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Messages - Pat Lamb

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General Discussion / Re: Sea-Tac to Anacortes by air?
« on: October 12, 2010, 12:25:20 pm »
We did the trip in reverse (Anacortes to SeaTac).  Somebody already mentioned the bus; you can make reservations through Mt. Vernon up to Anacortes.  Can't remember the bike shop in Anacortes, check out the AC map resources.  Note, too, hat they have a branch in Mt. Vernon.  Call ahead to see how long you'll have to wait in queue to get your bike assembled, if you ship the bike to them; as I recall, it took a bit over a week from when we delivered bikes to when they disassembled and shipped.

You might want to go into Mt. Vernon, pick up the bikes, and do a day trip out to Anacortes.  It'd be a nice shakedown cruise, and there's more hotels and restaurants in Mt. Vernon than Anacortes after you finish the public transport leg.

Gear Talk / Re: Rear Rack Bicycle
« on: October 11, 2010, 03:57:11 pm »

I jumped on the REI sale and ordered a set of Ortileb front classic rollers to match my back classic rollers and last but not least I ordered the Jannd front low rider rack and hope I don't have a problem with because of my new SKS fenders.
The pannier's are Yellow ;)

Fenders shouldn't matter, although you may need to shim something out.

Ortliebs are easier to mount than any of the other pannier brands I've tried (including Trek and REI house brand).  Yellow's a good color.  Highly visible, even if it's just the back of the top, above the black side.

General Discussion / Re: what cycling computer to get?
« on: October 09, 2010, 09:02:57 pm »
FWIW, I've got Cateye Astrales on my bikes. 

Never had a problem with a leak on a Cateye.  Maybe there are other brands that can say the same, but once I found Cateye really knows how to keep the water out, my brand pilgramage stopped.  Sometimes the contacts short out in heavy rains, but this can be mitigated with Vaseline or Chapstick on the contacts.

Cadence, useful two ways.  First, make sure you're not busting your knees by keeping the cadence up, especially as the day wears on and the road turns up.  Second, set the display to cadence and distance.  One is meaningless (except as noted above), the other is useful for following directions but changes so slowly you don't watch it.  Seeing my speed while riding was usually depressing, and I could always check the max speed later after a downhill -- it takes too much concentration to stay up and on the road when you're over 35 mph to watch the speed display.  That gives you a chance to see the scenery, and watch for traffic, since the electronic gadget isn't really all that interesting.

Wired, so there's only one battery to worry about, and it'll usually last me 18-24 months.

Routes / Re: Coast to Coast with child
« on: October 05, 2010, 12:10:31 pm »
I wonder if you would be willing to consider a half a transcontinental ride?  I jokingly said last summer  the ideal way to ride the TA would be to start in Wichita and head west, then fly back from the coast to Wichita and head east.  I'd suggest the western half of the U.S. for generally wider roads, better sight lines, and lower traffic density.  (Having said that, I don't think those apply to the Pacific Coast Highway.)  A week of Kansas will help you and your son appreciate the scale of the country, without major climbs, get into long distance riding shape, and then you get scenery.  And by starting in July, you may miss the wheat harvest and the traffic that entails.

As you're coming west, you may have better luck getting your son out of bed for an early morning ride, which will also give you a chance to get into camp (or motel) before the wind and heat get too bad.  I think your son would enjoy the town parks in Kansas.  And after a week of heat, you'll hit the mountains and things will cool off a bit.  On the flip side, you'd go from potential stopping places every 15-25 miles (except for the ride into Larned) to 30-50 miles spacing.

You might also try something similar on the Northern Tier -- start in the middle of the country and head west.

Routes / Re: Best cities for TransAm ride
« on: October 05, 2010, 11:30:02 am »
   A few friends and I are planning a 2011 coast to coast cycling trip.  We plan to start in June and take about two months.  We're going to start somewhere on the Atlantic and end somewhere on the Pacific but specific start and end cities have not been established.  So truly we may not be on the Trans America trail the entire time. We we're thinking about Boston, New York, possibly DC to Los Angeles, Portland, OR, etc. but really I just want to find the best route (both start and end points and possible cool destinations along the way).  I'm sure we'll stay in a motel every once in a while but mostly we're planning on camping most nights.
Here are some of my main concerns and questions:

-Safety (traffic, width of shoulders, bike lanes, etc.)
-Fun destinations along the way
-Resources (Food resupply, gear resupply)
-Beauty (Scenery)

Adventure Cycling has done the work for you on Safety and Resources; +1 for following one of their routes.  Roads with little traffic, excellent listings of resources by town/hamlet.  I don't know that I'd tie myself down to TransAm, as we had a great time on the Northern Tier.  Some of the best times you'll have will be talking with other cyclists, especially at campgrouds; and the AC routes tend to concentrate other cyclists so you'l have more to talk with.

Best scenery on TA was between Pueblo and Missoula, second best was Blue Ridge Parkway (which you could ride further SW) to a bit beyond Breaks.  NT was spectacular from Sedro-Wooley to Glacier, and there's some nice scenery in New England.  I'd like to ride the Grand Canyon Connector east on the Western Express to Pueblo, too.

-What are the best start and end cities and why?
-What are some great destinations, not too far out of the way?
-Are there any places I'll have to worry about not finding a good camp or stealth-camp spot?
-Feel free to throw any other advice at me.

What cities do you want to see?  Note it'll take a day or two to get across the larger cities.  Camping and especially stealth camping could be tough in the suburbs.  Check out warmshowers for alternates.

What do you want to visit?  There was an AC article a couple years ago about a  guy who wanted to bicycle to a home game in every major league baseball park in one season.  Or Cooky's Cafe in Golden, MO offers good food and great pies.

Pick some cities and take off.  Choose NT, TA, ST, or TA plus your choice of WE or L&C.  TA+WE might be the shortest, if you really can't stretch your two month time off.

So decide to go now.  This winter pick a route, next spring prepare, and have a great ride in the summer!

All the airline baggage policies I've read have specific exemptions for S&S coupled bikes or Bike Fridays, as long as they're packed in a 62" case.

Having said that, "Bike parts" is accurate and deflects the person behind the counter.

Could I trouble you for a link to an airline policy that exempts S&S coupled bikes packed within 62 linear inches from treatment as a chargeable "special baggage item"?  Also, I think "bike parts" would deflect no one.  It would prompt the direct question of whether it is a bicycle.  "Camping gear" is better because then you'll have a conversation about whether you've packed fuel or bear spray.

American's policy, for example, is at (you may have to do some cut and paste on the location).  Note the Exception: If bicycle and container are less than 62 dimensional inches and under 50 lbs., the bike is charged the applicable baggage charge for the 1st checked bag.

I don't really think you're lying when you say "bike parts."  If they object, open the case up and show the ticket agent or baggage handler, and ask them, "Does this look like a bike?"  It's not a bicycle, obviously, and it fits within a standard size piece of luggage (see for details).  I've never had to pay the bicycle surcharge.

Bear in mind that if the airline check-in person discovers that you're packing a bike he/she may charge you anyway. 

Airline Person: "Sir/Maam, what do you have in the box?"
Traveling Person: "Oh... just some bike parts!" or "Oh... just my camping gear!" ;-)

All the airline baggage policies I've read have specific exemptions for S&S coupled bikes or Bike Fridays, as long as they're packed in a 62" case.

Having said that, "Bike parts" is accurate and deflects the person behind the counter.

I don't really know what your plans are for the Thorn you're considering.  You might want to also consider a Bike Friday for travel touring.  Turning the suitcase that carries the bike into a trailer for touring is, IMHO, a seriously cool idea -- just pack everything else into a duffle for travel, and you're ready to go.

As I inferred in my prior post, my S&S bike packs reasonably easily into its hard case, but if I wanted to start touring on arrival, I don't know what I'd do with the case, or where I'd have packed racks and panniers to get them there.  I suspect I'd either have to pay through the nose for 2-3 airline bags, or ship something ahead; and if you're going to ship something, why not the bike too?

I'd really like someone who tours (unsupported) with an S&S bike to chime in here, as I'm getting curious!

I've got a different bike with S&S couplers, and while I've enjoyed it immensely, I'm not sure I'd buy it again.  Mine's more a play bike than one intended for long tours, and it's a bit difficult to pack a large (~60 cm) bike -- mostly because I insisted on getting the bars up where I can reach them, which means packing the fork and bars in the case gets difficult, and partly because of the breakdown that's necessary.  I have to take off the cranks, seatpost (with saddle attached), front caliper, fork, stem, and bars, deflate both wheels, and the TSA inspectors don't mess up the careful packing if I take the front tire off the rim.  If I had it to do over, I'd go with 26" wheels and small slicks.

I can pack or unpack in about 40-60 minutes each way.  When I was going to a town for 2 weeks, it was easy to justify.  Now that the job has changed, most of my trips are 2-3 days.  It's a bit of a hassle to assemble, then pack, for just one or two rides.

(Take a couple pairs of cheap rubber gloves to wear when unpacking or packing.  They'll save a lot of dirt and grease cleaning.)

Now to your questions, there's not necessarily a lot of mechanical ability needed; the stem adjustment is the only critical thing, if you can figure when to stop tightening the other bolts.  The big S&S wrench and 5 allen wrenches, plus a pump, are the only tools I need.

If you're going to use this bike for multiple tours or trips, it becomes much easier to justify the price.  For one trip, I'd suggest you ship it ahead to a local bike shop at the start of your trip, and have them assemble and tune everything.

Routes / Re: Route Advice
« on: September 16, 2010, 12:09:35 pm »
That said I can't agree that there is nothing in favor of W-E.  There are quite a few reasons why someone might choose W-E (like we did in 2007).  Here are a few reasons why we did:
  • We wanted the air travel out of the way up front.
  • We think that the Appalachians are the hardest part and wanted to do them when we were a bit road hardened.
  • We thought that starting far from home made bailing out harder.
  • It was awesome that we finished close to home and were greeted by friends and family at the end.

Isn't it interesting how two people can look at the same facts and come to opposite conclusions?  We went E-W because:
  • We were half way to Yorktown after my daughter's graduation.
  • We felt more comfortable with taking the bikes fully assembled and not damaged by baggage handlers to the nearest coast.
  • Friends and family encouraged us more at the start, when we needed it the most.
  • More civilization (small towns, stores) in the east, meaning more support when we weren't in such good shape

BTW, do you still think the Appalachians were harder than the Rockies?  Some east-bounders were in such good shape by the time they got to Kentucky that they didn't think they were hard at all.  I thought the Appalachians were about twice as hard as the Rockies.  Appalachians were 3x as steep in places, but not as high, and after 30 minutes, what difference does the length of the climb make?.

If you took the train to DC, you could take the Metro from Union Station to Washington National, and then catch the Washington Flyer bus out to Dulles.  Most Metro trains allow for up to 4 bicycles (non-rush-hour) per train.  Don't know about the buses, but I'd expect you could take a boxed bike (like you were going to fly with it) as luggage.

Agree with the car rental idea as the best solution, if at all possible.

Gear Talk / Re: Newbie looking for Good Gear advice
« on: September 12, 2010, 10:18:13 pm »
You might just want a handlebar bag, like the Ortlieb from or  Everything else could go on the trailer, about which I have zero knowledge.  Aside from a spare cable or two, a spare spoke or two, and maybe a rain jacket, you've probably got all the other gear you'll need from hiking.

We did the Great Parks connector from the TransAm up to Columbia Falls and Glacier NP (Apgar).  One of the prettiest, quietest parts of the trip.  Highly recommended.

One thing nobody else has commented on is, what are you going to be riding?  IMHO, riding a mountain bike for 4,200 miles so you could ride 200 miles off-road (making up the numbers here, but that's probably in the ballpark) would be foolish.  You're going to wish you had something that would roll coming across Kansas (and 9 other states). 

If you stay on the connector and go into Glacier, you'll have 6 miles of dirt road between Columbia Falls and Apgar, and that'll be plenty if you're on the road/touring bike.  (We went up that way, came back on the paved road, and had one problem -- a flat tire.)

To sum up my recommendations: TransAm to Missoula, Great Parks to Apgar, Northern Tier to Anacortes, all on (alleged) roads.

Routes / Re: Route Advice
« on: September 12, 2010, 10:01:51 pm »
You've got a couple of choices with AC maps.  The Western Express shoots east from San Francisco to Canon City, CO, where is meets up with the TransAm.  As some of the Sierra passes don't open until May/June, depending on the year and the snowpack, that might be an issue.  (Or maybe not.)

Alternatively, you could start on the Southern Tier from San Diego, pick up the Grand Canyon connector to the Western Express in Utah, and continue east from there.

You'll have to check for local knowledge about when the Utah and Colorado passes open.

(Sure you don't want go E-W?  Snow's kind of rare in the Virginia and Kentucky mountains after March!)

Have to agree with alfonso.  Grant (at Rivendell) has different ideas from conventional wisdom on how a bike should fit.  As long as you've got a long enough stem, you may be able to ride the Atlantis forever, despite what a racer boy fitter would say.

So unless you've got some sort of pain from riding the bike, I'd be inclined to say, "Thank you very much" and keep riding!

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