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Messages - Pat Lamb

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General Discussion / Re: brooks saddle break-in how long
« on: July 24, 2014, 04:45:22 pm »
Not a Swift, but I've broken in four B-17s.  All of them felt pretty good once they were adjusted correctly when new.  It took 300-500 miles for each saddle to disappear, such that I stopped noticing it.

I've read the Team Pro is supposed to have thicker leather, so it takes longer to break in.  Some people say those take 1,000 miles to break in.  I'm not sure where on the B-17/Team Pro line the Swift falls.

Two notes.  First, adjustment is critical for a Brooks saddle.  I prefer two-bolt seatposts for the ease in making minor adjustments (without starting over every time you unscrew the single bolt on the other design).  Second, while many tourists prefer Brooks saddles - half or more, in my observations - not every bottom matches up with a Brooks.

General Discussion / Re: Touring on carbon
« on: July 21, 2014, 10:34:20 am »
I've cracked a steel frame, twice, without a load, or an  accident-- just fatigue.

BS.  You're just a CF chest beater.  Steel has the least amount of fatigue of any material except for Titanium.  ... [bunch of bragging deleted]   And this why today steel is still the number 1 choice for a touring bike no matter the cost, from low end mass produced touring bikes in the $1400 range to the high $6,000 plus range for custom built touring bikes.

I'm not sure why it was necessary to resurrect a four year old thread, but this steel chauvinism isn't helpful or relevant.  Steel has minimal fatigue, sure.  A single, N=1 example to the contrary does nothing to refute the assertion that steel bikes still break.  I've broken two, one loaded, the other not.

Why steel is the top choice for touring bikes is an interesting question.  I suspect a part of the answer has to do with traditionalists who won't buy a touring bike made of any other material.  Other answers might include: limited sales of touring bikes mean it's not cost-effective to set up tooling for carbon; Cannondale cornered the marked for aluminum touring bikes before it went through bankruptcy; many tourists stop with the cheapest production touring bike they can find, so that keeps the number of titanium touring bikes down below the point most manufacturers will mass produce a touring model.

General Discussion / Re: importance of componentry
« on: July 21, 2014, 10:15:11 am »
Yes, touring bikes typically have lower gears than other road bikes, and so-called "mountain" components had those lower gears.  Up until recently, you could shift any Shimano rear derailer with any Shimano shifter.  Deore shifters had/have longer arms to cover the larger cogs (up to 34 teeth) on the MTB cassettes.  It was an easy call to put a Deore derailer and cassette on a touring bike, and shift those with Tiagra STI brifters.  Tiagra front derailers could shift smaller cranks up front (i.e., lower gears again) adequately IME.  Some people say 105 and even Ultegra worked as well, others say nothing worked as well as they did on real road cranks with larger chain rings, but I can only report my experience with the Tiagras.  All-Deore would be a problem if you go with drop bars, as many of us have done, because the shifters are for MTB, non-drop bars.  The Deore/Tiagra mix worked well.

(Curmudgeon mode on)  It worked so well Shimano fixed it.  Newer groups have changed the cable pull ratios.  Perhaps someone else knows the intricacies of new Shimano groups; are the mixed-group touring bikes still on the market using warehoused older groups, or is Deore still being produced to service older mountain bikes?

The Carlton Complex fires  closed Washington Hwy 20 across Loup Loup yesterday or last night:

"Due to the fire situation, road and highway closures could change very quickly. Hwy 20 is now closed between MP206 to MP215. Hwy 153 is closed at MP6-21 and at a Level 3 Notice between the town of Carlton and Pateros. Hwy 97 is closed between Pateros and Brewster."

It looks like it's still possible to get out of the Okanogan valley on 17 or by going north into Canada, though the Inciweb report shows the fire's jumped the river below Omak.  It would be prudent to avoid this route from Republic west to Washington Pass, or perhaps to Concrete.

(I wish I could send them the showers we've had today!)

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

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

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.

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