going to happen on December 25th. I bought a bus ticket for the 26th and then drove back to pick up my bike on the 27th. Overall a disappointing end to an otherwise reasonable bike trip. It is still surprising to have an aluminum crank snap like this, though I am happy that it wasn't in a more remote location - since it could have been worse.
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Old 12-31-18, 01:42 PM
  #32  
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Originally Posted by mev View Post
[...]Unfortunately, had a crank arm snap[...]
@mev Horrified by the picture :/ I'd never imagine that this was a possibility. IIRC from your book, you are a powerful rider. Still....

1. Did it fail under extreme load (i,e, climbing a steep grade standing on the pedals)
2. Any early warning sign that the part had become unreliable vs sudden and totally unexpected? (you write without warning. On closer examination, still no indication that failure was imminent?)
3. What about the part itself? Was is a low-end component?

I've read here and there about cranks failures. Looks like there might have been a faulty batch of Ultegra a few years ago. Reports that this is a fairly frequent occurrence with no-name components. And a blurb about a heavy pro who would routinely break cranks, But for the amateur crowd, Shimano XT/XTR and Saint above all, are said to be bombproof.

Specific questions would read: (1) should we preventatively replace cranks (say, every 2 chainrings replacement) (2) Is it worth investing in XT/Saint groupsets to essentially eliminate the risk of sudden failure?
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Old 12-31-18, 02:57 PM
  #33  
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I've broken 3 Campagnolo Nuovo Record cranks and one TA Cyclotouriste crank. All four broke at the pedal hole, not at the thick arm location like MEV's. 2 breakages were on tour, 2 were close to home on day rides. Each was during a hill climb without warning resulting in a near crash due to sudden unexpected loss of pedal support. I've never broken a Shimano XT MTB crank, so yes the beefier construction solved the problem for me.

https://www.bikeforums.net/20132894-post14.html
https://www.bikeforums.net/20132917-post16.html
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Old 01-02-19, 06:47 AM
  #34  
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
@mev
1. Did it fail under extreme load (i,e, climbing a steep grade standing on the pedals)
2. Any early warning sign that the part had become unreliable vs sudden and totally unexpected? (you write without warning. On closer examination, still no indication that failure was imminent?)
3. What about the part itself? Was is a low-end component?
1. Not particularly extreme at point it snapped. I was on the downstroke applying power to the pedal, on relatively level, perhaps slightly up. In the past I'll push hard on the pedals mostly pushing my weight and my gear. I don't often stand on the pedals.
2. Looking at the failed part, it had a slight hollow core. It was black on the inside - as if it had already cracked from the inside next to where the toe strap/shoe might run against the pedal. Didn't notice anything but not sure if I could have noticed.
3. It was a stock crank that came with 2007 Trek 520. This bike and crank first had service cycling across Russia in 2007. It was my general "go to" bike for most touring over the decade after that - though my other longest trips (Africa 2013, America's 2016) were mostly on other bikes. This bike did go from Prudhoe Bay to BC in 2016 and ~8 weeks of touring in 2018.

So I'm not sure exactly what to take away. Seems like a failure after a dozen years of moderately heavy touring in weight and mileage. Looks like it failed at a crack first on inside next to where a toe strap rubbed.
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Old 04-27-19, 12:45 PM
  #35  
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Finished my US Route 83 riding:

Here is the journal from Brownsville to Abilene: https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?doc_id=21577
Here is the preceding journal from Abilene to Minot: https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?doc_id=21059
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Old 04-28-19, 05:31 AM
  #36  
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Glad to see that you were able to complete it mev, still rather cold and wet here unfortunately, some flood problems even, with rivers very high.
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Old 04-28-19, 11:05 AM
  #37  
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Feature story on Adventure Cycling's website: Road to Nowhere (Hwy 83)

https://www.adventurecycling.org/blog/road-to-nowhere/

Take-aways: Blistering weather, monotonous food and landscape, shelled out small towns, huge trucks blaring their horns, orders by LEOs to not ride in the traffic lanes, kitschy/cheesy roadside attractions, indistinguishable & forgettable motels, opinionated & argumentative natives.

The tour was on the author's bucket list.
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Old 04-28-19, 01:20 PM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by tcs View Post
Feature story on Adventure Cycling's website: Road to Nowhere (Hwy 83)

https://www.adventurecycling.org/blog/road-to-nowhere/

Take-aways: Blistering weather, monotonous food and landscape, shelled out small towns, huge trucks blaring their horns, orders by LEOs to not ride in the traffic lanes, kitschy/cheesy roadside attractions, indistinguishable & forgettable motels, opinionated & argumentative natives.

The tour was on the author's bucket list.
Interesting. My experiences:
- Weather; I started in July in Abilene and it was hot in TX. It wasn't particularly hot in my April/December cycling. If you were going to ride all in one go, I'd recommend ~April or perhaps September/October. I had more tailwinds than headwinds.
- Monotonous food and landscape; like deserts, the Great Plains aren't for everyone; personally I like both plains and desert landscapes.
- Shelled out small towns; after Abilene (~120,000 people) there aren't larger towns further north. These small towns are somewhat variable. In some cases I suspect their peak population was ~1910s (before as many moved from the farms), but I also didn't have experience the writer had of 50+ miles between water - so not sure if he missed some of the small places along the way.
- Huge trucks blaring horns, LEO warning not to ride in traffic lanes; On average there were moderately wide shoulders. These were often chip seal and occasionally rough, but I was riding on the shoulders most all the times. I didn't experience much in the way of trucks blaring horns on my ride.
- Roadside attractions; sometimes just the nature of these smaller places. For example, I enjoyed taking time off to go to the ND State Fair.
- Opinionated & argumentative natives; I didn't find people much different than anywhere else
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Old 04-29-19, 08:53 PM
  #39  
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I’m familiar with the area where the broken crank happened. I wish I would have been paying attention to this thread mev could have pm me and I would have giving him a ride or whatever help was needed. I’m 50 miles from Kerrville and 50 miles is considered close in Texas.
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Old 04-30-19, 07:14 AM
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I grew up in the Great Plains' short grass prairies. I'm amused that it's referred to as 'nowhere', which it very definitely is not. This is another data point in my belief that if you aren't from the steppes, you have a very slim chance of understanding & appreciating the steppes. Perhaps best to stick to cycletouring in other ecoregions.
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Old 04-30-19, 12:05 PM
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I grew up in Northern Colorado, not far from the eastern plains. One the of aspects that intrigued me for a while was how the Great Plains were settled and the role water played in that.

In areas further east, e.g. Ohio, the homestead act allocation of 160 acres seemed to work well enough. It could be a lot of work to clear even 40 acres of trees and there were adequate amounts of rainfall for growing crops. There is a N/S line approximately around the 100th meridian and ~20" of rainfall where there is enough of a transition... no longer have to clear trees (actually for a while further east than the 100th meridian), but there is also not quite enough rainfall for many crops, less you irrigate - either from diverting water from elsewhere or pumping regions like the Ogalla aquifer. One can raise cattle, but economies of scale work better here with more than 160 acres...

There were some homesteaders in the CO plains and they were able to survive some years with adequate moisture, but dry times and other circumstances caused most all these farms to consolidate into much larger holdings. There has been an increase of pumping from underground aquifers to level where there are now water rights conflicts on stream flows and the one needs to drill deeper and deeper.

Most of my cycling through the middle of the US had been from W to E across the Canadian Prairies, Montana/South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Texas - half a dozen different trips. Those are interesting as one can see the contrast in landscapes and farms as one goes from ~15" to ~20" to ~25" to 30" of precipitation as well as some drops in elevation - and increases in humidity.

One of the things that intrigued me about US 83 was instead of going W to E to see contrasts, I would instead go S to N along that rough transition zone. There are a different set of contrasts, e.g. Rio Grande Valley, Texas scrub lands and then up and along the plains. There are also similarities in a lot of the plains riding. A number of areas are now less populated than not long after the first homesteaders arrived. However, there are also new economic changes coming from fracking and other development.

The route can be hot. One needs to time things to balance between TX and ND climates. Not a huge amount of hills, but also places with more subtle and slow changes in landscapes. The now larger, more consolidated farms mean you'll see fewer people than more populated places. US 83 is one of those US highways that hasn't been replaced by Interstates, but that doesn't mean it still isn't a major transport route with truck traffic, etc.

So I tend to agree with tcs that there is a certain character to the region that may not be appreciated by all cycle tourists. However, for some of the reasons above I was intrigued to ride this area and glad I was able to do so.
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Old 05-01-19, 07:44 AM
  #42  
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In his classic treatise, Walter Prescott Webb argued Western culture required three inventions before the Great Plains became a destination and not an obstacle: barbed wire, windmills (technically, wind pumps) and the revolver. Given these three items, outsiders became residents*.

Today, outsiders propose Buffalo Commons and Pleistocene rewilding to make the area less 'nowhere', or massive renewable energy installations so it can usefully support 'somewhere'.



*None of these items need be carried by cycletourists today.
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Old 05-01-19, 08:10 AM
  #43  
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I rode across ND crossing the country and also did a week long supported tour in the state, which included some of U.S. 83. (We spent one night in Strasburg and visited the Welk Homestead. Got a tour from a niece of Lawrence.) Even though there were no majestic mountain view, I thoroughly enjoyed the sights, including some seemingly endless fields of sunflowers. One day we saw a "cowboy" with his border collie riding the ranch. I felt an openness surrounding me, if that makes any sense.

Much of the supported trip was in the Germans from Russia part of the state. The local, kielbasa-like sausages were terrific. Several nights, local organizations made authentic meals. The first rest stop of the first day was in the bottom of a church. The "church ladies" sold homemade lemonade, baked goods and fruit while services were being held up stairs. Whenever we would see a group of trees and a water tower in the distance we knew were coming to a town. Very intimate experience.
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Old 07-10-19, 02:40 PM
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In case it hasn't already been mentioned, https://www.adventurecycling.org/blog/road-to-nowhere/
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