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Messages - Pat Lamb

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General Discussion / Re: Avoiding highways
« on: September 04, 2017, 05:20:59 pm »
I hesitate to bring this up because it always attracts inflamed opinions.

"Vehicular cycling" works well in many of the situations described by the O.P.  It involves a mindset that a bicyclist is a vehicle, and is entitled to use a traffic lane.  It's supported by the uniform vehicle code that's part of traffic law in 49 states.  And riding as a vehicle allows a cyclist to use far more roads and routes than any other alternative.

It takes a bit of work to develop the confidence required to "take the lane," that is, to ride in a lane of traffic vs. looking for a shoulder or off-road path.  If a cyclist is unable or unwilling to make that mental shift, he or she should look for off-road routes, such as the rail-trail networks of Minnesota and Wisconsin.  Even there, though, it's often necessary to ride on a regular road to reach food, water, and camping or lodging, unless you're doing an out-and-back day trip.

What you are more likely to encounter are impacts from Hurricane Harvey in Texas.
Plus, there may be additional hurricanes on the Gulf Coast.
For cyclists that may mean closed stated parks and, perhaps, closed rural roads.
(Priority, of course, goes to repairing and opening major highways.)
Keep informed about any closures.

Perhaps I'm a bit more sanguine, but I'd expect a lot of repairs to have been finished.  Starting in the west, I'd be surprised if OP arrived in the impact zone before December; that's three months for things to be repaired.  I'd expect the biggest impact over 200-300 miles of the worst hit area to be in low-cost "housing."  Cheap motels and campgrounds will have displaced people, rescue workers, and (re)construction workers.

Trying to flip back and forth between the ST map and the rainfall totals maps (see, for example,, it looks like most of the ST only got a foot of rain or so.  That's a run-of-the-mill flash flooding kind of rain, in an area that gets floods fairly regularly, so that area is likely to recover quickly.

Gear Talk / Re: Bike Choice for Bike Tour in Tibet
« on: August 29, 2017, 01:43:57 pm »
If I spend the week before I leave in the mountains of Colorado visiting mountains between 12,000 and 14,000 feet during the day, will that help me?

No, you need to spend time at high altitudes measured in meters.  -)

OK, seriously, I expect it may help, as you'll be exercising at high altitudes (simulating riding in Tibet), and recovering somewhat lower overnight, which will give your body enough oxygen to repair itself from the damage done up higher.

Routes / Re: TA vs Northern tier
« on: August 22, 2017, 03:58:41 pm »
Depends on what you want to do.  A coast to coast ride is a more concrete goal than "ride around the Rockies for a while and have fun."  It's easier to describe and understand, and gives the rider an extra boost on the hard days when it's too darn hot, windy, and/or rainy.

The TransAm is the original, classic Bikecentennial route.  It's a good mix of flat Kansas/Colorado riding with three or mountain ranges mixed in - Appalachian, Ozark, Rocky, and Cascade if you're inclined to count it separately.  There's enough other riders on the route that you'll meet one or more groups headed the other way most of your way through the heartland.  If you're in to Revolutionary War and War Between the States history, you'll get a fair slice of that through Virginia and into Kentucky.  As far as "expensive" camping in the east, that's two or three days until you hit Mineral, VA.

I did a mixture, and the Northern Tier is pretty spectacular from Glacier to Anacortes.  It would be a tough way to start a tour, four passes (five if you count Rainy) in four long days.  Spectacular scenery along that part of the route, of course.  The NT probably has lower night-time temperatures than the TA through the plains, and (depending on your luck) might have lower day-time temps.

Pick one.  Or both.  Have fun picking your route and more fun riding it!

Gear Talk / Re: Bike Choice for Bike Tour in Tibet
« on: August 20, 2017, 09:37:26 pm »
I haven't done a trip like that, nor, at my age, am I likely to do one.

Adventure Cyclist has had a number of articles detailing trips in the Himalayas the last few years, though.  I believe every one of the bikes involved has been either a mountain bike, or an expedition bike, all with wide (and stout) tires and wheels.  Not all gravel roads are built and maintained like old rail-trails with crushed gravel surfaces; if you think original railroad ballast and bigger rocks than that, you're thinking of some of the "roads" pictured in those articles.

General Discussion / Re: Blue Ridge Parkway mm 0 to 200 roughly
« on: August 13, 2017, 02:36:10 pm »
For a general overview, it's worth looking into "Bicycling the Blue Ridge" by the Skinners.  They've got a good list of camping, food, and perhaps most importantly, water sources.  You can also check the National Park Service web site ( for up to date information on closures and road conditions.

Adventure Cycling has run two supported tours for the last several years; one covers the southern part of the BRP, the other the northern 200 miles plus Skyline Drive.

In general, the 100 miles on each end of the Parkway has the worst pavement (IMHO).  I think the best parts of the BRP tend to be in the southern, North Carolina, half.  In the northern half, the 30 miles centered around the James River is pretty and rather wild.  Peaks of Otter is very nice, and there's some great overlooks from there down into Roanoke and then, after transversing suburban Roanoke, climbing back up the southern side of town.  Mabry Mill may be the most photographed site on the Parkway, and is especially good if you can hit it in late May or early June when the Catawba rhododendron are blooming.

Motels on the northern part are Peaks of Otter, and off the Parkway at Roanoke and Waynesboro.  Further south in NC there's motels at Blowing Rock, Little Switzerland, Asheville, Mt. Pisgah, and Cherokee.  Otherwise, count on going downhill 5-15 miles for food and lodging, and climbing back up in the morning.

Routes / Re: route suggestions: Kalispell, MT >> North Carolina coast
« on: August 07, 2017, 01:10:06 pm »
I think highly of the TranAm route, so I'd suggest dropping down to Missoula then take the TransAm east to Damascus, VA.  From Damascus take U.S. 58 (or the Virginia Creeper to Whitetop, then work your way back to Mouth of Wilson) and pick up the NC North Line Trace route at

If that's not the part of the NC coast you were looking to hit, try taking NC bike route 1 to meet up with some of the other west-east routes: and/or:

There are general "wind roses" out there which show the wind direction from the various points for a given state.  Some are better than others.

I've been going to the NRCS/NWCC site for wind roses for years:

If there are better sites out there, what are they?  (Old dog might want to learn a new trick.)

General Discussion / Re: have a heart
« on: July 27, 2017, 08:19:29 am »
Sorry to hear about your heart attack.  I'm working my way back from an MI earlier this year.  It hasn't been as much fun as riding a bike.

First, get your doctor to put you in cardiac rehab.  Then go and finish it.

Second, talk with your cardiologist about reasonable expectations.  I started with 6 mile rides (with my wife watching anxiously as I did laps on an empty street).  My doc says my heart is in pretty good shape because of my previous cycling, so I can ramp up as long as I don't push too hard (whatever that is!).  He's very supportive of my doing a metric century late this year, and mildly supportive of a 200 km ride next spring.

Third, take all your meds, and especially don't discontinue anything without talking to your doctor or nurse.  If you need to change your diet, or do something to address the various risk factors, do it!  Life is a crapshoot, but you want to load the dice as much as you can!

Finally, don't make any nonrefundable reservations until the end of 2017, and evaluate where you are then.  You may need to give it another year or two, you may be good to go by next summer.  (I know which one I'm rooting for!)

General Discussion / Re: Front Suspension
« on: July 26, 2017, 03:13:32 pm »
The answer to this, as to so many other "what is best?" questions, is It Depends.

For many road surfaces, a bigger tire (wider, more air volume) is sufficient.  If you're riding a bike with 700cx23 tires on most roads, even if the pavement isn't all that great, going to something in the 45-50 mm width range will probably be sufficient.  If you're riding on Colorado Rte. 7 in the eastern part of the state (my personal worst-case for gawd-awful expansion joints), you might want front suspension.

But suspension is extra weight, and many lower cost suspension forks are bouncy.  If you've got more than minimal climbing, you'll appreciate not having an extra pound to haul up every hill.  Likewise, if you're inexperienced or when you get tired, you'd prefer your pedaling energy to propel you forward, instead of up and down.

If you're considering a hybrid, I doubt you'll get much benefit from a carbon fork.  They lack the travel of both wide tires and suspension forks, but they will reduce the buzz from chipseal or similar bad road surface if your tires are hard and narrow -- in other words, probably not a hybrid.

My best advice is to go to a good bike shop and ride a bunch of bikes.  Pick the one you like best that will let you carry a load.

Gear Talk / Re: Bike fitting is recommended or not?
« on: July 26, 2017, 09:39:11 am »
If this is your first bike, and you're going to start on rides of, say, 5-10 miles, go to your local bike shop (LBS) to buy a good bike and let them fit you to the bike you buy.  20" frame is about right for your height, assuming you're not disproportionally long or short in the torso.  It'll help if the LBS will show you how to adjust the saddle height and make sure you've got an appropriate (size and angle) stem.  It's more important to get you on a bike and get you used to riding it than to get a perfectly fitting bike in this case.

If, on the other hand, you've got a bike or three already, and if you're planning to use this new bike for something like the Great Divide route next summer, then you can benefit from fitting the bike to you.  Expect a lot of attention to the details: not just saddle height, but saddle fore-aft position and tilt.  Not just getting the bars in the neighborhood, but getting them dialed in.  By now you've probably gotten used to clipless pedals vs. the platform pedals that came with your first bike, so make sure the cleat position and alignment is perfect.  You should expect to go back once or twice to tweak the fit before it's perfect.  And, to be honest, you need some saddle time to get used to the bike before the fit, so the fitter has something to work with, and after the fit, as the tweaks the fitter made settle in.

Just noticed that Washington DOT has re-opened Loup Loup Pass:

It looks like there's still a section of gravel (with a traffic light to control the one lane, ugh).  Best I can tell, this is about 2.5 miles up from the bridge over Loup Loup Creek -- about where it gets steep going west, IIRC.

Routes / Re: TransAmerica - Types of roads
« on: July 21, 2017, 11:37:31 am »
Is all of the Missoula-Hamilton bike path like it was in 2009, when there was a stop sign for bike traffic at Every. Single. Side. Street. And. Driveway?

Drove me nuts.  I was happy to reach the end of it.  TBH, I didn't ride into Missoula during rush hour; I waited until the post office in Lolo could confirm they hadn't received my package, and left about 9:30 Monday morning.  No problems for us over that stretch.

Routes / Re: TransAmerica - Types of roads
« on: July 20, 2017, 09:48:23 am »
Just guessing, of course:
5 miles on a good bike path (the stretch from Lolo to Missoula may add to that)
5 miles on "this is a bike path?"
20 miles on sidewalks
10 miles of interstate (nice riding, if you ignore the broomstick across the shoulder)
maybe 50 miles urban-ish streets
5-10% of the rest is highways with fairly heavy traffic
10% small towns
50% is rural highways, mostly light local traffic
30% rural roads that don't rise to the level of highways

General Discussion / Re: Bicycle Dynamo Charger
« on: July 20, 2017, 09:40:59 am »
I agree with everything Russ says except the falling over -- I just chuckle a bit.

I got my first dynamo after my long self-supported tour, and I've done several shorter supported tours since then, in addition to year-round commuting.  The dyno lights are best at winter commutes (or late rides home after summer/fall rides). 

I can't see the benefit for off-road tours, because most of the time you'll be riding fairly slowly, and the high-speed stretches are fairly short.  (My hubs hit full power between 10 to 12 mph.)  If you do road touring you may average fast enough to charge something during bright daylight; if you're only hitting civilization for grocery and water stops, that may be worth the dyno and electronics to charge your toys.  If you're going to hit diners for a meal every day or every other day, you can plug things in then (think GPS with internal battery, or cell phone).  If you're going to hit a motel, B&B, or warm showers host every second or third day, plug everything in there.  The external booster batteries available now should be enough to keep needed electronics going for 2-3 days, so you won't need to fool around with a dyno.

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