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Messages - Pat Lamb

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General Discussion / Re: Great Music For My Tour? Suggestions?
« on: October 03, 2011, 10:47:08 am »
I don't ride with headphones, but sometimes there's some music stuck in my head.  And then there's other times...

When I rode across the country with my daughter, I figured out she doesn't really wake up for a half hour after she starts riding.  I could usually judge her speed, and lead her, but not by so much that I'd lose her.  Until one day up in Montana: it was chilly, and I was ahead of her as usual, until a light blue blur went flying by me.  Well!  I had more in reserve that I was purposefully NOT using, but I was going to find out what was up with that young whippersnapper!

So I caught up with her, and asked, "What's going on?  Why are you so fast this morning?"  She answered, "I was cold, so I started pedaling to 'The Flight of the Bumblebee'."  I tried it, humming and using a little body English to mark the downbeats in the music.  It's a great way to speed up and warm up.

She thought I was funny.

Routes / Re: Natchez Trace Maps
« on: October 03, 2011, 09:20:22 am »
It's a national park, so poking around the web site you can find  Also note the Natchez Trace Parkway Maps link on the left side...

Gear Talk / Re: Could a cyclo-cross bike do?
« on: September 27, 2011, 10:28:25 am »
A true cyclocross bike has very little in common with a touring bike.  Don't confuse the two. 

Whittierider, hope you don't feel like I'm piling on.  Still, while I respect your position, and the one you cite, I think there's a couple of thing missing from that analysis.

First, OP was asking for a bike that can also do touring (in addition to everything else he wants to do).  For loaded touring, a loaded touring bike is obviously the best solution.  For fitness and fun riding, maybe something between a loaded touring bike and his current hybrid would be the best compromise.

Second, I think "cyclocross" means about as much as "hybrid" any more.  Just as hybrid can mean anything from a road bike with flat bars to a mountain bike with bars reaching for the sky, so CX can refer to almost anything between a full carbon road racing bike modified for wider tires, to an all-steel loaded touring bike frame with a double crank.  If you take the Surly Crosscheck as an example of the latter, check out the chainstay geometry.  16.9 inches, a little less than the 18.1 inch chainstay of the LHT, but at almost 17" it's still longer than almost any bike made ten years ago.  I'd call that a pretty good compromise, even if it's not optimal.

Gear Talk / Re: Could a cyclo-cross bike do?
« on: September 26, 2011, 10:29:31 am »
Could a cyclo-cross (CX) bike do it all?  Sure.  It should be sturdy enough to take a load on the road, which is what you want.  And one of the guys in my city did a long tour with one, so it surly (Surely? ;)  ) can be done.  You could probably also do a long tour with your current hybrid, especially if you're towing a trailer

I'd watch out for a couple of potential problem areas with a production CX bike.  It's cheaper to buy the whole bike, but it's also possible to build it up from a frame.  These are my personal issue, if you will, some people will disagree with one or more.

(1) Make sure they don't cut the stem too short when you buy the bike, if you like your bars roughly even with the saddle.

(2) Make sure gearing is low enough.  Some CX bikes come with doubles, I don't know of any that have gears low enough for me to be comfortable touring.  I want a low gear of about 20 gear inches; that requires a mountain triple crank and pie plate cassette.  Bar-end shifters can handle the front derailer, you have to be careful with (road) brifters.

(3) Does it have eyelets to mount racks and fenders?  OK, you don't have to have fenders, and you can probably mount a rack on any steel frame and fork.  Just don't try it with a carbon frame, and if it has a carbon fork, be prepared to go without a front rack.

(4) There should be room for fat tires (say, 700C x 32-37), with fenders.  Probably isn't an issue with CX, but check before buying, or be prepared to stick with smaller tires.  I've had a problem with horizontal dropouts (which many CX frames have) with a bigger tire.  No fun putting a wheel on flat because it won't go on full, pumping it up, and finding out THEN there's a leak in the replacement tube.

Gear Talk / Re: 26 inch wheels and tires
« on: September 26, 2011, 10:12:56 am »
Jan Heine did some nice work in Bicycle Quarterly (Vol 5 #1 and #3), which indicated that skinny high pressure tires do NOT have the lowest rolling resistance.  Well worth a read, IMHO.

A couple of points came out of his tests, which weren't really brought out in the accompanying article.  It seems many wider tires (think 32 and wider for 700C) have extra rubber and lower thread counts.  Extra rubber is good, it lasts longer before wearing out and keeps you from getting flats.  Extra rubber is bad, you lose energy in the flex/restore cycle, meaning higher rolling resistance.  Lower thread count, well, it's apparently cheaper, but to get the same strength, you have to use fatter threads, which absorb energy quite nicely; higher rolling resistance again.  However, with some searching, it's possible to find high thread count tires, although they cost more than the Perf-bar basement sales tires. 

After you've made your cost/flat resistance/rolling resistance/longevity tradeoff, it's worth trying some sort of baseline ride with 10, 15, and 20 psi lower pressure in your tires.  I know I was surprised to find out that I'm not faster with 100 psi than 90 psi on comparable rides.  Your brain takes some of the high-frequency vibrations from road rides and translates that into a sensation of speed.  But when I ride on slightly lower pressure, even though I don't think I'm going as fast, I'm getting there in the same (or less) time, and feel like I could ride further!

General Discussion / Re: pacific coast route weather/october
« on: September 26, 2011, 09:50:25 am »
BTW: I started in Bremerton on my recent pacific coast tour and if I had it to do over I would skip Washington.  Camping opportunities were poor and the scenery was kind of underwhelming compared to Oregon and California.  It was OK, but just not as nice and Oregon or California.  At least that was my impression for the route I took.  A different rider or a different route might yield a different result though.

Pete, just for my edification, how much of the PCT were you on in Washington?  I think I remember you were thinking about joining the trail part of the way down the state.

Gear Talk / Re: rear rack seat post mount
« on: September 23, 2011, 02:02:04 pm »
The seatpost clamp does look like an interesting possibility.  I think I'd stick with p-clamps if possible, if only because they could mount down lower.  However, if you were trying to put a rack on a full-carbon bike, where clamping onto the seat stays was strongly discouraged, it might be possible to use a skewer-mounted rack at the bottom, and clamp to the seat post on top.

18-pound bike with a rear rack?  Hmm...

Gear Talk / Re: clean hydration pack
« on: September 23, 2011, 10:00:44 am »
I used to backpack with an internist in the 70s and 80s. This was when reports of water-borne diseases were increasing in Idaho's wilderness and water filters were becoming expensive but necessary accessories. This doctor pointed out maintaining a sterile water source is far more complicated than anyone believes. If you rinse your hands in the lake, walk across a creek and then touch your boots or dip your bandana into the stream and wipe your face, there's no need to filter your water except to remove debris. At the microscopic level, you've totally compromised your clean water regimen.

I think this is a version of the "one germ will kill you" fallacy.  OK, it's just barely possible -- but Schrodinger's cat may have slept here, too.

However, a normal person's immune system can handle some number of most etiologic agents.  One flu virus?  your immune system will probably contain it before you come down with the flu.  One giarda cluster?  ditto.  The problem comes when you ingest 100 giardia clusters, or a few thousand flu viruses.  Then they can reproduce fast enough to overwhelm your immune system, and you'll get sick.

The question is, how many is too many?  and how do you keep the number you're exposed to below that "too many" number?  The answer is not always clear, but it's part of why you wash your hands before eating, rinse off fruits and vegetables before preparation, and clean out your hydration pack.  It's almost impossible to sterilize your hands, and not many of us have an autoclave to cook the pack before or after each outing, but we do what we can to get the population of germs down.

General Discussion / Re: Rain gear on self contained long distance touring?
« on: September 21, 2011, 07:57:43 pm »
Summer touring?  I'd take along a rain jacket -- good for the occasional day-long rain, and doubles as wind jacket for downhill passes.  I took (and will take) tights for a bit of extra warmth, but I've never needed rain pants.

I'll offer up an experience when I was very glad to have that jacket: a thunderstorm popped up between Rand and Walden, CO.  If you've ever been there, you know it's a long way to shelter.  It was cold, the rain was cold, and the wind was cold.  After a half hour of that, the rain jacket was the only thing between me and hypothermia, but I made it into town (and a warm shower) safely.

Gear Talk / Re: tourning with different size tires front and back
« on: September 19, 2011, 09:59:52 am »
Things get easier as you get to bigger tire sizes.  THe tube manufacturers have one size that fits 28-32, but I've stretched it to 35 and even and occasional 37 with no issues.  It probably helps that the fatter tubes are usually thicker, so there's more rubber to spread around.

Gear Talk / Re: tourning with different size tires front and back
« on: September 16, 2011, 09:04:16 pm »
Since I don't use a trailer, I don't know how relevant this is to your case.  If it's just one size off (say, 25-28 or 32-35), I've never felt much difference.  For two sizes, like 28-35, I like the bigger one in the back, as I get a little bit more shock absorption under my tush. 

Gear Talk / Re: tire and rim compatability
« on: September 15, 2011, 06:23:27 pm »
You might try pumping the tire up to 15 psi or so, then disconnecting the pump and checking all around the tire, on both sides, to make sure the tire is seated evenly.  Manhandle it a bit if necessary to get the bead even, and the same amount of tire showing all around.  Once it's all even, then pump up to full pressure.

Gear Talk / Re: stemcaptain compass
« on: September 15, 2011, 06:19:44 pm »
There have been a few times when I needed a bit more accuracy, such as at the unmarked intersection of two wickedly twisty roads in the middle of a Virginia forest. Even with a good compass of course you're left with a bit of guessing.

The only time I can remember something like that happening, I was more confused by the resolution of the map than by the compass.  I knew darned well I wanted to go 45 degrees true, and the compass was good enough to show me where that was, but my choices were 0 and 90 degrees!

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.

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