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Messages - Pat Lamb

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1
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.

2
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.

3
If you're going to do the TransAm east from Oregon, you might want to aim for Jackson, WY, and see if you can fly out of there.  You'll get some outstanding scenery, Yellowstone (which you'll regret if you miss on your one trip near there), and generally quiet roads.  It's a good distance for the time you have available.  If you've got an extra day, and it's clear, do a run up to Togwotee Pass on the eastern side of Jackson Hole before you fly home.

IIRC, the major air carriers fly 757s in and out of Jackson.  That'll give you easy connections to Denver (United hub), Salt Lake City (Delta).  It's peak season, so prices will be what they will be.

One other option might be to fly into Seattle and ride the Northern Tier up to Glacier, backtrack a couple days and go south to Missoula, and pick up the TransAm there.  Disadvantage: four passes in four days in western Washington state.  Advantages: easy air access, Washington Pass is on Adventure Cycling's web page or magazine once a year, and Going to the Sun Road and the rest of Glacier National Park are magnificent.  (You can ride the shuttle if you camp at Apgar and take a rest day.)

4
Youth Bicyle Travel / Re: Introduction, a plan, and some questions. :)
« on: April 26, 2019, 11:13:22 am »
Thinking out loud, as it were...

First, look into the back issues of Adventure Cyclist magazine; they've had several articles about touring with children over the years.

I think John has the right idea to limit daily mileage to 20, maybe 25, miles.  You'll get your workout pulling the trailer, your wife will get hers sitting on the bike that long, and your 8 year old will be working hard.  I'd suggest starting with a one week trip, and you can see how that goes before planning a month.

Perhaps an out-and-back route would be easiest.  The southern part of the Natchez Trace might work, or the same-ness might limit the appeal with the low daily mileage.  Which leads me to think . . .

Yorktown, VA to Richmond along the Capital Trail might work.  I'm not sure about camping, though, and even though Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown would be two good places to spend an afternoon with children, I'm not sure about the Jamestown to Richmond stretch.  You get to end the trip with a long day in the saddle to ride back and pick up the car.

October, leaf seasons, something besides a green tunnel to look at?  C&O Canal might work, if they get the trail rebuilt by fall.  No, better plan on the GAP trail.  AMTRAK between Pittsburgh and Cumberland, again send one parent to pick up the car while the rest of the family stays in camp.

You might combine 3-4 days on the New River Trail (out and back?) and 2 days on the Virginia Creeper Trail in southwest Virginia.  There are interesting things to see and do (even if it's playing in the creek on the Creeper).   Camp near Damascus, one day to Whitetop and back down, the next day to Abingdon.

Chief Ladiga and Silver Comet in AL/GA?  Camping might be an issue.

5
South / Re: Any Route Recommendations from Nasheville to NC?
« on: April 18, 2019, 09:55:40 am »
P.s.  Forgot to mention, if you get off the Trace at U.S. 64, you'll missed the hilliest (and most scenic) part of the trail.

6
South / Re: Any Route Recommendations from Nasheville to NC?
« on: April 18, 2019, 09:54:06 am »
Alexander, you're very welcome!  As I noted, this gets asked once or twice a year, so I plan to re-use my answer.  :)

Re: U.S. 64, Tennessee has been widening and occasionally re-routing it for 20 years or so.  Parts of it are now 4 lane divided highway (but with nice shoulders) and parts of it are 2 lanes with shoulders.  The old route was two lanes, no shoulders, and more winding than you might expect from a "flat" route.  I honestly don't know if they've finished the re-build in central Tennessee.  The official route now joins I-24 over the Cumberland Plateau at Monteagle, so you'll want to take the old road from Winchester up to Sewanee (or the back road on the route I linked previously).  Ditto going east out of Chattanooga on I-75, except the old road (11/64) gets a lot of traffic, so I was glad to find the suggested alternative.  Also, from outside Cleveland to U.S. 411, that road was four-laned a long time ago, but they didn't bother adding shoulders.  From 411 east it drops to two lanes through the gorge, then it's four laned to the N.C. line and halfway decent.  Roller coaster without shoulders from Tennessee into Murphy -- brr!

7
South / Re: Any Route Recommendations from Nasheville to NC?
« on: April 17, 2019, 11:32:59 am »
This could be a FAQ.

I think there’s a route from Nashville (Brentwood?) that goes straight into Robbinsville, NC, but I’ll have to dig through my files on a different computer to see if I can find it.  Until then, here’s a potential route through Chattanooga.  I’ve ridden and/or driven perhaps 80-90% of these roads, and while they’re not always comfortable, I think most of the route is reasonably safe.  Note I would NOT! recommend taking 64/74 from Cleveland to Murphy.  Somebody did a trip report going that way (in Adventure Cycling, IIRC), but I regard cycling a dozen miles through the Ocoee gorge as pretty close to suicidal.

Anyhow, try starting with the Leiper’s Fork permanent.  Sorry, while Nashville is supposed to have a good bike route, I don't know a way across town, so my suggestion starts south of there.  Get off the Natchez Trace at Leiper’s Fork, coast down the hill to the east a quarter mile, and pick up the route: https://ridewithgps.com/trips/4264197

Somewhere around Christiana, pick up the Sewanee 300k: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/9491110

From Sewanee to Chattanooga, you’ve got a few options.  First, take 41A a few miles out of town, then drop down to South Pittsburg on TN 156, cross the Tennessee River and go up to Haletown, then follow US 41 into Chattanooga.  There’s some busy traffic for 2-3 miles on the south side of the river coming out of South Pittsburg.  The last 4-5 miles going over the foot of Lookout Mtn. has stead traffic (especially at rush hour or when there’s a wreck on the interstate), but they’ll usually give a cyclist the right-most of four (narrow) lanes.  Second, take 41A to Monteagle, then pick up 41 and follow it into Chattanooga.  There’s a fair bit of traffic through Jasper, but it’s mostly got a good shoulder and is fairly straight.  Third, go up through Monteagle and Tracy City to Gruetli-Lager, then drop down to Whitwell, go over to Powell’s Crossroads, then over Suck Creek Mountain on TN 27 to US 127.  This is perhaps the quietest road route into Chattanooga.  If you’re interested, I can give you some cues to get from Dayton Blvd. into downtown.

From Chattanooga, you could take the proposed USBR 21 up to Madisonville or Vonore:  https://ridewithgps.com/routes/11494161

From Madisonville, take 68 to Tellico Plains, then take the Cherohala Skyway and follow NC 143 to Robbinsville.  If you want to go further into NC, I’d suggest going over the mountain to Almond (along 143?).  I haven’t been that way, but the NC 28 route from Fontana Dam to Almond is a typical mountain road: narrow, winding, limited sight distance, and too much traffic for me to be comfortable.  From there you’ve got a couple miles on the racetrack (19/74) shoulder to Bryson City, and 19 from there to Cherokee is narrow, winding, lightly trafficked, and mostly slow traffic.  In Cherokee you can pick up the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Alternatively, go northeast from Madisonville to Vonore, cross the Little Tennessee River, and take TN 72 to US 129, then enjoy the Tail of the Dragon into Robbinsville.  Here, you could take NC 28 into Almond, but see my warning above.  No camping on 129, while there are a couple of campgrounds along the Cherohala.

8
Routes / Re: 65th birthday cross country trip
« on: April 11, 2019, 07:52:50 pm »
The sheriff in Haysi, VA asked me if I was carrying, in a tone of voice that suggested I should be.  I suppose I answered him without a yes or know, since if I had a concealed carry I should have announced it.  (May all your bears be black bears!)

Re: panniers vs. trailer, sometimes you'll run across a motel without a working elevator where the only available room is on an upper floor.  Hauling a bike up steps with loaded panniers is a ditch-with-a-b.  I can only imagine a trailer would be worse.  Not to mention finding space in some small motel rooms is challenging enough with two bikes, add a trailer or two and it's only going to be worse.

9
Gear Talk / Re: Tire Width?
« on: April 11, 2019, 01:09:18 pm »
One more set of observations.  I've ridden with touring loads (about 300-320# on the bike) with 32s and 35s, and with commute/apple/light touring/no load (220-270#) with 28-37 tires.  With the heaviest loads, the 32s were OK, 35s were fine.  I went up to 37 on the back a few years later, and other than trouble getting the fully inflated tire on one bike, didn't see much change in how it rode.  I've settled on 32s as my default on two bikes, and 28s on the bike that doesn't handle larger tires well.  The 28s transmit road shock more than 32s, but with somewhat lighter loads I can't feel much difference in handling or ride between 32 and 35.

There is a difference with lighter loads depending on the tire model you put on.  Continental Contact in a 32 was a lot harsher ride than Panaracer Pasela, with Gatorskin in the middle.  Generally, as you go to a wider tire, the tire will get thicker and stiffer, meaning you'll want to reduce the pressure to compensate for the ride.  Too low, though, and I can feel the tire squirm through curves -- not pleasant.

Road surface does make a huge difference, as well.  I don't think anything less than a sporty car tire with plush suspension would make the expansion joints of eastern Colorado tolerable.  More than a dozen miles on dirt/gravel/muddy roads and you'll want 2.25" tires, at least until you get back on the pavement and don't care for the buzzy ride of the knobby tires.

Undecided?  If you're starting the TransAm on roads, try 32 or 35s.  Take a wider tire and tube to match to put on the back half way across the country, or when you're going to hit a long stretch of off-road trail   (Or western Kansas/eastern Colorado expansion joints!  :)

10
Routes / Re: 65th birthday cross country trip
« on: April 10, 2019, 02:50:40 pm »
As John said, the Rockies aren't so bad, grade-wise, as the Appalachians and the Ozarks.  One might think that in the 200 years between when the east was settled and the roads through the Rockies were built, somebody invented dynamite and somebody else decided you could make a longer climb instead of seeing a mountain and going straight over it.  :)  Remember that the horizontal axis is vastly compressed in the elevation charts you see, so even a 3,000' climb that looks horrendous is spread out over a dozen miles or more, so it's not nearly as steep as it looks on the chart.  In addition, as John also noted, you'll gain a lot of fitness starting in the east going west, so that by the time you hit Canon City and the Rockies, you'll be thinking, "What lovely scenery!  and what a nice road to get over this pass!" 

As an alternative, you might also consider starting from the west on Route 66 or the Southern Tier and using the Grand Canyon connector to get to the Western Express and then the TransAm east of Canon City, depending on what the snowpack will be like next year.  But that way you'd miss Yellowstone, if you've never been there, and the Tetons and Wind River ranges in Wyoming, and the Colorado Rockies (with two passes that are high, but not that steep!).

11
Gear Talk / Re: Spare tire?
« on: April 01, 2019, 03:31:00 pm »
IIRC that section includes some pretty remote stretches, and pictures I've seen more resemble "imagine-a-path" than dirt road at times.  It'd seem reasonable to me to carry at least one spare tire between the two of you, in addition to tire and tube repair kits.

12
General Discussion / Re: Iowa City, IA to Seattle
« on: March 31, 2019, 03:36:39 pm »
Let me echo DaveB: get your bike soon, and ride it lots.

wrt the route, when we did our cross-country ride, we took the TransAm into Missoula, then headed north through Seely Lake on the Great Parks North, took a couple days to ride to Glacier N.P (well worth the time!) and then headed west on the Northern Tier.  Better than TransAm or L&C through Idaho and Oregon?  I don't know, but it was great! 

Since this is your first trip, I strongly recommend the pre-selected routes on the AC maps.  And buy the maps; one night in a decent campsite where you might otherwise have to motel it could save the cost of all the maps.

The Adventure Cycling web site used to have a good resource all lumped together under a "How-To" umbrella tab.  It looks like most of that content has been split into two pages, Plan at https://www.adventurecycling.org/plan/ and Ride at https://www.adventurecycling.org/ride/https://www.adventurecycling.org/resources/how-to-department/

13
I actually think ACA in combo with WS would have a better job of getting something done.  They have a much broader source of cyclotourist enthusiasts that they can easily reach. 

An errant thought struck me while reading this.  If ACA wanted to do something like this in Missoula, it would be a VERY good idea to have people ship their bikes vs. fly with them.  A friend was flying home on a puddle-hopper some years ago when a bowling championship was being held here.  They had to kick some people (and their luggage) off the plane because they couldn't get the plane balanced with all the bowling balls in the hold.  Now imagine a few thousand people flying into Missoula one weekend, each of them checking their bike with them...

14
South / Re: Great Smoky Mountain Expressway
« on: March 29, 2019, 02:46:37 pm »
First, that's a helluva ride to try to do in only three days.  Do you have experience riding 100-150 miles per day on successive days?

I've driven the Franklin to Murphy stretch on 64; it was narrow and winding.  It looks like the NC2 route leaves 64 just west of Franklin, so that'll probably put you on even more narrow, crooked, and poorly paved roads.

19/74 from Sylva through the outskirts of Bryson City to Almond is four-lane, divided highway with pretty good shoulders and high speed traffic.  Watch out for entrance and exit ramps.  From Almond over to Wesser (Nantahala Outdoors Center), it's steep, winding, no shoulders, and heavy traffic for two lanes.  I might be talked into riding to Almond, but I'd hitch a ride in somebody's pickup truck to Wesser.  If the river's running, I'd stay off the road up to where the road leaves the river, because drivers will be distracted watching rafters; otherwise, the sighlines are such that it's not usually too dangerous from Wesser over the gap where 129 comes in.  A mile south of there, it's four lanes and divided highway, but shoulder's aren't all that great; I'd suggest taking the business routes and/or old 19 from Andrews into Murphy.

15
Routes / Re: Any words of wisdom for 2019 TransAm Solo Rider?
« on: March 26, 2019, 09:33:04 am »
Ride early in Yellowstone/Teton.

Stay at the Bike Camp in Twin Bridges, MT.

+1 to both of these. 

There's often a stiff afternoon headwind from Twin Bridges to Dillon, and it'll kick your butt.  Relax in Twin Bridges, get up early, and beat the headwind the next day.

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If you order pancakes, make sure you ask how big they are. Some places serve "horse blankets."

Then order them and enjoy them anyways!  :)

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Get a Road Morph G pump and good rain gear.

Talk to the locals.

All good advice.

One more thing: make sure you budget for a few extra days so you can dodge the worst conditions or enjoy what you find on the road, and budget for a few extra nights in motels for the same reason.

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