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Messages - Pat Lamb

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Gear Talk / Re: Touring Bike Selection
« on: June 20, 2015, 10:48:11 pm »
As OP has found, many bike shops don't carry touring bikes.  If you want to test ride one, you pretty much have to (a) get lucky and live near a shop that does carry them, and (b) test ride them in April before they sell out this year's stock.

If you're within driving distance of an REI, you may be able to test ride a Randonee (road), Safari (mostly off-road), or Mazama (in between) bike.  There are a few wrinkles in the mass-produced touring bikes available, such as the long top tube on the Surly LHT.  However, pretty much all bikes pick from the same selection of groups available, so there's not a whole lot of difference between a Trek 520, LHT, or Randonee.  So after you've picked out your genre from REI, pick a production bike in the color of your choice (slime green, dead leaf brown, or black).  Wheels will need to be touched up, you may want to switch saddles, and you'll wear the original tires out. 

The key is to get one that fits you (or your wife).  REI doesn't do much to fit a bike, honestly, so if it's not a good fit there, pick out a good bike shop with a good repair capability and a great fitter, and buy the bike you choose.

Gear Talk / Re: Gearing for Touring Bike
« on: June 18, 2015, 03:25:08 pm »
As a general rule of thumb, I shoot for a low of 20 gear inches on a touring bike.  (It's basically mountain bike gearing on a sturdy road bike.)  A 32 rear cassette is a third of the information needed to calculate your gearing.  The other two are wheel size and crank.  Assuming something close to 27" (27 1/4", 700C, or 26" tires), you need a 24 small crank to get there with your 32.  If you've got typical road triple gearing, you may currently have a 30 crank, giving you a 25".

The last I heard, the biggest cassette cog you can get is a 36; if paired with a 30 small crank, that only gives you a 22.5" gear.  It's a couple more gears on the low side (given a nominal 10% difference between gears, about typical for mountain or tour gearing).   I wouldn't bother with a new cassette if you're dealing with a 30 (or larger) crank, go for a new crank instead.

You may end up with the two-foot gear (put one foot in front of the other).  No matter how low you go, you'll eventually find a hill that you have to walk.  Build up the clogs on your shoes with Shoe Goo before you go, that will help keep the soles from wearing out.

General Discussion / Re: Has anyone biked the east coast?
« on: June 18, 2015, 01:16:30 pm »
Now, if the OP is dead set on touring closer to the coast, then heat, humidity, heat, more humidity, traffic, etc. will have to be dealt with.
I offered an alternative that includes a national park, virtually no traffic and for sure no truck traffic, what traffic there is is held to 35 mph, numerous small mountain towns and much cooler temperatures than the coast.

The BRP is an alternative, but it does have its downsides.  Unlike Skyline Drive, the speed limit is 45 mph, and there are sharp curves that limit sight lines on the Parkway.  Traffic is locally awful (Roanoke at rush hour or Boone on a weekend, for instance).  Most of those small mountain towns are 1,000 feet down from the Parkway, and there are some fairly long stretches between them (like Linville to Asheville), so resupply needs to be carefully planned instead of found.  Relative humidity is often as bad, or worse, on the Parkway than down in the Piedmont, in my experience.  The views from the Parkway are tremendous, as are the occasional 6% for 6 mile climbs required to see them.  It rains more on the Parkway, and you have to deal with fog on the mountains sometimes that reduces visibility to zero.

While I haven't ridden the Atlantic coast, I expect it's a different experience than the Parkway.

GPS Discussion / Re: Garmin edge touring plus
« on: June 16, 2015, 01:42:29 pm »
I have the Edge 800, loaded with the OSM maps that I understand are standard on the Touring.

What do you want to do with the GPS?  Are you following a pre-determined track, asking it to route you on the fly, looking for alternate routes? 

While I can't speak directly to the Touring, I haven't been impressed by handheld or bike-mounted GPS routing, so I'd suggest planning the route ahead of time.  Delorme Topo can do a pretty good route, or you  can use the various on-line tools to plan a trip.  Of course, those requires 'net connectivity.

Gear Talk / Re: Gloves
« on: June 16, 2015, 09:35:22 am »
Go to your local bike shop and find a couple pairs that fit you.

Last year I wore out several pairs, and at least a couple of makers had shifted production to apparent child labor hotspots where the sizing was way off.  Gloves labeled XL were more like M or L, despite pulling out my wife's sewing tape measure and checking both hands before I ordered.

General Discussion / Re: Has anyone biked the east coast?
« on: June 12, 2015, 09:48:34 am »
FWIW, I'd suggest taking the Outer Banks in North Carolina.  There's almost always a breeze (well, a wind) that'll help keep you cool.

Further west, you'll be in the neighborhood for some good postcards at Canon City (Royal Gorge, take a day to see it by train or raft), Breckenridge (Rocky Mtns.), Jackson (Tetons), and of course Yellowstone.  Grab a few red rocks postcards at Lander; the rocks are spectacular, but you won't see them until the next day on the way to Dubois, and for some reason there were none to be found in Dubois.

Routes / Re: Route from Damascus, VA to Greensboro, NC?
« on: June 10, 2015, 09:57:44 am »
I'd suggest heading east on the Virginia Creeper trail to Whitetop, then hop north to catch U.S. 58 to Mouth of Wilson, NC.  From there you can pick up NC Bike Route 4 (see for route maps).  You'll have to work out a way to go south to Greensboro when you get close.

Alternatively, you could drop down from Whitetop to West Jefferson on 194, backtrack to the southwest on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and take Route 2.

The Mouth of Wilson road was more lightly traveled the last time I went that-a-ways.  The BRP is more scenic, and it's really one of the easiest sections of the Parkway in North Carolina to get down to Lenoir.  Just a couple of hills, really, nothing like eastern Kentucky.  :)

General Discussion / Re: Loaded Tour Bike Handling
« on: June 09, 2015, 10:47:13 am »
While I'm on the subject can anyone explain why touring bikes allies bar-end shifters.

Simple answer is that it's the only way to use modern mountain bike gearing with drop bars.  Shimano used to have the same pull in their mountain and road group derailers.  That meant you could use road shifters (STI) to shift mountain derailers in the rear (with clusters over 27 teeth).  When they went to 10 speed, and now 11, the pull ratio was different between mountain and road.  You can still get by with STI and 9 speed gearing if you can get the parts, but the bigger bike manufacturers are slowly tossing in the towel and going to newer models for parts availability.

Routes / Re: Mission: Tulsa to Ashville!
« on: June 06, 2015, 04:12:22 pm »
Pat you said it would be wise to stay clear of the big cities. This makes sense, though I haven't been in this area and would really like to see the sights. What are the best ways to try and approach the cities? Also are there certain cities you personally think are worth taking to time to go to more than others?

I personally think the Jack Daniels distillery is fascinating, even if you can't drink the product there. The Civil War battlefields around Chattanooga (Lookout Mountain, Missionary Ridge, and Chickamauga) I personally find interesting, and the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum and the aquarium there as well.  I don't know what the attractions in Knoxville are.  What are you interested in?  If you don't care for country music, Nashville doesn't have as much to recommend it as it would if you were interested in the Grand Ole Opry, Ryman Theater, etc.  You might consider joining AAA and getting some of the state books to see what's in the state, and what interests you, and work from there.

You can get fairly close to downtown Nashville on the Natchez Trace, and there's an official bike route north and south out of downtown which I haven't taken.  Chattanooga is a bit out of your way, I can recommend a few ways in from the south and west, but I don't have a clue how to get out of there going east.  Similarly, there's a way to get close to downtown Knoxville and the UT campus from the south; I don't know the north or east side, and the west side is scary in a car, much less a bike.  Contact me if you decide you want to go into Chattanooga or Knoxville.

General Discussion / Re: Loaded Tour Bike Handling
« on: June 05, 2015, 08:08:15 pm »
As Ronk says, you've got some big chainrings.  a smaller granny can help; I've heard of people going to 26 and (sometimes) 24 rings with 105 front drailers and making them work.  A good mechanic really helps.

Your shimmy is worrisome.  Despite what Jobst wrote at, some people have reported shimmy cases being caused by loose headsets and unbalanced panniers (especially in the front).  I've experienced shimmy that disappeared when loose wheel bearings were tightened, and especially by out of true wheels.  I'd suggest you make a list of possible causes, then check each one and correct them if necessary.

Bruce Gordon noted a while back that shimmy more often occurred on thin tubed bikes (racing bikes) with a load.  Since the Sojourn was built (or at least market) for touring, this shouldn't be your problem.

Routes / Re: Mission: Tulsa to Ashville!
« on: June 03, 2015, 09:32:05 pm »
Right off, I'd suggest skipping the big cities unless there's a reason you want to go there.  The traffic is much better if you give Nashville and Knoxville a 60 mile berth.  That said, there are a few routes that get in close to downtown without too much hassle.

You'll be coming in a bit north of the Natchez Trace, which gets you close to Nashville.  Sorry I can't help with north or west of there.

Going east from Nashville, I'd suggest looking at some of the RUSA rides.  For instance, starting south of Nashville:
  until it intersects with:
Randonneurs generally have a good handle on good cycling routes (except when they throw in a climb just for fun!).

From just above Cheoah Dam (where the dam scene was filmed for The Fugitive), you could take NC 28 past Fontana Dam (highest dam east of the Mississippi) to 19/74; or if you do the Cherohala climb, you could basically coast down from Robbinsville to 19/74 and then down through the Nantahala Gorge (DO NOT RIDE THIS ON A WEEKEND!  People will be watching the rafters instead of the road.).  Either way, you've got a few miles of stiff, busy climbing up to Bryson City.  Then take the old road to Cherokee, and from there take a couple days to climb the Blue Ridge Parkway into Asheville.

Gear Talk / Re: Wife looking to get new bike LHT/Disc or 520
« on: June 03, 2015, 08:58:00 am »
Either is likely to have machine built wheels.  Those are famous for not being correctly tensioned and stress-relieved.  Get a knowledgeable wheelbuilder to check the wheels, or look up some of the resources (The Bicycle Wheel), buy some tools (spoke wrench and tensiometer), and DIY.  The second option will also give you some confidence if you need to fix a wheel out on the road.

That's a shame.  I'd suggest you plan on going up around the lake, then over to Norris, and down the Gibbon River.  If you haven't seen Old Faithful, catch a bus for a half day (or more!).

The van-supported AC tour we paralleled through there went south through Jackson and over Teton Pass, then up to West Yellowstone.  I don't remember if they were shuttled or cycled it; perhaps someone from ACA can help out.

Routes / Re: Southern tier in the summer time
« on: May 28, 2015, 08:13:13 pm »
I agree with Pete on the TransAm in summer being hot enough.  If you really want to look into the Southern Tier, spend some time at and look up averages for a few locations.  For instance, New Orleans is a lot like most of the Gulf coast; lows between 75 and 80, with highs in the upper 90s to low hundreds, with relative humidity at 80% on a dry day (before the thunderstorm).  Albuquerque is a bit cooler in the morning, much lower humidity, but 90-100 most days.  If you like that kind of weather, you'll enjoy the ST.  Myself, I can't tolerate the heat, I'd have to be finished by 10:00 most days.  I'd be riding at night (and missing the scenery) and cowering in cheap motel AC during daylight.

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