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Messages - Pat Lamb

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Food Talk / Re: Eating well on tour.
« on: November 04, 2015, 11:22:38 am »
My first reaction (and I mean this sincerely, not trying to be offensive), is "Great!"  You're learning first hand that your presumably comfortable lifestyle is not universal, even in this first of first world countries.  That broadening of horizons is one of the main reasons I encourage people to try travel -- especially by bicycle.

I don't know if Dollar General has succeeded in driving "real" grocery stores out of large swathes of N.C.  I'm guessing that if you went a few miles out of your way to larger towns and even small cities, you could find Food Lion, Piggly-Wiggly, maybe even Winn Dixie.  Those are more likely (but still not certain) to have fresh produce.

A surprising number of convenience stores will have some of the less perishable fruits, such as bananas, apples, or oranges, located near the checkout.  They're overpriced, but that's what you'll have to pay to support the low turnover.

As far as nutrition goes, my ancestors managed to survive on preserved food through the winters.  I'd guess you'll have a fair selection of canned fruits and vegetables, even in small towns.  You might want to supplement those with a multi-vitamin, although I doubt you'll suffer severe vitamin deficiency on a tour of less than 5-6 months.

I remember walking into a restaurant somewhere in Kansas and exclaiming, "They have a REAL salad bar!"  After the western half of Missouri on the TransAm, that was a sight for sore eyes and a feast for a jaded palate.

Gear Talk / Re: Shoes/pedals for a cross country ride?
« on: November 02, 2015, 08:24:53 am »
The other "Con" I found was while in granny gear stopped on a busy road with heavy traffic (semi's included) companied with a significant grade and narrow shoulder "Clicking" back into the pedal was precarious and down right dangerous at times .. I have since re evaluated my pedal choice and have switched over to Blackspire flat pedals which I think will  alleviate those issues.

Getting re-started with a load in granny gear is a challenge.  It's hard to get and keep enough momentum to ride a straight line, because you lose momentum quickly when there's a lull in your pedal stroke (as there is near the bottom of every stroke), and because you're geared down so far one kick doesn't get you much speed.

On the really steep stuff (>10-15%) it's usually easier for me to walk the bike until the grade eases.  On back roads it's sometimes possible to wait for a gap in traffic (OK, on back roads there's usually not much traffic!) and "tack" up the hill.  Other than that, my best efforts involve clicking one pedal in, push/pedal to kick off, and then forget about clicking the other pedal in.  Just put your foot on that other pedal and pedal normally until you get some speed, or a break in the grade, where you can click the last foot in.  Often it'll click in after a few strokes without your conscious intent!  Once you become proficient with this technique, the only benefit to a platform pedal is getting off the pedal with less drama -- but if you've got spikes keeping your foot on the pedal, all bets are off there.

Glenn, I wish you luck with your spiked platform pedals.  I'm afraid you're going to need it!

General Discussion / Re: camping sites in the Western USA
« on: November 01, 2015, 12:30:34 pm »
As indy says, the Twin Bridges facility is very nice.  (Just note carefully what he notes about bug spray!)  We thought hard about stopping, but it was just after lunch when we went through.

There's often a headwind in the afternoon headed south to Dillon, and it doesn't kick in until about 5 miles out of Twin Bridges.  Since we battled that headwind in the afternoon, I don't know if you could miss it by leaving Twin Bridges early in the morning.  But I'd be willing to try!

General Discussion / Re: Dogs n' bears
« on: October 31, 2015, 02:52:40 pm »
As Pete said, there'll be bear boxes in most campgrounds where bears are a problem.  If you wild camp between campgrounds with bear boxes, put all your food in a stuff sack or small pannier, and use the 50' of 1/8" parachute cord you've been carrying all this time "just in case" to hang it out of reach (generally 10-12' high).

I had good luck with Halt.  You may have to look around to find the Halt carrier that fits on you handlebar.  Grab and squirt when a dog gets too close.  Smart (or at least experienced) dogs will recognize the can, and stay one foot further than you can spray; but at least they're not biting from that distance.

OTOH, one of my treasured memories is cruising down a hill in eastern Kentucky.  Six 'coon dogs came out of four yards to form a pack and chase me.  But I was going downhill, with a load, and I outran them all!

Where in Alabama?  From the south you have your choice of coastal plains or mountains,  From the northern part of the state your choice is how many mountains.

General Discussion / Re: Cost of a cross country USA trip?
« on: October 20, 2015, 10:32:12 pm »
Pat: I feel like it's the opposite here in terms of farmers sticking to the rural areas as opposed to going to the city. They do for the Saturday Market but a majority of the farmers markets here are open 5/6/7 days a week. We also have a lot of you-pick farms. Murphy's law is always against bicyclist. 

I can't say that matches my experience on Washington 20.  I remember one market somewhere in the northeast part of the state on a Saturday, and one pick-your-own blueberry farm in the lower Skagit.  That was it for some 440 miles of cycling.

But it's a big country, your experience may be very different.

Gear Talk / Re: Touring bike selection in WashDC area
« on: October 20, 2015, 10:27:23 pm »
2-3 brands of touring bikes in one store?  Do you know how lucky you are??  The only stores I've ever seen with more than one kind of touring bike are REIs, with Novara and either Surly or (many moons ago) Cannondale.

Since I expect to ride a new tourer for 10 years or more, I think it's reasonable to dedicate a day or two to trying out bikes.  Spring Saturdays are sub-optimal, since piles of people think "I'll go buy a bike today."  Tuesdays-Thursdays are best for lower shopper traffic and more sales person time and attention.  Try as many as you can, buy the one you like the best.  (If you like a bike, you're more likely to ride it.)

General Discussion / Re: Cost of a cross country USA trip?
« on: October 20, 2015, 11:41:53 am »
PS: I'm disappointed to hear you only saw a few farmers markets on the TA! They seem to be everywhere where I live but I guess this part of the country is also a little more environmentally friendly than the rest or at least they make that claim!

I think it has more to do with the roads you're route takes you on than how "environmentally friendly" the area is.  Farmers around here will drive 15 miles to put up a stand on the side of a U.S. highway, for instance.  Those are the high-speed, heavily traveled highways I do my best to avoid on a bike.  The old highway is now a state  or county route, perfectly fine for cycling, but I haven't seen any farm stands on it.

Markets with multiple farmers tend to be either (a) local farmers bring produce to market one or two days a week, probably not the days you pass through town according to Murphy's law; or (b) dominated by commercial outfits trucking produce in from hundreds of miles away, but they're open six or seven days a week.

Routes / Re: Shuttle service on the Natchez Trace
« on: October 14, 2015, 05:40:56 pm »
Fairly similar discussion is going on over on the General board (

Routes / Re: Route suggestions for apr-may-june 2016
« on: October 14, 2015, 12:20:02 pm »
I can't speak to the western loop, except to note you may run into passes still closed the first part of your trip there.  Depends on whether they get no, normal, or heavy snow fall this winter.

On the other option, I don't think you'll be too bored with same old, same old scenery (except for a  few hundred miles in western Kansas).  For one thing, you'll be hitting in early to middle spring; southern Virginia will be far advanced compared to northern Kentucky, for instance.  If you can do a few hikes into the woods, there's a good chance you'll get to see a wide variety of wildflowers blooming.  Also, the states aren't that similar; eastern Virginia to southwest Virginia is like two or three different zones for topography, agriculture, and forests.  Eastern Kentucky lacks the long ridges of Virginia, and it flattens out (and kind of inverts, in that you descend to creeks and then climb out vs. climbing ridges and then descending) as you go west.  Birds, dogs, shrubs, and roadkill change all along the way.

The TransAm doesn't stay on the Blue Ridge Parkway for long; if you can load up on groceries, you can stay on the BRP south of Roanoke and then take the New River Trail north to Radford.  There won't be any significant competition for camp sites, but you'll want to check and see what the opening dates for the campgrounds on the BRP will be.

Connecting ACA Routes / Re: TransAmerica and Cincinnati
« on: October 10, 2015, 10:56:21 am »
Coming from the west, you could jump on the underground railroad route (UGRRR?) just after you cross into Kentucky and go up to Cincinnati.  Just looking at the route overview for that section, I might be tempted to stay north of the Ohio in Indiana and see how good the vaunted off-road bike path system is near there into Cincy. 

Going east from there (especially if you haven't circled back per the official route), you might recross into northern KY and work your way back down to Berea.  Other options would be to pick up the Northern Tier, or cross to Pittsburgh and take the GAP/C&O Canal over to D.C.

One note is that by the time you ride nine sections of the TA, you'll be fairly comfortable both with riding on the roads and with figuring out from a map what roads are likely to be good to ride on.  In other words, you'll be able to pick out your route and it'll be fine.

General Discussion / Re: camping sites in the Western USA
« on: September 28, 2015, 09:34:53 am »
It is worth looking at the maps a day or two ahead to allow for the sections where the towns are not conveniently spaced.

Second that.

If it makes you feel better, you can ask at police stations in the towns if you can pitch a tent overnight; the answer will almost always be yes in small towns.

About the only places you can't camp freely are national and state parks (go to the campgrounds), and of course you'll want to be careful about camping on private property.  National forests and BLM lands are fair game.

Gear Talk / Re: Packs and pack weight for long tours
« on: September 19, 2015, 06:33:42 pm »
The folks at Adventure Cycling headquarters have been weighing the rigs of touring cyclists who stop in for about a year now.  Perhaps someone from there could post some summary data?

General Discussion / Re: How much is this bike worth?
« on: September 15, 2015, 02:37:12 pm »
Oh, one thing to consider.  If the  bike is really assessed as worth $9000 the winner (you) may be considered by the IRS as having earned $9000 in extra income that year and be taxed on that value.

I wonder if the OP were to put this on fleabay with a $9,000 reserve, would the IRS take the highest bid as the "value" of the bike that becomes "income?"

General Discussion / Re: How much is this bike worth?
« on: September 15, 2015, 11:10:31 am »
Just a guess on pricing.  Start with $3000 for frame, fork, and stem.  Paint jobs can go nuts pretty quickly, maybe $2000 there.  Add $800 for dyno wheel and light at list prices, maybe another $1500 for the group, $200 for tires (I'm guessing these will be ultra-high-zoot 650Bx42).  That leaves another $1500 or more to go into a saddle ($200), seatpost ($100), bars ($100), racks ($300 production, maybe twice that custom), custom cotton (WTF?) panniers ($400 for Ortliebs, how much more for custom?) and a rear wheel ($3-400).  Add a few hundred more for assembly.  It's possible to top $9k.

What do I think it's worth?  If the woman I loved was that short and I wanted to treat her to a magnificent high-end touring bike, I'd probably offer $3-4,000.  I'm cheap though, maybe someone else might offer another couple thousand.

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