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Messages - Pat Lamb

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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.

Gear Talk / Re: Biking Stores for getting touring bike in SF Bay Area
« on: November 01, 2011, 09:09:20 pm »
Chain Reaction Bicycles, down the peninsula in Redwood City, is one dealer that usually carries the Trek 520 (Trek's touring bike, about $1400 last time I looked).  Mike J, the owner, does mostly road day rides from what I can tell.  He was heavily involved back in the usenet days, and was a good man to discuss bicycle mechanics.

If he doesn't have a 520 in your size, you may have to wait until February-March timeframe, when the factory does its annual production run.

Gear Talk / Re: Rear hubs - Phil Wood and Chris King
« on: October 28, 2011, 04:06:06 pm »
Only slightly off topic, I hope; one of the guys I rode with this summer had one of the high-zoot rear hubs.  I don't remember if it was Chris King or Phil Wood -- I don't think it was a White hub.  IIRC, he'd bought it used 10-15 years ago, and it wsa still running fine.  The freehub on that thing sounded like a rattlesnake on steroids whenever he coasted, though.  Anyone have an idea which one it was?

Maybe that'd be a good idea in bear country!

General Discussion / Re: Stupid Hotel Question
« on: October 26, 2011, 09:27:19 am »
As John says, reserve your national park lodges ASAP.  Commercial bus tours seem to suck up most of the rooms by the third week in January.

We normally did not plan further than a couple days ahead.  From Virginia through Kansas there was almost always another town 1-2 hours away, and depending on heat, headwinds, and fatigue, we'd adjust our daily mileage.  From central Colorado northwest through Washington the towns were spaced about a day's travel apart for us; if you want to stay in a motel, you stretch or shrink that day's riding to fit.

On our blended TransAm and Northern Tier route, Guffey, CO, Jeffrey City, WY, and Newhalem, WA were the only "towns" there were no motels.  (If we'd had to, we could have stretched to Fairplay, CO, and Concrete, WA.)  Weekends in the northwest were often tight, but we managed to find a place every night we needed to. 

Hate to advertise for them, but I was amazed at Verizon's cell coverage. All across Kansas, and in almost every small town, we got a signal.  If you need to call ahead for reservations, you'll find coverage.  Often, though, we'd just split up and go to a couple of different motels and ask for room availability and prices.  I think we saved more with that strategy than AAA!

General Discussion / Re: About Colorado....
« on: October 20, 2011, 01:39:32 pm »
I am traveiling east to west next  summer, leaving 1st week of June.  I plan to go thru Colorado.  By when should I be out of there? Or what is the latest part of the summer that I can comfortably enter Colorado without hitting cold weather?


Slightly more seriously, the coldest part of my trip a couple years back was in Guffey, when it was 34F the morning of July 3.  I think you have to be prepared for frost just about any time at the higher elevations.  Now you don't have that high a probability of hitting snow, but it might be cold enough for it.

General Discussion / Re: Banff to San Francisco
« on: October 20, 2011, 10:13:25 am »
I wonder if we need to back off some of the vehement “No ways!” this discussion has engendered.  While I think there are some valid points being raised against a late winter trip, should this not be, “I wouldn’t do it!”?

To do the trip on the OP’s schedule would certainly require some changes from the way most of us “fair-weather” tourists do business.  It would require additional weight for warmer gear, perhaps in wheels and tires.  It would require more schedule flexibility, to wait out winter storms and snow plows.  It would require additional routing considerations, such as avoiding Highway 20 over Washington Pass and its 13 avalanche zones.

In short, it would be a different kind of touring from what most of us are used to.  It would be more like Iditabike for the first part of the trip than Crazyguyonabike.

Now, I think, and many of you will agree with me, people who ride Iditabike are crazy.

But when I bike to work, on fair days as well as foul, and even more when I talk about riding a century (metric or English), and especially when I talk about long bike tours (around the summer), most people think I’m crazy, too.

I’m reminded of an Appalachian Trail through-hiker I met several years ago, who finished her medical training and started hiking.  In the winter.  She and her husband used snowshoes in the Smokies to get through 6’ snow drifts.  Now, this is precisely why nobody hikes the AT in the winter.  But they did it.

Now I don’t bike commute when there’s snow or ice on the ground.  But some people do so routinely, and they discuss how they do it on sites like icebike.  So, after getting by “I wouldn’t because of [fill in the blank],” how could a crazy winter biker tourist actually ride such a trip?  What adaptations would be needed, how could they improve their chances of surviving and even enjoying the trip?  What resources can we point such crazy people to that will let them plan for such a trip, train and equip themselves, and maybe even do it?

In short, do we want to provide information and advice to let someone plan their bike trip, rather than try to reach a consensus among ourselves how someone else should do it?

Have you checked out the GPS routes and waypoints?

General Discussion / Re: Banff to San Francisco
« on: October 16, 2011, 08:52:53 pm »
First question is always, are you planning to camp and cook, or eat in restaurants and sleep in motels or B&Bs?

If you're going to camp, I'd suggest you plan on reducing your projected speed by at least a third.  I think most loaded tourists average 10-12 mph; I can do that unless there's a lot of climbing.  There are some people who can ride all day, sunrise to sunset, at that speed.  For me, 30 miles a day is good at the start, with some climbing, increasing to 60-70 miles a day after a month or so.  (Unless there's a lot of climbing that day!)  I'd say 50 miles a day is a good average for planning.

Costs are all over the place.  Some people claim to get by on $5 a day; I'll spend that much on snacks and drinks most days.  The sky is the limit on the high end -- it's easy to blow through $150 a day or more if you're moteling it and eating at fancy restaurants.  Some days, though, it's worth it for a hot shower, a roof over your head, and a great hot meal - maybe with a super local micro-brew.

Sounds like a great trip.  Let us know how you do!

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