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Messages - Pat Lamb

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Gear Talk / Re: wheels for touring. 250lb rider plus load.
« on: April 08, 2022, 09:03:35 am »
Re: tires, sometimes you take what you can get, and sometimes it turns out to be pretty darn good.  I nursed a tire going bald from the Tetons into West Yellowstone, and the only thing they had in a wider tire (700Cx32 or 35) was a Specialized Armadillo.  Finished the tour, and ended up with over 4,000 miles on that.  (I usually get around 2,000 miles out of a tire.)

I get more concerned over how a tire rolls as the load on the tire drops.  Carrying 40 pounds of luggage?  Whatever.  Just me out for a day ride?  Bring on the better tires!

Panaracer Pasela is one of my standbys.  Panaracer usually makes good tires.  As long as your Tour's rubber is in good shape, I'd keep riding it.

Gear Talk / Re: wheels for touring. 250lb rider plus load.
« on: April 07, 2022, 04:36:48 pm »
Hoo-boy, this is a classic FAQ.

First, the answers may depend on your route (road surfaces), your load (bikepacking or 50 pounds in four panniers), and your riding style.  Do you ride over rocks like some urban cyclists ride over curbs, or do you watch the road, avoid potholes, and lift off the saddle a bit when going over nasty cracks?

32 spokes is probably OK if you're riding well-built wheels.  I made it across the USA with a total load (bike, rider, and gear) of 330-360 pounds (lost weight on the trip and sent stuff home), so it's possible.  Note I was on pavement (or alleged pavement) almost the entire 4,400 mile trip.

The wheels have to be adequately tensioned.  As a heavy rider, that means the rear is going to be a problem, because the wheel is dished for rim brakes on a multi-speed bike.  The drive side (DS) tension is higher to keep the rim centered in the frame, but can't be too high or the rim will collapse.  Low tension on the non-drive-side (NDS) still has to be high enough that the spokes on that side don't go slack, because if they do, you'll have fatigue failures in the spokes.

My trip was made on Mavic A319 rimmed wheels, and I had the wheels lightly re-trued 3,000 miles in.  Aside from that, I had no problems.  The A319 is one of Mavic's heavier rims; I wouldn't bet on one of their lighter rims working as well.

Given your choices, I'd go with the one that recommends machine built wheels retensioned with a tension meter.  That's a cheap way to get the wheels' components, and the final retensioning is where the magic is.  I'd suggest, when you get them home, you do a round of stress relieving.  Put on a pair of leather work gloves, grab a pair of parallel spokes (4 spokes apart), and squeeze the bejeezus out of them.  Work your way around both sides of each wheel until you've given all of them a good squeeze.  The shop may have done that once, but it won't hurt to do it again, and if you do it yourself you'll be sure it's been done.

After a shaky start when I came back to cycling, I picked up a copy of Jobst Brandt's book, "The Bicycle Wheel," and studied it closely.  It paid off, literally.  After I increased the tension of my spokes and stress-relieved them, my spoke failures dropped dramatically.  Note there is a lot of things a piece of foot-long heavy wire is good for, and I had a dozen or two spokes to fill those needs.  Then I bought a tensiometer and started using it, and now I'm running out of broken spokes!

You could try the old-fashioned way.  Hail approaching cyclists and ask them if there's anything unusual up ahead (and warn them of anything behind you!).

Gear Talk / Re: Handlebar Light and Ortlieb Handlebar Bag
« on: March 14, 2022, 10:02:28 am »
A bar extender, as recommended above, will work; I've got one bike set up like that.  I've also got the Thorn accessory bar ( which replaces some spacers on a threadless headset; I run this bar tilted down, leaving the top of the Ortlieb roughly even with the bar, so lights mounted to the bar can illuminate the road instead of the bag.

I'm not sure how long it takes to deliver the Thorn from England; it was about a week to ten days when I ordered mine, since it's small and light enough to come by mail (or post, if you prefer).

Gear Talk / Re: Shorts, Liners, Tights
« on: March 08, 2022, 08:58:49 am »
I would guess the vast majority of cyclists use regular cycling shorts, i.e. the pad sewn to it and not use liners.

I rarely disagree with John, but I believe this statement needs a handful of qualifiers.  The vast majority of first world cyclists who regularly cover more than 20 miles in a ride probably do use regular cycling shorts.  There are a lot of third world cyclists.  Also, there's a lot of transportation cyclists outside the U.S. riding to work or stores in dense cities; I believe the mean cycling distance in Denmark and the Netherlands is less than 5 km (3 miles).  These people either don't have, or don't need, specialized clothing.
But if you're thinking about bicycle touring, or riding enough to get into shape for touring, cycling-specific clothing makes a lot of sense.  If you decided to start swimming for physical fitness, would you buy a swimsuit to wear or just go jump in the pool wearing blue jeans cut-offs and a t-shirt?

General Discussion / Re: Free Air
« on: March 07, 2022, 12:13:13 pm »
A good quality pump like the Lezyne, or even the venerable Road Morph, is reliable and easy to use.  Probability of failure is pretty close to zero.

Close, but not quite zero.  Another rider tried to use my Road Morph one chilly day, and the check valve had frozen.  Of course, he asked because his Lezyne check valve was also frozen.  We stood on the side of the road for 5 minutes or so with our pumps under our respective arms to thaw them out -- they both thawed about the same time.

General Discussion / Re: Transamerica help - May 2022 start
« on: March 07, 2022, 12:09:13 pm »
There are some avid proponents of the eastern express route here.  When you get past the "much less climbing and shorter" points, I think some of their arguments have problems.  To be honest, some of the best years of my young life were lived in Damascus, VA -- unofficial halfway point of the Appalachian Trail and also on the Trans America bike route -- so I'm biased in the opposite direction.  Of course, at least one of the express advocates has hiked through there, so he's seen much of the scenery he's advocating you skip.

Look at the discussions online for the C&O trail.  Most of the cycling recommendations will tell you to ride it in September, in hopes of getting dry weather for better trail conditions.

George Washington thought a canal would be a good idea.  Decades after his death, it was abandoned.  On the other hand, the last battle of the American revolution was at the start of the Trans Am (Yorktown).  10 miles up the road was the colonial capital of Virginia (Williamsburg) where Patrick Henry made his famous fiery speech, and 10 miles further you come to the first "permanent" English settlement in the New World (Jamestown).  If you're interested in American history at all, Cold Harbor was some of the first long term trench warfare as the Confederates held off Union troops trying to advance on the Confederate capital, Richmond, for years -- 20 miles further on.

Why didn't the C&O canal flourish?  Railroads, like the line from Mineral to the tunnel over the Blue Ridge near Afton, both on the Trans Am, headed for the western Virginia and West Virginia coal fields.  (A few days later you'll pass the competing rail line outside Roanoke.)

Scenery?  You can look up at 1,500' ridges on the C&O/GAP, or ride over 3,000' ridges and look down at the "Valley of Virginia" on the Trans Am above Afton and up to 5,000' mountains closer to Damascus.  With a May start, you've got a good chance of catching Catawba rhododendron in full bloom (though that depends on the weather in the next couple months).  Tobacco fields are pretty much a thing of the past, but you'll still pass coal mines, Kentucky horse farms, and some of the oldest mountains in the Americas, the Ozarks, on the Trans Am.

Most Trans Am riders have no problem completing the ride in 90 days or less.  Like John (jamawami), I recommend going to see Glacier.  I took the Trans Am to Missoula, which involved riding a large scale W taking a day on each leg to get to Missoula from Yellowstone.  Taking U.S. 89 could easily save you a couple days, although (a) you'd miss Adventure Cycling's headquarters and free ice cream, and (b) the upper Bitterroot Valley was quite spectacular, as was the upper Bighole Valley.

General Discussion / Re: TransAm Stats?
« on: March 03, 2022, 09:54:12 am »
Another consideration may be if you prefer to ride into the sun or have it at your back.  I personally strongly dislike riding into the sun and am an early rider.  Therefore, I tend to prefer W>E if wind is not an issue.  If you are an early rider, when you ride into the sun, cars behind you may not see you as easily in early mornings due to being blinded by the sun.  If you ride away from the sun, you may have less skin cancer (a major issue with me). However, the reverse is true if you depart camp late and ride until evening.

Typo there?  Riding away from the sun in the morning, don't you mean east to west?

General Discussion / Re: Free Air
« on: March 02, 2022, 09:29:52 am »
This "free air" discussion sounds like a nice hypothetical.  Most of the places I've been lately, if a gas station (or more likely, convenience store) even has a pump, it'll cost 50-75 cents for a spin.

That said, floor pump FTW!

Routes / Re: Route ideas for 300+ miles in May
« on: February 28, 2022, 09:03:32 am »
Re: Natchez Trace, I've only driven/ridden the northern half (Tennessee River (in Alabama) to outside  Nashville.  Grades are moderate, hills increase as you go north.  To paraphrase an AC article, the scenery is nice middle Tennessee, not Rockies or even Smoky Mountains.

Be aware that the Park Service is finally funded to do some road maintenance.  Some of this is more road re-building than re-paving; the current closure, for instance, involves 30 miles of off-route detours.  When they get to the Tennessee River bridge, the detour will be longer and busier.

Don't look for many name brand motels along the NTP.  However, there are usually campgrounds and water sources appropriately spaced for bicyclists.

With the exceptions of Tupelo and Jackson, the NTP is great for cycling.  Low traffic, generally good pavement, good sightlines, and even the steepest parts aren't THAT steep!

Routes / Re: Traffic in Yellowstone on the Parks, Peaks & Prairies route
« on: February 22, 2022, 12:32:46 pm »
A few notes.

First, you're going to be climbing to get to/through Yellowstone.  Not much flat, but the good news is there's about as much downhill as there is uphill.

Second, I agree strongly with John Nettles about timing in Yellowstone.  Ride early, park or find a camping spot or room, go see the sights all afternoon.  Most of the traffic starts picking up around 10:30-11:30, except for the half hour after Old Faithful erupts when the O.F. parking lot erupts.

Third, while I'm not sure how you're arranging transportation, I'd suggest adding a couple days on the end of a west-bound trip.  Divert to see the Firehole River and all its thermal features (including Old Faithful), then go over the divide and south to Jackson.  There's a long downhill going from Yellowstone to the Tetons, and yes, they're worth seeing for yourself.  A day from West Thumb to Jackson Lake, then another day through Tetons N.P., and you'll find it easier to make air connections out of Jackson, WY than you would West Yellowstone, MT.

I'm not quite clear on the question.  Is OP asking about brifters, cranks, or derailers?

Tiagra triple anything is going to be an expensive hunt for the New Old Stuff (NOS) needle in the ebay haystack.  If you put used gear on an new build, good luck.  It may work fine, or you might find why the seller took it off and replaced it.  Shimano stopped making the rubber hoods that fit Tiagra triple brifters a half dozen years ago, so there's a good chance you'll have to hack something together to keep them usable.

Concur on the Sugino cranks and Deore derailers, at least for the rear derailer.

Microshift has rescued 3x9 systems with new shifters and derailers, at least.  They feel stiffer to me than Shimano, but they're usable and available (or as much as any bike components are right now).

Gear Talk / Re: Best Water Bottle?
« on: February 07, 2022, 09:29:36 am »
If I haven't finished drinking a couple water bottles in 2-3 hours, I haven't been drinking enough in the summer.  Since I usually have to resupply every couple hours anyway, an insulated bottle that keeps its contents cool for that long has done its job.

Gear Talk / Re: Breaking in Brooks B17 Imperial
« on: February 07, 2022, 09:27:51 am »
Is it the saddle you break in, or your rear end?

Uh-huh.  :)

Actually, I think it's the saddle more than the rider.  I say that because I've put new Brooks saddles on bikes, and even though I've been riding similar saddles on other bikes regularly, it takes a few hundred miles for the new saddle to feel like it's disappeared.  That "disappearance" is how I know the new saddle is broken in.

General Discussion / Re: Does size matter?
« on: February 03, 2022, 02:46:25 pm »
That Prudhoe to Vegas sounds like a monster ride, the kind that you can justify buying the perfect bike for it. 

I'm inclined to avoid something that monumental, in part because I don't care to tempt fate with a couple months of starchy, fatty foods since I fell through the cardiac patient trap door.  I'm also thinking about a new bike (without the trauma of having my old one stolen!).  The two faces thing is attractive, but I'm wondering (1) will I ride enough dirt/bad pavement to make the second wheel set worthwhile, and (2) would something more road oriented (but with clearance for low-40s tires) be a "jack of all trades, master of none" compromise?

Do you have any insight on how a "fatty" bike is going to ride with relatively skinny tires?  For instance, would you put 32 tires on where you'd normally put on 28s, to give you some shock absorption in the tires you won't get from the fork?

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