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Messages - Pat Lamb

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Routes / Re: Dahlonega GA to Tallahassee FL Winter Route?
« on: August 15, 2014, 07:27:10 pm »
Two thoughts.  First, I'd take the eastern route to avoid metropolitan Atlanta.  Second, most of the south, including most of Georgia, deals with snow on the roads by waiting a day or two for it to melt.  You're unlikely to have a road closure that lasts for more than a couple days, and if you do run into one, it'll close all the roads in the area.

As to starting in early April, it's probably workable.  There may be a cold snap or a late snowstorm in the Appalachians; the cold snap probably won't be any worse than what you'll run into in the Rockies, and if it does snow, it'll melt the next day.  You'll probably have more rain than you would a month later.  It's a good idea to have emergency funds to hole up in a motel for a couple nights.  One more issue may be finding a motel near Williamsburg -- it's a popular school trip destination in March and April.

Public transportation is going to be a problem.  If you can fly into Baltimore, you might find an inexpensive flight on Southwest into Norfolk, and then take a taxi across the river.  From Richmond, you'll have to check on buses, but you'd likely have to take the bike boxed and beg the baggage handler or driver to be kind to it.

Other people who've flown into Washington have ended up renting a car.  You can often find a one-way rental from Washington/Dulles to Williamsburg for a reasonable price, as long as you reserve it early.  It's about a three hour drive, also known as "not too far" in the U.S.A.

Routes / Re: Kentucky and Virginia trans am shortcuts
« on: August 15, 2014, 11:31:20 am »
We took over 20 days to go from Yorktown to Utica, but that included the beginning of our trip.  You're probably in better shape after 3,000 miles than we were starting out.

One of the options google maps shows for Utica, KY to Norfolk is basically U.S. 58.  Though I haven't driven the whole thing, I've heard this is a great road for retired motorists to take across southern Virginia when they're tired of interstates.  There are a couple of cautions, though. 

58 west of Damascus is mostly 4-lane divided highway, with occasional shoulders.  Traffic isn't too bad except "rush hours."  This stretch is probably like most of 460.  I'd suggest the Virginia Creeper rail-trail from Abingdon to Damascus, where the road hasn't grown as much as the traffic.

Martinsville would be a good place to find those back roads.  Danville, as I recall, is fairly decent downtown (except for some rough streets), with a suburban sprawl girdle.

And of course, the whole Norfolk/Chesapeake/VIrginia Beach is an urban area.

Damascus to Independence is a nice mountain road.  There's enough twists and turns to keep the traffic slow.  It's pretty rural from there on, with the exceptions noted above.

Routes / Re: Seeking Advice for a Cross Country Route
« on: August 15, 2014, 11:19:58 am »
I'd want to start the ST in January or maybe February, to try to beat the heat in the western deserts.

Late March might be a viable, if a bit early, time to start the TransAm.  It'd likely be chilly in the Appalachians, but the snow should be gone (unless there's a late storm).  Late March should put you in the Rockies in early May, which might be passable by then.  Yellowstone would probably be open but practically empty.  It'd be a gamble, true, but who knows what the snowpack and weather will be next winter?

Given the choice and a late winter start, I'd wait until mid-April and take the TransAm.

OK, so, lakes in the area.

I remember a lodge at Kentucky's Falls of the Rough state park; you might check to see if they have rental cabins there.  Sorry, that's about my limit of knowledge for Kentucky.

Otherwise, you'll have to search for rental houses at some of the lakes.  Tennessee has lots of lakes, thanks mostly to TVA.  Off the top of my head, near Nashville, you have Percy Priest Lake; further upstream on the Cumberland, Dale Hollow is in gorgeous terrain.  Land Between the Lakes is a popular destination for RVers and fishermen, check also on Kentucky and Barkley Lakes.  You'll at least find marinas, I don't know if they have short-term cabins.  Pickwick Landing and Watts Bar Lakes have a fair bit of touristy things around them, as does Guntersville in Alabama.  There may be something on Norris Lake and Douglas Lake in eastern Tennessee.  On most of the rest of the TVA lakes, you'll have to look for a state park that might have cabins or more isolated rentals.

Not quite sure what you're asking for.  When you say lake house in Tennessee, I think of people living in a nice house on the lake near the city they work; a marina or state park with a lodge and perhaps cabins; or people who own a second (or third) house on a lake for weekend retreats and parties.  Are you thinking of concentrations of something like a time-share condo, except it's a house on a lake?

Connecting ACA Routes / Re: Options along the TransAm in Kansas
« on: August 14, 2014, 09:37:56 am »
Off the top of my head, the only places you might want to stay on 50 are the stretch between Larned and Hutchinson (which is easily done in a day, just take extra water and a lunch), and the stretch east of Newton (where the TransAm leaves 50 and goes south). 

We detoured through El Dorado to find air conditioning instead of going up to Newton, and then had a great day from El Dorado to Hutchinson in the free sweat known as rain.  The northern bypass around the north of Wichita, and KS 96, were four lane divided highway with good shoulders and light, polite motorized traffic.

As jamawami says, the towns along the TransAm are pretty well spaced for a cyclist.  You'll have towns spaced 15-25 miles apart, giving you options for short or long days.  Not at all what you've experienced in Wyoming!

Gear Talk / Re: From the road: least used gear, most appreciated gear
« on: August 13, 2014, 09:44:08 am »
Among the items I wish I'd had would be ear plugs. I was at a town called Arlington OR camped out at the marina with a RR crossing a hundred feet away and interstate 84 fifty feet beyond that.

I feel your pain. From one night on the GAP last year:

This was not an isolated occurrence. Turn up your computer's volume to get the realistic effect.

It's all about what you're used to.  We were a day behind three riders when we pulled into Mineral, VA, and camped out behind the fire station -- maybe 100 feet from the railroad.  Two days later we caught up with them.  They'd camped in the same place, then rode 8 miles to a motel to get some sleep.  My daughter and I listened to their tale of woe, then walked off a bit and asked each other, "Did a train come through Mineral that night?"  We heard one before we went to sleep, and another one in the morning.  Oh, yes, she'd just moved out of college where she was a block from a rail crossing, and I live half a mile from one.  Who knows how many trains we slept through?

Not going to email back -- you post here, I post here.

You probably need new shoes.  Either your shoes are not wide enough for your feet, such that after a few hours your feet have swollen and are being constricted by your shoes; or the soles are not stiff enough, so that the soles of your feet have to flex around the pressure point of the small pedals and cause problems.

Larger pedals might also distribute the pressure.  Shimano A530 or Crank Brothers Mallet pedals have a platform surrounding the clip that might help.

Gear Talk / Re: Best foot wear for touring?
« on: July 27, 2014, 03:49:10 pm »
For all those eager advocates of SPD clips, or any other mechanical method of attaching your feet to the pedals, here's something few of the clip using fraturnity rarely tell you.  Unless you aquaint yourself at an early stage in your cycling life and feel very comfortable getting in and out of clips at split-second notice without having time to think you might end up as I did a few years back, running out of momentum on a steep hill and quite suddenly face down on the black-top.

I think most people would say it is rather foolish to start any kind of major tour with new equipment that you are not completely familiar with.  Sorry to hear about your troubles, but what were you thinking?

The flip side, of course, is that clipless (or even toe clips and straps) allows a cyclist with adequate low gears to spin up many grades and save his or her knees from pushing too hard, and the problems that come with that.  "Attaching" feet to pedals prevents a foot from slipping off and forcibly acquainting one's crotch with the top tube.

It boils down to a personal choice, of course.  If a rider has put in some training time with bike (including pedals) before starting off on tour, either clipless or rattrap/flat pedals can get you where you're going.

General Discussion / Re: brooks saddle break-in how long
« on: July 24, 2014, 04:45:22 pm »
Not a Swift, but I've broken in four B-17s.  All of them felt pretty good once they were adjusted correctly when new.  It took 300-500 miles for each saddle to disappear, such that I stopped noticing it.

I've read the Team Pro is supposed to have thicker leather, so it takes longer to break in.  Some people say those take 1,000 miles to break in.  I'm not sure where on the B-17/Team Pro line the Swift falls.

Two notes.  First, adjustment is critical for a Brooks saddle.  I prefer two-bolt seatposts for the ease in making minor adjustments (without starting over every time you unscrew the single bolt on the other design).  Second, while many tourists prefer Brooks saddles - half or more, in my observations - not every bottom matches up with a Brooks.

General Discussion / Re: Touring on carbon
« on: July 21, 2014, 10:34:20 am »
I've cracked a steel frame, twice, without a load, or an  accident-- just fatigue.

BS.  You're just a CF chest beater.  Steel has the least amount of fatigue of any material except for Titanium.  ... [bunch of bragging deleted]   And this why today steel is still the number 1 choice for a touring bike no matter the cost, from low end mass produced touring bikes in the $1400 range to the high $6,000 plus range for custom built touring bikes.

I'm not sure why it was necessary to resurrect a four year old thread, but this steel chauvinism isn't helpful or relevant.  Steel has minimal fatigue, sure.  A single, N=1 example to the contrary does nothing to refute the assertion that steel bikes still break.  I've broken two, one loaded, the other not.

Why steel is the top choice for touring bikes is an interesting question.  I suspect a part of the answer has to do with traditionalists who won't buy a touring bike made of any other material.  Other answers might include: limited sales of touring bikes mean it's not cost-effective to set up tooling for carbon; Cannondale cornered the marked for aluminum touring bikes before it went through bankruptcy; many tourists stop with the cheapest production touring bike they can find, so that keeps the number of titanium touring bikes down below the point most manufacturers will mass produce a touring model.

General Discussion / Re: importance of componentry
« on: July 21, 2014, 10:15:11 am »
Yes, touring bikes typically have lower gears than other road bikes, and so-called "mountain" components had those lower gears.  Up until recently, you could shift any Shimano rear derailer with any Shimano shifter.  Deore shifters had/have longer arms to cover the larger cogs (up to 34 teeth) on the MTB cassettes.  It was an easy call to put a Deore derailer and cassette on a touring bike, and shift those with Tiagra STI brifters.  Tiagra front derailers could shift smaller cranks up front (i.e., lower gears again) adequately IME.  Some people say 105 and even Ultegra worked as well, others say nothing worked as well as they did on real road cranks with larger chain rings, but I can only report my experience with the Tiagras.  All-Deore would be a problem if you go with drop bars, as many of us have done, because the shifters are for MTB, non-drop bars.  The Deore/Tiagra mix worked well.

(Curmudgeon mode on)  It worked so well Shimano fixed it.  Newer groups have changed the cable pull ratios.  Perhaps someone else knows the intricacies of new Shimano groups; are the mixed-group touring bikes still on the market using warehoused older groups, or is Deore still being produced to service older mountain bikes?

The Carlton Complex fires  closed Washington Hwy 20 across Loup Loup yesterday or last night:

"Due to the fire situation, road and highway closures could change very quickly. Hwy 20 is now closed between MP206 to MP215. Hwy 153 is closed at MP6-21 and at a Level 3 Notice between the town of Carlton and Pateros. Hwy 97 is closed between Pateros and Brewster."

It looks like it's still possible to get out of the Okanogan valley on 17 or by going north into Canada, though the Inciweb report shows the fire's jumped the river below Omak.  It would be prudent to avoid this route from Republic west to Washington Pass, or perhaps to Concrete.

(I wish I could send them the showers we've had today!)

General Discussion / Re: Big Bend Loop II, Van - Nov 2-10, 2014
« on: July 17, 2014, 09:38:43 am »
Not the same tour, obviously, but I did the Blue Ridge tour with AC a couple years ago and overlapped for about a week with the TransAm group a few years before that.

I'd guess we averaged about 10 mph on the Blue Ridge tour.  That included a fair bit of climbing.  The TransAm crew may have been a couple mph faster, as most of them passed us most days.  Both groups seemed to leave right around 7:45-8:00 every morning.  Arrival time depended on length of the day and the specifics of the route, but I think most people rode into camp between 2:00 and 4:00 in the afternoon.

Neither group stayed together in one big paceline.  OTOH, there were smaller groups of 2-5 people that formed and disbanded fluidly throughout the day.  Skip an overlook, linger a while - you can ride your own ride.  The van does provide a safety net, but not many people fell into it.

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