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Messages - Pat Lamb

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Routes / Re: Timing and weather
« on: October 10, 2012, 05:19:51 pm »
Strangely I find that my daily mileage is often higher on harder days, not sure why I wind up doing that.  It isn't by plan or anything.

I think you may have that backward.  High mileage days are often harder, which isn't too much of a surprise.  My higher mileage days were often driven by the location of a good stopping place (Sweetwater Crossing going west, out of the wind at last!), or water (Larned).  I really don't like stopping dry, and on a bike, another 15-20 miles is not such a big deal as it is when hiking.

Gear Talk / Re: tent for transam
« on: October 08, 2012, 09:23:39 am »
If you're over, say, 5'10", I'd head back to the REI when they're not too busy, set up each tent, and lie down in them.  I eliminated a number of tents because of my height -- if your bare food brushes the tent wall in the Tetons, the mosquitoes will find it and bite through the tent.  Not much fun.

Also, beware too low a mesh panel.  If you camp in the rain, it's amazing how easy it is for that one stake you didn't set out to allow a drip from the fly right into the floor of the tent.  One more reason to sleep with your head facing uphill, I guess.

As for selection, the difference between the lightest and heaviest of your selections is one full or empty 24 oz water bottle.  It's your money, so you get (have?) to make the call.

Routes / Re: TransAm to Western Express, VA to Califorinia
« on: October 04, 2012, 04:35:54 pm »
Clipless mountain bike pedals and shoes are fine; you may have trouble walking on road bike shoes.

I'd suggest taking one outfit to wear off the bike; zip-off pants/shorts are fine.  I liked to change to sandals off the bike, and wear socks with the sandals when it got chilly.

The closer to the first of May you can start, the cooler it'll be.  I wouldn't start much earlier than mid-April, because you could hit a cold front in the Appalachians.

Add one more to the no-hammock chorus.  There's a long stretch with trees only in a city park, and you don't want to rile up the natives by tearing up their park.  I like a tent for a bit of extra space, some go for a bivy for lighter weight. 

Routes / Re: Detailed maps
« on: October 04, 2012, 04:24:44 pm »
Re: Yellowstone-
There are usually free maps of every US National Park. These are pretty basic, but do help in orienting yourself. I prefer using the maps that National Geographic makes for the parks. They are not specifically for bicycling, but are at a larger scale than the freebie maps, and are laminated to be water  and tear resistant:

Just a quick note on Yellowstone; the park map shows all the roads in the park, and since you have to stay on the roads, that's everything you can ride inside the park itself. 

You might want to look at the Grand Tetons as well -- it's just a few miles down Rockefeller Parkway, adjacent to Yellowstone NP.

Routes / Re: Ronald Reagan Airport to C&O Canal route
« on: October 03, 2012, 04:13:13 pm »
As John says, the Mt. Vernon bike path goes right by the Washington National airport.  However, you've got to cross the Potomac to get to the C&O.  I'd recommend going up the bike path to Rosslyn and crossing on Key Bridge -- it's a bit steep to climb up to the bridge, but once you cross the river, take a left, then another left, and you go right down to the canal and the river.

You can cross at Memorial Bridge, but then you've got to get out of downtown.  :(

Lots of hotels both at Crystal City and Rosslyn.  Crystal City is usually a bit more costly, but neither area is cheap.

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.  :)

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.

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.

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.

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?  ;)

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.


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 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.

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.

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!

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 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!

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