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Messages - Pat Lamb

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General Discussion / Re: Carrying a spare tire on tour?
« on: January 14, 2019, 08:58:38 pm »
I've carried, and used, a spare tire.  There was a wire in the sidewall of my touring tire that broke and caused 5 flats before I found it.  I put on the spare tire and, enraged, walked the old one down the road 50 yards to toss the old one in somebody's garbage can.

The replacement wore out, but I was able to baby it 100 miles after it flatted and I noticed the cords showing through the tread until I could buy a new tire (great LBS in West Yellowstone, FWIW).

So it's certainly possible to need a new tire on tour.  How do you decide?

Standard tire sizes (700C and 26") are fairly easy to find if there's a bike shop nearby, and (for the 26" size) at Wally-world.  Other tires (650B, for instance) are going to be hard to find.  Can your schedule and finances order a tire online, FedEx delivery, and you sit and wait for it to arrive if your tire can't be fixed?

How far are you going?  How heavy is your loaded bike?  How hilly is the route?  I wear most tires out in 2,000 miles.  Some tires (Continental Contact, Specialized Armadillo) last 2-3 times longer.  My daughter, the featherweight, rode used tires all the way across the country with me and for another couple years before hers needed to be replaced.

How isolated is your route?  If you're riding well-trafficed roads between good sized towns or cities, you can probably get a lift if you need one.  If you're riding little-used dirt roads where traffic is measured in vehicles per month, you might want to carry spare tires.

How diligent are you about checking tires?  I tend to ignore tires (except for pumping them) until I have to look for what caused a flat.  If you are starting with fresh rubber, not going more than perhaps a month, and checking the tires regularly (so you can get a replacement shipped ahead if necessary), there's less cause to carry a spare.

Finally, have you considered carrying lightweight folding spares? Some models are three times the weight of others.  Consider taking a light tire, and if you have to mount it, order a new heavier tire or buy one in the next town and swap them back out when you get the sturdier model.

General Discussion / Re: Flying international with bicycles
« on: January 11, 2019, 09:31:11 am »
Your best bet is to contact the airline you (might) be flying, and ask them.  Boxing a bike is fairly common, as are extra fees (buckle your seat belt before you look!).  U.S. airlines seem to be in a race to the bottom through consolidation; perhaps European airlines are a few years behind us.

Gear Talk / Re: When to replace shoes?
« on: January 06, 2019, 11:55:34 am »
Good bike shoes wear out, eventually.  I think they're like bottom brackets -- check them occasionally, and replace when they need it.  Three years is almost new.

I replaced my Sidi MTB shoes this year after 9 years of riding.  To be honest, I could have replaced them 4-5 years sooner based on lug wear that exposed the cleat, but being cheap (fun to say when you're talking about $200 shoes!), I built the lugs up with Shoe Goo for years.  I don't do a lot of hiking in bike shoes (other than in and out of work for bike commuting).

That makes a total of two pairs of shoes I replaced because I couldn't get the cleat off, one pair where the lugs were worn down too far to fix, and one pair where the sole came off the upper (fun ride, that one!).  That makes an average of 20,000 miles plus per pair.  Good bike shoes last a long time.

Gear Talk / Re: Bike Case which Accomodates Racks and Fenders
« on: January 01, 2019, 11:16:00 pm »
If you can deal with removing and re-installing racks and fenders, you can potentially save a lot of money on shipping by doing so.  In general, the more you can break things down, the smaller you can get the package, and the smaller the package, the less the shipping.  Bicycles generally are so light and so bulky that the package size drives the shipping cost.

Gear Talk / Re: New bike for next ride
« on: December 28, 2018, 10:07:15 am »
Your Kona Sutra isn't a bad start.  If you've got the new bike itch, look at the Fuji.  Otherwise, you might want to look at slightly smaller (and lighter) tires that what's stock on it.  Panaracer Pasela 700Cx35 would be my choice.

As John noted, you'll likely want low gears; if you ride long enough, you'll hit a long day with one nasty climb at the end of that day when you're tired from climbing, headwinds, long hours in the saddle, or some combination.  That's the day you'll want lower gearing than the typical 1:1 (27 gear inch) low.  Since you're looking at a supported ride, you may get by with a 23-24" low, but if you can arrange 20", that would be better.  Also, taller bars are typical of touring bikes, like the Sutra/LHT/520.  Finally, interesting places to ride often are not the ones with the best roads.  Bigger size tires, and heavier tires, soak up some of the road shock and prevent flats.  (Having stood on the side of the road as the rain started waiting for a SAG after a blowout...  No, I'd rather not repeat that!)  I've settled in on 32 or 35 tires, although my lightest bike is limited to 28s, as my preferred size.

A touring bike has the lower gearing and higher bars you won't get with a typical carbon fiber road bike.   The Fuji feels lighter than the LHT and 520.  (I've never ridden a Sutra, and I've only seen one in person, which is fairly normal for most touring bikes.)  But bike weight isn't the end-all and be-all that some say it is; add a way to carry sunscreen, emergency rations, rain shell, spare tube, patch kit, pump, and enough water to get you to the next SAG stop, and your featherweight bike is heavier than the naked tourer.  Also, remember what does count is total wheel weight: add luggage weight and your weight to the bike weight, and what's the percent difference?  Finally, you'll have frame clearance for wider tires with a touring bike than the CF wonder bike.

Now if you've got the money (and time), you can get a custom bike that's a relaxed or sport touring frame, and "old mountain" gearing with a triple and really low gears.  That'll take perhaps 5 pounds off your frame, and $3-4,000 out of your wallet.  Gear down and spin the extra weight up the hill might be the better recommendation.

Gear Talk / Re: Best tires for touring the US
« on: December 18, 2018, 09:59:02 pm »
I managed to take a wire bead tire (700C, FWIW) folded in thirds as John suggests, and then squeeze it in the middle so it was mostly linear, maybe 15" long, with loops at both ends.  I had a catastrophic failure, and the replacement worked OK after that folding regime.

General Discussion / Re: Malaria in Central America
« on: November 17, 2018, 04:09:43 pm »
We take malaria meds only when we will be below 5,000 feet elevation as mosquitos can not fly above that altitude.

Pardon my quibbling...

I vividly remember a t-shirt that said something like, "Jackson, WY: there aren't enough locals to feed the mosquitos here so we import tourists."  IIRC the elevation at the south (downstream) end of Jackson Hole is over 6,000 ft.  Is it so dry over 5,000 feet in Honduras that there are no mosquitos?

Routes / Re: Washington DC to East Lansing MI
« on: November 16, 2018, 12:00:41 pm »
One wrinkle you may not have considered is that if you're looking for historical markers, you won't find many on the backroads on which you prefer to ride.  You're left with a choice -- either ride the highways and you get to be surprised at the number of historical markers you can read on a bike (that you'd never bother stopping for if you were driving your car), or do your homework on the route ahead of time so you'll have some idea what happened in East Podunk at the end of the eighteenth century.

Notwithstanding the astounding number of places Abraham Lincoln played golf in Kentucky on the TransAm, :) most of the people I've talked to in diners, etc. are lucky if they know one historical item of interest about their town that's older than they are.

Gear Talk / Re: To paint titanium or not
« on: November 10, 2018, 10:49:03 pm »
Flat brown?!?  Pat, you want to have at least SOME appeal to your own bike.  Dang, that would be ugly.   ;D

Just MHO, but I think the older brown paint job looks better than the newer green slime paint in the back.


Gear Talk / Re: To paint titanium or not
« on: November 09, 2018, 09:35:26 am »
I'm with John: leave it unpainted or paint it something boring.  I can't remember off the top of my head if it's bead blasted or "brushed" (aka sanded?) that leaves the finish pretty much flat.  That would be my first choice. 

If you're going to paint it, I'd go for brown over black.  The builder will want to make it shiny, and shiny black attracts some people.  Shiny brown is rather boring.  I'd prefer flat brown, to make it as unappealing as possible, but I doubt your builder will do that -- they want the bike to look like it should be on the cover of Buycycling to attract more business.

Gear Talk / Re: Titanium vs. Steel: Worth it?
« on: November 02, 2018, 10:00:21 am »
Frame material gets a lot of press, but it's just one part of the overall design process.  I think the one place titanium has the edge is corrosion (or rust).  On a single tour of 1-6 months, that's not going to make a difference.  If you live by the sea and the bike is exposed to salt spray, or keep your bike outside in the rain for years at a time, that's when titanium wins.

If you're touring with a load, you're going to want a frame that doesn't flex or you'll get shimmy.  There may be a narrow point (e.g., rider plus load = 247 pounds) where a frame feels like it has just a little flex but doesn't shimmy.  Add 5 pounds of food and that bike may start to shimmy on a long, steep downhill, or take 25 pounds off and it feels like a solid block of metal.  Far better to depend on larger tires at slightly lower pressure to soak up road shock (although nothing short of full suspension is going to make the expansion joints in eastern Colorado less than miserable).

I'm thinking about N+1, and my focus is going to be getting a custom bike built by someone who knows how to balance material, expected uses, rider weight, and possible touring load.  For the same money I might get a production titanium bike, built like a cookie cutter, and hope it works for me.  Either is a valid choice.  But I expect the custom will have a higher probability that I'll be riding and enjoying it in 10-15 years.

Re: tickets already bought, could you pay a change fee and slide the dates a month out?  Delta/American/United change fees usually run $200 for domestic flights (I've paid enough of them to know!), but you could make that up in just a few extra nights camping vs. in a motel.

General Discussion / Re: Getting from JFK to Wall St. to Sandy Hook
« on: October 27, 2018, 04:08:23 pm »
JonathanW, I'd ask you to refrain from antagonizing jamawami.  (As he wrote, just walk away.)

You really don't need to hit Nebraska, or Wyoming (where the Bighorns) are, to run into potential trouble with your plan.  To wit: the first time I went to the Poconos in Pennsylvania was early May -- not March, May..  It snowed there.  In May.  Sure, you can stay in motels (if you can find one where you need one), but there were no shoulders to ride on, traffic was slow and bumper-to-bumper because the roads were slick.  And that's south of where you're planning to start.

So feel free to ignore local knowledge, and pardon those of us who care.

Back to your original question:  BikeliciousBabe has the best idea, take taxis.  You really don't want to wrestle a bike (boxed or assembled) plus bags on and off multiple public transportation as many times as your original plan called for.  I've done similar things on the D.C. Metro with just a suitcase and a briefcase -- it gets unpleasant fast.

Well, OP's experience was diametrically opposed to my own.  Major roads through Kansas?  Maybe about 25 miles on U.S. highways from what I remember.  I titled one day's ride "More miles than cars" in my journal.  Colorado was busier west and north of Canon City, but even on July 4th we had little trouble.  Long distances in Wyoming made the excitement of seeing a car or truck go by welcome.

Anyways, I second John Nettles' suggestion of rails to trails if one cannot tolerate any other traffic on the road.  Yes, it's difficult to get across the U.S. in that fashion, but if you don't understand how to ride with traffic, it's surely safer and more pleasant.  Or perhaps you might want to take up mountain bike touring and try the Great Divide route.

General Discussion / Re: Need to heal faster
« on: October 17, 2018, 09:36:50 am »
As John notes, healing takes longer as you get older.  (Alas!)

Let me make two suggestions.  First, instead of saying you need to heal faster, accept that it's taking longer for you to heal, and adjust your expectations accordingly.  For instance, if it used to take two weeks to heal and now it takes longer, expect it to take three weeks.

Second, don't jump in full force when you do return to activity (either biking or snow boarding).  Perhaps you can start a gentle stretching program two weeks post injury, and after three weeks start doing relatively short and easy bike rides.  You'll have to do the translation into snow boarding -- maybe just a limited number of runs down a bunny slope?  Skip the fun, hard, technical parts (that got you injured in the first place) until you're no longer stiff and sore, and work your way up gradually.

Also, have you tried doing core exercises?  Of course, you'll need to start those gradually as well.

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