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Messages - Pat Lamb

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Routes / Re: TransAm Alternate Routes You Would Recommend
« on: February 06, 2023, 09:28:37 am »

One of the most important alternate routes - especially this year, 2023 - is in Yellowstone.
There are two major, ongoing construction projects of the TransAm route in Yellowstone.
Both were targeted for 2022-2023, but with the massive flood damage last year, they will go into 2024.

2) The West Thumb to Old Faithful section of the Grand Loop Road is being repaved.
This has always been a dicey section - narrow with two "kinda" passes.
(West Thumb 7800; Shoshone Divide 8530; DeLacy Creek - 7900; Craig Pass - 8280; Old Faithful - 7360)
Because there are very few tourist spots along the section, cars tend to go fast.

Without disparaging jamawami's suggestions for more time in Yellowstone, I didn't have any problems on the West Thumb to Old Faithful section.  The traffic was fairly fast, but "clumpy," so I was able to ride from pullout to pullout virtually alone.  Take the lane, and cars, trucks, and RVs will catch up to you a hundred yards shy of the next pullout.  Stop and have a drink (it's pretty high so you'll need to drink a lot), hop back on the bike and ride.  Just short of the next pullout the traffic will catch up to you, so lather, rinse, and repeat.

Gear Talk / Re: Flat Bar Touring Bike--Upgrade or New?
« on: January 18, 2023, 10:03:10 pm »
I've got to agree with John.  If every tool you have to sell is a hammer, everything looks like a nail kind of thing.

There's no reason a well built bike with some 20,000 miles on it can't go another 6,000 miles.  It's worth freshening wear parts -- tires, brakes, cables, chain.  Get those replaced, change your gearing, do a weekend shakedown cruise, and hit the road.  I like  drop bars, and I've used them to stretch my hamstrings or to fight a headwind, but there's no reason you have to ride my bike.

I'm not sure why you're looking to go single speed; many of the people posting here are triple fans, and for good reasons.  Set up correctly, a triple will have about the lowest gearing you can get; at the same time, if you want to keep your legs fresh on the half a day you'll have a stiff tailwind, that same triple has a gear for that.

General Discussion / Re: Your best single piece of advice
« on: January 12, 2023, 04:07:57 pm »
A corollary is, don’t make any significant decisions while climbing a big hill.

Which, in a flow of concious kind of way, leads me to:

Stop, pull out your camera, and take a few pictures on a long uphill.  You'll be going too fast to take pictures going downhill on the other side.

General Discussion / Re: Your best single piece of advice
« on: January 09, 2023, 08:38:53 am »
Keep some kind of journal/blog/diary/notes.  2, 5, 15 years later you'll be asking yourself, "Where did I see ...?" or "Where was that picture?"  If you took those notes, look it up!

If you plan to blog every day or so, plan on it taking an hour a day.  It's also a good way to connect with family and friends so they'll know you're OK.

Be clear starting out that you will not call, email, or blog every day.  Some days (with a bit of luck) you'll be off the grid.  Some days things will be too hectic.  But if you know or suspect that a day or two ahead of time, let them know.

Gear Talk / Re: Can arm sleeves really cool in the summer?
« on: January 03, 2023, 08:41:18 am »
Long ago, primarily commuting, I transitioned to tights for my legs and sun sleeves for the arms. I hated slathering on suncreen for the 40 minute ride, only to try to wash it off. I also wear wool shirts. Best thing I ever did. Maybe, MAYBE, not as cool, (the wool shirts are!) but most definitely not hard to adapt to. I'm a convert.

Since what's "hot" and what's "cold" vary widely, can you give us a clue where you (were?) riding, and typical temperatures?

Gear Talk / Re: Can arm sleeves really cool in the summer?
« on: December 21, 2022, 04:01:53 pm »
As John says, No.

I find sun sleeves nice for 60-85F weather in the southeast (humidity is low enough it doesn't condense on you if it's not raining!).  On a cool morning, before I start sweating, it provides a little warmth.  From 70 to 85 or so, it's about the same as bare arms.  Above 85F, sleeves feel warmer to me than nothing (or sunscreen).  From limited exposure in the southwest deserts, ~0% R.H., my break-even temperature is closer to 100F.

TdF riders?  Those things weight you down!  Soaked in water (provided by convenient support cars) they probably top an ounce for the pair!  :)

General Discussion / Re: Inspiration for a 2 week mid-February tour
« on: December 13, 2022, 09:26:35 am »
I got hung up on the combination of two week tour and four foot plus shoulder or very light traffic.  I suppose you could do an out-and-back, or a point to point on I-10 between Texas and California, but would you really want to spend two weeks on an interstate shoulder??

If you could relax that restriction to "mostly light traffic," you might be interested in something like AC's Southern Tier from Phoenix (Tempe) to El Paso, or east of El Paso (not sure where Amtrak stops in Texas.  Or you might make a loop from Phoenix on the ST to Lordsburg, NM, then loop back to the south through Douglas, Sierra Vista, and Tucson on the return trip.

If your plans can be flexible, you might be able to catch a week of warm weather on the northern end of the Natchez Trace; start in Nashville, ride to Natchez, then double back to the airport at Jackson.  Some years that might work, but you'd have to watch the weather forecast and be able to pull the trigger on vacation and flights on Wednesday for the following Saturday to start.

I'd tend to avoid southern California, and Florida to east Texas, to avoid the snowbirds.  On the flip side, that's when many of the businesses are open in smaller towns to catch the snowbirds!

I told my boss and my customer I was going to ride across the country for three months (about 4-5 months in advance).  I think the certainty of my telling them helped cement the idea I would be gone for that long and make appropriate adjustments.  Their response to me was, "But you'll be coming back, won't you?"

My situation was such that I was prepared to find another job, if that had been the way the conversation ended up.  As it turned out, three months was enough for my customer's organization to go through another periodic "reorganization" (read: purge), and my job there disappeared when I returned.  Fortunately, I was able to find another slot in the new "organization," so except for a few weeks where my leave ran out, I never had to pay for my benefits.

General Discussion / Re: West to East coast tandem tour with hotels?
« on: December 02, 2022, 09:12:24 am »
We met a couple on a tandem in Montana in late July on the Northern Tier who were doing a tightly choreographed ride eastbound.  By that, I mean they had reservations for every night of their ride, which was all pre-planned before they left home.  Of course they were younger than you are, but they were doing longer days than you're planning. 

Back to the Yellowstone lodging issue.  You can often get a cancellation.  On the Trans Am, you can be a bit flexible, and either take a room at Old Faithful or Grant Village/West Thumb.  (Or both, if you want to stay longer in the park!)  I'd suggest you figure out distances and availability about a week out, about the time you hit Missoula.  Pick your date(s), and start calling when you hit civilization and when you're leaving cell coverage, and call the Yellowstone lodging people asking if they have a cancellation the day you want a room or the day after.  You can probably find a room in West Yellowstone for two nights if you want to take a zero day, and if that's the way your schedule works out, you can hop a bus and tour the park with all the other tourists.

BTW, the rooms at Grant Village are less expensive than rooms at Old Faithful and Yellowstone Lake (if you're thinking about the Peaks, Parks, and Prairie route), and often easier to get than those hotspots' rooms.

I think this is one of the classic "lumpers vs. splitters" arguments.  If the goal is to split touring cyclists into multiple descriptors, do we want to differentiate based on total vehicle plus load weight, type of vehicle (touring bike vs. gravel bike vs. road bike), how the load gets carried?

Alternatively, do we throw everyone who's riding a bike for at least two days and spending the night away from home into the cycle tourist bucket?

On the one end, how do we separate ourselves from the homeless populations with a bike who ride around town every day before heading back to the local homeless camp for the night?  On the other extreme, if I see a picture of someone carrying too much of a load on a "loaded touring" bike with faded red front panniers and large yellow rear panniers with a faded yellow handlebar bag, I think "That's Pat!"

Gear Talk / Re: Gearing for Trek Checkpoint on Transamerica route
« on: November 14, 2022, 11:31:22 am »
Before you chuck your current bike and get a new one, think about just swapping out the crank.  You (or your shop) should be able to put a 44-28 in there and adjust the front derailer so it works OK.  That should get you down around 22 gear inches, or about one gear above the "ideal" 20 gear inch.

There's always the two foot gear: get off the bike and walk.  Actually seems to help the legs and butt since you're using slightly different muscles.  I'm not sure I could have climbed some of the Appalachian and Ozark hills unloaded, even a dozen years back, but I can still walk them today!

Gear Talk / Re: Crescent wide jaw adjustible wrench.
« on: November 14, 2022, 11:21:21 am »
Headsets can be snugged up by hand until you can borrow a big adjustable.  I also don’t carry tools for low probability, low consequence problems.

If you pass an independent garage, knock on the door or give a holler and ask to borrow the big wrench.  You may also get a good conversation and some cold water out of the experience!

General Discussion / Re: Bicycle pump that works as advertised.
« on: November 14, 2022, 11:14:09 am »
Sounds great in theory, but you'd have to be able to specify what tire, on what rim, with what tube, to what pressure.  Otherwise manufacturers get to game the system.  (Parenthetical comments don't make it past marketing into the ad.)

1. Takes 120 strokes to get to 90 psi on a 32 tire. 

2. (We picked the skinniest 32 tire on the market and the skinniest rim we could find,) and it only took 104 strokes.

3. Takes 77 strokes to get to 90 psi (on a 25 tire).

4. Only takes 44 strokes to get to 75 psi (18 tire).

Gear Talk / Re: tubes or tubeless for a cross-country ride??
« on: November 07, 2022, 09:10:02 am »
I don't know about tubes vs. tubeless (still running tubes myself).  But before you leave on tour, you should try to get both tires off.  If the one that didn't flat is problematic, take it down to the bike shop.  But if the one that flatted is nigh impossible to get off, get some new tires of a different model to replace both of them.

General Discussion / Re: Kansas
« on: November 07, 2022, 08:58:40 am »
Most of the considerations have been covered already, but let me mention one more connection that I didn't see explicitly stated.

Winds seem to be a fact of life crossing Kansas.  Any wind outside of 30-45 degrees off a direct tailwind feels like a headwind.  So you'll feel like you're fighting headwinds most of the way.  Either direction.

As noted, the winds tend to pick up mid-morning.  So if you start riding at dawn, you can usually get 5-6 hours of riding in before that nasty "headwind" picks up.  However, if you're eastbound, traffic coming up behind you (in your lane) may be blinded by the rising sun at dawn.  Westbound, you just have to worry about someone turning left into you, because the traffic behind you sees you illuminated by the dawn.  Thus, westbound may win the toss-up.

On the flip side, a strong south wind blows the disruption created by some eastbound trucks across the road, and a westbound rider will feel like you're riding into a wall of wind when they pass.  You probably won't notice more than a slight push if you're eastbound.  Either way, if you can catch up and draft a combine rolling down the road at 18 mph, you'll be in for a great ride!

Motels weren't a problem for most of Kansas when I rode through.  I remember they were a bit sparse in western Colorado, though.

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