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Messages - Pat Lamb

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556
Gear Talk / Re: Dream Bike Starting with a Long Haul Trucker Frame
« on: May 05, 2011, 04:30:52 pm »
I read the OP's request a how to build a deluxe bike (quality, not model), starting with a standard LHT frame.  Unless you need to travel frequently, I'd pass on the couplers.  Under that circumstance, the recommendation to start with a standard build makes a lot of sense.  Change the saddle and pedals if you like, then swap out as the limitations of equipment become obvious (or stuff wears out). 

<philosophy> There's a real risk of becoming an armchair tourist, not willing to get out and ride because you're afraid something's not perfect.  Unfortunately, everything is imperfect, and no two people can agree on what "best" is at a given point in time.  It's better to go with "good enough" than not to go at all. </philosophy>

557
General Discussion / Re: Gotta eat, but don't want to cook/boil
« on: May 04, 2011, 06:22:20 pm »
Cooking equipment is sort of like camping equipment, IMHO.  You can make it without carrying either, but there are going to be some nights when you're really, really glad to have it.

We normally broke out fast with oatmeal, cocoa, and Poptarts.  I quickly learned that was only good for 15 miles or so.  The problem I see with your plan is that there's stretches, particularly in the west, where there really isn't a place to get supplies (be it one of those ghastly bacon, egg, and cheese biscuits, or a real breakfast) for many miles.

OTOH, we passed a couple who had planned out their entire NT trip and made reservations for each night, so I suppose it is possible.  They figured they could average 15-30 miles extra per day since they weren't carrying camping equipment.  So you could perhaps plan your trip such that you were always at or near a place for breakfast and supper, and carry lunch as needed.

558
Routes / Re: Tornadoes and the UGRR?
« on: May 02, 2011, 09:40:41 am »
Buildings and trees were splintered and blown about, closing some highways. Most are now cleared. I ran into one still closed in northern Georgia today. You could check the states' DOT web sites for closures that might affect your route.

Tuscaloosa will be rebuilding for months, but most places saw damage in narrow swaths of 1/10 or 2/10 mile width. Unless a place you wanted to stay got hit, I think you will see no adverse effects on your trip.

What Fred said.  You'll mostly be crossing tornado tracks; don't tarry, unless you want to volunteer for a day to help with the cleanup, and you won't be a load on the system.

We just got power back last night (98.5 hours without electricity, but who's counting?  :)  Nearest bad damage is about 7 miles north of home -- trees down, sometimes in yards or garages, in some cases across houses.  West part of the county got hammered, but again, it's 1/2 to 1 mile wide, 60 miles long, total devastation; go a quarter mile off track, and there may  be a few limbs down, a couple shingles missing, but everything else is normal.

Two things to watch out for right now: crap on roads (wood chips, bark, some glass, etc.), and branches cut off close to the edge of the road.  You can tell the road crews were in a hurry -- sometimes the branches are cut off outside the pavement, sometimes 3-6" over the pavement.

Also, don't expect available or cheap motel rooms near the damaged areas.  With hundreds of displaced families, they need the rooms more than you do.

559
Gear Talk / Re: Gear Chainring
« on: April 27, 2011, 11:28:45 am »
If you've got a 28x34 (front x rear), you shouldn't have to walk much.  That's assuming you're in decent shape, and you mentioned a 60 pound bike+load.

Of course, Berea, Kentucky into Haysi, VA has most of the steepest climbs on the TransAm (exceptions may be a couple of Missouri hills).  Those ridges might make you wish for a 22 front ring, but a 28 up front sounds like you've got a road crank.  I'd see if an LBS could switch out that 28 for a 26.  Sheldon said 24 was borderline for most road crank / derailer combinations, but a 26 should be achievable.

560
General Discussion / Re: ACA Maps
« on: April 26, 2011, 09:56:04 am »
In order:

(1) No, not necessary.  Daniel Boone found his way across the mountains without any ACA maps.  You can get state road maps (which I recommend in any event), and make do with only those.  But they're very useful.

(2) Check the for-sale ads on crazyguyonabike.  Some usually go up late summer through early spring -- you may be too late for this year.

(3) Yes.

(4) I expect you'll find the paper copies worth every penny they cost. 

If you're camping, knowing where to look for good places to stay will pay for themselves a couple of times every $12 map. 

If you're credit-card touring, you can try a combination of GPS (with motels and restaurants) and cell phone, but knowing there's a cheap motel in this town, or no re-supply in that hamlet, is worth the price of the maps. 

As I mention above, you could make a route with nothing more than state highway maps, if you don't mind a few 20-mile stretches of busy highway and no shoulder, or running down a long gravel road to find there's no bridge and an impassable river (as the thunderstorm is coming and the sun's going down -- cue the coyotes!).

561
General Discussion / Re: Camelbak / Water Bladder
« on: April 26, 2011, 09:47:31 am »
I'll use a hydration pack occasionally for some of the long rides in the hills without good re-supply points, but if I've got panniers on the bike, let them carry the load.  Any kind of pack is (IME) hot, sweaty, and not very comfortable.

The bladder (or a Platypus bladder, without the extra opening) is useful for long stretches without water -- you can find those in Kentucky, Kansas, and further west on the TransAm.

562
Depends where and when.  Fluorescent green is about the shade of new tree leaves (just a week or two ago here).  Yellow is brighter in dim weather, like fog, overcast, or rain, but it matches some trees in the autumn.  I haven't honestly seen a red jacket or jersey that looks like it'd be highly visible in those conditions, and even so, I'd expect they'd match some maples in fall.

All that as background, I chose yellow for my jacket.

563
General Discussion / Re: National Parks PASS - Other PASS for camping?
« on: April 25, 2011, 10:21:29 pm »
I think you're about right, planning one day ahead.  At least after a couple of weeks.  Be ready to change your plans, if you get a headwind, tailwind, lots of hills, or rain, or if that small town turns out to be really TOO small.

The first two weeks, you're getting used to your legs, your load, and the terrain.  After a while, you'll feel comfortable projecting a day or two out, but anything beyond that is a crap shoot.

564
General Discussion / Re: How would you have handled this dog episode?
« on: April 25, 2011, 10:17:02 pm »
I'd have got off the bike, close to one edge of the road, and kept it between myself and anything coming from that side.  Then I'd have grabbed the Halt! from the holder on the handlebar, and kept scanning the other side for the dog that was closest (while occasionally watching for an attack through the frame from the back side).  Any dog that got within six feet would have gotten a complimentary dose of Halt in the smacker.  I'd have expected that dog to be out of the fight.  When they were all hit or scared, I'd hop on and ride off, checking after the first 10', 20', and 30' to make sure nothing decided to give chase.

All that assumes you were on flat ground or going uphill.  One of the fun times on the TransAm was outrunning a pack of six hunting dogs, from four adjacent houses, going downhill.  I was going about 20 mph downhill when I passed the first one.  They all came pouring out of the bushes when they heard the first one howl, but it was too late -- I was long gone by the time they got to the road and started giving chase.

565
Urban Cycling / Re: top bicycle-friendly cities and towns
« on: April 24, 2011, 05:48:38 pm »
I'm disappointed that the Washington Post did not contact the League of American Bicyclists.

I was on a review panel for our local LAB application, and I was appalled at the criteria they applied.  The LAB's so-called "Bicycle Friendly Cities" are, in my opinion, interested only in cities that match their preferred lobbying profile, and NOT with nominating cities that are friendly, or even safe, for bicyclists.

566
General Discussion / Re: National Parks PASS - Other PASS for camping?
« on: April 22, 2011, 02:33:28 pm »
AAA and the America the Beautiful Pass seem complimentary. 

When we needed motel rooms in the east, AAA typically saved us $10/night; in the west, I was told a couple of times that "Everybody has AAA, so the price we quoted you is for AAA -- and we can give you the same price without it."

On the other hand, the bigger National Parks in the east (Great Smoky Mountains and Blue Ridge Parkway) have no entrance fees, so the pass doesn't save you money here.  Go west, and you have to pay to get into most (if not all) national parks.  Yosemite used to charge the full "car" price for each bicycle, although I've read they backed off that recently.  (I wondered if it wouldn't be worthwhile for cyclists going into Yosemite to hitchhike through the gate, offering to pay the entrance fee if that pickup/RV could carry two or more bikes.)

It's not all bad, though.  Hiker/biker campsites were available at Tetons, Yellowstone, and Glacier, and all of those were less than half price compared to drive-in sites.  I think they were $5/night, or $5/night/person, a couple years ago.

You'll miss the fun of trading, though.  A couple of cyclists flagged us down going into the Tetons, and had a 7-day pass that was still good for 4 more days.  I took it, bought one for my daughter, and then we paid it forward with another pair leaving Yellowstone a few days later.  Two chances to stop and swap "over your shoulder" stories with two-wheeled tourists!

567
Does http://www.rei.com/product/766288/gore-bike-wear-phantom-bike-jacket-mens meet your criteria?  Available in red, if you don't like fluorescent.

568
Gear Talk / Re: Sandles?
« on: April 19, 2011, 09:36:20 am »
One unfortunate rock thrown up by your front tire and you'll wish you wore shoes. 

Not true if you use the Keen sandal.  It's got a rubber toe box.

Normally I prefer a shoe over the more flexible sole of the sandal, but they're a whole lot easier to pack than a pair of large bike shoes.

569
Gear Talk / Re: Ipad, Tablets vs. Netbooks
« on: April 15, 2011, 09:36:16 am »
When riding with the Shimano 72 or the 80, did you notice any drag?

IMHO the drag fear is greatly overblown.  Couple of weeks ago I pulled out the bike with the '72 hub for a weekend ride.  37 miles later, including a climb of the local "mountain," I noticed I still had my light on from the evening ride a couple days earlier.  Took the other bike out the next day, and kept trying to turn the light off.  This bike doesn't even have a generator hub, but the Top Contact tires generated more buzz and drag than the hub with the headlight on the other bike with smoother tires.

570
General Discussion / Re: Fishing across the continental US
« on: April 15, 2011, 09:24:30 am »
I'll admit that, as I was riding through prime trout streams in Virginia on the Trans-Am, I was wishing I'd brought along a pack rod and some flies.  Same thing spending a day riding down the Madison (the Madison River!) in Montana, and some of the other rivers we passed in Montana and Colorado.  Your route bypasses these areas, but you could arrange to go through some great trout country in New York and Pennsylvania.  Unless you get a guide or rent a boat, you'll be limited to fishing from shore or wading.

Two other things to consider.  Not knowing the Western Express route that well, how many fishable rivers do you pass?  It'll be pretty late in the season when you get to the Sierras, and I don't think the Arkansas is prime fishing in eastern/central Colorado.  Second, you might run into fly-fishing only areas, or at least "single hook artificial lure" restrictions.

As Pete notes, the cost of non-resident licenses could add up fast.

If you decide to try it, despite the obstacles we're throwing up, I do hope you'll document things well in an on-line journal.  I'd like to know how it works out.

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