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Messages - paddleboy17

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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.

General Discussion / Re: Furthest Distance
« on: May 12, 2009, 05:40:22 pm »

General Discussion / Re: Furthest Distance
« on: May 12, 2009, 05:24:11 pm »
The island features fabulous views of downtown areas....of Detroit .......
I've seen downtown Detroit and the word "fabulous" NEVER occured to me. :)

The views from Belle Isle are indeed fabulous.  This is best view Detroit has to offer.  Pictures like this
were shot from Belle Isle.  Now the views from Zug Island (just a ways down the Detroit River) used to be truly hellish.   

To the best of my knowledge, the river has never caught fire.  There is an urban legend about the MI-DNR being unable to get water sample (the water rotted their galvanized buckets).  ::)

So how is the riding in Pittsburgh?  I have been meaning to do the GAP--I just have to work out the logistics.  We were going to start from the train station but chickened out after driving the route to the trail head.  Some of the neighborhoods  looked bad even by Detroit standards.  Got any suggestions?


Gear Talk / Re: touring wheels
« on: May 11, 2009, 12:12:49 pm »
I have ridden a Trek 7100 500 miles on trail and road once and a Trek 7300 the same trip twice.
And, I bike a 47 mile paved loop on weekends at home. 

I need some advice.  My rear wheel goes out of round all the time.  I weigh 190 and on the 500 miles trips carry perhaps 25 lbs
in rear panniers.  The 47 mile trip is without baggage.
I don't abuse the bike.

Why do I have so much trouble with the rear wheel?
Can I buy a wheel that will work without going out of round?
Or should I resign myself to fixing this all the time?

Thanks for any help.

I am guessing that your spokes are poorly tensioned.

Not only must the wheel be round and true, but it must be done with spokes evenly tensioned.  This is hard enough on the front wheel, and it is even harder on the rear wheel.  Most rear wheels are dished, which requires spokes to be longer on one side.  I am in awe of competent wheel builders.

Find a competent wheel builder to go over your wheel.    Perhaps if you say where you live, you could get a recommendation from someone on this list.

Gear Talk / Re: touring wheels
« on: May 11, 2009, 12:05:58 pm »
I'm lucky enough to be biking from Wyoming to Alaska-about 2500 miles- this summer. I understand there will be a few gravel stretches of several miles. The old Helicomatic rear hub on my 85 Trek has finally given up, so I'm in need of wheels.

Fully loaded with panniers front and back, the bike will have to carry about 160 to 170 pounds of rider and gear.- I like my little luxuries, but try to pack lightly.

Finally to the question: How much wheel do I really need?  I'm tempted to get Mavic a719 laced to 105 or Ultegra, but wonder whether something like Open Pro (which I already have) would survive the ride.  I would rather not use mtn hubs, as that would require spreading the rear dropouts, from their present 126 to 132 or 135cm, a proposition which scares me.

I previously toured on a bike that came with Tiagra hubs.  I tore these down as part of the rebuild I did to get the bike ready to sell.  I was amazed at how well the hubs had held up.  I think that this is a great hub for budget conscious touring.

I am not sure that I would go with 105 or Ultegra hubs for touring.  Your weight is not going to be a problem, but the dust seals might be.  These hubs were designed for club rides and amateur racers.

I really can't comment on Mavic rims.  I own them.  I think more of Mavic's rims that I do their hubs.  I just have this impression that Mavic thinks everyone weight 165LBS or less.  I have Velocity Dyad rims on my new touring bike and I am real happy with them.

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