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Messages - Pat Lamb

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Routes / Re: Trans Am timing
« on: February 18, 2019, 08:14:15 am »
Do a quick web search for Colorado or Nevada snowpack; Colorado and eastern Nevada look like they're approximately 120% of normal, and western Nevada is up close to 200%.  That'll take a while to melt, even if it stops snowing today for the rest of the season.  Be aware, too, that many places will plow just the traffic lanes, so when motorized traffic is coming, there's nowhere for you to duck.

That said, the later you leave from the west, the better the mountains will be.  I'd suggest about March 85th.  ;)

Or you could flip the trip and ride east to west.  You may still have to deal with cold across Virginia through Missouri, through March and early April, but any snow you catch will probably dissipate within a few days.

General Discussion / Re: Walking your bike
« on: February 06, 2019, 10:33:01 am »
fastrog, sorry to hear about your accident.  (Though that could make an insurance commercial... :)  You were just about past the steep walking parts, at least until you hit Missouri.  Wishing you a safe and happy ride this summer!

South / Re: Along the South Holston River, Tennessee River to St. Louis
« on: February 05, 2019, 10:31:29 pm »
It's a difficult thing you're asking.  Most of the mainstream dams on the Tennessee (Wilson, Wheeler, Chickamauga, Watts Bar, and Ft. Loudon) have bridges across them, so there's lots of traffic when the generators are running and the floodgates aren't open, 7-9 a.m., 3-7 p.m.: rush hour.  Guntersville (from the south) and Watts Bar might be the two easiest to access near good fishing times.

Camping could be a problem.  TVA generally doesn't allow camping at its boat ramps and public access areas.  There's a state park just upstream of Wheeler, though access to the dam would require you to go ~5 miles out of your way or cycle a linear racetrack at rush hour, then cross the narrow, two lane bridge to get to the powerhouse.  Oh, just remembered there's an RV park (and weekend fish restaurant) just south of Wheeler!  One other option might be a hotel in downtown Chattanooga, and take the bike/pedestrian path up to just below Chickamauga.

Still, if you can figure out a way, you might get lucky and get a plucky smallmouth!

Routes / Re: Myrtle Beach to Dickson TN -- Any route advice?
« on: February 05, 2019, 10:04:05 pm »
If I were going to do this route, I'd have to figure out a way to get to Atlanta (minor detail!), take the Silver Comet Trail to Rockmart, then head up USBR 21 ( and reverse the route).  From Lafayette or Chickamauga take 136 over Lookout Mountain to Trenton, up the back roads to New England, up Hales Gap Rd. and over Sand Mountain to Bryant, AL, then down to South Pittsburgh, TN.  Take 56 up the Cumberland Plateau or go down towards Stevenson and up 156? to Sewanee.  Harpeth Bike Club randonneurs have a good route from Sewanee to Brentwood at  Check out their Ultra page at under the permanents tab for a couple ideas how to get west from there.  (Jeff and Robert are both great guys, if you need to email them they can probably help you with details of the area from Brentwood to Dickson.)

General Discussion / Re: Walking your bike
« on: February 03, 2019, 10:41:53 pm »
On a long ride (tour or brevet), I look at walking as a balance between speed and endurance.  OK, I can climb a 22% grade, but if I've then got to ride 50 more miles, maybe I'm better off walking that blasted hill and then having the energy left to ride the rest of the way for the day.

The only time I've walked because of wind was a similar consideration.  50 mph headwind, I was ahead of my daughter by 50 yards and needed a break.  After walking 15 minutes, using some different muscles and getting a slight stretch in my legs, I was 50 yards behind her.  Well worth the walk!

General Discussion / Re: Carrying a spare tire on tour?
« on: January 14, 2019, 08:58:38 pm »
I've carried, and used, a spare tire.  There was a wire in the sidewall of my touring tire that broke and caused 5 flats before I found it.  I put on the spare tire and, enraged, walked the old one down the road 50 yards to toss the old one in somebody's garbage can.

The replacement wore out, but I was able to baby it 100 miles after it flatted and I noticed the cords showing through the tread until I could buy a new tire (great LBS in West Yellowstone, FWIW).

So it's certainly possible to need a new tire on tour.  How do you decide?

Standard tire sizes (700C and 26") are fairly easy to find if there's a bike shop nearby, and (for the 26" size) at Wally-world.  Other tires (650B, for instance) are going to be hard to find.  Can your schedule and finances order a tire online, FedEx delivery, and you sit and wait for it to arrive if your tire can't be fixed?

How far are you going?  How heavy is your loaded bike?  How hilly is the route?  I wear most tires out in 2,000 miles.  Some tires (Continental Contact, Specialized Armadillo) last 2-3 times longer.  My daughter, the featherweight, rode used tires all the way across the country with me and for another couple years before hers needed to be replaced.

How isolated is your route?  If you're riding well-trafficed roads between good sized towns or cities, you can probably get a lift if you need one.  If you're riding little-used dirt roads where traffic is measured in vehicles per month, you might want to carry spare tires.

How diligent are you about checking tires?  I tend to ignore tires (except for pumping them) until I have to look for what caused a flat.  If you are starting with fresh rubber, not going more than perhaps a month, and checking the tires regularly (so you can get a replacement shipped ahead if necessary), there's less cause to carry a spare.

Finally, have you considered carrying lightweight folding spares? Some models are three times the weight of others.  Consider taking a light tire, and if you have to mount it, order a new heavier tire or buy one in the next town and swap them back out when you get the sturdier model.

General Discussion / Re: Flying international with bicycles
« on: January 11, 2019, 09:31:11 am »
Your best bet is to contact the airline you (might) be flying, and ask them.  Boxing a bike is fairly common, as are extra fees (buckle your seat belt before you look!).  U.S. airlines seem to be in a race to the bottom through consolidation; perhaps European airlines are a few years behind us.

Gear Talk / Re: When to replace shoes?
« on: January 06, 2019, 11:55:34 am »
Good bike shoes wear out, eventually.  I think they're like bottom brackets -- check them occasionally, and replace when they need it.  Three years is almost new.

I replaced my Sidi MTB shoes this year after 9 years of riding.  To be honest, I could have replaced them 4-5 years sooner based on lug wear that exposed the cleat, but being cheap (fun to say when you're talking about $200 shoes!), I built the lugs up with Shoe Goo for years.  I don't do a lot of hiking in bike shoes (other than in and out of work for bike commuting).

That makes a total of two pairs of shoes I replaced because I couldn't get the cleat off, one pair where the lugs were worn down too far to fix, and one pair where the sole came off the upper (fun ride, that one!).  That makes an average of 20,000 miles plus per pair.  Good bike shoes last a long time.

Gear Talk / Re: Bike Case which Accomodates Racks and Fenders
« on: January 01, 2019, 11:16:00 pm »
If you can deal with removing and re-installing racks and fenders, you can potentially save a lot of money on shipping by doing so.  In general, the more you can break things down, the smaller you can get the package, and the smaller the package, the less the shipping.  Bicycles generally are so light and so bulky that the package size drives the shipping cost.

Gear Talk / Re: New bike for next ride
« on: December 28, 2018, 10:07:15 am »
Your Kona Sutra isn't a bad start.  If you've got the new bike itch, look at the Fuji.  Otherwise, you might want to look at slightly smaller (and lighter) tires that what's stock on it.  Panaracer Pasela 700Cx35 would be my choice.

As John noted, you'll likely want low gears; if you ride long enough, you'll hit a long day with one nasty climb at the end of that day when you're tired from climbing, headwinds, long hours in the saddle, or some combination.  That's the day you'll want lower gearing than the typical 1:1 (27 gear inch) low.  Since you're looking at a supported ride, you may get by with a 23-24" low, but if you can arrange 20", that would be better.  Also, taller bars are typical of touring bikes, like the Sutra/LHT/520.  Finally, interesting places to ride often are not the ones with the best roads.  Bigger size tires, and heavier tires, soak up some of the road shock and prevent flats.  (Having stood on the side of the road as the rain started waiting for a SAG after a blowout...  No, I'd rather not repeat that!)  I've settled in on 32 or 35 tires, although my lightest bike is limited to 28s, as my preferred size.

A touring bike has the lower gearing and higher bars you won't get with a typical carbon fiber road bike.   The Fuji feels lighter than the LHT and 520.  (I've never ridden a Sutra, and I've only seen one in person, which is fairly normal for most touring bikes.)  But bike weight isn't the end-all and be-all that some say it is; add a way to carry sunscreen, emergency rations, rain shell, spare tube, patch kit, pump, and enough water to get you to the next SAG stop, and your featherweight bike is heavier than the naked tourer.  Also, remember what does count is total wheel weight: add luggage weight and your weight to the bike weight, and what's the percent difference?  Finally, you'll have frame clearance for wider tires with a touring bike than the CF wonder bike.

Now if you've got the money (and time), you can get a custom bike that's a relaxed or sport touring frame, and "old mountain" gearing with a triple and really low gears.  That'll take perhaps 5 pounds off your frame, and $3-4,000 out of your wallet.  Gear down and spin the extra weight up the hill might be the better recommendation.

Gear Talk / Re: Best tires for touring the US
« on: December 18, 2018, 09:59:02 pm »
I managed to take a wire bead tire (700C, FWIW) folded in thirds as John suggests, and then squeeze it in the middle so it was mostly linear, maybe 15" long, with loops at both ends.  I had a catastrophic failure, and the replacement worked OK after that folding regime.

General Discussion / Re: Malaria in Central America
« on: November 17, 2018, 04:09:43 pm »
We take malaria meds only when we will be below 5,000 feet elevation as mosquitos can not fly above that altitude.

Pardon my quibbling...

I vividly remember a t-shirt that said something like, "Jackson, WY: there aren't enough locals to feed the mosquitos here so we import tourists."  IIRC the elevation at the south (downstream) end of Jackson Hole is over 6,000 ft.  Is it so dry over 5,000 feet in Honduras that there are no mosquitos?

Routes / Re: Washington DC to East Lansing MI
« on: November 16, 2018, 12:00:41 pm »
One wrinkle you may not have considered is that if you're looking for historical markers, you won't find many on the backroads on which you prefer to ride.  You're left with a choice -- either ride the highways and you get to be surprised at the number of historical markers you can read on a bike (that you'd never bother stopping for if you were driving your car), or do your homework on the route ahead of time so you'll have some idea what happened in East Podunk at the end of the eighteenth century.

Notwithstanding the astounding number of places Abraham Lincoln played golf in Kentucky on the TransAm, :) most of the people I've talked to in diners, etc. are lucky if they know one historical item of interest about their town that's older than they are.

Gear Talk / Re: To paint titanium or not
« on: November 10, 2018, 10:49:03 pm »
Flat brown?!?  Pat, you want to have at least SOME appeal to your own bike.  Dang, that would be ugly.   ;D

Just MHO, but I think the older brown paint job looks better than the newer green slime paint in the back.


Gear Talk / Re: To paint titanium or not
« on: November 09, 2018, 09:35:26 am »
I'm with John: leave it unpainted or paint it something boring.  I can't remember off the top of my head if it's bead blasted or "brushed" (aka sanded?) that leaves the finish pretty much flat.  That would be my first choice. 

If you're going to paint it, I'd go for brown over black.  The builder will want to make it shiny, and shiny black attracts some people.  Shiny brown is rather boring.  I'd prefer flat brown, to make it as unappealing as possible, but I doubt your builder will do that -- they want the bike to look like it should be on the cover of Buycycling to attract more business.

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