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Messages - Pat Lamb

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Gear Talk / Re: Novara Randonee
« on: January 18, 2012, 05:36:59 pm »
While the Randonee may be a good choice for your needs, randonneuring bikes are usually configured for credit card touring, brifters, lighter tubing, higher gears, etc.

Agree with dk's points, but disagree with their applicability.  The Randonee is a touring bike.  It is not a randonneuring bike (except that most any bike can be, but that's beside the point).  It's built solidly, with beefy large tubes to handle loads.  The gearing (this year) is about as low as any stock touring bike.  It will carry a heavy load, including tent, sleeping gear, cold weather gear, cooking gear, and oh yes, a credit card.

Gear Talk / Re: Novara Randonee
« on: January 17, 2012, 04:01:54 pm »
I'm looking for my first touring bike.  Appreciate any comments on Novara Randonee or similar ($1500 or less) bike. 

First, the Randonee can be a good bike.  My daughter and I rode across the country on 2007 and 2009 models (in 2009).  REI in Bailey's Crossroads did a fine job getting mine set up, such that I had the wheels touched once (in Missoula, $8 re-truing), with no broken spokes.

Second, they've changed the gearing on the Randonee since then, going to 10-speed and bar-end shifters, as opposed to the 9-speed and brifters on our older bikes.  Drivetrain components will be more expensive to replace (chains and cassettes) as they wear out.  I actually like that this year's model has good low gears -- eastern Kentucky needs them!

Finally, check out for some good articles on what to look for, and what's available.  There's a fairly huge selection of stock touring bikes available now, compared to three models 15 years ago.  As John says, almost any of them will work well -- as long as the wheels are adequately tensioned, trued, and stress-relieved.

Gear Talk / Re: Cassette Life
« on: January 11, 2012, 09:04:06 am »
The cassette should be no problem. 

I tend to wear chains out in about 2,000 miles.  Some people claim twice that; I'm heavy, I guess.  I'd plan on swapping chains around Silverthorne or Pueblo, and expect to have another chain or two's life left in the cassette.

Even if you leave the chain on all the way across the TA, it'll probably match the cassette at the end.  The problem is you'll have to swap both chain and cassette when shifting gets dodgy.

Routes / Re: UK Rider. Recommendations.
« on: January 10, 2012, 09:50:12 am »
Also, has anybody in the community had experience of cycling through North/South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi? Is it safe? Is the ride going to be worth the diversion?

Is it safe?  It's as safe as anywhere else in the U.S., meaning we have some movie kooks, but no more than anywhere else.  You're more likely to have trouble from aggressive or distracted drivers than shotgun-toting moonshiners, chainsaw mass murderers, etc., etc.  I think Jim Henson (the Muppet creator) had it right: "People is people."

Is it worth it?  Personally, I think the deep south goes from the Atlantic coast 60 miles south of Norfolk (Yorktown), around an arc 90 miles outside Atlanta, west to Birmingham, and up towards Memphis.  You'll barely touch it with your proposed route, but you'll have to do a lot of route-finding.  You'll be crossing the ridge lines coming northwest out of Atlanta on your draft route, meaning limited routes going over the ridges, often with high speed, high volume traffic. 

I'd suggest, instead, taking the TransAm to meet up with the Underground Railroad or Great Rivers route, go south a ways (maybe to Tupelo, or Jackson, Mississippi), then hop a bus to Colorado.  I loved riding in Kansas but your imagination can fill in the blanks on the bus.

That said, if you want to ride from Atlanta towards Memphis, check with "yumadons".  Suzanne has put together a route through Atlanta, and up to Florence, Alabama that they're planning to try later this year.

Routes / Re: LA (or San Fran) to New York - From March 2012
« on: January 10, 2012, 09:28:20 am »
It may be possible to get lost with the ACA maps, but most of the time it's trivial to stay on route.  Try to get a cyclocomputer, calibrated, and then you just have to do a bit of mental arithmetic at worst.

I'm a GPS skeptic.  You'll need to have a computer of some sort to get a route onto a GPS, for one thing.  For another, some models warn you NOT to recalculate a route, as the GPS will try to get you off the back roads AC runs you on, sometimes with, erm, interesting results.

Gear Talk / Re: Surly Cross-Check off-the-shelf gearing
« on: January 09, 2012, 09:43:28 pm »
Only your dealer can tell you how much changing the crank is going to cost you, assuming you start from a complete stock bike.  Without knowing the exact crank models in question, I'm guessing you're looking at a swap.  Some LBS may give you credit for the list price of the take-off crank, and charge you for labor plus the new crank.  Some will give you the take-off, and charge you full price.  Some may figure out a way to work in between.

If you're going to buy the CC with modification, do it soon.  Bike shops are usually desperate for business in January and early February, but when spring is coming, they'll be full and won't deal as much.

Gear Talk / Re: Folding tires
« on: January 08, 2012, 04:54:20 pm »
Maybe I'm hard on tires, but I've used a spare tire on tour so I'll likely carry one in the future.

I've got a folding tire for future use, but only as a spare.  I found a folder without much tread (which keeps the weight down) that's about 700Cx30.  If, or when, I use it, I'll replace with a heavier tire at the nearest bike shop that carries touring tires, 700cx32 or 35.

I know that sounds backward; why put on a heavier tire?  For me, it's the extra tread thickness, translating into extra tread life, or further until I have to replace the thing.  The replacement tire will probably be wired, depending on what Podunk Bike Shop has in stock.  Wired is nearly negligible for extra weight, but shaves a fair bit off the price.  I'll normally spend $30-40 on a wired touring tire, but the folder costs nearer to $60.

General Discussion / Re: TransAmerica 2012
« on: January 08, 2012, 04:41:18 pm »
I expect taking a cab from Washington (Dulles or Baltimore-Washington) would be far more expensive than a connecting flight from any transcontinental hub to Newport News.

Routes / Re: When would YOU do this?
« on: January 06, 2012, 09:19:04 pm »
I'd start sometime around early to mid May, expecting to start west around the first of June.

Have you considered taking the Western Express from Pueblo, instead of going up to Colorado Springs?

General Discussion / Re: TramsAm: Rainy days?
« on: January 06, 2012, 02:00:26 pm »
what about when it starts thunder and lightning and your stuck in the middle of no where with no cover?

You forgot hail.  Sounds like the storm we were caught in south of Walden.  About five miles down the road we saw a ranch a mile off to the left, but the edge of the thunderstorm was a mile forward, so we kept riding.

What the heck do you do?  just keep peddling and hope for the best?!

Pedal, hope, and pray.

Most places in the east you can find some kind of shelter.  Also, most thunderstorms come up later in the day, so most of the time you can ride early and take shelter late.  It's part of the adventure when you get caught in the storm, you can discuss it years later in touring forums!  :)

General Discussion / Re: TramsAm: Rainy days?
« on: January 05, 2012, 11:01:48 am »
Starting mid-May in 2009, I had one day-long rain in Kansas, a couple days of intermittent showers in Kentucky, a downpour in Wyoming, and a few pop-up showers.  I didn't have (and don't want!) heavy rain gear, but a good cycling rain jacket is worth its weight and its cost, IMHO.  Look for two-way zipper on the front, pit zips and adjustable cuffs, and a rear vent to help with ventilation; a lining so you don't feel the rubber against your bare arms; and a comfortable collar.

I've never needed rain pants, but I've worn tights for some cooler showers (like the one mentioned above in Wyoming).  I rode through the rain bare-legged in the east, and was grateful for the free sweat.  If I'd had that sweat running down my rain pants, I suspect I've have been slightly upset.

I'll echo the suggestion to use a rain jacket as part of a layering strategy for cool weather.  My core was fine when we started out of Guffey with frost -- I just wish I'd had my winter gloves on!

General Discussion / Re: Woman riding by herself
« on: January 05, 2012, 10:48:04 am »
Take the same precautions you would in your daily schedule to stay safe.  If a situation doesn't seem right move on.  Listen to your gut reaction.

I think Tony sums everything up.  Be safe, not paranoid, and have fun!

Gear Talk / Re: Which Schwalbe
« on: January 04, 2012, 09:03:02 am »
The math is irrefutable: 2 pounds of rubber is less than 1% of the total estimated mass of 300 pounds, 0.067. Thirty-two ounces is roughly two liters of water. That delta of the effort to move this mass uphill or forward cannot be perceived. Nor does it translate directly into a 1% change in the total energy required to travel the same distance.   

the tradeoff for hauling this additional mass may be one or ten fewer flats across the trip but no one can predict results based only on a tire's marketing or actual physical composition. Many nearly invisible, common and largely unavoidable objects on the nation's roadways will easily penetrate any flat resistant material.

The math may be irrefutable, but that doesn't mean it's significant.  I've changed tires in mid-trip and wondered, "What happened to the bike?  It feels sluggish!"  A heavy tire changes the feel of the bike more than a gallon of water, in my experience. 

Your second paragraph shoots down the alleged benefit of "flat-proof" heavy tires so well I can't add to it.

Gear Talk / Re: Hub Generator Lights
« on: January 03, 2012, 11:31:57 am »
The above statement is an exageration.  I guess this person would claim a person who has $2002 is by far richer than someone with only $2000.  I imagine the Schmidt hub is a bit better than the other generator hubs.  For this tiny bit extra you pay 100% more in price.  There are many bicyclists who pay $1000+ to save 100 grams on their bike.  Worth it?

I assume Russ is referring to this claim:

...  of hub generators and by far the SON is the best:

Yes, the Son is the most expensive dyno-hub I've seen so far.  Otherwise, I think both the original claim and the subsequent denouncement are overblown.

The Son drag with the light off is the statistic most commonly used to support the claim this hub is the best.  It's about half the next best.  However, the difference between 1 W and 2 W is small compared to the power required to move a bike plus load, so that part of the original claim is overblown.

On the other hand, the Son hub has a pressure equalization system no other hub has (to my knowledge) to help prevent water intrusion into the bearings.  Partly as a result of that, Schmidt warrants the SON for five years, and expects 50,000 km before service is needed.  I don't know anybody else that has that kind of warranty on a generator hub.  Doesn't this suggest the Son really is the best generator hub out there?

As far as double the price, the difference goes down when you compare wheels to wheels vs. hubs to hubs.  Wheelbuilding labor, for those who don't build their own, means the difference in cost is about 50% or less instead of 100%.

Gear Talk / Re: Preferred method of terminating handlebar tape ?
« on: December 31, 2011, 09:34:10 pm »
I used fly fishing thread and spar urethene.

Looks beautiful.

I think I'd cry when the bar tape wore out and had to be replaced.

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