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Messages - Pat Lamb

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571
Gear Talk / Re: Rain
« on: May 22, 2011, 09:48:41 am »
For the whole bike, it's possible to get a bike cover.  I use one when it rains at work when commuting, but it's too heavy and bulky to tour with, plus I'm not sure where to stash 40 square feet of wet bike cover.

For the Brooks saddle, I recommend the Aardvark saddle cover
(<http://www.lickbike.com/productpage.php?PART_NUM_SUB='1005-00'>).  Go ahead and get two or three, they sometimes disappear.  Plastic bags will work if they don't leak, ditto shower caps.  The advantages of the Aardvark are that they really are waterproof when new, and you can ride with them in the rain (or extremely humid heat), and they'll keep the saddle dry from rain or sweat dripping off you.  Mine got me through a 3 month tour before it developed a leak.

572
Gear Talk / Re: Help/Advice for New Bike
« on: May 21, 2011, 02:27:33 pm »
I agree with everything John wrote, especially the "Don't over-think" part.  I really like to try a bike before I buy, although I also have a custom bike that's very nice.  Because I tried them both, I brought home a Novara Randonee when I'd driven 4 hours to buy a Cannondale Touring bike several years ago.

The only thing I could add is to look for a low gear if you're going to ride in mountains (or even hills).  I'd love to try a low of 20", but I refuse to settle for a low over 25".  This year's Randonee, for instance, is over-geared, as Trek's 520 was for a while (Trek has fixed this).  Check the specs against www.sheldonbrown.com/gears to see what the stock gearing is for complete bikes, or your choice of build spec.

573
Gear Talk / Re: Help/Advice for New Bike
« on: May 20, 2011, 07:54:20 pm »
This may not help you, but it may help us.  ;)  Can you describe what you want the bike for, what you like about your current bike, what you want to change?

Otherwise you're likely to get "Buy a Bike Like Mine" 25 times over.

574
"Milke Markers" on trails or roads are unlikely to be very accurate, just a guide.  The roll out method is by far the most accurate as the nominal tire size given by manufacturers is often not exact either.  I have a set of 700-32 marked tires that measure an actual 26 mm installed on standard road rims and their roll out confirms the actuual measurement.  A GPS can give very accurate distance measurements and can be used to calibrate a cyclometer if you have access to one.

Depends on the location.  Many main roads have surveyed mile markers (sometimes even measured with chains!).  I figure it doesn't much matter how much ground I cover wandering back and forth, but it does matter how many miles of road I travel.  When you're on a U.S. highway, for instance, and rolling down the hill, it's basically a super-sensitive roll-out test; it covers more ground, so errors are diluted, and you measure distance traveled with your weight on the bike, which also tends to change the measurement process.  I could never put much confidence in measuring to the millimeter the distance between the stem being vertical.

575
I'll usually go up to the top of a ridge near here and coast down after I've changed tires, just to check on the accuracy.  There's a couple of miles of measured mileposts, conveniently placed so I can check while going about as straight as I can.  It's easy enough to go in and adjust the wheel diameter in the cycling computer after you know how far off it is; mine are usually within 1%.  Start low, end up high, as the tire wears down.

In another sense, it doesn't really matter, because you'll be checking against somebody else's measurements, and you don't know how accurate those are.  Some of the AC maps seem to be off half a mile between measurements, and after adding up a day's worth of random errors in either direction, you learn to calculate in your head from one turn to the next, then keep your head up and your eyes open.  Similar stuff happens with others' routes in other places; that's why some people will circle the parking lot at the end of a century (to make sure their computer is over 100 miles), and others will complain about how far over 100 miles they ended up riding.

(But it drives me nuts when somebody says the ride I was on tonight is 27 or 28 miles.  It's 25.5, to within 1%, because that's what MY measurement says!!)

576
General Discussion / Re: Spring Snow in the West
« on: May 17, 2011, 10:35:35 pm »
Is this description accurate?  Two guys in a cafe in Colorado; one notes he was a long haul trucker, and says he often saw snow, even blizzards, in Wyoming, but it was always gone by the second day.  The other guy says, "That's because it all blew down here to Colorado!"

(True report of the conversation, FWIW.)

577
General Discussion / Re: Cross Country Trip: Money, What To Do?
« on: May 17, 2011, 10:19:06 am »
Also, i plan on having my parents mail things to me along the way, including valuables like money or whatever else. How exactly would I go about it. Would I simply have to know where I will be in, say, a week, tell them the city and have them mail it to the post office? How does that work to have them mail things to me along the way?

I would not have things mailed to you.  Trying to figure out where to have things mailed and then hooking up with them is a major hassle.  You will either get to the town too early and have to wait, or you will get there too late and the mail has been returned to a regional office, or the post office is closed, or you are at the wrong post office.  I had to have some special order tires mailed to me, and I will never do that again. You do not want to have any appointments when living on the road; you want to be able to live life foot loose and fancy free, and go where the wind blows you.   Mechanicals, side trips, detours, and hooking up with other riders are all possibilities that you don't want to have to forego because you have to be at a certain town at a certain time.

There's an art to getting things mailed to you, but I doubt it justifies a blanket ban.

Here's how you work the art: you figure out how fast you're moving, and guess how long it will take the post office to deliver mail.  (Most places in the U.S., that's 3-7 days for first class.)  Pick a small town on your route that's the appropriate number of days ahead of you, and call your trusted mailing agent (parent, spouse, child, friend), and ask them to mail your package.  Preferably the next day, because you'll be a moving target!  Make sure the guesstimmated delivery date is Monday through Friday, and you think you'll arrive during working hours -- call it 9 to 2, just in case.  You want a town that has only one post office, and one that's big enough there's likely to be someone there all through the day.

Your mailing agent will address it:
Your Name
General Delivery
Smalltown, State zip
and mark it, "Please hold for TransAm bicyclist, est. arrival June 22."

If you're on one of the AC routes, their maps include zip codes for every post office.  You can also look up in a post office directory, or on google maps.

If you miss it (you arrive early, or the P.O. is closed), give the postmaster written directions.  In one case, I tore off the bottom of an errata sheet, addressed to Postmaster, and on the inside of the fold wrote, "Please forward my mail to Nexttown, MT" and signed my name.  It made it with no problems.  Again, you'll need to guesstimate delivery times and mileage -- keep your maps handy!

I only completely missed one package.  A couple were right on time, missed one that caught up a couple days later, and one was forwarded twice before I got it.  Small town postmasters were almost always helpful and accomodating (except in Lolo, MT!).

578
General Discussion / Re: Planning Route - NO Shoulders...common?
« on: May 16, 2011, 03:07:42 pm »
No shoulders is pretty common for low-traffic routes, particularly in the mountains. 

Unfortunately, google maps won't show you the traffic density for a road.  It's not a big deal when you're dealing with 5 cars passing you each hour, except Mr. Murphy will insist three cars will pass you at the same time as the other two are coming towards you.

Check out "vehicular cycling" for some tips on how to handle this situation.  Basically, remember you aren't impeding traffic, you ARE traffic in South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and Kentucky.  (And the rest of the states.)  Take the lane when there's not room for you and a car passing you in the same lane, or when they can't pass you safely because of a blind curve or hill, and help them pass you when it's safe.

Particularly for your intended route, I'd advise you to deal with it.  If you insist on roads with shoulders, you're going to be dealing with high speed, high volume traffic, which is no more safe than winding, low traffic roads, and is probably more dangerous.

579
GPS Discussion / Re: Delorme PN-60
« on: May 16, 2011, 09:11:17 am »
Topo's routing is sort of like google maps.  The work-around is the same; put a via, stop, or waypoint in the middle of a stretch of the road with no crossings.  You'll end up with 25-75% more points on a given route to force it onto backroads.

580
General Discussion / Re: Surly LHT: Adjustments needed to fit me...
« on: May 14, 2011, 03:40:14 pm »
I'd suggest you take the bike back to the shop where you purchased it, explain to them what you've just posted, and see if they'll work with you.  You may need a higher or shorter stem, or they may be able to slide the seat forward a half inch or so.  Most shops that I've seen want to make you happy with your bike.

If they want to charge for a fit, it might be a good idea, depending on the expertise of the fitter and the price. 

Alternately, do a web search.  There's a number of good resources out there -- Peter White's fit page, Sheldon Brown's, Colorado Cyclist, etc.  Approach this with caution; you can spend an awful lot of money buying parts that never do fit quite right, that a good fitter will pick the one or two right parts the first time.

581
Gear Talk / Re: Brooks Saddle - Some helpful tips before I purchase
« on: May 10, 2011, 12:03:20 pm »
My DiffEq prof used to tell us, "A differential equation is nothing more than a hunting license for a solution."  I think the same may apply to bicycles and saddles.

You can try a B-17, and if it works out, your problem is solved.  (Mine was, so I'm one of those who recommends trying a B-17!)  Not everybody's butt matches a Brooks, which is one of the reasons Wallbike is often recommended -- they sell you the saddle with a money-back guarantee.  There may also be some adjustment needed, particularly in the tilt of the Brooks.  It takes a while to be sure a Brooks doesn't fit you, if that turns out to be the case.  If it does, it'll be apparent shortly -- within 200 to 500 miles.

I bought a Champion Flyer for myself, but my daughter claimed it and loves it.  At your (light) weight, I'd suggest that over a B-66 unless you're riding a sit up and beg posture; it'll be too wide otherwise.

582
General Discussion / Re: BEST Route across USA
« on: May 10, 2011, 11:42:44 am »
Adventure Cycling's Trans-America route is a good start; you'll see plenty of the mountains, scenery, and small towns.

I'll let the Rocky residents chime in about your schedule.  You'd probably want to start in the west and come east.  You might be able to clear the Rockies by the end of September, if the weather cooperates.  I wouldn't expect a snow delay east of Pueblo, and if a freak snow storm comes through early, it shouldn't last more than a day or two through the end of November.

Peak color season in the east is usually October; by November, most of the leaves are gone.  Many of the campgrounds in the east close by the end of October, if they haven't closed in September.  I understand many of the Kansas towns on the TransAm close their city parks to cyclist campers after school starts, so you may have to look harder for camping spots after August.

If you can swing it, I'd suggest moving your schedule up by a month.  Start on the west coast in August, ride through October. 

583
Gear Talk / Re: Dream Bike Starting with a Long Haul Trucker Frame
« on: May 05, 2011, 04:30:52 pm »
I read the OP's request a how to build a deluxe bike (quality, not model), starting with a standard LHT frame.  Unless you need to travel frequently, I'd pass on the couplers.  Under that circumstance, the recommendation to start with a standard build makes a lot of sense.  Change the saddle and pedals if you like, then swap out as the limitations of equipment become obvious (or stuff wears out). 

<philosophy> There's a real risk of becoming an armchair tourist, not willing to get out and ride because you're afraid something's not perfect.  Unfortunately, everything is imperfect, and no two people can agree on what "best" is at a given point in time.  It's better to go with "good enough" than not to go at all. </philosophy>

584
General Discussion / Re: Gotta eat, but don't want to cook/boil
« on: May 04, 2011, 06:22:20 pm »
Cooking equipment is sort of like camping equipment, IMHO.  You can make it without carrying either, but there are going to be some nights when you're really, really glad to have it.

We normally broke out fast with oatmeal, cocoa, and Poptarts.  I quickly learned that was only good for 15 miles or so.  The problem I see with your plan is that there's stretches, particularly in the west, where there really isn't a place to get supplies (be it one of those ghastly bacon, egg, and cheese biscuits, or a real breakfast) for many miles.

OTOH, we passed a couple who had planned out their entire NT trip and made reservations for each night, so I suppose it is possible.  They figured they could average 15-30 miles extra per day since they weren't carrying camping equipment.  So you could perhaps plan your trip such that you were always at or near a place for breakfast and supper, and carry lunch as needed.

585
Routes / Re: Tornadoes and the UGRR?
« on: May 02, 2011, 09:40:41 am »
Buildings and trees were splintered and blown about, closing some highways. Most are now cleared. I ran into one still closed in northern Georgia today. You could check the states' DOT web sites for closures that might affect your route.

Tuscaloosa will be rebuilding for months, but most places saw damage in narrow swaths of 1/10 or 2/10 mile width. Unless a place you wanted to stay got hit, I think you will see no adverse effects on your trip.

What Fred said.  You'll mostly be crossing tornado tracks; don't tarry, unless you want to volunteer for a day to help with the cleanup, and you won't be a load on the system.

We just got power back last night (98.5 hours without electricity, but who's counting?  :)  Nearest bad damage is about 7 miles north of home -- trees down, sometimes in yards or garages, in some cases across houses.  West part of the county got hammered, but again, it's 1/2 to 1 mile wide, 60 miles long, total devastation; go a quarter mile off track, and there may  be a few limbs down, a couple shingles missing, but everything else is normal.

Two things to watch out for right now: crap on roads (wood chips, bark, some glass, etc.), and branches cut off close to the edge of the road.  You can tell the road crews were in a hurry -- sometimes the branches are cut off outside the pavement, sometimes 3-6" over the pavement.

Also, don't expect available or cheap motel rooms near the damaged areas.  With hundreds of displaced families, they need the rooms more than you do.

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