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Messages - Pat Lamb

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Gear Talk / Re: Just starting.
« on: July 15, 2013, 04:55:18 pm »
A bike, clothes, sunscreen...

OK, that was flippant.  Spend some time curfing the ride registry at -- almost everyone feels the need to add a packing list; I know I did!  In general, try to get things that serve multiple purposes when possible to keep the weight down.

You don't really need a computer, even though I choose to take one.  If you want to play with one when you're through riding, you can get a netbook, tablet, or smart phone.

Tents are a personal choice.  My recommendation is to buy the lightest N+1 person tent you can afford, where N is the number of people who will regularly be sleeping in it.  Others go for a bivy, tarp, hammock; check the archives for more detail.

Gear Talk / Re: Uncoventional bike conversions?
« on: July 11, 2013, 05:44:04 pm »
  Seems like everyone is pointing to Surly LHT as THE bike to have (ok a few have mentioned Trek 520).  Is anyone here willing to admit to using something else?  Before starting my research, I assumed I could take my Cannondale fat tube unsuspended bike, add some racks and go, but I'm guessing there are good reasons why not. 

"Admit" is a bit strong, as I've got a Novara Randonee and Fuji Touring.  Really, most of the mass-produced touring bikes are similar, except that a fair few have higher (than I'd like) gearing.

Lots of people have ridden lots of different kinds of bikes, and there are only a few things that make a bike unsuitable for touring.  Weak frames (sold as "lightweight", such as racing bikes and carbon fiber) have a hard time handling the load a loaded tourist put on them.  Skinny tires aren't the best with a load, or on dirt, gravel, mud, etc.  Suspension frames waste a lot of pedaling energy, unless you can lock the suspension out.  Knobs give you a buzz on the road, which is a drag and pretty unpleasant after some distance.

Your unsuspended mountain bike will probably be great for carrying a load on roads.  It'd be a good idea to put slick tires on it.  You might come to wish for multiple hand positions that road (drop) bars give, or you might never notice.  And MTBs are often sold without the attention to fit a good bike dealer will give you when you buy a road bike; sub-optimal fit might limit your daily time in the saddle.

That said, get some racks and change out your tires, then try some weekend and week-long trips.  You'll soon figure out if you need to make any other changes.

Gear Talk / Re: cyclocross vs touring tires for GAP and road use
« on: July 11, 2013, 03:01:12 pm »
My first inclination is like John's: if you like what you've got, get more of them.

The exception might be if the tires you have started off with monster knobs, and the "worn out" part you refer to is the knobs have worn down to small nubs.  In that case, you might want less aggressive tread/knobs.

Aside from the tread, there's not a whole lot of difference between "cross" and "touring" tires.  Pick something in the range of 700Cx35 to x40 that looks about right and go ride!

General Discussion / Re: Homemade Fork Spreader Ideas?
« on: July 08, 2013, 09:20:10 am »
From a good hardware store, a 4-1/2 to 5" bolt with three matching nuts.

Space the nuts appropriately, hand tighten when it's on the fork.

Gear Talk / Re: Chain Maintenance is unnecessary
« on: July 07, 2013, 10:04:48 am »
I am three thousand miles into an experiment with my transmission. Because this is the second chain on my current cogs and rings, I knew I would be replacing the entire package eventually so here's what I have done:
1. Thoroughly cleaned the chain. Thoroughly. I mean totally.
2. Thoroughly cleaned the rest of the transmssion elements.
3. Allowed everything to dry in the Idaho sun.
4. Reassembled and rode 200 miles, wiping the chain every 50 or so to remove whatever seeped and weeped out of the rollers.
5. Kept everything clean and dry by spritzing some WD40 into a rag and backpedaling the chain especailly after riding in rain or dusty conditions.

Interesting experiment here.  Just for reference, what's your normal chain life?  (Since many 'bents use 2.5 chains, and the average chain life, if there is such a thing, for uprights is about 2,000 miles, I'd guess 5,000 miles per "chain" for the mythical average 'bent.)

Also, can you give us an idea of what your weather's been over the last 3k miles?  Especially rainfall during that period? 

Finally, how do you stand the racket?  I don't like the squeaking of a dry chain, but the people I ride with are even less tolerant.

General Discussion / Re: Shipping bicycles
« on: July 05, 2013, 09:07:49 am »
The AC tour I rode (Blue Ridge Bliss) had the option of shipping bicycles to a nearby bike shop.  Those who took this route had a support vehicle make the run over to pick them up.  Others flew with their bikes, or drove up carrying their bikes in or on their cars, trucks, SUVs, etc. (parking was available near the start/end of the tour).

If you've already registered, contact your tour leader and ask about handling bikes.  Otherwise, Adventure Cycling can give you some good tips if you email them.

General Discussion / Re: North Nevada & Utah in summer
« on: July 02, 2013, 09:40:20 am »
You'll be looking for "denatured alcohol" or perhaps, if you're desperate, grain alcohol.  Almost any hardware store will have it (look for a big red Ace Hardware), or you can look at the big box stores like Home Depot or Lowes.  Come to think of it, Walmart or Kmart might have it in the paint section -- not sure.

Grain alcohol will be at a liquor store.  It costs more, because it's taxed way more, because you can drink it -- if you're desperate.

General Discussion / Re: Brooks Sadles
« on: July 01, 2013, 05:37:03 pm »
This question is really for the women out there, but I would appreciate the man's perspective too.

Mostly from a man's perspective: I've got a B-17 on each of my bikes.  Putting a seat cover on to keep the saddle from getting soaked is worth it to me for the ride.  Get it adjusted right (two-bolt seatposts are wonderful things) and you'll never look back.

From a woman's perspective, my daughter stole the sprung Brooks Champion I was going to ride on our TransAm two months before we left.  She still does overnight/weekend tours on it, four years later.  I re-tightened her saddle once on the TransAm, and I think she may have tightened it once or twice since then.  I haven't got that saddle back.


Go to the home page (top right of this page) and click on routes.  Easy way would be the east coast to southern tier to San Diego, then up the Pacific coast to L.A.  The AC maps have done most of the planning work for you, and they're worth many times more than the cost.  By the time you hit Arizona and California, you'll be confident enough to decide if you want to plot a route straight into L.A.

Routes / Re: Eastbound from Washington/Oregon
« on: June 19, 2013, 09:32:13 am »
Going to the Sun Road is one of the finest rides in the world.

I doubt that the experience would be even one tenth as good by bus.

+1 more.

We came up from Missoula to Apgar before resuming our westward ride, and I took the shuttle.  I've got to get back there to cycle the pass, sometime, somehow.

Routes / Re: Southern Tier timing and direction
« on: June 19, 2013, 09:28:26 am »
I'd look at the ST as three parts: desert southwest, Texas, and the Gulf Coast.  Either way, you're going to hit Texas in the middle, so that doesn't help you decide.

Going west, you'll hit hot and humid into mid-October along the Gulf.  Good news: you'll miss most of the 90 degree/90 % humidity.  Bad news: it'll be 80/90 days instead.  There's not much relief from the humidity at the end of the day.  I'd expect the desert to be getting chilly by the time you get there, but it's easier (at least for me) to add layers to deal with cool than it is to generate enough sweat to stay alive in hot, humid weather.

Going east, you'll have some toasty days in the desert near the start, but it's a dry heat, and you say you're used to that.  You'll have longer days so you can make some miles in the evening if you need a shady siesta in the early afternoon.  By late October into November, the weather will be pleasant in the Gulf, it's likely to be a bit cooler and drier.  Unless a hurricane is coming.

Either way, be careful about riding into sunrise and sunset (that means try to avoid it!).  The glare makes it difficult for motorists to see you.

Routes / Re: Planning trip from NY to Ca
« on: June 13, 2013, 09:48:10 am »
Let me try this one more time...

Some of the roads across the higher passes are likely to be closed.  They will have the beginnings of six to sixty feet of snow on them.  Sometime after they get the first three feet of snow there'll be avalanche zones across the closed roads.  Some of the dropoffs will be marked with poles so the snowplows won't fall off the cliff in the spring.

Have you considered the Southern Tier?  Or dropping down south to the ST from eastern Colorado?

Routes / Re: Planning trip from NY to Ca
« on: June 12, 2013, 03:38:27 pm »
Your blog will make an interesting read.  If I were locked into that time frame, I'd plan on riding west to east, and keep my fingers crossed.  As planned now, you'll be hitting the Rockies in late November.  It's possible, I guess, they'll have a dry winter, and you'll be able to get through.  Possible, but likely?

First obstacle going east will be getting over the Sierras before snow closes the roads.  Don't know the odds, but they'll be worse in December (going west) than October (going east).  Lather, rinse, and repeat for every pass until you get to central Colorado.

I'd prefer the occasional snowfall in the Appalchians that can close your route (to a bicyclist, with common sense but no chains) for 3-4 days around the end of the year to being holed up in a mountain camp in Utah until the spring thaws.

Note, too, that you'll be down to 9-10 hours of sunlight, while summer tourists can expect 14-15 hours.

Routes / Re: Riding west to east along the northern tier
« on: June 12, 2013, 03:28:57 pm »
In your opinion, what kind of daily mileage can be expected when crossing through Washington and those first set of mountains?? I'm really intimidated by the idea of tackling huge hill climbs right from the beginning.

I'll defer to the other posters who've done it west-east (we rode west) on the approach to the first passes.  From there on, figure a pass a day until you get to the Columbia River.

I found out west that I usually ended up riding from one town to the next.  It could be done differently, especially if you're willing to load up on food and water -- again, YMMV.

General Discussion / Re: Choosing a bike and could use advice
« on: June 06, 2013, 10:45:23 am »
The $350 price is also very high. 

I missed that on my first scan.  Going price for a bike like that is about $100.

Panasonic made some nice bikes, so it wouldn't be completely unreasonable to tour on that (assuming it fits you).   It would be a project bike, though.  You'd need to disassemble and repack wheels, headset, and bottom bracket; replace brake and derailer cables and housing; replace brake shoes, tires, and tubes; and probably re-tape the bars.  Probably $100 in parts, and $200-400 in labor at a bike shop, depending on the shop, if you don't do it yourself.  Gearing is high, by modern standards, so you'd either need to replace the crank or plan on walking more hills.  There goes another $150.

Go visit you local bike shop (LBS).  I'd bet a good shop could get you on a new hybrid, with racks, fully tuned, up to date, and ready to roll, for less than the total/real cost of that Panasonic.  If you want more hand positions, there are bar ends you can get to clamp on the ends of flat bars.  Or save a bit more and buy a loaded touring bike -- they start around $1,000.

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