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Messages - Old Guy New Hobby

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Gear Talk / Re: Input on buying a bike
« on: February 16, 2014, 11:47:34 am »
When I was looking for a touring bike, I traveled quite a ways to a large shop that carried a number of different touring bikes, and test-rode several. I don't think there is "a best" bike. But I found that one was "twitchy" -- the first time I looked back to check for traffic, I nearly lost balance and fell off the bike. That's not what I was looking for in a touring bike. I am intentionally not mentioning specific bikes, because bike models change from year to year, and because a bike characteristic that is important to me might not be important to somebody else. The point is, there are significant difference in bikes. Without the test ride, I might have been talked into buying a bike I couldn't live with.

As it turned out, I decided to buy from a shop that was closer and was willing to order my bike. That wasn't my original intent, but that was the decision I made after the test rides, and talking with the bike staff at the first shop. I simply felt the local shop would do better job of helping me with any maintenance issues I might have. I'm not advocating test rides at a shop, knowing that you won't buy there. Over the long haul, the long-term "free service" some shops offer isn't nearly as important as working with a shop owner you like who has good mechanics. Other options are to get a guarantee from the shop that they will take the bike back if necessary, or test riding a buddy's bike. I wouldn't buy a car without a test ride. Nor will I buy a bike that way.

Gear Talk / Re: Tent - One Person and Freestanding?
« on: January 03, 2014, 09:16:29 am »
 "Big Agnes" or "Hubba Hubba" are both popular tents. Do you suppose the very cool names have something to do with it? Mine is the Hubba Hubba, and it has served me well. Their customer service is great. I packed my fly wet and left it too long. When I finally unpacked it, there were ugly dots of mold all over the fly. The company was very helpful in getting me a new fly without buying the whole tent.

Gear Talk / Re: Can we survive the Transamerica with no cyclocomputer?
« on: December 01, 2013, 11:08:26 am »
Just to offer a different line of thought ... a GPS can be good for  finding your way back after you are lost / navigating around closed roads / taking impromptu side trips to local points of interest. As was already mentioned, the maps show very little more than the recommended route. You can use a program like RideWithGPS to plot the route as several "GPX files", then load them all in your GPS, along with all streets for the states you will ride through. (This often requires a memory card for the GPS.) My unit has a "screen saver" mode that blanks the display unless you press the screen. That minimizes distractions.

Some downside:  Cost /  You will have to charge or replace batteries every couple of days / There is a technology learning curve to make all this work well.

Some advantages of a GPS over a cell phone are: Map data is stored in the GPS -- no cell access is required / GPS units can be quite rugged, easily surviving drops, bumps, and rain / a GPS battery generally lasts for 2+ days of riding (emphasis on the "+" if you don't use the screen a lot).

One last thing for me personally. I enjoy finding good local eateries as I ride. The phone can find them for you (when you have cell access -- you might have to work ahead a day or two). The GPS can help you modify your route to get there with minimum additional mileage and using small (normally lower traffic) roads.

Gear Talk / Re: Trek 520 poor brakes
« on: November 18, 2013, 10:57:10 am »
If the brakes are loosened to accommodate a wheel that wobbles, they won't stop all that well.

Thanks. I never knew that. (Until now.)

Gear Talk / Re: Trek 520 poor brakes
« on: November 12, 2013, 03:55:32 pm »
I agree with John Nelson, but be informed that the biggest advantage to cool stop salmon pads is when it's raining. When it's dry, the pads aren't that much better than others. The only time I had a problem with my 520 brakes was one time in the rain before I switched to the cool stop salmon pads. There may be something else going on with your bike.

Gear Talk / Re: Shipping My LHT with Racks and Fenders
« on: November 05, 2013, 05:59:08 pm »
Check with your airline. I flew Southwest once and found that I could take my bike as baggage for $50. They didn't have a lot of restrictions about size. Some other airlines aren't so friendly.

Gear Talk / Re: Old battery systems, convert to USB?
« on: October 23, 2013, 03:50:01 pm »

Gear Talk / Re: Briefly: NewTrent 120R extreme battery pack
« on: October 20, 2013, 11:59:29 am »
This is an interesting post. I have an Android, so maybe you can answer a question. The old standard USB port has only 500 mA (0.5 Amp) available, and devices using it are not permitted to draw more than this. The result is that most phones have two or more charge modes. A "USB charge" mode  is 0.5 Amp. A "fast charge" mode might be 1 Amp or 2 Amp. I suppose it's possible for a phone to have different levels of "fast charge".

To resolve this, the USB spec requires the phone to query the charger to establish how much current is available. If the charger doesn't reply correctly, the phone will set itself to a USB charge rate, even though more current is available from the charger.

My Android phone reports whether it is using a USB charge or Fast Charge, but you have to dig into the menus to see this. Can the iPhone report which charge it is using? What does the iPhone report when you are using the battery pack?

Gear Talk / Re: Tire and tube storage
« on: October 20, 2013, 11:43:35 am »
Why own extra tires? Tires are expensive, unlikely to fail unexpectedly, and can be purchased quickly. When a tire wears, I keep the most recent worn tire as an emergency spare. It will easily last the day or two it takes to buy a new tire. In practice, I haven't yet actually used the emergency spare. I ride over 5,000 miles a year, so the emergency spare is never much more than a year old. I'm looking forward to hearing why others think it's important to keep all these tires around for so long that rubber degradation is an issue.

I'm also cutting back on spare tubes. Right now, I have two spare tubes, one in the bike bag and one in the garage. But I think I'm going to stop keeping the second spare. High quality tires and tubes are available. Getting a flat is becoming a rare occurrence. I generally install a new tube when I install a new tire, because the additional cost of a new tube is so low. And by using high-quality tubes, the likelihood of a bad seam or similar failure of a new tube is very small. So the old tube can become my second spare, or emergency tube.

To answer the original question, my emergency spare tire hangs on a hook in my garage. When I go on tour, it's easy enough to pack. I plan to keep the emergency spare tube lightly inflated in the emergency spare tire, hanging off that hook in the garage, taking zero additional space.

When I use the spare tube, it's time to buy a new tube. I sprinkle my new tubes with talcum powder so the rubber is less likely to stick to itself, and to make it easier to install the tube when it is needed. Then I double-bag them in kitchen zip-lock bags. The double-bagging is mostly to ensure the powder doesn't get all over the tools in the under-the-saddle bag.

Gear Talk / Re: See the gear on Velo Orange
« on: October 05, 2013, 08:21:12 am »
All that weight so high up. No fenders -- muddy gear when it rains. Doesn't look like a lot of fun to me. Of course, this is from somebody who plays in the street for fun.

Gear Talk / Re: Bike Pack for traveling
« on: August 06, 2013, 01:57:40 pm »
You're lucky. I flew my bike home and lost a pedal. Both pedals were well packed, so I can only blame TSA. I didn't have the option of riding the bike home from the airport.

Gear Talk / Re: Fenders and tires for a Surly Disc Trucker with 26" rims
« on: August 04, 2013, 04:53:46 pm »
Near Georgetown, the C & O Trail is beautifully maintained. Further down the road, it's not so good. Be prepared for some rough times. Not impossible, but rough.

Gear Talk / Re: Rohloff- two questions
« on: July 30, 2013, 10:11:50 am »
After reading this thread (and also reading some other stuff), I put a Rohloff hub on my bike 2 years ago. I haven't had a moment's trouble, and have been very pleased with the Rohloff performance. I use a 17.9 gear-inch granny gear. I can tell you from personal experience that riding my bike up a steep hill at 3.5 MPH is faster than walking the bike up that hill at 2 MPH. After three oil changes, the noise is still there. And it still a little bothersome when riding on a quiet back road. And the chain tensioner works very well. But that's not why I'm posting.

I was finishing a ride up the Blue Ridge Parkway / Skyline Drive last week, and came across a couple in Harper's Ferry that was doing a 4-day ride on the C & O Canal. Their experience made me think. His pannier came loose, broke several spokes, and pretzeled the rear wheel. Fortunately, they were near a bike shop. Their options were to either buy a new wheel and take off in an hour, or have the shop re-build the existing wheel and take off in two days.

There are other accidents that can pretzel a wheel. The're rare and none of them have happened to me (yet). But if something like this ever does happen to me, I'll have only the 2-day option, which would have a serious detrimental effect on my mental attitude, if you know what I mean. I expect to be riding this bike and the Rohloff hub for quite a while. But if I were building another bike, I'm not sure whether I would spend the money on a Rohloff again.

Gear Talk / Re: My "new-to-me" bike!
« on: July 30, 2013, 09:48:57 am »
Would you wear your SPDs on days you are not riding the bike at all? How about having to replace those clips? Just seems like a huge  headache for little to no gain (a gain that toe clips give you).

Since you asked, I've been in a couple of situations where the most important factor in keeping myself upright was my ability to keep my feet on the pedals. That includes a very spectacular near-wipeout on a bike trail that suddenly turned muddy.

In normal riding, the clipless help me get my back foot up and out of the way, so I'm spending a little more energy moving the bike forward and a little less fighting the weight on my back foot. Is this just in my mind? Perhaps. Certainly the benefit in normal tour riding is small. But for me, whether rolling down hill on a curve or traversing a gravel road or riding in heavy rain where everything seems to get slippery, it's the added stability and certainty of my foot's "lock" on the pedals that makes clipless excel for me.

It's not for everybody. If you like toe clips better, then go for it. It's good to have choices. It's great to be on the bike.

Gear Talk / Re: My "new-to-me" bike!
« on: July 30, 2013, 08:10:38 am »
What a score! If I'm not mistaken that bike was made in the US of A. (New 520s are made in Asia.) I use pedals that are SPD clipless on one side, flat on the other. If I a want a quick trip to the store, there's no need to change shoes. Many SPD shoes have recessed cleats and are perfectly fine for walking.

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