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Messages - Pat Lamb

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Gear Talk / Re: How to pack my sleeping bag
« on: February 03, 2016, 09:29:50 pm »
I've packed a large poly fill bag in a pannier with some heavy stuff, such as tools and stove.  The bag can probably be compressed into a smaller space than your stuff sack, and if you put the heaviest and densest items in your load in the same pannier, it can end up balancing surprisingly well.

FWIW, I agree with Russ and John, especially if you got the 0 degree bag.  That might be appropriate for winter touring where it snows, or high altitude camping in the shoulder seasons of spring and fall.  But if you'll be touring in the summer like most people, it's going to be too warm to miserably hot 95% of the time.

With luck, a GPS with routing and turn warnings may let you ride without looking at the maps.  If the route is correct, if the batteries are working, if the GPS doesn't lock up.

Are there enough wiggle words in there?

I've ridden brevets where my GPS stopped working, and took a fair bit of fiddling to get it back on track (vs. giving me "get on the interstate to get to the finish" routes).  I've seen GPS wars -- two different units, even identical units, give opposite directions, until you get off route and see the infamous "make a U-turn" direction.  I"ve gotten confused between the route I should be on and the bright road marking of the major road I was on.  On the other hand, with a unit that's running well and fully charged, night riding is even more pleasant, since it alerts you coming up to a turn.

Get a GPS, if you wish, and give it a trial.  Plan a long training ride, preferably on some roads you're not terribly familiar with, and see how you and it get along.  Does it alert you in time to make the turn without overshooting?  Does it tell you not to go down a farmer's driveway where the road turns?  Bottom line, do you think it'll work for you?

Jennifer posted a note about the base closure and road construction at

General Discussion / Re: Routes North from San Diego in Feb
« on: January 28, 2016, 06:26:39 pm »
If you can hunker down for a day (or three) the winter storms will probably blow themselves out.

And if you're riding with family, I'd say the headwinds would be less unwelcome than some of the grades on the Sierra Crest, even if you could cross the passes (which you can't).

Gear Talk / Re: 2016 Cannondale Touring Bikes
« on: January 28, 2016, 11:23:04 am »
Wheels are very high on my list of desirables.  Wheels are one of the most important parts of a bike.  Wheels fail and you stop.  Saddle/seatpost fail, ride standing up.  Bars break, ride one handed.  Pedals break, ride one footed.  Gearing breaks, ride one speed.  Spokes break, and you may be stopped.

While I understand the rhetorical concept of emphasis through exaggeration, this may be carrying things a bit far.  Seatpost failed, I was afraid I'd forget and sit (ouch!).  Stopped and got a lift.  Stem broke, limped five miles to local repair shop (OK, my garage).  Crank broke, rode one-footed half a mile to work and called my wife for a ride home.  Right leg ached for 2-3 days after that one.

Spoke breaks?  I've probably ridden 50-100 miles like that, with multiple breaks.  Open the brake if necessary and keep riding.  (Helps if you have a reasonable number of spokes, of course!)  The fix is to learn to tension and stress relieve a wheel, or find someone who can do it.  Either way, a wheel is ultimately a consumable item; they will wear out and can be replaced easily.

Back to the OP, I think either a touring bike or a 'cross bike could fit your needs.  Rail-trails will drive you to wider tires, although 40 is really wide for most rail trails.  If most of your riding will be on roads, that would drive me away from a hybrid -- you'll want to make sure you're flexible enough to enjoy drop bars, though.  All in all, the Cannondale Touring sounds like a reasonable choice for you.

General Discussion / Re: camping on city parks
« on: January 28, 2016, 11:05:10 am »
I did about half the time.  Never had a problem either way.

Gear Talk / Re: 2016 Cannondale Touring Bikes
« on: January 27, 2016, 10:47:34 am »
I think the OP is looking in the wrong places.  For credit card touring, my expectation is that the load will be light, but that the bike will be able to carry luggage (panniers, trunk pack, or one of the large saddle bags).  Cannondale's touring bikes are aimed at the loaded touring market (although, as noted, they seem to miss the mark w.r.t. gearing!).

I'd suggest looking at so-called "sport touring" bikes, or perhaps non-competition cyclocross bikes, instead.  Make sure they have eyelets to mount a rack of your choice, front or rear.  Also, keep in mind that what's not in your legs needs to be in your gears.  One last, long, steep hill at the end of a hard day is a great reason to go with lower gears (maximum 25 gear inches, I prefer 20 for the bail-out capability).

Gear Talk / Re: Thoughts on "fat-tired" touring bikes?
« on: January 26, 2016, 10:59:49 am »
Though I disagreed with Russ, but I wouldn't call him a troll.  I'd look closely at someone who'd make a blanket statement "I wouldnt ride gravel with high pressure road tires... You'll pinch flat in no time." over a month after the previous last post.

Just saying.

Yosemite to Yellowstone isn't on a (reasonably direct) Adventure Cycling route, but you could pick your own route.  The difficult part of a direct route is probably going to be potable water; you may have to face stretches where it's more than 70 km between towns.  Google maps looks like you could make the trip in about three weeks, if you don't mind routing yourself.

IMHO, Yosemite is striking, but after two days in the valley and perhaps a day going over the pass, I would think you'd have seen it all.  (Unless you're taking lots of pictures, and want to capture five different features/angles each at sunset or sunrise.)

Yellowstone has a day or two of geothermal features, but the north and northeast quadrants are much more scenic than the southwest leg the TransAm takes you on.  You'll be so close to the Tetons it'd be a shame to miss that.  A week's sightseeing in Yellowstone and the Tetons seems reasonable, with short day hikes and different scenery every day.  The tough part is getting out of there; the Jackson airport is perhaps the best choice up to Bozeman or Billings to catch a bus a distant second choice.

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. 

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.


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".

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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