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Messages - Pat Lamb

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16
General Discussion / Re: Big Bend Loop II, Van - Nov 2-10, 2014
« on: July 17, 2014, 09:38:43 am »
Not the same tour, obviously, but I did the Blue Ridge tour with AC a couple years ago and overlapped for about a week with the TransAm group a few years before that.

I'd guess we averaged about 10 mph on the Blue Ridge tour.  That included a fair bit of climbing.  The TransAm crew may have been a couple mph faster, as most of them passed us most days.  Both groups seemed to leave right around 7:45-8:00 every morning.  Arrival time depended on length of the day and the specifics of the route, but I think most people rode into camp between 2:00 and 4:00 in the afternoon.

Neither group stayed together in one big paceline.  OTOH, there were smaller groups of 2-5 people that formed and disbanded fluidly throughout the day.  Skip an overlook, linger a while - you can ride your own ride.  The van does provide a safety net, but not many people fell into it.

17
General Discussion / Re: importance of componentry
« on: July 10, 2014, 04:36:10 pm »
I think you're being up-sold.  Tiagra will be fine (my shifters are 8 years, and about 30,000 miles) old and still shift fine -- knock on wood.

Indexed shifters and derailers usually gums up or breaks.  There are some internal parts that are plastic on less expensive lines which are metal in the middle, and sometimes replaced by fancy composites at the top end.  You'd have to find someone who knows what Shimano is putting into each line to find out where the breakpoints are this year.

The cables "stretch" a bit as they age, and that requires some adjustment.  You can use the same cables in a Sora as Ultegra, BTW.  So there's no difference in time between adjustment between the various lines, only how long they'll last.

18
General Discussion / Re: Cardboard Box for Bike as Checked Baggage
« on: July 10, 2014, 09:39:12 am »
Just curious! How much did your bike and box weigh. My surly is pushing 50# and will be getting ready to head to San Diego to start Southern Tier in September. Looking for options to get it and my gear to there from Iowa.

Try putting some things in another bag (second checked bag or carry-on).  Last time I took my coupled bike on a trip, I was just lazy and put the saddle and seat bag in my suitcase instead of packing them into the bike case.  Though I've never pushed 50#, that took the bike case's weight down by about 3-4 pounds (I don't think anybody ever calibrates airport scales, so the same thing will vary by a pound or two from one airport to another).  You might toss some clothing into the bike box to pad the bike and make space in your other bag(s) -- clothes are usually pretty light.

19
Gear Talk / Re: Why not use my [insert bike here] on GDMBR?
« on: July 09, 2014, 11:19:11 am »
I know of a few instances of folks successfully riding bikes of that caliber on long tours. … He was road touring though.

I think there’s a fundamental difference between road touring and MTB touring, though.  If something breaks down on the road, it’s probably not life-threatening.  The road tourist can flag down a passing car or pickup to get help, like the two people who had blowouts when we were riding.  Hitch a ride into town, get the wheel fixed or a new tire, and there’s a good story to tell when you get home.  If the same thing happens to a solo rider in 95F heat, 30 miles from the nearest road and water source, that’s a much more serious problem.

I think you are over reacting and the comment wasn't a "recommendation" to use a Walmart bike.  This forum gets a lot of questions about using basically unsuitable bikes for specific tours, etc. and the reply that a Walmart bike could be used was meant to be facetious.

It wasn’t obvious to me that it was facetious.  Note it’s from a first time poster, with no emoticons or context.

Some of the bikes at my local Wally-world look like they have brake pads of plastic mounted on stamped metal brakes.  Most of the time on the TransAm we had a nice run-out at the bottom of steep hills, such that if the brakes failed you could drag to a stop with the other wheel’s brake.  Now imagine heading down a 15% grade toward a cliff, and the front brake's stamped metal arm snaps.  Now you have a dangerous, life threatening failure.  Could it have been prevented?  Sure, with “adequate preparation,” such as replacing the brakes, or inspecting them every night for cracks.  Do the people who want to do things very cheaply know they need to do that?

Again, it’s just MHO, but a drive-by post saying something is possible on a forum (such as this) where people come for equipment recommendations and detailed discussions is not responsible.  It’s like finding a forum for troubled teens and saying, “I’m pretty sure it’s possible to stow away in an airplane wheel well if you want to fly to Hawaii.”  Even if one person did it and lived to tell the tale doesn’t mean the next one will survive.

20
Gear Talk / Re: Why not use my [insert bike here] on GDMBR?
« on: July 08, 2014, 09:49:50 am »
I'm pretty sure most rides can be accomplished on a Walmart bike if  adequate care is taken in preparation beforehand. At what degree of comfort or competitive level is another matter.

While possible, IMHO it's irresponsible to recommend an X-mart BSO for a ride like the GDMBR.  You need a bike that's dependable for such a remote ride with such limited services.  Saying "if adequate care is taken in preparation" sounds like the disclaimer on a drug commercial slowed down so you can understand it.  In this context, I think adequate preparation means "Checking every single component with test and alignment equipment not available to the average retail customer and replacing every suspect part, which may be the majority of them." 

The military jokes about lives depending on the low cost bidder, but at least there's shelves of specifications to protect those lives.  Walmart is simply the low cost provider without any limitations -- except perhaps what their lawyers think is cost-effective across the whole range of their customers, most of whom won't ride a bicycle out of their neighborhood.

21
My strategy for tire replacement is new tire installed on front wheel, tire on front wheel moved to rear, worn out rear tire goes to trash. Just my two cents.

That's my overall strategy, however, I'm sometimes in a rush and sometimes just not motivated to do the double swap.  I usually end up swapping the front to the back roughly every second back tire change.  I have seen a front tire start to disintegrate from age when I only swapped rear tires.

22
I've only ridden the northern tier from West Glacier to Anacortes, but I only remember one significant windy day on that 740 mile stretch. 

(There were some winds coming up the Skagit River going down to Newhalem that made crossing the river a bit sketchy.  Of course, that didn't slow me down much, as that was the downhill part of the day going west.)

No personal experience east of Glacier.  However, the USDA wind rose for Fargo in July looks like the wind comes mostly out of the NW or SE, with the SE wind blowing more strongly and more often.

23
General Discussion / Re: general advice on making a tour happen
« on: June 30, 2014, 05:52:25 pm »
I'm surprised at the report of the 520 flexing.  Just FWIW, my Novara Randonnee has carried me (close to JDFlood's weight) and 50+ pounds of load without any flexure.  I had a little bit of shimmy at one point, but that turned out to be a slight wheel truing issue.

At our weight, I'd expect some of the lightweight road racing bikes would flex.  On a touring bike, though, there's a whole laundry list of problems that need to be checked before blaming shimmy on the frame.  Wheel true is my bugaboo (winter commuting is hard on wheels!), but there's also weight distribution on the loads, fork flex, wind on long trail bike designs, loose headset, stem flex, and even user error -- the rider shivering or riding with locked arms.  After those causes (and the rest I can't think of off the top of my head) have been eliminated, then you can blame the frame itself.

24
Routes / Re: Advice about routes please
« on: June 29, 2014, 12:52:07 pm »
WE to TransAm is pretty easy.  Get the maps and follow them.  When you get to Pueblo, CO, you're off the Western Express.  Unpack the TransAm map and keep riding.

I'd expect July in the Nevada/Utah deserts to be hot as all get out, but I've never ridden the WE.  Colorado is higher, so it'll be a bit cooler, and things will warm up when you leave the Rockies and head for Kansas.  OTOH, you're rarely more than 20-30 miles from civilization in Kansas.

Motels, etc. are generally available east of Colorado.  You might want to book things west of there, especially on weekends; but since a lot of towns are 60+ miles apart, it's fairly easy to plan  several days in advance.

25
Routes / Re: East to West or West to East
« on: June 29, 2014, 12:44:58 pm »
Sun sets in the west.
And it rises in the east.

And so we come to the crux of the matter.  Which way do you, the prospective tourist, want to go?

FWIW, it hit 100 F almost every day we were in Kansas in June.  It's a whole lot cooler, and generally much less wind, in the morning than in the afternoon.  It took a bit to shift our riding habits, but we were much happier when we started riding at dawn (going west, with the sun at our backs).

26
General Discussion / Re: Viewing elevation profile of tours
« on: June 27, 2014, 02:31:00 pm »
Yes, sort of, and there's a fix.

Yes, you can take the .gpx route files and put them into various tools that generate profiles, such as Topo or RidewithGPS.com.

Sort of, you need to join Adventure Cycling to access the GPS files.  It's not as bad as you might think, because one membership (I think it's $25/year) will let you access all the AC routes.

If you're interested, one way to fix your 1:1 low gear is to replace your current double with one of the SRAM mountain doubles.  I think that'll let you get down to a 24/34 gear.  There's still some 10%+ grades, so you'll need to pack light, get in shape, and - perhaps most improtantly - be prepared to walk anyway.  The good news is that most of the really steep grades aren't too long.


27
General Discussion / Re: general advice on making a tour happen
« on: June 27, 2014, 10:19:57 am »
A year or two out, I'd concentrate on riding a lot and planning your time off.

Riding a lot will get you used to hours at a time on the road, and if you have any half-way decent roads near you that will provide its own inspiration.  Go down a little hill and start thinking about going down big mountains; find a mile of quiet road and try to imaging riding like that for miles on end.

Unless you're young, rich, and foolish, you'll have to plan ahead.  Read some blogs or some of these discussions to figure out how much money it'll take you.  Do you need to win a lottery, or can you live frugally and save enough?  Figure out how you're going to take 3-6 months to go for a bike ride; save your leave if you've got a job and talk to your boss about being gone that long.  Can you get extra time off without pay, or do you need to plan on job-hunting when you get back?

I really like Willy Weir's writing.  Get his books and read a story every couple of days.  Space them out so you have time to digest and incorporate his gentle lessons.

28
Gear Talk / Re: Best foot wear for touring?
« on: June 21, 2014, 03:57:32 pm »
One more vote for the MTB shoes.  They're also adequate for stops (grocery stores, diners, gas station / convenience stores, and libraries).  I find a pair of Teva sandals a good compromise between weight and support for off-the-bike-for-longer footwear.  Wool socks and I'm a professor on holiday; bare feet in sandals and I have shower shoes, wading shoes for creeks, and general bum-around-camp shoes.

29
General Discussion / Re: dogs and security
« on: June 12, 2014, 09:23:25 am »
Browse (or search) through the archives.  Dogs are a popular topic for discussion -- right behind gearing, I suspect.

My preferred defense is Halt!, a pepper spray.  If you can find the handlebar holster, you can grab and squirt while riding.

30
General Discussion / Re: Poll: Additional ACA Web Feature?
« on: June 05, 2014, 01:25:50 pm »
That is exactly the same on any review site though.

Even on trip-advisor.
If a place is great when it first opens, it gets 5/5 reviews. Then it goes really bad and starts getting 1/5 reviews, anyone who looks at the site will see it getting 3 or 5 out of 5 on average.

People will look at the most recent reviews and note any changes/read what people are saying, that is just common sense.

I guess I left out perhaps the most important point: the number of people traveling an AC route is pretty small compared to the review sites you may be used to in larger towns and cities.  I'll make up a number here: 1% of people who go to a restaurant, motel, or campground will review it.  In a big city, the new bar may get 5 reviews a night.  On the TransAm, there may be 5 reviews per year for a given 30-50 mile stretch (about one day's ride).  On some of the other routes, it's probably less than that.

Sure, I can see the potential benefit to a future bike tourist if you had a fully populated, active review system tracking your route.  Perhaps if you were to set someting like that up, AC would link to it.  If it were populated, active, and accurate, they might be persuaded to take it over.  But as I wrote previously, I don't think it would be a wise use of AC's resources to start something like this.

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