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Messages - Pat Lamb

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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?

Routes / Re: Need help with getting ready for bike tour - Routes
« on: December 16, 2012, 04:58:36 pm »
I plan to do this tour in 5 to 6 months, camping all the way. and yes i do have to leave from NY because that is where my bike is and I have no car to move all of the equipment. I have to start in January so I can be able to go to summer school after this tour my average daily mileage that I want to attain is about 40 to 60 miles

You might want to consider finding a train or bus to take you south.  If you can get down to, say, the southern end of North Carolina, the incidence of snow decreases quite a lot.

Routes / Re: USA Corner to Corner
« on: December 16, 2012, 01:05:33 pm »
Some people don't mind riding on the interstate, but I prefer to avoid it like the plague. I don't like either of your two routes through Washington. I'd jump from the TA at Missoula, go up to Glacier NP and then stay on the Northern Tier to the coast.

I've never ridden either of I-90 or US 2, but WA 20 (aka NT across Washington) was a good road, lightly trafficed, and quite scenic.  There's a couple of tough days in there, but it's worthwhile.

Routes / Re: Need help with getting ready for bike tour - Routes
« on: December 16, 2012, 01:02:41 pm »
Most people try to avoid snow and ice while touring by bike; you have more pavement (and more room for other traffic to maneuver around you), less worries about sliding and falling, and it's easier to avoid dying from hypothermia in a snowstorm if you plan your trip so that most of your riding is in warmer weather.  Given those reasons, you might want to consider starting on the Southern Tier in January, and keeping the Northern Tier for closer to summer.

Routes / Re: Need help with getting ready for bike tour
« on: December 13, 2012, 03:51:06 pm »
Almost every long-distance bike tour trip report includes a packing list.  Look at the "registered rides" off the AC home page,, or find some completed journals on for examples.

You can look at warmshowers or couchsurfing for some registries of potential hosts.  There are a few listed on the various Adventure Cycling maps, if you're going to follow them.  Please be polite -- there's a storm brewing over rude guests, see the AC blog for some details and pointers.

After Labor Day, the national parks start rolling up the sidewalks so the bears and elk can come through.  Yellowstone, for instance, starts closing campgrounds a week after Labor Day, and (IIRC) some of the lodges close down by the end of September.  OTOH, everybody in the northwest seems to take off every weekend in July and August, so lodging then can be a challenge.

All of which is to day, I don't know what the southern passes will be like in October.

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