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Messages - Pat Lamb

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Gear Talk / Re: sleeping bags
« on: November 16, 2012, 03:51:51 pm »
When you have to carry the gear with your own muscles and have limited space like panniers or a backpack, DOWN sleeping bags are the choice.  Small and traveling on your bike with a synthetic sleeping bag?  Good luck.

Depends on circumstances, of course.  I missed one stinkin' stake last summer and got a puddle half the size of my tent after an overnight rain.  With a synthetic bag, only my toes were cold.  I'd have spent the night looking for a warm restroom if I'd had down.

That said, I'm eagerly waiting to hear from somebody who's tried one of the new "coated down" bags to see (a) if they live up to the waterproof hype, and (b) how long the super-duper-water-repellent coating lasts in the field.

General Discussion / Re: Advice on Heading South in Winter
« on: November 14, 2012, 06:53:28 pm »
Another option would be to ship whatever you don't want to carry and can't check.  Pick a hotel or bike shop near your Amtrak arrival point, call them and ask if they'd be willing to receive and keep a package for a few days before you arrive.  If you go this route, check the heavier items on the train and ship the light stuff, as UPS, FedEx, and USPS charge by weight.  And since you're going to be starting before Christmas, beware of the holiday shipping rush and allow an extra few days to get there.

Gear Talk / Re: Bike Rack Advice
« on: November 14, 2012, 10:22:15 am »
I'd suggest a trip to your local bike shop (LBS), REI, or similar outdoor gear store.  You can look at the various racks, touch them, heft them, and talk to people knowledgeable about them.  While you don't have the infinite availability of different models you'd get on Amazon, you can bet they carry good racks, and can show you how to install it on your car, and how to install the bike on the rack.  Finally, you don't have to pay shipping!

Gear Talk / Re: Touring Bikes - Surly LHT vs Novarra Randonee
« on: November 13, 2012, 10:26:57 am »
I'm almost with John on the "test ride and buy" recommendation.  If there's an REI near you that has this (last) year's size XL in stock, try it and buy if you like it.  But REI has been tinkering with the spec on the Randonnee for the last few years.  For a couple years around 2009 they had a road gears with a 30-28 low gear, IIRC.  For loaded touring, you want MTB gears, like a 26-34 low.  I'd wait and see how this (next) year's bike is spec'ed before I pulled the trigger.

FWIW, OP, I'm your height and the XL has fit me pretty well.  My 2006 frame broke in 2009, and REI treated me well; gave me a new bike, and then retrofitted the cassette, fenders, front rack, saddle, and the adjustable stem to get the bars up where I needed them.  They even double-checked the wheel, and I ended up crossing the country with no broken spokes.  Oh, and this frame has over 10,000 miles and is still going strong.

Also FWIW, close to half the other tourists we met had an LHT, and nobody had anything bad to say about them.

General Discussion / Re: Tire Pressure
« on: November 12, 2012, 08:52:29 am »
Very wise but sometimes you don't get a choice, like when an inexperienced rider swerves in front of you or you have to dodge an unforseen obstacle.

I'll have to take your word for it, as I've never experienced tire traction as the limiting factor when dodging something -- it's always been my reflexes and bike handling skills.

Gear Talk / Re: Help me accesorize my Surly LHT
« on: November 12, 2012, 08:49:03 am »
I think the last time I bought fenders the instructions did call for cutting stays after installing the fenders, but I can see how the instruction minimalists might leave that part out.

One think I took too long to learn is to take a file and round the stays off after you cut them.  If you use either linemans pliers or a Dremel, you'll end up with either a nice sharp edge like a medical needle, or something that's shaped like a paper punch for skin.  They're both startlingly effective.  :(  5-10 minutes with a bastard file, just going around the edges and over the top, will save your legs.

Routes / Re: Southern Tier in March of 2013
« on: November 11, 2012, 11:53:57 am »
Fenders are a personal thing, I guess.  They add what, half a pound?, to my 250+ pound total load.  I've had them on my touring bikes for a decade, and lost my first bolt this summer.  If only everything else on the bike were as trouble-free.

Racks and bags don't do a thing for the front wheel, and keeping that shoe-drenching splash away in a downpour is be well worth it to me.  And if you tour with someone else, whomever is in the rear will appreciate a rear fender.

General Discussion / Re: Tire Pressure
« on: November 11, 2012, 11:48:11 am »
If you fill the tires equally within their recommended range and then load the back more heavily, the rear contact patch will be larger than the front which will affect handling and could contribute to a dangerous front wheel slideout on a wet corner. Granted the difference wouldn't be huge but when you are pushing your luck on a wet downhill corner, every little bit helps.

No doubt I'm an old fuddy-duddy who's a chicken, but I really, really try not to do such things when touring.  I'll admit some of that's based on experience, when I was stupid going downhill from Haysi, VA, around a corner in the rain.  When I got the bike under control, I was fully aware of the traffic density, housing density, and distance to a medical facility.  Since then, I've tried to take the downhills easy enough that I felt like I could slow or stop well before I was in the danger zone.  At least while touring.

General Discussion / Re: Crazyguyonabike site down?
« on: November 09, 2012, 11:50:37 am »
The owner posted a notice on bikeforums a couple days ago that it's off the net for a while.

Gear Talk / Re: Chain Maintenance on Tour
« on: October 31, 2012, 09:26:02 am »
Boeshield lasts a good long time -- especially if it doesn't get wet. Don't over-lube. When you lube, spin off the excess. Also, lube the night before so it can dry.

And make sure you wipe the chain off the next morning.  I didn't follow that part of the instructions, and I had a monumental build-up of nasty, gritty, greasy wax when I got home.

FWIW, I've gone back to oil for my normal use.  Lasts longer, can be ridden right after lubing the chain, though it has to be wiped off, but that's no big deal when I have a good supply of rags.

Routes / Re: Pueblo to Yorktown only- best months?
« on: October 30, 2012, 08:57:30 am »
If you deal with cold weather better than hot, you might want to go with that April-May time frame.  Although I was generally chilly up on the Blue Ridge Parkway this June, that was unseasonably cold temperatures.  It alway seems like blazing hot is more likely in June than freezing cold in May.  (Although the southern Appalachians have frozen in May in the last 10 years...)

If you make it to Damascus, VA by the middle of May, you've got a great chance at seeing one of the most spectacular rhododendron displays.  The Virginia Creeper trail through town is like riding through a tunnel of beautiful pink blossoms.  And at the end of the block you can turn left and get a good meal, too!

Gear Talk / Re: Outfitting a Trek 7.5 FX for a full summer tour
« on: October 25, 2012, 09:44:48 am »
Long story short: The OP has an unsuitable bike.

I'd agree that there are better bikes for this purpose available, but "unsuitable" is a bit strong.  This probably isn't any worse than the hundreds of original Bikecentennial bikes with galvanized wire spokes and thread-on freewheels.

Back to the original question: first you need a way to carry a load -- if you're going to ride this Trek, you'll want a trailer.  For racks and panniers to work, you'd need stronger wheels (with more spokes) and a stronger frame.

Second thing to get is a tire pump, spare tubes, repair kit, and probably tire irons.  Frame, miniature, floor, doesn't matter; you're going to have flats.  My daughter and I made it across the country without breaking a spoke, but we had enough flats to make up for it.

You'll want to decide fairly soon if you can afford (and want) to do this trip inn-to-inn (really motel-to-motel), or camp.  The second option involves camping gear (tent, sleeping bag and pad) and cooking gear.

You can push the bike (+ trailer) up hills if you're geared too high, but you'll get to ride more if you get lower gears.  That's going to require either a really compact double (mountain gearing, about 24-36), or a triple.  If you go with a triple, and your bike shop has to change shifters and derailers, you're half way to the to the cost of a "true" touring bike.

Look at the Howto section off the magazine page on this site, or check out some of the ride blogs available.  Mine is backward, as I wrote up an "Unpacking" page to document what made it across the country, instead of list everything I packed.  And that was still too much...

Routes / Re: Best route from SC to Cali?
« on: October 24, 2012, 11:05:21 am »
Check out the Howto section off the main Adventure Cycling magazine page for some introductory information on what to take, training, etc.  Then come back here with specific questions.

Your route question is an interesting one.  I'd suggest you head north to Virginia to start on the TransAmerica trail, possibly connecting with the Western Express.  AC has done a good job of laying out a route, and locating places to stay, services, and points of interest.  Maps are well worth the price.  It's a good way to take your first tour; later, if you wish, you can strike out on your own route.

Alternately, I'd suggest you cut northwest to pick up the TransAm somewhere in Virginia or Kentucky.  You'll cross some of the highest mountains east of the Mississippi on this route, where roads over the ridges tend to be sparse, and therefore relatively highly trafficed.  (Another good reason to take the TransAm, at the risk of seeming repetitive!)

Gear Talk / Re: Backroads maps of the US.
« on: October 23, 2012, 10:25:24 pm »
As often seems to be the case, it depends.  For the Oregon to Ontario route, you may want to start on county roads until you cross the Cascades.  From there to the midwest, you can probably just go for the smallest road that gets you where you want to go.  For example, when you have a choice of interstate, U.S. route, or state route, take the state route; if there's no state route, go for a U.S. highway; and when you get to parts of Wyoming where the interstate has taken over the old highway, you may have to ride the shoulder for a while (or divert 50-100 miles north or south to the next road).

Adventure Cycling routes take you on just about every available type of road, but there's rarely a problem with traffic, and a bike tourist gets acclimated to traffic as (s)he rides.  Where it does get tougher is around larger towns and cities, but there's more likely to be an alternative when the population increases.  On the flip side, U.S. 287 from Rawlins, WY to the Tetons is a nice road, lightly trafficed, with good sightlines, pavement, and grades.

Gear Talk / Re: Backroads maps of the US.
« on: October 23, 2012, 09:17:09 am »
It sounds like OP is looking for something like the old USGS quad maps.  As Fred noted, these cover a fairly small area (about 4x7 miles, IIRC).  I assume they're all still available, although most hiking stores only carry a small selection.

USGS used to have (and may still offer) 1:250000 or 1:200000 area maps.  These don't have all the detail of the 1:24000 quads, but they were often useful for locating areas of interest where we'd zoom in and get the smaller scale maps.  Even so, a smaller state like Tennessee took about nine maps to get full coverage.

It might be worth getting something like the DeLorme North America Topo program to look at the states you're interested in.  IIRC, they still have references to the smaller 1:24000 quads, so you could browse over the winter and identify which small scale maps to buy in the spring.

I don't know, but does anybody offer topo maps for a tablet computer?  That would be just about perfect -- small enough to carry, and a large enough display to read the maps.

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