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Messages - Pat Lamb

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Gear Talk / Re: Oversized touring frames?
« on: February 07, 2011, 10:13:45 am »
I checked this weekend, and my (replacement, "new") Fuji tour frame from 2008 is a 64 cm.  It fits a 34" inseam, which may be small for your needs.

Let me recommend a different tack; look at Gunnar bikes' Grand Tour frame.  $975 "stock" for the frame, and you can customize it as you want.  Gunnar's normally available sizes go up to 68 cm.   I say "stock" in quotes, because this is Waterford's budget line, and all their frames are made to order.  This will probably double your cost compared to a pre-built frame, because you'll have to pay list for all the components.  Your other option would be to find a used frame or bike -- inspect the frame very carefully before you put your money down!

General Discussion / Re: photography and cycling
« on: February 06, 2011, 05:13:04 pm »
Just wondering how people manage their pictures on a long tour, whether pictures are downloaded onto memory sticks and posted home. Some of the little netbooks that people are taking with them these days do not have DVD drives and so I guess the options are to take a separate drive to plug in to the USB or backup pictures onto a memory stick.

I usually downloaded daily to a netbook, but didn't delete anything off the camera until near the end of the trip.  I think my camera is advertised as 4 Mpixel, average jpg was about 2 Mb.  So with a 2 Mb SD, I could keep close to 1,000 pics.

I did start buying cheap USB drives, backing up all the pictures I'd saved, and mailing them home about once a month.  That way if disaster struck (e.g., bike stolen with camera in handlebar bag and netbook in pannier), I wouldn't lose as much.  And I figured having two cameras on two different bikes, with the netbook in a different sack, I wasn't really likely to lose more than one day's shots at a time.

Routes / Re: Anacortes Hotels
« on: February 05, 2011, 08:44:40 am »
I can't remember which motel we ended up staying at, it was about 4 blocks from Skagit Bikes and maybe 5 blocks from the shuttle pick-up point.

Use the maps, Luke!  I do remember it was one of the motels listed on the NT map.

Also, you may expand your options a bit if you check out Mt. Vernon.  Easier to access than Anacortes, and a bit bigger (more options for food, motels, last-minute shopping).  It's an easy ride from Anacortes -- call a loop your shakedown day!

Gear Talk / Re: Oversized touring frames?
« on: February 04, 2011, 05:46:53 pm »
Fuji advertises its touring bike in an XL as a 64 cm bike.  It's now a compact style frame, so it's not directly comparable to my older 62.

Every maker does things a little differently, which is why I recommend trying before you buy unless you're going custom.  You may be able to get a bigger stem (either Nitto or custom Bruce Gordon) to increase your comfort on your current bike.

General Discussion / Re: finishing
« on: February 04, 2011, 01:57:51 pm »
I started feeling like we WERE going to finish, as opposed to we MIGHT finish, somewhere around Montana. 

I survived the slap in the face of mountains in Virginia, but there was still a long way to go.  Made it over the steep hills of Kentucky, but there was still a long way to go.  Gritted our way through the Ozarks, but there was still a long way to go.  I didn't have any problems with altitude sickness in Colorado, but there was still a long way to go.  We had a big fight, terrible windstorm, and my daughter bonked badly in Wyoming, but there was still a long way to go.

But somewhere, closer to West Yellowstone than Missoula, things turned from maybe to we WILL make it.  Around a thousand miles to go, and I started planning airplane tickets.  Because we were going to Anacortes.  And despite some of the hottest, steepest, longest passes (Loup Loup and Washington) of the trip in Washington, we never really faltered after that.

Gear Talk / Re: Rohloff- two questions
« on: February 02, 2011, 07:55:53 pm »
I can't answer to the "How well does it work" question, but the gearing is another story.  Assuming you're going to get an other-wise standard touring bike, taking about a 622x32 touring tire, and you want the low gear on Rohloff's chart (38x16 or 40x17): Sheldon says you can get down to 17.9 gear inches.

That is one low gear.

I'm guessing you can pedal uphill at less than 3 mph, assuming you can balance the bike, with a gear like that.  If a coal truck has jack-knifed, you may have to get a friend to tie a rope around the truck and attach it to your rack to pull it upright.  You can surely pull stumps out with that gear, if you have enough traction.

OK, the last two were in jest.  But seriously, you're getting into "you could walk faster" territory with a gear that low.

Oh, and a 26" wheel will be even lower!

General Discussion / Re: Think SPRING!
« on: February 02, 2011, 01:33:09 pm »
From 70 degrees Saturday down to 28 this morning. 

I'm thinking.

It just ain't working.

General Discussion / Re: Travel Insurance Q.
« on: January 27, 2011, 11:42:47 am »
As to "the certain type of insurance" - there's no legal requirement, I suspect they may just be commenting on the fact that a lot of standard travel insurance policies don't cover cycling.

Really??  I don't know about buying travel insurance coming to America, but both my standard (most expensive country) medical insurance and the travel policies I've looked into for European travel Just Cover medical expenses -- plane, train, bike, falling down, you name it.  They'll try to get reimbursed from the airline or train companies, or the restaurant with the slippery stairs, if there were an accident, I'm sure.

As an example, my medical insurance covered costs for me in the ER when I was hit by a car; Blue Cross then sent the bills to the driver's insurance company (who paid promptly for a car insurance company!).

Gear Talk / Re: Bicycle Speeds Question
« on: January 27, 2011, 11:31:25 am »
I keep my speed up by keeping my weight down. My 2007 REI Safari with out panniers is 33 lbs.

Interesting datum; my Randonee is about 32 pounds.  Do you ride with panniers, and if so, what's your average speed when loaded?

General Discussion / Re: Sizing question
« on: January 26, 2011, 06:59:34 pm »
Are you going to be working with a bike shop, or buying through the web?

If working with a bike shop, I'd pull them in early to help size you.  If you've got a good LBS, I highly recommend this route; not only can they put you on a decent sized bike, but they should take the hit if it doesn't fit; they can put everything together; and they can check everything over to make sure your bike is in good mechanical condition before you leave.  A really good bike shop may be worth stretching "local" to a few hours' drive, if you can try the bikes and find one that fits you.  Then all the previous information in this thread is moot.  ;)

If they're not that good (i.e., full of racer-boys or mountain bikers who can't or won't spell "touring"), or money is really tight, you may have to figure out sizing yourself.  Use the sizing links given above, but start by measuring yourself (maybe with a helper) and your current bike.  Sizing is generally similar between tourers and other road bikes, with two exceptions.  First, as noted above, you may have to translate between C-T, C-C, or some virtual measurement (good luck, precise measurement to an imaginary point in space is rather difficult to replicate).  Second, you may want to go for a size larger to get more stack space on the frame, which lets you get the bars higher.  IIRC, the 5500 is built with low bars; many (although not all) tourists prefer to have the bars up a bit and sit upright a bit more.

Note you'll need to be or hire a good mechanic to put everything together if you choose the second option.

Gear Talk / Re: Bicycle Speeds Question
« on: January 26, 2011, 01:41:02 pm »
I wonder if the OP would be more interested in randonneuring than touring?  Check out for more details; the overview is that you try to ride a given distance within a time limit.  The time limit isn't so strict that you have to race, but apparently it gets to be a challenge when you do the longer routes.  Randonneuring involves structured routes with minimal support.  On the flip side, it's shorter durations (1-4 days) than the long (1-12 week) rides we usually discuss in this forum.

Long rides, brisk tempo, new terrain.  I'm about to talk myself into trying it!

General Discussion / Re: Surly LHT: Need help setting my bike up
« on: January 20, 2011, 02:14:10 pm »
Re: style and color:  It's a shame your bike isn't red, as red bikes are know to be faster.  ;)

Ortlieb has some brightly colored panniers.  Even though the front and back sides are black, the enormous yellow dome of a Bikepacker (or similar) can be seen from a long way off.  I think they discontinued the orange last year -- it probably looked too much like construction barrels.

On sunny days, you can dry your red and hi-vis jerseys by strapping to the rear rack.

Seriously, you'll spend a lot more time looking away from your bike than at your bike.  Don't worry about it.

Or maybe mount stuffed toy moose to your handlebar bag?

General Discussion / Re: Must upgrades for LHT
« on: January 17, 2011, 09:00:34 pm »
Well, you have to add the pedals of your choice.  I'd replace the saddle with a Brooks.  You could put on a smaller chain ring, especially if you've got the friction option on the barcons for the front.  Or not.

Then I'd have to add the things that make a bike kit into a bike -- cyclocomputer, lights, water bottle holders, fenders, rack(s).

Gear Talk / Re: hub generators
« on: January 13, 2011, 01:52:02 pm »
Exemplifying the adage, "Fools rush in..."

Jan Heine is one of the most respected cyclists and authors on cycling in the country, including to Adventure Cycling Magazine. To suggest that "bicycle Quarterly was making this stuff up" is absurd at best and libelous at worst. Your experience may have been different than Jan's but that is not proof of his dishonesty.

He's also not an engineer.  (As an example, some of his writings on "planing" are just plain irritating.  I think Richard Schwinn explained that pretty well on a Terry podcast last year, but Jan insists that can't be right!)  Given Jan's experience and speed, I think he must have been on a 1200 km ride to cover two nights.  How could such an experienced randonneur allow this alleged numbness to occur?  Either he must have gripped the bars tightly or for too long without changing hand position, or he must have had poor equipment, like thin bar tape or poorly padded gloves.  I'd have thought the fastest American PBP finisher would know better than to execute either of these mistakes.

Its a lot more libelous for Mr. Heine to write his stuff.  Shimano may have a claim against him.  He operates a bike shop.  He sells Schmidt hubs and lights.  Seems he has a vested interest to put down the competition.  He is most definitely not an independent reviewer.

As I noted upthread, I did notice a buzz in my Shimano hub; also I noted it seems to be diminishing as I ride it more.  The DH-3N72, DH-3N80, and its cousins did come out after the 2007 PBP, didn't they?  I think it's possible your older Shimano hub didn't have that buzz, and Jan's relatively short test ride didn't allow it to improve.  

I don't think anybody could win a libel suit off this thread or Jan's review, except maybe some lawyers.

Squirrel!  How much night time riding do other tourists do?  Mine is confined to commuting and non-touring group rides in winter; the only thing I used a light on tour for was to hold the Otlieb map down.

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.

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