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Messages - Pat Lamb

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Personally I can't see the point of having S&S couplers. Unless you are travelling regularly they don't seem good value. And then you have to store the case or forward it to your end point.
Yeah, it depends on the usage.

For Tim's stated usage, it makes a lot of sense.  I bought mine to take on business trips right before the airlines decided to charge for every piece of luggage (and no, neither Frontier nor Southwest flies out of my hometown).  Even so, and even with just a few trips a year that are long enough to make taking the bike worth the trouble, I'm about half way between the S&S couplers and case paying for themselves, and the whole bicycle paying for itself, just on the difference between "second piece of luggage" and "checked bicycle" fees.

Gear Talk / Re: Best brakes and wheels for S&S Coupled touring bike?
« on: November 17, 2017, 04:00:23 pm »
Russ, thanks for explaining your language.  What you call "caliper" brakes includes everything I've seen called "rim" brakes.

I think the point Tim was making w.r.t. cantilever brakes was that the way they stick out makes it difficult to pack his bike in the case.  That's why I was mentioning that my caliper brakes (what you prefer to call "sidepull") are adequate for stopping and easy to pack.

Packing an S&S bike is one of the few times I've wished I were shorter.  If I were shorter, I could leave the crank on and just take off the pedals.  Maybe I could even pack the bike without taking the fork off!

Gear Talk / Re: Best brakes and wheels for S&S Coupled touring bike?
« on: November 17, 2017, 11:11:18 am »
Consolidate bikes?  What are you thinking!?!?!  :)

I've taken my S&S bike on at least one business trip a year since I bought it; it's paid for the couplers, at least, on airline fees.

My bike takes 700Cx28 tires (might fit 32s, I've never tried), and I've never had trouble stopping as much as 300 pounds with the road calipers.  The rear stays on the frame, the front comes off the fork (since I have to take the fork off my bike to fit it in the case), and the brakes have never been a problem fitting in the case.  You or your builder will have to look around a bit to find the long drop brakes for larger tires, but they are available.

I like to tour with 32-35s, but the fun (travel) bike is pretty good with 28s.  Rear wheel fits with the tires deflated.  I'll usually deflate and remove the front tire if it's going on a plane, because TSA is barely competent to close the case.  They can't be bothered to replace the tops of the case spreaders, which pop off if the front tire is still on the rim, and then bad things happen when the gorilla baggage handlers get hold of the bike case.

During off hours on travel, I like to sample local bike shops.  I've seen 650B tires in exactly two shops.  26" slicks are a little more common, but not much.  I mention this because I've needed to replace tires on multiple tours and trips; almost every LBS in the US will have a 700C tire that will work.  (I don't know about foreign shops.)  You may be better than I at checking the bike over before it goes out on a trip, or you may want to carry a spare tire as part of your kit in case you wear one out or slash a tire.  Sitting in a motel room, looking at the bike you lugged over there, and thinking, "I have just what I need to fix this in the bedroom back home" is not fun.

You mention taking the "scenic route" from Tellico Plains into Nashville... any specific road/hwys that make up this route?

I was thinking of the 600k route the Brentwood (TN) randonneurs (ultra cyclists) ran some 5-10 years ago.  I may have the cue sheet on some computer, just not this one.  Their current permanents surely cover some of the route, but I suspect there's a gap between Vonore or Madison and Pikeville or Dunlap, TN.  I do recall it crossed Watts Bar Dam, which opened my eyes wide when I saw it.  On reflection, though, the Kingston bridge is even more narrow, which leaves reasonable ways across the Tennessee on a bike lacking between the old Walnut St. bridge or Market St. in Chattanooga and the bridge in Loudon.  (I've never crossed the new bridge at Birchwood.)  You might want to touch base with the Brentwood people to see if they have an archive of the route or better recommendations.

What insight do you have regarding the Southern Crescent train?

Not much, to be honest.  My niece took it a few times when she was in college to get between Birmingham and maybe Lynchburg?  It goes through Charlotte, IIRC, on the way, and then goes down to New Orleans.  Check Amtrak's web site for schedules, prices, etc.

I'll throw out some random route thoughts -- pick and choose.

First, on the general season.  Many campgrounds are going to be closed, bathrooms locked, and water turned off.  As a practical matter, I'd suggest approaching this as a bed-and-breakfast or motel-to-motel trip.  That means that even though it'll be cool, you'll have to carry more water than you will need to next summer, because resupply will be problematic.

The Blue Ridge Parkway may be closed at any time if there's any freezing precipitation.  Still, you may catch a warm and clear stretch of weather where it'll be gorgeous.

From Lake James, if you do decide to ride the Parkway, I'd climb up to Little Switzerland.  You'll have a long day's ride into Asheville, another good ride over to Balsam Gap (?) on U.S. 19/74, and then a relatively easy day to Cherokee -- you could stretch it down 19 into Bryson City.  Robbinsville is a good day's ride, then over Cherohala (if it's open!) to Tellico Plains.  It'll be about a week into Nashville from there; you could take the scenic route, or do a few days' ride going south on the Natchez Trace and back.

Roads in the mountains will be narrow, and some will have lots of traffic.  Did I mention it could snow?  You might not want to be on the roads after it snows.  Even though N.C. does a good job of plowing, there'll be a while where the snow melts, covers the road, and re-freezes at night.

Can you ride, or catch a ride, over to Charlotte and take the Southern Crescent train south from there?

Routes / Re: Cumberland Gap closed to cyclists.
« on: November 08, 2017, 05:20:42 pm »
Erm, wrong gap.  Cumberland Gap is several hundred miles south of Cumberland, MD -- think the far southwest corner of Virginia going into Kentucky (just like D. Boone did 250 years ago).

General Discussion / Re: Bike Computer
« on: November 07, 2017, 05:05:45 pm »
Just about any bike computer should last you the full trip.  That's assuming it costs less than about $50, paradoxically, more expensive computers use GPS or have whizz bang feature which mean you'll have to recharge them more frequently.

My preference is something like the wired Cateye Strada with Cadence.  It's virtually waterproof, and if you get some dielectric grease from an auto parts store to put on the mounting contacts, it'll last 10 years with a battery change every 2 years or so.  I like the cadence feature because if I'm not spinning, my knees tell me about it -- especially through the Virginia/Kentucky/Missouri mountains.

Routes / Re: Western Express Trail/Grand Canyon Connector in winter
« on: November 07, 2017, 09:42:06 am »
Look up the fate of the Donner party.

Do you feel lucky?

General Discussion / Re: Absolute necessities?
« on: November 01, 2017, 10:01:13 am »
I also wont leave home without GPS.

It's a wonder I'm back home.  I left without a GPS.  (But I did take American Express!)

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.

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