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Messages - Pat Lamb

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Don't try to rent a car at the walk-up desk.

True travel yarn:  A friend was coming back from a business trip, and since the first flight was delayed, his flight home had already left when he reached the hub.  He decided to rent a car and drive home.  Went out to the rental car facility: no cars available, and he took some abuse for asking!  Went back into the terminal, picked up the phone, called the national center, and had no trouble reserving a car for the next day (it was about 11:00 p.m. by then) at a good rate.  Went back out to the same facility, gave them his reservation number, was greeted with smiles, picking up the car early?  Sure, no problem, here's an upgrade, have a nice trip!

General Discussion / Re: Dealing with boredom on long bicycle trip
« on: July 05, 2019, 09:43:02 am »
A few suggestions:

First, try to leave time to go walk around the town square or city park around supper time every evening.  Read the historical markers, say hello to anyone you come upon,  When the TV isn't blaring, there's more time available to talk to the locals.

Second, if you call it a day early, swing by the library.  You can likely arrange to use wifi there, and really small town librarians are fountains of information, and often lonely to boot.

Third, think about keeping a journal.  If it's on line, you'll chew up an hour every night, and friends and family can keep up with your travels.  If it's on paper, it'll still be a record of your trip you can re-read 5-10 years from now to help you recall the highs, lows, and details that time blurs.

But I doubt you'll have much problem with boredom.

Missing out of Going To The Sun Road is a crime is 37 states.

It's legal in Alabama.  And probably Wyoming, too.  ;)

Seriously, GTTS is one of the most scenic spots in the U.S.A., and well worth the effort.  Even if you can't or don't want to bike it, go to St. Mary's or Apgar and take the free shuttle.

Routes / Re: Bear Spray necessary on TransAm route?
« on: June 28, 2019, 05:23:35 pm »
One more vote for "not needed."

Two notes: first, bear spray can't be shipped by air, and shipping it legally is a rather interesting process.

Second, as noted, if you're going to carry it, you have to be ready to squirt within a second or less.  While you're riding I think you'd have a much better chance of dropping it and possibly squirting yourself or your companions than of getting a charging bear with it.  However, if your trip includes some backcountry hikes, you may want to invest in some and carry it in the woods.

Routes / Re: Charleston S.C. To Nashville TN.
« on: June 28, 2019, 05:17:24 pm »
I haven't ridden either part in its entirety.  The Silver Comet trail out of Atlanta is an easy choice, and most of the parts of the northbound rout I've ridden are lightly traffic'ed, so I have no reason not to recommend it.  I've ridden and/or driven most of the Chattanooga to Nashville part, and it's beautiful country, if a bit steep in places.

Speaking of steep, here's a route from outside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSM) to Nashville, with a couple of options on how to get over the state line from Robbinsville:

Leiper's Fork at the western end is a half a mile from the Natchez Trace Parkway, which is a good cycling road that'll lead you into western Nashville.  You could also take the road from Cherokee, NC into Gatlinburg, TN (except on a weekend or holiday -- stay away then!), come over the ridge and down to Townsend, down the road to the Foothills Parkway, and pick up the Nashville route on U.S. 129 to TN 72.

Let me know what you're interested in and I may be able to help with more specific recommendations.

Routes / Re: Charleston S.C. To Nashville TN.
« on: June 24, 2019, 09:47:38 am »
If you take the southern route, well, I can only help you after you get to Atlanta.  Start with Bike Route 21 GA to get to Chattanooga, and then take a look a the links I posted at for roads to Nashville.

If you want to come up through the mountains towards the Great Smoky Mountains, let me know; I found another route from the western end of the park over to Nashville.  Once again, I don't know my way around South Carolina, so I can't help with that part.

Gear Talk / Re: What lube to use for touring.
« on: June 18, 2019, 09:27:25 am »
On an '85 Schwinn, did you have 5 or 6 cogs on the rear?

General Discussion / Re: Passing of Bruce Gordon
« on: June 12, 2019, 05:31:58 pm »
I stopped by his shop while I was out driving around wine country some 15 years ago.  He took some time to talk with me, although I could never get past the whopping $300 (IIRC) upcharge for custom bike big enough for me (rather than the BLT).  Lovely bikes (drool).

A crusty old codger, perhaps, but he knew his stuff, and was willing to share.  I see some of the overgeared, whippy bikes being sold as loaded touring bikes, and shake my head.  For instance, Bruce wrote that a stiff top tube prevented shimmy on a loaded bike, and while that's not always the cause of shimmy, it certainly seems to drastically reduce shimmy on a well-designed and built bike.

I wonder if we'll ever again see a generation of builders like Bruce, who learned by doing across a wide variety of bikes.  Or will we see minor experimentation around the edges of one or two bike types, with computer modeling doing most of the design work without on-the-road verification?

General Discussion / Re: Article on Local Bike Shops (LBS)
« on: June 12, 2019, 05:20:18 pm »
Maybe I'm just feeling cranky this afternoon.  But whatever happened to journalism standards?

Person who's not a typical customer goes to a [X] store, and the staff is somewhere between unhelpful and insulting.  Could be a bike shop (this story) or an Apple store (my story).  Dedicated wanna-be customer carries on, working through multiple stops until someone is helpful and makes the sale.  Years pass, same helpful store makes another sale to the same customer.  Is this surprising?  (Only the dedication of the would-be customer, I found another brand!)

The positive side is what should be published, in publications geared to shop owners rather than the general public.  Or perhaps in self-help books oriented to a "start and run your own business" audience.

Take my daughter, for instance.  When she went off to grad school, her bike had been shipped to a highly-regarded-by-the-internet bike shop in her new college town.  They put it back together for her, but she didn't like the vibe, so she tried other shops and mechanics until she found one she liked.  When she moved, a couple of shops put her off with their attitudes, so she found an LBS she liked - and that's where she bought her latest bike.

Customer service isn't dead, but neither is it automatic.  (And that's a shame, but not new; stories of taxi drivers going 5 miles out of their way to deliver a customer a block away, or mechanics rebuilding an engine that needed an oil change, have been around longer than I have!)  What's new is the misuse of statistics:  "93% of people surveyed said they have met a mean person.  If people don't clean up their act, many of us are going to become a hermit so we don't have to meet more mean people."

Whine and publish?  or HTFU and press on?  I know what Horatio Alger would have done.

General Discussion / Re: Combination sunscreen and bug repellent
« on: June 08, 2019, 12:11:14 pm »
It is generally discouraged to use a combined product, for quite a few different reasons. It is better to apply the sunscreen first, and then apply insect repellent over it.

I hadn't heard this before, can you elaborate?

I almost bought my annual Bullfrog gel (awesome stuff) allotment in the combined formula, but there were a couple bottles of the plain sunscreen left, so that's what I got.  My girls discovered the gel when they were (a) young, (b) at home, and (c) on the swim team.  It seems they only produce one batch a year, like touring bikes, and when it's gone, you have to wait another year to get some.

I have 5 bikes.  Surely you can end up with 2 bikes.

Lagging behind.  Must buy bike.


Let me toss in one more vote for the "heavy" touring bike.  Note the quotation marks.

I tend to use one of my touring bikes for commuting, group rides, long weekend rides, etc., just because it's always set up and ready.  I get some guff, along the lines of "You'd ride so much faster on a light bike."  That's not my experience, though; when I do pull out the lighter bike, even though it's at least eight (8) pounds lighter, the bike disappears within a quarter mile of getting on it.  I suspect if I took off the next 40 pounds I might speed up more...

What I do notice is the load.  Light commute load, hardly there.  Heavy load (add lunch, shoes, coffee, electronics, etc.) and the bike starts to feel like a slug.  Similar to Pete's experience, I usually find the threshold between light and heavy loads around 10-15 pounds.  I usually do a couple apple runs every fall; the touring bike is a joy to ride out to the orchard, and I have to enjoy the apple cider and stop to munch an apple coming back.  The bike disappears, but the load endures as long as it's on the bike.

My recommendation, as usual, is buy what you like.  We're all susceptible to analysis paralysis, and subconscious influence.  You read the web pages marketing the latest and greatest, or the glossy magazines with marketing reviews of the latest fad, and it's obviously the wonderfulest thing on the planet. 

After all your reading, go find some bikes and test ride them.  If possible, load them up and ride them 3-5 miles.  I did something like that some years ago.  Called around, and the nearest place that had the model I wanted and one I wanted to try, was 200 miles away.  I went down and test rode everything I could find in one afternoon, and brought a totally different model home, and rode that model across the country two years later.  So try as many as you can yourself, and buy the one you want to ride.

The title was, IMO, solely a cheap grab for attention, not to promote gender/sexual identity. Maybe it wasn't but regardless, a very poor choice of words.

Clickbait, in other words.

Additionally, all cycling stories should be about inclusion and this group seems exclusionary so why focus on it?  You can ride whatever sexual orientation you are but why promote a group that excludes (or promotes themselves above) others?

This was my gut-check reaction as well when I scanned the article. 

Routes / Re: Rails To Trails missing segments.
« on: May 11, 2019, 02:38:19 pm »
My hardest ride to date was the 82 miles of Western Express from Vallejo Ca to Rancho Cordova. I was not carrying anything and the climb out of Vallejo was very hard for me.

I just generated a RWGPS route that looked like 10 miles of climbs (some steep, nothing too high) followed by a lot of flat riding.  There's a saying in the long distance cycling community that what you don't have in your legs, you need in your gears.  If your bike doesn't have gears down to about 20 gear inches, that's one good place to start.

I've written, only half joking, that the easiest way to ride the TransAm would be to fly into Wichita, ride to the Pacific, fly back to Wichita, and ride to Virginia.  That would give you the chance to build up on flat land before you hit the Rockies, and after that you're ready to face the eastern mountains.

For shorter rides, you might consider tackling the Mickelson Trail in South Dakota.  Another week or two ride would be the Natchez Trace, ride up to Nashville (getting into shape before you face the last 100 miles of hills) and perhaps head back south.

There are also some supported tours around Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota you might want to check out.  There's some hills, yes, but they're not that long, and somebody's hauling your luggage for you.  It's a nice way to enjoy some cooler cycling in the middle of a long, hot summer.

Routes / Re: Bike trip from Boise to Denver following the transAm
« on: May 07, 2019, 10:42:01 am »
Yellowstone is the crown jewel of America's national parks.  Avoiding it to miss the traffic would be like an American going to Paris but avoiding the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre to avoid the crowds.

A couple of things can help.  First, only the tour busses are out on the roads before 9:00, and most tourists straggle out for a couple hours after that.  So plan to be on the road no later than 8:00, and you'll have a couple traffic-light hours, and shoot to hit your campsite or motel by close to noon.

Second, use the pull-outs to let traffic pass you when necessary on the uphills.  Going downhill, don't worry about it.

Third, consider taking one of the tour busses around the park.  The north end has some great scenery, and the south end (along the Firehole River) has the greatest concentration of thermal features.  The TransAm crosses the southern portion, but you'll miss the Yellowstone Canyon if you stick to the route.

Finally, after you get to West Thumb, you're going to hit a long downhill going to the Tetons.

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