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Messages - Pat Lamb

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Gear Talk / Re: Saddle bags article from years ago
« on: August 31, 2012, 07:16:30 pm »
And for your reading pleasure, check out

I think there's another good web page out there with even more details and opinions, but I can't locate it at the moment.

Routes / Re: civil war routes on virginia??
« on: August 26, 2012, 11:36:48 am »
There are a number of maps available (see for examples).  You can probably get hard copies at most visitor centers once you get near Lexington on your way east.  The problem with these is that they assume you'll be driving a car, so they show you U.S. 11 and I-81; most of these aren't very bicycle-friendly.  You might try to hit up bicycle shops as you go, and ask them if they have some good routes toward the next town you want to hit.

Also, from Skyline Drive (in Shenandoah NP) there are some great overlooks with maps of Jackson's campaigns.  Skyline starts at the north end of the Blue Ridge Parkway, where the TransAm turns east.

Gear Talk / Re: Helmet with face protection?
« on: August 24, 2012, 06:46:38 pm »
I don't want to be too discouraging, but if there were such a helmet, I'd expect it to be hot as blue blazes.  Airflow around my head and neck is crucial to let me ride in warm weather, or to do any sort of serious climbing.

South / Re: Transportation to Natchez
« on: August 21, 2012, 12:41:35 pm »
Quick web search shows there's a bus terminal (Delta) in Natchez; you might call them and see what connections they have.

Gear Talk / Re: Tobus Rack Mount - Advice Please
« on: August 09, 2012, 09:24:44 am »
I'm guessing this is a typo, and you're looking at a Tubus rack.

Tubus ships their racks with the bolts, nuts, and spacers you'll need if your bike has appropriate eyelets.  If you buy from a reputable dealer, and have the right mounts, you're all set.  (I've never heard of dealers stripping hardware off a rack, but I know some "people" strip derailer cables and sell them separately from the shifters they came with, so you never know.)

If you don't have the eyelets, you can probably make the rack work using P-clamps.  Look in the plumbing or electrical section of your local hardware store.

Gear Talk / Re: help choosing a bike
« on: August 07, 2012, 09:14:41 am »
That said, paint color could be a valid selection criteria across the bikes on your list!

I've heard red paint makes road bikes faster.  Is that also true of touring bikes??


Gear Talk / Re: Trek 520 wobble
« on: August 05, 2012, 06:51:43 pm »
Unless you've wrecked the bike lately, I doubt the fork is the problem.  My favorite things to blame include a loose headset, loose wheel bearings, and out of true wheel.

Also see the article at

Gear Talk / Re: Panniers and Racks
« on: August 05, 2012, 06:44:51 pm »
The Bikepacker and Sportspacker panniers don't need to be filled.

The older plus fabric faded in bright sunlight (aka Kansas); at least the red did.  Having the polyurethane on the outside (the non-plus version) might ameliorate that somewhat.

I'll second Old Guy -- is a great supplier.  When I needed a new mount (because of an unexpected bike change), I called Ortlieb's U.S. customer service.  They didn't have it in stock, and wouldn't get it for a while, but they referred me to thetouringstore (and looked up Wayne's number for me).  That was one of the drama-free mail drops from my trip.  Highly recommended.

Gear Talk / Re: Help me accesorize my Surly LHT
« on: August 05, 2012, 06:37:11 pm »
In random/reverse order:

Shimano (and Nashbar, IIRC) make pedals that allow for both regular shoes and clipless.

About 2/3 of the saddles I could see on TransAm bikes were Brooks, mostly B17, with the odd Champion or Pro.  I had to adjust the tension twice.  Buy from, and Bill will let you return it if it doesn't fit you.  Get an Aardvark (or similar neoprene) saddle cover for the days you're dripping in sweat, or when you have to ride through a downpour, and to keep the saddle dry at night.

I firmly believe fenders are the way to go for riding in the rain.  SKS plastic fenders are my choice.  If you have the shop install them, over the winter is a good time -- most shops don't install fenders with any regularity, and giving them time to futz with them will make you both happier than trying to get the bike out the door in spring.

Add a blinky for the rear.  Make sure it can mount either to the back of your rack, or clip on to a cargo net (also a good thing to have).

If you're like most people, you'll need front and rear panniers to carry camping equipment.  I expect Pete Staehling will chip in shortly with his ultra-light plug, but he's about three sigmas lighter than the average tourist.

I'll put in my plug for a Cateye with cadence.  It's way too easy to bog down when you hit steep hills at the end of the day, and if you're not alert (when you're tired!?) or lucky, you can mess up your knees.  Cadence alerts you to gear down some more and spin.  Speed is overrated -- you'll be disappointed with your speed on flat land and uphill, and too busy looking downhill to see if you need to brake or steer to avoid something, to enjoy watching your speed.

The LHT is a popular touring bike.  I don't have one, but I saw a lot of them, and nobody who had one was complaining about their bike.

Gear Talk / Re: Pannier J-Hook too Long. Any fixes?
« on: August 01, 2012, 09:14:54 pm »
What brand and model are your panniers?

On Ortliebs, you can loosen the screw and rotate and move the hook to adjust.

Gear Talk / Re: Trek 520 or Opus Legato?
« on: July 30, 2012, 08:56:02 pm »
You can never have too low a gear for loaded touring -- at least if you're going to the mountains.  The 520 wins the stock gearing setup hands down.

I think the rest of it boils down to personal preference.  Strongly suggest you go take a couple of test rides, and see if YOU like the bar-ends, or prefer STI.  If you want STI, the laundry list Russ suggests is something you'll have to work out with your bike shop.

Just to recap, on the Opus you'll have to swap out the inner chainring, the cassette, and probably add a chain watcher.  You may also have to change the rear derailer. 

Note, too, you'll still have a pretty big jump to the granny gear on the front (16 teeth).  It would be nice to see how that setup works for you before you plunk down your cash or credit card.  For all that work and extra hardware, most bike shops will want you to buy it before they make the swaps.  If your LBS will let you try it first, they're exceptional and deserve your business.

With all those changes, I'd probably buy the Trek.  But I'm not strongly biased towards STI.

Routes / Re: Google's bicycle directions
« on: July 25, 2012, 04:05:27 pm »
Just for kicks, I put Rural Retreat and Damascus, VA into google maps bike directions.  They have an interesting (?) route, but it doesn't look like the TransAm.  The alternate route coincides with the TA for about a third of the distance, but I suspect that coincidence has more to do with a limited number of roads out of Rural Retreat and less to do with either Adventure Cycling or Virginia bike route 76.

Gear Talk / Re: Bike Shorts
« on: July 22, 2012, 11:41:47 am »
Anyone comment on tights vs. baggy shorts for touring?

Tights are good in cool or cold weather.

If you mean lycra, spandex, etc., vs. baggy shorts, wear whatever you're comfortable with.

Some people imagine they're being checked out every moment someone else can see them, and they feel shy.  I think of bike shorts as activity-appropriate gear.  You wouldn't wear golf pants at the swimming pool, or a swimsuit on the golf course.  Conversely, most people wouldn't look askance at someone wearing bowling shoes at the bowling alley.  I'm comfortable wearing bright jerseys (for good visibility and breathability), and cycling shorts (for support and to minimize chafing), when I go out for a bike ride.  If you're not comfortable doing that, you can wear whatever you want, or you can carry something to slip on whenever you get off the bike.

Routes / Re: When is the best time to visit Yellowstone
« on: July 20, 2012, 08:05:05 am »
Having been there twice as many times as Pete, I'm still not sure I qualify as an expert.  :)

That said, here are a few more observations:
  • Elk antlers grew between mid-July and late August.
  • Elk rut starts sometime after Labor Day, so you'll need to be more cautious then.
  • I think there were more tourists in July than the week before Labor Day
  • Facilities start to close right after Labor Day, in particular some of the campgrounds.  Seems there's not enough tourists to keep them open later in the year.

Gear Talk / Re: Best touring tires
« on: July 15, 2012, 03:06:48 pm »
My best tire was a Specialized Armadillo Nimbus.  Great tread wear, good puncture resistance.  Downside is it wasn't a lively feeling tire, but that was a trade I was happy to make.

Panaracer Paselas are nice tires.  Downsides are relatively limited tread life, and (for me) a batch of bad tires the last time I bought some -- tread delaminated, massive failures, 2 of 3 ended in rides of shame.  :(

I can't recommend Vittoria Randonneurs.  See  for details.  That one's replacement, also a Randonneur, only lasted 2,000 miles (about 2,500 miles short of its replacement, the Nimbus).

Schwalbe Marathon and Continental Gatorskins get pretty good reviews.  The Marathon has too much tread for my taste, and I just put a Gatorskin on one bike recently, but haven't had time to evaluate it fully.

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