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Messages - Pat Lamb

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1381
I don't really know what your plans are for the Thorn you're considering.  You might want to also consider a Bike Friday for travel touring.  Turning the suitcase that carries the bike into a trailer for touring is, IMHO, a seriously cool idea -- just pack everything else into a duffle for travel, and you're ready to go.

As I inferred in my prior post, my S&S bike packs reasonably easily into its hard case, but if I wanted to start touring on arrival, I don't know what I'd do with the case, or where I'd have packed racks and panniers to get them there.  I suspect I'd either have to pay through the nose for 2-3 airline bags, or ship something ahead; and if you're going to ship something, why not the bike too?

I'd really like someone who tours (unsupported) with an S&S bike to chime in here, as I'm getting curious!

1382
I've got a different bike with S&S couplers, and while I've enjoyed it immensely, I'm not sure I'd buy it again.  Mine's more a play bike than one intended for long tours, and it's a bit difficult to pack a large (~60 cm) bike -- mostly because I insisted on getting the bars up where I can reach them, which means packing the fork and bars in the case gets difficult, and partly because of the breakdown that's necessary.  I have to take off the cranks, seatpost (with saddle attached), front caliper, fork, stem, and bars, deflate both wheels, and the TSA inspectors don't mess up the careful packing if I take the front tire off the rim.  If I had it to do over, I'd go with 26" wheels and small slicks.

I can pack or unpack in about 40-60 minutes each way.  When I was going to a town for 2 weeks, it was easy to justify.  Now that the job has changed, most of my trips are 2-3 days.  It's a bit of a hassle to assemble, then pack, for just one or two rides.

(Take a couple pairs of cheap rubber gloves to wear when unpacking or packing.  They'll save a lot of dirt and grease cleaning.)

Now to your questions, there's not necessarily a lot of mechanical ability needed; the stem adjustment is the only critical thing, if you can figure when to stop tightening the other bolts.  The big S&S wrench and 5 allen wrenches, plus a pump, are the only tools I need.

If you're going to use this bike for multiple tours or trips, it becomes much easier to justify the price.  For one trip, I'd suggest you ship it ahead to a local bike shop at the start of your trip, and have them assemble and tune everything.



1383
Routes / Re: Route Advice
« on: September 16, 2010, 12:09:35 pm »
That said I can't agree that there is nothing in favor of W-E.  There are quite a few reasons why someone might choose W-E (like we did in 2007).  Here are a few reasons why we did:
  • We wanted the air travel out of the way up front.
  • We think that the Appalachians are the hardest part and wanted to do them when we were a bit road hardened.
  • We thought that starting far from home made bailing out harder.
  • It was awesome that we finished close to home and were greeted by friends and family at the end.

Isn't it interesting how two people can look at the same facts and come to opposite conclusions?  We went E-W because:
  • We were half way to Yorktown after my daughter's graduation.
  • We felt more comfortable with taking the bikes fully assembled and not damaged by baggage handlers to the nearest coast.
  • Friends and family encouraged us more at the start, when we needed it the most.
  • More civilization (small towns, stores) in the east, meaning more support when we weren't in such good shape

BTW, do you still think the Appalachians were harder than the Rockies?  Some east-bounders were in such good shape by the time they got to Kentucky that they didn't think they were hard at all.  I thought the Appalachians were about twice as hard as the Rockies.  Appalachians were 3x as steep in places, but not as high, and after 30 minutes, what difference does the length of the climb make?.

1384
If you took the train to DC, you could take the Metro from Union Station to Washington National, and then catch the Washington Flyer bus out to Dulles.  Most Metro trains allow for up to 4 bicycles (non-rush-hour) per train.  Don't know about the buses, but I'd expect you could take a boxed bike (like you were going to fly with it) as luggage.

Agree with the car rental idea as the best solution, if at all possible.

1385
Gear Talk / Re: Newbie looking for Good Gear advice
« on: September 12, 2010, 10:18:13 pm »
You might just want a handlebar bag, like the Ortlieb from www.thetouringstore.com or www.wallbike.com.  Everything else could go on the trailer, about which I have zero knowledge.  Aside from a spare cable or two, a spare spoke or two, and maybe a rain jacket, you've probably got all the other gear you'll need from hiking.

1386
We did the Great Parks connector from the TransAm up to Columbia Falls and Glacier NP (Apgar).  One of the prettiest, quietest parts of the trip.  Highly recommended.

One thing nobody else has commented on is, what are you going to be riding?  IMHO, riding a mountain bike for 4,200 miles so you could ride 200 miles off-road (making up the numbers here, but that's probably in the ballpark) would be foolish.  You're going to wish you had something that would roll coming across Kansas (and 9 other states). 

If you stay on the connector and go into Glacier, you'll have 6 miles of dirt road between Columbia Falls and Apgar, and that'll be plenty if you're on the road/touring bike.  (We went up that way, came back on the paved road, and had one problem -- a flat tire.)

To sum up my recommendations: TransAm to Missoula, Great Parks to Apgar, Northern Tier to Anacortes, all on (alleged) roads.

1387
Routes / Re: Route Advice
« on: September 12, 2010, 10:01:51 pm »
You've got a couple of choices with AC maps.  The Western Express shoots east from San Francisco to Canon City, CO, where is meets up with the TransAm.  As some of the Sierra passes don't open until May/June, depending on the year and the snowpack, that might be an issue.  (Or maybe not.)

Alternatively, you could start on the Southern Tier from San Diego, pick up the Grand Canyon connector to the Western Express in Utah, and continue east from there.

You'll have to check for local knowledge about when the Utah and Colorado passes open.

(Sure you don't want go E-W?  Snow's kind of rare in the Virginia and Kentucky mountains after March!)

1388
Have to agree with alfonso.  Grant (at Rivendell) has different ideas from conventional wisdom on how a bike should fit.  As long as you've got a long enough stem, you may be able to ride the Atlantis forever, despite what a racer boy fitter would say.

So unless you've got some sort of pain from riding the bike, I'd be inclined to say, "Thank you very much" and keep riding!

1389
General Discussion / Re: Novice coming to America !
« on: September 03, 2010, 01:33:39 pm »
Another security question - how do most bikers carry their valuables ?

- money, credit cards, cell phone etc?

....money belt....panniier....pocket...under your hat !!... ??????

I can imagine valuables in a pannier could disappear in a flash if you turned your back for a second in the wrong place. 

We kept wallets and camera in a bar bag, and took wallets with us when off the bike (in jersey pockets).  Lunch where we couldn't see the bike, the bag came inside.  Some places one of us stayed with the bikes, while the other one went inside to shop.

I usually kept about a week's spending money in cash, replenishing it from ATMs along the way.

I suppose a pannier could disappear in a flash, if the thief could figure out how to get it off the rack.  Most people wouldn't want to root through two or three days of damp, sweaty laundry to find what's in the bottom of a pannier.  And most Americans have a hard time figuring how to get a pannier off the rack, which is sometimes very nice for me!

1390
General Discussion / Re: Novice coming to America !
« on: September 03, 2010, 01:25:03 pm »
I hope to ride east to west....I understand the wind blows the other way ???

Is this a big consideration ?...is it a problem ?

In a word, no.  At least, not if you're cycling below 30,000 feet altitude.

The worst of the winds on our trip were in Kansas and Wyoming.  One really bad day in Wyoming, and lots of SE to SW winds in Kansas.    See if you can find (and understand) a wind rose for sites along your way, and in most places, it's like a rose - the wind at ground level comes from all directions, so there's no real benefit (from the wind) to riding east.

On the other hand, most TransAm riders eventually rise and ride early.  The heat and wind come up as the day wears on, so if you get done riding early, you miss the worst of both.  And if you're going west at dawn, the traffic on your side of the road (right) will not be blinded by the sunrise.

Also, as you go west, you give the western passes time to melt.

Both are reasons to go west, young man...

1391
Gear Talk / Re: Which touring bike?
« on: September 03, 2010, 10:35:40 am »
Agree the Horizon is out, this time on the basis of the tires.  If it comes with 700x25s, a 28 is going to be tight (if even possible), and the 32s I like will be right out.  If I were going to buy one and start touring the next day, I'd probably go for the Panorama, since it includes clipless pedals and the front rack.  I'm guessing there's £150 right there.  Also 9 speeds, since 8 speed may be difficult to find if you need parts (at least in the US).

You might pose this question on uk.rec.bicycles.moderated, and see what the suggestions are from there. 

Prices seem high, compared to Left-Pondia.  The Voyager looks like it's priced comparable to the Trek 520 or Surly Long Haul Trucker, but those are spec'ed closer to the Panorama.

How are you going to get into shape for touring, if you don't normally bicycle?

1392
General Discussion / Re: Bike shop in Nashville, Tn
« on: September 02, 2010, 05:10:50 pm »
In rough order:
Suggest you check out the Harpeth Valley bike club site for local shops.  Maybe someone you contact there can give you a firm recommendation.

I stopped by Bicycle Pedlar (sp?) back when they were Allanti.  (They were advertising Gunnar bikes, and I was thinking about getting a custom tourer.)  I don't get up there often, so I was surprised when they had moved a year or so later.  Staff was interested, pleasant, and seemed knowledgeable during our chat, but I didn't actually buy anything, so I can't give you a firm recommendation.

Also, REI has a store in Brentwood.  The bike department wrenches usually have something to do, for whatever that's worth.

Do a google search for "Nashville bike shops."

1393
Routes / Re: What route to take feb-may 2011?
« on: August 30, 2010, 02:40:31 pm »
Interesting question.  If I were going to try crossing the USA in those three months, I'd go Southern Tier east to west; you've got a couple more months for the snow to melt in the passes from New Mexico west.

As an alternative, I'd suggest starting early March and heading west.  You might lose a couple of days' travel to snow and ice, but Virginia and Kentucky mountains are usually melting by March.  (It'd help if you could make sure you've got funds for a couple of nights in motels!)  I'd think you could make it into Colorado, and perhaps up to Wyoming, in two months, and there's a chance the passes would be clear (depending on the winter snowpack) by the end of April.

Getting out of Wyoming might be interesting.  Not much in the way of public transportation.

1394
General Discussion / Re: Buying the right size touring bike.
« on: August 26, 2010, 11:43:38 am »
This fitting stuff is one of the recurrent gripes I have with bike shops.  IMHO, you need to get on the bike and take a 2-5 mile test ride to see if the bike fits.  None of my local bike shops have touring bikes in stock, so...

First choice would be to go somewhere that has touring bikes in stock, and try it out.  Note this usually needs to be done around March-April, because that's when the year's allotment of touring bikes comes out (and gets sold).  That usually boils down to a web search on bike shops in an XXX mile radius, followed by an afternoon on the phone asking each shop, "Do you have a touring bike about my size in stock?"

I do think a good fitter could do a decent job.  I know (at least some) custom bike makers can do it remotely, although it helps enormously if you have a bike close to your size.  (I can't figure out why no bike maker has a list of who's ordered, say, a Trek 520 or Surly LHT so you can narrow the search down!)  You take your measurements, and measure the bike(s), send them to the maker, and schedule some time to discuss what you want to do, how you ride, what you do and don't like about your current bike, give them a credit card number, and some number of months later it shows up on your doorstep.

Third choice might be to order an LHT, then work with your LBS to get the sizing dialed in.  You may have to be very firm (NO, I DON'T WANT A FLAT BACK!!!) with the mechanic/sales people.  If you'll interview a few LBSs, assuming you have multiple LBSs near you, you can probably weed out the time trial only specialists, and find some you can work with.  If you've got the right size bike, I'd expect the only thing you might need to change out would be the stem; there's still enough adjustability in seatposts to handle that end.

And you'll probably want to budget a couple hundred bucks extra to turn the bike kit you get from the store into your bike.  In my case that entails putting on a B-17, blinkies, fenders, computer...

The good news is, Surly's LHT seems to work well.  I estimate 35-45% of the other bikes we saw on our TransAm last summer were LHTs, and I didn't hear of any major issues.

1395
Gear Talk / Re: Panniers- EZ on/off
« on: August 25, 2010, 05:51:49 pm »
95% of long distance bicycle travelers use Ortlieb Panniers.

And you get your statistics where?

Remember, studies show 78% of all statistics are made up on the spot.   ;)

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