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Messages - paddleboy17

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Gear Talk / Re: Co-motion Americano vs Norwester Tour
« on: June 02, 2009, 12:14:55 pm »
Talking about these two bike can invite criticism.  But I will give you my spin.

Officially, the Americano is a heavy touring bike.  It is really rugged.  Is it too rugged?  I guess it comes down to how rugged do you really need.

The Norwester is a lighter touring bike.  It is not as rugged.  Is it rugged enough?   I guess it comes down to how rugged do you really need.

I picture the Norwester being sold to someone that wants to do a lot of conflicting things.  They still want to do club rides, but their zippy fast criterium bike is not comfortable anymore.  They might want to do light touring.  They don't want to be slowed down by a really rugged touring bike.

For what you spend on a Co-Motion bike, I would get the Americano because it will be rugged enough.  Lots of people see it differently, because they sell lots of Norwesters, and people tour on them, and they are happy with their purchases.

I have a Waterford touring bike that essentially has the same build specs as the Americano.  An ex-girlfriend of mine spent the same amount of money on a Serrotta club bike and got a Ti frame with carbon fiber stays and a really pretty paint job.  Rugged is really expensive.

General Discussion / Re: Where to pick up a new bike?
« on: June 01, 2009, 12:17:17 pm »
There are ongoing debates on what bike (in your price range) to buy.  I think showing at an REI and expecting them to have a bike on hand that fits you could be a recipe for disappointment.  Maybe I am too anal. 

What you might do is research what bike you like.  There are lots of forum threads on this topic, so feel free to benefit from the research of others.  Past winner include the Surley LHT, Trek 520, Jamis Aurora, and one the REI house branded bikes.

When you reach some conclusions, the bike manufacturer's web sites should be able to give you some dealers.  Start making phone calls, and see who has the bike you want in your size.  Touring bikes are a smaller segment of the U.S. bike market,  so you might have to make arrangements to get one ordered.

It is still worth going to REI, as they will have some other stuff that you need.  I upgraded my tent last season.  I bought a Big Agnes Seed House from REI.  I have broad shoulders, so many of the other solo tent don't fit me.  I had gone into REI looking to buy an MSR Hubba, but it was too narrow.  REI did not have the Big Agnes on hand, it had to be ordered. 

If you wanted to fly into Detroit, I could recommend a couple of bike shops for you.  Someone on this list should be able to recommend a good bike shop on the East coast for you.

General Discussion / Re: Safety issues for solo biking
« on: May 29, 2009, 12:05:04 pm »
Let me start by saying I'm from Detroit...  ::)

I would agree that vehicular traffic is your number one threat.  Running cyclist off the road is an established sport in Michigan (and I assume elsewhere).  I don't have a gun and even if I did, I don't have room in my pack for it (too heavy).  Self defense is hard to prove in court, except maybe in Texas.

I do carry pepper spray, more for dogs than hooligans, but I would not be opposed to using it on a hooligan.  If you have phone service, I think this is a better line of defense.

Life has risks.  There have been hikers murdered on the Appalachian Trail, and people have died from heart attacks while shoveling show in their driveways.  Take reasonable precautions, and go ride your bike.

Routes / Re: Syracuse NY to Pittsburgh PA?
« on: May 27, 2009, 12:47:00 pm »
I just looked, and there an ACA route from Erie to Pittsburgh.
Perhaps that will be useful for you.

Routes / Re: Syracuse NY to Pittsburgh PA?
« on: May 27, 2009, 12:35:36 pm »
2 years ago, I tried to lay out a route that traced the PA Canal.  The route is north-east from Pittsburgh along the Allegheny River, and then east.  I gave up on the route because I felt the state (or at least this part of the state) was not bike friendly.  There are all these narrow river valleys, so the road are narrow, there are no shoulders, and the drivers go 20 MPH over whatever the posted limit is.  That said, here is a web site that will help you plan your route once you get into PA:

The GAP does not actually start in Pittsburgh, but in one of the suburbs.  There is a route to the airport, but they discourage you from starting in Pittsburgh.  Here is the GAP website:

Good luck, and I would like to hear details of your route.  My profile shows my private email address.

Gear Talk / Re: Help on choosing rain gear
« on: May 26, 2009, 12:53:43 pm »
You have not said too much about your route: time of year, how rainy, etc.

If temps will be at least 55 F, I think you will be just fine in a rain jacket and tights.  You body will produce enough heat that damp legs and feet will not be safety hazard.  Colder than that, then rain pants, gloves, and booties become a consideration.

Having rain water run down the small of your back is demoralizing.  In a light rain, a jacket will do fine.  In a heavy sustained rain, you might need more.

I have a Bernoulli rain jacket from MEC.  MEC is the Canadian equivalent to REI, and yes they ship to the states.  My Bernoulli jacket was made from Gortex, and sound like this is not the in fabric any more.  It has pit zips (armpit zippers)  and a horizontal zipper on the back for great ventillation.  I will be really sad when I have worn this jacket out.

MEC also sells helmet covers (aka helmet condoms).  Mine is urethane coated nylon, and small enough to go any where in your luggage.  Besides covering up your helmet, it has a big bill (flap) that covers the back of you neck.  It keep rain from running down your back.

General Discussion / Re: Shorts recommendation?
« on: May 26, 2009, 12:25:08 pm »
I also have had a good history with Performance Bike clothing.  Might I suggest two shorts and two jerseys per youngster?  Based on the length of your trip you can decide if you want to air dry or wash between wearings.  I know it will be tempting to just wear T shirts instead of jerseys, but cotton has issues when wet.

REI used to have 6 panel shorts that were both cheap and fabulous.  I think REI no longer sell them, but if you could find them elsewhere, they would be a great buy.

General Discussion / Re: "Support vehicle"
« on: May 26, 2009, 12:18:22 pm »
I have seen references here on the forums to "support vehicles" being used by some biker groups.  As someone who wants to go solo on the Northern Tier, I am thinking about having someone I know come along driving a support vehicle.  I presume the vehicle is driven behind, or not too far from the biker.   Can anyone make any suggestions to the use of "support vehicles?"

Thank you.

I would like to give two other spins on your request.

Some years back, my buddies and I wanted to ride the Katy Trail across Missouri.  Our original plan was to ride it loaded, and before we had worked out the logistical issues of how to get back to our vehicle once we got to the end, I got a respiratory infection.  By the time I recovered, I was still up for riding, but not loaded touring.  We ended up riding unloaded, and taking turns sagging the route.  Each day, the sag driver would head to the overnight stop, leave the sag vehicle, and start riding backwards until he met the group.  All would ride together to the overnight stop and the sag vehicle.  This actually worked well, and we had a great time.  We had cell phones to coordinate with, and carried enough gear to address any minor mechanical issues flat tires.

Our wives feel like the guy are having all the fun, and want us to work them into our next big tour.  The girls have no desire to ride.  We will either ride from motel to motel or campground to campground.  The plan is for the wives to be free to do whatever they want during the day, and that they would meet us at our night's destination.  If we go from motel to motel, we just need a car.  If we go the campground route, we need an RV as our wives like their creature comforts.  Again, we would use cell phones to coordinate, or to call for a sag should something come up.  There are variations on this them.

I cannot image touring with a sag car following me closely.  It seems like a lot to ask from the sag driver.   

Perhaps you could go into more detail about your situation?

General Discussion / Re: Tour Planning - Ten months out
« on: May 20, 2009, 12:02:47 pm »
I have a pair of foam flip flops that I take on my tours.  I put them in a mesh pocket on the outside of one of my panniers.  I am more concerned about the weight than the bulk.  That is what works for me.

General Discussion / Re: Tour Planning - Ten months out
« on: May 18, 2009, 01:38:45 pm »
This is so awesome.  And I am very happy for your adventures.

This is why I advocate short trips to shake out your technique.  You will converge on a way that works for you, but you still need a chance to try things out at first.  Something may really bug you, and you can put up with it for a day or two unit you complete your ride, but living with it for weeks is another matter.

Well Done!

General Discussion / Re: What's on your iPod?
« on: May 18, 2009, 01:33:08 pm »
I have never used an iPod while riding.  I cannot attest to how safe you will be listening to your iPod on the TransAm. 

But I do use my iPod while driving in my car, a lot.  I might add that my car was modified to play the iPod through the car's exisiting sound system.  No ear buds for me while driving my car.

Everyone's concept of tunes will differ.  I am a big fan of audiobooks.  If you blew your entertainment budget outfitting the bike, there are free audiobooks at LIBRIVOX.ORG. 

Any ideas on how you will keep your iPod charged?

General Discussion / Re: older riders
« on: May 18, 2009, 01:18:02 pm »
I don't know how close you are with your new bride, but have you considered renting a tandem and giving the long bike a whirl?  If you've not done this before be prepared to invest about 250 miles in this effort before becoming fully coordinated as a team.  Barb and I bought our first tandem nearly 20 years ago and we consider it the best investment we ever made.

Wherever your relationship is going it will arrive there much more quickly on a tandem.

My point, which clearly I did not make well, is how hard it is to have a balanced life.
My wife Lynn, will be touched that you all think of here as a new bride.  We will celebrate our 9th anniversary this summer.

I will agree about the importance of shared activities for a happy marraige.  I alluded that I scaled back on my boat collection.  I went from 6 kayaks down to 3 kayaks, keeping two matched recreational singles and a recreational tandem.  Lynn does not really like to pedal, but she does like to paddle.  So we paddle in the tandem kayak.  There are similarities with the tandem bicycle experience:  the importance of being a team, and where ever you go--you get there together.

I have thought about a tandem bicycle.  We are a blended family of 6, and 4 out of 4 kids are in college right now.  This brings us back to that balance thing again.  A Santana or Burley tandem is not in my budget any time soon, but I would love to have one.

General Discussion / Re: older riders
« on: May 14, 2009, 05:57:28 pm »
I am 51, and while whittierider's  words, give me comfort, I am not there yet.

Up until I turned 40, I used to be able to hang with the college kids and leave many of them doubled over and puking.  Since then, age has taunted me.  I have some knee pain that seems controllable as long as a pedal at a good cadence.   I had saddle issues that went away once I switched over to leather saddles.   I have recently had prostrate issues, but a leather saddle with a cut-out, and proper fit seems to be the answer to prostrate issues.

The biggest challenge seems to be keeping balance in my life.

I spent my 30's as a divorced guy, so there were many biking adventures.  I did some pretty cool stuff.  Toured Cape Breton and part of the Continental Divide.  Rode the length of the Keweenau Peninsula, and up one of Michigan's coasts and down the other.  Learned to Eskimo roll a kayak.  Stuff that none of my peers did.

I remarried at at 42, and lets just say that being married is time consuming.  My new bride knew about, but was not prepared for all the time spent paddling and pedaling.  In the end, I kept the wife, kept the bikes, and scaled back the boats.  Last year I sold my fancy British touring kayak to pay for my new custom touring bike.  My riding partners also married, and it seemed we spent a lot less time riding together.

When I entered the work force as a novice engineer in 1981, engineers were treated as a treasured resource.  This decade is lot more different.  We are up against the pressure to can us and ship the work to India.  We are up against the pressure to replace us with younger workers.  Never mind that I don't choke under pressure and the youngsters do.  I have a hard time finding enough time to ride like I used to.

The good news is that I picked up someone new to ride with.  In the beginning I mentored him along; now I relate to Victor Frakenstein.  If it is above 25F, John drags my sorry butt out for a ride.  You riders from Southern California or Florida probably have never ridden on iced road after dark, but this is how I spent my winter this year.  We will see if I can swing carbide tipped studded tires for next winter.

Also on the good new front is that riding is still the spiritual experience it always was.  I always return home with more than I left with.  I still tour, I just have to find something I can do in less than a week.  And I am still doing stuff that none of my peers do.

I guess that I hold out for my retirement years.  I have this expectation that I will have enough time then to ride all I want.  That I will have trained enough that I can ride like I did as 30-something.  That the absence of stress will make weight management easy like it used to be.

I am OK with slower acceleration--I just want to climb like a billy goat again.

Gear Talk / Re: touring wheels
« on: May 14, 2009, 12:45:56 pm »
I have an old (and beautiful) 1993 Paramount Series 3 lugged steel critereum road bike with 126mm spacing on the rear dropouts.  I am able to put a modern (130mm) wheel set in the bike.  It should not work, but it does.  To do the job right, I would have to send the frame to Waterford, and they would replace the bridge and align the lugs.  I probably will never do that, it is just not worth the money, and it would cost a fortune to get the paint job restored.

So you might be able to squeeze a modern wheel in your frame.  If that does not work, you can try to convert your new wheel to fit a 126mm spacing.  You should be able to put a 7 speed free hub body on your new hub, and get it to work in your frame.  If the dish is off, your LBS could fix that.  I am not sure if a shorter axle would be required or not.

See Harris Cyclery for details on free hub bodies.
They have 7 speed cassettes too.  When I still ran 7 speed on my Paramount, I was successful at adapting 8 speed cassettes by leaving the end gear off.  That is an option if you don't like what Harris has in 7 speed cassettes.

Gear Talk / Re: Comfy saddles
« on: May 13, 2009, 09:21:21 pm »
My buddies and I each have a box of saddles that did not work out. Between the three of us, there are probably a $1000 worth of saddles that did not work out.

I have only met one person that did not like riding a Brooks B-17 saddle.  It is a great saddle to buy.  Wallbike.Com used to have a 90 day no questions ask return policy on Brooks saddles.  If you want to try an upgrade, I would start with a B-17 from WallBike.Com.  It is cheaper than the route we went.

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