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Messages - Pat Lamb

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General Discussion / Re: Brooks saddle: keeping it dry
« on: January 11, 2011, 04:45:42 pm »
So do I really need to be worried about keeping my (new) brooks saddle dry?

I treated it with the wax they provide, but do I have to cover it?

Short answer, IMHO, yes.

Long answer, it may depend on your saddle, your weight, where you ride, how long it rains, etc.  I have fenders which help greatly with water from the bottom, and my personal bottom is large enough that I don't worry about brief, light showers.  Given a long day of soaking rain, or high heat and humidity that makes my sweat overpower the sponge, I mean artificial chamois, in my shorts, and the saddle can stretch.  You can re-tension it with the Special Brooks Spanner (which you should take for a long trip), but you don't want to do that too often, or too vigorously.  Crossing Missouri and Kansas, I needed to re-tension every 7-10 days, mostly from the aforementioned sweat.

I recommend the Aardvark saddle cover for the B-17.  You can get it on-line several places, including <>.  I like this one because it's stretchy (aka easy to put on), waterproof (at least when new), and you can ride with it (which, unfortunately, impacts the "when new" bit). 

Cover the saddle at night, or when stopped if it looks like rain.  Takes 5 seconds with the Aardvark (plus the time it takes to pull it out of its hiding place).  You can also use a plastic bag -- if it's waterproof enough, and large enough, it can cover your saddle bag, which keeps metal things in there like multi-tools from rusting.  It's surprising how much water the thing can absorb during a heavy dew at night, so I learned to cover it any time it spent the night outdoors.  It also rains without notice, even in the west.  I've replaced one B-17, although after my cross-country ride I wonder if I could have simply re-tensioned and kept riding. 

After a few weeks' touring, you'll look at the saddle one day and think, "That looks sort of dry or thirsty."  That's when it's time for another round of Proofide.

You'll find people who say they've used the same Brooks Pro for 30 years without covering it, and those who forget to cover it driving in a thunderstorm and say it's stretched so much it's ruined.  My experience, described above, is in the middle of those two extremes.

One last thing -- a worn-out, leaking Aardvark saddle is great for securing the cheap, waterproof plastic bag on the saddle when you're hauling the bike on a car rack.

Routes / Re: Reno into Denver/Boulder area
« on: January 09, 2011, 01:47:02 pm »
This is a different take, I suppose, but could you stay on the Western Express into Canon City, CO, and then take the TransAm up to Kremmling?  Maybe a smidgen less adventure, since you'd be sticking to a known AC route, but you get all the advantages of the maps.  Also, from Granby, you could head north on U.S. 34 to Estes Park and then down into Boulder.

I'm pretty sure there are multiple trip reports going through the Rocky Mountain NP on crazyguyonabike.

Gear Talk / Re: hub generators
« on: January 07, 2011, 06:38:20 pm »
So, does it vibrate, as claimed?

Define "vibrate."  I noted up thread that there's a buzz starting about 17 mph with the lights on.  I notice it more when I'm coasting than pedaling (probably because when I'm pedaling over 17 I'm pushing hard to stay with a group), and it diminishes at higher speeds.  There's nothing to hear.  The first time I felt it I was wondering if there was something wrong with the bike, like a fender out of its socket rubbing against the tire.  I think it's getting less noticeable with time and miles, but I couldn't swear to that.  Light off, no effect.

I'll state what I merely implied before: it's your choice and your decision whether the slight drag and mild buzz is worth an extra $250.  I might have said "yes" if I were doing long randonnees of >300 km, but since my night time rides are either 40 miles or 10 mile commutes, it's not worth it to me.

Gear Talk / Re: hub generators
« on: January 06, 2011, 09:25:00 pm »
Bicycle Quarterly

Bicycle Quarterly, Winter 2010 issue, compares the Shimano DH-3N80 hub to a SON delux hub. They found the Shimano vibrated noticeably more than the SON and that it required about twice as many watts to power it. Given BQ's result and Peter White's opinions, I'd definitely go with the SON hub. My next set wheels will be from Peter and have a dynamo.

You might as well fill in the blanks from the link; the Shimano sucked up 1.5 W more at 30 kph (18 mph) than the SON.  I doubt that would be significant as long as you're not racing, and certainly not significant if your touring is loaded.  I drooled over the Schmidt SON, but I couldn't justify the price difference.  Peter White's cheapest SON wheel is about $440, while got a wheel with the Shimano hub to me for less than half that.  YMMV.

General Discussion / Re: Camp Shoe ideas????
« on: January 06, 2011, 09:07:44 pm »
I swear by my Teva sandals, although they're fairly old.  I think Chacos and Keen make similar sandals now.  Things to look for include ankle strap(s) and no thong between the toes.  That lets you wear them with socks if it's chilly, although I wanted something more substantial wading through slush at the top of Logan Pass.

Pack flat; weigh only a few ounces; protect your feet from rocks; wearable in the shower, although the straps may stay damp for a few days.  I wrapped them in a plastic bag to keep the dirt and sand from getting everywhere in the pannier.

Gear Talk / Re: hub generators
« on: January 05, 2011, 09:40:14 pm »
Is there a noticable drag with this type of hub? Are some better than others?

Yes, you can notice the drag.  No, it doesn't make any difference.   :-\

I've got the Shimano [whatever]-72.  You can feel a buzz around 17 mph with the light on, I presume when the overvoltage protection is switching on and off.  After a few months, I decided to test it.  Up a nice little hill, stop on the white line at the light near the top and coast down.  Max speed, 26.7 mph with the light on.  Re-test, 27.1 mph -- it makes a difference!  Oops, the light was still on.  Up again, 26.8 mph with the light off.  Right in the middle of the light-on error bar!

I said the heck with it and went for a nice bike ride.

General Discussion / Re: Bike boxes
« on: January 05, 2011, 02:27:26 pm »
Who'd have thought of Google? 

You'll find google (or yahoo) very useful when/if you're connected.  Break a spoke?  Google "bike shop rawlins wy"  Need a good night's rest in a small town?  Google "motel scott city ks"  And with almost every library in the nation connected, all you need to do is find one that's open.

But for good eats, look for the diner all the locals are parked around.

Gear Talk / Re: Fenders for touring
« on: January 05, 2011, 02:14:46 pm »
I would recommend SKS fenders, the breakaway device really does work. And the PB "mudflap" is a complete waste of time. As you will know if you have ever followed someone with PB fenders in the wet. Unless you plan to never have anyone riding behind you a flap that comes to within 3-4" of the ground is a must.

Note 1: The SKS "breakaway" device is really a pop-out device; pop the struts back in, once you've cleared the wheel, and ride away.  Nothing to replace.

Note 2: Make your own mudflap!  Go to Sears and get a pop rivet kit if you don't already have one (it counts towards "he who dies with the most toys").  Drill a couple holes in the fender, preferably with the wheel out.  Cut a plastic bottle, or some other worthy stock, to make the mudflap, and rivet it on.  My cheap shampoo bottle has lasted ten years so far, although you can get a Brooks leather flap if that looks too chintzy.  (I prefer to think of it as an anti-theft addition to my preciousss.)  Roofing felt also has been suggested, but I don't have any experience with that.

Note 3: Even if you're not worried about people following you, a mud flap is worthwhile on your front fender to keep the schmuck off your drive train.

Routes / Re: Any info on a route across North Carolina?
« on: January 05, 2011, 09:20:20 am »
North Carolina has been working on the Mountains to the Sea trail for a while, so that would probably be my first choice, even though they started work shortly after I left the state.  :(  When you hit the Blue Ridge Parkway, I'd head up to Boone and then work my way over to Damascus, although U.S. 421 from the U.S. 321 turnoff up to the state line might be a bit sketchy.  I suppose you could take 321 to Elizabethton, TN, and then go up through Shady Valley.  Beautiful terrain up that way, paralleling the AT going north, but 321 is winding, although lightly traveled.  421 gets the most traffic, and it's maybe even worse for winding over Iron Mountain.  421 is downhill coming out of Boone to 321, and downhill from the state line to Mountain City.  If I could arrange to hit that stretch on a week day, I might be tempted to brave the shoulderless uphill stretch to the state line, then cut through Laurel Bloomery to Damascus.  The stretch right around the Virginia/Tennessee state line has so many curves that traffic is pretty slow, though not too light, and you'd be following the creek down, so there shouldn't be too much of a speed differential.

Unfortunately, I can't tell you anything about the North Line route on the link Jennifer sent.  I'm curious where you'd cross into Virginia or Tennessee on that route.  I'm guessing you could ride north into Grayson Highlands, and pick up U.S. 58 for the thrilling ride into Damascus.  Alternately, it might take you through Pottstown to 421 at Trade (the state line).

General Discussion / Re: Wear eye glasses/sun glasses while riding
« on: January 05, 2011, 09:04:03 am »
Glasses slipping can be a problem; I'm blind without mine, meaning they're heavy, and therefore likely to slip.  Other than grin and bear it, there's a few things you can try.

First, change the bend over the ear to pull the glasses a bit more snugly toward your nose.  (This assumes you're wearing real glasses, like my prescription shades, and not a plastic cheapie.)

Second, try to secure it with a headband.  As I'm usually wearing either a bandana or other headband for sweat absorption or redirection, this comes easy.  Wear it over the glasses to snug them into your head.

Third, as Grant Pederson says, "Raise dat stem!"  This is a point of personal preference, I suppose, but if you tilt your head up a bit, the glasses are less likely to slip down.

Routes / Re: Spokane Wa to Oak Harbor Wa Looking for advice and Route
« on: January 04, 2011, 01:36:08 pm »
As to bears...

When we stayed at Newhalem, I wondered whether we needed to string up our scant remaining food, since the NPS claimed it was bear habitat.  The campground host told me not to worry about it, it had been more than 15 years since they had had a bear incident.

When I got back to civilization (and cell phone coverage), my wife pointed out there was a crazyguyonabike picture of a black bear in that very campground one week earlier.

Maybe they've trained those wild bears?

Routes / Re: Spokane Wa to Oak Harbor Wa Looking for advice and Route
« on: January 03, 2011, 10:07:44 am »
To start with, you'll want to wait until the passes are open.  Check out for historical dates in the North Cascades.  You will probably want to make sure the campgrounds are open, check out for more information or contacts.  Without knowing how hot or cold you like it, I can't tell you whether to leave May 1 or July 1.  (Skip August -- it gets too hot!)

I don't think the passes are all that steep on the NT (Washington 20), but they are long -- especially from Mazama up to Washington Pass.  So the standard prep answers will fit: get in shape, lose weight early, get used to long hours in the saddle, get used to riding with a load, make sure your gear is in good shape.

WA 20 had some very good scenery, and was well worth the trip for us.  It was also fairly remote; you're going to have stretches of 50 miles between services, so make sure you have water and food to cover those stretches.

Somebody else will have to answer your PC questions.  I was happy I made the trip on the NT, and very glad to stop when we hit Anacortes.  Have fun!

General Discussion / Re: What about your Bike??????
« on: January 03, 2011, 09:47:54 am »
The bike is always near the tent (or in the motel room).  A light, 6' cable with combination lock will lock one bike to something solid, or two bikes together.  Bar bag goes in the tent with wallet, camera, and sunglasses; the panniers can stay outside on the bike, or in a bear locker where they're provided.

I'm usually more worried about wildlife than wild things.  Unless you know how to get an Ortlieb off the rack, you're going to make a fair bit of racket trying to get it off.  An who's going to want to steal dried oatmeal and dirty clothes?  The only potential trouble we had was at a town park after hours, when two (of a half-dozen) cyclists watching scared off a guy "looking for his cooler."  Never repeated at any other location.

BTW, kick stands help when locking two bikes together.

Gear Talk / Re: What is a good weight for a tent?
« on: January 02, 2011, 11:18:14 pm »
Six pounds is a good weight for a two-person, four season tent.  I'm a member, so I recommend starting with -- look at their camping/tents selection.  My rule of thumb is, for N people buy a tent advertised for N+1; so if you're going alone, look for a 2-person tent.  If you end up camping in the rain, or trying to change clothes, you'll appreciate the extra space.  Too, a 2-person tent will give you some room to get away from the sides of the tent when mosquitoes are so thick they'll bite through the tent if you're leaning against the wall.  Also note the bit about seasons; unless you're going to camp in the winter, you can likely get by with a three season tent, which can save you an extra pound.

General Discussion / Re: camera choice
« on: December 31, 2010, 09:11:41 am »
My Olympus 550 WP was in two feet of water for thirty seconds when the housing leaked. It was under warranty and Olympus made me pay to ship it back. When I got the camera back and put the battery in, the camera would not shut off. Back it went again. Now I have the camera back, my battery power meter goes from full charge to empty in about two minutes. I have given up on shipping this camera back to Olympus and trying to fix a camera that is less than a year old. The warranty is now over.

Thanks for the additional detail.  I don't doubt you had a bad experience with your camera or the repair service.  However, since your experience differs so greatly from my (our) own, I felt I needed to point out that your bad experience is not universal.

My daughter bought her Olympus shock/water resistant camera to take kayaking, and I'm sure it was submerged more than once.  She reported banging it up pretty good.  On our ride, I saw her drop it 3 ft. onto tarmac, and use it in the rain; It continued to work.  Of course, since neither her camera nor my own has ever required service, I can't comment on their repair service.

Who knows which is more typical?

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