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Messages - Pat Lamb

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General Discussion / Re: Buying Used Question
« on: July 24, 2015, 04:54:12 pm »
Bad news: other than checking with your local police and giving them the serial number (typically located on the bottom of the bottom bracket/crank), there's no systematic check for stolen bikes.  Thieves in my town typically fence them 60 miles away, and vice versa.

Used bikes are like used cars, in that if you can't assess them yourself, the best bet is to take them to a qualified mechanic.  In the case of a bike, a bike shop mechanic should be able to give it a quick check without hitting your pocketbook too hard (I'd guess $25 or a dozen doughnuts).  In the middle of the summer, Tuesday and Wednesday are the best time, since it's peak season and they get a lot of business getting ready or getting over the weekend.

I've got a Fuji Touring, and it's a good bike, but they're offering it for only 30-50% off list (depending on age). That T800 sounds sweet.

General Discussion / Re: Tandem on the Northern Tier
« on: July 24, 2015, 09:46:57 am »
Not me, but I did meet a couple headed east on a tandem.  They were credit-card touring, and the wife had made motel reservations all the way across the country.  IIRC they were riding about 80 miles per day, which she said was easy because of the light load (this was after they'd completed the Washington passes).  They planned to finish and fly home to Seattle within two months.

I google searched touring with Trek Fx and the bikeforums discussion I found seemed to feel strongly that the Trek FX spokes were not up to the challenge but I'm not sure of the posters expertise - but maybe I shouldn't???

If that's the one with 24 spokes per wheel, I'd be concerned about loading it up.  If you're touring with a full load, you'll probably want 32 spoke wheels.  Lower than that, and you'll see how fatigue affects spoke life.  The wheels might be OK for a couple of weekend trips, and then start breaking 100 miles from the nearest bike shop.

General Discussion / Re: Bicycle guidance
« on: July 21, 2015, 08:50:29 am »
With all due respect to Pete's point of view, I'd suggest first defining the load and then seeing if the current bike is sufficient.  If it isn't, then look for something better.  Not everyone tours with 15 pound loads, so the light bike that's OK for that may not be adequate for handling the final load.

Back to the OP, John Nelson's question is the first thing to answer.  If the tour is a supported tour, ride anything.  The truck or van can carry the load.

If it's an unsupported tour, try to do your planning now to figure out what kind of load you'll be carrying.  With a typical load (I think most cross-country tourists weighed at Adventure Cycling headquarters carry 35-40 pounds of gear plus bike), you'll want at least a rear rack and panniers, and possibly a front rack.  (As an aside, I'd avoid putting a front rack on a carbon fork.)  Somewhere between 5 and 50 pounds there's a breakpoint where shimmy becomes a problem with a light bike, and then it's time to beef up the bike.  At 40 pounds of gear, it's probably worth taking a classical touring bike (Surly LHT, Trek 520, Novara Randonee, Fuji Touring, CoMotion Americano) to have the load adequately supported and braced.

Does a full-on loaded touring bike cost a lot?  Unsupported week-long AC tours seem to average about $1,400, about the same as the production touring bike above (except the Americano).  The more you ride, the less a bike costs.  I could afford mine, and still ride it; you'll have to decide how it fits into your budget.

Do try to test ride anything before you buy it.  This late in the year you may have to make a trip to find a touring bike in a shop.

My experience with motels is that the prices have been higher than I expected.  I ended up staying more in motels than I'd planned on the TransAm, and it was unusual to get a room for less than $100 with taxes.  I'd suggest a budget of $100-120 per day for a low ball credit card estimate, including food.

As indyfab notes, reservations are recommended for weekends from the Rockies west.  That means you need to plan ahead, and reduces your flexibility a bit.  The good news is that between the Pacific and Canon City, there's often only one viable stopping point within a day's ride.  It also puts you at the mercy of the weather -- if you have to hit a certain town next Thursday because of reservations there and further on for the next week, you have to ride through the horrible headwind or the dangerous thunderstorm today to make that.  Yellowstone and the Tetons are probably the worst -- if you're motelling, you need to make your reservations by February to beat the big tour operators, and then you have to adjust the rest of the trip to fit.

Gear Talk / Re: Trunk bag for Tubus Evo Cargo Rack
« on: July 07, 2015, 03:01:35 pm »
My concern is the Tubus rack is only 3 1/2" wide and does not have solid plate on it.

Mine's been loaded with maybe 5 pounds of stuff, and it's never fallen through.  There's enough stiffness in the double layer of fabric and padding that you'd have to try to make it sag badly.  Lunches, snacks, rain jackets, etc. are light enough and large enough to spread the load.  Perhaps you could put a jacket or leg warmers at the bottom, if you're worried about it.  Avoid small lead bricks or 6" cross-sections of eggplant or zucchini and you should be fine.  ;)

Gear Talk / Re: Trunk bag for Tubus Evo Cargo Rack
« on: July 07, 2015, 09:53:36 am »
As you're going to use it for day trips -- lunches and rain gear? -- I'd think Ortlieb is overkill.  I picked up a trunk bag from either Nashbar or Performance a while back.  It attaches with Velcro, and can fit on any rack I've tried it on.

In other words, don't overthink this purchase.

FWIW, I find sun sleeves are OK up to about 85-90F.  Above that, I prefer to baste myself with sunscreen and sweat, because the sun sleeves are so much hotter.  I suppose if you're carrying adequate water, you could douse the sleeves, but even with that I reach a point that I'm already dripping sweat and can't tolerate the extra layer.  Again IME, that's usually around 95-100F with 70-90% humidity that's normal in the eastern US.

General Discussion / Re: TransAmerica bike tour- travel East or West?
« on: July 05, 2015, 05:49:23 pm »
You note having the sun in your eyes, and because of that I was really happy to ride west when we hit Kansas.  The heat was oppressive (near or above 100F every day), which is slightly unusual, but the best way for me to beat it was to ride early.  Passing traffic did not have the glare of the rising sun as we rode west.

Of course, some folks prefer to ride late into the dusk.  For them, it would be logical to ride east.

General Discussion / Re: What can towns offer cyclists?
« on: July 03, 2015, 10:21:10 am »
I topped up our white gas when we rolled into Pueblo.  As indy notes, there was a markup -- I think I paid $2 for less than a pint (IIRC, the bike shop charged by the size of the container).  Outrageous, when a gallon was $5, maybe; I still saved $3, and didn't have to dispose of the rest of the gallon.

That's something easy for a shop to do.  A bike shop, hardware store, gas station, or even a bar could decide to buy a couple gallons of Coleman fuel and a filter, put up a sign with a price, and they'd be in business.  Getting the word out might be a little more difficult, but I think Pittsburg is well situated for cyclists coming west out of the small towns of Missouri to pick up that business.

General Discussion / Re: What's an 'average' day?
« on: June 29, 2015, 04:28:48 pm »
Before I started touring, I saw a bunch of posts saying that the average touring speed was about 10 mph and the average daily ride was 40-60 miles.  I figured I was in much better shape than that, I could average 15 mph without much effort and finish 75 miles a day easily.

Then I started my first tour.  I fought it for a couple weeks, then relaxed as I averaged 10-11 mph, and rode 30-50 miles a day (in the Appalachians).  After a while I made it up to 60-70 miles a day.  My body could tolerate that kind of miles if it wsn't too hilly.  My overall average was a bit over 50 miles a day.  In subsequent tours, I'm comfortable with that kind of mileage.

You'll get guesses all over the place, from 30-40 to 80-100 miles a day.  YMMV.  If you're young, or if you're going to ride very light, you may be able to hit (or exceed!) my pre-tour goals.  It might be a good idea to plan a few weekends, or even a week-long tour, to see how you fare.

You might also try riding to a gas station on the last exit before crossing the river and seeing if you can hitch a ride.  Empty pickup trucks have plenty of capacity for even a loaded bike, and often have room in the cab for an extra rider...

Gear Talk / Re: Touring Bike Selection
« on: June 20, 2015, 10:48:11 pm »
As OP has found, many bike shops don't carry touring bikes.  If you want to test ride one, you pretty much have to (a) get lucky and live near a shop that does carry them, and (b) test ride them in April before they sell out this year's stock.

If you're within driving distance of an REI, you may be able to test ride a Randonee (road), Safari (mostly off-road), or Mazama (in between) bike.  There are a few wrinkles in the mass-produced touring bikes available, such as the long top tube on the Surly LHT.  However, pretty much all bikes pick from the same selection of groups available, so there's not a whole lot of difference between a Trek 520, LHT, or Randonee.  So after you've picked out your genre from REI, pick a production bike in the color of your choice (slime green, dead leaf brown, or black).  Wheels will need to be touched up, you may want to switch saddles, and you'll wear the original tires out. 

The key is to get one that fits you (or your wife).  REI doesn't do much to fit a bike, honestly, so if it's not a good fit there, pick out a good bike shop with a good repair capability and a great fitter, and buy the bike you choose.

Gear Talk / Re: Gearing for Touring Bike
« on: June 18, 2015, 03:25:08 pm »
As a general rule of thumb, I shoot for a low of 20 gear inches on a touring bike.  (It's basically mountain bike gearing on a sturdy road bike.)  A 32 rear cassette is a third of the information needed to calculate your gearing.  The other two are wheel size and crank.  Assuming something close to 27" (27 1/4", 700C, or 26" tires), you need a 24 small crank to get there with your 32.  If you've got typical road triple gearing, you may currently have a 30 crank, giving you a 25".

The last I heard, the biggest cassette cog you can get is a 36; if paired with a 30 small crank, that only gives you a 22.5" gear.  It's a couple more gears on the low side (given a nominal 10% difference between gears, about typical for mountain or tour gearing).   I wouldn't bother with a new cassette if you're dealing with a 30 (or larger) crank, go for a new crank instead.

You may end up with the two-foot gear (put one foot in front of the other).  No matter how low you go, you'll eventually find a hill that you have to walk.  Build up the clogs on your shoes with Shoe Goo before you go, that will help keep the soles from wearing out.

General Discussion / Re: Has anyone biked the east coast?
« on: June 18, 2015, 01:16:30 pm »
Now, if the OP is dead set on touring closer to the coast, then heat, humidity, heat, more humidity, traffic, etc. will have to be dealt with.
I offered an alternative that includes a national park, virtually no traffic and for sure no truck traffic, what traffic there is is held to 35 mph, numerous small mountain towns and much cooler temperatures than the coast.

The BRP is an alternative, but it does have its downsides.  Unlike Skyline Drive, the speed limit is 45 mph, and there are sharp curves that limit sight lines on the Parkway.  Traffic is locally awful (Roanoke at rush hour or Boone on a weekend, for instance).  Most of those small mountain towns are 1,000 feet down from the Parkway, and there are some fairly long stretches between them (like Linville to Asheville), so resupply needs to be carefully planned instead of found.  Relative humidity is often as bad, or worse, on the Parkway than down in the Piedmont, in my experience.  The views from the Parkway are tremendous, as are the occasional 6% for 6 mile climbs required to see them.  It rains more on the Parkway, and you have to deal with fog on the mountains sometimes that reduces visibility to zero.

While I haven't ridden the Atlantic coast, I expect it's a different experience than the Parkway.

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