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Messages - Pat Lamb

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Routes / Re: Transam East to West 2012 Advice Sought
« on: December 02, 2011, 03:11:19 pm »
Just guessing at the OP's capabilities here; if you can do an AC map a week, starting the first of April would put you into Kansas at the beginning of May, and the Colorado highlands about the third week in May.  Probably doable, weather wise; check back the middle of March to see what the snow pack is like.

Bad weather is always a possibility (including July).  I think the worst / most likely would be late snow or an ice storm in the Appalachians.  The good news is that probably won't cost you more than a day or two until it melts.  You can probably send extra, warmer clothing back home when you hit Kansas.  Yeah, international postage rates suck, but you don't have to carry all that weight all the time.  (It might be ideal to have reliable friends in the States who can collect and consolidate multiple packages for trans-shipping overseas.)

One final question, would Norfolk be a better airport to fly into than Richmond?  Neither has international flights (that I know of), and all the airports I know of with flights into Richmond also have flights into Norfolk.

General Discussion / Re: Cross Country with a 13 year old boy
« on: December 01, 2011, 03:15:44 pm »
Trans-Am / Western Express is shorter than the straight TransAm, if you're worried about distance.  (Though I think the Tetons are worth the diversion, not to mention some spectacular parts of Montana.)

Which raises a question in my mind; when's the best time to ride TA/WE?  In spring you've got melting water more places, and passes where the water hasn't melted; it gets hot in summer, and fall is the end of a long, hot, dry spell.  So do riders taking that route start a bit earlier in the east, or later and risk hot dry Nevada and Utah in the west?

General Discussion / Re: Banff to San Francisco
« on: November 30, 2011, 09:56:30 am »
I've been talking to a lot of people who have done long bike trips like this and I've decided to flip my trip and start in San Francisco and make my way home from there.

I re-looked at this a week or so ago, and I don't think your original idea (Banff to SF) was nearly as crazy as some have inferred.

First, the route looks pretty reasonable.  You've got two passes I'd be concerned about, coming out of Banff and Lolo Pass west of Missoula.  The rest of L&C to the coast is lower, and the coast itself will be temperate barring late winter storms.  Looks like the high point of the route is around 5,000 feet, so you can safely ignore those warning about 10,000 foot pass closures.

Second, using Missoula as the proxy for inland weather, looks like the average temperature is 30-45 degrees in March.  It's quite possible to cycle in that kind of weather, although some people's preferences may be to wait until it's warmer.

Third, the route and roads.  The roads from Eureka to Missoula have approximately zero rideable shoulders.  Even if it snows, once the road is plowed, motorized traffic will have just as much room to pass you in March as they would in July.  Other traffic on most of these roads is pretty light, thanks to the AC route selectors, so you shouldn't have much problem.  I don't know about Canada south of Banff, Lolo Pass, or the L&C route west, but I suspect they're similar.

All that said, here are some recommendations if you (or future readers) want to try this.

 - Be prepared for cold rain, cooler temperatures, and perhaps snow.  Your load will be slightly heavier than a summer tourist's.
 - Check the weather forecast regularly.
 - Keep a financial reserve for a few nights in a motel in case a major snowstorm hits.
 - Local knowledge trumps any 'net posters from afar.  If someone from Seeley Lake or Lolo tells you (s)he rides roads five months a year starting April 20, pay attention.  Be wary of advisors who never ride on the road "because it's too dangerous," or ride in different locations.  Logan Pass closed until July is as relevant as Alabama roads never close if your route doesn't include Logan Pass or Alabama.

Gear Talk / Re: Brooks Mud Flaps
« on: November 28, 2011, 03:06:56 pm »
Also, ditch the included nuts. Go to the hardware store and buy nyloc nuts. Install them with threadlocker.

If you (or a friend) have a rivet gun, stainless rivets work well for this application.  If you don't have one, this is a great excuse to get one!

Gear Talk / Re: SRAM Apex?
« on: November 28, 2011, 10:21:48 am »
In road cycling GA, TN, IL, MO, NY, VT, and FL, I've not found the need for MTB gearing, at my loaded weight and fitness level.

I think your loaded weight and fitness level are two keys to gear requirements, the third being maximum grades.  A 25" low gear would limit me to about 8% at my unloaded weight and fitness level.  To avoid knee problems, carry a load, and climb steeper grades, I need a low of 20" or lower.  Can you get that with a compact double?

Gear Talk / Re: Brooks Mud Flaps
« on: November 28, 2011, 10:13:44 am »
I drilled holes to mount a flap on my SKS fender a dozen years ago.  No problems with the drilling, and the fenders have held up fine.  Mine's cheap and light (piece of a shampoo bottle), so I don't know how the extra weight of leather would affect longevity.

Gear Talk / Re: Wheel build spoking question
« on: November 21, 2011, 10:03:53 am »
This is a second- or third-order concern.  It's far, far, far more important that the spokes be tensioned and stress-relieved correctly.  That's what will drive wheel longevity.  Next, I'd worry about getting tire labels lined up with the valve.  That'll help you find the leak when fixing a flat.

If the orientation of trailing spokes is keeping you awake at night after those important things, remember Sheldon also wrote, "Note: This is not an important issue! There is a sizable minority of good wheelbuilders who prefer to go the other way around, and good wheels can be built either way."

If, after all that, you're still uptight, put a spoke protector on the wheel.  That'll shield the spokes.  And try to keep the derailer limit screws adjusted correctly.  Then relax and go for a bike ride!

Connecting ACA Routes / Re: Connecting Transam and L&C
« on: November 21, 2011, 09:54:13 am »
Just a couple of notes on jama's proposed route.  First, it picks up the Yellowstone Canyon (and Tower Falls) nicely, but it misses most of the geothermal activity (like Old Faithful).  Second, it completely misses the Tetons, which I still think is the better part of the Yellowstone-Grand Teton duo.

If you take that route, I'd recommend spending a couple days doing the bus tour.  It takes about a day to circle Yellowstone, and it's worth that much time (at least!).  There was another bus tour starting in the Grand Tetons and doing the Yellowstone loop, but I don't know if there's one going down towards Jackson from Yellowstone.

What about riding south towards Jackson or Jenny Lake, then turning east over Togwotee Pass (great view over your shoulder!), following the Wind River east then north toward the Bighorn, and picking up the rest of j's route from there?

Gear Talk / Re: Fargo 2 vs Fargo 3
« on: November 18, 2011, 01:50:10 pm »
The SRAM Apex shifters are plenty good and the wide range/close ratios of the 11-36 cassette are pleasant. But the FSA Comet crankset makes for a low that is not low enough (for fully loaded touring) and a high that is definitely not high enough. I can spin 180+ and I regularly run out of high end.

Stock on the Fargo 2 is a 27-39 front, 12-36 rear, right?  Running that through Sheldon Brown's gear calculator, I come up with 50.4 mph at a cadence of 180.  If you regularly run out of high end, you are indeed a very strong cyclist.  Are you sure you don't spin 90?  Then you'd only spin out at 25 mph, which is on the edge of where I'd coast, particularly with a load.

Low end, 22 inches is kind of borderline.  I guess it depends how strong a cyclist is, the terrain they ride in, the load, etc.  Personally, I'd rather go a bit lower.

Gear Talk / Re: New Touring Bike (RTW)
« on: November 11, 2011, 11:27:19 am »
I don't remember the Varsity as being expensive, but then, I put down another $50 and got the LeTour.  It seemed expensive compared to the single-speed bike from the hardware store that it replaced, but then, it had GEARS! and those funky caliper brakes instead of coaster brakes.  I think the Varsity was pretty inexpensive for what it delivered; IIRC it was the cheapest derailer bike in the bike shop.

Gear Talk / Re: Preferred method of terminating handlebar tape ?
« on: November 11, 2011, 11:24:28 am »
Electrical tape: +1 more

But don't get the cheap stuff Wally-world or Home Depot has on sale.  Spend real money ($2-3?) and buy 3M tape.  It'll outlast the bar tape.  It even comes in colors!

Gear Talk / Re: Brifters vs. bar-end from a convenience standpoint
« on: November 06, 2011, 11:08:55 am »
You do have to be sure you have the proper pulley, the cable routing is correct and the pulley orientation is correct to make a Shiftmate work.  It's not difficult or tricky but has to be done correctly.   The directions with the Shiftmate are very clear but you have to follow them.

Ordered correctly, done, and done.  I haven't disassembled the thing to make sure the pulley's correct, but that's the only thing I can think of at this point.  As I said, I'm eagerly awaiting the death of the Campy g-spring so I can be bothered to switch the brifters back.

Gear Talk / Re: Brifters vs. bar-end from a convenience standpoint
« on: November 05, 2011, 11:23:40 pm »
Finally, I assume everyone is going to say, true but they can only be used with Campy (read expensive) components and their gearing range is limited.  Well, Jtek's Shiftmate will make Ergos compatible with otherwise all Shimano components and they shift like a dream.   

I must be doing it wrong.  I put on a Shiftmate early last year while my 9-speed Campy brifters were being rebuilt, to use some newer 10-speed Campy brifters with Shimano derailer and cassette.  After three tries at installing and adjusting, it still doesn't shift reliably in the middle of the cassette range.  9-speed Campy brifters, Campy derailer and Shimano cassette worked fine for me.  Now if the darn 10-speed would wear out so it needs to be rebuilt, maybe I'd wake up from this bad dream!

Gear Talk / Re: Brifters vs. bar-end from a convenience standpoint
« on: November 04, 2011, 05:41:46 pm »
Good news: they both work, and quite well.

Bad news: they both have a few quirks.

Handlebar bag doesn't interfer with my Shimano brifters, but the cables make getting them on and off slightly more challenging.

Barcons (or bar-ends, if you prefer) do require you to take a hand off that brake.  Not usually a big deal, as my hand naturally hits the barcons as my arm pivots down.

I haven't toured with the barcons, but I do wonder: my bike, loaded with panniers, naturally seeks its own level and direction when I park it with the kickstand down.  On the brifter-equiped bike, that sometimes leads to the handlebars swinging around and impacting the top tube.  Has anyone damaged barcons like this?

Routes / Re: Cross Country Dream
« on: November 03, 2011, 11:29:22 am »
I really liked the Trans America a lot and highly recommend it.  If you want to branch off from it, I'd suggest detouring on a side trip to Glacier NP.  If you have 11 weeks you should have time for that.

It's quite possible to start on the Northern Tier into Glacier National Park, take the Great Parks south to Missoula, and then hook up with your choice of Lewis and Clark or Trans Am.  Glacier was stunning, and if they're still running the shuttle bus, you can see the Going to the Sun road without any effort.  The passes in Washington are, erm, also memorable.

On the AC routes question, once you have a general route, the AC maps are perhaps most useful to locate services in the west.  There's only one road from the Dubois to Rawlins, WY, for example; but knowing where there's a store, or a campground, or motel, isn't so easy.  Further east, you don't usually have so many miles between services, but it's useful to have the route selected from a maze of twisty little roads, all different.  That's why Fred's suggestion is so good (stay on an AC route for 1,000 miles) -- the midwest is a good place to start picking your own route.

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