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Messages - Pat Lamb

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Routes / Re: Indianapolis To Asheville
« on: February 10, 2011, 07:32:21 am »
Google Mark Boyd at UNC-Asheville.  IIRC he's done a few tours from Asheville up through Tennessee and Kentucky.   Reading his journals might give you some ideas about routes (19 vs 25 vs ?).

No idea how to get into Indiana, sorry.

General Discussion / Re: New to downhill grades
« on: February 10, 2011, 06:09:37 am »
Fred, I must respectfully disagree with you.  I agree that the same amount of heat is generated, but I disagree on how it is dissipated.  I think you misunderstand Sheldon's point, below:

Sheldon Brown writes, "On long, straight mountain descents, ... pumping the brakes, alternating between one and the other, will briefly heat the surface of each rim more and dissipate more heat before it spreads inwards to the tires." ( Also true, but a tiny effect. How long does it take heat to pass through the 1/16" of aluminum between brake block and tire bead? Less than a second, I'd think.

The problem is that you're thinking in linear terms, and heat and fluid mechanics are anything but.  When you ride the brakes, or lock them up, you're not going to reduce the rims' temperature -- you keep dumping heat in, so some is lost to air cooling, and the rest goes into the rubber of the tube, which eventually flows into the air in the tube.  If you pump the brakes, you'll generate a heat spike, but when you let off, MORE heat is lost to the air flowing around the rims than if you kept dragging the brake, because the temperature spike is higher, heat flow is nonlinear, and you give the rims a few seconds to cool off.  Also, this cooling is more efficient while you're riding than when you stop, because the air velocity around the rim is much greater while you're rolling than you're stationary, and convection is much more efficient at heat transfer than radiation (which is why the color of your rim doesn't matter).

The net result is that the air temperature inside the tubes doesn't get as high, so the pressure stays lower.

If you want to try this out, you can make a couple of runs on a short, steep hill, and compare rim temperatures between riding the brakes and alternately pumping them.  Or, if you just want a demonstration, brake most of the way down to a point where you can safely let the bike roll out the rest of the way.  Stop and feel how hot the rims are.  Wait a minute, or three or five minutes, and feel again.  Go back up part way, stop and feel the rims; then let it roll the rest of the way down, which will take 15-30 seconds, stop, and feel how cool the rim is now!

General Discussion / Re: New to downhill grades
« on: February 09, 2011, 03:58:05 pm »
Most western grades are limited to 6% or so, although there was one (going down into Tonasket, WA), that was 8% with a stop sign at the bottom.  (Evil!)  We ran across one fellow in Virginia who had blown his loaded, single bike's front tire and bent the rim rather badly.  That was the 3-mile, 10% average grade coming off the west side of the Blue Ridge Parkway on the TransAm.  Steep and curvy!  Lots of other nasty grades (up to 18-25%) in the Appalachians, but not many that long and that steep.

I made it down that same grade by rotating brakes -- front brake for a six-count, rear brake for a six-count, repeat until the bottom.  That was apparently enough for the rims to cool enough that they didn't blow the tires.  My daughter stopped twice for (I'm guessing) 5 minutes each to let her rims cool down.  She also went downhill slower than I did.

What kills brakes (and rims and tires) is riding the brakes.  Either brake like you mean it, or let it run.  So you can try to let the bike run, then brake hard.  

And I second the recommendation for Kool Stop pads.  They don't hold grit like every other brand I've tried, so they don't turn your wheels down like a lathe.

Gear Talk / Re: Handlebar bag
« on: February 09, 2011, 09:43:49 am »
I plan to put my wallet, phone, etc in the handle bar bag. I was looking for a waterproof bag that "clips on" for secure mounting and easy removal. So far, the only bags I found are Ortleib and Banjo Brothers.

Waterproof is often oversold as a feature. If you can get into the bag easily or conveniently, it's not waterproof. Look for a bag that includes a rain cover. The best rain bonnets are attached so they cannot blow away.

Detachable is another feature to consider carefully. All of the detachable mounting systems require some compromise. Smaller bags do not require elastic bands that attach to the front hub. Large bags that do not have stabilizer straps flop around. If the bag detaches easily, it can be removed by anyone.

Ortliebs really are waterproof for normal cycling, and aside from occasionaly wrestling with the snaps, easy to get into.  Really waterproof against road spray and rain, that is.  I never tried kayaking with it.

The whole idea of detachable is that you'll remove it before anyone else does.  And going back to my experience with the Ortlieb handlebar bag, it's easy enough to get it off, and it was stable without any extra stabilization.  After a while, though, I wished they made one with the same mounting system that was about 1/3 smaller -- it was so big that things like sunglass case and sunscreen got buried.

Gear Talk / Re: Oversized touring frames?
« on: February 07, 2011, 08:13:45 am »
I checked this weekend, and my (replacement, "new") Fuji tour frame from 2008 is a 64 cm.  It fits a 34" inseam, which may be small for your needs.

Let me recommend a different tack; look at Gunnar bikes' Grand Tour frame.  $975 "stock" for the frame, and you can customize it as you want.  Gunnar's normally available sizes go up to 68 cm.   I say "stock" in quotes, because this is Waterford's budget line, and all their frames are made to order.  This will probably double your cost compared to a pre-built frame, because you'll have to pay list for all the components.  Your other option would be to find a used frame or bike -- inspect the frame very carefully before you put your money down!

General Discussion / Re: photography and cycling
« on: February 06, 2011, 03:13:04 pm »
Just wondering how people manage their pictures on a long tour, whether pictures are downloaded onto memory sticks and posted home. Some of the little netbooks that people are taking with them these days do not have DVD drives and so I guess the options are to take a separate drive to plug in to the USB or backup pictures onto a memory stick.

I usually downloaded daily to a netbook, but didn't delete anything off the camera until near the end of the trip.  I think my camera is advertised as 4 Mpixel, average jpg was about 2 Mb.  So with a 2 Mb SD, I could keep close to 1,000 pics.

I did start buying cheap USB drives, backing up all the pictures I'd saved, and mailing them home about once a month.  That way if disaster struck (e.g., bike stolen with camera in handlebar bag and netbook in pannier), I wouldn't lose as much.  And I figured having two cameras on two different bikes, with the netbook in a different sack, I wasn't really likely to lose more than one day's shots at a time.

Routes / Re: Anacortes Hotels
« on: February 05, 2011, 06:44:40 am »
I can't remember which motel we ended up staying at, it was about 4 blocks from Skagit Bikes and maybe 5 blocks from the shuttle pick-up point.

Use the maps, Luke!  I do remember it was one of the motels listed on the NT map.

Also, you may expand your options a bit if you check out Mt. Vernon.  Easier to access than Anacortes, and a bit bigger (more options for food, motels, last-minute shopping).  It's an easy ride from Anacortes -- call a loop your shakedown day!

Gear Talk / Re: Oversized touring frames?
« on: February 04, 2011, 03:46:53 pm »
Fuji advertises its touring bike in an XL as a 64 cm bike.  It's now a compact style frame, so it's not directly comparable to my older 62.

Every maker does things a little differently, which is why I recommend trying before you buy unless you're going custom.  You may be able to get a bigger stem (either Nitto or custom Bruce Gordon) to increase your comfort on your current bike.

General Discussion / Re: finishing
« on: February 04, 2011, 11:57:51 am »
I started feeling like we WERE going to finish, as opposed to we MIGHT finish, somewhere around Montana. 

I survived the slap in the face of mountains in Virginia, but there was still a long way to go.  Made it over the steep hills of Kentucky, but there was still a long way to go.  Gritted our way through the Ozarks, but there was still a long way to go.  I didn't have any problems with altitude sickness in Colorado, but there was still a long way to go.  We had a big fight, terrible windstorm, and my daughter bonked badly in Wyoming, but there was still a long way to go.

But somewhere, closer to West Yellowstone than Missoula, things turned from maybe to we WILL make it.  Around a thousand miles to go, and I started planning airplane tickets.  Because we were going to Anacortes.  And despite some of the hottest, steepest, longest passes (Loup Loup and Washington) of the trip in Washington, we never really faltered after that.

Gear Talk / Re: Rohloff- two questions
« on: February 02, 2011, 05:55:53 pm »
I can't answer to the "How well does it work" question, but the gearing is another story.  Assuming you're going to get an other-wise standard touring bike, taking about a 622x32 touring tire, and you want the low gear on Rohloff's chart (38x16 or 40x17): Sheldon says you can get down to 17.9 gear inches.

That is one low gear.

I'm guessing you can pedal uphill at less than 3 mph, assuming you can balance the bike, with a gear like that.  If a coal truck has jack-knifed, you may have to get a friend to tie a rope around the truck and attach it to your rack to pull it upright.  You can surely pull stumps out with that gear, if you have enough traction.

OK, the last two were in jest.  But seriously, you're getting into "you could walk faster" territory with a gear that low.

Oh, and a 26" wheel will be even lower!

General Discussion / Re: Think SPRING!
« on: February 02, 2011, 11:33:09 am »
From 70 degrees Saturday down to 28 this morning. 

I'm thinking.

It just ain't working.

General Discussion / Re: Travel Insurance Q.
« on: January 27, 2011, 09:42:47 am »
As to "the certain type of insurance" - there's no legal requirement, I suspect they may just be commenting on the fact that a lot of standard travel insurance policies don't cover cycling.

Really??  I don't know about buying travel insurance coming to America, but both my standard (most expensive country) medical insurance and the travel policies I've looked into for European travel Just Cover medical expenses -- plane, train, bike, falling down, you name it.  They'll try to get reimbursed from the airline or train companies, or the restaurant with the slippery stairs, if there were an accident, I'm sure.

As an example, my medical insurance covered costs for me in the ER when I was hit by a car; Blue Cross then sent the bills to the driver's insurance company (who paid promptly for a car insurance company!).

Gear Talk / Re: Bicycle Speeds Question
« on: January 27, 2011, 09:31:25 am »
I keep my speed up by keeping my weight down. My 2007 REI Safari with out panniers is 33 lbs.

Interesting datum; my Randonee is about 32 pounds.  Do you ride with panniers, and if so, what's your average speed when loaded?

General Discussion / Re: Sizing question
« on: January 26, 2011, 04:59:34 pm »
Are you going to be working with a bike shop, or buying through the web?

If working with a bike shop, I'd pull them in early to help size you.  If you've got a good LBS, I highly recommend this route; not only can they put you on a decent sized bike, but they should take the hit if it doesn't fit; they can put everything together; and they can check everything over to make sure your bike is in good mechanical condition before you leave.  A really good bike shop may be worth stretching "local" to a few hours' drive, if you can try the bikes and find one that fits you.  Then all the previous information in this thread is moot.  ;)

If they're not that good (i.e., full of racer-boys or mountain bikers who can't or won't spell "touring"), or money is really tight, you may have to figure out sizing yourself.  Use the sizing links given above, but start by measuring yourself (maybe with a helper) and your current bike.  Sizing is generally similar between tourers and other road bikes, with two exceptions.  First, as noted above, you may have to translate between C-T, C-C, or some virtual measurement (good luck, precise measurement to an imaginary point in space is rather difficult to replicate).  Second, you may want to go for a size larger to get more stack space on the frame, which lets you get the bars higher.  IIRC, the 5500 is built with low bars; many (although not all) tourists prefer to have the bars up a bit and sit upright a bit more.

Note you'll need to be or hire a good mechanic to put everything together if you choose the second option.

Gear Talk / Re: Bicycle Speeds Question
« on: January 26, 2011, 11:41:02 am »
I wonder if the OP would be more interested in randonneuring than touring?  Check out for more details; the overview is that you try to ride a given distance within a time limit.  The time limit isn't so strict that you have to race, but apparently it gets to be a challenge when you do the longer routes.  Randonneuring involves structured routes with minimal support.  On the flip side, it's shorter durations (1-4 days) than the long (1-12 week) rides we usually discuss in this forum.

Long rides, brisk tempo, new terrain.  I'm about to talk myself into trying it!

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