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Messages - Pat Lamb

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Gear Talk / Re: bike suggestion
« on: May 27, 2016, 02:52:37 pm »
I came across two bikes that I don't know which one would be better - surly long haul trucker and kona rova al. They both ride are great bike but they make out of different materials so I'm not sure which one would be better.

First, don't obsess over frame materials.  Despite the hype (and there's a lot of that!), the shock absorption is in the tires instead of the frame.  Aluminum won't rust, but if you rust out a bike riding across America, you're going too slow!  :)

Second, pick the one that fits you best and is the most fun to ride.  If you like riding your bike, you are more likely to ride your bike, and the cost benefit ratio improves the more you ride.

Finally, the LHT has lower gears you'll appreciate in VA, KY, MO, CO, WY, MT, ID, and OR.  (Not much difference in Kansas or Illinois.)  If they both fit and ride alike, get the LHT.

Gear Talk / Re: bike suggestion
« on: May 27, 2016, 10:00:19 am »
The April Adventure Cycling magazine had/has a list of touring bikes available, mostly in the U.S.  There are a half-dozen bikes that are frequently recommended for loaded road touring, including:
Trek 520
Fuji Touring
Surly Long Haul Trucker
REI Novara Randonee (also check out the Safari for less-paved riding)

The first thing you need to worry about when you start the selection process is how the bike fits you.  At 5'3", you might do well with a 26" wheel instead of the more common 700C wheel size.  If the bike doesn't fit, it'll make riding uncomfortable at best.

Other things you'll commonly look for:
 - Low gearing; 20 gear inches is a good target
 - Provision for carrying a load.  You'll have to be able to mount a rack to carry your panniers, so you need eyelets.
 - Long chain stays so your heels don't hit the rear panniers while pedaling
 - Wide tires -- I like to start at 32s and have the option to go wider.  Wider tires let you reduce tire pressure a bit, which soaks up road shock, while having enough volume to avoid pinch flats when you hit a pothole.
 - Slick tires (as opposed to knobby) avoid a nasty buzz as you ride
 - Good components, properly checked out and tuned before you leave, greatly reduce the chances of need emergency repairs on the road (except for flats, which are almost unavoidable!).  Wheels especially need to be checked by a good wheel builder, and tensioned and stress relieved if necessary.

These are the general rules for loaded or self-supported touring, but of course exceptions are possible.  People have ridden across the country with Walmart bikes, or Sears bikes before that.  It's more a case of, "The race is not always to the swift -- but that's the way to place your bets."

General Discussion / Re: Aggressive Drivers During Transamerica?
« on: May 21, 2016, 10:49:42 pm »
The fact that there's two of you (you and your boyfriend) may help a little bit.  A bad driver would have to take out both of you to make sure there's no witnesses. 

Ride well, enjoy the trip.

Katrina, what route did you take from Newhalem down to Bellingham?

Gear Talk / Re: Brooks saddle and bike shorts
« on: May 20, 2016, 08:47:22 am »
Not familiar with that model, but the Brooks I've bought were all a bit slippery at the beginning.  You'll want to make sure you've adjusted it correctly -- most if not all Brooks are finicky about getting the tilt just right.  Once you're balanced on the saddle, just keep riding.  The leather will adjust itself to you, and then you'll enjoy the lack of friction and chafing as you pedal.

General Discussion / Re: Demands on energy
« on: May 17, 2016, 09:55:37 am »
Using "prepackaged junk" as a suplement and quick energy source doesn't defeat the purpose of eating healthy foods most of the time.   We are not recommending junk as a routine diet, just a special event expedient.

But if using this every day during a long cycling tour, that's not just a "special event expedient," it's become part of the daily diet.  Why not take something a bit more wholesome and plan a snack?

South / Re: Ride KY to VA
« on: May 16, 2016, 05:53:57 pm »
My answer to your question, "Is the path from KY to VA, a safe route with adequate shoulders?" would have to be yes and no.  The roads the TransAm take generally have very light traffic, they're winding, and the traffic is therefore driving much slower than on some of the major roads in the area.  Shoulders? what are those?

I'd suggest you plan your ride and your wife's route separately, with intersections a couple times a day.  For instance, heading east from Hazard, the TransAm takes the big road (with shoulders, and with occasional rock- or mud-slides on those shoulders) for a few miles out of Hazard before it takes a back road.  Driving a big RV down that back road would be an adventure in itself, but she can take KY 80 to right outside Hindman to meet you halfway through the day.

General Discussion / Re: Demands on energy
« on: May 16, 2016, 05:39:04 pm »
I'm not sure I understand the original post.  Eating "wholesome food" is no doubt a laudable goal, but to then supplement that with prepackaged junk seems to defeat the purpose.  What's the difference between downing EE, or Shot Block, or Perpetuem, and a big ice cream cone?  (Aside from the fact that the ice cream would taste a whole lot better!) 

I usually allow myself at least one snack in the morning, and another in the afternoon if I'm riding late into the day.  Snickers taste great, and match "energy bars" pretty well for carb/fat/protein balance, but they'll melt and make a mess in hot weather.  So I usually end up carrying some of those (despicable) energy bars for emergency snacking when there's not a convenience store when you need it.  Some fig newtons or a fruit turnover and a coke have carried me many miles.  Gels are sweet and tasty, but I burn through one of them in 5-7 miles, so that's not a good choice for me.  YMMV.

General Discussion / Re: Newbie ISO perfect touring bike
« on: May 12, 2016, 10:37:08 am »
The Fuji Touring comes with 26x34 low, 20.6 gear inches.  That's solidly in the "low enough for touring" range.  You get down to 19.1 gear inches with a 24 chainring, almost one more gear.  On some climbs that might be enough difference that you could pedal all the way to the top, on other hills you still might have to get off and walk.

OK, I'm biased because I've got a Fuji Touring bike.  Nevertheless, it's a good bike that's at least good enough for a few years of touring -- some people get new bike lust and want something different -- and it may be all you'll ever need.

General Discussion / Re: Newbie ISO perfect touring bike
« on: May 11, 2016, 05:55:00 pm »
As indy hints, component swapping can be either a simple change-out or it can lead you down an expensive rat hole.  It's probably worth finding a bike shop with knowledgeable mechanics to discuss your choices, if you don't know which way to go.

FWIW, my loaded touring bogey for gears is a low around 20 gear inches.  I'd start out by trying a mountain compact double crank -- that's probably $100-150 (all cost guesses in US dollars!), something like a 24-38.  If that works, great, you're done.  But I'm not familiar with Shimano Claris, you might need a NOS Tiagra or 105 front derailer.  Worst case, you need to change to bar-end shifters, which requires a lot of labor to recable and re-tape the bars.  As long as you stay with 8 speeds, the chain and rear cassette should be OK.

OTOH, the Fuji's wheels are machine built, which work just fine for some light, and lightly loaded, people.  If you don't fit those categories, or are just cautious, ask around for a wheel builder recommendation.  You want someone to make sure the wheels are adequately tensioned and stress-relieved -- if the alleged expert looks blankly at you when you say that, keep looking!  It's slightly tedious to do it yourself, but knowing how to do it will allow you to fix any problems that crop up on the road.  Jobst Brandt's book, "The Bicycle Wheel," is an excellent reference, and there are a couple of web sites that have adequate instructions.

FWIW, I thought WA 20 through the North Cascades was spectacular (but I hadn't ridden up from Mt. Hood, either).

I've seen some ride reports that took WA 92 out of Lake Stevens (north of Seattle) and the Mountain Loop from Granite Falls to Darrington, then 530 down to Rockport and WA 20.  Not having ridden it myself, I can't say for sure, but there's a community of randonneurs that seems to like that route.

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.

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.

Correction: west bound (going north) you cross the North Fork of the Holston before climbing Clinch Mtn.  The Clinch River is north of Clinch Mtn.  Still a good climb, but not as steep eastbound.

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.

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

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