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Messages - Pat Lamb

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GPS Discussion / Re: Computer GPS vs ACA maps
« on: January 09, 2013, 08:58:21 am »
ACA maps are great if you're going where they take you, but you say you're looking at routes not mapped by ACA.

I'm a GPS skeptic.  I've not seen a GPS that shows both the fine scale you need to find those great back roads, and the large scale to show you where you're going.  If you're going to plan out your route ahead of time (on a computer), and download it onto the GPS, that could work.  Likewise, if you're carrying a laptop or netbook and can plan a day or two ahead of time, that could work.  If you didn't pre-plan, you're going SE, and run into a junction where your road tees into two perpendicular choices, well, good luck.

If you're planning to do this on the fly, I'd look at either state DOT maps, or get a more detailed paper atlas like the DeLorme.

General Discussion / Re: Bike and Cars - share the road
« on: January 08, 2013, 01:54:25 pm »
I had a conversation with a nice lady at work last month.  She started off with, "Pat was that you I saw riding a bike on XXX yesterday?  OMG, that bicyclist was riding down the middle of the road, and then he turned left!"  I let her vent, and then responded with, "Susie, was that you I saw driving a car on YYY last night?  That person turned left from the right hand lane right in front of me!"

She laughed and walked off.

General Discussion / Re: Which cycling maps for U.S. and Canada?
« on: January 08, 2013, 10:26:28 am »
State Department of Transportation (DOT) maps are generally free (I expect Jennifer will jump in with the the appropriate URLs as soon as she gets to work), and provide pretty good overview down to the state highway level, sometimes better.  For finer detail, DeLorme publishes atlases for each state.  I don't know if they include all the county and Forest Service roads; if not, you'll want to go to detailed topographic maps.  I'd recommend you get one of the computerized topo packages and plan things out on your nice, big monitor before you leave; the alternative is several large file cabinets full of hard copy topographic maps.

There's a lot of land out there.  You do realize, don't you, that California alone is larger than all of Germany?

General Discussion / Re: network provider for cell phone
« on: January 08, 2013, 09:27:04 am »
This question pops up fairly regularly, so you might want to search previous iterations.

Verizon is generally acknowledged to have the best nationwide coverage for cyclists, including small towns.  You will want to note that Verizon doesn't use GSM, so your German / European phone won't work on Verizon.  You can, however, buy a pre-paid phone fairly inexpensively once you arrive (check with the large chain discount stores).

AT&T seems to be second best, and they do use GSM.  I don't know the details of how to get "turned on" coming from outside the country, though.

Don't expect any cell provider to provide seamless coverage.  Out in the woods, or out on the plains, you can find plenty of spots that are more than 5 miles from the nearest cell tower = no coverage.  As I noted above, Verizon does have towers in most small towns, and strangely enough almost all the way across Kansas.  But if you leave the beaten track, and especially if you take small state or county roads, or even Forest Service roads, through the mountains, your phone will drop coverage.

Routes / Re: Start Dates?
« on: January 04, 2013, 03:57:30 pm »
If you're starting in April, I'd plan to start in the east.  It may still be cold and wet, but the roads will be open (with the possible exception of a late season snowfall).

If you're doing a coast to coast ride from California, you can't count on the Sierra passes being open, so the Western Express is out.  It's going to be darn hot by the time you finish the Southern Tier, with an April start.  If you stick with an Adventure Cycling routing, you're left with a Southern Tier to Grand Canyon Connector to Western Express to TransAm.  Possibly doable, depending on snowpack and seasonal variation in the weather at the higher altitudes of Utah and Colorado.

And while you're not really limited to the AC routes, similar comments would apply to similar routes -- you'll want a diagonal, or at least a partial diagonal route, to get past the mountains and avoid the worst of the heat and cold.  (N.b. -- in 3 months, you're going to be hot and cold anyway, but you don't have to be miserable or endangered!)

Gear Talk / Re: Schwalbe Marathon Plus 26 x 1.75 Comments?
« on: January 03, 2013, 10:57:15 am »
I just changed out a Marathon (no plus) the other day.  Finally wore the thing out, after 8,000 miles.  The good: good flat resistance all the way down to seeing the underlaying layer of rubber.  The bad: in the running as one of the stiffest, "deadest" tires I've ridden.  About half of the miles were commuting, and it was a relief to have a dependable tire after a problem batch of another brand; but it's also a relief to ride with a more compliant tire back there!

Gear Talk / Re: Recommend a road, touring bag setup?
« on: January 02, 2013, 04:56:24 pm »
"Should" and "well" are such imprecise words, I wonder if they shouldn't be used.  :)

While my own preferences are for lower gears and sturdier (= heavier) bikes, there is such a wide diversity of bikes, loads, routes, and riders that it's really difficult to lay down any absolutes.  A fit 20-year-old with Pete's lightweight 15-pound load can probably climb any reasonable* hill with standard road bike gearing (34-30 low, or the like).  OTOH, there's people whose bike plus load weight exceeds 100 pounds; if they're overweight, older, tired, ill, or in poor condition, there may be no gearing available that will let them climb some of the tougher hills.  (Either way, I doubt that anyone never wishes for lower gears, including pro cyclists!)

Any absolute statement of gearing requirements, or bicycle requirements, therefore needs to be caveated.  Heavily.

If you're going to talk about an average cyclist and his/her needs, it's be wise to specify the age of that average cyclist, the average load, the average peak grade and distance.  And the average temperature and average ride distance before reaching that peak grade.  For the average 45 (+/- 15) year old cyclist, carrying an average 40 (+/-10) pound load, climbing an average 12 (+6/-4)% grade, an average off-the-shelf loaded touring bike, with an average 22 (+0/-3) gear-inch low sounds about right.  Variances to deviations to these averages may be appropriate.

*There are roads in the Appalachians and Sierras that are not reasonable.  They're fun to come down, though!

Gear Talk / Re: Help me accesorize my Surly LHT
« on: December 29, 2012, 10:59:58 pm »
Good idea, start with the LHT, do a tour, see if you want a different bike, repeat as necessary.  It may be all you want, and it's a reasonable cost/benefit rig to find out what you want different (if anything).

General Discussion / Re: 2007 Trek Madone 5.0 for touring across the states
« on: December 28, 2012, 11:58:32 am »
People have done this kind of touring with almost any kind of bike, so there's a good chance you can make it work for you.  That being said!  Many of us prefer lower gears (I hope yours is the triple version); if you can change out the cassette for an 11-34, and perhaps switch the derailer to match, that'll get you close.  Pack light, you've got to climb 100,000 feet or more, and pull whatever you pack up those hills.  Finally, I'd suggest you change your pedals to mountain bike pedals and shoes, so you can walk (and push) if necessary.

Are you planning to camp and cook?  Your budget looks slightly low to me, but you might be able to make it if you don't eat out or stay in a motel very often.

General Discussion / Re: Costs of Touring
« on: December 27, 2012, 01:25:44 pm »
Breakfast at a local cafe or diner (say pancakes, some meat and coffee) is probably going to run me $7-8 dollars with a tip. Lunch probably $6-$7 dollars if I just get a sandwich, chips and a drink. I usually cook dinner, but if I don't, I count on least $12 with a tip for dinner not including drinks. Then there is the cost of snacks. That piece of pie or ice cream you cannot resist.

Don't forget the cost of Gatorade / orange juice / V8 or whatever your drink of choice is, and those snacks.  I'll often eat and drink my way through $2-5 of fluids and snacks a day.  Water is usually free, but I like to buy something if I get it from a convenience store just so they don't think (and I don't feel like) I'm a freeloader.

I found Verizon cell service in almost every small town, except Guffey, CO, and Jackson, MO (both of which are right on the hairy edge of "town"), but then I didn't have a data plan. 

Cell service is often limited in rural areas to within 5 miles of a town, or along major highways.  On the smaller roads AC's routes take, you may be out of range for miles between towns.  Also, in mountainous areas, whether in Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri, or Colorado or Montana, you can lose cell service two hollers away from town, even though you're still within the 5 mile radius.

OTOH, I was fairly shocked to find out we had cell service almost all the way across Kansas.  Wheat farmers want to be able to get a call from home when dinner's ready!

General Discussion / Re: self-guided support on lewis and clark
« on: December 21, 2012, 01:54:13 pm »
Sounds like you want a "supported" tour.  AC has Cycle Montana, which might be what you're looking for.  Also check out the classified ads in Adventure Cycling magazine or the Cyclist's Yellow Pages for supported tours around the places you might like to ride.

Just a word of warning, most of the scenic parts of the west involve mountains.  There may be a lot of climbing, or you might find a tour operator who'll shuttle you to the top of a pass and let you coast down.

Gear Talk / Re: Cheap Breathable Rain Gear and Shelter
« on: December 19, 2012, 09:36:52 am »
Horses for courses.

Do let us know how the Tyvek suit works out.

As Old Guy says, wi-fi is getting to be ubiquitous.  If your supported tour stays in motels, it's usually safe to bet there'll be wi-fi.  If not, well, you'll pass through a town every day, so you can find wi-fi at libraries, many restaurants, coffee shops, etc.

If you want to surf from a tent or picnic table, you'll need to get a wireless plan and pay the cell company (through the nose!).  Most of the time you'll be able to get a cell signal east of the Rockies, except in a few rural parts of the Appalachians and Ozarks.  It's usually cheaper to get a wi-fi device to plug into your laptop (do tablets support these?  I don't know.)  Verizon, at least, will let you use a smartphone as a wi-fi base, but you'll pay a hefty premium for that "privilege."  Verizon seems to have the best rural coverage, followed by AT&T, with T-Mobile (one kid called his "T-Maybe") bringing up the rear.

Some people call me cheap, but I'd stick with your voice and text cell phone for calls, and take  large netbook for web access.  You might want to save a pound and take a tablet, but a large netbook's keyboard fits my hands best.

Gear Talk / Re: Cheap Breathable Rain Gear and Shelter
« on: December 17, 2012, 09:30:06 am »
I love it. I googled Tyvek rain jacket and tent and came up with this and lots more:

The graph halfway down the page shows why I don't think too highly of any of the breathable fabric jackets.  Put into the words of this skeptic, it says, "If you start with 30% relative humidity (which we call 'a sustained drought' in the southeast), these jackets keep you dry inside for no more than 15-20 minutes of effort before sweat overwhelms the fabric."   That's a fairly short hill, at a low pace, on a bike, to correspond with the walking in the test.

Since I've already got a couple of pretty good cycling jackets, this is academic for me.  I do wonder, though, how the Tyvek outfit will work on the road.  How will it hold up?  How will it perform at the end of the third cold and rainy day?  Will it trap odors like the first generation of polypropylene clothes and reek?  Perhaps most importantly, how will it affect social interactions?  Will the locals see the wearer as  hobo on a bike, or be just as another crazy cyclist in a wilder than usual get-up?

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