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Messages - Pat Lamb

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General Discussion / Re: self-guided support on lewis and clark
« on: December 21, 2012, 01:54:13 pm »
Sounds like you want a "supported" tour.  AC has Cycle Montana, which might be what you're looking for.  Also check out the classified ads in Adventure Cycling magazine or the Cyclist's Yellow Pages for supported tours around the places you might like to ride.

Just a word of warning, most of the scenic parts of the west involve mountains.  There may be a lot of climbing, or you might find a tour operator who'll shuttle you to the top of a pass and let you coast down.

Gear Talk / Re: Cheap Breathable Rain Gear and Shelter
« on: December 19, 2012, 09:36:52 am »
Horses for courses.

Do let us know how the Tyvek suit works out.

As Old Guy says, wi-fi is getting to be ubiquitous.  If your supported tour stays in motels, it's usually safe to bet there'll be wi-fi.  If not, well, you'll pass through a town every day, so you can find wi-fi at libraries, many restaurants, coffee shops, etc.

If you want to surf from a tent or picnic table, you'll need to get a wireless plan and pay the cell company (through the nose!).  Most of the time you'll be able to get a cell signal east of the Rockies, except in a few rural parts of the Appalachians and Ozarks.  It's usually cheaper to get a wi-fi device to plug into your laptop (do tablets support these?  I don't know.)  Verizon, at least, will let you use a smartphone as a wi-fi base, but you'll pay a hefty premium for that "privilege."  Verizon seems to have the best rural coverage, followed by AT&T, with T-Mobile (one kid called his "T-Maybe") bringing up the rear.

Some people call me cheap, but I'd stick with your voice and text cell phone for calls, and take  large netbook for web access.  You might want to save a pound and take a tablet, but a large netbook's keyboard fits my hands best.

Gear Talk / Re: Cheap Breathable Rain Gear and Shelter
« on: December 17, 2012, 09:30:06 am »
I love it. I googled Tyvek rain jacket and tent and came up with this and lots more:

The graph halfway down the page shows why I don't think too highly of any of the breathable fabric jackets.  Put into the words of this skeptic, it says, "If you start with 30% relative humidity (which we call 'a sustained drought' in the southeast), these jackets keep you dry inside for no more than 15-20 minutes of effort before sweat overwhelms the fabric."   That's a fairly short hill, at a low pace, on a bike, to correspond with the walking in the test.

Since I've already got a couple of pretty good cycling jackets, this is academic for me.  I do wonder, though, how the Tyvek outfit will work on the road.  How will it hold up?  How will it perform at the end of the third cold and rainy day?  Will it trap odors like the first generation of polypropylene clothes and reek?  Perhaps most importantly, how will it affect social interactions?  Will the locals see the wearer as  hobo on a bike, or be just as another crazy cyclist in a wilder than usual get-up?

Routes / Re: Need help with getting ready for bike tour - Routes
« on: December 16, 2012, 04:58:36 pm »
I plan to do this tour in 5 to 6 months, camping all the way. and yes i do have to leave from NY because that is where my bike is and I have no car to move all of the equipment. I have to start in January so I can be able to go to summer school after this tour my average daily mileage that I want to attain is about 40 to 60 miles

You might want to consider finding a train or bus to take you south.  If you can get down to, say, the southern end of North Carolina, the incidence of snow decreases quite a lot.

Routes / Re: USA Corner to Corner
« on: December 16, 2012, 01:05:33 pm »
Some people don't mind riding on the interstate, but I prefer to avoid it like the plague. I don't like either of your two routes through Washington. I'd jump from the TA at Missoula, go up to Glacier NP and then stay on the Northern Tier to the coast.

I've never ridden either of I-90 or US 2, but WA 20 (aka NT across Washington) was a good road, lightly trafficed, and quite scenic.  There's a couple of tough days in there, but it's worthwhile.

Routes / Re: Need help with getting ready for bike tour - Routes
« on: December 16, 2012, 01:02:41 pm »
Most people try to avoid snow and ice while touring by bike; you have more pavement (and more room for other traffic to maneuver around you), less worries about sliding and falling, and it's easier to avoid dying from hypothermia in a snowstorm if you plan your trip so that most of your riding is in warmer weather.  Given those reasons, you might want to consider starting on the Southern Tier in January, and keeping the Northern Tier for closer to summer.

Routes / Re: Need help with getting ready for bike tour
« on: December 13, 2012, 03:51:06 pm »
Almost every long-distance bike tour trip report includes a packing list.  Look at the "registered rides" off the AC home page,, or find some completed journals on for examples.

You can look at warmshowers or couchsurfing for some registries of potential hosts.  There are a few listed on the various Adventure Cycling maps, if you're going to follow them.  Please be polite -- there's a storm brewing over rude guests, see the AC blog for some details and pointers.

After Labor Day, the national parks start rolling up the sidewalks so the bears and elk can come through.  Yellowstone, for instance, starts closing campgrounds a week after Labor Day, and (IIRC) some of the lodges close down by the end of September.  OTOH, everybody in the northwest seems to take off every weekend in July and August, so lodging then can be a challenge.

All of which is to day, I don't know what the southern passes will be like in October.

I've done part of your route in reverse -- Tetons/Yellowstone to Glacier to Anacortes.  It should be doable.  Beware of the (in)famous "5 passes in 4 days" near the beginning of the NT (FWIW, Rainy and Washington Passes are so close they shouldn't count as two).  Those "two" can make for a long day if you're motelling, although there's campgrounds between Concrete and Mazama. 

The worst grade you'll hit on this section of your route is about 8% for 0.8 miles, but there's lots of 6% to make up for the shortness of that climb.  :)  Make sure you have low gears for your knee's sake; I'd shoot for 20 gear inches or lower.  Road-group gearing at 34-28 or even 30-34 lows won't cut it.

You'll probably be limited on start time by the opening of the Washington state route 20 (Northern Cascades) passes.  Google for Washington DOT pass closure to get more information.  IIRC, their average opening date is mid-May, but sometimes it's closed into June.  They closed that road a week before it was planned to close this year, but you'll have to wait until next March to see the late season snowfall before you make any guesses on opening date.

Gear Talk / Re: sleeping bags
« on: December 09, 2012, 10:23:31 pm »
Has nobody started a good chain lubrication thread lately?  Synthetic or down isn't really a religious, it's really a matter of choice -- well, maybe it is like choosing a religion.

Having shivered my through a night because of a wet bag, I like synthetic.  I'm apparently one of very few people who have trouble keeping a sleeping bag dry.  If rain's not splashing in from a downpour, there was heavy condensation on the inside of the tent last night.  I don't doubt the theoretical possibility that one can, with careful attention, keep a bag dry during a tour.   But my history is such that I'd rather not bet on it, and so I like synthetic bags.  If most of my camping were in dry deserts, maybe I'd reconsider. 

There's lots of good brands, both for down and for synthetic bags, so any halfway decent outdoor shop will have plenty to choose from.  Just stay away from big box crap, and you'll be fine.

Routes / Re: Eastbound from Washington/Oregon
« on: December 06, 2012, 06:23:07 pm »
I'm like most of the people posting here in that I've only done one route, but I expect you'll hear from the handfull who've done more in the northwest soon.

Northern Tier to Glacier: the towns are spaced such that you'll be able to motel it most nights.  Rainy Pass and Washington Pass in the Cascades are the exception -- it's a very long day from motel to motel.  You may be able to find a B&B near Concrete, and there's an expensive lodge near Mazama.  The rest of the route you should be able to find motels within 60 miles or so.

The difficult part of the TransAm east of Missoula is the stretch east of West Yellowstone, going through the park.  There's lodges and motels in Yellowstone NP, but the tour operators normally snap those up the second or third week in January.  For that reason, many people recommend planning your trip, with appropriate rest days, early enough to get into a room.  West Thumb is centrally located between West Yellowstone and Jackson Lake in the Tetons, but Old Faithful has more to see and do.  There's a couple of options within 10-15 miles of the east side of Moran Junction in the Tetons, though they're pricy.  If you want to plan on the fly, start a week or two before you'll hit the park, and keep calling (whenever you have cell service!), and you may get lucky and one will open up the night or so you need it.

In general, you should be able to reserve rooms a day or so ahead of time.  Exceptions include special events (like a softball or soccer tournament, or a parade), and weekends often book earlier.  If you take the TransAm, booking will be much easier east of Pueblo, although I'm told the Kansas motels fill up during wheat harvest, usually a couple weeks around the first of July.

General Discussion / Re: guiding services
« on: November 20, 2012, 09:18:52 am »
Does anyone ever wish when they travel they could rent a high end road bike and get a guide to show them the local routes that are the best and safest in that area?

Check out the bike touring companies that advertise in Adventure Cycling, or look in the Cyclists' Yellow Pages off the AC home page.  Several of these companies either include a bike, or will rent you one, in the price of their tours.  You can travel either in the U.S. or abroad.

I think the sales pitch for this is that you don't have to ship your bike, or pay the exorbitant airline fees, or worry about preciousss getting damaged on the way.  Of course, many of these are pricier than my bikes, so that just adds to the fun!

The glacier route sounds brilliant, though I am not exactly a svelt or accomplished cyclist.  4 passes in 4 days might leave me crying into my cup of tea but this is supposed to be an adventure so appeals greatly.  I will leave that thought whirling around my noggin whilst I investigate all of the many other alternatives suggested.

The good news, part one, is that the grade rarely exceeds 6%.  I think the absolute worst grade was 8% going east from Tonasket for 3/4 mile.

The best news is that half of the mountains is downhill.  Whee!

That's a fairly easy question.  Get the northernmost Pacific Coast Trail map, which takes you from Vancouver down to Astoria, which by coincidence is the western terminus of the TransAm.  It's only another 400 miles!  :)

Alternatively, you could take this route or a ferry down to Anacortes, WA and take the Northern Tier east to Montana, where it's just a hop, skip and jump down to Missoula, where you can pick up the TransAm.  Great scenery, lots of climbing, and four passes in four days in Washington.  The nice folks at AC even have a map (Great Parks) to help you get from Glacier (which is well worth seeing) down south to Missoula.

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