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Messages - Pat Lamb

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Gear Talk / Re: Best Touring Wheelset
« on: October 18, 2017, 09:57:57 am »
I wouldn't change anything for touring (assuming your frame has 130mm/road spacing).

Now if this is your only bike, you might want to look at lighter rims, with skinnier tires, for non-tour riding.  The bike will feel surprisingly lighter and more responsive when unloaded.

But for spare touring wheels, you've got the closest thing to a "standard" for bulletproof wheels already.

Food Talk / Re: to cook or not to cook?
« on: October 16, 2017, 09:54:18 am »
I'll ask a local when I eat out, then discover that non-franchised, "best kept secret", amazing bistro or the like!

Bistro?  You tour where there's a bistro??  Heck, I thought a Subway or Pizza Hut was fine dining most days!

General Discussion / Re: Amtrak - Vancouver (Canada) to Seattle
« on: October 10, 2017, 09:55:11 am »
Could the train carry two more boxed bikes as luggage?

General Discussion / Re: Appropriate Tires for GAP/C&O
« on: September 28, 2017, 10:12:15 pm »
I rode part of the C&O a few days after rain with 32s.  I'd have preferred something wider, especially with the slick mud.  I never went down, but I felt pretty smug about staying up going through some of those puddles.  Dang, I'm good! kind of thing.  Not to mention the buzziness of the gravel sections. 

If your bike will take 35s, go wide!

Routes / Re: TransAm Alternative
« on: September 05, 2017, 10:47:27 pm »
How would it affect your mileage if, instead of your proposed detour to Charlotte (really??), you did something like the following:

Stay on the TransAm through Kentucky to Meadowview, VA.  Take U.S. 11 north to Rural Retreat, go over the hill and rejoin the TransAm up to Ft. Chiswell.  Take U.S. 52 down to Hillsville, then U.S. 58 over past South Boston to join your proposed route.  Advantages: the TransAm is probably better for cycling through Kentucky than what you've got laid out.  Most of the traffic has moved to 77, leaving 52 lightly traffic'ed.  58 is a more direct route than dipping a couple hundred miles south to get to Charlotte and return.  FWIW, Mom's cousin and her husband drove 58 across Virginia a couple years ago and reported it was much more relaxing than the usual I-81 to I-64.

Routes / Re: Suggestion: Painted Blazes on the GDMBR
« on: September 05, 2017, 03:58:11 pm »
The two issues I see with the blazes suggestion are the need to set up and support volunteers to paint and maintain the painted blazes, and the problems with vandals.  I'm thinking particularly of one spot on the AT where some local youfs had painted brown blazes over every white blaze that was visible from a clearing, and additional brown blazes on every game trail and clear spot in the brush.

Routes / Re: TransAm Alternative
« on: September 04, 2017, 05:45:39 pm »
It's tempting to look at the overall maps and think, "Why does this route do those big swings north through Kentucky and Virginia?  Isn't there a more direct route?" especially when you've got some of the steepest climbs of the TransAm in the 950 miles left.

Unfortunately, I don't know the roads of eastern Kentucky well enough to lay out a route through the state that eliminates that northern bulge.  If you ever fly over that part of the state on a clear day, you'll wonder, "How does the water run out of here?  There's no direct path anywhere!"

Jamawami laid out one general direction through Virginia, though I think the best route out of the toe is to take the U.S. 11/I-81 corridor.  You could cut off 20 miles or so and go up 11 from  Meadowview to Rural Retreat, although missing Damascus is an unfortunate consequence.  I don't know of a good route east of Roanoke; 460 goes towards Farmville and Richmond, but avoid that road during rush hours.  220 would be foolhardy for a cyclist, and there's not many alternatives from the Blue Ridge Parkway down to Boones Mill.  Alternatively, U.S. 58 goes east from Damascus, and it fairly lightly traveled for the first 60 miles or so.  You might find a route from roughly Martinsville up toward Farmville and then east towards Richmond.

What happens if you're not to salt water by 9/17?

General Discussion / Re: Avoiding highways
« on: September 04, 2017, 05:20:59 pm »
I hesitate to bring this up because it always attracts inflamed opinions.

"Vehicular cycling" works well in many of the situations described by the O.P.  It involves a mindset that a bicyclist is a vehicle, and is entitled to use a traffic lane.  It's supported by the uniform vehicle code that's part of traffic law in 49 states.  And riding as a vehicle allows a cyclist to use far more roads and routes than any other alternative.

It takes a bit of work to develop the confidence required to "take the lane," that is, to ride in a lane of traffic vs. looking for a shoulder or off-road path.  If a cyclist is unable or unwilling to make that mental shift, he or she should look for off-road routes, such as the rail-trail networks of Minnesota and Wisconsin.  Even there, though, it's often necessary to ride on a regular road to reach food, water, and camping or lodging, unless you're doing an out-and-back day trip.

What you are more likely to encounter are impacts from Hurricane Harvey in Texas.
Plus, there may be additional hurricanes on the Gulf Coast.
For cyclists that may mean closed stated parks and, perhaps, closed rural roads.
(Priority, of course, goes to repairing and opening major highways.)
Keep informed about any closures.

Perhaps I'm a bit more sanguine, but I'd expect a lot of repairs to have been finished.  Starting in the west, I'd be surprised if OP arrived in the impact zone before December; that's three months for things to be repaired.  I'd expect the biggest impact over 200-300 miles of the worst hit area to be in low-cost "housing."  Cheap motels and campgrounds will have displaced people, rescue workers, and (re)construction workers.

Trying to flip back and forth between the ST map and the rainfall totals maps (see, for example,, it looks like most of the ST only got a foot of rain or so.  That's a run-of-the-mill flash flooding kind of rain, in an area that gets floods fairly regularly, so that area is likely to recover quickly.

Gear Talk / Re: Bike Choice for Bike Tour in Tibet
« on: August 29, 2017, 01:43:57 pm »
If I spend the week before I leave in the mountains of Colorado visiting mountains between 12,000 and 14,000 feet during the day, will that help me?

No, you need to spend time at high altitudes measured in meters.  -)

OK, seriously, I expect it may help, as you'll be exercising at high altitudes (simulating riding in Tibet), and recovering somewhat lower overnight, which will give your body enough oxygen to repair itself from the damage done up higher.

Routes / Re: TA vs Northern tier
« on: August 22, 2017, 03:58:41 pm »
Depends on what you want to do.  A coast to coast ride is a more concrete goal than "ride around the Rockies for a while and have fun."  It's easier to describe and understand, and gives the rider an extra boost on the hard days when it's too darn hot, windy, and/or rainy.

The TransAm is the original, classic Bikecentennial route.  It's a good mix of flat Kansas/Colorado riding with three or mountain ranges mixed in - Appalachian, Ozark, Rocky, and Cascade if you're inclined to count it separately.  There's enough other riders on the route that you'll meet one or more groups headed the other way most of your way through the heartland.  If you're in to Revolutionary War and War Between the States history, you'll get a fair slice of that through Virginia and into Kentucky.  As far as "expensive" camping in the east, that's two or three days until you hit Mineral, VA.

I did a mixture, and the Northern Tier is pretty spectacular from Glacier to Anacortes.  It would be a tough way to start a tour, four passes (five if you count Rainy) in four long days.  Spectacular scenery along that part of the route, of course.  The NT probably has lower night-time temperatures than the TA through the plains, and (depending on your luck) might have lower day-time temps.

Pick one.  Or both.  Have fun picking your route and more fun riding it!

Gear Talk / Re: Bike Choice for Bike Tour in Tibet
« on: August 20, 2017, 09:37:26 pm »
I haven't done a trip like that, nor, at my age, am I likely to do one.

Adventure Cyclist has had a number of articles detailing trips in the Himalayas the last few years, though.  I believe every one of the bikes involved has been either a mountain bike, or an expedition bike, all with wide (and stout) tires and wheels.  Not all gravel roads are built and maintained like old rail-trails with crushed gravel surfaces; if you think original railroad ballast and bigger rocks than that, you're thinking of some of the "roads" pictured in those articles.

General Discussion / Re: Blue Ridge Parkway mm 0 to 200 roughly
« on: August 13, 2017, 02:36:10 pm »
For a general overview, it's worth looking into "Bicycling the Blue Ridge" by the Skinners.  They've got a good list of camping, food, and perhaps most importantly, water sources.  You can also check the National Park Service web site ( for up to date information on closures and road conditions.

Adventure Cycling has run two supported tours for the last several years; one covers the southern part of the BRP, the other the northern 200 miles plus Skyline Drive.

In general, the 100 miles on each end of the Parkway has the worst pavement (IMHO).  I think the best parts of the BRP tend to be in the southern, North Carolina, half.  In the northern half, the 30 miles centered around the James River is pretty and rather wild.  Peaks of Otter is very nice, and there's some great overlooks from there down into Roanoke and then, after transversing suburban Roanoke, climbing back up the southern side of town.  Mabry Mill may be the most photographed site on the Parkway, and is especially good if you can hit it in late May or early June when the Catawba rhododendron are blooming.

Motels on the northern part are Peaks of Otter, and off the Parkway at Roanoke and Waynesboro.  Further south in NC there's motels at Blowing Rock, Little Switzerland, Asheville, Mt. Pisgah, and Cherokee.  Otherwise, count on going downhill 5-15 miles for food and lodging, and climbing back up in the morning.

Routes / Re: route suggestions: Kalispell, MT >> North Carolina coast
« on: August 07, 2017, 01:10:06 pm »
I think highly of the TranAm route, so I'd suggest dropping down to Missoula then take the TransAm east to Damascus, VA.  From Damascus take U.S. 58 (or the Virginia Creeper to Whitetop, then work your way back to Mouth of Wilson) and pick up the NC North Line Trace route at

If that's not the part of the NC coast you were looking to hit, try taking NC bike route 1 to meet up with some of the other west-east routes: and/or:

There are general "wind roses" out there which show the wind direction from the various points for a given state.  Some are better than others.

I've been going to the NRCS/NWCC site for wind roses for years:

If there are better sites out there, what are they?  (Old dog might want to learn a new trick.)

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