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Messages - Pat Lamb

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General Discussion / Most interesting states
« on: January 23, 2012, 05:32:44 pm »
Is it fair to use picture counts as a proxy for the most interesting states on a bike tour?  Messing around with picture counts from our Trans-Am plus Northern Tier, I came up with the following statistics, ranked from high to low:
Montana: 25%
Wyoming: 19%
Colorado: 15%
Virginia: 12%
Washington: 11%
Kentucky: 6%
Kansas: 5%
Missouri: 4%
Illinois: 2%
Idaho: 1%

(Disclaimers: Percentages rounded.  Montana likely skewed by time in state and day off in Glacier.  Colorado likely skewed by Royal Gorge train ride.  NT crosses Idaho in a day.  Other disclaimers not considered significant.)

Is this a fair comparison?  What would your counts look like?  How vehemently do you agree or disagree with these "ratings"?

General Discussion / Re: transam
« on: January 21, 2012, 10:07:52 am »
1.  May be a bit early start, take cool weather and rain gear.

1a.  Mail stuff home when you don't need it.

2.  When the maps note the distance between services, take an extra half gallon of water.

3.  Starting around central Colorado (Silverthorne), towns and lodging thin out.  Make motel reservations at least 3-4 days in advance for the weekend.

3a.  Have a work-around plan in case you can't get in to motels in the Tetons and Yellowstone.

4.  Have fun!

Gear Talk / Re: How to clean a hydration system (tube)???
« on: January 20, 2012, 09:34:16 pm »
If you're just putting water in the system, just rinse it after every use and let it dry overnight.

Maybe the denture cleanser works, but adding sugar is just asking for a bacteria culture.

Gear Talk / Re: bike maintenance on tour
« on: January 18, 2012, 05:42:50 pm »
Call me soft.  I like air conditioning every so often.  Every motelwhere I asked for some rags was happy to supply me with some -- they understand it'll keep their room (walls or bedspreads) clean.

Paper towels or napkins from an eatery can be used to clean up the bike in a pinch.

Pump up the tires every few days, check the tires before you pass a bike shop (so you can replace if worn), check the chain and brake pads every 3-4 weeks.  Have fun the rest of the time!

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!

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