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Messages - Pat Lamb

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Routes / Re: URGENT Colorado Advice (TransAm) Salida?
« on: June 12, 2012, 10:40:39 am »
I loved that part, but we were going the other way.  The only thing I disliked was the lousy bike trail on the part near Alma.  We would have used the road there but construction forced to use the bike path.  That was 2007 so I assume the construction is completed.  Also the bike path would be better going west.  The problem with the path was heaved up slabs of concrete that were a problem going down hill.  They wouldn't be as bad at the slower pace of climbing.

That bike path (ghetto) was pretty bad even "climbing" in 2009.  There were rollers near Fairplay; after I hit one of the joints and nearly dislocated my pinkie, we climbed up the hill to the road and had no problems after that.

The south park scenery from Current Creek Pass to Hoosier Pass was the best in Colorado, IMHO.

Gear Talk / Re: free standing?
« on: June 11, 2012, 12:30:36 pm »
You may be surprised at definition of a free standing tent.

Whether to have a tent that is free standing as defined is of minor importance.

Interesting, isn't it, that the ability to set the tent up on a showroom floor is closely related to the ability to set up the same tent in a city park pavilion, a favorite location for touring cyclists.

Also, the need to stake the tent in wind depends on the severity of the wind.  In a 5-10 mph breeze, toss a couple of full panniers in the tent (or one or more touring cyclist(s) in sleeping bags), and no worries. 

It's also possible to dry a wet free-standing tent with some clever staking in a breeze.  For instance, set the tent up, stake the two down-wind corners, and then flip it onto its top.  Dries the bottom as well as the inside.  (Bonus points if you attach the fly to the top corners.)

Weight is the only factor I can see in favor of a non-freestanding tent.

General Discussion / Re: Overall weight for touring
« on: May 29, 2012, 09:58:35 am »
"Trail weight" is marketing-speech for "we are lying to you, no one would ever pack just this much tent." Four pounds-14 ounces is five pounds. Add the stuff they're deliberately not telling you about and that tent is more like 6 pounds- 8 ounces.

Packaged weight is listed at 5 pounds 5 ounces.  Are you adding a 1-pound poncho in case the fly leaks?  I don't think I've ever added anything (except maybe rain or dew) to any tent I've carried beyond what the manufacturer shipped.

To surlyboy's question, John Nelson said it well.  It's not too heavy and it's not stupid-light, you should do well with it.

General Discussion / Re: Overall weight for touring
« on: May 24, 2012, 09:02:40 am »
So your load is about 30-35 pounds?  (Most people include the panniers in "load" weight, so I'm assuming yours weigh on the order of 5 pounds.)  And you're comfortable with your bike and that load?

Go ride.

Seriously, we tend to work ourselves into a tizzy over relatively minor stuff when we're not out riding our bicycles.  If there's something you really need, or really, really, really want to add to the load, go ahead.  I note you've not said what would add 13 pounds to your load, except books and extra water.  Forget the textbooks, or see if you can get them on a light Kindle, notebook, or similar if you need to study for something like a licensing exam.  Check the route ahead, and take extra water on the days when you might need it; across most of the east and midwest you'll have small towns or convenience stores spaced so you only need water for 2-3 hours of riding.

It's not really about how much you can carry -- unless you want to make the Adventure Cycling blog for "heaviest bike weighed this year!"

Gear Talk / Re: Touring Bikes Under Consideration
« on: May 17, 2012, 11:24:59 am »
Considering your inexperience, I suggest you have the inner chainring changed to smallest possible by the dealer when you buy your Trek 520. You may be glad you did when pedaling up hills fully loaded on tour.

This year's spec on the 520 is a 48/36/26 crank.  That's a welcome change from the 50/40/30 crank a few years ago.  I'm not sure it's worth the hassle to get lower.  A 24 chainring is only 6% lower, and shifting may suffer if you try to go down to a 22.  I'd rather have a certain shift to a slightly bigger low chainring than an iffy shift to a slightly smaller ring (but YMMV).

Routes / Re: Advice on route selection
« on: May 17, 2012, 11:17:24 am »
The definitive answer on mosquitoes is, "It depends."  Near lakes, marshes, etc., it'll be a problem until frost.  Unless there's a good breeze blowing.  Up a hill, if it's been dry for a while, they may be mostly gone.  Unless there's good breeding ground for them just downhill of a slop sink, for instance.

Gear Talk / Re: Touring Bikes Under Consideration
« on: May 16, 2012, 07:56:58 pm »
I'll go counter to the prevailing opinion a bit, and say forget about the Co-Motions and Rivendells for a while.  While I'm sure they make good bikes, you won't know what you want, or why, until you've ridden a road / touring bike for a while.

It's getting late in the season, but call around and see if you can find a dealer with a Trek 520, Surly LHT, REI Randonee, Windsor/Fuji Touring or the like, in your size and in stock.  Go ride them.  Pick the one you like the best, and buy that one.

I say late in the season, because touring bikes seem to be made in batches, and once this year's batch is gone, you'll have to wait until next year to buy from that batch.  Buy one now, and the one you like, because you're going to need to put hours in the saddle to get ready for your trip.  You may or may not be able to get one before next spring if you wait, and you won't do the riding if you don't like the bike.

Be aware, too, that if you put a heavy load on the bike, the handling will change.

Of course, you might get by with putting racks on your hybrid, but since that's not what you say you want, get the one you want (and like).

Gear Talk / Re: Do I need a water filter
« on: May 10, 2012, 09:10:13 pm »
I did not need one on the Pacific Coast, nor the NT. I did beg water once from an RV on a hot ascent of Washington Pass in the Cascades.

Fred, I was just about to post that a water filter would be a good thing to have climbing Rainy and Washington Passes!

The alternative is to take 2 2 liter Platypus bladders, and fill them before you start the climb.  One nice thing about the ACA maps is that they'll give you notice when there's a long stretch without services.  That's a clue you need to fill the bladders before you hit that stretch.  Otherwise, they fold up small and light in your panniers.

Routes / Re: URGENT Route Advice. VIRGINIA from Whythville
« on: May 08, 2012, 10:08:07 pm »
My Trans AM maps won't be in Damascus until Weds morning, so I'll probably take it easy and just ride for a few hours to Rural Retreat tomorrow, then on through to Troutdale and onto Damascus Weds. Is this proposed route easy enough to navigate do you know?

Erm, it's easy enough to navigate if you have good directions.  There's a handful of intersections with pretty much nothing around; I'd suggest getting directions from, e.g., google or yahoo maps, and stopping at gas stations, stores, or post offices to ask for navigational help. 

Taking 11 down to Glade Spring and following the sign (left) to Damascus would be much easier as far as directions -- except for crossing the interstate and the river at the end of town a couple times.

Routes / Re: URGENT Route Advice. VIRGINIA from Whythville
« on: May 07, 2012, 09:00:24 pm »
I assume you mean Wytheville?  It's a longish one-day ride on the TransAm route, but pretty much do-able.  IIRC, you take U.S. 11 south to Rural Retreat, turn left and head up through Sugar Grove to Troutdale, then turn right and go through Konnarock down to Damascus.  There's some supplies available in RR, and one small gas station in Troutdale, and that's about it.

The other reasonable route is to stick with 11 down to Glade Spring, and turn left (south) there to go to Damascus.  Both Marion and Chilhowie have grocery stores, motels, etc.  11 picks up some traffic starting around Marion and Chilhowie, to the extend I'd prefer the more scenic route through Konnarock.

I should add that if you try any of the smaller back roads, you'll want either to have some very good maps, or to give yourself plenty of time to get lost, wander around, and try again.  Back roads in Smythe and Washington Counties are like that old computer game: you're in a maze of twisty little roads, all different...

Gear Talk / Re: Surly Disc Trucker v. LHT
« on: May 07, 2012, 01:47:21 pm »
I have seen a lot of LHTs, but I have never seen one with panniers on it.  The tubing diameter looks small to be stiff enough to tour on.  I ended up with a custom touring bike because my light touring  bike that came from the LBS wiggled with 60 pounds of gear on it.

Anyone really tour on an LHT with full packs?   Is the frame stiff enough for full packs?

FWIW, some 40-50% of the tourists I passed on my 2009 TransAm were riding LHTs, all with full panniers.  The overwhelming majority had both front and rear panniers.  All the LHT riders we chatted with loved their bikes, and not one complained about the bike not being stiff enough.

General Discussion / Re: best pre-ride food
« on: May 07, 2012, 09:52:26 am »
Pancakes with a couple of sausage links. Had some yesterday morning before hitting the road for 65 miles on the last day of a three-day. No need to clean up. The restaurant staff took care of that.

Ditto. Pancakes start to digest pretty quickly, and the sausage digests more slowly, providing food for 30 miles or so before I need refueling.  Plus I like it!

Gear Talk / Re: Tire width - 28 too narrow for touring?
« on: May 06, 2012, 02:39:56 pm »
I think the first question to be asked is not, "How much does your bike plus load weigh?" but "How much does your bike, load, AND YOU weigh?"

I think the dividing line between 28 and 32 is around 250-275 pounds total weight.  Or maybe lower, if the roads aren't very good.

Gear Talk / Re: Women and Brooks Saddles
« on: May 06, 2012, 02:35:48 pm »
If the father of a woman can jump in...

My daughter stole the Brooks Flyer saddle I'd been thinking about putting on the weekend before we started our TransAm.  I adjusted the angle once, and tightened it once.  She's still riding it three years later.

General Discussion / Re: Cycling Yellowstone
« on: May 03, 2012, 08:45:30 pm »
From what I have heard, traffic after July 4 is much worse than before July 4. My experience on the TransAm, as I would guess most cyclotourists' experience on the TA, is of Yellowstone before July 4, and I didn't find the traffic to be a problem at all.
For what it is worth we rolled through after the 4th of July and it was still OK IMO.

We were a bit over a week (and a year) later and it still wasn't too bad.  Worst part (coming from the south) was the long lines coming through the road construction (since finished) and trying to make up for lost time past West Thumb, and we didn't have much problem there.

As Pete says, do plan to get off and hike a bit.  It might be worth a half-day tour on one of the buses to see part of the thermal features -- get out and hike up to some of the pools and geysers.  After about 4-5 hours, they start to look alike.

Oh, and FWIW, the south and west that the TransAm covers are about the worst parts of the park  Go north and east for the best scenery (and most of the trees!).

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