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Messages - mcparsons

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General Discussion / Re: newbie
« on: August 27, 2010, 12:18:02 am »
For starters you should get a bike.  :D

Not a crappy bike or a cheap dept store bike. They will frustrate you and make you not want to ride. But probably not a new $1000 touring rig unless money is no issue for you. You can't know what you want in a bike (or even if you really want to ride) until you have some miles behind you. So unless you can afford it don't over invest in bike #1.  Most likely you will be selling that bike or relegating it to a backup rig.  A used bike can be a good way to start but plan to put another $150 or more into getting it ready to ride. A hybrid is not a good long term solution but they are a cost effective way to learn what you want.

Next, ride that bike. A lot. Learn what gears you use, how  and where you like to ride, what load you like to carry.  In a thousand miles or so you'll know what you want in bike #2.

Finally, save up for bike #2 and be happy.

Gear Talk / Re: Lower gearing: change cassette, chainrings or both?
« on: August 04, 2010, 11:15:23 pm »
Wow, thanks for all the advice.  It had the salutary effect of convincing me that I did not have the slightest idea what I was doing  ;D and sent me off to my local mechanic. 

I put together a chart of my gearing and based on my first 750 miles on this bike, determined what were my climbing, regular riding and all out ranges.  I also decided that I'm not interested in going over 35 mph and that only on wide open, new pavement. With that I told my mechanic what I wanted in gear inch ranges on each ring.  For about $120 he set me up with 22/32/42 rings in the front and an 11 to 34 sprocket.  Altus RD handled it just fine. I've now got another 800 miles on that set up and I love it.  I went from an effective  4 or 5 gears to fully using all 8 sprockets and all three rings.  My cycling friend says I could climb a tree with it and that's not far off.

I don't regret the $ spent as I would never have known what I wanted if I had not put the time in to learn what gears where right for my load and routes.  I'll put another 1000 miles on this bike and then upgrade to a proper touring bike knowing I'm making the right investment.

Thanks again for all the tips.

Gear Talk / Re: Lower gearing: change cassette, chainrings or both?
« on: May 23, 2010, 05:37:17 pm »
Thanks for all the input.  Everything I've got is spec'd for MTB (square bracket interface, long RD and a clamp on FD) so I think I can go with an MTB crankset without much trouble.  I can't find a 13-34 cassette online.  This is an 8 speed and I assume its a lot more work to change to a 9 speed cassette (shifters at least?).  I was looking for a conversion suitable to my limited skills but looks like I'll be seeking the services of my local bike mechanic. 

As far as gearing, based on the last two years of riding this is my target:

Climbing: up to 45 inches max
Flats:  up to 65 inches
Downhill, good road, tail wind:  up to a 100 inches

That may not sound like much but I'm more interested in enjoying the ride and keeping a pace I can handle for 8 hours a day.  The lesson for me is: Next time get a properly geared touring bike.

Gear Talk / Lower gearing: change cassette, chainrings or both?
« on: May 21, 2010, 12:30:39 am »
I have a 2008 Giant FCR3 that I have been riding for two years including one long tour.  I'm planning an unsupported tour with a trailer and it is clear that I don't have enough gear on the low end.  Even unloaded I never used the third chain ring and spend 90% of the time in 4 or 5 gears.

I'm considering three options:

1.  Replace the cassette, currently 11-28 with an 11-32. That only changes the lower three gears and perhaps by not enough. 

2.  Replace the chain rings (currently FSA Vero 30/42/52).  I think I can move the 42 to the outer ring and add 22/32 FSA Pro ATB to get 22/32/42.  I've never done this but It looks like it would work.

3.  There is also this Nashbar MT2 mountain bike crank set for real cheap that would get me 22/32/44.  I'm a little nervous about this as I don't know if it will work in my current bike (don't know anything about how cranksets match up with bottom brackets).  This cost is about the same as option 2.

- I might opt for both the cassette and the chain rings to get a gear range of 19 to 108 inches.  Is this too low?  (I think I know the answer to this one).
- Am I right that I can move the middle chain ring to the outer and add two more inside?  I'll check the BCDs.  The range is fewer teeth than the current so I assume no problems with the FD?  Do I just move the FD down the post a little bit to match the smaller chainrings?
- How can I figure out if the Nashbar MTB crankset will work?  Is this a lot harder to do than the rear cassettes and the rings?  If I had to spend a lot on tools this will be a more expensive option.
- Any other advice?

Sorry for asking for free help but this is essentially my entire biking budget for the year and I'd like to get it right.  :-\

Routes / Re: routes are these the same???
« on: May 15, 2010, 03:46:28 pm »
I'm also interested in any feedback on these routes.  I'm planning an unsupported trip with my daughter and part of it will be Muscatine, IA to St. Louis and then pick up the Katy Trail there.

Some interesting comments in these reviews of the Mississippi Trail Guidebook:

Careful investigation of the Adventure Cycling route in Google Maps seems to show really lousy shoulders in Illinois compared to our generous ones here in Iowa.  They don't look particularly scenic either - lots of farm to market roads. 

Anyone with recent experience care to comment?

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