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Messages - Pat Lamb

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421
Gear Talk / Re: Tablets/IPad or laptops
« on: October 02, 2012, 11:43:19 am »
If you're going to keep a journal (and I recommend it, if only to keep your memories alive and in order), I'd suggest either a notebook with a pen or a netbook.

I prefer to record my observations, etc., daily, at the end of the day.  I'd already forgotten stuff when I tried to collect 2-3 days at once.  Thus, for me at least, relying on public computers that might be spaced several days apart is a non-starter.

A notebook, one with paper pages and a pen or pencil, is always available.  It's a decent choice, unless you plan to blog.  The disadvantage is having to re-write everything to post it.  OTOH, you're not limited in what you write, either by reasonable page limits, or by privacy and/or decency.

I prefer something with a decent keyboard, as Fred suggests.  A long email on my smartphone is two sentences, and epic novel is three.  On the other hand, I can fill up 2-3 pages from a good day on the road.  If you're comfortable with a tablet device, that might work for you, but a netbook can be a good solution.  (Beware, some netbook keyboards are dreadful, especially for people whose fingers are not skinny!)  The netbook also saves half the weight of a bigger notebook computer.  A netbook can save the weight of several chargers, although you may have to be in a motel overnight to get things charged.

One final though is that, if you're carrying a camera, you can back everything up onto the netbook.  I did roughly monthly dumps to USB thumb drives and sent them home as backups, which worked well -- my camera and netbook both made it home just fine.  :)


422
South / Re: Natchez Trace Northern Terminus Connection to Nashville
« on: October 01, 2012, 10:40:03 am »
Maybe I'm applying for full wuss status here...

Though I've never bicycled near the Nashville airport, I've flown in and out on several occasions, and I hate accessing that airport by ground.  I'd see if your hotel has a shuttle service available, and I'd take it.

423
Gear Talk / Re: tent for transam
« on: September 29, 2012, 09:22:18 pm »
I usually figure a tent is comfortable for N-1 people, where N is the number of people the manufacturer thinks will fit in it.

Really light (under 4 pounds for a 2-person tent) seems to start around $300 and go up.  Look around this fall, and you may get lucky with a good sale.

424
Gear Talk / Re: Chain Maintenance on Tour
« on: September 29, 2012, 09:19:31 pm »
No experience with mud (a la C&O), but I find a weekly wipe down help keeps the chain clean.  A couple of paper napkins work pretty well; no need to carry a rag, and you can toss them in the roadside restaurant's trash can when you're through.  Wipe after a wet ride, and re-lube when the chain looks dry or squeaks.

425
Gear Talk / Re: Tire Selection for the Continental Divide Trail
« on: September 27, 2012, 09:54:22 pm »
The Schwalbe Marathon Dureme is made in a 50 cm version, the tread is still conservative but from what I am seeing, a wide tread is going to be more important than a knobbie.  That patch in your photo looks tricky, but a knobby wouldn't really be useful unless it was muddy. 

50 cm is getting close to a tracked vehicle, it should go over just about anything if you can pedal it.  Are you perhaps off by a factor of 10?  ;)

426
Gear Talk / Re: Panniers - dry bag vs. traditional
« on: September 27, 2012, 09:51:14 pm »
If you can initially afford Ortliebs, they amortize out pretty cheap.  My everyday commute bags are Sportspacker Plus.  I think I got them for Christmas around 2006 or 2007; plus they were my front panniers on a TransAm trip in 2009.  One minor problem, after I laid the bike down in Kentucky, the bag from that side has had a minor leak in heavy downpours.  It's so minor that I've never bothered to look for it, since it manifests as a damp feeling inside the bag (my clothes are in a grocery bag to stay clean, and also stay dry).  So that set costs about $25-30 per year, not counting the tour.  If I do count the tour, they're priceless.

:)

427
Routes / Re: Carlsbad to Santa Barbara in October
« on: September 22, 2012, 03:48:34 pm »
Check out the how-to department off the main web page at http://www.adventurecycling.org/features/howto.cfm for some good articles and tips.  The bike touring 101 and getting in shape articles are perhaps the two most important articles, and it just so happens they're on the top.

If you've got more specific questions after reading some of those articles, come back and post them here.

428
General Discussion / Re: Traveling the TransAm spring of 2013
« on: September 10, 2012, 08:30:24 pm »
I guess it's time for the fall, 2012 iteration of this question.  Most all the answers will be, "Do it like I did it."

I did it east to west.  Points in the favor of this direction include the following:
  • Get past the east while the temperature and humidity are reasonable
  • When you hit Kansas, you'll want to leave early in the morning to beat the heat and winds.  Going west means the following cars' drivers don't lose you in the glare of the early morning sun.
  • You get to follow the early settler's path - most of the U.S. was settled east to west
  • You get more time to get acclimated to the Rockies' altitudes
  • Do the Appalachians and Ozarks look little after you've been through the Rockies?

On the flip side, you'll have more gradual climbs in the west to get you toughened up for the eastern mountains.

Ignore the wind arguments unless you're cycling at 30,000 feet.  Most of the predictable winds are in Kansas and come out of the south; riders in both directions think they're getting headwinds when it's actually a crosswind.

429
Routes / Re: Blue Ridge Parkway / Skyline Drive input
« on: September 09, 2012, 09:09:11 pm »
A couple more notes here.  If you do Skyline, the drop down to Waynesboro isn't bad.  The Quality Inn is an AT classic break spot, and there's a steak house two blocks down that's great.

There's a "secret" back road off the BRP into Boone, NC.  About 5 miles off route without any significant climbing either way.  (The book's route is, well, scenic!)  Worth a stop for Daniel Boone Inn with all-you-can-eat country cooking, and Pepper's makes a superb carrot cake.

Skip the eatery at Crabtree Falls -- it'll probably be closed, but if it is you won't miss anything (except maybe ice cream).  Mt. Pisgah has a great restaurant coupled with the campground and motel.

Off the southern tip -- if you're in the Cherokee area with a car, call up Nantahala Outdoor Center the other side of Bryson City and see if Relia's is open.  I've loved everything I've had at that restaurant!

430
General Discussion / Re: Fall ride starting in October--Need Advice
« on: September 09, 2012, 09:00:02 pm »
Roughly 1,100 miles (from a quick google maps hack), that's easily done if you're in good shape.  As far as daylight, most people end up riding only 5-6 hours per day; if you can get out of bed and get rolling at a decent hour, you shouldn't have any problems there.

I'd advise having enough cash in reserve to hole up for two nights in a motel.  End of October and beginning of November is when the first snowfall often hits the southern Appalachians.  (For goodness' sake, learn how the natives say it before you hit the mountains.  It is NOT pronounced like appellation south of the Mason-Dixon line!!)

Check out weatherspark.com for seasonal averages at some of the towns near where you'll be passing.  I'd expect temps down to around freezing in the Appalachians in late October overnight, with highs in the 50s and 60s.  That's a bit troublesome to ride in for me -- tights and jacket on, long gloves, jacket off, short gloves, jacket back on for a long downhill, jacket and tights off for the climb on the other side of the valley, lather, rinse, and repeat.

I think it sounds like a great trip.  If you leave early enough, you might hit some great color in the mountains if the leaves are at their peak!

431
Gear Talk / Re: Chain repair
« on: September 07, 2012, 10:41:42 am »
For anyone who uses master links, I highly recommend getting  a Park MLP-1C tool for home use. It makes removal so much easier than doing it with just your hands.

http://www.parktool.com/product/master-link-pliers-mlp-1

I've never needed anything more than a pair of normal pliers, even for cruddy chains and links.  Grab some slack, arrange the master link to stand proud with 90 degree angles, open the pliers to grab opposing corners of the master link (not the corners with the enlarged holes), and squeeze.  Takes longer to get the pliers out of the toolbox than it does to open the link (and longer still to describe the process!).

432
Gear Talk / Re: BioLite Stove
« on: September 07, 2012, 09:34:22 am »
The only downside I can see is that it's often difficult to find any kind of firewood or kindling near established, popular campsites.  Even the people who bring generators, satellite dishes and TVs in their 32' RVs to a national park want to have a campfire every night, and a fair few don't want to pay for firewood from the camp store (too expensive!).  As a result, many of these are stripped clean of brush and downed limbs.  (The Biolite looks like it'd have trouble handling the large firewood that is being sold...)

433
Start with John's recommendation of the ACA routes, then spend an evening looking at weatherspark.com to check out various cities on the routes.  Look at the averages, and pay attention to the 10% low temps.

I'd head east or south, aiming to get east of Charlottesville on the TransAm by the end of October.  The idea would be to get out of the Appalachians pretty quick -- you can get snowstorms in the mountains by late October.  Going south, you should miss cold weather fairly easily.  You could head south on the Atlantic Coast from Virginia -- but stay off the Outer Banks in NC.  Given six weeks, if you go south, you could go east on the Southern Tier, and perhaps south towards Key West.  If you turn west on the ST, you'd have to push to get across the Rockies, or end your trip around El Paso.

Anywhere but on the gulf coast, I'd suggest you have enough financial reserve to spend a couple nights in a motel.  You can get an early winter storm in November that'll give you some sleet or snow, but it'll probably melt after a day or two.

434
General Discussion / Re: Bike shipping / Lesson learned?
« on: September 05, 2012, 01:36:35 pm »
While I like the internal compression straps, I am less than enthusiastic about the outer h-strap system. TSA at my airport doesn't have a large scanning machine, so they open bike boxes. Some employees have had trouble figuring out how to re-secure the straps. One time, I got the box back with two of the straps tied in a knot.

TSA must be hiring the gorillas from the Atlanta zoo that used to do luggage commercials.  They have trouble with belt buckles.  I'm sure that's why they want you to take your belt off.  Reading or following pictures is right out -- they've never done either with the directions on top of my S&S coupled bike, and I hold my breath every time I open the case after they've monkeyed around with it.

435
Gear Talk / Re: Saddle bags article from years ago
« on: August 31, 2012, 07:16:30 pm »
And for your reading pleasure, check out http://www.kenkifer.com/bikepages/touring/bags.htm.

I think there's another good web page out there with even more details and opinions, but I can't locate it at the moment.

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