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Messages - Pat Lamb

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Connecting ACA Routes / Re: Options along the TransAm in Kansas
« on: August 14, 2014, 09:37:56 am »
Off the top of my head, the only places you might want to stay on 50 are the stretch between Larned and Hutchinson (which is easily done in a day, just take extra water and a lunch), and the stretch east of Newton (where the TransAm leaves 50 and goes south). 

We detoured through El Dorado to find air conditioning instead of going up to Newton, and then had a great day from El Dorado to Hutchinson in the free sweat known as rain.  The northern bypass around the north of Wichita, and KS 96, were four lane divided highway with good shoulders and light, polite motorized traffic.

As jamawami says, the towns along the TransAm are pretty well spaced for a cyclist.  You'll have towns spaced 15-25 miles apart, giving you options for short or long days.  Not at all what you've experienced in Wyoming!

Gear Talk / Re: From the road: least used gear, most appreciated gear
« on: August 13, 2014, 09:44:08 am »
Among the items I wish I'd had would be ear plugs. I was at a town called Arlington OR camped out at the marina with a RR crossing a hundred feet away and interstate 84 fifty feet beyond that.

I feel your pain. From one night on the GAP last year:

This was not an isolated occurrence. Turn up your computer's volume to get the realistic effect.

It's all about what you're used to.  We were a day behind three riders when we pulled into Mineral, VA, and camped out behind the fire station -- maybe 100 feet from the railroad.  Two days later we caught up with them.  They'd camped in the same place, then rode 8 miles to a motel to get some sleep.  My daughter and I listened to their tale of woe, then walked off a bit and asked each other, "Did a train come through Mineral that night?"  We heard one before we went to sleep, and another one in the morning.  Oh, yes, she'd just moved out of college where she was a block from a rail crossing, and I live half a mile from one.  Who knows how many trains we slept through?

Not going to email back -- you post here, I post here.

You probably need new shoes.  Either your shoes are not wide enough for your feet, such that after a few hours your feet have swollen and are being constricted by your shoes; or the soles are not stiff enough, so that the soles of your feet have to flex around the pressure point of the small pedals and cause problems.

Larger pedals might also distribute the pressure.  Shimano A530 or Crank Brothers Mallet pedals have a platform surrounding the clip that might help.

Gear Talk / Re: Best foot wear for touring?
« on: July 27, 2014, 03:49:10 pm »
For all those eager advocates of SPD clips, or any other mechanical method of attaching your feet to the pedals, here's something few of the clip using fraturnity rarely tell you.  Unless you aquaint yourself at an early stage in your cycling life and feel very comfortable getting in and out of clips at split-second notice without having time to think you might end up as I did a few years back, running out of momentum on a steep hill and quite suddenly face down on the black-top.

I think most people would say it is rather foolish to start any kind of major tour with new equipment that you are not completely familiar with.  Sorry to hear about your troubles, but what were you thinking?

The flip side, of course, is that clipless (or even toe clips and straps) allows a cyclist with adequate low gears to spin up many grades and save his or her knees from pushing too hard, and the problems that come with that.  "Attaching" feet to pedals prevents a foot from slipping off and forcibly acquainting one's crotch with the top tube.

It boils down to a personal choice, of course.  If a rider has put in some training time with bike (including pedals) before starting off on tour, either clipless or rattrap/flat pedals can get you where you're going.

General Discussion / Re: brooks saddle break-in how long
« on: July 24, 2014, 04:45:22 pm »
Not a Swift, but I've broken in four B-17s.  All of them felt pretty good once they were adjusted correctly when new.  It took 300-500 miles for each saddle to disappear, such that I stopped noticing it.

I've read the Team Pro is supposed to have thicker leather, so it takes longer to break in.  Some people say those take 1,000 miles to break in.  I'm not sure where on the B-17/Team Pro line the Swift falls.

Two notes.  First, adjustment is critical for a Brooks saddle.  I prefer two-bolt seatposts for the ease in making minor adjustments (without starting over every time you unscrew the single bolt on the other design).  Second, while many tourists prefer Brooks saddles - half or more, in my observations - not every bottom matches up with a Brooks.

General Discussion / Re: Touring on carbon
« on: July 21, 2014, 10:34:20 am »
I've cracked a steel frame, twice, without a load, or an  accident-- just fatigue.

BS.  You're just a CF chest beater.  Steel has the least amount of fatigue of any material except for Titanium.  ... [bunch of bragging deleted]   And this why today steel is still the number 1 choice for a touring bike no matter the cost, from low end mass produced touring bikes in the $1400 range to the high $6,000 plus range for custom built touring bikes.

I'm not sure why it was necessary to resurrect a four year old thread, but this steel chauvinism isn't helpful or relevant.  Steel has minimal fatigue, sure.  A single, N=1 example to the contrary does nothing to refute the assertion that steel bikes still break.  I've broken two, one loaded, the other not.

Why steel is the top choice for touring bikes is an interesting question.  I suspect a part of the answer has to do with traditionalists who won't buy a touring bike made of any other material.  Other answers might include: limited sales of touring bikes mean it's not cost-effective to set up tooling for carbon; Cannondale cornered the marked for aluminum touring bikes before it went through bankruptcy; many tourists stop with the cheapest production touring bike they can find, so that keeps the number of titanium touring bikes down below the point most manufacturers will mass produce a touring model.

General Discussion / Re: importance of componentry
« on: July 21, 2014, 10:15:11 am »
Yes, touring bikes typically have lower gears than other road bikes, and so-called "mountain" components had those lower gears.  Up until recently, you could shift any Shimano rear derailer with any Shimano shifter.  Deore shifters had/have longer arms to cover the larger cogs (up to 34 teeth) on the MTB cassettes.  It was an easy call to put a Deore derailer and cassette on a touring bike, and shift those with Tiagra STI brifters.  Tiagra front derailers could shift smaller cranks up front (i.e., lower gears again) adequately IME.  Some people say 105 and even Ultegra worked as well, others say nothing worked as well as they did on real road cranks with larger chain rings, but I can only report my experience with the Tiagras.  All-Deore would be a problem if you go with drop bars, as many of us have done, because the shifters are for MTB, non-drop bars.  The Deore/Tiagra mix worked well.

(Curmudgeon mode on)  It worked so well Shimano fixed it.  Newer groups have changed the cable pull ratios.  Perhaps someone else knows the intricacies of new Shimano groups; are the mixed-group touring bikes still on the market using warehoused older groups, or is Deore still being produced to service older mountain bikes?

The Carlton Complex fires  closed Washington Hwy 20 across Loup Loup yesterday or last night:

"Due to the fire situation, road and highway closures could change very quickly. Hwy 20 is now closed between MP206 to MP215. Hwy 153 is closed at MP6-21 and at a Level 3 Notice between the town of Carlton and Pateros. Hwy 97 is closed between Pateros and Brewster."

It looks like it's still possible to get out of the Okanogan valley on 17 or by going north into Canada, though the Inciweb report shows the fire's jumped the river below Omak.  It would be prudent to avoid this route from Republic west to Washington Pass, or perhaps to Concrete.

(I wish I could send them the showers we've had today!)

General Discussion / Re: Big Bend Loop II, Van - Nov 2-10, 2014
« on: July 17, 2014, 09:38:43 am »
Not the same tour, obviously, but I did the Blue Ridge tour with AC a couple years ago and overlapped for about a week with the TransAm group a few years before that.

I'd guess we averaged about 10 mph on the Blue Ridge tour.  That included a fair bit of climbing.  The TransAm crew may have been a couple mph faster, as most of them passed us most days.  Both groups seemed to leave right around 7:45-8:00 every morning.  Arrival time depended on length of the day and the specifics of the route, but I think most people rode into camp between 2:00 and 4:00 in the afternoon.

Neither group stayed together in one big paceline.  OTOH, there were smaller groups of 2-5 people that formed and disbanded fluidly throughout the day.  Skip an overlook, linger a while - you can ride your own ride.  The van does provide a safety net, but not many people fell into it.

General Discussion / Re: importance of componentry
« on: July 10, 2014, 04:36:10 pm »
I think you're being up-sold.  Tiagra will be fine (my shifters are 8 years, and about 30,000 miles) old and still shift fine -- knock on wood.

Indexed shifters and derailers usually gums up or breaks.  There are some internal parts that are plastic on less expensive lines which are metal in the middle, and sometimes replaced by fancy composites at the top end.  You'd have to find someone who knows what Shimano is putting into each line to find out where the breakpoints are this year.

The cables "stretch" a bit as they age, and that requires some adjustment.  You can use the same cables in a Sora as Ultegra, BTW.  So there's no difference in time between adjustment between the various lines, only how long they'll last.

General Discussion / Re: Cardboard Box for Bike as Checked Baggage
« on: July 10, 2014, 09:39:12 am »
Just curious! How much did your bike and box weigh. My surly is pushing 50# and will be getting ready to head to San Diego to start Southern Tier in September. Looking for options to get it and my gear to there from Iowa.

Try putting some things in another bag (second checked bag or carry-on).  Last time I took my coupled bike on a trip, I was just lazy and put the saddle and seat bag in my suitcase instead of packing them into the bike case.  Though I've never pushed 50#, that took the bike case's weight down by about 3-4 pounds (I don't think anybody ever calibrates airport scales, so the same thing will vary by a pound or two from one airport to another).  You might toss some clothing into the bike box to pad the bike and make space in your other bag(s) -- clothes are usually pretty light.

Gear Talk / Re: Why not use my [insert bike here] on GDMBR?
« on: July 09, 2014, 11:19:11 am »
I know of a few instances of folks successfully riding bikes of that caliber on long tours. … He was road touring though.

I think there’s a fundamental difference between road touring and MTB touring, though.  If something breaks down on the road, it’s probably not life-threatening.  The road tourist can flag down a passing car or pickup to get help, like the two people who had blowouts when we were riding.  Hitch a ride into town, get the wheel fixed or a new tire, and there’s a good story to tell when you get home.  If the same thing happens to a solo rider in 95F heat, 30 miles from the nearest road and water source, that’s a much more serious problem.

I think you are over reacting and the comment wasn't a "recommendation" to use a Walmart bike.  This forum gets a lot of questions about using basically unsuitable bikes for specific tours, etc. and the reply that a Walmart bike could be used was meant to be facetious.

It wasn’t obvious to me that it was facetious.  Note it’s from a first time poster, with no emoticons or context.

Some of the bikes at my local Wally-world look like they have brake pads of plastic mounted on stamped metal brakes.  Most of the time on the TransAm we had a nice run-out at the bottom of steep hills, such that if the brakes failed you could drag to a stop with the other wheel’s brake.  Now imagine heading down a 15% grade toward a cliff, and the front brake's stamped metal arm snaps.  Now you have a dangerous, life threatening failure.  Could it have been prevented?  Sure, with “adequate preparation,” such as replacing the brakes, or inspecting them every night for cracks.  Do the people who want to do things very cheaply know they need to do that?

Again, it’s just MHO, but a drive-by post saying something is possible on a forum (such as this) where people come for equipment recommendations and detailed discussions is not responsible.  It’s like finding a forum for troubled teens and saying, “I’m pretty sure it’s possible to stow away in an airplane wheel well if you want to fly to Hawaii.”  Even if one person did it and lived to tell the tale doesn’t mean the next one will survive.

Gear Talk / Re: Why not use my [insert bike here] on GDMBR?
« on: July 08, 2014, 09:49:50 am »
I'm pretty sure most rides can be accomplished on a Walmart bike if  adequate care is taken in preparation beforehand. At what degree of comfort or competitive level is another matter.

While possible, IMHO it's irresponsible to recommend an X-mart BSO for a ride like the GDMBR.  You need a bike that's dependable for such a remote ride with such limited services.  Saying "if adequate care is taken in preparation" sounds like the disclaimer on a drug commercial slowed down so you can understand it.  In this context, I think adequate preparation means "Checking every single component with test and alignment equipment not available to the average retail customer and replacing every suspect part, which may be the majority of them." 

The military jokes about lives depending on the low cost bidder, but at least there's shelves of specifications to protect those lives.  Walmart is simply the low cost provider without any limitations -- except perhaps what their lawyers think is cost-effective across the whole range of their customers, most of whom won't ride a bicycle out of their neighborhood.

My strategy for tire replacement is new tire installed on front wheel, tire on front wheel moved to rear, worn out rear tire goes to trash. Just my two cents.

That's my overall strategy, however, I'm sometimes in a rush and sometimes just not motivated to do the double swap.  I usually end up swapping the front to the back roughly every second back tire change.  I have seen a front tire start to disintegrate from age when I only swapped rear tires.

I've only ridden the northern tier from West Glacier to Anacortes, but I only remember one significant windy day on that 740 mile stretch. 

(There were some winds coming up the Skagit River going down to Newhalem that made crossing the river a bit sketchy.  Of course, that didn't slow me down much, as that was the downhill part of the day going west.)

No personal experience east of Glacier.  However, the USDA wind rose for Fargo in July looks like the wind comes mostly out of the NW or SE, with the SE wind blowing more strongly and more often.

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