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Messages - peterharris

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Gear Talk / Re: "Converting" a hybrid bike
« on: May 18, 2011, 02:41:35 pm »
paddleboy17 and whittierider: thanks for your thoughts and ideas.

... you might also be able to make do with machine built wheels ...

That's the dilemma, isn't it? I can spend $500-$600-$more-$$even more on a dynamite set of wheels that could last me for years but if I find that touring doesn't really resonate with me, or I find out that I'm really only interested in doing 3-4 day weekend tours a few times a year, then I've spent money I didn't need to. Or I could spend that much and find out that touring is a true passion and I could take the wheels with me to a new, proper touring bike and get years of service out of them.

On the flip side, I could spend $200-$300 on a "decent" set of wheels that might be all I'll ever need for 3-4 day weekend tours a few times a year, then find out I really want to do long tours several times a year (and maybe a cross-country one day) and have to upgrade the wheels to something way more durable. But I've just answered my own question ... if I get THAT serious about touring, I'll likely need/want a true touring bike - not a hybrid that I've upgraded to just "make do" status. Getting the "right" wheels would be part of the whole package of buying a touring bike.

Now ... if I could just hit the lottery (or grow a money tree or find the Fountain of Youth or ...).

Gear Talk / "Converting" a hybrid bike
« on: May 16, 2011, 08:21:28 pm »
I bought a hybrid (Trek 7.5FX) a year and half ago, thinking that was the type of riding I'd want to do ... general fitness, bike paths, and that sort of stuff. Then I went on my first credit card tour with friends about 7 months ago and loved it. I now want to give touring a more serious try, starting with a few long weekend trips - solo or with friends if I can find any to go along. I'm not inclined to buy a true touring rig unless I discover I really am serious about it. My budget can't cover the cost of another bike so I'm considering trying to upgrade what I have for now.

I have a rear rack and panniers. The bike has a carbon fork but I've found a front rack that will work - OMM Cold Spring or Ultimate Lowrider. After doing a lot of reading on this forum and elsewhere, it appears the biggest issue with the bike is the funky, trendy spokes on the wheels - 20 spokes front and rear, unconventional pattern - fine for a general fitness bike on a bike path I guess but definitely nowhere near the 32-36 conventionally arranged spokes I probably need to have for a (mechanically) successful long-weekend tour.

So ... new wheels. I'm going to give my LBS a try but - as much I love the guys - they're into mountain biking and cyclo-cross but not so much into touring. I can probably swing $200-$300 for a new wheelset, maybe a smidge more. I am overwhelmed by the choices though so I'd like you out there to provide some advice (which I've valued very highly so far!). When I look on-line, the common components I tend to see in a wheelset in this price range tend to be Shimano Deore or Tiagra hubs, Mavic or Velocity Dyad rims, and 36 DT (?) spokes. The principal thing that means to me is that some combination of those components from a range of on-line sellers yields a wheelset in the price range I can afford. Beyond that ... I am clueless.

Suitability? Durability? Decent components? Best place to buy?

Newbie needs help!

Even though Ortleib panniers are waterproof, if it really worries you about having the most visibility possible why not find screaming yellow raincovers for your panniers? I know it's redundant but if you want that much visibility - you'll get it.

Gear Talk / Re: Best Brake pads
« on: April 27, 2011, 08:30:23 pm »
Another vote for Kool-Stops. The stock brake pads on my Trek (also v-brakes) were horrible. They made a nasty grinding noise and I was convinced they were going to destroy my rims - I could see very visible particles of aluminum embedded in the pads. Shortly after I bought the bike, I replaced the pads with Kool-Stop Tectonics. Awesome! Great stopping power, no more grinding noise, no signs of aluminum in the pads, rims are fine.

Routes / Tidewater Potomac Route options?
« on: April 21, 2011, 10:55:29 am »
I'm considering a long-weekend bike trip with a few friends in the next few months and am looking around for possibilities. We all live in the Washington, DC area and don't want to do the obvious, which is the C&O Canal path. It appears we could shorten the Tidewater Potomac Route by crossing the Potomac River on the Rt 301 bridge near Newburg, MD. The fact that that bridge is a two-lane bridge with no bike or pedestrian lane is a little worrisome. The rest of Rt 301 on either side of the bridge is a four-lane divided highway so is less problematic. I have no hard data but am guessing a shortcut like this could reduce a normally 378-mile, 6-7 day ride down to a do-able long-weekend ride.

Has anyone attempted a shortcut like this? If so, would you be willing to share your experience with the shortcut, the Rt 301 bridge, and possible back roads that would enable us to re-join the regular ACA route east of Fredericksburg?


Gear Talk / Re: Front rack on a carbon fork?
« on: March 24, 2011, 09:42:06 am »
Good thought, rvklassen!

I did check the Trek website again and have discovered their 7.2FX is aluminum frame with a steel fork w/lowrider mounts! I am assuming - although it's not necessarily fact - that since these bikes are all in the same "family" the frames are all the same from a geometry/dimensions standpoint. I'll check with my LBS. It could be that this is a simple switch! Potentially solves a lot of issues.

Gear Talk / Re: Front rack on a carbon fork?
« on: March 23, 2011, 03:32:32 pm »
Great input, everyone, and I do appreciate it. Since I think I'm hooked, I view this 4-5 day trip this summer as a prelude to longer trips in the future ... call it a shake-down cruise, if you will. I plan to tack this 4-5 bike tour onto the beginning or end of a 4-5 day hiking trip in the White Mountains in NH. Since the far eastern leg of the Northern Tier route goes right through Conway, NH - about 10 miles from where I'll be staying - it seems like a natural fit.

I see this eventually morphing into 7-10 day trips (and maybe one day after I retire, a cross-country trip) so I'm considering buying gear now that I can use in the future, too. That said, I suppose If I get that serious about bike touring I'll probably get serious about buying a more suitable touring bike. But in the meantime, I need to make do with what I can use or adapt for my existing bike. I'd like to buy good stuff now and be able to use it indefinitely.

So far, the Tubus Smarti looks like it could work.

Thanks again.

Gear Talk / Re: Front rack on a carbon fork?
« on: March 14, 2011, 12:20:16 pm »
DaveB: the bike has V-brakes so it should work unless there are some nuances about the particular set-up of my brakes/bosses. I've been to the Tubus site and the photos they show of the Smarti installation shows V-brakes.

briwasson: I had been thinking along the lines of permanently replacing the carbon fork so I wouldn't have this problem but actually hadn't thought about buying a steel (or even aluminum) fork and swapping it out for tours. A steel touring fork would have the advantage of all the mounting points I'd ever need, I guess! The bike is a Trek 7.5FX. I'm not sure but I imagine I could buy the fork for a 7.3FX which is aluminum. I bet the fork and headset dimensions and brake/boss set-up are identical to the 7.5FX. Could be a good compromise.

Thanks again for the help!

Gear Talk / Re: Front rack on a carbon fork?
« on: March 14, 2011, 07:44:25 am »
Susan - thank you!

The dealer I bought my other rack and panniers from doesn't appear to carry the Smarti. Sounds like that's exactly the one I need - and no need for special clamps, etc. I appreciate the info. And my rear rack is a Tubus - love it.

Gear Talk / Front rack on a carbon fork?
« on: March 13, 2011, 09:04:51 pm »
A year and a half ago, I bought the first bike I've had since college. I assumed I'd just be interested in using it for fitness and general riding around so I got an aluminum-frame hybrid with carbon forks. I joined a bunch of friends last October for a weekend-long "credit-card" tour - bought a rear rack and smaller panniers for that trip. I had a fabulous time and I think I'm hooked. I want to do my first solo trip this summer (4-5 days) and I'll need a front rack and larger panniers for the rear as well. The panniers are no problem, it's the rack that I have questions about.

Should I really be using a proper touring bike that can easily accept front racks? Probably, but it's not in the budget. I can swing a new front rack and rear panniers but a whole new (or used) bike is out of the question right now. I've done some reading and have asked the place where I bought the rear rack so I sort of know the "official" answer but I'm hopeful I have options - is it at all possible to somehow adapt a front rack to work with carbon forks? I've seen adapters and clamps that help a front rack fit front forks that either don't have fittings for mounting or don't have them in the right place. But in every case there's a warning that says NOT to use them on carbon forks. I do understand that over-tightening clamps could crush the carbon forks. But is there no way at all I can make this work?

I'd appreciate your advice and help. Thanks!

Gear Talk / Re: Uncomfortable seats
« on: January 22, 2011, 09:06:51 pm »
For Brooks saddles, try Wall Bikes ( They offer a 6-month guarantee and their prices are competitive. I don't have mine yet but many people I've talked to swear by the B-17 Imperial with the perineal cut-out.

General Discussion / Re: Camp Shoe ideas????
« on: January 07, 2011, 09:47:15 pm »
Amen to the Keen Newports. I have two pair of the Newport H2 (same as the Newport but made for use in water) and love them ... feel good, keep your feet cool, durable. You could buy the Newport H2 and use them as shower shoes - they dry pretty quickly. Easy to put on and are good for long walks. They're not the lightest but they'll offer more protection for your tootsies that regular sandals or flip-flops.

GPS & Digital Data Discussion / Good multi-sport GPS unit?
« on: December 09, 2010, 09:30:10 am »
I'm planning ahead and looking forward to my REI dividend and 20% discount next spring!

I need a good multi-sport GPS unit - biking, kayaking, hiking, backpacking. I have an older, bottom-of-the-line Magellan that no longer works. I'm looking for something I can use for all these outdoor activities and have a basic list of wants:

Screen you can read in daylight
Detailed maps (downloadable or on cards) that include coastal/navigation and trails
Runs on AA batteries
Can operate with gloves on (nice but maybe not mandatory)
Rapid signal acquisition
Color screen

Beyond that, I'm not sure what else I'm looking for but am totally open to suggestions. I'd like to try to limit the cost to $300-$400 maximum retail price. I was never very pleased with the way the Magellan operated and am sort of leaning towards a Garmin this time. The Oregon 450t looks like it has all the stuff I'm looking for but it's a little pricey (for me). It may be that I'm expecting too many features for the price I want to pay.

What have your experiences been? What manufacturers/models do you like and not like?

General Discussion / Re: "Off-season" training
« on: December 01, 2010, 03:01:09 pm »

I used to live in Bel Air - moved away (to Florida, of all places) in 1986 for another job with my company. That was back when Bel Air was still a small town and Rt 24 was a winding 2-lane road!

I ride the W&OD frequently - the closest access point to where I live is Leesburg or Sterling, either about a 45-minute drive. Easy enough to get there even on snowy roads but the W&OD didn't get fully cleared until weeks after the roads were cleared!

General Discussion / Re: Is it ok to travel solo...
« on: December 01, 2010, 12:14:54 pm »
I know squat about touring although I'm learning and am beginning to yearn for an opportunity to do a cross-country tour (it is on my bucket list). I've done one credit-card tour and now I think I'm hooked. I've read this post with great interest since I'm likely to find myself in the same position that most of you have been in ... just who the heck do I know that would want to do this, too, and that I could get along with for that much "togetherness"?

I'll echo merzperson's comments:

... if you're on a popular route (like the TransAm) there's a very good chance you'll run into cyclists riding the same way as you. I was lucky enough to meet with a group halfway through my ride that was my age going the same way at about the same pace so we rode together the rest of the way. It was an amazing experience meeting people this way, and I developed a very close friendship with the group I rode with.

Think of the Appalachian Trail and the people who thru-hike the entire 2,179 miles. I've not done it but know several who have. Some start out with a friend, significant other, or spouse but end up doing and finishing most of it solo; most, however, do it solo from the get-go. When you ask them what the "best" part of the hike was, invariably you'll hear them talk about the people they met and hiked with along the way; and then there are the "trail angels" - total strangers who lent a helping hand in some hour of need. I know doing a cross-country tour will be very different in many ways but in my mind's eye I think the experience would be somewhat similar to that of a thru-hiker.

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