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Messages - Pat Lamb

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Well, the TransAm route to Alexander is all paved roads (although the expansion joints in eastern Colorado may stretch the definition of "paved"!).  Unless you're getting off onto the county roads, meaning you have lots of very fine maps, I'd expect you'd be riding mostly U.S. or state roads north from Alexander -- no problem.

The farm access roads in southern Kansas are pretty good for dirt roads.  I drove one afternoon to pick up our host from his haying job, and my Appalachian roots had me gritting my teeth as I drove up to 40 or 45 mph on the dirt roads.  He had me drive home, and told me I could really be driving 60.  I just couldn't do it -- they're DIRT roads, after all!

Two things I'd be cautious of: first, is there a creek or river that disrupts the back road / county road network.  Second, Alexander, KS is only a town on AC maps.  Don't count on anything but water there!

Gear Talk / Re: Heavy Duty Handle Bar Bag
« on: August 11, 2010, 05:24:53 pm »
I used the Ortlieb.  Pretty good, but not perfect, IMHO.  Waterproof?  YES!  Stable on the bar?  Yes.  Easy to remove or replace when going into a store or restaurant?  Yes.

Couple of issues come to mind, though.  First, if you're using STI brifters, you may run into an issue with the bag interfering with the derailer cables, as it's rather wide.  Second, the map case is great unless you ride (or have a wind) over 10 mph or so.  I ended up duct taping the front edge of the map case to the bag top, then clamping the back down with a not-quite-tight headlight on an extender bar.

General Discussion / Re: B17 makes me numb, why?
« on: August 04, 2010, 05:18:28 pm »
First off, I don't know why the B-17 doesn't work for you.  Saddles are highly personal; my B-17s work fine for me!

Have you had a saddle that fit you before, on which you could ride comfortably for long rides with no problems?  (If so, why did you change?)

Having said all that, bike fit is often given as a critical issue for Brooks.  Have you had a really good bike fitter check you out?  He might suggest adjusting the saddle height, setback, stem length, stem height, or saddle tilt.  You can play with all of these, but by the time you buy a new 2-bolt seatpost, a couple of new stems, and play with all the possible adjustments, paying a fitter might be a good deal.

Alternately, you might need a different saddle.  Remember all butts are different!

Are you looking for bragging rights or locations?

I think Kentucky has the steepest parts.  One's about 10-20 miles east of Virgie -- that one's long and steep.  I would guess that's close to 20%.  The there are the gouges in the earth east of Irvine -- 3 or 4 U-shaped things, each less than half a mile long, and each will get you over 35 mph on the downhill, then stop you on the uphill.  Those are darn steep %.

Center of Missouri has some nasty stuff too, but I think those two areas in Kentucky are the steepest.

Gear Talk / Re: Trek 520
« on: July 22, 2010, 09:03:44 pm »
Why not a 520?  Only a few reasons:

(3) You'll have to get used to the barcon shifters.  It's a new way of shifting.  You'll adapt, but changing from another bike to barcons will force you to think for 5 minutes each ride.

(2) It's overgeared for loads in the mountains.  Minor annoyance, but you'll probably want to change out the small chain ring for something smaller.

(1) You can't find one to buy.  Most places, the few that carry them, sell out by the middle of June.  If you want one, you may have to wait until next March when they come off the truck.

Gear Talk / Re: bIKE COMPUTER
« on: July 22, 2010, 08:59:42 pm »
Add one recommendation for a Cateye.  I've had other computers, but the Cateye is the best I've found.  Waterproof (OK, smear some Chapstick on the contacts to make sure).  Wired, in my case, because I only want to worry about one battery and flashing headlights don't turn it off. 

And get one with cadence.  It's far more entertaining, rolling across Kansas into a quartering headwind, to watch your cadence and mileage, than to be depressed at how slow you're going.  It'll also help keep your cadence up, and knee problems down, when it comes to the mountains.

Gear Talk / Re: which bike to buy?
« on: July 22, 2010, 08:54:07 pm »
Just an observation from last year's TransAm/NT ride.  I'd guess 40% of the other cyclists we encountered were on LHTs.  25% (still guessing) were on Novara Randonees, sadly now discontinued by REI.  About 10-15% had some vintage of a Trek 520.  I remember a few Cannondales, a few Jamis, and nothing else in such abundance that I noted it.

I'm still sticking to 50-60% of the saddles were Brooks, too!

As for what will work for you?  Pick one and ride it!

Routes / Re: whats hwy 1 like out of santa barbara?
« on: July 21, 2010, 12:46:12 pm »
Only driven it, not biked it.  There's a fair few narrow bridges where you'll have to merge into traffic lanes; most of the rest you can stay on the shoulders.  There's a tunnel -- I think you have to walk through it on a raised sidewalk -- just before the split with 101.  From there over to Lompoc doesn't look too bad, unless you've got gusty crosswinds.  I have biked the last few miles into Lompoc without any problems (except for wind!).

I guess you could ride over the ridge on 154, but there isn't really another route through there.  154 is a pretty steep climb, IIRC.  Much less traffic except for rush hour (wait unil 9:00 to leave town!).  Solvang through Buellton to Lompoc is a nice ride, although the southerly route is even better with hardly any traffic, although the pavement is rougher.

Gear Talk / Re: Panniers- EZ on/off
« on: July 20, 2010, 03:17:38 pm »
As bohemian noted, Ortliebs can be lifted off.  Dropping them on takes an extra 2.31 s per bag to jigger the lower hook to catch on the rack.  Highly recommended.  (Wish I had insisted on my daughter getting some.)

General Discussion / Re: Recovery drinks and Cytomax.
« on: July 20, 2010, 03:09:33 pm »
It's probably worth trying, along with some other things.  My gripe with Cytomax is that it kept me from getting thirsty in hot, humid weather until I crashed from lack of fluids.

My favorite drinks on TransAm were V8, orange juice, and chocolate milk.  Oh, and slushies.  Slushies are great, although I never finished a 32 oz.  And fill up with ice and water at every filling station, convenience store, or fast food joint you pass.

Couple of days we were saved by Nuun.  Little tablet in water makes a fizzy drink, about the quickest way to get salt into your body when it's desperately needed and there's not a filling station or convenience store in sight.

Routes / Re: Transamerica Trail Maps
« on: July 20, 2010, 11:53:51 am »
Watch the sale notices at crazyguyonabike, some will pop up this fall as people unpack.  Four years of errata is going to be a lot, though.

Routes / Re: Alternative Routes to Blue Ridge Parkway in VA and NC
« on: July 20, 2010, 11:52:07 am »
First, check out if you're willing to stay on the Parkway.

There aren't a lot of good parallel routes for a fair bit of North Carolina, IMHO.  Around Boone, for example, stay on the BRP from Deep Gap to Linville, if possible.  There are local roads, but the ones paralleling the Parkway typically have no shoulders and heavy, high speed traffic.  U.S. 221 traffic from Linville to Linville Falls is variable, and it's scenic, but it's narrow and winding -- no good sight lines.

Likewise, from NC 80 to Asheville, I'd stay on the BRP.  There's no good, close parallel.  I-40 has to climb over the Blue Ridge, and swallows up U.S. 70 on the south.  Don't know if the opening of I-26 has helped U.S. 19 on the north, which used to be narrow, winding, and heavily trafficed.

There's some local clubs and riders in Asheville who might be able to help with alternate approaches, if you're intent on getting off the BRP.  But for my tastes, it's a beautiful ride from Little Switzerland up toward Mt. Mitchell, and a heck of a downhill from there!  Just make sure you have lights, as there are tunnels from Little Switzerland all the way down to Cherokee.

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!

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