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Messages - Pat Lamb

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Routes / Re: Washington DC to San Francisco-when, where, how
« on: September 14, 2015, 05:01:33 pm »
AC maps will have directions for riding in both directions.  E-W is on the top, W-E is on the bottom (or is it the other way around?).  Anyhow, by the time you get to the third map panel it will be automatic.  You can see the full routes under the "maps" menu item off the AC main page.  The TransAm starts from Yorktown, although if you're in D.C. you might want to head west out the W&OD, climb over Skyline Drive, and pick the route up from Rockfish Gap / Waynesboro.

If you're completely uprooting yourself, will you be riding with a full load of camping and cooking gear?  The fitness aspects of loaded touring and randonneuring are similar, except (a) you won't ride as fast as you expect with a load, and (b) when touring you get up on the  3rd, 4th, 5th, and subsequent days and ride.  Touring is more a matter of sustainable riding -- you will be riding tomorrow, after all -- while brevets are more a matter of seeing how far you can ride within one to a few days.

That said, most E-W riders seem to start the first half of May.  The passes will be open when you get to the west, but it can be hot crossing Missouri and Kansas.  You may be OK if you can maintain 70-80 miles per day (remember, it's got to be sustainable!).  With my 50 mpd average, I've thought I might start mid-April if I were to do the TransAm again.

Pat (RUSA 8127)

Routes / Re: Late summer route options Colorado to West
« on: September 02, 2015, 11:35:20 am »
Not sure how fast you're riding (miles per day), so I'll use my time and guesstimate you'll hit Idaho in a month.  It might take another couple weeks to get to central Oregon.

By the first of October, there's a decent chance the cooler weather and some light showers will have suppressed the worst of the wild fires in the northwest, should you choose to take the TransAm.

OTOH, NPS campgrounds start closing down this week in Yellowstone.  It's an easy two or three day trip from Moran Junction to West Yellowstone, and it's all through national parks.  There's a Forest Service campground just east of Moran Junction if Jackson Lake is closed.  I think the next campground on route is at West Thumb, followed by Old Faithful.  What's the closure schedule for those?

On the bags, would it be overkill to have a 32 degree bag for the high elevations in the West and then ship it home once into ... Kansas? We will have friends sending us re-supply items via General Delivery as we go along, so I am thinking a swap to a "lighter" bag could be accomplished.

Makes sense to me.  If you have a bag shipped to some place like Boone, CO, you can stuff the colder bag into the same box, tape it up, and send it right back.  (I only mention Boone because we had a care package waiting there!) 

Whether you need something that warm depends partly on luck -- you might have 45 degree lows all through the Rockies, or it might frost.  Leaving early July, you've got a good chance of hitting the east coast by the end of September, and a 40-45 degree bag will probably be fine.  You may spend more time sleeping on top of it, for padding, than in it for warmth.

Gear Talk / Re: Velocity Dyad or Mavic A719
« on: August 19, 2015, 08:43:15 am »
I've got one of each, the Dyad on The Bike and the Mavic on The Spare Bike.  (Or is it the other way around?)  Something like 15-20,000 miles on each, loaded, unloaded, commuting, etc., with nothing to report.  They're both good.

Gear Talk / Re: 9 speed or 10 speed for my new bike build up?
« on: August 12, 2015, 08:03:23 pm »
Back to the original issue, is there a way to use drop bars and brifters with a full modern group to get to 20 gear inches or below?
With 9 speed, sure easily.  Do you consider 9 speed modern?

OK, technically there is ONE Shimano brifter left in production (Sora).  Since everything else is either NOS, or 10 or 11 speeds, 9 speed looks to me like it's obsolete.  (Even if it's what's on all my bikes!)

It'll be interesting to see if any major manufacturer specs a touring bike next year with SRAM.

Gear Talk / Re: 9 speed or 10 speed for my new bike build up?
« on: August 12, 2015, 04:32:01 pm »
I've always been able to hear coal trucks coming up a hill well before they got close to me, so I could angle towards the side of the road and not have to "dive" towards it.  The Kentucky and Virginia hills and mountains are usually steep enough that, while I may go from 8% to 3% (usually more like 8% to 6%), I'm still going uphill, still having pressure on the pedal, and still having to work to keep from rolling backwards.

Back to the original issue, is there a way to use drop bars and brifters with a full modern group to get to 20 gear inches or below?

Gear Talk / Re: Tire recommendation for supported tour
« on: August 12, 2015, 04:26:13 pm »
The Marathon Plus to Big Apple is a huge jump in size.  I'd suggest you get a pair early and let each of you get a couple of rides in well before you leave, to see if you're happy with the ride and the way the bike handles with those monsters.

If you like them, get a second pair.  Otherwise, something like the Marathon Supreme, straight Marathon, or a Continental Gator Hardskin might be more to your liking.  As they're lighter (more or less!), you would gain better flexibility in the sidewalls with these, which will help soak up some of the road shock and vibration.

Have you considered new padded tape or gel inserts under the bar tape?

Routes / Re: Biking in Yellowstone
« on: August 12, 2015, 04:14:43 pm »
Best conditions will be before Independence Day and after Labor Day.

Best road conditions, but facilities start closing down shortly before Labor Day.

Like Pete, I expected to see a dramatic dropoff in visitors on Sunday afternoon, such as I've seen in Great Smoky Mountains and Yosemite.  However, I didn't see the expected drop.  I think Yellowstone is so far from major population centers that people leaving to get back to work Monday have to drive 2-3 days to get there or home, with the result that the visitor traffic load is smoother than I expected.

General Discussion / Re: Transam - Van Supported
« on: August 12, 2015, 04:09:47 pm »
Shouldn't be a problem for you.  You've got 8 months to get in some longer rides (50-75 miles), and try to get out of the city for some climbing.  Do it, you'll have a blast!

Gear Talk / Re: 9 speed or 10 speed for my new bike build up?
« on: August 11, 2015, 02:07:53 pm »
As I mentioned, I have a Shimano STI shifter 10 speed touring bike.  Shimano 105 triple STI shifters.  SRAM 10 speed 11-32 cassette, assume its one of their mountain bike models.  Shimano Deore mountain bike long rear derailleur, fairly new, 9 or 10 speed model.  Avid Shorty cantilever brakes.  Shimano 10 speed chain.  Shimano Tiagra triple front derailleur, fairly new.  This combination of parts shifts and brakes perfectly.

Russ, what's the crank on this bike?  How small is your little ring?

General Discussion / Re: Buying Used Question
« on: July 24, 2015, 04:54:12 pm »
Bad news: other than checking with your local police and giving them the serial number (typically located on the bottom of the bottom bracket/crank), there's no systematic check for stolen bikes.  Thieves in my town typically fence them 60 miles away, and vice versa.

Used bikes are like used cars, in that if you can't assess them yourself, the best bet is to take them to a qualified mechanic.  In the case of a bike, a bike shop mechanic should be able to give it a quick check without hitting your pocketbook too hard (I'd guess $25 or a dozen doughnuts).  In the middle of the summer, Tuesday and Wednesday are the best time, since it's peak season and they get a lot of business getting ready or getting over the weekend.

I've got a Fuji Touring, and it's a good bike, but they're offering it for only 30-50% off list (depending on age). That T800 sounds sweet.

General Discussion / Re: Tandem on the Northern Tier
« on: July 24, 2015, 09:46:57 am »
Not me, but I did meet a couple headed east on a tandem.  They were credit-card touring, and the wife had made motel reservations all the way across the country.  IIRC they were riding about 80 miles per day, which she said was easy because of the light load (this was after they'd completed the Washington passes).  They planned to finish and fly home to Seattle within two months.

I google searched touring with Trek Fx and the bikeforums discussion I found seemed to feel strongly that the Trek FX spokes were not up to the challenge but I'm not sure of the posters expertise - but maybe I shouldn't???

If that's the one with 24 spokes per wheel, I'd be concerned about loading it up.  If you're touring with a full load, you'll probably want 32 spoke wheels.  Lower than that, and you'll see how fatigue affects spoke life.  The wheels might be OK for a couple of weekend trips, and then start breaking 100 miles from the nearest bike shop.

General Discussion / Re: Bicycle guidance
« on: July 21, 2015, 08:50:29 am »
With all due respect to Pete's point of view, I'd suggest first defining the load and then seeing if the current bike is sufficient.  If it isn't, then look for something better.  Not everyone tours with 15 pound loads, so the light bike that's OK for that may not be adequate for handling the final load.

Back to the OP, John Nelson's question is the first thing to answer.  If the tour is a supported tour, ride anything.  The truck or van can carry the load.

If it's an unsupported tour, try to do your planning now to figure out what kind of load you'll be carrying.  With a typical load (I think most cross-country tourists weighed at Adventure Cycling headquarters carry 35-40 pounds of gear plus bike), you'll want at least a rear rack and panniers, and possibly a front rack.  (As an aside, I'd avoid putting a front rack on a carbon fork.)  Somewhere between 5 and 50 pounds there's a breakpoint where shimmy becomes a problem with a light bike, and then it's time to beef up the bike.  At 40 pounds of gear, it's probably worth taking a classical touring bike (Surly LHT, Trek 520, Novara Randonee, Fuji Touring, CoMotion Americano) to have the load adequately supported and braced.

Does a full-on loaded touring bike cost a lot?  Unsupported week-long AC tours seem to average about $1,400, about the same as the production touring bike above (except the Americano).  The more you ride, the less a bike costs.  I could afford mine, and still ride it; you'll have to decide how it fits into your budget.

Do try to test ride anything before you buy it.  This late in the year you may have to make a trip to find a touring bike in a shop.

My experience with motels is that the prices have been higher than I expected.  I ended up staying more in motels than I'd planned on the TransAm, and it was unusual to get a room for less than $100 with taxes.  I'd suggest a budget of $100-120 per day for a low ball credit card estimate, including food.

As indyfab notes, reservations are recommended for weekends from the Rockies west.  That means you need to plan ahead, and reduces your flexibility a bit.  The good news is that between the Pacific and Canon City, there's often only one viable stopping point within a day's ride.  It also puts you at the mercy of the weather -- if you have to hit a certain town next Thursday because of reservations there and further on for the next week, you have to ride through the horrible headwind or the dangerous thunderstorm today to make that.  Yellowstone and the Tetons are probably the worst -- if you're motelling, you need to make your reservations by February to beat the big tour operators, and then you have to adjust the rest of the trip to fit.

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