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Messages - Pat Lamb

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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.

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.

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.

Pacific Northwest / Re: Anacortes - Concrete ?
« on: March 08, 2014, 03:55:26 pm »
I rarely disagree with John, but this is one of those times.  S. Skagit was a long, boring ride for me.  There was one view of the river at a pipeline crossing, a couple of rather sad-looking farms, and no other scenery.  The highlights of this tree-lined route were a couple of road signs.  And maybe I'd pumped my tires up too much at Newhalem, but I remember the road as asphalt over cobbles.  If I were to ride it again, and it wasn't a weekend, I'd stay on 20.

Routes / Re: NT or L&C Going West from Missoula?
« on: March 08, 2014, 03:48:08 pm »
the four passes on the NT route might result in me being pushed in front of a logging truck.
??? I did it last summer and didn't particularly notice logging trucks. It's a long way from Kettle Falls to Sherman Pass, make sure you have plenty of water because there's none on the way.

Sherman Pass is big but a steady grade.  Wauconda is pretty easy coming west from Republic.  Loup Loup I remember as pretty rugged, but cheesehawk can take comfort in the lack of cell coverage climbing Washington Pass the fourth day; his sister won't be able to get a signal to arrange for a friend of a friend to meet him with a lumber truck.


In general I agree with Dave; mostly on-road tour, go with the Randonee / more off-road, go with the Safari.

However, there's also the personal preference aspect.  If either of you prefers a hybrid-ish style bar, that could push you towards the Safari.  With slick tires, it can roll 90% as well on pavement with higher tire pressure, and the fatter tires of the Safari will let you drop the pressure a bit and soak up some nasty road shocks (like old concrete roads from Missouri west).  Heck, try them both out and buy the one you ilke better!

Either way, tell the mechanics at REI what you're going to be doing with the bike, and ask them to check it over thoroughly.  I've had new wheels on a Randonnee start breaking spokes within 1,000 miles, and another set of wheels that they checked over now has over 12,000 miles with no broken spokes (that I can remember).

Routes / Re: Spring Break Practice Trip
« on: March 02, 2014, 01:01:57 pm »
Middle of March is a crap shoot in VIrginia.  You could have anything from snow to 80 degrees and sunny.

In general, the tidewater is going to be warmest, and the mountains to the west are coldest.  I remember wearing boots to go from southwest Virginia to an interview in the piedmont, only to be embarassed when there wasn't snow on the ground when I arrived (and the boots were the only footwear I'd brought, because I'd seen nothing but snow for two months).

The further south you go, the better off you'll be as far as weather.  There's a good chance the weather will be pretty good in the southeastern quadrant of North Carolina, roughly Morehead City and south.  The coast of the Gulf of Mexico may be a 1.5-2 day drive from Cleveland, but it's a good bet for decent weather.

General Discussion / Re: Any advise on Bicycle choice greatly appreciated.
« on: February 25, 2014, 10:16:00 am »
I might suggest you look at the Novara Safari instead. 

REI house brand, so you have a fair chance of finding one (that fits) at one of the REIs near Boston.

Smooth (fat) tires for better ride on the roads.  Low gears.

Handlebar has more hand positions for those long days in the saddle.

Rack mounts, should you ever need such.  (Also work with fenders.)

General Discussion / Re: transam tour
« on: February 24, 2014, 08:59:38 pm »
I'd think the $2,000 would cover most of your motel bills, but you'll need to add in campground fees (where appropriate) and food.  I'd suggest you double the budget.

Basis of guesstimate: 80 days total ride, 22 nights in motels @$100/night.  You might be able to find cheaper lodging some nights, but Murphy's Law says the night you're exhausted, filthy, burning up, and there's a storm front coming in, the only room left at sunset will be $125.  AC maps will help you find free camping many nights, but you'll still want to plan on a buck or two a night for showers at community pools.  Campgrounds and hostels may range from $5-25 per night.  You may be able to eat for $5-15 per day if you cook your own meals, but figure on $10 per meal if you go to a diner (where you'll meet the most fascinating characters).

What are your thoughts on the need for "Protection" on this route? My wife and I on the Bike for a month on the road/ campgrounds/ B&B's/ Warmshowers/ etc.  Dogs/animals/unwanted humans etc.

Biggest need is for situational awareness.  Be aware of where you are, the people, and so forth.  A vast majority of the people out there are not out to get you.  If you feel something's off, don't be specific about where you're going tonight and keep going, or get inside a B&B/motel if it's late.  A can of Halt on a handlebar mount (if you can find one) might be a good idea for dogs, or you might never need it.

General Discussion / Re: Road bike for touring??
« on: February 17, 2014, 09:32:50 pm »
The Randonee is a road bike, to my mind, that has some (limited) off road capability.  One carried me across the continent a few years ago.  Most REIs carry at least one Randonnee, and if you order by April, they can get one your size.

That said, the Fuji Touring is also a road bike with good load-carrying capability, and it has the best price for low gears among the major brands.  It's just difficult to find.

Either way, make sure you get someone who knows what they're doing to help fit you to the bike.

General Discussion / Re: Gastric Bypass and EPIC bike rides.
« on: February 16, 2014, 10:12:53 am »
No direct experience here, except I've heard more than I want to about the problems people have eating after gastric bypass (and I've ridden across the country).  However, I'd suggest you talk to you doctor about the maximum it's possible to absorb within three years of gastric bypass.  If you ride the distances many tourists ride, you'll need to be able to take in 4,000-6,000 calories a day.  Can you do that after surgery?  Will you need to double your time to allow for low mileage days and/or days off to eat up?

BTW, have you considered riding TransAm in 2014?  Take it easy for the first month, stay away from sweets and fried food, and you may find a wonder weight loss regime.

Tupelo to Nashville is pretty easy, take the Natchez Trace Parkway.  One issue may be finding campgrounds where you want them, but by the time you get there, another 30 miles won't be as big a deal as it will be when you start.

The Harpeth randonneurs have done a nice job mapping viable bike routes in Tennessee.  One key route for you is at (hope they don't mind a direct deep link).  I'd suggest you take the Dragon (U.S. 129) from Vonore; the ridges are lower than the Cherohala leg.  I'd suggest staying on NC 28 from just past the state line to U.S. 19, where you'll have 5 miles of high speed, divided highway before you can get off on 19 and go through Bryson City to Cherokee.  (Try to avoid 8:00/early morning and school's out periods on 19.)  From Cherokee, the Blue Ridge Parkway will take you to Asheville, with enough climbing to make up for missing Cherohala.  Camping, again, may be an issue, since the BRP is a national park, and the stretch from just outside Vonore (or Tellico Plains) to Bryson City is pretty much surrounded by a national park, with camping allowed only in designated campgrounds, of which there are few.

Check with the Harpeth people (, Jeff Sammons and crew) to get a good route from the Trace over to McMinnville.  I'm pretty sure you can link a few of their rides together to get from Leiper's Fork, a bit shy of Nashville, over to McMinnville, but I haven't ridden enough up there to know what the recommended routes are.

Gear Talk / Re: Poor Trek520 brakes
« on: February 10, 2014, 09:17:49 pm »
Good information on how to increase stopping power through equipment change.

On the other hand, I've treated stopping on steep (5% or more) grades as more of a skill than an equipment issue.  When it gets steep, I have to brace myself, which means getting hands down into the hook of the bar.  It's easy to grab the brakes from the hooks, and I've never had any problems (unless rims are wet from a heavy rain, but that's another story).

Gear Talk / Re: STI Triple 9 Speed with canti brakes
« on: February 10, 2014, 09:22:41 am »
The 9 speed Tiagra STI is good enough, and works well with cantilevers.

STI, and any indexed system, can be a bit fiddly to set up.  You could reasonably expect a 10 speed setup to be 11% more fiddly than 9 speed.  Note, too, that you typically don't get any greater range with 10 or 11 speeds than we did back in the dark ages with 7 speeds.  You just split the total gearing range into more slices.

One thing that's hard to deny, though, is that chain and cassette prices are significantly higher for 10 than 9 speeds, and there's another jump between 10 and 11.  It's not a major expense compared to the overall cost of a tour; and it may not matter to Pete, who gets freakishly long lives out of his chains; but your credit card will feel the difference when you order three extra chains and a new cassette.

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