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Messages - Pat Lamb

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Routes / Re: Blue Ridge Parkway / Skyline Drive input
« on: September 09, 2012, 09:09:11 pm »
A couple more notes here.  If you do Skyline, the drop down to Waynesboro isn't bad.  The Quality Inn is an AT classic break spot, and there's a steak house two blocks down that's great.

There's a "secret" back road off the BRP into Boone, NC.  About 5 miles off route without any significant climbing either way.  (The book's route is, well, scenic!)  Worth a stop for Daniel Boone Inn with all-you-can-eat country cooking, and Pepper's makes a superb carrot cake.

Skip the eatery at Crabtree Falls -- it'll probably be closed, but if it is you won't miss anything (except maybe ice cream).  Mt. Pisgah has a great restaurant coupled with the campground and motel.

Off the southern tip -- if you're in the Cherokee area with a car, call up Nantahala Outdoor Center the other side of Bryson City and see if Relia's is open.  I've loved everything I've had at that restaurant!

General Discussion / Re: Fall ride starting in October--Need Advice
« on: September 09, 2012, 09:00:02 pm »
Roughly 1,100 miles (from a quick google maps hack), that's easily done if you're in good shape.  As far as daylight, most people end up riding only 5-6 hours per day; if you can get out of bed and get rolling at a decent hour, you shouldn't have any problems there.

I'd advise having enough cash in reserve to hole up for two nights in a motel.  End of October and beginning of November is when the first snowfall often hits the southern Appalachians.  (For goodness' sake, learn how the natives say it before you hit the mountains.  It is NOT pronounced like appellation south of the Mason-Dixon line!!)

Check out for seasonal averages at some of the towns near where you'll be passing.  I'd expect temps down to around freezing in the Appalachians in late October overnight, with highs in the 50s and 60s.  That's a bit troublesome to ride in for me -- tights and jacket on, long gloves, jacket off, short gloves, jacket back on for a long downhill, jacket and tights off for the climb on the other side of the valley, lather, rinse, and repeat.

I think it sounds like a great trip.  If you leave early enough, you might hit some great color in the mountains if the leaves are at their peak!

Gear Talk / Re: Chain repair
« on: September 07, 2012, 10:41:42 am »
For anyone who uses master links, I highly recommend getting  a Park MLP-1C tool for home use. It makes removal so much easier than doing it with just your hands.

I've never needed anything more than a pair of normal pliers, even for cruddy chains and links.  Grab some slack, arrange the master link to stand proud with 90 degree angles, open the pliers to grab opposing corners of the master link (not the corners with the enlarged holes), and squeeze.  Takes longer to get the pliers out of the toolbox than it does to open the link (and longer still to describe the process!).

Gear Talk / Re: BioLite Stove
« on: September 07, 2012, 09:34:22 am »
The only downside I can see is that it's often difficult to find any kind of firewood or kindling near established, popular campsites.  Even the people who bring generators, satellite dishes and TVs in their 32' RVs to a national park want to have a campfire every night, and a fair few don't want to pay for firewood from the camp store (too expensive!).  As a result, many of these are stripped clean of brush and downed limbs.  (The Biolite looks like it'd have trouble handling the large firewood that is being sold...)

Start with John's recommendation of the ACA routes, then spend an evening looking at to check out various cities on the routes.  Look at the averages, and pay attention to the 10% low temps.

I'd head east or south, aiming to get east of Charlottesville on the TransAm by the end of October.  The idea would be to get out of the Appalachians pretty quick -- you can get snowstorms in the mountains by late October.  Going south, you should miss cold weather fairly easily.  You could head south on the Atlantic Coast from Virginia -- but stay off the Outer Banks in NC.  Given six weeks, if you go south, you could go east on the Southern Tier, and perhaps south towards Key West.  If you turn west on the ST, you'd have to push to get across the Rockies, or end your trip around El Paso.

Anywhere but on the gulf coast, I'd suggest you have enough financial reserve to spend a couple nights in a motel.  You can get an early winter storm in November that'll give you some sleet or snow, but it'll probably melt after a day or two.

General Discussion / Re: Bike shipping / Lesson learned?
« on: September 05, 2012, 01:36:35 pm »
While I like the internal compression straps, I am less than enthusiastic about the outer h-strap system. TSA at my airport doesn't have a large scanning machine, so they open bike boxes. Some employees have had trouble figuring out how to re-secure the straps. One time, I got the box back with two of the straps tied in a knot.

TSA must be hiring the gorillas from the Atlanta zoo that used to do luggage commercials.  They have trouble with belt buckles.  I'm sure that's why they want you to take your belt off.  Reading or following pictures is right out -- they've never done either with the directions on top of my S&S coupled bike, and I hold my breath every time I open the case after they've monkeyed around with it.

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.

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