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Messages - Pat Lamb

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Routes / Re: Tucson to El Paso
« on: January 16, 2020, 11:20:21 pm »
I did a PacTour ride a few years back out of Tucson; Country Inn and Suites near the airport was the start/end motel there.  I believe we stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in Sierra Vista.  Both places welcomed us.  The HIE in Sierra Vista is just a couple blocks from the eastbound roads going to Tombstone and Bisbee, IIRC, with (at least at that time) several restaurants a couple blocks south at the mall.  And ice cream at Culver's about four blocks away.  :)

Routes / Re: Route options for a mid-September start date
« on: January 16, 2020, 09:59:51 am »
Option #3 (Western Express to TransAm) is possible, depending on weather across the Utah and Colorado Rockies.  If you can maintain 75 miles/day, you could finish the TransAm in Yorktown by Thanksgiving, with perhaps a week off hunkered down for bad weather.  Advantages include three major geographic regions (western mountains, all the Kansas you can handle, eastern mountains which are quite different from the west.  You might hit some fall colors in the Ozarks and Appalachians, depending on weather, of course.

One alternative you don't mention is starting east to west on the TransAm, then pick up Route 66 to go southwest and avoid the worst of the mountains as it starts getting colder.  You might miss most of Kansas, but you'll have plenty of Oklahoma and Texas to make up for it.  If winter weather gets bad, you can head down to the Southern Tier either in New Mexico (either from Santa Rosa through Alamgordo or from Albuquerque), or take the Grand Canyon connector to Wickenburg.  You'll get some warm weather in the east, but you'll also have plenty of daylight to ride the winding Appalachian roads.

General Discussion / Re: parts of the country.
« on: January 12, 2020, 12:15:50 pm »
(Oh, goody, a chance to play with numbers!)

linda/Dian, from my east to west ride, average mileage in the Rockies was only slightly less than in the plains (59.6 miles/day vice 58.0), despite a couple of days off in the Rockies.  Virginia through Missouri was substantially lower, 50.8.

As Pete mentioned, the grades in the Rockies tend to be pretty reasonable -- -not like the old roads through the Ozarks and Appalachians (where a squirrel went up the mountain, followed by a fox, then a hunter, then a wagon train, then they paved it).  And as John mentioned, most of us like to end a day's ride where there's a least water available, if not food and shelter, which makes for longer days in the Rockies.  60-80 miles between towns is not unusual west of central Colorado, while there's usually a town every 15-20 miles east of there.

If you're young enough and/or in good enough condition to ride 75 miles a day for a loaded week in New England and Pennsylvania, you can probably expect to do likewise from the Pacific to western Missouri at a similar pace.  I was riding into better shape starting in Yorktown, so you can likely exceed my eastern mountain average by the time you get here eastbound.

Routes / Re: TransAm: dep late March – route advise needed
« on: January 12, 2020, 11:53:25 am »
TCS has a very reasonable suggestion.

Now for an "out of the box?  what's a box?" suggestion:

Start east going west (for warmer temperatures at lower elevations).  You might even want to start a little further east, in New Orleans, and make a run up the Mississippi before turning west.

When you get to Tempe, ask yourself if you really want to ride another 400 miles through southwestern deserts.  If not, try something different: take the Grand Canyon Connector up to St. George, UT.  You can either make flight connections out of there, or catch a shuttle to Las Vegas from there.  The elevations may be a bit sketchy weather-wise, but you'll have a chance to see canyons and rock formations unlike anything you've seen on the Pacific coast or riding the Southern Tier.

If you do that and you're still hung up on a coast to coast ride, take a week sometime later, preferably near a holiday, to ride the last week from San Diego to Tempe.

Routes / Re: Plan B to Billings
« on: January 10, 2020, 03:38:18 pm »
Great scenery over your shoulder going from Moran Junction towards Dubois...

Dubois towards Riverton, traffic picks up a bit and shoulders are variable (OK to unusable).

Meeteetse, light traffic both sides, nice town.

Cody to Belfry, wide shoulders, light traffic.

212, heavy fast traffic, minimal shoulder on the two-lane stretches, but I'm not sure how else to get there.  Without ever having been on it, I'd try Clark River Road.

Routes / Re: Slow-travel meandering tour from NYC to Denver, Feb-May 2020
« on: January 08, 2020, 10:52:11 am »
It's not just the cold.  It's also the road conditions -- 6' shoulders don't do a cyclist much good if they're covered in 3' of packed snow plowed off the travel lanes.

Routes / Re: Western Express feedback
« on: January 07, 2020, 09:28:54 pm »
My vote is to get as close to 20 gear inches as possible.  As the saying goes, "what's not in your legs needs to be in your gears."

There are a few potential mitigations.  If you're young, strong, and lightly loaded that 30 gear inch low might suffice.  If your pride and your ankles don't mind walking, you'll be fine.  (Just don't wear out some nice, expensive bike shoes like I did!)  OP is going west to east, so you'll ride yourself into shape by the time he hits the Ozarks and Appalachians.  IMHO riding the Blue Ridge will get you ready for the western climbs on the TransAm (don't know about WE), and riding all the BRP approaches will get you ready for crossing the eastern mountains.

True, back in the day Bikecentennial riders managed with five speed clusters.  They also wore cotton t-shirts, bandannas, no helmets or sunscreen.  It can be done, but I wouldn't consider it ideal.

Gear Talk / Re: SON Delux generator hubs
« on: January 02, 2020, 10:07:20 am »
I've had the previous incarnation (just the plain SON, it looks more like the tandem hub that's still available) on my rainy day bike since 2012 with no reliability issues. 

I can't imagine noticing 6W maximum drag when touring; the hub drag will be swamped between the extra weight and wind resistance of anything more than a small seat bag.  I don't notice any drag on mine, although for a while when it was new I noticed some pulsing at around 17 mph.  Either I've slowed down or the pulsing has gone away in the last few years (and my average commute time hasn't changed appreciably!).

General Discussion / Re: Traffic in Yellowstone
« on: December 17, 2019, 05:04:03 pm »
Well, in all sincerity, I hate to differ with a well informed and experienced rider like Pat, but this is the first time I've heard the Beartooth Highway being called "boring". Usually people who experience use words like spectacular, amazing, beautiful, incredible, etc. I've  ridden and driven it hundreds of time and I still find it spectacular. But like you said, each to his own.

Please do differ, otherwise all our discussion threads would be two posts long.  Question?  Answer.  Done.

I should have specified the climb up to Beartooth on the north side, coming from Red Lodge.  South side was indeed beautiful, as I noted.  And the top was interesting, too.  But staring at the one ridge for three hours?  Look, there's trees, then a landslide, then a rocky face; switchback, landslide, trees; switchback, landslide, rock face.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  I kept looking at the road going up the ridge across the valley and wondering where that went, and if it came back into the main highway at the top.

Or do you put up with the tedium of the climb because you've been up the pass so many times that you're looking forward to the change of scenery you know is coming above the rest area, and then the view from the plateau?

General Discussion / Re: Traffic in Yellowstone
« on: December 16, 2019, 10:34:00 am »
Everyone has an opinion, so here's mine.

Beartooth Pass isn't all that steep, but it's long, and frankly a bit boring after a while.  Coming from Red Lodge, after you've made the first turn into the mountain and climbed to the next switchback, you've seen the scenery.  It's the ridge across the valley.  You'll keep looking at it from increasing height for another 3-4,000 feet.  The southern side of the pass (in Wyoming) has longer views and more varied scenery (lakes, wooded areas, and a waterfall).  Coming downhill, it passes too quickly.

When I was there (mid-late August), the campgrounds outside Cooke City were posted "No Tent Camping" because of bear activity.  NPS was considering closing Pebble Creek campground temporarily for the same reason.

The north side of Dunraven Pass between Tower and Canyon is the only area I'd have qualms about cycling on the east side of the park.  If you hit it early, you could beat the south-bound traffic to the top.  The rest of the roads on the east and south side can be cycled fairly easily, in the opinion of this road-hardened cyclist.

Coming out of Billings I'd regard as a transport stage, not much fun to be ridden as briskly as possible (or perhaps take a shuttle to Red Lodge).  If I were doing this kind of trip, I'd plan on 2-3 nights at Red Lodge, 2-3 overlapping nights at a motel at Cooke City, and reserve one of the plywood shacks at Tower for a night.  Watch the weather carefully and cancel one or two nights in Cooke City if the weather even mentions rain.  Hit the Beartooth on a clear day and spend your nights inside in active grizzly territory.  Sure, it'll cost more, but you don't have to get the $400/night Lake Hotel luxury suite, and I look at this lodging as money spent to make the trip safe and enjoyable. 

Alternatively, you could hop over the ridge from Red Lodge to Belfry and head south on 120, then climb Chief Joseph Highway to meet up with 212 on the other side of Beartooth Pass (plan on a night somewhere in there, either an NFS campground or perhaps one of the ranches in the Shoshone valley).  Chief Joseph (196?) is simply gorgeous.

If you haven't seen Old Faithful and the geothermal area below that, it'd be worth an extra day.  Personally I'd stay off the roads on the northwest corner of the park -- go over from West Thumb and return the same way before heading south.

I'd stay on the west side of the Snake River (inside Grand Tetons NP) as far south as possible before arriving at Jackson.  US 26 would be less pleasant to drive, what with the rented RVs being returned, the trucks, and all the other park visitors rushing back to catch their flight home.  You may have two of  the three inside the park, but there's something of an understanding that you take the highway if you're in a hurry.

Routes / Re: Best 5 day solo newbie ride?
« on: December 05, 2019, 11:36:00 am »
John's suggestion is a good one.  It gives you (and your wife) an option to be rescued with minimal trouble if you have major problems.

On the other hand, major problems are unlikely.  And you might want to go some place you haven't been before, if you and your family haven't traveled the country extensively.  I hesitate to recommend the Blue Ridge Parkway for a first try at loaded touring because of the long, steep grades -- and they're mild compared to what's off the Parkway!  But the scenery there is magnificent, especially if you can time it so the Catawba rhododendron are blooming.  You might think about a loop in Montana, Butte through Twin Bridges to Bannack, and back through Wise River.  If there's a lot of snow this winter, and spring is late, you want to go to the southwest.  Perhaps start in Tucson, to Benson, down to Sierra Vista, over through Sonoita to Nogales and back north to Tucson through Green Valley.

Routes / Re: Nogales to Grand Canyon - Early June
« on: December 02, 2019, 09:38:14 am »
As aggie said, carry and drink lots of water.  I've ridden or driven parts of the southern half of your route, and there's no services for many miles.  For instance, the north Tucson to Globe segment, I'm not sure there's a convenience store/gas station in Winkelman.  If there's not, you'll be knocking on doors asking for water if you didn't start the day with a couple gallons.

Also, June is the beginning of the monsoon season (officially).  If it starts storming, you won't be riding in the late afternoon.  OTOH, if it rains, the blooming desert is spectacular.

There is some wild and beautiful country up there!

General Discussion / Re: Do you think about devices?
« on: November 30, 2019, 04:24:00 pm »
Got back from a short bike ride with a couple more points.

First thing you should ask, what do you want to do with a "device"?  Read books?  Kindles probably have the best battery life, and you can shut off the wireless.  Check the weather?  You can probably do that at a convenience store where you get a snack or refill your bottles.  Ask if you don't see a TV, almost everyone is interested in the weather.  Follow a route?  Recent GPS (at least from Garmin) will last 8-10 hours with the screen on, and you can recharge with a cache battery that only needs charging every 3-4 days.  Call home?  Well, it's hard to beat a cell phone -- when you've got coverage.

Second is more of a personal observation.  I journaled/blogged on my Trans Am ride because I wanted to keep family and friends updated.  Far easier to update than to call everybody who wanted to know.  I think I've checked on it more in the last 5-6 years than anybody else; it's a memory aid par excellance.  I've forgotten more highlights from the week long tour summer before last than my TransAm trip because I didn't write stuff down.  The downside is that it averaged about an hour a day to update it so frequently.  I've tried Pete's idea of taking notes and composing a blog later; it doesn't work for me.  I've got hundreds of pictures from multiple week-long tours that I can stare at and wonder, "Where was that?  Why did I take a picture there?"  But I haven't wanted to take the time to develop a blog on any of those shorter tours.

General Discussion / Re: Do you think about devices?
« on: November 29, 2019, 03:13:51 pm »
If I were doing a long tour, and wanted or needed to compose periodic reports, blog or journal entries, I'd take a small laptop.  I abhor typing on a cell phone or trying to read on one.  I tolerate short "typing" sessions on a tablet, but a paragraph at a time is about my limit.  So perhaps I could get by with a tablet plus keyboard, but pfaffing around with that combo is getting close to tolerating the extra pound or so of the small laptop.

Gear Talk / Re: What shoes?
« on: November 15, 2019, 01:27:13 pm »
I like Sidi Dominators.  But it depends on your trip and your load.  I wore out the sole of one pair walking up the steep hills of Virginia and Kentucky on the TransAm.  That was painful to the wallet.

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