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Messages - Pat Lamb

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Gear Talk / Re: Touring bikes...
« on: March 16, 2013, 09:49:51 am »
Today I have been reading a lot about Salsa Vaya 3. That would be a good touring bike, right? As I would need a 54, I would get 700 tires. The disc brakes don´t seem to bad.

The Salsa bike will make a fine touring bike for heavy loaded touring.  And lightly loaded touring too.  Pretty much identical to the Surly Long Haul Trucker, Trek 520, REI Novara Randonnee.  All are 9 speed I think.  Triple crankset.  Bar end shifters.  Steel frame and fork.  All will work fine.

To Cat, don't get caught up in "analysis paralysis."  It's a lot of fun to obsess over the tiny details between choices; however, this being March, pick one, reserve the bike, and forget about it.  Move on to something else -- is the visibility of yellow panniers worth the blaring color over a nice green or brown?

One nit on Russ' response, the Randonnee is a 10 speed for the last couple years.

And FWIW, the Randonnee is the second least expensive choice with a stock front crank smaller than 30 teeth, listing at $1200.  (At least a couple weeks ago.)  The Jamis Aurora is least expensive at $950, though you might want a bigger rear cluster, followed by the LHT around $1350 and the 520 at $1500.  I personally spend a lot of time in my bottom two gears when I'm riding loaded, and the Salsa Vaya is geared a bit high, at least for me -- plus it's more expensive than the four models above. 

Uh-oh, did I just feed the obsession?

General Discussion / Re: Touring Question
« on: March 15, 2013, 02:17:15 pm »
If you've saved up leave, and worked it out with your employer, your insurance carries over during an extended vacation.  Otherwise, sign up for COBRA -- it adds to the cost of the trip, so plan for it!

Gear Talk / Re: Panniers
« on: March 13, 2013, 08:46:41 am »
+1 to everything John said.

Vaude has a good reputation as well; but my panniers are Ortliebs, and I haven't had a reason to try anything else.  And BTW, those Bike Packers are huge!

Gear Talk / Re: Touring bikes...
« on: March 13, 2013, 08:44:16 am »
I haven't seen that Specialized in person, but when I clicked on it, my first question was, "How are you going to carry a load?"  The Cross Check and LHT (and any other "real" touring bike" have eyelets to mount a rack.  That capability, along with a bit more weight and reliability for the load, separate touring bikes from non-touring road bikes.

Of course, if you're going to put everything for an inn-to-inn (or motel-to-motel) tour in a great big Carradice saddle bag or the like, all this is moot.

General Discussion / Pacific coast route, not: Re: Firearms
« on: March 12, 2013, 09:17:42 am »
Apologies to OP, but that's not an appropriate title for this thread.

I am from Holland. I have cycled a lot in Europe, but I have never been to the USA. I am planning to fill this huge gap in my resume by cycling from Los Angeles to Anchorage this coming summer. This will be quite an adventure and I have a few questions.

I generally don't use cycle routes,  I prefer to set my own course using a map. For me that is an important aspect of the enterprise. Alternatively I could follow the Pacific Coast Route. Now my questions are:

You may not be aware that "cycle routes" in the U.S., particularly long routes, are probably not what you're used to in Europe.  You'll be routed on roads, often smaller, low traffic back roads, for most of the Pacific Coast and Sierra Crest routes.

* Will it be OK to cycle using just US state maps?
* Which brand of maps is preferable? The best I have seen so far is 1 : 700 000. It is quite important for me that all the camp grounds are indicated.

I'd suggest you look at the Delorme maps.  State maps rarely devolve below state roads, and there's lots of county roads that are fine for cycling that won't show up on road maps the state Department of Transportation publishes.  And you'll probably have to buy a separate campground guide.

* Are good state maps readily available at e.g. gas stations in the US and Canada?
* Or should I get the Pacific Coast route anyway although that means carrying a five-map set for less than half of my trip?

You can usually buy a state map at gas stations.  You can usually get one for free at a tourist information center or chamber of commerce.

Unless you want to carry the (big and heavy) Delorme maps, I'd recommend getting the Pacific Coast maps, and supplementing those with DOT state maps and local chamber of commerce information if you want to go off route..  They'll have more specific information on the attractions, campgrounds, motels, etc.  If you're camping, they'll save you their own cost within a few weeks.

General Discussion / Re: Question: Highway Troubles?
« on: March 06, 2013, 04:49:17 pm »
So on a low-traffic road without shoulders, it's usually not a problem to ride in the traffic lane. So where should you position yourself in the traffic lane? My preference is to ride where the right tires of the vehicle would normally be.

Mostly agree, although sometimes roads with nasty expansion joints will have a relatively smooth transition if you ride between the tire tracks.

The right tire track helps give the approaching motorist a couple clues.  First, you're using the road, (s)he will have to drive around you.  And second, you're on the outside of the lane, so you're a reasonable person giving them a chance of getting by without causing a wreck (and involving cops and robbers -- no, wait, I meant cops and lawyers!).

Routes / Re: ST Border Safety
« on: March 06, 2013, 08:17:14 am »
I grew up in San Diego...done a lot of car camping near the border...that's why I asked about biking it...still think it might be a BIG mistake.

You're right.  You should not ride the Southern Tier near the Mexican border.  You will be worried about becoming the victim of a crime so much that you will not enjoy the trip.  You should look further north, to the land of Wyoming cowboys and Kentucky and Missouri rednecks, to find a bike touring route with which you are comfortable.

Other people may not be obsessed with Mexican drug wars (or watch Faux news) to that degree, and may enjoy the ST.

General Discussion / Re: Question: Highway Troubles?
« on: March 03, 2013, 11:17:39 am »
The TransAm uses 13 miles of interstate. The Northern Tier uses 47 miles. Not everybody has the same preferences, but for me, interstates are the worst possible roads to ride on--all that truck traffic making all that noise. Lonely country back roads are so much more enjoyable (albeit hillier and longer).

I kind of enjoyed that hour on the TransAm from Walcott to Sinclair.  Easy grades, way wide shoulders, little trash that was hard to avoid.  The only trucks that didn't move into the left lane for us were the few who passed when they were being passed, and the two Sams/Walmart trucks.  Of course we were excited to be heading for the big town of Rawlins (snicker, chuckle, once you get there you'll understand!).

General Discussion / Re: Traffic conditions around the ACA routes?
« on: February 25, 2013, 11:24:31 am »
I'd rank suburban moms in minivans and SUVs around some of the larger towns at rush hour would be my least favorite traffic.  Wheat trucks in Kansas would be second, due mostly to a couple bad (one very bad) experiences.  Logging and coal truckers were almost always professional and as polite as they could be to us, given road conditions and their loads.

Therefore, try to avoid rush hours and late afternoons on weekends, especially holidays and graduation at UVa.

I think cyclist's perceptions of truck drivers is more a litmus test of their response to motorized traffic in general.  If you're scared of a car, you'll be really scared of a truck.  Or perhaps it's the case that if you've learned and accepted vehicular cycling, the professional truckers (who probably see more cyclists than most motorists) respect your bicycle driving, and give you the space you need.  Hug the white line when there's no shoulder, and they figure you've already got all the road you need.

Gear Talk / Re: Touring bikes...
« on: February 18, 2013, 09:36:30 am »
Interesting questions, Cat.  I'll tackle some, and I'm sure others will put in their two cents.

Outside of recumbents, there's two things that could affect comfort differently for a woman than a man: frame dimensions and saddle.  Many of us get the saddle we like (Brooks for me!) and put them on all our bikes.  Many women have shorter torsos relative to leg length, so some bicycles for women are made with shorter top tubes for a given seatpost length than the corresponding seatpost-sized bike for men.  Terry makes some in racing and touring geometry, and Trek has some women-specific models, but Trek's WSD line doesn't include their touring bike (520).  If you're not an extreme case, some of the difference can be made up if your dealer will swap the stem for a shorter one, but this may affect the handling in extreme cases.

If you buy a stock touring specific model, everything is tilted towards reliability with a heavier load, and the bike ends up heavier as a result.  The frame and fork on the Surly LHT is perhaps 2 pounds heavier than your carbon frame and fork, but you'll also get attachments for racks; heftier tires that carry more weight at lower pressure, cushion the ride, and wear long (and may resist flats better); wheels with more spokes that can support the load without breaking spokes (you hope!) and won't be unrideable if a spoke does break; and rims to support the tires.  If you buy a full custom bike, you can get the latest lightweight components, but most stock touring bikes back down a level or two, and the cheaper components add a pound or two.  Note that you often need to allow 2-6 months lead time to buy full custom, and you pay an extra $2,000.

Do you need all that?  Maybe not, but be very careful trying to carry 20-30 pounds extra on a lightweight carbon bike.  It's not built to carry a load, and you may well induce shimmy or break the bike if you load it up.  The alternative is to carry the load on your back, and I, for one, would not even consider carrying a 30-pound backpack on a bike.  It would be hot, sweaty, and can injure your back.

How did you buy your current bike?  Buying a touring bike can be like that, if you can find a store that has them in your size in stock.  Leave them with a credit card or ID, take it out for a spin, see if you like it.  Or hop on a trainer and see if it fits you.  There are a couple of extra "gotchas" with a touring bike.  First, not many stores carry them, and they often sell out early in the season.  By the end of May, they're usually gone.  Second, especially if you carry substantial weight in a handlebar bag or front panniers, the handling loaded will be different than unloaded handling, so the test rides where you picked out your favorite won't mean anything for loaded riding.  (I named my bike Iron Pig because it was made of steel and handled like a pig...)

I won't address the buy and train at home vs. buy on site and ride question; I think there's arguments to be made on either side, but it boils down to your choice.


P.S.  Just thought of Bruce Gordon (  You might see if one of the semi-custom BLTs he has left would fit you.  He was featured in the latest Adventure Cycling magazine, and I bet he could sell you a bike now and ship it to your starting point for when you're ready to leave.

General Discussion / Re: car storage
« on: February 15, 2013, 09:53:02 am »
Also, if you're planning to stay overnight at a motel, call ahead and ask if you can leave a car parked there for a week.  Unless there's a big event in town and they're booked solid, many motels will let you leave a car there for a few days.

Gear Talk / Re: 2 people, 6 panniers for a cross country tour. Bad idea?
« on: February 13, 2013, 01:48:10 pm »
I'd be slightly suspicious when I see REI is selling replacement bags in 3-packs.

FWIW, many of the big-box stores will happily sell you a pre-paid cell phone at a pretty reasonable price.  Walk in to a Walmart, Target, or Best Buy, to name a few, plunk down $100, walk out with a cell phone and a couple hundred minutes.  Most are either big-name (Verizon, AT&T), or use the big-name networks.

Routes / Re: Route from West to East in September/October
« on: February 04, 2013, 10:53:51 am »
Check for a half-dozen cities along or near your route.  That route and timing seems designed to maximize the temperature extremes.

Routes / Re: Directional recomendation for Feb 1 start on ST
« on: February 04, 2013, 10:51:38 am »
As a curious bystander, I wonder if it wouldn't be preferable to go west?  That would give you a few weeks near the Gulf, keeping temperatures moderate, before you head into the interior of Texas and the mountains further west, which might be a bit further toward spring by the time you got there.  It would also get you out of the way of (most of the) severe storms happening later in the March/April timeframe.

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