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Messages - Pat Lamb

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1
GPS Discussion / Re: eTrex20x with or without TOPO for Great Divide
« on: May 03, 2016, 09:30:16 am »
I'll go the other way and recommend getting Topo.  I don't know whether their trails are any better than OSM, but you'll have the chance to check out, well, the topography.  How far will you climb in this section?  Does it look like you're going down a steep grade?  Those features you won't find in OSM.  And it looks like, if you do get off route, the etrex20x will show you the topography in the area (with Topo) that might help you get back on track.  OSM, IME, has a bunch of blank space where it doesn't have a road.

Having said that, you'll want to concentrate on getting the route loaded and learning how to follow a route in the short time you have before your departure.

2
Routes / Re: TransAm trail - how fit
« on: May 01, 2016, 02:42:20 pm »
I'm not sure how RussSeaton defines "real mountains,"

I don't consider a climb a mountain unless its 6-7-8 miles of climbing up.  Constant or varied grade.  Switchbacks too.  1-2-3 miles and its still a hill.  Maybe a loooong hill, but not a mountain.  The 4-5 mile length I guess you could put in either category depending on how vigorous you were that day.  I also think of mountains as having a pass at the top.  Usually a named pass.  Hills usually don't have pass names and elevation signs at the summit.

All of this is OBE since OP is riding west to east, but...

This incredibly restrictive definition of a "mountain" should probably be adapted for local variances.  In the southern Appalachians, we call them "gaps" instead of "passes."  Further north, the same thing may be a "notch."

Even so, the climb from the Clinch River up to Hayters Gap in Clinch Mountain, two weeks from the east coast, fits Russ' restrictive definition.  Except maybe for the sign; I don't remember one.  But then again, there wasn't a sign when I rode across Togwotee Pass (second highest pass on the TransAm).  Do people riding east get to count it as a mountain after 15 miles of climbing if there's no sign?

Personally, I thought the mountains in western Virginia, eastern Kentucky, and central Missouri (Ozarks) were the toughest on the TransAm.  By comparison, the passes in Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana were easy grades.  Yes, they were long, but the grades were much easier.  Fortunately, the OP will be ready for the tough stuff by the time he gets there coming east.

3
Gear Talk / Re: "Adventure" bike for short rider?
« on: May 01, 2016, 02:09:09 pm »
I'd like to get a report back after something like 3,000 touring miles.

My father in law (a physical chemist) used to say, "Sometimes 15 minutes in the lab will resolve a question that you've been arguing on the chalkboard for two weeks!"  This might be one of those times.

4
Food Talk / Re: Eating well on tour.
« on: April 30, 2016, 04:16:06 pm »
Potluck dinners in the summer?  Watermelon!

5
Routes / Re: TransAm trail - how fit
« on: April 30, 2016, 04:10:16 pm »
I'm not sure how RussSeaton defines "real mountains," but he's asking for lots of cussing with his prediction of one month before hitting such a thing starting from the east coast.  If you think of sustained grades of three miles or more averaging more than 6%, you'll hit Afton Mountain within two weeks, probably one week.  Things flatten out around Berea, KY, until you hit Missouri.  Low gears (20 gear inches) are your friend.

Back to the question.  If the OP considers himself to have "reasonable cycling fitness," saddle time will be the hardest hurdle.  Lots of people go on their first tour figuring on averaging 15-20 mph, and most people come off that first tour having averaged 10 mph.  50 miles per day average will get you across the country within three months, but that takes 5 hours of riding a day.  So start now, get out and go for long rides as often as you can.

I'd also suggest reversing the direction of the ride because of the weather and the season.  The first half of the trip headed west, expect temperatures in July and August to exceed 90 degrees F almost every day, and you'll probably top 100F for a week or two, with enough humidity that you'll be soaked in sweat.  If you start out west, you'll hit higher altitudes, and cooler and drier weather, a lot faster.  If you decide to stay with the westbound direction, try to ride at dawn for cooler (and less windy) weather.

6
General Discussion / Re: Pittsburgh PA Vehicle Parking
« on: April 29, 2016, 11:23:26 am »
The easiest thing would be to contact the motel where you'll start and ask if you can park your car, probably in the back of the lot, for that length of time.

Another option would be to park in a long-term parking lot at the airport, and catch a bus, shuttle, or taxi back to your motel.

7
General Discussion / Re: East to West Transam start suggestions?
« on: April 17, 2016, 01:59:22 pm »
Also, when you make motel or hotel reservations, check to see if they offer a free airport shuttle.  Many do (especially the ones near the airport!).

8
Gear Talk / Re: Un-Chain my bike!
« on: April 12, 2016, 12:04:01 pm »
Prevention is relatively easy for this problem -- stop when the chain falls off and put it back on immediately.  (Do NOT keep pedaling if your chain drops while you're riding!)

There's usually a way to gently tug the chain out and fix the mess, and it's often coming at it from the other direction you've tried.  So if you've been pulling the chain from the top, try tugging it from the bottom.

If all else fails, you can partially disassemble the chain.  This may require a packet of replacement chain pins, which might push you to replace the entire chain ($10 vs. $25 for low end 9-speed pins and chain, for example).

Then make sure you've got a tub of GoJo or similar degreaser to clean your hands.  :/

9
Gear Talk / Re: Installing rack and fenders tomorrow, quick question
« on: April 12, 2016, 09:32:57 am »
If clearance allows, nylock nuts beat loctite by a long shot.

I'm curious why you think so.  The only advantage of nylock nuts I can think of is the ease of installation.

10
Gear Talk / Re: Installing rack and fenders tomorrow, quick question
« on: April 11, 2016, 10:01:13 pm »
Zip ties are my "goto" field fix for lost fender bolts (and a lot more).

I lost a mounting bolt on either a rack or a fender one night coming home.  Asked a local resident for a bread bag twist tie.  It got me home.  Barely.  The proper bolt works better, and (with Loktite) is still there years later.

11
Have you bought the relevant TransAm maps?  They are chock full of just what you're asking for -- restaurants in small towns, campgrounds, and services to include hostels, where to find groceries, etc.  Buy them; they'll end up saving you so much money and effort you'll decide they're cheap.

Just one more note, the TA moved away from Steamboat and now goes east towards Granby.

12
Gear Talk / Re: Gear Inches for the Northern Tier
« on: April 03, 2016, 01:25:21 pm »
You can usually stretch a Shimano derailer rating by at least a couple of inches, so a 34 should work with the existing Sora derailer.

I rode from Glacier west on the NT.  Most of WA 20 is limited to 6% grades, which is doable with 20 gear inches.  IIRC, there were a few steeper stretches on Loup Loup (which I didn't mind, as I was going downhill!), but they were fairly short.  Also, there's 3/4 mile of 8% going east of Tonasket that was aggravating because there was a school zone and stop sign right at the bottom -- nowhere to let it run out.  Grr.  All that climbing gone to waste.

But I digress.  You'll have to climb that, which will be easier early in the morning when you're fresh.  The rest of the Washington passes, and Idaho and western Montana, was not a major problem.  Though we had some 3,500 miles in our legs by the time we got to Glacier, which might have some bearing on my perception!  Also, if the NT is like the TransAm, the worst grades are in the east (Virginia, Kentucky, and Missouri on the TA).

Finally, don't be ashamed if you need to walk a few hundred yards.  It's still human powered travel.  And while road builders can build roads you may not be able to ride up, even when they truck the equipment and material around to the top so they can pave going down they can't pave a road you can't walk up!

13
Routes / Re: TransAm question
« on: April 01, 2016, 09:51:50 am »
The route network map John linked to also shows the Western Express, in fact you can buy a map package with the WE and the eastern part of the TransAm.  But oh! what you'll miss!  (To be honest, I don't know what extra you'd see on the WE.)

14
Maybe there's someone with more direct experience, but here's my take on it:

First, there's a lot of overlap with the TransAm.  The purple (southern) route looks like it's the TransAm Route between Harrodsburg and Marion.  It's flatter that a lot of the TransAm route, but you'll still have to climb out of creek crossings.  I'd suggest you buy the TA map #10 for the section between Berea and Murphysboro, IL for the information on camping, detailed directions, and resources (including bike shops).

The blue route (where it diverges) is probably going to be flatter, since it looks like it's just outside the Ohio flood plain.  Spring floods usually hit in April, and may run into early May.  As a result, you can expect a fair few insects.  September/October is usually drier, so if you have a choice, that'd be my recommendation.

The endpoints look like East Bugtussle and West Podunk.  If you can't arrange for a shuttle from a friend, you might think about cutting the trip short, or making out-and-back loops.  Paducah (Barkley) is probably the closest airport to the western end of the route, and it looks like Huntington, WV is reasonably close to the eastern end.  You might also want to take the spur that goes up to Covington, KY -- that's where the Cincinnati airport is.  (IMHO, we owe somebody a "thank you" for mapping out a route from near the airport down to the TransAm!)  I'm pretty sure Greyhound/Trailways goes through Paducah, but I'd guess if you bus it you'd end up going through Nashville, so give yourself a full day to return if you use the bus as a shuttle back.

15
Gear Talk / Re: What did you forget to pack that you needed?
« on: March 25, 2016, 04:56:09 pm »
The nice thing about bike touring is that it doesn't require all that much in the way of equipment or clothing.  I can't remember forgetting anything I really needed; the closest thing was a charger for my camera battery on a short tour, but since I charged it before leaving, I didn't miss any shots.

There were a number of things I used up on my long tour, wore out, or clothes I shrank out of.  (That's a nice problem to have if you're carrying as much extra weight as I do!)  Most of those were replenished or replaced on the road, with the remaining few things resupplied by mail from home; food, salt pills, fuel, rear tires, chain.  Oh, and money; thank goodness for ATMs!  I carried spare brake pads that went on the bike after 3,000 miles.  I only had to order one extra part, a cable for my bar bag mount.  When you're traveling a few hundred miles a week, I tend to notice things are getting low or worn out and have a chance to replace them within a week or two.

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