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Messages - Pat Lamb

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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!

General Discussion / Re: Novice coming to America !
« on: September 03, 2010, 01:33:39 pm »
Another security question - how do most bikers carry their valuables ?

- money, credit cards, cell phone etc? belt....panniier....pocket...under your hat !!... ??????

I can imagine valuables in a pannier could disappear in a flash if you turned your back for a second in the wrong place. 

We kept wallets and camera in a bar bag, and took wallets with us when off the bike (in jersey pockets).  Lunch where we couldn't see the bike, the bag came inside.  Some places one of us stayed with the bikes, while the other one went inside to shop.

I usually kept about a week's spending money in cash, replenishing it from ATMs along the way.

I suppose a pannier could disappear in a flash, if the thief could figure out how to get it off the rack.  Most people wouldn't want to root through two or three days of damp, sweaty laundry to find what's in the bottom of a pannier.  And most Americans have a hard time figuring how to get a pannier off the rack, which is sometimes very nice for me!

General Discussion / Re: Novice coming to America !
« on: September 03, 2010, 01:25:03 pm »
I hope to ride east to west....I understand the wind blows the other way ???

Is this a big consideration ? it a problem ?

In a word, no.  At least, not if you're cycling below 30,000 feet altitude.

The worst of the winds on our trip were in Kansas and Wyoming.  One really bad day in Wyoming, and lots of SE to SW winds in Kansas.    See if you can find (and understand) a wind rose for sites along your way, and in most places, it's like a rose - the wind at ground level comes from all directions, so there's no real benefit (from the wind) to riding east.

On the other hand, most TransAm riders eventually rise and ride early.  The heat and wind come up as the day wears on, so if you get done riding early, you miss the worst of both.  And if you're going west at dawn, the traffic on your side of the road (right) will not be blinded by the sunrise.

Also, as you go west, you give the western passes time to melt.

Both are reasons to go west, young man...

Gear Talk / Re: Which touring bike?
« on: September 03, 2010, 10:35:40 am »
Agree the Horizon is out, this time on the basis of the tires.  If it comes with 700x25s, a 28 is going to be tight (if even possible), and the 32s I like will be right out.  If I were going to buy one and start touring the next day, I'd probably go for the Panorama, since it includes clipless pedals and the front rack.  I'm guessing there's £150 right there.  Also 9 speeds, since 8 speed may be difficult to find if you need parts (at least in the US).

You might pose this question on uk.rec.bicycles.moderated, and see what the suggestions are from there. 

Prices seem high, compared to Left-Pondia.  The Voyager looks like it's priced comparable to the Trek 520 or Surly Long Haul Trucker, but those are spec'ed closer to the Panorama.

How are you going to get into shape for touring, if you don't normally bicycle?

General Discussion / Re: Bike shop in Nashville, Tn
« on: September 02, 2010, 05:10:50 pm »
In rough order:
Suggest you check out the Harpeth Valley bike club site for local shops.  Maybe someone you contact there can give you a firm recommendation.

I stopped by Bicycle Pedlar (sp?) back when they were Allanti.  (They were advertising Gunnar bikes, and I was thinking about getting a custom tourer.)  I don't get up there often, so I was surprised when they had moved a year or so later.  Staff was interested, pleasant, and seemed knowledgeable during our chat, but I didn't actually buy anything, so I can't give you a firm recommendation.

Also, REI has a store in Brentwood.  The bike department wrenches usually have something to do, for whatever that's worth.

Do a google search for "Nashville bike shops."

Routes / Re: What route to take feb-may 2011?
« on: August 30, 2010, 02:40:31 pm »
Interesting question.  If I were going to try crossing the USA in those three months, I'd go Southern Tier east to west; you've got a couple more months for the snow to melt in the passes from New Mexico west.

As an alternative, I'd suggest starting early March and heading west.  You might lose a couple of days' travel to snow and ice, but Virginia and Kentucky mountains are usually melting by March.  (It'd help if you could make sure you've got funds for a couple of nights in motels!)  I'd think you could make it into Colorado, and perhaps up to Wyoming, in two months, and there's a chance the passes would be clear (depending on the winter snowpack) by the end of April.

Getting out of Wyoming might be interesting.  Not much in the way of public transportation.

General Discussion / Re: Buying the right size touring bike.
« on: August 26, 2010, 11:43:38 am »
This fitting stuff is one of the recurrent gripes I have with bike shops.  IMHO, you need to get on the bike and take a 2-5 mile test ride to see if the bike fits.  None of my local bike shops have touring bikes in stock, so...

First choice would be to go somewhere that has touring bikes in stock, and try it out.  Note this usually needs to be done around March-April, because that's when the year's allotment of touring bikes comes out (and gets sold).  That usually boils down to a web search on bike shops in an XXX mile radius, followed by an afternoon on the phone asking each shop, "Do you have a touring bike about my size in stock?"

I do think a good fitter could do a decent job.  I know (at least some) custom bike makers can do it remotely, although it helps enormously if you have a bike close to your size.  (I can't figure out why no bike maker has a list of who's ordered, say, a Trek 520 or Surly LHT so you can narrow the search down!)  You take your measurements, and measure the bike(s), send them to the maker, and schedule some time to discuss what you want to do, how you ride, what you do and don't like about your current bike, give them a credit card number, and some number of months later it shows up on your doorstep.

Third choice might be to order an LHT, then work with your LBS to get the sizing dialed in.  You may have to be very firm (NO, I DON'T WANT A FLAT BACK!!!) with the mechanic/sales people.  If you'll interview a few LBSs, assuming you have multiple LBSs near you, you can probably weed out the time trial only specialists, and find some you can work with.  If you've got the right size bike, I'd expect the only thing you might need to change out would be the stem; there's still enough adjustability in seatposts to handle that end.

And you'll probably want to budget a couple hundred bucks extra to turn the bike kit you get from the store into your bike.  In my case that entails putting on a B-17, blinkies, fenders, computer...

The good news is, Surly's LHT seems to work well.  I estimate 35-45% of the other bikes we saw on our TransAm last summer were LHTs, and I didn't hear of any major issues.

Gear Talk / Re: Panniers- EZ on/off
« on: August 25, 2010, 05:51:49 pm »
95% of long distance bicycle travelers use Ortlieb Panniers.

And you get your statistics where?

Remember, studies show 78% of all statistics are made up on the spot.   ;)

Gear Talk / Re: Bicycle Head Light ?
« on: August 21, 2010, 10:48:24 pm »
If what you want is a "be seen" light I'd recommend a Planet Bike Superflash 1 watt (or 2 watt, or 1/2 watt) front and a PB Superflash 1/2 watt rear. They are great lights and have an extremely bight flashing pattern. The front runs on 2 AA batteries and the rear runs on 2 AAA batteries. 

I love the Superflash, but I can't recommend touring with one.  I had one last summer.  After a couple of rains, it leaked and the contacts corroded so it stayed on (and drained the battery).  Got another when I got home, and the same thing's happened to it.

Cateye make some that aren't quite as bright, but they do know how to do waterproof.

Routes / Re: US Civil War Tour
« on: August 21, 2010, 10:41:47 pm »
Whew!  That's quite a trip you've got laid out!

As for maps, I'd suggest you contact the various state highway departments and ask them for state maps to begin with.  Note that their maps typically will only show larger roads, which may not (will not) be ideal for cycling.

Next, I'd suggest you buy a copy of something like DeLorme Topo to look up the smaller roads.  Note getting it onto a netbook, if you decide to use one on tour, will require you to copy the DVD onto USB thumbdrives.

From Shiloh to Chattanooga, I'd suggest looking at U.S. 64.  It's a major highway across southern Tennessee, so use Topo to look for parallel county and state roads.  When you get to the top of Monteagle Mountain, jump onto U.S. 41 down to Jasper, and on into Chattanooga.  Getting through Chattanooga to the east could be tough, but you'll want to try to hit Chickamauga battlefield.  There are some ways to get out of town going north, but the last 30 years have seen a lot of development to the east of Chattanooga.  You might try crossing the Tennessee River around Dayton or Spring City, and going over towards Madisonville.

If I were going to try this, I'd want to get out toward U.S. 411 up through eastern Tennessee, and maybe try going up 321 from Townsend/Pigeon Forge.  (Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg are heavily trafficed by tourists, though.)  Once you get to Elizabethton, go up through Shady Valley to Damascus, Virginia.  I'd suggest taking the last 1.5 Adventure Cycling Trans America maps toward Roanoke and up toward the Shenandoah Valley.  Personally, I'd go up the Shenandoah to Antietam and Gettysburg, and then probably back-track down to about Waynesboro, and cut over toward Richmond on the TransAm.  Manassas has grown too much in population, and not in road infrastructure, for my personal taste.

Gear Talk / Re: Lower gearing: change cassette, chainrings or both?
« on: August 19, 2010, 02:19:56 pm »
Our Cannondales came with 30-42-52 cranksets, and  11-32 cassettes.
I've never understood why any touring bike would come with an 11T cog and a road triple crank.  No touring rider has any need for a 127" high gear and the 30T granny doesn't provide a low enough low gear with any reasonable big cog. 

Looking at Sheldon Brown's gear calculator the other day, I noticed that Shimano supposedly makes (has made?) a 9-speed cassette with 12-34 cogs (the ap).  Wonder why nobody apparently stocks it?  I'll occasionally touch a 12 in back, but the 11 only gets used to persuade myself that I'd be better off coasting.

Routes / Re: Northern Tier motels
« on: August 18, 2010, 11:56:29 am »
We ran into a couple on a tandem last summer who were doing just that (west to east, motels only).  I think you have a slight advantage in that, with only a minimal load, you can pull longer distances each day than if you were hauling camping (and cooking) gear.

They used the AC maps, and had spent a fair bit of time getting the reservations lined up.  Started in mid-July, IIRC, so reservations were particularly critical for the weekends in the northwest.  They had both trained to make the long rides possible. 

I envied them, because they were making such good time.  I was horrified at the idea of planning ALL the days, and ALL the days off, and HAVING to stick to those plans!

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.

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