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Messages - Pat Lamb

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Gear Talk / Re: Can we survive the Transamerica with no cyclocomputer?
« on: December 09, 2013, 08:28:33 am »
No, you do not need a cycle computer or a GPS device if you have the updated maps. Especially if you say that you are good at reading maps. I have never really looked at the mileages on the directions on the left of each map section. If you need to use the mileages on the left, you need to constantly calibrate your computer. I use my cycle computer to track the instant speed, the average speed and the total daily mileage. But I never use it for orientation.

Particularly in the hills of eastern Kentucky on the TransAm, I was reminded of the ancient computer game.  "You are in a maze of twisty little back roads, all different."  Maybe there was a road sign every 10 miles (3-4 turns).  Or maybe not.  Without the distances on the maps and an odometer, there would have been a lot more "zxzzy"!

General Discussion / Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
« on: December 08, 2013, 09:52:12 am »
Old fart here; I've refrained from commenting for a while because I just don't "get" the fund-raising part of a bicycle tour.
Why should people sign up to give money or gear for you doing something many other people do for fun or for the experience?
Are you skimming the first X dollars of contributions to help pay for your expenses, or do you have money budgeted and set aside to pay for your own costs, and all money pledged will go to some charity of your choice?
Is your total budget on the order of $3,000 to pay for food, camping, and emergency shelter, and you figure you can do it with $2,000 and have about $800 to spend on a bike?  Does that $800 include racks, bags, tools, spare tubes and other parts, etc.?

Those questions aside, used might be an option if you have a friend who can check it out thoroughly (or room in the budget for a bike shop to go over it with a fine toothed comb).  I lean heavily to directing newbies to a local bike shop (LBS) otherwise.  A good LBS can help fit you, show you how to fix minor things like flats and shifting adjustments, take care of any unexpected problems that pop up in next spring's training, and give the bike another thorough once-over before you leave.

I think the Fuji is the only new touring bike close to the $800 bogey.   Slick tires on a mountain bike gets you about 80% of the benefit of a touring bike -- everything but multiple hand positions.  Hybrids are all over the place now; some are re-branded MTBs without offensively lugged tires, some are road bikes without drop bars.  So my non-Fuji recommendation would be to find a good LBS, get a solid MTB or hybrid without any suspension "features," preferably with low gearing and mounting points for racks, and start training ASAP.  Two or three weeks before you're ready to leave, take the bike in for a checkup or overhaul.  In between, collect something(s) to haul the gear.

And have fun, however you do it!

Routes / Re: Best jumping off point on CO Canal for heading south
« on: December 04, 2013, 01:50:39 pm »
I'd suggest you shoot for Front Royal, VA, and take Skyline Drive down to the Blue Ridge Parkway.  If you like climbs (and views), that is.

Two problems with that are (1) getting from the C&O to Front Royal, and (2) this routing will involve some E-W overlap.  For #2, you'll have to decide how you want to get south towards Orlando from not-Washington; one possibility would be to catch the Adventure Cycling TransAm from Rockfish Gap towards Charlottesville, then take the Atlantic Coast south.  If you like the hills, you could tke the BRP down south of Asheville, NC, and head southeast from there.

Re: #1, you've got three or four choices.  You could cut south from Hagerstown along (parallel to) U.S. 11; go south from Harper's Ferry; cross the Potomac at Brunswick; or take Chain of Rocks bridge through Leesburg, the W&OD to Purcellville, then southwest.  I've only taken the 11 route before they finished I-81, but there's a fair few towns with way too much traffic for my liking.  U.S. 15 from Chain of Rocks to Leesburg is narrow and winding, but still a long way to go on that kind of road on a bike with more traffic than I like.  Somebody else will have to discuss the other two routes.

You might reconsider going into Washington, although it'll add a day or two.  You can go into D.C. on the C&O with only bike, jogger, and walker traffic, cross the Potomac (0.5 mile or so), and then leave D.C. in Virginia on the W&OD out to Purcellville, very much like the C&O except with a handfull of road crossings.  In between you have some great restaurants.  :)

Gear Talk / Re: Why are most of the tires wire bead?
« on: December 02, 2013, 12:11:29 pm »
I'll typically run wire beads on my tires because they're good enough, but I've started carrying a folding tire as a spare.  It's worked; I had to use my wire bead spares (trifold then squeezed down), but I've never had to use the folding spare.  If I did use the spare, I'd probably swap it for a wire bead spare and return the folding tire to spare status at the next bike shop.

Gear Talk / Re: Can we survive the Transamerica with no cyclocomputer?
« on: December 01, 2013, 08:24:54 pm »
Given that the Adventure Cycling maps' "field of view" is so narrow, I guess it's a good idea to carry a state map as well.

Each state is eager to give visitors a map.  If you drive in on an interstate, stop at a rest area and pick one up.  Otherwise, look for visitor centers. 

We rarely used or needed a larger map, but they come in handy when you're sitting in a camp or motel room and the TV, radio, or ranger mentions there's some big storms over near Mud Puddle.  Not being from the state, you don't know which direction it is from Bug Juice, where you're spending the night, to Mud Puddle.  So do you relax or go tuck yourself in for the night?

Larger maps are also useful for unexpected things that might pop up, like a cracked tooth or unexpected asthma attack (where's the nearest large town where you might find medical or dental care?), or if you have to decide to order a new tire express mail or go off-route to find one.

I suppose a smart phone, tablet, or netbook can help with questions like these if you have cell coverage, but free state maps are a nice backup.  Mail them home when you leave the state, like you do with your AC maps.

Gear Talk / Re: Can we survive the Transamerica with no cyclocomputer?
« on: November 30, 2013, 06:25:29 pm »
One set of maps will do nicely.  If you don't have one yet, a map holder, handlebar bag with map holder, or front rack and pack (with map holder) will help greatly.

I'd recommend a cyclocomputer just for the odometer.  (Get one to display daily mileage and cadence if you want -- cadence is sufficiently meaningless that it won't distract you, and may even help on some of long climbs.)  Out west, you may not need it; only cross road in 15 miles, or 60 miles, is usually distinctive enough that you don't need much help.  In the east, particularly in the mountains of Kentucky, Missouri, and Virginia, the odometer really helps.  Next turn after 3.2 miles can be anywhere from 7 minutes to 30 minutes, depending on slope and how tired you are; and you might have passed a dozen other roads in the meantime.

I think my favorite was somewhere in Missouri, where they had the number of a metal ID tag on a telephone pole to identify the turn.  Even though I couldn't find the number when I inspected the pole, I got that one; the one in Kentucky with no road sign, I missed.  Fortunately the family on their porch a quarter mile up the road set me straight!

Routes / Re: Missoula to Glacier?
« on: November 29, 2013, 03:02:20 pm »
Worth it unless you're on a very tight schedule. 

My daughter and I veered north from Missoula to (West) Glacier on our TA, spent a day, and then went west on the Northern Tier.  We took the Great Parks route up through Seeley Lake to Columbia Falls.  You really only need the AC map to find your way out of Missoula and Columbia Falls; at least when we were there towards the end of July, I'd have been happy to stay on U.S. 2 and skip the washboard gravel.  I think there are two critical turns, and there's not much chance of missing either.

Glacier is well worth the detour.  Beautiful place, magnificent views, gorgeous glacier lilies, but the water's cold as all get out.

Gear Talk / Re: best touring frames
« on: November 22, 2013, 09:18:09 am »
Anyway, the "best" touring frame is the one I have.

No way, that one's third best.  Best is the one I want.  Second best is the one I have.

Thus proving John's point, I guess.


General Discussion / Re: hybrid7.2 trek for touring bike?
« on: November 14, 2013, 07:09:19 am »
If all the luggage is being carried by your "personal sag," you might be able to ride the Specialized.  I suspect the limiting factor will be how well you can climb 10% grades in the low gear on that bike.  Two water bottles (with motorcycle re-supply where necessary), map or GPS, snack or lunch money, sunscreen, sunglasses, spare tube, and maybe an energy bar or two, and a small rain jacket -- that's all you need with you.  Shouldn't be a problem for a road bike to carry in a bar bag and/or saddle bag.

Gear Talk / Re: Trek 520 poor brakes
« on: November 13, 2013, 08:46:57 pm »
Petejack, changing the levers doesn't make any sense.  Cables and housing wear out in the normal course of riding a bike; so does handlebar tape.  Unless the levers start to rust, they'll last approximately forever.

You're going to have to replace the tape when you replace the housing.  I'll usually replace cables and housing every 5,000-10,000 miles.  It's nice to get some fresh tape about then, as well, and all three are down-in-the-noise cheap.  Don't think the cables and housing need replacement?  Don't want to take everything apart to check for fraying or cracking?  Want to bet $20 against your life that the cables didn't fray in the last year when there's a stop sign at the bottom of a long, steep hill?

Go ahead.  Replace the cables and housing.  It'll almost certainly improve your braking.  Then splurge for another $10-15 and put on new bar tape as a treat for a job well done.

Gear Talk / Re: Trek 520 poor brakes
« on: November 12, 2013, 02:55:53 pm »
Kool Stop salmon pads work as well as anything else I've tried when wet.  However, as far as I'm concerned, their biggest advantage is that they don't pick up grit or small bits of gravel.  That means the KS pads aren't acting like lathe tools to cut your rim down when you brake, and you don't have to listen to the grinding noise while braking.  Nothing else comes close, IME.

General Discussion / Re: Northern Tier For Non Campers
« on: November 08, 2013, 07:41:03 pm »
We met a couple on a tandem doing the same thing, only west to east, in 2009.  As I recall, they were cranking out some big miles (80-100 per day) to meet their schedule.  Their light load (compared to us) allowed them to make those miles, at least as far as Montana.

That couple had motel reservations clear across the U.S.A.  In the east, I suspect that was overkill; in the west, not so much.  There's only so many places you can stay out west, and they get full on summer weekends.  For the most part you should be able to make it within 75 miles per day.  I think the Mazama to Concrete, WA day might be a bit longer than that, but you should be in really good shape by the time you hit Washington Pass going west.

General Discussion / Re: Road bike for touring??
« on: November 04, 2013, 07:11:09 am »
johnsondasw, without knowing the details of those climbs, I think you've proved DaveB's point.  The average grade for the climbs you cited is 3% or less.  While climbing 2,000 or 3,000 feet is quite respectable, 3% hardly compares with some of the steeper grades (10% or more) in the Appalachians, Ozarks, or even the long 6% climbs in some of the Rockies passes.

Gear Talk / Re: Bike purchasing advice needed
« on: October 28, 2013, 12:36:57 pm »
It's an option to buy used and tinker. Just that, an option, and a viable one. You all are reacting as if I were recommending human sacrifice.

Not at all -- just an arm and a leg.  :)

I took the price you paid for your frame ($150) as a reasonable price for a 25 year +/- 10 year old frame.  I just saw an email from a bike shop a few weeks ago advertising $150 for their "change cables and adjust brakes and derailer" winter special.  Add that to the $240 of parts you'd identified, toss in another $20 for brake pads and $40 for a new saddle, and the refurb/upgrade cost is three times the frame cost.

When I see a post asking a basic question like, "Where can I get a touring bike that allows for an upright riding position?" I assume they're looking for a ready-to-ride solution.  (Yes, I know what they say about assumptions, but I think this one's justified in context.)  That, to me, means either a stock bike or one that someone has built up for them.  Labor costs, and the possibilties of being led astray by racer wannabes, go up the more you ask for someone else to do.

Gear Talk / Re: Bike purchasing advice needed
« on: October 27, 2013, 02:32:44 pm »
I was just pointing out that a $1,500 budget is fine. Let's say she's less lucky than I was and finds an excellent condition Miyata 610 for $300. She then needs a set of riser bars ($40), a stem adapter ($20), stem ($30), grips ($20), thumb shifters ($50), brake levers ($30). Throw in a set of tires for $50 and she now has the exact setup she wants for $540 and has nearly $1,000 left for racks and panniers.

That's great if you're a long-time DIY bicycle mechanic; most bike shops would throw up their hands in horror at spending three times the cost of a frame for mods -- not to mention new tires, brake pads, and saddle, as well as cables and housing.  If you know what you want and how to get there, great.  If you want to go out and get something off the shelf that'll work for you, it tends to cost a bit more (and come with a warranty and service).  Fortunately, most of the commercial touring bikes on the market today do everything the OP want, and most of them are within the $1500 budget.  For someone who's willing and able to pay that, all that's left to worry about is the fit.

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