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Messages - Pat Lamb

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Gear Talk / Re: Tour Bike Gearing
« on: July 03, 2012, 02:42:23 pm »
It is hard to beat a mountain bike crank (22/32/42) on a touring bike.  You would need to get the matching front derailleur.  Sometimes you can get a road front derailleur to work.  I think they changed the pull ratios so that road and mountain rear derailleurs are different, but I think fronts are still the same.

I think you've got that backward (unless it changed this year).  Shimano rear derailers have been agnostic for road/mountain and number of speeds for a long time.  My 2009, 9-speed Novara Randonnee works well with a Tiagra front and Deore rear derailer, both with STI brifters.  The small chainring is a 26, IIRC, although I may get a round tuit and change it to a 24 one of these days.

There's no need for a big chainring on a touring bike.  The only time you might need it would be if you take it on a fast group ride, and the bike gives you a ready excuse to drop when pack speed exceeds 30 mph.

General Discussion / Re: What do you use for sunscreen?
« on: July 03, 2012, 10:39:36 am »
Has anyone used the sun protectors in humid areas?  I'm curious if they're usable in humid heat. 

For comparison, I've got a very thin, polysomething, long sleeve jersey.  It's too thin to wear below about 55 (F) without another layer, whereas I can go 10 degrees cooler with some other jerseys.  Yet I can't tolerate the thin jersey above 80, even when the humidity is a relatively dry 50-60%.

Gear Talk / Re: Dynamo > EWERK > Power Bank - Question
« on: July 01, 2012, 12:02:16 pm »
A retro-grouch in training question, if I may.

Joe, you're in touch sporadically via wifi, according to your post.  My question then is simply, how much of this is necessary?  When you have wifi access, how frequently do you not also have access to a power outlet that can charge the many devices with rechargeable batteries?

Gear Talk / Re: Is a '99 Bianchi Volpe worth rebuilding?
« on: June 27, 2012, 12:54:16 pm »
IIRC the Volpe was listed in Adventure Cycling's touring bike buyer's guide for several years.  I've never seen one (that I know of), but it had decent geometry (chainstay length, for instance).  Since it was advertised as a touring bike, I'd have some hope that the tubing was now ultra-light, and therefore the bike would be sturdy enough to handle a decent load without wobbling or shimmy.

Gear Talk / Re: Gear increments
« on: June 19, 2012, 11:48:06 am »
Work with the gear calculator at -- put in the cassettes and cranks you're looking at, and see how well they work out.

Don't expect a miracle.  Most of us are too lazy to meticulously plot out shift patterns and do double shifts (front and rear at the same time).  And unfortunately, most of the cassettes have ridiculously small cogs so the manufacturers can sell the high gears, which few people need or use effectively.  So to get your low gears, you pretty well have to accept bigger steps between gears.  (You effectively have to buy two cassettes to get Sheldon's 13-34 century special.)

Having said that, some crank and cassette combinations give you multiple gearing combinations that are nearly identical, while other cranks with the same cassette will give you a double shift that's intermediate between the single shift options.  It's worth looking for those if you're going to be replacing cranks, IMHO.

Routes / Re: Starting the Southern Tier in June
« on: June 14, 2012, 09:13:55 am »
Thank you. I don't mean to obstinate and really appreciate the insight. I've cycled in temperatures exceeding 100F. It certainly diminishes your ability to enjoy what's around you, as you're playing a sport of survival.

As Pete noted, getting an air-conditioned place to stay might be the difference between OK/enjoyable and dangerous.  I find it difficult to cool off when the temperature's over 85 F or so, so a nap in 100 degree shade wouldn't help me much.  If you got a motel room by the day (instead of by the night), riding 3 hours before dawn on un-trafficed roads and getting off the road by 10:00 or 11:00 might be fun for a week. --especially around a full moon!

Routes / Re: URGENT Colorado Advice (TransAm) Salida?
« on: June 12, 2012, 10:40:39 am »
I loved that part, but we were going the other way.  The only thing I disliked was the lousy bike trail on the part near Alma.  We would have used the road there but construction forced to use the bike path.  That was 2007 so I assume the construction is completed.  Also the bike path would be better going west.  The problem with the path was heaved up slabs of concrete that were a problem going down hill.  They wouldn't be as bad at the slower pace of climbing.

That bike path (ghetto) was pretty bad even "climbing" in 2009.  There were rollers near Fairplay; after I hit one of the joints and nearly dislocated my pinkie, we climbed up the hill to the road and had no problems after that.

The south park scenery from Current Creek Pass to Hoosier Pass was the best in Colorado, IMHO.

Gear Talk / Re: free standing?
« on: June 11, 2012, 12:30:36 pm »
You may be surprised at definition of a free standing tent.

Whether to have a tent that is free standing as defined is of minor importance.

Interesting, isn't it, that the ability to set the tent up on a showroom floor is closely related to the ability to set up the same tent in a city park pavilion, a favorite location for touring cyclists.

Also, the need to stake the tent in wind depends on the severity of the wind.  In a 5-10 mph breeze, toss a couple of full panniers in the tent (or one or more touring cyclist(s) in sleeping bags), and no worries. 

It's also possible to dry a wet free-standing tent with some clever staking in a breeze.  For instance, set the tent up, stake the two down-wind corners, and then flip it onto its top.  Dries the bottom as well as the inside.  (Bonus points if you attach the fly to the top corners.)

Weight is the only factor I can see in favor of a non-freestanding tent.

General Discussion / Re: Overall weight for touring
« on: May 29, 2012, 09:58:35 am »
"Trail weight" is marketing-speech for "we are lying to you, no one would ever pack just this much tent." Four pounds-14 ounces is five pounds. Add the stuff they're deliberately not telling you about and that tent is more like 6 pounds- 8 ounces.

Packaged weight is listed at 5 pounds 5 ounces.  Are you adding a 1-pound poncho in case the fly leaks?  I don't think I've ever added anything (except maybe rain or dew) to any tent I've carried beyond what the manufacturer shipped.

To surlyboy's question, John Nelson said it well.  It's not too heavy and it's not stupid-light, you should do well with it.

General Discussion / Re: Overall weight for touring
« on: May 24, 2012, 09:02:40 am »
So your load is about 30-35 pounds?  (Most people include the panniers in "load" weight, so I'm assuming yours weigh on the order of 5 pounds.)  And you're comfortable with your bike and that load?

Go ride.

Seriously, we tend to work ourselves into a tizzy over relatively minor stuff when we're not out riding our bicycles.  If there's something you really need, or really, really, really want to add to the load, go ahead.  I note you've not said what would add 13 pounds to your load, except books and extra water.  Forget the textbooks, or see if you can get them on a light Kindle, notebook, or similar if you need to study for something like a licensing exam.  Check the route ahead, and take extra water on the days when you might need it; across most of the east and midwest you'll have small towns or convenience stores spaced so you only need water for 2-3 hours of riding.

It's not really about how much you can carry -- unless you want to make the Adventure Cycling blog for "heaviest bike weighed this year!"

Gear Talk / Re: Touring Bikes Under Consideration
« on: May 17, 2012, 11:24:59 am »
Considering your inexperience, I suggest you have the inner chainring changed to smallest possible by the dealer when you buy your Trek 520. You may be glad you did when pedaling up hills fully loaded on tour.

This year's spec on the 520 is a 48/36/26 crank.  That's a welcome change from the 50/40/30 crank a few years ago.  I'm not sure it's worth the hassle to get lower.  A 24 chainring is only 6% lower, and shifting may suffer if you try to go down to a 22.  I'd rather have a certain shift to a slightly bigger low chainring than an iffy shift to a slightly smaller ring (but YMMV).

Routes / Re: Advice on route selection
« on: May 17, 2012, 11:17:24 am »
The definitive answer on mosquitoes is, "It depends."  Near lakes, marshes, etc., it'll be a problem until frost.  Unless there's a good breeze blowing.  Up a hill, if it's been dry for a while, they may be mostly gone.  Unless there's good breeding ground for them just downhill of a slop sink, for instance.

Gear Talk / Re: Touring Bikes Under Consideration
« on: May 16, 2012, 07:56:58 pm »
I'll go counter to the prevailing opinion a bit, and say forget about the Co-Motions and Rivendells for a while.  While I'm sure they make good bikes, you won't know what you want, or why, until you've ridden a road / touring bike for a while.

It's getting late in the season, but call around and see if you can find a dealer with a Trek 520, Surly LHT, REI Randonee, Windsor/Fuji Touring or the like, in your size and in stock.  Go ride them.  Pick the one you like the best, and buy that one.

I say late in the season, because touring bikes seem to be made in batches, and once this year's batch is gone, you'll have to wait until next year to buy from that batch.  Buy one now, and the one you like, because you're going to need to put hours in the saddle to get ready for your trip.  You may or may not be able to get one before next spring if you wait, and you won't do the riding if you don't like the bike.

Be aware, too, that if you put a heavy load on the bike, the handling will change.

Of course, you might get by with putting racks on your hybrid, but since that's not what you say you want, get the one you want (and like).

Gear Talk / Re: Do I need a water filter
« on: May 10, 2012, 09:10:13 pm »
I did not need one on the Pacific Coast, nor the NT. I did beg water once from an RV on a hot ascent of Washington Pass in the Cascades.

Fred, I was just about to post that a water filter would be a good thing to have climbing Rainy and Washington Passes!

The alternative is to take 2 2 liter Platypus bladders, and fill them before you start the climb.  One nice thing about the ACA maps is that they'll give you notice when there's a long stretch without services.  That's a clue you need to fill the bladders before you hit that stretch.  Otherwise, they fold up small and light in your panniers.

Routes / Re: URGENT Route Advice. VIRGINIA from Whythville
« on: May 08, 2012, 10:08:07 pm »
My Trans AM maps won't be in Damascus until Weds morning, so I'll probably take it easy and just ride for a few hours to Rural Retreat tomorrow, then on through to Troutdale and onto Damascus Weds. Is this proposed route easy enough to navigate do you know?

Erm, it's easy enough to navigate if you have good directions.  There's a handful of intersections with pretty much nothing around; I'd suggest getting directions from, e.g., google or yahoo maps, and stopping at gas stations, stores, or post offices to ask for navigational help. 

Taking 11 down to Glade Spring and following the sign (left) to Damascus would be much easier as far as directions -- except for crossing the interstate and the river at the end of town a couple times.

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