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Messages - Pat Lamb

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Routes / Re: Wind Direction Going Cross-Country
« on: March 31, 2014, 04:31:00 pm »
Somebody once commented that there are no tailwinds when you're cycling.  Some days you have headwinds.  Other days you ride really strong.  ;)

If you want to look up monthly average winds for a number of locations, have a look at:
Be sure you read the cover page carefully and understand what the wind rose is telling you.

Gear Talk / Re: Handlebar bag alternative
« on: March 30, 2014, 05:46:27 pm »
No accounting for taste, so I won't argue over how anybody else perceives a bar bag.

But may I ask, how else do you plan on keeping a map available? and preferably visible?

Variations on a gallon baggie held on with alligator clips look feeble-to-tacky to me.  So does stopping at every intersection and pulling out a map.

Gear Talk / Re: Disc Trucker + Schwalbe Marathon Deluxe.. rim?
« on: March 30, 2014, 05:40:22 pm »
Just MHO, but if you're just getting a bike, ride it until you wear the tires out.

If you're going to be touring mostly on-road, you can ride just about anything, width-wise.  37/38 might be a little cushier since you can drop the pressure a bit, 35 or even 32 might be marginally (but almost certainly not significantly) faster.  Off-road, wider tires have an advantage, since they have more area to distribute the load on sketchy surfaces like sand or mud.

Tires are a wear item, like brake pads.  Unlike brake pads, it doesn't matter much which one you choose, as long as you avoid knobby tires.  It's almost a fashion.  Listen to all the yelling and listen to the person whose yelling you like the most.  Next time, a couple thousand miles down the road, you can choose something else or start yelling yourself.

As for rims, Alex Adventurer look perfectly adequate for any of the above tire widths.  If you go below 32 tires, you might want a narrower rim.  Velocity Dyad and Mavic A317 are also good, and Sun CR-18 can be built into a good wheel.  After you build the wheel, you can forget it until the rims are worn out (except for repacking the hubs every year or two).

Routes / Re: Starting Trans America West to East in July ... ?
« on: March 26, 2014, 09:48:20 am »
Four years out of five, September and early October are some of the best months out of the year to ride in the east.  The fifth year, a hurricane will either hit the east coast (Virginia) or blow up from the Gulf and rain all over Kentucky.  I'd go for it.  Youi might even want to drag it out another week or two and see if you can catch the autumn colors in the eastern mountains.

I'd suggest planning for a financial reserve, enough to let you ride out 3-4 days while holed up in a motel, in case rains or storms stop you.  You don't want to be camping when tornados were in the area.  Likewise, it'd be safer to wait out possible floods than to risk drowning.  Luckily, most of these will pass in a day or two, and things will settle down.

General Discussion / Re: 2 General Questions
« on: March 25, 2014, 08:50:59 am »
On the western stretches, there's often only one town within riding distance of the previous town.  If you ride fast, maybe two; do you want a short day or a long day?  Weekends are the hardest to get a room, otherwise you might be able to roll into town and pick a motel or call a day ahead of time.  (And if you want a room in Glacier NP, pick a date you think you can make and start calling now.)

The further east you get, the shorter the distance between towns.  The AC maps (with addenda) are pretty good at identifying where lodging is available.  Here you can pick a destination at lunch and call ahead; if they're full, you may have to shorten or lengthen your ride an hour or two if you're going to motel it that night.

General Discussion / Re: Tools for adventure
« on: March 25, 2014, 08:43:22 am »
Spare tubes
Patch kit
Tire irons
Multi-tool (hex wrench, mini-chain tool, screwdrivers)
Spare chain link
Fiber-fix replacement spoke
Small assortment of M4 and M5 bolts and nuts
Chain lube

General Discussion / Re: Miles Per Day
« on: March 18, 2014, 09:18:19 pm »
In the flat terrain the OP mentions, I could probably do 50-80 miles per day with some regularity.  But if some stiff headwinds came up, I might be tired after 30.  After you pick a number for planning purposes, decrement it by 10-20% to allow for bad weather, fatigue, etc., and remember to have fun while riding!

General Discussion / Re: Cell coverage - phone type?
« on: March 16, 2014, 09:58:08 am »
It's kind of hard to make a definitive statement since few of us have ridden it multiple times with different carriers, or taken multiple phones -- maybe some of the groups can give you comparative answers.

That said, Verizon had good coverage for most of my trip.  There were dropouts in the hills of Virginia, Kentucky, and Missouri, but most of the towns had coverage even there.  Coverage was pretty solid from central Kansas westward.

The "problem" is that a company has to put up towers every 10 miles or so, and it's just not cost-effective to cover every hollow and valley where the population density is low.  I was surprised that the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone had cell coverage (not so in Great Smoky Mountains, which makes it hard for the boss to call me, which makes it a good vacation spot!).

Note that wifi is almost everywhere today in the U.S.  Libraries (although they may be closed and you might not get access), most motels, and a surprising number of greasy spoons all have access points.

I have found that if I walk up to the counter and try to book a car one way it doesn't go well.  Similarly if I call a particular location it is generally a problem.  They seem to always either have no cars that they can let go one way or have a big surcharge.

Funny story about rental cars: A friend was flying back home, and his flight to Atlanta was delayed so much he missed the last connector.  He went out to the rental car counter about 11:00 pm and tried to rent a car one-way, about 200 miles; nothing was available.  So he went back into the terminal, called the national reservation office, and there was a $250 surcharge for one way rental that day.  He asked if there was a car available for tomorrow (starting about 40 minutes from then), and wouldn't you  know, it was a lot cheaper.  Finally he went back out to the rental counter and asked if he could pick up his reservation early; no problem.  He made it home for $80.

Routes / Re: Southern Tier starting in April
« on: March 12, 2014, 07:03:35 pm »
Since you're headed east, you should miss the worst of the desert heat later in the spring.  It may get toasty, though, and rather humid along the Gulf coast.  But if you've got the time to do it, I'd say go for it!

If your tent has mosquito netting, I think you'll probably be OK with the snakes and scorpions.  I'd suggest you bring your clothes inside the tent with you as much as possible, especially your shoes.

As you chat with people in stores and cafes, they'll be happy to tell you about impending storms and weather watches.  For storms and tornados, well, those are good nights to get a room.

I don't know about the Southern Tier.  My impression on the TransAm was that there were a lot more showers for campers out west (where it's so dry you don't necessarily need one daily).  Many truck stops have coin operated showers, but at least on the TA there weren't a lot of truck stops.  I've never seen a shower at a gas station that wasn't also a truck stop.  If you can find a friendly fireman at a fire station, you might find showers there.  Sponge baths had to do some days.

Amtrak shows a station in Williamsburg, and one train a day from D.C. with checked baggage service.  It's an easy 10 mile ride from Williamsburg to Yorktown (and then you get to come back!).

You might check other rental car companies and check back periodically.  Charges are notoriously fickle -- what costs $400 today might be $150 next week.

Pacific Northwest / Re: Anacortes - Concrete ?
« on: March 08, 2014, 03:55:26 pm »
I rarely disagree with John, but this is one of those times.  S. Skagit was a long, boring ride for me.  There was one view of the river at a pipeline crossing, a couple of rather sad-looking farms, and no other scenery.  The highlights of this tree-lined route were a couple of road signs.  And maybe I'd pumped my tires up too much at Newhalem, but I remember the road as asphalt over cobbles.  If I were to ride it again, and it wasn't a weekend, I'd stay on 20.

Routes / Re: NT or L&C Going West from Missoula?
« on: March 08, 2014, 03:48:08 pm »
the four passes on the NT route might result in me being pushed in front of a logging truck.
??? I did it last summer and didn't particularly notice logging trucks. It's a long way from Kettle Falls to Sherman Pass, make sure you have plenty of water because there's none on the way.

Sherman Pass is big but a steady grade.  Wauconda is pretty easy coming west from Republic.  Loup Loup I remember as pretty rugged, but cheesehawk can take comfort in the lack of cell coverage climbing Washington Pass the fourth day; his sister won't be able to get a signal to arrange for a friend of a friend to meet him with a lumber truck.


In general I agree with Dave; mostly on-road tour, go with the Randonee / more off-road, go with the Safari.

However, there's also the personal preference aspect.  If either of you prefers a hybrid-ish style bar, that could push you towards the Safari.  With slick tires, it can roll 90% as well on pavement with higher tire pressure, and the fatter tires of the Safari will let you drop the pressure a bit and soak up some nasty road shocks (like old concrete roads from Missouri west).  Heck, try them both out and buy the one you ilke better!

Either way, tell the mechanics at REI what you're going to be doing with the bike, and ask them to check it over thoroughly.  I've had new wheels on a Randonnee start breaking spokes within 1,000 miles, and another set of wheels that they checked over now has over 12,000 miles with no broken spokes (that I can remember).

Routes / Re: Spring Break Practice Trip
« on: March 02, 2014, 01:01:57 pm »
Middle of March is a crap shoot in VIrginia.  You could have anything from snow to 80 degrees and sunny.

In general, the tidewater is going to be warmest, and the mountains to the west are coldest.  I remember wearing boots to go from southwest Virginia to an interview in the piedmont, only to be embarassed when there wasn't snow on the ground when I arrived (and the boots were the only footwear I'd brought, because I'd seen nothing but snow for two months).

The further south you go, the better off you'll be as far as weather.  There's a good chance the weather will be pretty good in the southeastern quadrant of North Carolina, roughly Morehead City and south.  The coast of the Gulf of Mexico may be a 1.5-2 day drive from Cleveland, but it's a good bet for decent weather.

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