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Messages - Pat Lamb

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Gear Talk / Re: 2 people, 6 panniers for a cross country tour. Bad idea?
« on: February 13, 2013, 01:48:10 pm »
I'd be slightly suspicious when I see REI is selling replacement bags in 3-packs.

FWIW, many of the big-box stores will happily sell you a pre-paid cell phone at a pretty reasonable price.  Walk in to a Walmart, Target, or Best Buy, to name a few, plunk down $100, walk out with a cell phone and a couple hundred minutes.  Most are either big-name (Verizon, AT&T), or use the big-name networks.

Routes / Re: Route from West to East in September/October
« on: February 04, 2013, 10:53:51 am »
Check for a half-dozen cities along or near your route.  That route and timing seems designed to maximize the temperature extremes.

Routes / Re: Directional recomendation for Feb 1 start on ST
« on: February 04, 2013, 10:51:38 am »
As a curious bystander, I wonder if it wouldn't be preferable to go west?  That would give you a few weeks near the Gulf, keeping temperatures moderate, before you head into the interior of Texas and the mountains further west, which might be a bit further toward spring by the time you got there.  It would also get you out of the way of (most of the) severe storms happening later in the March/April timeframe.

General Discussion / Re: New to cycling and taking a loop around America
« on: January 30, 2013, 10:40:45 pm »
Sounds like it could be a great trip, with a couple of provisos.

First, your itinerary is about 10,000 miles on the back of my envelope, in 120 days; or about 80 miles a day.  That could be tough.

Second, you'll be hitting the southern tier as things start to heat up.  I don't know what the temperatures are like in the southwest deserts around April-May, but it could be hot.  Not impossible, but it could be a challenge.

Are you going to post a journal or blog?

Gear Talk / Re: Brooks B67
« on: January 20, 2013, 11:36:27 am »
I think you're over-thinking things - analysis paralysis!  B-17 or B-67?  Pick one, order it from, and try it.  If you like it, you're done.  If not, return it (for a full refund) and try the other one.

GPS Discussion / Re: Computer GPS vs ACA maps
« on: January 09, 2013, 08:58:21 am »
ACA maps are great if you're going where they take you, but you say you're looking at routes not mapped by ACA.

I'm a GPS skeptic.  I've not seen a GPS that shows both the fine scale you need to find those great back roads, and the large scale to show you where you're going.  If you're going to plan out your route ahead of time (on a computer), and download it onto the GPS, that could work.  Likewise, if you're carrying a laptop or netbook and can plan a day or two ahead of time, that could work.  If you didn't pre-plan, you're going SE, and run into a junction where your road tees into two perpendicular choices, well, good luck.

If you're planning to do this on the fly, I'd look at either state DOT maps, or get a more detailed paper atlas like the DeLorme.

General Discussion / Re: Bike and Cars - share the road
« on: January 08, 2013, 01:54:25 pm »
I had a conversation with a nice lady at work last month.  She started off with, "Pat was that you I saw riding a bike on XXX yesterday?  OMG, that bicyclist was riding down the middle of the road, and then he turned left!"  I let her vent, and then responded with, "Susie, was that you I saw driving a car on YYY last night?  That person turned left from the right hand lane right in front of me!"

She laughed and walked off.

General Discussion / Re: Which cycling maps for U.S. and Canada?
« on: January 08, 2013, 10:26:28 am »
State Department of Transportation (DOT) maps are generally free (I expect Jennifer will jump in with the the appropriate URLs as soon as she gets to work), and provide pretty good overview down to the state highway level, sometimes better.  For finer detail, DeLorme publishes atlases for each state.  I don't know if they include all the county and Forest Service roads; if not, you'll want to go to detailed topographic maps.  I'd recommend you get one of the computerized topo packages and plan things out on your nice, big monitor before you leave; the alternative is several large file cabinets full of hard copy topographic maps.

There's a lot of land out there.  You do realize, don't you, that California alone is larger than all of Germany?

General Discussion / Re: network provider for cell phone
« on: January 08, 2013, 09:27:04 am »
This question pops up fairly regularly, so you might want to search previous iterations.

Verizon is generally acknowledged to have the best nationwide coverage for cyclists, including small towns.  You will want to note that Verizon doesn't use GSM, so your German / European phone won't work on Verizon.  You can, however, buy a pre-paid phone fairly inexpensively once you arrive (check with the large chain discount stores).

AT&T seems to be second best, and they do use GSM.  I don't know the details of how to get "turned on" coming from outside the country, though.

Don't expect any cell provider to provide seamless coverage.  Out in the woods, or out on the plains, you can find plenty of spots that are more than 5 miles from the nearest cell tower = no coverage.  As I noted above, Verizon does have towers in most small towns, and strangely enough almost all the way across Kansas.  But if you leave the beaten track, and especially if you take small state or county roads, or even Forest Service roads, through the mountains, your phone will drop coverage.

Routes / Re: Start Dates?
« on: January 04, 2013, 03:57:30 pm »
If you're starting in April, I'd plan to start in the east.  It may still be cold and wet, but the roads will be open (with the possible exception of a late season snowfall).

If you're doing a coast to coast ride from California, you can't count on the Sierra passes being open, so the Western Express is out.  It's going to be darn hot by the time you finish the Southern Tier, with an April start.  If you stick with an Adventure Cycling routing, you're left with a Southern Tier to Grand Canyon Connector to Western Express to TransAm.  Possibly doable, depending on snowpack and seasonal variation in the weather at the higher altitudes of Utah and Colorado.

And while you're not really limited to the AC routes, similar comments would apply to similar routes -- you'll want a diagonal, or at least a partial diagonal route, to get past the mountains and avoid the worst of the heat and cold.  (N.b. -- in 3 months, you're going to be hot and cold anyway, but you don't have to be miserable or endangered!)

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.

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