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Messages - Pat Lamb

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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?

General Discussion / Re: camera choice
« on: December 30, 2010, 02:49:51 pm »
Do not buy an Olympus. My Olympus WP 550 has been in the shop more than in my hand. Also, it is a waterproof camera, but it is not waterproof!

Interesting.  I took an Olympus point and shoot (that I got for staying with the same company so many years) cross-country in 2009.  It wasn't waterproof, but I had no problems with it.  My daughter had bought a water- and shock-resistant Olympus (so we shared a battery charger), and she tested with both dropping and sopping.  No problems.

What did you do to make the camera gods mad?

Routes / Re: Route 20 in Cascades, WA
« on: December 29, 2010, 03:08:04 pm »
There's another campground on Diablo Lake, above Newhalem but right before you start the climb to Ross Dam.  It was our first water stop in a very long way.

We went east to west from Winthrop to Newhalem in one day, which was 79 miles.  The climb looks long both ways up to the passes.  Despite some of the horror stories, I don't think there's too much of a climb from Sedro-Woolsey up to the Colonial Creek campground, although you'll be going up more than down.

As you're just going to be starting out, you may be more ready than you now expect for an easy day after two 50+ milers.  I'd suggest you shoot for the Colonial Creek campground, and if you're ready to bail at Newhalem, give yourself a break.  (They have Hagan-Daz ice cream bars in the Newhalem store that are very nice!)  One long climb, and one or two shorter climbs ready, you'll hit a wonderful downhill!

General Discussion / Re: Why the low thread numbers?
« on: December 29, 2010, 02:53:04 pm »
What I noticed is that that website has over a million responses and new threads every day. This site seems to average 5 - 10 hits per thread and minimal new threads.

I'm going to challenge your basis a bit here.  First, nobody has time to read a million messages per day -- it's not physically possible.  I'd rather have the stats on this site as a participant; I can read, think about, and respond to the messages that interest me.  The only reason I can think of for someone to want a million responses is to sell advertising.

Second, this isn't the only cycling board, or even the only touring cycling board.  Usenet still lives (in, and is a viable option (at least until the wacko who tries to kill cycling groups started hitting it this week).  Crazyguyonabike has a thriving forum section.  But this site seems to have a nice niche that is only part of the others'.

Gear Talk / Re: Fenders for touring
« on: December 24, 2010, 01:18:13 pm »
A twig stuck in the tread seems slightly more possible but with the force of rotation I would think that anything small enough to be caught in the treads would snap instead of jam.

I will say that I have seen it happen a couple times.  In both cases it wasn't a huge deal though (no crash).

Interesting way to re-invent the wheel, but it's not necessary.  I've had a couple of branches get caught in the wheel.  No crash, but a rapid deceleration that will certainly get your attention.  If you get the right kind of fenders, you can mount them with the proper steel bolts and the stays pop out when this happens.  Usually happens after a wind storm when stuff gets strewn across the road.

Gear Talk / Re: Fenders for touring
« on: December 24, 2010, 01:11:32 pm »
I have a Surly LHT needing fenders. ... also had to cut the stays so they would fit right

Just noticed this part of your OP.  I did have to trim the stays of my SKS fenders -- a Dremel is a wonderful thing!  I seriously doubt there's a custom fender on the market for your LHT, or any other mass-produced bike.  (Custom bikes may come with custom fenders, and they can be very pricey.)  Any mass-market add on is going to be a generic piece for your bicycle kit that you (or your mechanic) will have to fit.  It's not a big deal with the SKS -- you get the mounting nuts where your want them, then cut the stays.  It'd be a good idea to file the ends round, since those little plastic pieces fall off.  If you cut the stays too long, the square edges will give you nice 1/8" puncture wounds when you least expect it.

(Note I said bicycle kit.  I've decided that's what you buy when you buy a bike.  You turn it into a bike when you put on the right pedals, saddle [B-17], fenders, rack, computer -- did I miss anything?)

Gear Talk / Re: Fenders for touring
« on: December 22, 2010, 05:43:05 pm »
I've used the SKS fenders for years on touring bikes.  REI has some very similar: (hope this doesn't run afoul of the no commercials rule!).

It really does need a mudflap on the front fender.  I've got one on one bike (cut from a shampoo bottle), but none on the other bike.

Attachment points are pretty reliable, except they (or I) haven't figured out a way to attach the front of the rear fender.  The older fender lasted about 5 years before it broke just above the rivets holding on the funky metal piece.  I drilled a hole in the plastic fender and bolted it back on, and it's held for about that long again.

Gear Talk / Re: Biking Shorts/Pants
« on: December 18, 2010, 06:08:10 pm »
News flash: no one really cares.
If you're that shy, carry a pair of swimming trunks and slip 'em on before you face the public.

To heck with the civilians. Your road grime, sunscreen, and sweat stains will bother them much more than your silly biking shorts.

Not to mention odor.  A couple of times I was self-conscious because we hadn't had showers or laundromats for a few days.  While I tried not to get too close to "civilians," nobody seemed to care.

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