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Messages - Pat Lamb

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Routes / Re: Blue Ridge Parkway or TransAm?
« on: June 01, 2017, 04:17:43 pm »
Is 58 safe for riding? It looks like the main thoroughfare in the area.

You need to put quotes around "main thoroughfare."  U.S. 58 is a lovely, winding mountain road with signs on each end advising trucks over 28' (IIRC) to take another route between Damascus and Volney, exactly the stretch you'd be riding.  I'd call it lightly traffic'ed.  The N.C. state routes are straighter with somewhat heavier and faster traffic, so you might want to aim for early weekend mornings or mid-day midweek to travel them.

Also, if your tires are wide enough, you can take the Virginia Creeper trail down the mountain from Whitetop to Damascus.  700Cx32 are borderline OK for about 250 pounds total weight, you'll want wider tires if you plus load is heavier.

Gear Talk / Re: Trek 520 Front Rack
« on: June 01, 2017, 10:47:28 am »
Call Wayne at  He's a great resource for what will fit where, and a great guy to deal with.

General Discussion / Re: TransAm guided tour
« on: June 01, 2017, 10:45:40 am »
In reverse order:  It depends.  Check out the ads in the back of an Adventure Cyclist magazine for other tour operators. 

AC tours have self-supported (you get to carry all your gear) and van-supported (the van carries your gear).  Both depend on the tourists to select food and do the cooking.  From what I've heard, that typically means four days a week of canned spaghetti, two days a week of pizza, and your wife will be expected to cook something better.

Expense-wise, the AC tours cost the least of any operator I've seen.  Their tours cost, for two people, about 1/2 to 2/3 of what an every-night-in-a-motel route on the same route would cost, and a lot more than camping every night would cost.  How much your tour costs depends heavily on how often you pull out that credit card!

Downsides of AC tours are that you have to deal with all those people, and you have to maintain the pace the group rides at and stop when, and only when, the group stops.  Want to spend an extra day in that special location?  If you do, you'll have to ride twice as far the next day to catch up.  Upsides are that accommodations are provided (be they campsite or hostel), and you only have to worry about cooking every few meals.  Also, you'll be riding with other riders; some touring companies are (in)famous for everybody parking at the bottom of a long pass, and waiting for a ride to the top.

Which sounds better to you?

Sunrise is a good time to start.  Coolest time of the day, the wind typically hasn't kicked up, and if you're riding west, the sun is at your back (meaning drivers coming up behind you won't have the sun in their eyes).

It varies by date and where you are, obviously.  Cross a time zone line and your watch will tell you that you get to sleep an extra hour!  Of course, your body won't notice any extra hour unless you go to bed early the night before.

Routes / Re: Blue Ridge Parkway or TransAm?
« on: May 31, 2017, 08:23:53 pm »
Just MHO here, based on riding the TransAm and riding/driving the BRP.

One of the huge advantages of the TranAm is that it's laid out to bring you by "services" every 30-45 miles in the east.  The Parkway is much more scenic, but is virtually bereft of services for some pretty big chunks of the ride.  I.e., there's nowhere to buy food on or near the Parkway (within 5 miles downhill, meaning you get a nice ride back uphill) from Waynesboro to Roanoke, or from Blowing Rock down to Asheville, or from the other side of Asheville to Cherokee.  Oh, there's a few restaurants here and there, or the odd gas station with hot dogs, but if you want a grocery store, you've got a long way to ride.  With mountains.  Uphill both ways.  :)

If you want to try a stretch to see how you fare, I'd suggest staying on the Parkway south from Waynesboro to near Galax, then take the bike path downstream to Radford.  If you get close to Galax, have food, and want to keep going, head towards Sparta, NC, and then work your way up to Mouth of Wilson, then take 58 to Damascus to pick up the TransAm.

If you want to do the whole thing into Cherokee and don't want to tackle the Smokies traffic over Newfound Gap, I've got a draft route from SW of Bryson City to near Nashville I could dig up somewhere on a hard drive...

If you're going on an AC route, I've never needed anything other than their paper maps.

Otherwise, it's probably wise to lay out a detailed route ahead of time, and store it on your device with some application that doesn't need a cell signal to map.  Rural Kansas had great cell service, but Verizon could do that with a regular 10-mile grid spacing because it's so flat.  When you get into mountainous areas, it's going to be a crap shoot.  On top of this ridge you might get a weak cell signal, down in the valley no signal unless you're on a major highway or in a fair-sized town.

General Discussion / Re: Case for flying WITHIN airline sizes
« on: May 19, 2017, 11:16:45 am »
Many airline policies worldwide are a single bag in the hold that mustn't exceed 23kg.

Which airlines are these?  Every U.S. and British airline I've ever flown allows a second bag in the hold for a nominal fee; most are about $35 now.

General Discussion / Re: Case for flying WITHIN airline sizes
« on: May 18, 2017, 05:59:57 pm »
Carry on one (or two) bags.  Also, checking another bag is usually less expensive than paying for one overweight bag.

1. Bakersville, NC to Carver's Gap.
2. Gatlinburg, TN to Newfound Gap.
3. Cherokee, NC to Newfound Gap.
4. Tellico Plains, TN to the top of Cherohala Skyway.

Denver Colorado, which is not in the Rocky mountains but is near the Rockies, is at 5,280 feet.  To get over the Rocky mountains, you climb UP from Denver to the passes.  The bottom of the valleys between the Rocky mountain passes are 2,000 feet or more higher than the very tip top peak of the tallest mountain in Wales.  There is no snow on your mountain all year long.  The mountains in Wales are comparable to the Appalachian mountains in the USA near the east coast.  They are short mountains.  Steep but short.  You might climb a couple miles to the top.  Not 7 miles of climbing like the Rockies.

Pardon me while I giggle a bit about the characterization of the Appalachian climbs.

OK, I'm better.  (Thanks for the laugh!)  I can think of two or three TransAm Appalachian climbs that are 5 or more miles, four others that are 10-15 miles without trying hard.  But I digress.

The big difference between the Rockies passes and the Appalachian gaps are (1) higher elevation, as Russ alluded to; and (2) easier grades (at least on the TransAm).  They kind of balance each other out.  It's harder to suck in air at 8,000 feet elevation, but you don't need to suck as much because it's only a 6% grade.

Routes / Re: Getting to Anacortes
« on: May 15, 2017, 01:53:22 pm »
It's been a few years, but the Airporter Shuttle was a nice, clean bus with luggage service (for your checked and carry-on airline luggage), driven by a good driver, with polite staff at both ends back in '09.  There was a transfer in Mt. Vernon, but the wait was minimal - 20 minutes or so.

First, I'm not sure why your mechanic felt he needed to "downgrade" you to a straight Deore.  10 speed MTB Shimano derailer should be 10 speed MTB Shimano derailer.

That aside, you'll miss the bling when you look at the rder, but not much else.  I've got a bike with, I think, 26,000 miles on the Deore, and it still shifts well.  What more of a recommendation can I give?

General Discussion / Re: How to work on your bike?
« on: May 13, 2017, 08:54:10 pm »
Just take everything off the handlebars before you flip the bike.

In this case, though, it might be worth swinging by the LBS before you leave.  Front derailers don't need much adjustment (IME) after they're set right.  There's enough excitement coming in the next month that getting good help (and the mechanic might even show you what s/he's doing) is an easy way to lower the stress level.

Routes / Re: Current aerial shots of Tioga Pass snow removal.
« on: May 12, 2017, 11:45:58 am »
Nice avalanche zone picture in the article.

I'm curious, though.  Flipping through the Yosemite pages a while back, I got the impression Park Service employees cleared Tioga Pass.  Are those really Caltrans workers on the road?

FWIW, the coldest I've slept outdoors is 20F, and every time it got that cold I was happy to have a mummy.


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