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Messages - Pat Lamb

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So, no offense, but I don't understand why you would try to force a tour into the wrong time of year.  You will almost certainly encounter a lot of rain and cold, which is not just, you know, wet and cold, but can be kind of dangerous too, as drivers won't be able to see you as well, there's more debris on the road, you get more flat tires, and to top it all off a bunch of the camp grounds will probably closed, and you won't meet any other bike tourists like you normally would.

Depends on your point of view, I guess.  I commute year round, so rain and cold are just part of the great outdoors for me.  Aside from accepting those, I think there's a couple things you may be missing.

First, "starting in March" doesn't necessarily mean, "starting March 1."  OP could, with the distance involved, start the last week in March, depending on mileage and stops.  As I understand it, winter storm season in the PNW winds down sometime in March.  A week or three where there's a risk (not a guarantee) of a storm hitting is a nowhere near planning to ride through three months of Aleutian Islands winter weather.

Second, the northwest coast is a rain forest.  If you're going to avoid rain at all costs, you'll never ride from Washington (or north of the border) south to northern California.  The best you can do is watch the weather forecast and be ready to take off for a week or two with minimal notice.  Not many of us can do that, and stopping a bike ride there when rain is in the forecast is a good bet to break up the rhythm of a long tour.

One last point is that tourist season seems to pick up in the summer, when school's out.  Spring and fall are often easier to deal with, traffic-wise, in touristy areas.  OP can ride in the spring?  What a great idea!

General Discussion / Re: Most interesting states
« on: January 30, 2012, 10:37:10 pm »
My daughter and I took about 1,500 between us.  (I took about twice as many as she did.)

Routes / Re: Montana 83 riding conditions?
« on: January 30, 2012, 02:20:38 pm »
As Carla notes, 83 has very light traffic.  We had no problems, and the scenery is beautiful through Seeley Lake.

General Discussion / Re: Most interesting states
« on: January 30, 2012, 10:30:57 am »
FWIW, I played around with the numbers a bit.  Raw numbers of pictures, pictures per day, and pictures per mile were all pretty similar; the top 3 were Wyoming, Montana, and Colorado.  I took more pictures per day and per mile in Washington than in Virginia, but more total pictures in Virginia.

I suspect some of my "ratings" are based on how many different kinds of pictures can you take on the route.  Coming to the front range in CO, we had a couple of hazy days, so the impetus wasn't there to take lots of fuzzy pictures, as it might have been going to Colorado Springs after a cold front blew through.    South Park and North Park were beautiful, but the scenery from Breckenridge to Kremmling was dominated by the dead lodgepole pines -- not particularly scenic, IMHO.  How many pictures of snow covered mountains can a casual photographer (and dedicated bicyclist) take?

I don't know if the Wyoming tourist board could come up with a better route for sheer variety of scenery than the TransAm.  Wind River valley and mountains, Tetons, and Yellowstone.  OK, if WY were doing it, they'd route you up the east and north side of Yellowstone; the southwest side was kind of dreary, except for the geothermal sites.

As I noted in my origicnal post, Glacier skewed the results for Montana.  I thought the scenery was generally better north of Missoula than south, with a few exceptions.  And each of the four major passes in Washington had a different character.

Perhaps it's as much variety that leads to shooting more pictures.  Both variety within a state, and something different from what I routinely see, tend to make me stop and take a picture.  (And, as Russ notes, steep climbs!)

Ted, one of these days I hope to see more of Utah than the Delta hub in SLC.

Gear Talk / Re: removing tabs on fork
« on: January 29, 2012, 09:47:43 pm »
As wr notes, don't mess with them if you've got disk brakes. 

I got frustrated enough to go buy a Dremel with cut-off disks to remove lawyer lips on one bike, although I haven't messed with them on a newer bike.  It's as good an excuse to buy new tools as any, and I've got my money's worth out of the Dremel since then.

Routes / Re: Summer heat on the TA
« on: January 29, 2012, 09:30:52 pm »
I would rather endure 110 degrees in (dry) Utah than 90 degrees in the (humid) east in mid-west.

The main thing when riding in the summer heat is, hydrate often and avoid riding in the heat of the day. Oh, and yes, plan for mosquitoes.

Same here as to preference, but it's going to be humid in Missouri and east. 

In the Appalachians (say, Berea to Charlottesville), my experience has been that it can get miserable (90-100) in the day, but MOST of the time it'll cool off at night (down into the 70s or maybe, if you're lucky and high enough, 60s).  If you're unlucky and the weather doesn't break the next day, you might look for a motel with A/C the second or third night.

The nice thing about cycling is that you can expect to get sweaty, and you can cool off when you get to a downhill!

General Discussion / Re: Wind Rose Data for planning
« on: January 24, 2012, 09:14:05 am »
One of these days I'm going to have to dig up Jobst Brandt's usenet explanation of why a crosswind feels like a headwind.  I'm resigned to an informal disagreement with Pete Staehling on who had the worst headwinds crossing Kansas -- he eastbound in '08, or me westbound in '09.  I think I got the worst of the big truck bow shock blowing into my face, though.

Lots of people leave at dawn crossing Kansas, and stop early in the afternoon.  It's a great way to beat the heat and the wind, which often starts around 11:00-2:00.  (Advantage westbound: car and truck drivers don't have to see you against the glare of the rising sun.)

General Discussion / Re: Most interesting states
« on: January 24, 2012, 09:08:46 am »
That's just the raw count.  I'm not sure the blog count would be representative, since there were some days when I posted nearly all the pictures (think flood gauge), and some where I had so many I thought were good that I pared them down much more vigorously.

But what do you think?  For instance, is the Wyoming part of the TransAm (Yellowstone, Tetons, Wind River, etc.) more scenic than Colorado?  Is Missouri more boring than Kansas?

General Discussion / Re: Most interesting states
« on: January 23, 2012, 10:28:22 pm »
Normalization is an interesting idea.  I'll give it a whirl.

We went north from Missoula to the Northern Tier at Glacier, then west to the coast on the NT; thus, skipped Oregon in favor of Washington.  Lots of passes up there!

General Discussion / Most interesting states
« on: January 23, 2012, 05:32:44 pm »
Is it fair to use picture counts as a proxy for the most interesting states on a bike tour?  Messing around with picture counts from our Trans-Am plus Northern Tier, I came up with the following statistics, ranked from high to low:
Montana: 25%
Wyoming: 19%
Colorado: 15%
Virginia: 12%
Washington: 11%
Kentucky: 6%
Kansas: 5%
Missouri: 4%
Illinois: 2%
Idaho: 1%

(Disclaimers: Percentages rounded.  Montana likely skewed by time in state and day off in Glacier.  Colorado likely skewed by Royal Gorge train ride.  NT crosses Idaho in a day.  Other disclaimers not considered significant.)

Is this a fair comparison?  What would your counts look like?  How vehemently do you agree or disagree with these "ratings"?

General Discussion / Re: transam
« on: January 21, 2012, 10:07:52 am »
1.  May be a bit early start, take cool weather and rain gear.

1a.  Mail stuff home when you don't need it.

2.  When the maps note the distance between services, take an extra half gallon of water.

3.  Starting around central Colorado (Silverthorne), towns and lodging thin out.  Make motel reservations at least 3-4 days in advance for the weekend.

3a.  Have a work-around plan in case you can't get in to motels in the Tetons and Yellowstone.

4.  Have fun!

Gear Talk / Re: How to clean a hydration system (tube)???
« on: January 20, 2012, 09:34:16 pm »
If you're just putting water in the system, just rinse it after every use and let it dry overnight.

Maybe the denture cleanser works, but adding sugar is just asking for a bacteria culture.

Gear Talk / Re: bike maintenance on tour
« on: January 18, 2012, 05:42:50 pm »
Call me soft.  I like air conditioning every so often.  Every motelwhere I asked for some rags was happy to supply me with some -- they understand it'll keep their room (walls or bedspreads) clean.

Paper towels or napkins from an eatery can be used to clean up the bike in a pinch.

Pump up the tires every few days, check the tires before you pass a bike shop (so you can replace if worn), check the chain and brake pads every 3-4 weeks.  Have fun the rest of the time!

Gear Talk / Re: Novara Randonee
« on: January 18, 2012, 05:36:59 pm »
While the Randonee may be a good choice for your needs, randonneuring bikes are usually configured for credit card touring, brifters, lighter tubing, higher gears, etc.

Agree with dk's points, but disagree with their applicability.  The Randonee is a touring bike.  It is not a randonneuring bike (except that most any bike can be, but that's beside the point).  It's built solidly, with beefy large tubes to handle loads.  The gearing (this year) is about as low as any stock touring bike.  It will carry a heavy load, including tent, sleeping gear, cold weather gear, cooking gear, and oh yes, a credit card.

Gear Talk / Re: Novara Randonee
« on: January 17, 2012, 04:01:54 pm »
I'm looking for my first touring bike.  Appreciate any comments on Novara Randonee or similar ($1500 or less) bike. 

First, the Randonee can be a good bike.  My daughter and I rode across the country on 2007 and 2009 models (in 2009).  REI in Bailey's Crossroads did a fine job getting mine set up, such that I had the wheels touched once (in Missoula, $8 re-truing), with no broken spokes.

Second, they've changed the gearing on the Randonee since then, going to 10-speed and bar-end shifters, as opposed to the 9-speed and brifters on our older bikes.  Drivetrain components will be more expensive to replace (chains and cassettes) as they wear out.  I actually like that this year's model has good low gears -- eastern Kentucky needs them!

Finally, check out for some good articles on what to look for, and what's available.  There's a fairly huge selection of stock touring bikes available now, compared to three models 15 years ago.  As John says, almost any of them will work well -- as long as the wheels are adequately tensioned, trued, and stress-relieved.

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