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Messages - paddleboy17

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General Discussion / Re: Brooks Sadles
« on: August 01, 2013, 07:29:09 am »
Jane, I am one (male) who was unable to ride my Brooks B17 Special.  After much advise from fellow forum members on adjustments etc I ran into medical issues that I just had to pass it on to a friend.  Beautiful saddle.
However, my wife now has a Brooks B17S (woman's version) and she loves it.  It is the only saddle she has been comfortable riding.  She is still in a break in period but has told me she loves it.
Just thought I'd throw this in.

If your medical issue was prostrate, Monarch Leather in Wisconsin will put a prostrate friendly cut out in.  Monarch Leather is the manufacturer for Selle AnAtomica saddles.  Contact Selle AnAtomica for details.

I think there are too many factors here to draw conclusions.
Any extreme athlete is going to abuse their body, and it does not matter what the sport is.
Diet is really important, be it what you eat daily, or what you eat on the TransAm.
I think you can do a long distance tour and not shorten your life expectancy. 

General Discussion / Re: Brooks Sadles
« on: July 01, 2013, 09:59:00 am »
Black treated leather is harder and takes longer to break in.  White and natural (honey) leathers are softer and take less time to break in.  Different saddle designs may take more or less time to break in.  I had a Brooks Conquest (no longer sold) that broke in during a day of riding.  I also had a Brooks Team Pro that took 3 months to break in.  Even within a color and saddle type, there are variations.  I have 3 Brooks B-17s, and the last one I bought (a B-17 Imperial) took a week to break in.

Breaking in means that the saddle stretches and deforms to match you.  So your body is supported over the entire contact area of the saddle, and not just 2 or 3 hot spots.

My advice would be to get one of the Brooks honey colored saddles.  Talk to the folks as Wallinford bikes,, and see which one they think would be right for you.   They also carry quality leather saddles from other makers that have entered the saddle market.  My Conquest has springs, and I don't think they do that much.  I don't think you need springs for road riding.

There is also Selle-An-Atomica, sold only by them.  This operates on a slightly different strategy.  Your butt flops on two semi-independent leather hammocks.  I have a friend who swears by them, but I was not impressed.  There is no break in time needed though.  It is worth your time to look at though.

Guys, especially middle aged ones, often have prostrate issues that need saddles with cut-outs for "the goods".  I have no idea if there is a female equivalence.

Regardless of what saddle you chose, it needs to be set up properly.  Loosely this means level with the front of your knee over the ball of your foot when the pedal is at the 3 o-clock position.  It is just a guide, and feel free to deviate in favor of your comfort.  I use a carpenters level, and like my saddle nose down from level by one bubble. 

Gear Talk / Re: Solar Panel - Yea or Nay?
« on: July 01, 2013, 09:32:59 am »
The solar panel is a bit iffy. I recently attempted to start a tour on the west coast in WA and OR using a very large solar panel that was to charge up a battery pack to power a C-PAP device. The panel was flexible enough to drape over my BOB trailer but because of cloudy, rainy and heavy woods, I was not able to get more than two or three hours run time on my C-PAP. The panel measured 21"x 30". Maybe it would have worked better east of the coastal mountains.

This is not a fair comparison from my point of view.  Your CPAP batteries are huge (3x+) in comparison to what the iPhone and GPS combined need.  CPAP batteries would be much more difficult to charge from solar, whereas one could charge some AAs and an iPhone.  With new iron phosphate batteries being so much cheaper than they used to be, I would just get a 10 or 15 AH battery and plan on AC charging for your CPAP.  I have 10AH x 12VDC NiMH batteries, but this is the last season that I am going to use them.  Recharging wastes half of the input power as heat.  Lithium ion batteries are so much more efficient at charging, and iron phosphate batteries ( 1 of 3 different lithium ion implementation) are a better approximation for the lead acid cells that a CPAP machine was designed to run on.

I do agree with your outcome though.  You have to bring AC chargers for cloudy days anyways, and AC charging should be available.  In a pinch, alkaline AAs can be bought for the GPS.  And rechargable NiMH AAs are going to waste half of the input power as heat.  I carry a POWERGEN external battery which should easily give you 3 full charges to your iPhone.  So as desirable as solar charging is, I just don't think it is quite ready for prime time yet when it comes to bike touring in the USA.

Gear Talk / Re: Touring crankset
« on: June 25, 2013, 10:48:23 am »
Russ, touched a nerve did I...  :)

We all have to decide about what is important to us.  I will admit that I am a big fan of using mountain bike cranks on touring bikes.  At some point in you life, having that enhanced low end is nice when you are humping your stuff up a grade.

The OP (original poster) complained about the total range available on his current crank, not just the low end but the high end too.  Yes you can swap out rings (except when Shimano rivets them on).  The ramps and pins do improve shifting, but they also elevate the cost of the replacement rings.  I would still pay ~$100 for a high value mountain bike crank in the desired range than ~$70 for economy chain rings to convert the existing Sora crank to that same range.  Better shifting is worth ~$30 to me.  But every else is entitled to their opinion.

I once had a Tiagra triple which I think was a 30/40/50.  I did swap out the 30 and put a 26 ring in its place.  The dealer could only get a 26 ring, and I never checked to see if there were other choices.  As I recall, the shifting was not too bad, even with Tiagra brifters, but I ultimately wanted a little more on the low end and put an LX mountain crank in its place.  When I sold the bike I put the Tiagra crank back. 

The right crank for the OP is the one that meets his needs.  I don't know that the Sugino touring crank would be my first choice in an after market crank.  There is nothing wrong with Sugino or tapered square bottom brackets, but Shimano still calls the shots in the bicycle component world.  About 15 years ago Shimano started the transition from tapered square bottom brackets.  Right now Shimano pushes the outboard bearing cranksets.  At some point, sources for quality tapered square BBs are going to dry up.  There are lots of sources for new outboard bearing cranks besides Shimano.  As far as I know, all of the outboard bearings are interchangeable, so a new crank could mean useful spare parts.   

Either way, swapping rings or another outboard bearing crank really is something that even an novice can do.  And maybe just trying out a new little chain ring is worthwhile since the out of pocket cost is so low.

One final caution, going from 32/42/52 down to 26/36/46 (or lower) may also require a new front derailleur.  You will not know until after the swap.  Good news is that front derailleurs are pretty cheap.

Gear Talk / Re: Touring crankset
« on: June 24, 2013, 10:46:10 am »
A compact triple has a 22, 24, or 26 tooth ring, with 22 being the most common. My understanding is that if you are a real pedal masher, then you can subject the front ring to severe torque levels.   As always, your experience may vary.  I think the following year, XTR went back to more traditional rings.

Gear Talk / Re: Chain Maintenance vs Replacement
« on: June 24, 2013, 10:16:49 am »
Get yourself a chain gauge.  Mine is from Rohloff, but others make them.  If you don't want to do maintenance, that is your call, but you need to replace the chain as soon as it starts to stretch.  I find they go pretty quickly.  If you wait until the chain is trashed, you will probably need a new rear cluster, new rings on the crank, and a new chain.  That will cost a lot more than a new chain.

Gear Talk / Re: Touring crankset
« on: June 24, 2013, 10:13:16 am »
On a compact triple, aluminum generally is not strong enough for the small chain ring.  Sorry, but I got to use the correct terms.  With all of the mechanical advantage of a small front and a large rear,  you can generally create enough torque that aluminum teeth will not hold up.  So you really want a steel small chain ring.  The year I built my bike, the Shimano XT mountain crank had an aluminum small and large ring, with a carbon fiber middle ring.  That combo struck me as stupid, and I went with an LX mountain crank featuring the more traditional steel small, and aluminum middle and large chain rings.

If it were me, I would invest in a mountain bike compact triple crank set and the tools to do the job.  It sounds like the crank would be more that you want to budget, but the tools could be cheaper than what the dealer would charge you to do things. 

Tapered square is the classic way of doing things, but outboard bearing are real easy to install.  The Deore cranks should be just fine, and you might be able to just leave the old bearings in and keep the new ones as spares.  I would not worry to much about chain line, as the crank usually compensates for that.  There is something called Q factor (basically how far apart the pedals are) and that may be an issue if you have tight hips.  Since you have outboard bearings now, this probably is not an issue for you.

Gear Talk / Re: Jetboil: Possible to cook real meals?
« on: June 24, 2013, 09:34:42 am »
I am a foodie--I eat real food, well made. 

When you say that you want to cook, I will have to admit that I really do not know what that means.  But let me respond anyways.

For most cooking, you need a pan that will integrate the heat in order to reduce hot spots that will burn your food.  If all want to do is boil pasta, titanium might let you do that.  Aluminum is better, and stainless steel is even better.  That might seem counter intuitive to what gourmet cookware will do.  Titanium is not the best conductor of heat but the camping cookware is usually so thin that it does not matter.  Aluminum is a good conductor of heat, but when it is paper thin you will not get much integration of the heat.  Stainless steel cookware is not a great conductor of heat, but there is enough metal there that it does integrate the heat.  I have an MSR Alpine pot set, and I can make delicate cream sauces in it.  If you buy the MSR stainless steel plate, it can be used as a griddle pretty effectively.  I can make dishes in my Alpine cook set that I could never make in my Evernew Ti pot.

If all you want to do is boil pasta, then almost any stove will let you do that.  I have an MSR Whisperlite International, with two setting: off and incinerate, and it will boil pasta just fine.  If you want to do something else, then the stove is difficult to use.  A constantly moving spoon is not a good substitution for simmer settings.  I have migrated to an alcohol stove as I find the lower BTU output (compared to white gas) more appropriate for gourmet cooking.  I currently use a Trangia stove, in an aftermarket frame.  Yes you can make a penny stove which is lighter than a Trangia, but the Trangia will take a lot of abuse and still be lighter than a white gas stove.

So any stove and pot setup should let you do coffee, oatmeal, and freeze dried slop.  I do not choose to eat macaroni sans sauce.  I like my pasta with marinara or alfredo sauce, and I like my rice served as paella.  I also like to explore middle eastern grains.  I have made polenta (pan fried), but I don't see myself making bread or cakes in camp.  I am told that eggs will keep a couple of days without refrigeration, but I have not tried that out yet.  Foil wrapped chicken is fabulous, and I personally found canned mussels wretched.

Happy eating. :)

Gear Talk / Re: newbie saddle question
« on: June 21, 2013, 10:16:14 am »
This might seem counter-intuitive, but the purpose of padded shorts is to aid in wicking moisture away from your private parts.  They are not supposed to provide mechanical isolation for your back side.  I wear them, and mostly use the spandex type, but I do have the mountain biker nylon ones too.  This is one of those personal decisions that you will just have to make on your own.  I have had good luck with budget 6 panel shorts, but no one seems to make those anymore.  8 panel shorts are not that much better, but they are more expensive.  Different vendors put the seam in slightly different spots, and the location of the seam winds up being  really important factor in your comfort.  Keeping you dry and not chafing is really important to your comfort.

As for saddles...

This too is one of those personal decisions that you will just have to make on your own.  I have leather saddles from Brooks on all 4 bicycles that I ride.  Leather will deform to mirror your shape, and can be very comfortable.  There is a break in cycle (they don't start out mirroring your shape), there are maintenance issues, and you need to keep it dry.  I have had good luck with Brooks, but there are some other choices now as well.  You might try contacting the folks at Wallingford Bicycle ( as they have a good selection and the best return policy.  If you are male and of a certain age, then a prostrate friendly cut out in the saddle will also be important.

If you are taking the train to Maine, then using Amrtak to ship your bike makes sense.  If Amtrak has a freight service then that is news to me.

Greyhound Bus has a freight service that was pretty reasonable last time I looked.  You box up the bike, and they ship it from bus terminal to bus terminal.  It was much cheaper than UPS/FEDEX/DHL.

Southwest Airlines is pretty bike friendly.  I used them last summer.  You put the bike in a case, hand them $50, and it shows up in luggage pick up.  I think they have raised their rates since them so you would have to check and see.

As for your "stuff".  I think there is a argument for buying it in Portland and trying it out before you go.  If you know what you need, then you could also buy it in Maine.  I would want to try stuff out first, but you might not care.

General Discussion / Re: Need Help With Shifting on Climbs
« on: June 08, 2013, 09:11:26 pm »

I to would like to congratulate you on you weight loss.  Job well done.

I looked up your bike.    You have a short wheelbase, zippy fast road bike (sometimes called a critereium bike).  Fuji specs it two ways,  105 or Tiagra, but both come with a 34/50 front and a 12/28 rear.  These are not climb friendly gear choices, so please don't beat yourself up.  105 and Tiagra are nice groups.

I could not gleam if you are targeting an al day event ride or a tour with panniers or a trailer.  Your Fuji will do fine on a day ride, but it will not be a great bike to tour on.

What are you plans for this bike?

General Discussion / Re: Need Help With Shifting on Climbs
« on: June 07, 2013, 09:43:21 am »
This is one of those things where better components make a difference.  If are able to anticipate your shifts, any component group will work.  This is easier said than done sometimes, and more expensive components seem to handle this better than cheaper ones do.  It is one of the reasons why they are more expensive.

That said, venerable bar end shifters may make a difference.  If your derailleurs can shift, then these bad boys can shift them.  You have not said what kind of bike and more importantly, what you have for shifters and derailleurs.

As the previous post said, although I will word it differently, the best thing you can do is anticipate your shifts.  If things are so screwed up that you have to stand on the pedals to make them barely crank, no shifter on the planet can deal with that much force and pressure.

I might disagree slightly with John's climbing strategy, but it is only in the name of diversity. 

Once again there are two kinds of people on this planet: mashers and spinners.  John is a masher, and I am a spinner.  I never get out of the saddle, except to get off the bike.  I maintain a pedal cadence (fancy word for revolutions per minute) of 80 to 90.  Always.  When I drift above 90 I up shift and when I drift below 80 I down shift.  I have mountain bike components (including a compact drive front crank) as this favors being a spinner.  My touring partner is a masher and it works for him.

Either strategy works, and you can decide which one you want to be. :)

Gear Talk / Re: SPAM: New 12mm thru-axle for BOB trailer...finally!
« on: May 30, 2013, 03:20:37 pm »
I am really feeling out of it.  I can see the purpose of your axle, but there seems to be a link missing that I do not know.

Humor me if you will...

I thought rear wheels had ~9mm axle, when was there a transition to 12mm.  Is there some other innovation I missed out on?

If you can't tell I have grown complacent with my bicycles and stopped frequenting bike shoppes!
OK, I go in for little stuff, but I have not looked seriously at a new bike in years.

Gear Talk / Re: SPAM: New 12mm thru-axle for BOB trailer...finally!
« on: May 29, 2013, 02:50:47 pm »
I really need to get out more.  What the heck is a 142 x 12 axle and what is it supposed to do. 
I did not know that the classic rear skewer technology was broke?

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