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Messages - Pat Lamb

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Gear Talk / Re: Wheel sizes
« on: April 11, 2014, 11:06:39 am »
I just picked up the sample issue of ACA's "Adventure Cyclist" magazine at REI last night. It has an article entitled "Wheel Size Matters." They concluded that 700C wheels are best for narrow tires up to about 30 mm, and the smaller 650B wheels are better for wider tires, 30 to 42 mm.

Would that article have been written by Jan Heine, aka the lead advocate for 650B?  Either way, I'd view that recommendation with suspicion.  I've seen a total of two 650B bikes.  They're not common.  Tires for them are even less common -- I've only ever seen them available through the web / mail order.  I'm leading up to this: if you're going to ride 650B, take a spare tire, or, if/when you have a problem, be prepared to wait (over a long holiday weekend?) for a replacement to get to you.

700C wheels and tires are everywhere.  So are 26".  You can get 700C tires from ultra-skinny to way wide; 26" you can get only from pretty skinny to pretty wide.  If something goes wrong on the road, you can replace either at the next bike shop.  Maybe not with your preferred width or tread, but if something happens you can get back on the road.  There's a lot to be said for standard parts, and 650B is anything but standard.

Gear Talk / Re: (Cyclo)cross-country
« on: April 09, 2014, 07:17:26 pm »
The only thing in your list I feel at all strongly about is the pedals and shoes.  Stick with MTB shoes.  Get some with stiffer soles and you'll never notice the difference while riding.  You'll want to walk without acting like a duck and/or sliding.

Gear Talk / Re: Advice on a Bicycle for Trip to France
« on: April 09, 2014, 09:42:12 am »
As Pat Lamb mentioned, there is a cost to flying with a bike.  I thought it was around $100 each way, not $400.  But check with the airlines.

I've seen $400 round trip quoted for Delta, but on checking, it looks like it's "only" $150 each direction; so $300 round trip.  (This is "good" news??)

Routes / Re: From east to west starting June 2014
« on: April 09, 2014, 09:35:51 am »
We are going to travel with Adventure Cycling Routes for sure, especially the Trans Am from Pueblo CO to Missoula MT. Then we want to hit Seattle.

From Missoula, it's just a couple days north to Glacier NP (well worth seeing).  You can take the AC Northern Tier west, over some pretty spectacular passes, to a couple days north of Seattle.

Gear Talk / Re: Advice on a Bicycle for Trip to France
« on: April 08, 2014, 07:27:55 pm »
If you're going to be flying from the U.S. to France, well, that's the kind of travel Bike Fridays were invented for.  With one of the full-size bikes Russ mentioned, you might need to budget $400 for the bike's plane ticket, on top of yours.  You'll also have to learn how to disassemble, pack, and reassemble the bike.

Bike Friday does make some touring models that you can load up with racks and panniers.  One of those might be an option, although you need to figure out what to do with the suitcase the bike flies in.

You might be able to find a Trucker Deluxe frame in your size.  That'll pack into a suitcase, saving $300 over a full size bike, but you have to build it up (or have it built up) with parts you buy.  Depending on your size, you may have to disassemble it even further than the full-size option to pack it.

If it were me, I'd take the BF you have and put up with the trailer.  You're going to find that any bike carrying luggage seems slow compared to an unloaded bike.  Better the devil you know, IMHO.

Gear Talk / Re: solo bike security
« on: April 04, 2014, 10:18:36 pm »
What Pete said on low risks in small towns.  Carry a light cable lock to keep people honest, perhaps, and a detachable handlebar bag with ID, camera, cash, credit cards, etc. stays with you all the time. 

If you can swing it, a motel room in large towns and cities is a great place to leave a bike if you're going out for a museum visit, dinner, movie, or the like.  Try to get it clean before you go in; in some places, the staff keeps old towels just to clean off boots, waders, guns, and of course bicycles.

Gear Talk / Re: Making wheels stronger with a mixed spoke pattern.
« on: April 04, 2014, 10:14:13 pm »
What I see over a decade or more of wheel building is that commercial wheel sets use less rather than more spokes, higher spoke tension, a tendency towards 0-cross spoke patterns rather than 3-cross or 4-cross, a reinforcement of the points of attachment of the spokes, a reduction of the rim and nave mass where there are no spokes, and a liberty to introduce arty patterns rather than maintaining traditional artisan symmetries. I guess this is all the result of finite-element design calculations that gave much better insight in wheel strength.

I suspect it's more a case of finite element analysis being employed to support marketing-driven "artistic" designs, which just happen to require proprietary rather than standard parts.  This is great for the manufacturers (don't you want to buy a new wheel?), but are difficult to repair when you break something on the road during a tour.

Gear Talk / Re: Making wheels stronger with a mixed spoke pattern.
« on: April 02, 2014, 11:40:28 am »
Interesting concept, zerodish.  I'd never seen this suggested before.  If you don't mind, though, let me pulse you with a few questions and comments.

Before I lose 2/3 of the readers, I'll point out that the wheel deflects a bit on the bottom when ridden with a load.  If it deflects enough, the spoke tension disappears (goes to zero), which is bad in two ways.  First, it allows the spoke to unscrew, meaning the wheel goes out of true.  Second, if the spoke doesn't unscrew, the spoke cycling between tight and loose will cause the metal of the spoke to fatigue, and ultimately break like a paper clip bent back and forth.  It's actually better for the spoke to stay tight!

First, four cross is usually used for higher spoke count wheels, and two cross for lower spoke count wheels.  The idea, as I understand it, is to get the spokes coming off the hub at roughly a right angle to the radius through the center of the hub.  Are you advocating going to a 48 spoke wheel?  If you're using 4x with 36 spoke wheels, are you coming off the hub at an acute angle?

Second, the ping you note as a new wheel is ridden is caused by windup of the spoke during tensioning and truing.  This is normally fixed (by a skilled wheelbuilder) by over-correcting and then backing off during final truing.  I don't see this as something that can be corrected by changing the length and angle of a spoke.

Third, the wheel is centered by balancing the tension of the right and left side spokes.  If you're using the same number of spokes on each side, as is the case for every wheel I know of on the market now, you can lengthen or shorten the spokes on the left (non-drive) side, but the tension will have to stay the same unless you pull the rim off-center.  With the same tension on the spokes, keeping the wheel centered, the only change is going to be frictional losses as the (almost) unloaded spoke shifts.  This is unlikely to be significant, and so I doubt you'll change the load the wheel can take before a spoke goes to zero tension.

A better approach might be to replace box rims with a stiffer (V) rim.  The V rim adds some structural rigidity, meaning you share the load across more spokes.  This, in turn, means you can carry a larger load on the V wheel without the spoke losing tension.

Routes / Re: Looking for week-long spring route in Eastern US
« on: March 31, 2014, 04:36:51 pm »
Most people riding the TransAm east to west start in May.  That doesn't mean you won't hit a cold or rainy week, but odds are pretty good you'll have 4-5 very nice days in a week.

The hard part is going to be arranging for transportation around the bike ride.  If you have two cars and you can arrange a shuttle, although it'll take the better part of a day to drive from one end to another.  You might also think about renting a one-way car, say from Roanoke back to Williamsburg.

Virginia in May; great scenery, good chance of good weather, and the rhododendrons are blooming in the mountains.  Great trip!

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

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