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Messages - Pat Lamb

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Gear Talk / Re: New touring bike recommendations
« on: March 18, 2023, 04:41:37 pm »
I think the Diverge has at least rear rack mounts, but double-check.  Also check on front rack mounts.  It's built pretty stout (i.e., one held me on a test ride!), so if you can bolt racks on, it should be able to carry that much.  For 50 pounds, I'd think you'd want both front and rear racks to balance the load. On aluminum or carbon fiber, if it doesn't have rack mounts, don't try to carry that much of a load.

I have to agree with dkloko on load weight (though, TBH, this is one of those "do what I say, not what I do" things).  If you're worried about the 10 extra pounds on your Surly, take at least that much out of your load.  With a minor exception for rotational weight while accelerating, bike weight is lumped together with load weight as far as getting up a mountain.  1,000 miles at altitude is going to be a whole lot easier with the bike plus load being 20-30 pounds lighter.

General Discussion / Re: USA: Getting 9 speed parts in bike shops
« on: March 18, 2023, 04:30:45 pm »
TBH I have no idea what availability is like today, but (as an internet expert) I have some guesses.

Nine speed chains are probably more readily available than cassettes, especially if you want a particular size.

College towns are more likely to have either or both; thinking of Ashland, Charlottesville, Carbondale, Missoula.  Tourist centers like Damascus, Canon City, and West Yellowstone probably have above-average chances.

Then there are the places in between.  Off the top of my head I can't think of a place on the TransAm in Kentucky or Missouri that I'd bet would have the cassette you want, and your best shot at a chain might be Walmart.

You can plan for this, of course.  Start with a new chain and cassette.  Borrow a tape measure every week or so to track the chain wear.  Be regular about wiping your chain clean, and re-lube it when it squeaks (like after a rain).  You might carry a chain, buy one when it's looking iffy, or stop by a library or motel and order a chain to be delivered a week ahead of you (post office, General Delivery).  You might order a fresh tire for the rear at the same time to see if you can get free shipping.  Make sure your mini-tool includes a chain tool, and you can swap the chain when you need to, well before the cassette gets worn.

General Discussion / Re: Must have spare parts/tools
« on: March 14, 2023, 07:00:31 pm »
I know people like their CO2 cartridges, but while you can run out of cartridges, you can't run out of pump air if you're carrying a pump.  (Written by a person who had five flats one day.  Had to patch tubes, but I had plenty of air.  Some of the air might have turned blue by the end of the day...)  I was saved by a spare tire, but today I'd take a lightweight tire that might go 3-4 days while I was looking for a replacement at a bike shop or, more likely a post office up ahead.  Mail order and General Delivery together work really well; good bike shops can be a bit sparse on the road.

General Discussion / Re: Your best single piece of advice
« on: March 10, 2023, 09:46:43 am »
1. I did not like biking in the Appalachians on the TransAm (Virginia, Kentucky): Some locals were hostile, lots of aggressive chasing dogs, you are in hill billy country. I did not feel welcome in that part of USA. The bikers I met had similar experiences.

Can't argue about the dogs, though I wasn't bitten.  I found the locals gracious and generous; of course, I didn't have a "get past the hillbillies" chip on my shoulder.

I try to treat my rides as an opportunity to learn about the areas I'm riding through, to approach new locations with an open mind.  At first it's surprising -- the people with whom I disagree the most on political or ideological grounds are often the same people who are the most welcoming.  After a while, I re-learned the lessons of the Muppets: People is people.

General Discussion / Re: Clean bike shorts with ethanol?
« on: March 08, 2023, 09:56:34 am »
70% isopropanol (rubbing alcohol) seems to be the more common alcohol for sterilization.  IIRC, from many years ago, that's pretty much the sweet spot -- either higher or lower concentrations aren't as effective.

So if you're thinking about a small bottle of cheap booze, remember the common 80 proof is only 40% ethanol, and probably not as effective as rubbing alcohol.

IME bike shorts don't weigh too much.  How about taking a second pair?  You'll only need to wash every other day, and there's a fair chance you won't go two days without passing a water source to wash clothes.  (Sahara desert crossings excepted.)

General Discussion / Re: Night Riding, Pros and Cons??
« on: February 23, 2023, 09:34:15 pm »
I've done more night riding randonneuring than touring, and more still commuting.  Agree with everything John says, as a baseline.

A few more notes (of course!):

Night riding at its best is almost magical.  The visual world compresses, but the auditory world expands.  On a lonesome road you'll notice the occasional house, church, or open convenience store, and welcome it, even more than during the day.  Also of note is that the temperature drops; even when it's in the 90s during the day, it can drop to the 50s at night.  How welcome that cool is may depend on how many layers you have available.

Make sure you have spare batteries for any battery-powered lights.  I try to avoid any night-time riding without some kind of reflective garb, and my Ortlieb panniers have reflective patches.  You'll want to have a light (helmet or spare flashlight) in case you need to fix a flat.

Route selection is critical.  You'll want to avoid rough roads, because your reaction time disappears when you approach a pothole or other obstacle in the dark.  Busy roads with minimal or no shoulders are pretty scary when you're passed with inches to spare.  Also try to avoid anything but the smallest hamlets when the bars are closing; Friday and Saturday and holidays are good days to ride early (get up at 3:00 am if you want to ride at night), but settle down early on those days to avoid trouble.  Definitely try to avoid shift changes at large plants, mines, hospitals, etc.

One big downside to riding until midnight is that you'll have to set up camp, assuming you're camping, in the dark.  You'll probably also miss the early morning rides when the temperatures are cool and the wind is calm.

Supply can be a problem.  Want to refill water bottles, buy a Coke, grab something to snack on?  Better to plan ahead than try to get to the convenience store that's going to close at 10 p.m., only to get there and find it closed an hour earlier than you planned.

General Discussion / Re: Continental gator skin bicycle tires.
« on: February 22, 2023, 07:05:58 am »
Have had decent experience with Gatorskins though I've found them to be really sketchy on wet roads with downhill curves that have soil run off.  I ride with 700x32 Gatorskin on rear and 700x35 Continental Contact Plus on the front (to give me grip).   I can manage a bike with the rear wheel sliding out from under me, but cannot manage one with the front wheel sliding out.

I'm surprised you're able to get any grip on "wet roads with downhill curves that have soil run off."  That's a recipe for any tire to start sliding.  Perhaps the front wheel grip is from extra width on the front Contact?  A better approach would be to slow down coming into the curve and try to ride as straight as possible across the mud streaks.

Routes / Re: TransAm Alternate Routes You Would Recommend
« on: February 06, 2023, 09:28:37 am »

One of the most important alternate routes - especially this year, 2023 - is in Yellowstone.
There are two major, ongoing construction projects of the TransAm route in Yellowstone.
Both were targeted for 2022-2023, but with the massive flood damage last year, they will go into 2024.

2) The West Thumb to Old Faithful section of the Grand Loop Road is being repaved.
This has always been a dicey section - narrow with two "kinda" passes.
(West Thumb 7800; Shoshone Divide 8530; DeLacy Creek - 7900; Craig Pass - 8280; Old Faithful - 7360)
Because there are very few tourist spots along the section, cars tend to go fast.

Without disparaging jamawami's suggestions for more time in Yellowstone, I didn't have any problems on the West Thumb to Old Faithful section.  The traffic was fairly fast, but "clumpy," so I was able to ride from pullout to pullout virtually alone.  Take the lane, and cars, trucks, and RVs will catch up to you a hundred yards shy of the next pullout.  Stop and have a drink (it's pretty high so you'll need to drink a lot), hop back on the bike and ride.  Just short of the next pullout the traffic will catch up to you, so lather, rinse, and repeat.

Gear Talk / Re: Flat Bar Touring Bike--Upgrade or New?
« on: January 18, 2023, 10:03:10 pm »
I've got to agree with John.  If every tool you have to sell is a hammer, everything looks like a nail kind of thing.

There's no reason a well built bike with some 20,000 miles on it can't go another 6,000 miles.  It's worth freshening wear parts -- tires, brakes, cables, chain.  Get those replaced, change your gearing, do a weekend shakedown cruise, and hit the road.  I like  drop bars, and I've used them to stretch my hamstrings or to fight a headwind, but there's no reason you have to ride my bike.

I'm not sure why you're looking to go single speed; many of the people posting here are triple fans, and for good reasons.  Set up correctly, a triple will have about the lowest gearing you can get; at the same time, if you want to keep your legs fresh on the half a day you'll have a stiff tailwind, that same triple has a gear for that.

General Discussion / Re: Your best single piece of advice
« on: January 12, 2023, 04:07:57 pm »
A corollary is, don’t make any significant decisions while climbing a big hill.

Which, in a flow of concious kind of way, leads me to:

Stop, pull out your camera, and take a few pictures on a long uphill.  You'll be going too fast to take pictures going downhill on the other side.

General Discussion / Re: Your best single piece of advice
« on: January 09, 2023, 08:38:53 am »
Keep some kind of journal/blog/diary/notes.  2, 5, 15 years later you'll be asking yourself, "Where did I see ...?" or "Where was that picture?"  If you took those notes, look it up!

If you plan to blog every day or so, plan on it taking an hour a day.  It's also a good way to connect with family and friends so they'll know you're OK.

Be clear starting out that you will not call, email, or blog every day.  Some days (with a bit of luck) you'll be off the grid.  Some days things will be too hectic.  But if you know or suspect that a day or two ahead of time, let them know.

Gear Talk / Re: Can arm sleeves really cool in the summer?
« on: January 03, 2023, 08:41:18 am »
Long ago, primarily commuting, I transitioned to tights for my legs and sun sleeves for the arms. I hated slathering on suncreen for the 40 minute ride, only to try to wash it off. I also wear wool shirts. Best thing I ever did. Maybe, MAYBE, not as cool, (the wool shirts are!) but most definitely not hard to adapt to. I'm a convert.

Since what's "hot" and what's "cold" vary widely, can you give us a clue where you (were?) riding, and typical temperatures?

Gear Talk / Re: Can arm sleeves really cool in the summer?
« on: December 21, 2022, 04:01:53 pm »
As John says, No.

I find sun sleeves nice for 60-85F weather in the southeast (humidity is low enough it doesn't condense on you if it's not raining!).  On a cool morning, before I start sweating, it provides a little warmth.  From 70 to 85 or so, it's about the same as bare arms.  Above 85F, sleeves feel warmer to me than nothing (or sunscreen).  From limited exposure in the southwest deserts, ~0% R.H., my break-even temperature is closer to 100F.

TdF riders?  Those things weight you down!  Soaked in water (provided by convenient support cars) they probably top an ounce for the pair!  :)

General Discussion / Re: Inspiration for a 2 week mid-February tour
« on: December 13, 2022, 09:26:35 am »
I got hung up on the combination of two week tour and four foot plus shoulder or very light traffic.  I suppose you could do an out-and-back, or a point to point on I-10 between Texas and California, but would you really want to spend two weeks on an interstate shoulder??

If you could relax that restriction to "mostly light traffic," you might be interested in something like AC's Southern Tier from Phoenix (Tempe) to El Paso, or east of El Paso (not sure where Amtrak stops in Texas.  Or you might make a loop from Phoenix on the ST to Lordsburg, NM, then loop back to the south through Douglas, Sierra Vista, and Tucson on the return trip.

If your plans can be flexible, you might be able to catch a week of warm weather on the northern end of the Natchez Trace; start in Nashville, ride to Natchez, then double back to the airport at Jackson.  Some years that might work, but you'd have to watch the weather forecast and be able to pull the trigger on vacation and flights on Wednesday for the following Saturday to start.

I'd tend to avoid southern California, and Florida to east Texas, to avoid the snowbirds.  On the flip side, that's when many of the businesses are open in smaller towns to catch the snowbirds!

I told my boss and my customer I was going to ride across the country for three months (about 4-5 months in advance).  I think the certainty of my telling them helped cement the idea I would be gone for that long and make appropriate adjustments.  Their response to me was, "But you'll be coming back, won't you?"

My situation was such that I was prepared to find another job, if that had been the way the conversation ended up.  As it turned out, three months was enough for my customer's organization to go through another periodic "reorganization" (read: purge), and my job there disappeared when I returned.  Fortunately, I was able to find another slot in the new "organization," so except for a few weeks where my leave ran out, I never had to pay for my benefits.

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