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Messages - Pat Lamb

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46
General Discussion / Re: Newbie ISO perfect touring bike
« on: May 12, 2016, 10:37:08 am »
The Fuji Touring comes with 26x34 low, 20.6 gear inches.  That's solidly in the "low enough for touring" range.  You get down to 19.1 gear inches with a 24 chainring, almost one more gear.  On some climbs that might be enough difference that you could pedal all the way to the top, on other hills you still might have to get off and walk.

OK, I'm biased because I've got a Fuji Touring bike.  Nevertheless, it's a good bike that's at least good enough for a few years of touring -- some people get new bike lust and want something different -- and it may be all you'll ever need.

47
General Discussion / Re: Newbie ISO perfect touring bike
« on: May 11, 2016, 05:55:00 pm »
As indy hints, component swapping can be either a simple change-out or it can lead you down an expensive rat hole.  It's probably worth finding a bike shop with knowledgeable mechanics to discuss your choices, if you don't know which way to go.

FWIW, my loaded touring bogey for gears is a low around 20 gear inches.  I'd start out by trying a mountain compact double crank -- that's probably $100-150 (all cost guesses in US dollars!), something like a 24-38.  If that works, great, you're done.  But I'm not familiar with Shimano Claris, you might need a NOS Tiagra or 105 front derailer.  Worst case, you need to change to bar-end shifters, which requires a lot of labor to recable and re-tape the bars.  As long as you stay with 8 speeds, the chain and rear cassette should be OK.

OTOH, the Fuji's wheels are machine built, which work just fine for some light, and lightly loaded, people.  If you don't fit those categories, or are just cautious, ask around for a wheel builder recommendation.  You want someone to make sure the wheels are adequately tensioned and stress-relieved -- if the alleged expert looks blankly at you when you say that, keep looking!  It's slightly tedious to do it yourself, but knowing how to do it will allow you to fix any problems that crop up on the road.  Jobst Brandt's book, "The Bicycle Wheel," is an excellent reference, and there are a couple of web sites that have adequate instructions.

48
FWIW, I thought WA 20 through the North Cascades was spectacular (but I hadn't ridden up from Mt. Hood, either).

I've seen some ride reports that took WA 92 out of Lake Stevens (north of Seattle) and the Mountain Loop from Granite Falls to Darrington, then 530 down to Rockport and WA 20.  Not having ridden it myself, I can't say for sure, but there's a community of randonneurs that seems to like that route.

49
GPS Discussion / Re: eTrex20x with or without TOPO for Great Divide
« on: May 03, 2016, 09:30:16 am »
I'll go the other way and recommend getting Topo.  I don't know whether their trails are any better than OSM, but you'll have the chance to check out, well, the topography.  How far will you climb in this section?  Does it look like you're going down a steep grade?  Those features you won't find in OSM.  And it looks like, if you do get off route, the etrex20x will show you the topography in the area (with Topo) that might help you get back on track.  OSM, IME, has a bunch of blank space where it doesn't have a road.

Having said that, you'll want to concentrate on getting the route loaded and learning how to follow a route in the short time you have before your departure.

50
Routes / Re: TransAm trail - how fit
« on: May 01, 2016, 02:42:20 pm »
I'm not sure how RussSeaton defines "real mountains,"

I don't consider a climb a mountain unless its 6-7-8 miles of climbing up.  Constant or varied grade.  Switchbacks too.  1-2-3 miles and its still a hill.  Maybe a loooong hill, but not a mountain.  The 4-5 mile length I guess you could put in either category depending on how vigorous you were that day.  I also think of mountains as having a pass at the top.  Usually a named pass.  Hills usually don't have pass names and elevation signs at the summit.

All of this is OBE since OP is riding west to east, but...

This incredibly restrictive definition of a "mountain" should probably be adapted for local variances.  In the southern Appalachians, we call them "gaps" instead of "passes."  Further north, the same thing may be a "notch."

Even so, the climb from the Clinch River up to Hayters Gap in Clinch Mountain, two weeks from the east coast, fits Russ' restrictive definition.  Except maybe for the sign; I don't remember one.  But then again, there wasn't a sign when I rode across Togwotee Pass (second highest pass on the TransAm).  Do people riding east get to count it as a mountain after 15 miles of climbing if there's no sign?

Personally, I thought the mountains in western Virginia, eastern Kentucky, and central Missouri (Ozarks) were the toughest on the TransAm.  By comparison, the passes in Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana were easy grades.  Yes, they were long, but the grades were much easier.  Fortunately, the OP will be ready for the tough stuff by the time he gets there coming east.

Correction: west bound (going north) you cross the North Fork of the Holston before climbing Clinch Mtn.  The Clinch River is north of Clinch Mtn.  Still a good climb, but not as steep eastbound.

51
Gear Talk / Re: "Adventure" bike for short rider?
« on: May 01, 2016, 02:09:09 pm »
I'd like to get a report back after something like 3,000 touring miles.

My father in law (a physical chemist) used to say, "Sometimes 15 minutes in the lab will resolve a question that you've been arguing on the chalkboard for two weeks!"  This might be one of those times.

52
Food Talk / Re: Eating well on tour.
« on: April 30, 2016, 04:16:06 pm »
Potluck dinners in the summer?  Watermelon!

53
Routes / Re: TransAm trail - how fit
« on: April 30, 2016, 04:10:16 pm »
I'm not sure how RussSeaton defines "real mountains," but he's asking for lots of cussing with his prediction of one month before hitting such a thing starting from the east coast.  If you think of sustained grades of three miles or more averaging more than 6%, you'll hit Afton Mountain within two weeks, probably one week.  Things flatten out around Berea, KY, until you hit Missouri.  Low gears (20 gear inches) are your friend.

Back to the question.  If the OP considers himself to have "reasonable cycling fitness," saddle time will be the hardest hurdle.  Lots of people go on their first tour figuring on averaging 15-20 mph, and most people come off that first tour having averaged 10 mph.  50 miles per day average will get you across the country within three months, but that takes 5 hours of riding a day.  So start now, get out and go for long rides as often as you can.

I'd also suggest reversing the direction of the ride because of the weather and the season.  The first half of the trip headed west, expect temperatures in July and August to exceed 90 degrees F almost every day, and you'll probably top 100F for a week or two, with enough humidity that you'll be soaked in sweat.  If you start out west, you'll hit higher altitudes, and cooler and drier weather, a lot faster.  If you decide to stay with the westbound direction, try to ride at dawn for cooler (and less windy) weather.

54
General Discussion / Re: Pittsburgh PA Vehicle Parking
« on: April 29, 2016, 11:23:26 am »
The easiest thing would be to contact the motel where you'll start and ask if you can park your car, probably in the back of the lot, for that length of time.

Another option would be to park in a long-term parking lot at the airport, and catch a bus, shuttle, or taxi back to your motel.

55
General Discussion / Re: East to West Transam start suggestions?
« on: April 17, 2016, 01:59:22 pm »
Also, when you make motel or hotel reservations, check to see if they offer a free airport shuttle.  Many do (especially the ones near the airport!).

56
Gear Talk / Re: Un-Chain my bike!
« on: April 12, 2016, 12:04:01 pm »
Prevention is relatively easy for this problem -- stop when the chain falls off and put it back on immediately.  (Do NOT keep pedaling if your chain drops while you're riding!)

There's usually a way to gently tug the chain out and fix the mess, and it's often coming at it from the other direction you've tried.  So if you've been pulling the chain from the top, try tugging it from the bottom.

If all else fails, you can partially disassemble the chain.  This may require a packet of replacement chain pins, which might push you to replace the entire chain ($10 vs. $25 for low end 9-speed pins and chain, for example).

Then make sure you've got a tub of GoJo or similar degreaser to clean your hands.  :/

57
Gear Talk / Re: Installing rack and fenders tomorrow, quick question
« on: April 12, 2016, 09:32:57 am »
If clearance allows, nylock nuts beat loctite by a long shot.

I'm curious why you think so.  The only advantage of nylock nuts I can think of is the ease of installation.

58
Gear Talk / Re: Installing rack and fenders tomorrow, quick question
« on: April 11, 2016, 10:01:13 pm »
Zip ties are my "goto" field fix for lost fender bolts (and a lot more).

I lost a mounting bolt on either a rack or a fender one night coming home.  Asked a local resident for a bread bag twist tie.  It got me home.  Barely.  The proper bolt works better, and (with Loktite) is still there years later.

59
Have you bought the relevant TransAm maps?  They are chock full of just what you're asking for -- restaurants in small towns, campgrounds, and services to include hostels, where to find groceries, etc.  Buy them; they'll end up saving you so much money and effort you'll decide they're cheap.

Just one more note, the TA moved away from Steamboat and now goes east towards Granby.

60
Gear Talk / Re: Gear Inches for the Northern Tier
« on: April 03, 2016, 01:25:21 pm »
You can usually stretch a Shimano derailer rating by at least a couple of inches, so a 34 should work with the existing Sora derailer.

I rode from Glacier west on the NT.  Most of WA 20 is limited to 6% grades, which is doable with 20 gear inches.  IIRC, there were a few steeper stretches on Loup Loup (which I didn't mind, as I was going downhill!), but they were fairly short.  Also, there's 3/4 mile of 8% going east of Tonasket that was aggravating because there was a school zone and stop sign right at the bottom -- nowhere to let it run out.  Grr.  All that climbing gone to waste.

But I digress.  You'll have to climb that, which will be easier early in the morning when you're fresh.  The rest of the Washington passes, and Idaho and western Montana, was not a major problem.  Though we had some 3,500 miles in our legs by the time we got to Glacier, which might have some bearing on my perception!  Also, if the NT is like the TransAm, the worst grades are in the east (Virginia, Kentucky, and Missouri on the TA).

Finally, don't be ashamed if you need to walk a few hundred yards.  It's still human powered travel.  And while road builders can build roads you may not be able to ride up, even when they truck the equipment and material around to the top so they can pave going down they can't pave a road you can't walk up!

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