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Messages - Pat Lamb

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Routes / Re: WiFI access on Northern Tier
« on: July 20, 2010, 11:36:34 am »
On the two stages of NT we did last year, there was wi-fi every day except for two.  Apgar campground in Glacier (although there may have been some near the visitor center), and the Winthrop to Newhalem were isolated.  Of course, we were in motels more than camping, but there was wireless in every town.

Check local libraries (if they're open).  Most were free, and the exceptions were $1-2 for an hour or all day.

General Discussion / Re: Bike security when touring in the USA
« on: July 20, 2010, 11:32:17 am »
I carried a 6' cable and combination lock across our TransAm.  I think we used it once, when we locked the bikes up in Glacier and toured the park on shuttle buses.

The rest of the time the bikes were always in sight if either of us was the least bit uncomfortable.  It got to the point we could look at each other and one of us would say, "I'll go in here, you stay with the bikes, what do you want?"

Cafe, restaurant, gas station, find a seat where you can watch the bike.  And panniers.  Take your wallet and cell phone in with you.

General Discussion / Re: best touring bike for a fat boy
« on: July 11, 2010, 01:51:29 pm »
Despite breaking an REI Randonee on the first day of my trip (starting at 265#), the last 4400 miles went fine on its replacement (another Randonee).  Any touring bike should be fine -- just stay clear of the racing bikes with thin tubing.  REI Randonee (if you can find one) or Safari, Surly LHT, Trek 520, Cannondale touring series, Jamis Aurora -- any of them should work just fine.

You may have problems getting one this late in the season.  Most manufacturers make a limited number of touring frames every year.  They'll hit the showroom floor in March, and often be gone by the end of May.

Let me (strongly) echo the advice to get the wheels tensioned.  Most of these bikes, ~$1,000, will have machine built wheels.  They may be true, but they're not tensioned high enough, and the spokes will start breaking between 200 and 500 miles.  Find a good wheelbuilder, tell him what you're doing, and pay him to bring them up to tension.  It'll be the best money you can spend before leaving!

General Discussion / Re: TransAmerica: Which direction?
« on: July 11, 2010, 01:41:03 pm »
Kansas winds were mostly out of the south, SW to SE, so no advantage either way there.

(We went west.)

We had one hell of a day in Wyoming when the headwinds picked up -- 50 mph by one local's estimate.  No other significant advantage in winds either way.

By the way, I was asked "Why did you go west?" at a local club meeting, and I asked, "Did any of you lose any tree limbs with the 94 mph winds last night?"  Everybody looked blank.  I pointed out that the jet stream is at 30,000 feet, and if they didn't notice that blast, they wouldn't have noticed the wind blowing west to east in Kansas, either.

I thought the western mountains were easier than the Appalachians.  From that standpoint, go east.  The climbs were a lot longer, though!

A group that caught up with us had long night-time discussions, and came up with a significant advantage for going west.  In Kansas in particular, leaving early in the morning to beat the heat is popular.  If you're riding west, traffic passing you at dawn is not looking into the rising sun, and doesn't have the glare it might if you were riding east.  That hour or two of safety is big plus for west-bounders.

Have fun!

Routes / Re: Best resupply points on TransAmerica Route?
« on: June 02, 2010, 05:51:26 pm »
You've got some good choices: Hellgate in Missoula, and I can't remember which ones we visited in Carbondale (maybe Phoenix?) and Pueblo (Great Divide Ski?).

There's also some other towns with pretty decent merchandise selections and / or mechanics.  West Yellowstone, MT, Silverthorne, CO (bike and ski), Hutchinson, KS (slightly off route), and Damascus, VA come to mind.  West Yellowstone had the best tire selection for tourers I saw, Hutch the best saddles, covers, and safety gear, and Damascus the best camping gear in the east, although most small towns in the west have a store with good camping selections.

We had stuff mailed to us in smaller town post offices.  Only ran into real problems once (postmistress in Lolo, MT didn't forward mail).  There's an art to guessing how far you're going to ride in the next 3-5 days, and getting someone to mail what you need today or tomorrow.  Small town P.O.s are the way to go, IMHO.  There's no question which office it is, and everyone in town can give you directions.  If you get there after closing time or on weekends, just write them a note saying "Please forward mail for John Doe to Five Towns Over, KS, 12345," and sign it.  Small town postmasters will do it; in bigger (or more pretentious) towns, they'll want you to fill out a form, which they'll mail to Memphis, which mails it back, and you've missed the next drop.

Routes / Re: Best Cross Country Route with Hotels ever 50-70 miles
« on: June 02, 2010, 05:30:40 pm »
TransAm you've got a few long days (50-70 miles), but I think it's doable.  Big challenge is going to be getting reservations at Yellowstone, and perhaps the Tetons.  My wife caught us a cancellation at West Thumb the day before we got there, but we camped at Teton (Jackson Lake).  I can't really imagine cycling right through the Tetons without stopping overnight!

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