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Messages - Pat Lamb

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Gear Talk / Re: Trek 970 vs salsa Fargo
« on: February 18, 2015, 05:52:31 pm »
I agree with the recommendation to test ride both.  I ended up driving four hours each way to buy my last bike, because nobody had a touring bike any closer.  Funny thing was, once I got there, the REI had a house brand bike that felt better than the one I went to buy!  Eight years and one TransAm later, it was worth the drive.

It's fairly obvious what the motive is.  I wonder if ACA could find some Wyoming students to study the economic impact of touring cyclists in that state?  I don't want to think about how much money I left there during my TransAm.  One cheap day, two expensive nights, one cheap day, three expensive nights...

Routes / Re: From Nashville to Atlanta
« on: February 12, 2015, 09:25:12 pm »
As to OP's other questions, there's a fair bit of cycling around Nashville, Chattanooga, and Atlanta, as well as Huntsville and Knoxville,  There's not too much bicycle touring that I know about.  I'll speculate on a few reasons.  First, it's hot in the summer, when most people have time to vacation.  Much more likely people will go fishing or boating, or go to the beach, or up into the mountains for camping, hiking, and of course shopping.  Most people will ride a metric or century in one day and go inside, or go mountain biking.  Second, what touring does go on is pretty dispersed, because there are few long cycle routes.  Adventure Cycling's routes leave a big hole in the southeast.  Third, and related to the first, there's a lot of other things to do in this area in the spring and fall; why limit yourself to bicycling day after day?

There are some dogs in Tennessee and Georgia, but (IME) they're not as bad as Kentucky.  We have copperheads and rattlesnakes, but unless a cyclist goes into the brush when nature calls, he's most likely to see a dead snake on the road.

Routes / Re: From Nashville to Atlanta
« on: February 12, 2015, 07:48:54 pm »
The problem with the area is that there are relatively few low traffic paved roads.

Au contraire, there's a goodly number of decent roads with little traffic in the area.  The problem areas are getting up and down the ridges, of which there are a few.

I'd suggest a few changes.  Your route from Sewanee to South Pittsburg has a detour to Kimball that's not much fun; I'd suggest going straight over the Tennessee River there and riding into the Chattanooga suburbs (Wauhatchee / Tiftonia).  Alternatively, go north to Tracy City and down to Jasper, then cross the "new blue bridge" on U.S. 41 that opened late last year.  Either way, I'd suggest taking TN 134 from Haletown to Wildwood, GA, then north on U.S. 11.  41 from the river bridge to Chattanooga is sorta OK, and while 134 has a lot of interstate traffic noise from I-24, the traffic on 134 is minimal.  Lots of motels and some restaurants around Tiftonia, if you don't want to go into downtown Chattanooga.  You'll pick 41 up around Moccasin Bend going into Chattanooga.

Leaving Chattanooga, I'd strongly suggest backtracking on 11/41 to TN 58, then stay straight on St. Elmo Ave. until it turns into GA 193.  Bear right to go through Flintstone (the bypass gets all the traffic).  I'd take GA 341 off to the left and follow it until it runs back into 193 going into Lafayette, again to minimize the traffic, although it has a few more hills.

I'd try to stay on the west side of Rome until you get south of U.S. 411.  U.S. 27 is a racetrack with stoplights from downtown until you get beyond everyone's favorite I-75 access road.  I'm always amazed when I drive through there how many cars it has, since you just don't see the traffic north, south, or west of town.

I can't tell from your route, but I presume you'll pick up the Silver Comet trail in Rockmart?

Gear Talk / Re: Too tight spokes causes wheel buckling.
« on: February 04, 2015, 11:15:47 am »
Not too surprising; all bets are off after a crash.  The impact is what bends the rim.  That is, on the way down you can bend the rim and then that bend hits the road, changing a plastic deformation (that could be reversed) into a permanent bend.

You might be able to bend it back to the point it could be used by detensioning (or even despoking) the rim, bending it back close to flat, and then rebuilding.

General Discussion / Re: Deviation on Transam (Tenn & NC)
« on: January 31, 2015, 03:29:10 pm »
I'd start by looking at some of the brevets around Nashville, Asheville, and High Point (the randonneurs usually do a pretty good job scouting long distance routes), and then going to the NC bike maps to patch together a route.

For instance, combining the following can get you from Brentwood (Nashville area) to NC:

This is one route from Morrisville (Raleigh area) towards the coast at Wilmington:

North Carolina has two advantages for planning bike routes.  The Blue Ridge Parkway, though it involves a lot of climbing, is a decent route from SW to NE.  (There may be more climbing, but it's not as steep as SW Virginia and E Kentucky, maxing out at only 7%.)  And the state publishes bike maps at

General Discussion / Re: Traveling the Transam Supported by RV
« on: January 31, 2015, 03:07:58 pm »
Don and Suzanne Stack ended up doing about half their trip with her cycling and him driving the RV after he had an unfortunate accident.  They (mostly Suzanne) blogged it at
It may have helped that Don had experienced the western half of the trip on a bike before his accident.  Also note that they left the TransAm shortly after that, and cut south.  Nevertheless, theirs is one of the better journals I've read.

Routes / Re: Trans american--western express
« on: January 30, 2015, 04:08:33 pm »
There could be a couple of really nice results from starting about mid-March.  First, you'd have a really good chance of hitting peak wildflower season as you get across the mountains.  Second, you'd really, really enjoy Kansas after mailing home a load of winter gear!

General Discussion / Re: Washington, DC to Atlanta, GA
« on: January 27, 2015, 04:58:41 pm »
In Front Royal you can pick up the Skyline Drive/Blue Ridge Parkway.
3. Be aware that leaving the parkway for camping or services usually means a long steep climb back up to the parkway.

This is commonly repeated, but I'm not so sure.  As long as you can get into a campground (Pete's point 1) and carry enough food for a day or two, I think things aren't as desperate as they're often portrayed.  For instance, I don't see the climb up to Rockfish Gap from Waynesboro as very bad.  Resupply there and you'd want to make the long slog to Roanoke; there's a number of small towns near the Parkway (and not too far downhill), i.e. Floyd and Fancy Gap, from there down to North Carolina.  Boone and Blowing Rock are easily accessible from the Parkway.  There are got a couple of restaurants and motels around Little Switzerland, then another day to Asheville, and another day to Balsam.

General Discussion / Re: How picky are you?
« on: January 27, 2015, 04:43:35 pm »
Boschield for the chain when it "feels/sounds" a little dry, minor adjustments for brakes and gearing only as needed, and change the chain (with a cheap, i.e. $25-$35 one) approx every 2000 miles.

Does that change between touring and riding around home?  The only time I've had a squeaking chain around home was after a good downpour on the commute in to work, but I drove my (younger) companion nuts on tour -- she could hear the chain half a day before I could

General Discussion / Re: Washington, DC to Atlanta, GA
« on: January 27, 2015, 09:57:11 am »
This is just an off the cuff suggestion for doing this trip. Take the W&OD rail trail from Alexandria out to Purcellville, Va to its end. I would Google map or ask the local DC bike crowd how to get from there to Front Royal, Va which is about 40 miles. In Front Royal you can pick up the Skyline Drive/Blue Ridge Parkway. This will take you much of the way into NC. NC Bike Route 2 coincides with much of the BRP. Bike Route 2 will leave the Parkway at Balsam, NC which is southwest of Waynesville, NC and continue from there west to Murphy, NC. Murphy is in the far southwest corner of NC and is about 130 miles northeast of Atlanta. You would need to do some research to figure that part out as I don't have a suggestion for that.

I'd thought of recommending that approach, but it is very hilly compared to the piedmont or coastal plains.  It does have the advantage that you miss a lot of the back-tracking from the Atlantic Coast route.  If you do choose the BRP, be sure to get the book, "Bicycling the Blue Ridge" for information on water, food, and lodging or camping.

The approach to Atlanta is going to be an issue.  OP might be able to get some help from various cycling clubs and organizations in or near Atlanta. 

The Silver Comet trail is similar to the W&OD trail for approaching the big cities.  If you want to take that approach (from the west, unfortunately), first find a reasonable route into Chattanooga.  I'd suggest taking GA 193/337 to Summerville, then GA 100 down to the south side of Cedartown.  Alternately, you could pick up US 27 south of 411 (the traffic between Rome and 411 is intimidating, even in a large car or truck, but 27 is lightly trafficed to the south since they finished I-75).  There are 2-3 bike shops on the east end of the Silver Comet, and one of them should be able to help with a route from the end of the trail in Mableton to downtown Atlanta.

Gear Talk / Re: Should I be worried about my frame?
« on: January 23, 2015, 05:39:52 pm »
Just MHO; I'd give it a very careful once-over, and if everything looks OK, enjoy the ride.  Hang the frame up on something (ropes tied to rafters, bike stand, car rack), take the wheels off, clean everything as best you can, and inspect the frame under bright light at close range.  If it's outside, check it once, turn it around and check again; if inside, use a bright work light.  Look for things like bubbles in the paint, hairline cracks, paint delaminating, etc.  While riding, listen carefully for unexplained clicks, groans or squeaks.  Drop the fork out and give it the same kind of once-over.  Look particularly near the joints (head tube, bottom bracket, seatstays), dropouts, around penetrations into the tubes, like the water bottle bracket bolts, and near the braze-ons.

The good news is that steel will normally fail gradually, giving you time to catch (and possibly correct) impending failure.  The bad news is that most of us, like me, cheerfully go for a ride instead of spending that lovely spring afternoon checking the bike.

General Discussion / How picky are you?
« on: January 22, 2015, 05:44:27 pm »
How do you approach bicycle maintenance and adjustments, both when you're touring and when you're not?

For instance, if my shifting isn't crisp and quick, I'll adjust it when I'm commuting or riding around home.  On tour, I'll allow a bit more slop -- as long as I can downshift, it's OK if it takes a second to shift up.

Conversely, I can deal with a wheel a bit out of true near home (especially after a winter of commuting).  On tour, I know I risk high speed shimmy if the wheel's out, so that gets addressed immediately (or as soon as I get to the bottom of the hill).

How do you all deal with little imperfections?

Gear Talk / Re: Too tight spokes causes wheel buckling.
« on: January 16, 2015, 02:09:58 pm »
How tight should spokes be? Does it depend on the spoke pattern?

Spokes should be tight enough, as Chris said, that they don't go slack.  That will depend on the rim and the load. 

Worst case, with a lightweight box rim, the entire wheel load may be taken by the bottom spoke.  Say it's a loaded bike with a heavy rider, 300 pounds total bike load, and 2/3 of that is on the rear, so 200 pounds is "standing" on that spoke.  If the spoke was tensioned to 190 pounds, it's now slack, and at least one of the spokes is likely to fail within the next few hundred to thousand miles.  If all spokes are tensioned to 100 kgf (kilograms force), or 220 pounds, they all stay tight, you don't have fatigue failure, and the wheel lasts a very long time.

If you have a deep section rim and a light rider, the rim doesn't flex nearly as much.  If the rim distributes the load over four spokes, and it's ridden with a 150 pound bike-rider-power meter load, then each spoke only needs to be tensioned to 25 pounds.  (Of course, the drive side tension on the rear wheel will likely be higher.)  The manufacturer will be tempted to reduce the spoke count, e.g. from 36 to 24 spokes, and the wheel will still be solid with the load distributed over three spokes.  (Until I get on that bike!)

All that said, I usually shoot for 105-120 kgf tension on 36 spoke wheels, and try to make sure the rims I buy will handle that much tension.

GPS Discussion / Re: Are We There Yet? - Smartphone vs. Dedicated GPS
« on: January 14, 2015, 09:54:07 pm »
I mentioned cell tower coverage earlier not because the cell phone can't locate itself, but because you need add-on software (for every phone I know of) to draw a map around the point where your GPS chip locates you.  Perhaps some of the newer phones have built-in maps, but things like (older) iphone and google maps only work while you have access to a network.

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