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Messages - Pat Lamb

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Routes / Re: Blue Ridge Parkway or TransAm?
« on: May 31, 2017, 08:23:53 pm »
Just MHO here, based on riding the TransAm and riding/driving the BRP.

One of the huge advantages of the TranAm is that it's laid out to bring you by "services" every 30-45 miles in the east.  The Parkway is much more scenic, but is virtually bereft of services for some pretty big chunks of the ride.  I.e., there's nowhere to buy food on or near the Parkway (within 5 miles downhill, meaning you get a nice ride back uphill) from Waynesboro to Roanoke, or from Blowing Rock down to Asheville, or from the other side of Asheville to Cherokee.  Oh, there's a few restaurants here and there, or the odd gas station with hot dogs, but if you want a grocery store, you've got a long way to ride.  With mountains.  Uphill both ways.  :)

If you want to try a stretch to see how you fare, I'd suggest staying on the Parkway south from Waynesboro to near Galax, then take the bike path downstream to Radford.  If you get close to Galax, have food, and want to keep going, head towards Sparta, NC, and then work your way up to Mouth of Wilson, then take 58 to Damascus to pick up the TransAm.

If you want to do the whole thing into Cherokee and don't want to tackle the Smokies traffic over Newfound Gap, I've got a draft route from SW of Bryson City to near Nashville I could dig up somewhere on a hard drive...

If you're going on an AC route, I've never needed anything other than their paper maps.

Otherwise, it's probably wise to lay out a detailed route ahead of time, and store it on your device with some application that doesn't need a cell signal to map.  Rural Kansas had great cell service, but Verizon could do that with a regular 10-mile grid spacing because it's so flat.  When you get into mountainous areas, it's going to be a crap shoot.  On top of this ridge you might get a weak cell signal, down in the valley no signal unless you're on a major highway or in a fair-sized town.

General Discussion / Re: Case for flying WITHIN airline sizes
« on: May 19, 2017, 11:16:45 am »
Many airline policies worldwide are a single bag in the hold that mustn't exceed 23kg.

Which airlines are these?  Every U.S. and British airline I've ever flown allows a second bag in the hold for a nominal fee; most are about $35 now.

General Discussion / Re: Case for flying WITHIN airline sizes
« on: May 18, 2017, 05:59:57 pm »
Carry on one (or two) bags.  Also, checking another bag is usually less expensive than paying for one overweight bag.

1. Bakersville, NC to Carver's Gap.
2. Gatlinburg, TN to Newfound Gap.
3. Cherokee, NC to Newfound Gap.
4. Tellico Plains, TN to the top of Cherohala Skyway.

Denver Colorado, which is not in the Rocky mountains but is near the Rockies, is at 5,280 feet.  To get over the Rocky mountains, you climb UP from Denver to the passes.  The bottom of the valleys between the Rocky mountain passes are 2,000 feet or more higher than the very tip top peak of the tallest mountain in Wales.  There is no snow on your mountain all year long.  The mountains in Wales are comparable to the Appalachian mountains in the USA near the east coast.  They are short mountains.  Steep but short.  You might climb a couple miles to the top.  Not 7 miles of climbing like the Rockies.

Pardon me while I giggle a bit about the characterization of the Appalachian climbs.

OK, I'm better.  (Thanks for the laugh!)  I can think of two or three TransAm Appalachian climbs that are 5 or more miles, four others that are 10-15 miles without trying hard.  But I digress.

The big difference between the Rockies passes and the Appalachian gaps are (1) higher elevation, as Russ alluded to; and (2) easier grades (at least on the TransAm).  They kind of balance each other out.  It's harder to suck in air at 8,000 feet elevation, but you don't need to suck as much because it's only a 6% grade.

Routes / Re: Getting to Anacortes
« on: May 15, 2017, 01:53:22 pm »
It's been a few years, but the Airporter Shuttle was a nice, clean bus with luggage service (for your checked and carry-on airline luggage), driven by a good driver, with polite staff at both ends back in '09.  There was a transfer in Mt. Vernon, but the wait was minimal - 20 minutes or so.

First, I'm not sure why your mechanic felt he needed to "downgrade" you to a straight Deore.  10 speed MTB Shimano derailer should be 10 speed MTB Shimano derailer.

That aside, you'll miss the bling when you look at the rder, but not much else.  I've got a bike with, I think, 26,000 miles on the Deore, and it still shifts well.  What more of a recommendation can I give?

General Discussion / Re: How to work on your bike?
« on: May 13, 2017, 08:54:10 pm »
Just take everything off the handlebars before you flip the bike.

In this case, though, it might be worth swinging by the LBS before you leave.  Front derailers don't need much adjustment (IME) after they're set right.  There's enough excitement coming in the next month that getting good help (and the mechanic might even show you what s/he's doing) is an easy way to lower the stress level.

Routes / Re: Current aerial shots of Tioga Pass snow removal.
« on: May 12, 2017, 11:45:58 am »
Nice avalanche zone picture in the article.

I'm curious, though.  Flipping through the Yosemite pages a while back, I got the impression Park Service employees cleared Tioga Pass.  Are those really Caltrans workers on the road?

FWIW, the coldest I've slept outdoors is 20F, and every time it got that cold I was happy to have a mummy.


As paddleboy notes, the part that makes sense (5'8" woman riding a 54 cm bike) is that your legs are proportionately longer than your torso.  If you need to lose some weight (like so many of us), it makes sense that you need the bars up near the level of your saddle, because your tummy gets in the way of your thighs when you're pedaling.

I'm grasping at straws still, but I'll go further out on a limb anyway. When you bought your Madone, were the bars slammed down against the headset, and there were no spacers above the stem?  If that's the case, I'm guessing you bought the bike off the showroom floor, and the person who set it up for display cut the steeerer so there was no vertical adjustment possible (because it looked more like a racing bike that way!).  It's possible the biggest part of your fit issues has been trying to get the bars up with stem swaps, perhaps even changing out bars to a shorter reach model to pull the ramps back toward your saddle.

If I haven't sawn off my limb with me on it yet, bottom line is you need to catch the bike coming out of the box from the factory before the steerer is cut.  That will let you mount the stem and bars higher and closer to the saddle, for a reduced reach.  Most bikes come from the factory like that -- just don't let anybody get near it with a hacksaw or tubing cutter before you get your hands on it!  Most normal touring bikes should be amenable to fitting if this is your case.  I suspect it'd be simple to swap in a shorter stem with a similar angle, if that's necessary ($30 vice $75), and you shouldn't need to change out the bars ($$ in labor to re-install shifters and re-wrap the bars).

Note, too, that many tourists prefer to sit up a bit compared to a normal racing fit, both for better views and to support longer days in the saddle.  If you ride with your hands on the brake levers, or even on top, you don't need to go to as much trouble raising the bars as if you plan to spends your trip in the drops.

General Discussion / Re: Where are the rides, stories and pictures?
« on: May 01, 2017, 08:48:04 pm »
Adventure Cycling has a ride registry at: that includes rides from some personal blogs and sites other than CGOAB.  I'm not sure how much effort goes into cataloging or indexing these rides, so it's more appropriate for browsing than searching (IMHO).

Can you give us a bit more information on what part of the Trek/Cannondale bikes don't fit you?  Also, what size frame are you looking at (+/- a size)? 

Surly LHT, for instance, seems to have longer top tubes than most other bikes.  Would that make your problem worse, or make it go away?

General Discussion / Re: Advice on tires
« on: April 30, 2017, 08:42:53 pm »
I rode a bit of the C&O a few years back in the summer when thundershowers popped up every 2-3 days.  I was on 700cx32 tires, and remember thinking I'd put some 35s or even 37s on if I went back for extra width surfing through the mud puddles.  32 is approximately the same width as the 27x1-1/4" you're riding.

To be honest, your question is tightly constrained.  The 27" wheel size was obsolete decades ago, replaced by the 700C wheels (which aren't compatible).  There aren't a lot of choices for tire replacements.  I'm going to suggest three alternatives:
1. If your bike has plenty of room around the tire, think about going up a size to 1-3/8", for example,
2. If you're comfortable with occasionally slippery conditions, I really like the Panaracer Paselas:
3. If you think more lugs will help, try
Note that I've had problems getting Continental tires on and off wheels to fix flats.  If you go that route, practice unmounting and remounting the tires before you leave.

You might want to push the date for your tour as late in the summer (toward the August/September dry times) as possible.

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