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Messages - Pat Lamb

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I have thought that a light weight road bike would serve me better on my daily rides (I have an old aluminum Raleigh hybrid....but average only 14-16 mph on my 40-55 mile rides and see many people with true road bikes going quite a bit faster and thought I would need a better bike to get involved with group rides and week long tours.

I'm skeptical about the value of a "go-fast" bike.  The weight of a bike doesn't make much difference to your top speed, though it does make accelerating a bit harder.  I regularly ride with a group that rolls along at 20-25 mph, and I lose them on the hills (I suck at hills!), then catch them on the downhills (gravity likes me!) and proceed along to the next hill.

You also need to ask, how far did everyone go?  It's not unusual for me to get passed after 45 miles when I'm taking the last 5 miles easy.  Funny how the passers look crisp and clean, while I'm dripping sweat.  How far had they ridden when they passed me?

A single sport touring bike is between.  Not too much difference in frame, but the wheels are intermediate in weight.  Or you could get a touring bike and a pair of light wheels, ride the light wheels, and swap out for touring.  You'd freak the group members by riding that HEAVY bike, especially when your fitness improves to the point you're keeping up with them.

Gear Talk / Re: do I have too much crap?
« on: August 17, 2013, 10:16:20 am »
Any significant weight in the front will load the front wheel and make steering feel heavy.

OTOH, if you start climbing a really steep pitch without weight in the front, the front wheel can lift off the ground.  Weight in the front keeps this from being an issue.

Your choice.  :)

The LHT is just too heavy for me, considering maybe 10% of my miles will be lightly loading touring. 

FWIW, Paddleboy is right.  There's about a third of a pound difference between the frame and fork weight of the Long Haul Trucker and the Cross Check.  The rest is how they are equipped (tires, wheels, and saddle likely make most of the difference).

Routes / Re: TransAmerica trail and others - prevalence of lodging?
« on: August 06, 2013, 11:25:15 am »
The good news is that WiFi is pretty much ubiquitous.  Almost every motel has it, and there's usually another source -- at least in most towns -- if there's not a wireless-enabled motel.  That said, you don't always get to choose which town and which day you lose the wireless, so you might want to communicate to your customers that you may be off the grid for a day every now and then.

Availability?  In the east (say to Wyoming), there's a motel every 15-45 miles, averaging roughly every 30 miles.  Further west (and north), availability drops to one every 50 miles.  The ACA maps do a pretty good job of alerting you to services like lodging.  Try searching google maps for Town, State, motels -- you'll find a lot more.  There's a couple of holes -- Jeffrey City, WY is the famous 120-mile stretch with one motel, and things are pretty thin west of Dillon, MT until Hamilton.  Getting through the Tetons and Yellowstone requires excellent planning and 6-month lead for reservations (difficult to plan that precisely), or luck and persistence calling until you catch a cancellation in the last 5 minutes.

Some people can find motels for $50-75, but I averaged $100 per night in a motel four years ago.  I don't know what the intervening downturn and time have done to that average.

If you're going to ride in the Pacific Northwest, look at the dropouts.  Many 'cross and touring frames are remarkably similar, except that some 'cross frames have horizontal rear dropouts (Surly Crosscheck, for one).  This can be an issue with clearance getting the wheel out when you have fenders (highly recommended for the PNW).

OTOH, the Surly LHT has an extended top tube to go along with its vertical dropouts.  Note frame weights are within a few ounces for comparable 'cross and touring models.

Best advice I can give is test ride a lot, if you can find models to test ride, and pick the one you like best.  You'll probably be riding it long after the tour is over.  If you can't find a touring bike to ride, work with a good bike shop that will help get you set up right on the fit.  Despite "pick the one you like best" advice, there's not a whole lot of difference between different models.

Gear Talk / Re: Fenders and tires for a Surly Disc Trucker with 26" rims
« on: August 01, 2013, 04:27:19 pm »
FWIW, the parts of the C&O I've been on were a little rough on 700Cx32s, I think they would have been fine on 38s (1.5 in.).  Anybody who takes a road bike with 23 or 25 tires is going to think it's terrible.  Surface ranges from sandy clay, to finely crushed rock, and back to mud.

Gear Talk / Re: My "new-to-me" bike!
« on: July 31, 2013, 07:59:50 am »
As I wrote earlier, clipless or not is a choice for every cyclist.  That said...

"Pedal the size of a nickel" doesn't match any pedal or cleat I'm aware of.  My Frogs might come closest, but the cleat is about the biggest MTB cleat you can get.  Can you explain how his pedal ended up so small when the cleat wore out?

I just can't visualize how flats would improve bike handling skills.  Can you give us an example or two?

Are clipless pedals unnecessary?  Well, in the sense you can ride a bike without them, yes.  So is a saddle.  But I'd rather have both on my bike.

Gear Talk / Re: My "new-to-me" bike!
« on: July 30, 2013, 09:23:16 am »
Clipless or not is one of those things we each get to choose.  I think I've done the clipless tumble three times in a dozen years, all slow speed.  One of those was a broken crank, I don't know if I could have avoided that with platform pedals.  For what clipless gives me, that's a good trade-off.

The two big things clipless does for me: First, it keeps my feet on the pedals and lets me maintain a high cadence.  Nothing is worse than charging a hill, cranking away like made, when your foot slips off the pedal and down you go.  Doesn't happen with clipless, and the high cadence saves my knees when riding up ridges with a load.

Second, it lets me use stiff shoes and locates my food on the pedal where I want it.  After 25-30 miles in sneakers, my feet are talking to me, and they ain't happy!  Good clipless shoes distribute the pressure over a wider area, and while my feet may get tired, they don't get sore.

I typically carry a pair of Teva sandals when touring.  Great for showers in strange, dark venues.  Get out of the shower, put on some socks, go for a walk.  That's a half a pound (in my large size) I'm happy to carry.

BTW, the great thing about MTB clipless pedals is you don't go skating when you stop for lunch, a snack, shopping, etc.  I use Speedplay Frogs instead of SPDs, but they're similar aside from the clip.  I'd have to be on one of those century-a-day cross country supported rides before I'd consider road pedals on a bike tour.

Don't let chipseal, per se, scare you off.  In the southeast U.S., where I'm from, chipseal denotes one (small) step above gravel or dirt roads with plenty of potholes.  Washington (and Montana), on the other hand, do a decent job of chipseal, using small, often rounded, gravel.  The ride isn't quite as smooth as well paved fresh asphalt, but it's usually quite tolerable.  Much better than asphalt over old concrete, for example.

That said, I don't know the specifics of what they're using in the Olympics.  Hope it's better than the sharpened boulders California put down last year!

Routes / Re: 1st cross country bike trip
« on: July 25, 2013, 08:19:47 am »
One other possibility would be to start in San Diego and take the Southern Tier to the Grand Canyon connector, then pick up the Western Express before meeting the TransAm near Pueblo, CO.

On the other end, stay on Skyline Drive at Rockfish Gap instead of going into Charlottesville, VA.  Work your way to either the W&OD or C&O Canal Trail to get into Washington.

A couple of cautions: The toughest climbs are in the east -- Missouri, Kentucky and Virginia.  You can avoid some of the Missouri climbs at the cost of a detour north to the Katy trail.  And you're biting off a big chunk, shooting to complete a trip of this magnitude in 60 days.  Not saying it's impossible, just that you'll have to ride farther each day than most bike tourists.

Gear Talk / Re: Just starting.
« on: July 18, 2013, 11:13:48 am »
I, too, have found Cateye computers reliable over the last 10 years or so.  My biggest problem is that my 10-year-old computer is getting creaky w.r.t. contacts -- I have to grease them every year or two.  Mine stay on the bar for years at a time until the display starts fading, indicating a new standard 2032 battery is needed.  Rain, frost, transport on a car rack, parking don't cause any problems -- why take it off?

I went to Cateyes after several other models, including a couple Sigmas, just stopped working after 2-3 years.

Gear Talk / Re: Just starting.
« on: July 15, 2013, 04:55:18 pm »
A bike, clothes, sunscreen...

OK, that was flippant.  Spend some time curfing the ride registry at -- almost everyone feels the need to add a packing list; I know I did!  In general, try to get things that serve multiple purposes when possible to keep the weight down.

You don't really need a computer, even though I choose to take one.  If you want to play with one when you're through riding, you can get a netbook, tablet, or smart phone.

Tents are a personal choice.  My recommendation is to buy the lightest N+1 person tent you can afford, where N is the number of people who will regularly be sleeping in it.  Others go for a bivy, tarp, hammock; check the archives for more detail.

Gear Talk / Re: Uncoventional bike conversions?
« on: July 11, 2013, 05:44:04 pm »
  Seems like everyone is pointing to Surly LHT as THE bike to have (ok a few have mentioned Trek 520).  Is anyone here willing to admit to using something else?  Before starting my research, I assumed I could take my Cannondale fat tube unsuspended bike, add some racks and go, but I'm guessing there are good reasons why not. 

"Admit" is a bit strong, as I've got a Novara Randonee and Fuji Touring.  Really, most of the mass-produced touring bikes are similar, except that a fair few have higher (than I'd like) gearing.

Lots of people have ridden lots of different kinds of bikes, and there are only a few things that make a bike unsuitable for touring.  Weak frames (sold as "lightweight", such as racing bikes and carbon fiber) have a hard time handling the load a loaded tourist put on them.  Skinny tires aren't the best with a load, or on dirt, gravel, mud, etc.  Suspension frames waste a lot of pedaling energy, unless you can lock the suspension out.  Knobs give you a buzz on the road, which is a drag and pretty unpleasant after some distance.

Your unsuspended mountain bike will probably be great for carrying a load on roads.  It'd be a good idea to put slick tires on it.  You might come to wish for multiple hand positions that road (drop) bars give, or you might never notice.  And MTBs are often sold without the attention to fit a good bike dealer will give you when you buy a road bike; sub-optimal fit might limit your daily time in the saddle.

That said, get some racks and change out your tires, then try some weekend and week-long trips.  You'll soon figure out if you need to make any other changes.

Gear Talk / Re: cyclocross vs touring tires for GAP and road use
« on: July 11, 2013, 03:01:12 pm »
My first inclination is like John's: if you like what you've got, get more of them.

The exception might be if the tires you have started off with monster knobs, and the "worn out" part you refer to is the knobs have worn down to small nubs.  In that case, you might want less aggressive tread/knobs.

Aside from the tread, there's not a whole lot of difference between "cross" and "touring" tires.  Pick something in the range of 700Cx35 to x40 that looks about right and go ride!

General Discussion / Re: Homemade Fork Spreader Ideas?
« on: July 08, 2013, 09:20:10 am »
From a good hardware store, a 4-1/2 to 5" bolt with three matching nuts.

Space the nuts appropriately, hand tighten when it's on the fork.

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