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Messages - Pat Lamb

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Routes / Re: Lexignton, KY to Asheville, NC - how to develop a route?
« on: February 15, 2016, 02:32:43 pm »
I second the idea of hitting the TransAm at Berea.  My suggestion would be to take the TransAm to Damascus.  From there you've got a couple of choices:

1. Take the Virginia Creeper trail to Whitetop, U.S. 58 over to Mouth of Wilson, then cut over through Sparta to the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Turn right and ride 200 miles or so to Asheville.  There's really only 2-3 mountains on the BRP, along with a bunch of little hills.  Virtually no services on route except at Boone/Blowing Rock and Little Switzerland, but the grades are 6% or less and the speed limit is 45 mph.

2. Go south through Shady Valley towards Elizabethton.  Go down to Erwin (where they hanged the elephant!) and head over the mountain into N.C.  I can't really help you with routing into Asheville from there, although with the completion of I-26 a while back, a lot of the traffic may be off U.S. 19.

I know maybe half of the alternate routes through east Tennessee, if you decide to go another way through there.

General Discussion / Re: Touring TN.
« on: February 13, 2016, 01:34:53 am »
Most of 64 has been widened, I think.  There might be a few stretches where the shoulders aren't all there, or clean, but that's always a risk you take.  Last time I was up there, the section around Fayetteville still had some 2-lane, but they may have finished it by now.

Going over the south end of the Cumberland Plateau will be a problem, since 64 merges with I-24 from Decherd up the mountain, and coming down from Monteagle.  Double-plus ungood.  Take 41 to Sewanee, instead.  East of Winchester it's 2-3 lanes up the mountain to Sewanee, then I think it's still two lanes to Monteagle. 

You could take 41 down to Jasper, then over the "new blue bridge" to Haletown.  I'd recommend, instead, taking the TN 156 back road from Sewanee down to South Pittsburgh.  You could get on the racetrack-without-shoulders from South Pittsburgh to Kimball, after you get to Jasper the traffic approaches sane across the river.  Instead, cross the Tennessee River on the bridge in South Pittsburgh and go up past Nickjack on 156 to Haletown. 

From there you can take 41/64 up to Wauhatchie, or (better) cut south and climb the hill up to Wildwood, GA, and then follow 11 and Wauhatchie Pike towards Browns Ferry Rd, where you'll follow 64/41/11 over the foot of Lookout Mountain into Chattanooga.

General Discussion / Re: Juneau - Seattle
« on: February 06, 2016, 08:19:24 pm »
Are you just looking at a three week tour with nice scenery, mountains, and services? Doing something like the Northern Tier from Anacortes to Glacier National Park would be a good choice, and possible to do without camping if you plan ahead. If you're travelling fast and light, you could do it in three weeks, and then have time to spend at Glacier. You could also catch Amtrak out of Whitefish to get back to where you need to.

Eminently do-able; we made Apgar to Anacortes in two weeks loaded.  The Washington/Rainy pass day would be the only difficulty; I think you can find B&Bs near Concrete, and there's a pricey lodge right outside Mazama.  Towns are spaced about an easy day's ride for the rest of the trip.

Gear Talk / Re: One Bike to Do It All
« on: February 05, 2016, 09:36:21 am »
I think you will find the LHT ill suited for faster rides rides, unless your definition of a faster ride is relatively slow.

I hear stuff like that when I'm doing a "fast" group ride on a touring bike, but I'm not sure.  First, they lose me going up a couple of good hills, but losing 5-8 pounds off the bike won't do anywhere near the good taking 50 pounds off the middle would.  Second, when the "18-21 mph" group accelerates to 25-28 up a half mile false flat, I have to back off and admit I'm not in that good a racing shape.  (OTOH, I've pulled a group of stragglers that caught them 2-3 miles down the road!)

A heavier bike won't be as good accelerating or climbing as a lighter bike.  But unless you're below 10% body fat or riding criteriums, it's not likely to limit you.

Gear Talk / Re: How to pack my sleeping bag
« on: February 03, 2016, 11:19:16 pm »
I have front and backs, so maybe I'm ok with space??? Maybe!

You will be OK with space.  It might take trips to 2-3 post offices to mail stuff home, but by the end of your trip you'll find there's plenty of room.  :)

Gear Talk / Re: How to pack my sleeping bag
« on: February 03, 2016, 09:29:50 pm »
I've packed a large poly fill bag in a pannier with some heavy stuff, such as tools and stove.  The bag can probably be compressed into a smaller space than your stuff sack, and if you put the heaviest and densest items in your load in the same pannier, it can end up balancing surprisingly well.

FWIW, I agree with Russ and John, especially if you got the 0 degree bag.  That might be appropriate for winter touring where it snows, or high altitude camping in the shoulder seasons of spring and fall.  But if you'll be touring in the summer like most people, it's going to be too warm to miserably hot 95% of the time.

With luck, a GPS with routing and turn warnings may let you ride without looking at the maps.  If the route is correct, if the batteries are working, if the GPS doesn't lock up.

Are there enough wiggle words in there?

I've ridden brevets where my GPS stopped working, and took a fair bit of fiddling to get it back on track (vs. giving me "get on the interstate to get to the finish" routes).  I've seen GPS wars -- two different units, even identical units, give opposite directions, until you get off route and see the infamous "make a U-turn" direction.  I"ve gotten confused between the route I should be on and the bright road marking of the major road I was on.  On the other hand, with a unit that's running well and fully charged, night riding is even more pleasant, since it alerts you coming up to a turn.

Get a GPS, if you wish, and give it a trial.  Plan a long training ride, preferably on some roads you're not terribly familiar with, and see how you and it get along.  Does it alert you in time to make the turn without overshooting?  Does it tell you not to go down a farmer's driveway where the road turns?  Bottom line, do you think it'll work for you?

Jennifer posted a note about the base closure and road construction at

General Discussion / Re: Routes North from San Diego in Feb
« on: January 28, 2016, 06:26:39 pm »
If you can hunker down for a day (or three) the winter storms will probably blow themselves out.

And if you're riding with family, I'd say the headwinds would be less unwelcome than some of the grades on the Sierra Crest, even if you could cross the passes (which you can't).

Gear Talk / Re: 2016 Cannondale Touring Bikes
« on: January 28, 2016, 11:23:04 am »
Wheels are very high on my list of desirables.  Wheels are one of the most important parts of a bike.  Wheels fail and you stop.  Saddle/seatpost fail, ride standing up.  Bars break, ride one handed.  Pedals break, ride one footed.  Gearing breaks, ride one speed.  Spokes break, and you may be stopped.

While I understand the rhetorical concept of emphasis through exaggeration, this may be carrying things a bit far.  Seatpost failed, I was afraid I'd forget and sit (ouch!).  Stopped and got a lift.  Stem broke, limped five miles to local repair shop (OK, my garage).  Crank broke, rode one-footed half a mile to work and called my wife for a ride home.  Right leg ached for 2-3 days after that one.

Spoke breaks?  I've probably ridden 50-100 miles like that, with multiple breaks.  Open the brake if necessary and keep riding.  (Helps if you have a reasonable number of spokes, of course!)  The fix is to learn to tension and stress relieve a wheel, or find someone who can do it.  Either way, a wheel is ultimately a consumable item; they will wear out and can be replaced easily.

Back to the OP, I think either a touring bike or a 'cross bike could fit your needs.  Rail-trails will drive you to wider tires, although 40 is really wide for most rail trails.  If most of your riding will be on roads, that would drive me away from a hybrid -- you'll want to make sure you're flexible enough to enjoy drop bars, though.  All in all, the Cannondale Touring sounds like a reasonable choice for you.

General Discussion / Re: camping on city parks
« on: January 28, 2016, 11:05:10 am »
I did about half the time.  Never had a problem either way.

Gear Talk / Re: 2016 Cannondale Touring Bikes
« on: January 27, 2016, 10:47:34 am »
I think the OP is looking in the wrong places.  For credit card touring, my expectation is that the load will be light, but that the bike will be able to carry luggage (panniers, trunk pack, or one of the large saddle bags).  Cannondale's touring bikes are aimed at the loaded touring market (although, as noted, they seem to miss the mark w.r.t. gearing!).

I'd suggest looking at so-called "sport touring" bikes, or perhaps non-competition cyclocross bikes, instead.  Make sure they have eyelets to mount a rack of your choice, front or rear.  Also, keep in mind that what's not in your legs needs to be in your gears.  One last, long, steep hill at the end of a hard day is a great reason to go with lower gears (maximum 25 gear inches, I prefer 20 for the bail-out capability).

Gear Talk / Re: Thoughts on "fat-tired" touring bikes?
« on: January 26, 2016, 10:59:49 am »
Though I disagreed with Russ, but I wouldn't call him a troll.  I'd look closely at someone who'd make a blanket statement "I wouldnt ride gravel with high pressure road tires... You'll pinch flat in no time." over a month after the previous last post.

Just saying.

Yosemite to Yellowstone isn't on a (reasonably direct) Adventure Cycling route, but you could pick your own route.  The difficult part of a direct route is probably going to be potable water; you may have to face stretches where it's more than 70 km between towns.  Google maps looks like you could make the trip in about three weeks, if you don't mind routing yourself.

IMHO, Yosemite is striking, but after two days in the valley and perhaps a day going over the pass, I would think you'd have seen it all.  (Unless you're taking lots of pictures, and want to capture five different features/angles each at sunset or sunrise.)

Yellowstone has a day or two of geothermal features, but the north and northeast quadrants are much more scenic than the southwest leg the TransAm takes you on.  You'll be so close to the Tetons it'd be a shame to miss that.  A week's sightseeing in Yellowstone and the Tetons seems reasonable, with short day hikes and different scenery every day.  The tough part is getting out of there; the Jackson airport is perhaps the best choice up to Bozeman or Billings to catch a bus a distant second choice.

Gear Talk / Re: Thoughts on "fat-tired" touring bikes?
« on: January 25, 2016, 11:36:12 am »
No.  Its maybe possible to have a sharp edge on gravel.  But not likely.  Gravel on roads in the USA are made from limestone.  Its a very soft rock.  Easily crushed and easily rounded by use.  Gravel roads in the US are not made out of granite that can hold a sharp edge.

Not no, just maybe.  Most roads in the US are made of the cheapest rock that's available within 30-60 miles.  Usually that ends up being limestone, but not always. 

The railroad beds you are talking about are not made from limestone like gravel roads.  Railroads use a different rock of much larger size for the track beds.  You will never see this rock on gravel roads or trails in the US.


Most railroads I know of ARE ballasted with limestone, it's just a much larger size.  There's one rail-trail that's barely rideable with standard MTB tires, because it does use the railroad ballast as the surface.  It's maybe 2-3" screen.  Horse riders don't mind it too much, though.

Also, some fire roads, at least in the southern Appalachians, that have been covered in gravel use large screen rock.  It doesn't USUALLY approach railroad gravel size, but again, where the road managers have to deal with severe erosion, there are exceptions.  1/2" gravel washed?  Put in 1".  1" washed out?  Try 2".

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