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Messages - Pat Lamb

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General Discussion / Re: Doin' it well
« on: May 25, 2013, 09:54:01 am »
Planning for my first tour, I was arrogant and figured I'd easily ride 15 mph and 75 miles a day.  This despite a number of experienced bike tourists writing that they averaged 10 mph and 50 miles per day.

I exceeded 50 miles per day average (by 3 mpd!), but the 10 mph on-bike speed was spot on.

Now I just plan on those figures, maybe add 10 miles a day if somebody else is carrying my gear..  If there's not hills to slow me down, it's flat and the wind comes up.  I only remember two significant tailwinds, the longest 10 miles -- the rest of the time the wind was in my face, or it's a crosswind with a hefty headwind component.

Take what the road gives you.  Enjoy it.  Push a bit, but not so much that you'll hurt tomorrow's ride.

General Discussion / Re: In low gear and can't ride up hill!
« on: May 25, 2013, 09:46:17 am »
Charlie, is this a 2008 Jamis Aurora with stock gearing?  If so, you've got a 25" low gear.  A 20 gear inch low is the target I like, so you're missing the two lowest gears.  You might be able to have your LBS change the crank out for a mountain triple to get those low gears; should run about $100, and it's possible you'll lose some crispness in the shifting (although I personally haven't noticed it).

Even so, Pete is right.  There's going to be some combination of load, fatigue, hill length, and steepness, where the smart thing to do is get off and walk.  That's why most tourists with clipless pedals have mountain bike pedals and shoes, so it's easier to walk.

Gear Talk / Re: Disc Compatible Dynamo Hub
« on: May 24, 2013, 04:38:42 pm »
Schmidt makes their famous Son hubs for centerlock discs, see

You might also want to look at the Bilenky Viewpoint tandem -- see!viewpoint/cb9e.

Routes / Re: A Brit in New Mexico
« on: May 19, 2013, 09:07:37 pm »
In addition to mcparsons words of wisdom, look at a map.  The towns you see will be the only sources of potable water.  Load up!

Gear Talk / Re: Tips for avoiding back pain at night
« on: May 19, 2013, 02:59:38 pm »
What's causing the pain?  Is it back muscles that aren't used to long days in the saddle?  If that's it, a stretching routine every evening might loosen up the muscles and help you sleep better.  Is it cramping because you're dry and need salt?  If so, the obvious answer is to drink more and eat more salt.

If none of the above, you might want to experiment with motels every second or third night, and see if sleeping in a real bed helps.  Of course, you can bet that most motel beds won't match your mattress at home.

You've hit the nail on the head.  The manufacturers are driving the change, and it's the marketers driving the manufacturers.  I don't know if there's anything consumers can do, unfortunately.

It goes like this.  Component manufacturers (Shimano, Campangolo, and SRAM) sell the overwhelming majority of their output to bike makers.  Bike makers want to sell lots of bikes, naturally; it's how they make money.  And most of the people they sell these bikes to don't know what they need, so they buy the bling ads and bike magazines tell them to buy.  Laterally stiff yet vertically compliant?  Buy that one (never mind it's impossible)!  Eight speed?  No good, there's a 9 speed next to it.  And look!  10 speeds!  Even better, 11 speeds!  Best of all, 11 speeds with electronic shifting!  Who cares if it covers the same gearing range as the outdated 9 speed (or even 7), more is better!  It might not shift because the battery's dead?  No problem, I'll only ever ride 100 miles in a day, in 5 hours.  (5 hours 'cause I know I'm slow!)  Who says so?  Buycycling magazine and its ilk, which exist to (you guessed it!) sell magazine ads, and oh, maybe some subscriptions too, so they can sell more ads.

Any bike manufacturer who tries to fight the "more is better" mantra is going to lose sales.  Likewise any bike shop.  So they'll keep selling 9-speeds this year as "cheap" bicycles, but you know you really ought to "upgrade" to 11 if you can afford it.

Pretty soon there's no demand for 9 speeds (like there wasn't any demand for 8 speeds a few years ago).  The manufacturers used to make 9 speeds in the top of the line, then it was the bottom of the line, pretty soon it'll be out of production, period, and you'll have to troll for used parts on Ebay to keep that group going.  Or better yet, buy the a new bike with the new 14 speed group that will be announced in Next Month's Buycycling magazine!

Buy what you want, buy the spare parts to keep going as long as you can afford to; as I wrote above, I don't see any way to beat down the rampant stupidity.  Sit down with a mechanical engineer who's been around a while and ask him about some of the claims -- he'll get a good laugh out of them.

General Discussion / Re: Cycling Pants...
« on: May 15, 2013, 10:17:26 am »
Whenever this topic comes up, I always hark back to the title of Richard Feynman's book:

Why Do You Care What Other People Think?

General Discussion / Re: North Nevada & Utah in summer
« on: May 09, 2013, 09:27:09 am »
FWIW, Anacortes is close enough to Mt. Vernon to be an easy day round trip.  Doing it as a day trip saves you making the connection out to Anacortes, a nice shuttle but it takes an extra hour.  Starting in Mt. Vernon would give you a good shake-down ride after assembling everything, and there's bike shops in both towns should you need something fixed or adjusted.  If you must make progress that first day, extend the return trip to Sedro-Wooley or even Concrete.

Routes / Re: Blue Ridge Parkway / Skyline Drive input
« on: May 08, 2013, 08:55:54 am »
Recommendation: call your congresscritters and complain bitterly about them allowing sequestration to occur and to continue for everything except their convenience (FAA).

Politics aside, Alpine or Swiss Inn are the closest things to Crabtree.  Your other options are to try to get one of the (few) campsites at Mt. Mitchell state park, or Linville Falls.  If you're headed south and want to camp, stay at Linville, then climb up and over Mitchell.  You'll go downhill from Mitchell going down into Asheville, except for 3 miles climbing to warm up your legs, so that day will be 40 miles of mostly uphill, followed by an easy 20 mile coast down into the city.

Take lots of water.  (Stop for ice cream at Little Switzerland.)

Gear Talk / Re: Bike Sizing
« on: May 06, 2013, 10:53:20 am »
Is there any way you could test ride each? I realize that this is a tall order because finding a bike shop with one of each on the floor might be very difficult.

Just a thought -- is there an REI near you?  They may have LHTs in stock, or order one of each and buy the one that fits best.

If you go that route, make sure to take off a day in the middle of the week when it's not raining and the store isn't busy.  You may have to swap stems, and my experience with REI is they don't want to do that, especially when it's busy.  It wouldn't be the end of the world if a house-brand Randonee or Safari fit you better.

Buying a touring bike is frustrating for just the reason John mentions -- it's hard to find them to test ride.

Routes / Re: Looking For Route Recommendations
« on: May 05, 2013, 05:22:59 pm »
Adventure Cycling had an interesting tale some years back about a group in Kansas that decided that, since they hadn't seen a car or truck in 45 minutes, they'd do the next mile naked.

Naturally, a truck came by with a young kid in it.  :)

From memory, there are also places like that in Colorado, Montana, Washington, Illinois, Kentucky, Virginia, and Alabama.  As John mentioned, get away from the big cities, and traffic goes way down.  When traffic nears zero, most of the truckers and other traffic has little problem driving around you. 

It helps a bit if you're not riding the white line or the shoulder -- if it looks to you like there's room for both of you within the lane, why should they worry about it?

Gear Talk / Re: ACA & Smartphones
« on: April 25, 2013, 05:10:01 pm »
I may get mod'ed out, but:

I find it interesting that I submitted a comment on the blog entry announcing the new Adventure Cycling web site, questioning the web developer's choice to require a wider display than the previous version.  Again, that decision makes it much more difficult to use on a small screen.  Somehow that comment evaporated.  I can only assume someone decided that was objectionable -- that fits the pattern of the editor's response to a letter I wrote to AC magazine a while back.

I really prefer to be able to see honest, polite disagreement than sycophantic yodeling over poor decisions.  It's a shame my preference isn't shared by the management.

General Discussion / Re: The importance of always wearing a helmet
« on: April 22, 2013, 10:32:34 pm »
I am off of work, healing a broken collar bone, five broken ribs, and some head trauma.

Had I had a helmet on, my head injuries would not be as severe.

Gotta wonder, if you had been wearing a helmet, would you be off work with only a broken collar bone and five broken ribs?

General Discussion / Re: Do we need to do any training?
« on: April 22, 2013, 03:04:07 pm »
Start with butt conditioning.  I'd suggest you start increasing weekend ride length, shooting for a 50-75 mile ride each weekend.  This will get you used to being in the saddle for long periods, and you can start to learn how much water and salt you'll need to ingest to replace what you sweat out.

Legs, lungs, heart -- you can ride those into shape in a week or two.

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