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Messages - Pat Lamb

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Gear Talk / Re: info overload, help!
« on: September 10, 2011, 09:21:47 pm »
I wish it were possible to peg John's response up near the top, as he's boiled down many posts into a single, well-written response with a good foundation.

However, fools rush in, so I'll add "things I look for in a touring bike" on to his answer.  Note almost all the bikes currently sold for loaded touring meet almost all these additional requirements.

 - Low gearing.  I think it's almost impossible to get too low, but 20 gear inches is a good maximum minimum gear.  16-18 would be better.  Honestly, you won't care too much about the high gear, but anything over 100 gear inches will see pitifully little use.

 - Long chain stays.  Keep big feet from knocking rear panniers.

 - Provision for mounting front and rear racks.  You can use P-clamps (except maybe on carbon), but it's really nice to have everything build into the bike.

 - Good geometry for those front racks.  I don't know what makes it good, but you'll have lots of fun wrestling with tight turns on a loaded bike; don't add to it unnecessarily.

 - Provision for getting the bar close to level with the saddle.  Some people like low bars, but most of us prefer to sit up a bit and see what we're riding past.  Next to nobody complains they can't get bars low enough, but lots of people try to get the bars further up.  Don't let anybody cut the steerer on a threadless headset until you've ridden it for a year!

 - Built for wide tires.  In 700C, that means 28 or wider.  I prefer 32-35, and some people and makers like really fat tires, like 37-40.  These carry the load at reasonable tire pressures, and absorb some of the shock that would otherwise end up at your tush.

 - Room for fenders.  You'll get some argument here from people who only ride in dry areas, but I dislike getting road spray on my shoes and chain.

 - Room for at least two water bottles.  Three might be better. 

I'll add that for off-road and third-world touring, you might prefer 26" tires.  You can make them work on the road as well, just by using slicks instead of knobby tires.  In addition, though this may be more controversial, 9-speed seems to be the newest that's widely available.

Back to echoing what John wrote, do try out as many touring bikes as you can.  Try to get them as close to identical fits as possible, but there's usually one or two that just ride better than anything else.  Get that one -- you'll like riding it, so you'll ride it more.  There's nothing sadder than a high-end bike rusting in the garage because the owner doesn't like to ride it.

General Discussion / Re: Bike Friday or S&S Couplers
« on: September 07, 2011, 08:29:28 pm »
Disclaimer: I don't own a Bike Friday, but I do have a sport bike with S&S couplers.

It takes me about an hour, even after some two dozen trips, to assemble or disassemble and pack the S&S bike.  Part of that's due to size (I have to almost completely disassemble mine because of the large size; fork, bars, seat/post, derailer, and cranks -- shorter people don't have to take the cranks off).  That doesn't include fenders or racks.  Also, packing is tricky, because just the bike fills the case.  I'd suggest going with 26" or 650B wheels, so you don't have to partially dismount 700C tires to get the front tire in and the case closed.  The case is bulky, and would require some shipping (UPS or similar) from your departure to your arrival location.

As Fred notes, when it's together, it's as solid as any other bike, just about a half pound heavier.  The only adjustments needed are seatpost height and handlebar tilt.  It's a beauty.  

The S&S premium seems to be $600, which is a lot on a Long Haul Trucker frame, but it's not as significant when you put it on a custom $2000-4000 frame.

I think the BF case is slightly smaller than the S&S case -- check out their web site for details.  (I think the S&S case is 26"x26"x10" for comparison.)  I'm intrigued by the BF idea of using the case as a trailer.  Pack the trailer and your gear in a duffle, unpack the bike, stack the case on the wheels, dump duffle contents into case, and ride off.  That's the advertising, but I'd like to hear from someone who does it to see if it's really that easy.

Routes / Re: Sherburne Pass. VT
« on: September 06, 2011, 11:02:08 am »
Can I watch?  That looks like a Monte Python killer rabbit kind of bunny hop!

Gear Talk / Re: clean hydration pack
« on: September 05, 2011, 06:21:33 pm »
I've found that my hydration bladder can be arranged with its opening on one of our plastic kitchen tumblers such that it is propped open, and it dries out nicely in a day or two.  Since I normally don't use it more than once every month (or three), that's perfectly acceptable for me and keeps the slime at bay.  If I used it more often, of course, it might get much slimier.

South Atlantic / Re: Best [bicycling] roads from Asheville to Nashville
« on: August 22, 2011, 09:28:07 am »
The Nashville area randonneurs did a 600 km ride from McMinnville east to Tellico Plains; see for details and a cue sheet.  That's about as good a route as you'll get across eastern Tennessee.

From Asheville I'd suggest taking the Blue Ridge Parkway to its southern (western) end.  You could either take 441 north from Cherokee to Gatlinburg, then the road over to Townsend, back road to Walland, and over Foothills Parkway to meet up with the brevet route; or take 19 south from Cherokee to NC 28, and meet up with US 129 at the foot of the dragon.  Bit of climbing either way. 

You could eliminate one climb on the first route by going on in to Maryville, but that's going to involve more traffic.  Oh, and while it's possible to take the Cherohala Skyway, and it will be lightly trafficed compared to 129, it's also long and steep.  129 usually doesn't have much traffic except on weekends and summer, when the motorcyclists come out to play.

To pontificate just a bit, I don't think you're going to find neatly laid out routes for your trip short of the Southern Tier.  Avoiding 5,000' gaps is one of the reasons I've been urging you to look south of the NC/TN border.  Most of the roads in western NC (and many in east TN, for that matter) are narrow and winding; their suitability for bicyclists depends strongly on the traffic, which can be anywhere from nearly non-existent to like rush hour.

General Discussion / Best touring blog sites?
« on: August 21, 2011, 09:54:13 pm »
I've just been kicked off crazyguyonabike, but would like to keep my journal on-line somewhere.

What's the next-best site(s)?  Has anyone used more than one of blogspot, livejournal, etc., and what are the relevant advantages and disadvantages of each?


Gear Talk / Re: MTB or Toruing bike for touring with bob yak
« on: August 21, 2011, 09:46:49 pm »
Mountain roads of NC are steep, and you'll feel every pound.  Trailers are often heavier than racks and panniers, and it's easier to overpack (we met one guy just past the Blue Ridge Parkway who had towed an ice chest up and over on his trailer!).  For those reasons, I'd go with touring bike and panniers.

Routes / Re: Shelf life of A.C.A. maps
« on: August 21, 2011, 09:44:13 pm »
We learned (after the first two maps) that the night-before ritual when you're about to change maps needed to include writing down significant changes from the addenda.  (I suppose I could have done it before leaving home, but I never got a round tuit.)  As Fred notes, some of the maps have hardly any changes; and some panels don't have enough room to scribble all the changes on to.  FWIW, most ball point pens write well on the treated surfaces of the maps.

General Discussion / Re: overnighting en route
« on: August 20, 2011, 09:23:10 pm »
You might want to check out warmshowers (.org?) to see if there are people willing to host cyclists where you want to overnight.

General Discussion / Re: foods for road trip
« on: August 19, 2011, 09:56:00 pm »
Without cooking?  You've set an interesting problem.  60-70 miles a day (within CONUS) usually got us through at least one small town with a grocery store (which does NOT say anything about the quality of the groceries!).  How many days do you expect to have to pack for?

With cooking, I'd say rice or noodles of some sort.  (Have you checked out the discussions of alcohol stoves on the Gear forum?)

Without cooking, I'd go with our normal lunch routine of fruit (oranges, apples, bananas in that order); cheese; dried or canned meat; and of course the old standby, PBJ.  You might want to use bagels or english muffins instead of bread, as they'll normally pack and ride better, and of course bagels have a ton of carbs.

I could never stomach more than one or two "energy bars" per day.  Luna bars are my favorite, as they almost taste like food (unlike, say, Powerbars), and they don't melt and get too gooey.  But for a day or two, I suppose it's possible to eat nothing else; just make sure you have plenty of fluids to wash them down with.

General Discussion / Re: Gotta eat, but don't want to cook/boil
« on: August 19, 2011, 04:58:06 pm »
I did a ten day tour around Florida and the only food I ate was trail mix,nutrigrain bars and 2 footlongs from Subway a day. I am planning a 2500 mile ride in 9 months and will stick to that, maybe mix it up here and there with some of the suggestions above.

I'm curious; how often is that possible?  I don't recall seeing a Subway between Hutchinson, KS, and Pueblo, CO, some 400 miles, just to name one stretch.  To be honest, I may have missed one or two.  I expected to be eating a lot more subs than I actually did on that trip.

General Discussion / Re: New Member Question
« on: August 19, 2011, 04:51:38 pm »
Tim, I had to look up Bridgeport, CA.  Looks like you may be able to head north towards Fallon, NV, and pick up the Western Express into Pueblo, if you're inclined towards the AC maps (as I would be).

I'd expect your biggest challenge is going to be snowed-in passes in the Sierras and Rockies, given your early spring departure.  Others may chime in with more detailed local knowledge, but of course the real, acid test is going to be how much it snows this winter.

Good luck!

Routes / Re: Southern Route in June
« on: August 12, 2011, 10:31:25 pm »
Starting in June?!?

The heat bothered me in Kansas in June a couple years ago.  The combination of long days plus heat just about wore me out.  I've worked outside in the New Mexico desert for a few days, and it's even hotter there.  While training in Florida, do you normally ride 5-8 hours daily for weeks, with only an occasional day off?  That's what you're talking about doing.  I'd consider a month of southern California through Texas in the summer to be, quite literally, life-threatening.

Touring, and riding daily, means you have to be really careful about water and electrolytes.  If you decide to go there, then, be very careful about packing and drinking enough water, and pull a trailer to tote all the Endurolytes you'll need.

And with all due respect to the weather channel, I'm not convinced this summer has been all that unusual.  Any place I go, any time I go, the weather seems to be abnormally hot, cold, rainy, dry, etc.  The Southern Tier goes where it's usually hot in the summer.  If it's 108F in Arizona, I doubt most people could stay outside for four hours without a thermometer and swear it wasn't 112.

Sorry if I'm rambling.  This sounds like such a bad idea I don't know if I can be any more coherent.  I'd go north.  Either to the TransAm or Northern Tier.  It'll still be hot, but not quite as hot; it'll be cooler in the mornings; and you'll occasionally get a break in the heat.

General Discussion / Re: Southern Tier transam ride
« on: August 10, 2011, 04:30:09 pm »
Most ST rides are in the winter; not many people want to fight summer heat in the south.  I think you're starting at the right time.  You might want to start in San Diego, so as to get over the Arizona and New Mexico mountains before winter sets in.

Also, contains a wealth of information.  Search for Southern Tier tours, and you can read them from now through September!

Gear Talk / Re: Your Portable Repair Kit - What's Inside?!
« on: August 10, 2011, 09:11:15 am »
It can't apply as much torque as a real pedal wrench, but there's no need to get pedals very tight since precession keeps them from loosening as you ride.
Despite the thread arrangement I have had pedals loosen up.  A nice thing about the 8mm hex hole is that you can use a torque wrench instead of an allen wrench (at home).  Shimano specifies a torque of 35-55N-m (26-41ft-lbs), which I consider to be fairly tight.

Some of the multi-tools on the market how have an 8 mm hex gadget that slips over the 6 mm.  If you're worried about sufficient torque, you could start with your multi-tool, then stop at the first auto shop and ask either to borrow their torque wrench or to have the mechanic could check it for you.  I've been looked at oddly, but never turned down when I asked for something simple like that.  (If you feel guilty for asking, slip him a fiver when he's done.)

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