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Messages - Pat Lamb

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46
Gear Talk / Re: Thoughts on "fat-tired" touring bikes?
« on: January 25, 2016, 11:36:12 am »
No.  Its maybe possible to have a sharp edge on gravel.  But not likely.  Gravel on roads in the USA are made from limestone.  Its a very soft rock.  Easily crushed and easily rounded by use.  Gravel roads in the US are not made out of granite that can hold a sharp edge.

Not no, just maybe.  Most roads in the US are made of the cheapest rock that's available within 30-60 miles.  Usually that ends up being limestone, but not always. 

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The railroad beds you are talking about are not made from limestone like gravel roads.  Railroads use a different rock of much larger size for the track beds.  You will never see this rock on gravel roads or trails in the US.

Well...

Most railroads I know of ARE ballasted with limestone, it's just a much larger size.  There's one rail-trail that's barely rideable with standard MTB tires, because it does use the railroad ballast as the surface.  It's maybe 2-3" screen.  Horse riders don't mind it too much, though.

Also, some fire roads, at least in the southern Appalachians, that have been covered in gravel use large screen rock.  It doesn't USUALLY approach railroad gravel size, but again, where the road managers have to deal with severe erosion, there are exceptions.  1/2" gravel washed?  Put in 1".  1" washed out?  Try 2".

47
Pacific Northwest / Iron Horse Trail conditions?
« on: January 14, 2016, 09:48:10 am »
I was reading a bicycle review / trip report in Bicycle Quarterly last night.  Jan Heine (the author/publisher) spent a quarter of the article extolling the virtues of a mountain bike width (48) tire on the Iron Horse, implying that ordinary road tires ridden by mere mortals would be in a heap of trouble on this trail.

Is the trail surface really that bad?  What's the minimum width tire that could be comfortably ridden, say from North Bend to Cle Elum?  I was thinking about trying it with 28s.

48
Routes / Re: Three weeks - Pacific Coast or Sierra Cascades
« on: January 11, 2016, 02:14:11 pm »
At the risk of being a wet blanket, this sounds pretty optimistic.  Given a three week holiday from Britain, I'd plan to lose at least half a week flying, meeting friends, and adjusting to jet lag.

I'd suggest taking the coast south from San Francisco (OK, partly because I'd like to do that!).  I'd cut east to Solvang and 154 to get down to Santa Barbara.  The 101 south of S.B. is busy but generally has good shoulders, but I'd probably take 192 over to 33 if I really wanted to get to Ventura.  If you can stomach the traffic, you could ride past Pt. Mugu and Malibu down into Santa Monica -- pretty spectacular scenery, but the road and traffic south of Malibu can be a bit much.  You can catch the train back to San Francisco from Los Angeles, Ventura, or Santa Barbara.  Enjoy the ride, stop and talk to people, look at the scenery (and take lots of pictures).

Aside from the coastal fog bank that's almost always there, the winter storms are usually gone from California's central coast by the end of March.  I don't know what the latest budget crisis has done to park openings, though.

49
Gear Talk / Re: Peter White Cycles
« on: January 08, 2016, 11:44:53 am »
Your tensiometer reading just means the wheel was not built to the proper tension, maximum, when it was built.  Does not imply it was right or wrong.  I think it was wrong, but others may think otherwise.  The fact you had loose spokes so quickly and had to tension it higher kind of supports my idea that it was wrong and not tensioned properly.

I've read some posts from people who build a lot of wheels, and other people who claim those people are very good at it, who prefer somewhat lower tension.  And when I had to get a replacement bike from REI on the first day of a planned transcontinental ride, they replaced my wheels with new wheels that were looser than I wanted, but they've lasted well over 15,000 miles with only minor tweaks.  So I have experience that says the highest possible tension isn't really required.

That said, I'm with you, Russ, in preferring wheels as tight as possible -- at least to a point.  I built one wheel that was very tight (125 kgf, IIRC); the rim was fine, but the Shimano hub cracked after a few months.  (Shortly after that the air around me was blue!)

The experience with the PW rear wheel gave me the confidence to build and ride my own wheels, and hang what anybody else says.  Peter White is a widely respected wheel builder.  The fact that I touched up a wheel he built, and it's continued to work well since that fix -- well, I'm not shy about tuning a wheel to my preferences any more.

50
Gear Talk / Re: Peter White Cycles
« on: January 08, 2016, 09:56:44 am »
I can't speak as to why.  I can only report that when I laid the tensiometer on the wheel as received, the drive side was tensioned to 85-90 kgf.  As noted, some of the spokes were going slack after a year, so I brought the DS spokes up to 105+/-5 kgf, and it's been trouble-free since then.

FWIW, I prefer to go with brass nipples all around.  It's one less thing to keep straight during the build, and if a wheel ever needs to be re-trued (as sometimes happens after hitting potholes), the brass hasn't corroded to lock the nipple as sometimes happens with aluminum.

51
Gear Talk / Re: Peter White Cycles
« on: January 07, 2016, 05:39:01 pm »
I got a rear wheel from him some years back, after I'd been having some problems with (mostly commuting) wheels going out of true.  Turns out he uses a lower spoke tension than I normally do.  I'm heavy (and told him so), meaning hitting a bump can de-tension a spoke more than a lightweight rider would, and commuting means I hit bumps in the dark, so after about a year and a half I touched up 4-5 spots that had bumped loose, and increased tension on the whole thing.  Since then the wheel has been trouble-free.

I'd give him about a seven out of ten.  Excellent materials (rim, spokes, and hub), the initial build was very true, but not really built for my weight.  Note that your rear wheel load while touring might approach (or even exceed) my commuting load.

52
General Discussion / Re: Down Tube Shifters
« on: January 05, 2016, 03:02:17 pm »
You see, I am not sure exactly what it takes to build up a bike as I have never done it.  I absolutely will never know if I do not try.

You seem to be a bit confused with this idea of building up a bike from scratch and buying a complete bike from a store.  ...  Building it up from scratch when new or overhauling a store bought complete bike a year later requires about the same tools and knowledge and techniques.

What Russ said -- with the additional point that if you buy a complete bike, it's a good bet all the parts you have when you tear it down will work together.  As others have noted, that's not guaranteed with a bucket of parts.

I can respect the drive to "do it all" that leads someone to invest heavily of their time and money to build a bike from scratch.

I can also respect the desire to get a package that works, get out on the road, and get ready for adventure.  I think the majority of people asking the "which bike" question have this mindset, which is why I normally recommend buying a fully assembled bike from their LBS.

53
General Discussion / Re: Down Tube Shifters
« on: January 05, 2016, 09:01:07 am »
It sure was a whole lot easier to buy the bike built but i'm learning a lot and having fun along the way.

Forgive the off topic response, but this is precisely why I never respond to a "what bike?" question with anything but "go buy a bike at your LBS."  I figure that anybody who asks that question has no idea what it takes to build up a bike; and conversely, anyone who has enough background to build up a bike probably has enough entrenched notions of what the bike they're going to build should be, that they can, and should, pick it out themselves.

54
General Discussion / Re: Down Tube Shifters
« on: January 03, 2016, 12:50:55 pm »
For me they are pretty much the same height as bar ends but further back.  That is at least in part because I ride a fairly small frame and have my bars pretty low.  Folks with larger frames and higher bars will see more difference.  ...

I have found that with bar ends I tend to bang them with my knee, again may not be an issues with a different frame or different cockpit setup.

I prefer my bars roughly even with my saddle, and I have to do something pretty goofy to hit bar-ends with my knees.  The larger size of the bike (relative to the size of me) may have a lot to do with whether or not you have shifter-knee interference.

55
General Discussion / Re: training for trans am westward
« on: January 02, 2016, 10:14:58 am »
If you're used to endurance racing, you should be ready to hit the road with only minimal adjustments.  I'd suggest getting in some long bike rides to make sure you're "saddle-hardened,"  and then work on back-to-back rides to emulate touring.  If you can work in 75-100 mile rides on both Saturday and Sunday (assuming you're working a normal M-F work schedule), you should be ready to go.

You may also want to practice riding with a load similar to what you'll be carrying; it changes the ride.  Perhaps you can find a 3-day loop for Memorial Day with a couple nights' camping.  Test out your equipment and how well you've packed, along with touring-specific conditioning.

56
General Discussion / Re: Down Tube Shifters
« on: December 31, 2015, 08:56:50 am »
Pete Staehling is the only person I've seen advocating for downtube shifters.  I'd rather have (1) brifters, (2) bar-end shifters, (3) trigger shifters, or (4) twist-grip shifters, myself.  IOW, downtube beats stopping the bike to get off and manually shift gears in my book.

57
General Discussion / Re: Surly LHT/Disc Trucker
« on: December 28, 2015, 06:41:32 pm »
I agree the 22T chainring would be better but a 26T granny ring paired with a 32T or 34T rear cog does give a suitably low gear (22 gear-inches or 21.6 gear-inches)
Not low enough for me. I have 22x34 (17.5 gear inches) and still find myself walking at times.

You can never be too thin, too rich, or have bikes geared too low.

(Unless maybe you get to a point you can't keep the bike upright while pedaling, but that's another topic.)

58
General Discussion / Re: (Catastrophic) injury insurance while cycling?
« on: December 27, 2015, 12:48:42 pm »
I've just carried my existing health insurance, and filed for COBRA on my long tour. 

Choose your carrier carefully, as there are those that hit you hard when you're out of network.  Even there, it's usually a one-time hit (i.e., deductible goes from $200 to $500 or some such).  If you're sideswiped by a wheat truck in Kansas, you'll pay more before the coverage kicks in.  Read the fine print (not to be confused with RTFM!).

59
General Discussion / Re: Cost of a cross country USA trip?
« on: December 24, 2015, 10:04:58 am »
I also run for a living so I'm fairly use to running 10-15 miles a day and only eating an apple before/after for example.

I congratulate you, sir, for the most excellent troll.  You kept us all going for two months!

For the rest of the group, is it better not to respond to a troll?  Or, knowing these threads get randomly pulled up years later, is it necessary to respond to mis-information that might get someone in trouble if not corrected?

60
General Discussion / Re: Cost of a cross country USA trip?
« on: December 22, 2015, 01:56:21 pm »
There will be times - after 3 days of rain - where you will just have to get a motel.
In fact, if you are wet and exhausted, it really makes sense to do so.
The risk of a serious accident goes up geometrically when you are totally wiped out.
It is money well spent.

There's no need to get a hotel even in the worst of the worst weather but to each their own. We rode through the storm that destroyed Joplin, Missouri in 2011 and just hunkered down for an extra day.

Darn tootin'!  The pioneers that crossed the U.S.A. in prairie schooners didn't have a Motel 6 they could stop at!  Sure, some of them died of exposure, or were crushed by rockslides or falling trees.  And they didn't have to control a loaded bike careening down a steep incline at 40 mph while their shivering translated into bicycles shimmying, and have to deal with trucks in the mix.  But those pioneers who didn't die lived to tell the tale!

Pardon my doubting, but did you ride through the particular thunderstorm that hit Joplin, or were you just camped when the front came through?  A tornado is a funny thing; it'll lay down trees over houses, blow away one room from a house, and a block away from where people are killed, there's hardly any branches blown down.  People have been killed by tornados and even strong winds in campgrounds and parks.

As I've gotten older, and especially on tours, I've become more cautious.  I hit the brakes earlier to keep my speed down when I'm on a loaded bike, and especially when I'm miles from an ambulance, let alone a hospital.  I like strong walls (especially reinforced concrete!) when the winds kick up.  But as you correctly note:
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It's all your personal opinion though!


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