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Messages - Pat Lamb

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61
Gear Talk / Re: solo bike security
« on: April 04, 2014, 10:18:36 pm »
What Pete said on low risks in small towns.  Carry a light cable lock to keep people honest, perhaps, and a detachable handlebar bag with ID, camera, cash, credit cards, etc. stays with you all the time. 

If you can swing it, a motel room in large towns and cities is a great place to leave a bike if you're going out for a museum visit, dinner, movie, or the like.  Try to get it clean before you go in; in some places, the staff keeps old towels just to clean off boots, waders, guns, and of course bicycles.

62
Gear Talk / Re: Making wheels stronger with a mixed spoke pattern.
« on: April 04, 2014, 10:14:13 pm »
What I see over a decade or more of wheel building is that commercial wheel sets use less rather than more spokes, higher spoke tension, a tendency towards 0-cross spoke patterns rather than 3-cross or 4-cross, a reinforcement of the points of attachment of the spokes, a reduction of the rim and nave mass where there are no spokes, and a liberty to introduce arty patterns rather than maintaining traditional artisan symmetries. I guess this is all the result of finite-element design calculations that gave much better insight in wheel strength.

I suspect it's more a case of finite element analysis being employed to support marketing-driven "artistic" designs, which just happen to require proprietary rather than standard parts.  This is great for the manufacturers (don't you want to buy a new wheel?), but are difficult to repair when you break something on the road during a tour.

63
Gear Talk / Re: Making wheels stronger with a mixed spoke pattern.
« on: April 02, 2014, 11:40:28 am »
Interesting concept, zerodish.  I'd never seen this suggested before.  If you don't mind, though, let me pulse you with a few questions and comments.

Before I lose 2/3 of the readers, I'll point out that the wheel deflects a bit on the bottom when ridden with a load.  If it deflects enough, the spoke tension disappears (goes to zero), which is bad in two ways.  First, it allows the spoke to unscrew, meaning the wheel goes out of true.  Second, if the spoke doesn't unscrew, the spoke cycling between tight and loose will cause the metal of the spoke to fatigue, and ultimately break like a paper clip bent back and forth.  It's actually better for the spoke to stay tight!

First, four cross is usually used for higher spoke count wheels, and two cross for lower spoke count wheels.  The idea, as I understand it, is to get the spokes coming off the hub at roughly a right angle to the radius through the center of the hub.  Are you advocating going to a 48 spoke wheel?  If you're using 4x with 36 spoke wheels, are you coming off the hub at an acute angle?

Second, the ping you note as a new wheel is ridden is caused by windup of the spoke during tensioning and truing.  This is normally fixed (by a skilled wheelbuilder) by over-correcting and then backing off during final truing.  I don't see this as something that can be corrected by changing the length and angle of a spoke.

Third, the wheel is centered by balancing the tension of the right and left side spokes.  If you're using the same number of spokes on each side, as is the case for every wheel I know of on the market now, you can lengthen or shorten the spokes on the left (non-drive) side, but the tension will have to stay the same unless you pull the rim off-center.  With the same tension on the spokes, keeping the wheel centered, the only change is going to be frictional losses as the (almost) unloaded spoke shifts.  This is unlikely to be significant, and so I doubt you'll change the load the wheel can take before a spoke goes to zero tension.

A better approach might be to replace box rims with a stiffer (V) rim.  The V rim adds some structural rigidity, meaning you share the load across more spokes.  This, in turn, means you can carry a larger load on the V wheel without the spoke losing tension.


64
Routes / Re: Looking for week-long spring route in Eastern US
« on: March 31, 2014, 04:36:51 pm »
Most people riding the TransAm east to west start in May.  That doesn't mean you won't hit a cold or rainy week, but odds are pretty good you'll have 4-5 very nice days in a week.

The hard part is going to be arranging for transportation around the bike ride.  If you have two cars and you can arrange a shuttle, although it'll take the better part of a day to drive from one end to another.  You might also think about renting a one-way car, say from Roanoke back to Williamsburg.

Virginia in May; great scenery, good chance of good weather, and the rhododendrons are blooming in the mountains.  Great trip!

65
Routes / Re: Wind Direction Going Cross-Country
« on: March 31, 2014, 04:31:00 pm »
Somebody once commented that there are no tailwinds when you're cycling.  Some days you have headwinds.  Other days you ride really strong.  ;)

If you want to look up monthly average winds for a number of locations, have a look at:
http://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/climate/windrose.html
Be sure you read the cover page carefully and understand what the wind rose is telling you.

66
Gear Talk / Re: Handlebar bag alternative
« on: March 30, 2014, 05:46:27 pm »
No accounting for taste, so I won't argue over how anybody else perceives a bar bag.

But may I ask, how else do you plan on keeping a map available? and preferably visible?

Variations on a gallon baggie held on with alligator clips look feeble-to-tacky to me.  So does stopping at every intersection and pulling out a map.

67
Gear Talk / Re: Disc Trucker + Schwalbe Marathon Deluxe.. rim?
« on: March 30, 2014, 05:40:22 pm »
Just MHO, but if you're just getting a bike, ride it until you wear the tires out.

If you're going to be touring mostly on-road, you can ride just about anything, width-wise.  37/38 might be a little cushier since you can drop the pressure a bit, 35 or even 32 might be marginally (but almost certainly not significantly) faster.  Off-road, wider tires have an advantage, since they have more area to distribute the load on sketchy surfaces like sand or mud.

Tires are a wear item, like brake pads.  Unlike brake pads, it doesn't matter much which one you choose, as long as you avoid knobby tires.  It's almost a fashion.  Listen to all the yelling and listen to the person whose yelling you like the most.  Next time, a couple thousand miles down the road, you can choose something else or start yelling yourself.

As for rims, Alex Adventurer look perfectly adequate for any of the above tire widths.  If you go below 32 tires, you might want a narrower rim.  Velocity Dyad and Mavic A317 are also good, and Sun CR-18 can be built into a good wheel.  After you build the wheel, you can forget it until the rims are worn out (except for repacking the hubs every year or two).

68
Routes / Re: Starting Trans America West to East in July ... ?
« on: March 26, 2014, 09:48:20 am »
Four years out of five, September and early October are some of the best months out of the year to ride in the east.  The fifth year, a hurricane will either hit the east coast (Virginia) or blow up from the Gulf and rain all over Kentucky.  I'd go for it.  Youi might even want to drag it out another week or two and see if you can catch the autumn colors in the eastern mountains.

I'd suggest planning for a financial reserve, enough to let you ride out 3-4 days while holed up in a motel, in case rains or storms stop you.  You don't want to be camping when tornados were in the area.  Likewise, it'd be safer to wait out possible floods than to risk drowning.  Luckily, most of these will pass in a day or two, and things will settle down.

69
General Discussion / Re: 2 General Questions
« on: March 25, 2014, 08:50:59 am »
On the western stretches, there's often only one town within riding distance of the previous town.  If you ride fast, maybe two; do you want a short day or a long day?  Weekends are the hardest to get a room, otherwise you might be able to roll into town and pick a motel or call a day ahead of time.  (And if you want a room in Glacier NP, pick a date you think you can make and start calling now.)

The further east you get, the shorter the distance between towns.  The AC maps (with addenda) are pretty good at identifying where lodging is available.  Here you can pick a destination at lunch and call ahead; if they're full, you may have to shorten or lengthen your ride an hour or two if you're going to motel it that night.

70
General Discussion / Re: Tools for adventure
« on: March 25, 2014, 08:43:22 am »
Spare tubes
Patch kit
Tire irons
Multi-tool (hex wrench, mini-chain tool, screwdrivers)
Spare chain link
Fiber-fix replacement spoke
Small assortment of M4 and M5 bolts and nuts
Chain lube

71
General Discussion / Re: Miles Per Day
« on: March 18, 2014, 09:18:19 pm »
In the flat terrain the OP mentions, I could probably do 50-80 miles per day with some regularity.  But if some stiff headwinds came up, I might be tired after 30.  After you pick a number for planning purposes, decrement it by 10-20% to allow for bad weather, fatigue, etc., and remember to have fun while riding!

72
General Discussion / Re: Cell coverage - phone type?
« on: March 16, 2014, 09:58:08 am »
It's kind of hard to make a definitive statement since few of us have ridden it multiple times with different carriers, or taken multiple phones -- maybe some of the groups can give you comparative answers.

That said, Verizon had good coverage for most of my trip.  There were dropouts in the hills of Virginia, Kentucky, and Missouri, but most of the towns had coverage even there.  Coverage was pretty solid from central Kansas westward.

The "problem" is that a company has to put up towers every 10 miles or so, and it's just not cost-effective to cover every hollow and valley where the population density is low.  I was surprised that the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone had cell coverage (not so in Great Smoky Mountains, which makes it hard for the boss to call me, which makes it a good vacation spot!).

Note that wifi is almost everywhere today in the U.S.  Libraries (although they may be closed and you might not get access), most motels, and a surprising number of greasy spoons all have access points.

73
I have found that if I walk up to the counter and try to book a car one way it doesn't go well.  Similarly if I call a particular location it is generally a problem.  They seem to always either have no cars that they can let go one way or have a big surcharge.

Funny story about rental cars: A friend was flying back home, and his flight to Atlanta was delayed so much he missed the last connector.  He went out to the rental car counter about 11:00 pm and tried to rent a car one-way, about 200 miles; nothing was available.  So he went back into the terminal, called the national reservation office, and there was a $250 surcharge for one way rental that day.  He asked if there was a car available for tomorrow (starting about 40 minutes from then), and wouldn't you  know, it was a lot cheaper.  Finally he went back out to the rental counter and asked if he could pick up his reservation early; no problem.  He made it home for $80.

74
Routes / Re: Southern Tier starting in April
« on: March 12, 2014, 07:03:35 pm »
Since you're headed east, you should miss the worst of the desert heat later in the spring.  It may get toasty, though, and rather humid along the Gulf coast.  But if you've got the time to do it, I'd say go for it!

If your tent has mosquito netting, I think you'll probably be OK with the snakes and scorpions.  I'd suggest you bring your clothes inside the tent with you as much as possible, especially your shoes.

As you chat with people in stores and cafes, they'll be happy to tell you about impending storms and weather watches.  For storms and tornados, well, those are good nights to get a room.

I don't know about the Southern Tier.  My impression on the TransAm was that there were a lot more showers for campers out west (where it's so dry you don't necessarily need one daily).  Many truck stops have coin operated showers, but at least on the TA there weren't a lot of truck stops.  I've never seen a shower at a gas station that wasn't also a truck stop.  If you can find a friendly fireman at a fire station, you might find showers there.  Sponge baths had to do some days.

75
Amtrak shows a station in Williamsburg, and one train a day from D.C. with checked baggage service.  It's an easy 10 mile ride from Williamsburg to Yorktown (and then you get to come back!).

You might check other rental car companies and check back periodically.  Charges are notoriously fickle -- what costs $400 today might be $150 next week.

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