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Messages - Pat Lamb

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Underground Railroad / Re: April in the south
« on: October 06, 2014, 06:45:33 pm »
September will be hotter and drier, at least on average.  Look for highs in the 95-85 range, with lows around 75-70, depending on the time of month.  I'd guess you'd only hit 2-3 rainy days, vs. 5-8 in April, generally with a reduced chance of severe storms.

The downside is that the scenery will be late summer to early fall; no colors to speak of, everything has a tired, dusty, tan tint.  Few flowers, except goldenrod, joe-pye and ironweed, and ragweed.

Underground Railroad / Re: April in the south
« on: October 06, 2014, 11:45:37 am »
Purely subjective, it's a great time to be riding a bicycle in north Alabama.

Temperatures run about 50F to 70-80F, with an occasional day into the mid-80s and even more occasional frost.  Trees are blooming and budding, dogwoods early in the month and azaleas later.  After a long winter, this is the time you'll be happy to be a bicyclist!

Then there's the weather fronts.  A line of thunderstorms seems to come through about every week, bringing rain and winds.  The wind usually lasts a couple days -- south one day, veering to west and then north the next day -- and the rain is often in the evening.  The south wind can push you to some incredible distances if you hit it just right.  The good news is you'll rarely be shut down by rain that lasts for the full day.  The bad news is that the best option is often to take shelter (motel, perhaps warmshower host) early on the day the front hits, and ride it out.

Pacific Northwest / Re: Getting bikes from Vancover to Portland
« on: October 04, 2014, 10:30:59 am »
Just a couple ideas, I don't really know what the costs would be.  How about renting a truck?  I'd think, for a 19 day ride, you might be better off with a one-way rental each way for a 15' or 18' U-Haul or Ryder truck, although I don't know how badly the border would screw things up.  (Have you looked at flying into Seattle instead?)  You might be able to get either a 9 or 12 passenger van for the people.

Alternatively, can you fly into Vancouver and take a train down to Portland, checking the bikes as luggage?

Routes / Re: contemplating riding TransAm in many questions!
« on: September 29, 2014, 09:28:39 am »
A few more notes:

(1)  Check out Adventure Cycling's own howto for answers to many questions.

(2) Cooking is cheaper, eating at diners etc. is easier.  Your choice depends on your budget (if this is truly a once-in-a-lifetime trip, and you've been saving up for it, you can do it either way).  Breakfast, or second breakfast, at diners that see who can make the biggest pancakes are fun, entertaining, filling, and fueling!

(3) An apple, a package of tuna or chicken, and a chunk of cheese makes a good lunch anywhere, anytime.

(4) Two bottles is usually enough water.  You can either buy extra bottles of water or fill up a collapsible pouch (Platypus makes a good one, see when the AC maps note a long stretch without services.

General Discussion / Re: Gear Calculator for Android
« on: September 25, 2014, 10:00:02 am »
How much of the wheel needs to be reinvented?  It works in every browser I've tried it on, including a couple of Android devices.

General Discussion / Re: General Advice- TransAm Route
« on: September 19, 2014, 01:58:10 pm »
I don't know if this matters to you but yet another consideration is that there probably won't be very many leaves on the trees in March and early April, which IMO greatly detracts from the views. You also won't encounter many other riders with a March start.

OTOH, when there are no leaves on the trees, you can see out almost anywhere when you get into the mountains.  Wait until May, and you can't see the valleys below until/unless you get to an overlook, power line, or some other break in the trees -- at least in the Appalachians and Ozarks.

Just MHO, but early March is likely to have tough weather, mid March is a crap shoot as regards the weather, and by late March (or by the time you get into Kentucky, if you leave from Yorktown), you'd have a pretty good chance at tolerable weather.  Fronts will come through, and you'd do well to plan to hole up for a day every week through April, but it'll be cool instead of hot and sticky the rest of the month.

General Discussion / Re: Safe to cycle the USA? Things do happen.
« on: September 18, 2014, 09:50:10 pm »
On the other hand, most people in the US live in towns and cities larger than most of the towns most bicyclists stop in while touring.  In the remaining 50-odd days after the car driver arrives at his/her destination, s/he's much more likely to run into a homicidal psychopath than the cyclist spending nights in Kremmling, Rush Center, or Troutdale.

The dozen or so fatal shootings in my home city this year haven't made national news or been reported outside local TV range (that I know of).  Perhaps the rarity of touring cyclists being murdered is responsible for the wider reporting of this incident -- and that might indicate it's safer to be riding your bike across the country than stopping at gas stations in major cities at night.

General Discussion / Re: Riding on the US Interstates
« on: September 04, 2014, 07:40:29 pm »
Those who have responded to my post and have sited specific instances or issues and problems using the interstates seem to think that you can extrapolate one incident and arrive at a conclusion

These same problems of narrow bridges with no shoulders, bad traffic, speeding traffic etc etc happen on back roads and I would suggest are orders of magnitude more frequent and more serious than can be experienced on the interstates.

"...extrapolate one incident and arrive at a conclusion?"  Is that kettle black?

I think you're overstating the case drastically with "orders of magnitude."  Try riding an interstate in, say, rural Illinois or Tennessee, even though it's illegal there, and tell me how often you are safer on the interstate shoulder.  There are pleasant surface roads through there, by the way.

I've driven interstates in about half of the states, and the 10 mile stretch on the TransAm going into Sinclair, WY was the anomaly in my experience.  It was uncommonly good for cycling.  Straight road, wide shoulders.  Even as good as it was, it wasn't terribly comfortable being passed by trucks that didn't move into the left lane.

Speeding traffic on a back road may be driving 50 mph.  On an interstate it'll be 80-90.  That's three times as bad if you get hit.  (Square the velocity!)

When you run into a stretch of road or a bridge with no shoulders, the traffic has a better chance to see you and slow down and/or move over at the lower speed.

You really haven't answered the point about entrance and exit ramps.

You really haven't answered the point about (demonstrably) orders of magnitude higher traffic count on interstates.

As unexpected as a bicyclist is on a surface street, they're much less expected on an interstate, so the passing drivers will take longer to perceive a cyclist

I can't agree with your conclusion.  We may have to agree to disagree.

Gear Talk / Re: Straight up Noob bike/gear advice.
« on: September 04, 2014, 09:36:02 am »
Some answers to all your questions can be found at  (If you don't like those answers, ask the questions again and somebody will argue with everything that's written there!)

Fit is critical on a bike where your hands, feet, and seat are going to be fixed for 4-10 hours every day when you're riding.  REIs vary; some may have people who know how to fit a bike to you, others will say, "looks like you have enough room there, you're good to go."  Run away from the latter.

As a substitute for a professional fit, people who've been riding a fair bit can test ride a bike for a bit and get a good feel for whether the bike "feels" right or not.  Since you're not in this class, you probably need a good fit.  Try to test ride the bikes you're interested in for 3-5 miles, minimum, anyway.

One good thing about REI is that many of them have at least two or three models of touring bikes you can try.  Touring bikes are a very good idea if you're carrying the load on the bike; if you're using a trailer, it's not so critical.

Don't get hung up on carrying too much gear.  You're only a day's ride away from parts with mail order and ovenight delivery.  You do need to be able to repair flat tires, and it's a good idea to be able to replace a set of brake pads.  For everything else, duck tape or thumb into town and pull out a credit card.

General Discussion / Re: Riding on the US Interstates
« on: August 28, 2014, 09:25:16 am »
I do stand by my statement that a truck has never slowed down behind me but mostly because I get off the road when they approach and another vehicle is oncoming. I don't trust truck drivers in this situation

Car drivers are better. Most will slow down

So you jump off the road when a truck comes up behind you unless you have a wide shoulder, but stay on the road if it's a car, and that makes truck drivers more dangerous?

I guess I've seen enough interstates with road construction (and no shoulders), bridges across major rivers (with no shoulders), in mountainous terrain (with little shoulder), or widened to the point that there's little shoulder left, that I can't buy your assertion at interstate riding is going to be safer.  For SOME rural interstates that may be the case, but remember that the speeds are typically going to be higher on an interstate than a road or surface street.  Look at the skid marks and tire tracks in the median or off the side of an interstate's traffic lane, and ask if you want to be there when somebody ran off the road doing way over the speed limit.  Add in having to navigate entrance and exit ramps in more settled areas, and I'd prefer to skip the interstate even if I could ride on it.

For the most part, I've found the AC routes to be well planned.  There's a few areas where you have to be on that road to get there, but they've done a good job of identifying low traffic roads, with generally good sight lines, and if there's not good sight lines the road twists enough that most traffic won't be flying low.

Gear Talk / Re: LKLM & Krangear
« on: August 27, 2014, 11:33:40 am »
An unknown product from an unknown supplier?  Do report back how it goes, if you end up getting one.

Two points:
They show a fair few Fuji bikes on their web site.  There are Fuji dealers in the U.S., who will provide warranty service if needed.  (My commute today was on a Fuji warrantee replacement frame.)

Second, and more pertinent to the unknowns.  You should treat this as an experiment, or as a gamble.  Will it work?  Who knows?  If it does, you may have saved money.  If it doesn't, fair chance you're out the cash on the frame, and anything you may have spent for a mechanic to (help) build the bike up.  Don't spend money on this you can't afford to lose.

General Discussion / Re: Busiest ACA or other trail intersection?
« on: August 25, 2014, 09:25:20 am »
That's a really interesting question, thanks for asking it!  It made me stop and think.

My first impression is somethere where the TransAm intersects another major bike route.  The hamlet in Colorado south of Pueblo-Canon City where the Western Express meets the TA is one option, but it's only half a day's ride to Pueblo, so probably not much demand there. 

Lolo or Missoula, MT are obvious choices, Lolo because TA riders hit it twice in between the pilgramage to Adventure Cycling headquarters, and Missoula because you have the intersection of the TA and Lewis and Clark.  But again, Lolo's half a day from Missoula, and there's plenty of infrastructure in Missoula to support touring cyclists.

If you want to see a lot of bicyclists, go to Damascus, VA on a summer weekend and watch the people coasting down the Virginia Creeper trail.  Of course, most of those people rent bikes in, and are shuttled up the mountain from, Damascus.  Cool vibe in town because you get the intersection of the AT after a long dry stretch, bare of towns, and the cyclists add to the visitors.  Do they need another hostel?  Maybe, maybe not.

I've not been there, but I've heard the Minnesota rail-trails are generating some traffic, at least in the summer.  Local merchants (including motel and restaurant owners, and B&B operators) are taking note, especially near where two intersect.

I think places like Twin Bridges, MT, or Hindman, KY (Knott County), work well because the people who live there decided to do something, and did it right.  It's going to be harder to set something up and generate a buzz if you're not already attached there.  Bike touring in the U.S. is seasonal, and still so unusual, that you might be better off picking a place you'd like to live on or near a major bike route, and set up something there.

General Discussion / Re: Help me decide on this last minute tour.
« on: August 23, 2014, 12:58:19 pm »
Just MHO:

Glacier is one of the most beautiful places I've seen.  It's well worth your effort.

Depends on the road construction schedule, though.  If you can get across Going to the Sun Road, do that.  You might then head west on the Northern Tier towards Seattle.  It might be a stretch to finish that in three weeks, or maybe not; depends on your conditioning.

General Discussion / Re: Sour clothing - after washing!
« on: August 18, 2014, 04:59:44 pm »
Most of the time just hanging things out will clear up the stink, but when it doesn't, Borax does the trick for me. 

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.

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