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Messages - Pat Lamb

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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.

GPS Discussion / Re: Garmin edge touring plus
« on: June 16, 2015, 01:42:29 pm »
I have the Edge 800, loaded with the OSM maps that I understand are standard on the Touring.

What do you want to do with the GPS?  Are you following a pre-determined track, asking it to route you on the fly, looking for alternate routes? 

While I can't speak directly to the Touring, I haven't been impressed by handheld or bike-mounted GPS routing, so I'd suggest planning the route ahead of time.  Delorme Topo can do a pretty good route, or you  can use the various on-line tools to plan a trip.  Of course, those requires 'net connectivity.

Gear Talk / Re: Gloves
« on: June 16, 2015, 09:35:22 am »
Go to your local bike shop and find a couple pairs that fit you.

Last year I wore out several pairs, and at least a couple of makers had shifted production to apparent child labor hotspots where the sizing was way off.  Gloves labeled XL were more like M or L, despite pulling out my wife's sewing tape measure and checking both hands before I ordered.

General Discussion / Re: Has anyone biked the east coast?
« on: June 12, 2015, 09:48:34 am »
FWIW, I'd suggest taking the Outer Banks in North Carolina.  There's almost always a breeze (well, a wind) that'll help keep you cool.

Further west, you'll be in the neighborhood for some good postcards at Canon City (Royal Gorge, take a day to see it by train or raft), Breckenridge (Rocky Mtns.), Jackson (Tetons), and of course Yellowstone.  Grab a few red rocks postcards at Lander; the rocks are spectacular, but you won't see them until the next day on the way to Dubois, and for some reason there were none to be found in Dubois.

Routes / Re: Route from Damascus, VA to Greensboro, NC?
« on: June 10, 2015, 09:57:44 am »
I'd suggest heading east on the Virginia Creeper trail to Whitetop, then hop north to catch U.S. 58 to Mouth of Wilson, NC.  From there you can pick up NC Bike Route 4 (see for route maps).  You'll have to work out a way to go south to Greensboro when you get close.

Alternatively, you could drop down from Whitetop to West Jefferson on 194, backtrack to the southwest on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and take Route 2.

The Mouth of Wilson road was more lightly traveled the last time I went that-a-ways.  The BRP is more scenic, and it's really one of the easiest sections of the Parkway in North Carolina to get down to Lenoir.  Just a couple of hills, really, nothing like eastern Kentucky.  :)

General Discussion / Re: Loaded Tour Bike Handling
« on: June 09, 2015, 10:47:13 am »
While I'm on the subject can anyone explain why touring bikes allies bar-end shifters.

Simple answer is that it's the only way to use modern mountain bike gearing with drop bars.  Shimano used to have the same pull in their mountain and road group derailers.  That meant you could use road shifters (STI) to shift mountain derailers in the rear (with clusters over 27 teeth).  When they went to 10 speed, and now 11, the pull ratio was different between mountain and road.  You can still get by with STI and 9 speed gearing if you can get the parts, but the bigger bike manufacturers are slowly tossing in the towel and going to newer models for parts availability.

Routes / Re: Mission: Tulsa to Ashville!
« on: June 06, 2015, 04:12:22 pm »
Pat you said it would be wise to stay clear of the big cities. This makes sense, though I haven't been in this area and would really like to see the sights. What are the best ways to try and approach the cities? Also are there certain cities you personally think are worth taking to time to go to more than others?

I personally think the Jack Daniels distillery is fascinating, even if you can't drink the product there. The Civil War battlefields around Chattanooga (Lookout Mountain, Missionary Ridge, and Chickamauga) I personally find interesting, and the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum and the aquarium there as well.  I don't know what the attractions in Knoxville are.  What are you interested in?  If you don't care for country music, Nashville doesn't have as much to recommend it as it would if you were interested in the Grand Ole Opry, Ryman Theater, etc.  You might consider joining AAA and getting some of the state books to see what's in the state, and what interests you, and work from there.

You can get fairly close to downtown Nashville on the Natchez Trace, and there's an official bike route north and south out of downtown which I haven't taken.  Chattanooga is a bit out of your way, I can recommend a few ways in from the south and west, but I don't have a clue how to get out of there going east.  Similarly, there's a way to get close to downtown Knoxville and the UT campus from the south; I don't know the north or east side, and the west side is scary in a car, much less a bike.  Contact me if you decide you want to go into Chattanooga or Knoxville.

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