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Messages - whitebirch

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1
Routes / Re: Cross-US Trail-Based Route - Feedback Please!
« on: April 24, 2015, 12:02:35 pm »
Thanks for these ideas, Cheesehawk!  I was vaguely aware that there are lots of trails and good riding in Wisconsin and Minnesota, but it's great to see you link some of them up in this way. 

And it's helpful to have this in the back pocket if we get the urge to head north sooner.  I think we'll probably stay further south to do the Katy Trail and to follow more of the Missouri and L&C routes.  But who knows how it will all shake out.  On our last trip, we were quite clear that we weren't going to do the Cabot Trail because it was so hilly and we wouldn't have time.  But then as we got closer and were in a groove, we went for it and it was one of the best decisions of the trip. 

Rob

2
Routes / Re: Cross-US Trail-Based Route - Feedback Please!
« on: April 19, 2015, 09:55:37 pm »
Thanks for all the feedback and ideas, folks!

In no particular order:

Yes, we'll be picking up the Iron Horse Trail in Ellensburg, where it's supposed to be in better condition.

I like the idea of a side trip on the Hiawatha, and didn't know about the shuttle!  Too good to miss, indeed!

Hill after hill in northwest Missouri.  Hmmm.... Might have to rethink that.  The Wabash Trace Trail sounds great, but maybe it's not worth it if it means hitting tons of hills first.

I think I ruled out the Columbia River Gorge because of the headwinds and also because it sounds pretty busy.  Beautiful, but busy. 

I go back and forth about Yellowstone.  I've read all the pros and cons.  Ultimately I think it's too hard to pass it right by, especially with our daughter seeing it for the first time.  But we might do some hitchhiking to see the geysers, and not try to bike to everything.  And hopefully we can ride early and late to avoid the heaviest traffic.

I originally considered the Oregon Trail route, but the lure of the mountains and beauty in Montana and Idaho are proving too strong.  I also have family in Seattle, so that's a more natural endpoint for us. 

Thanks again to everyone who's posted so far.  I'd love to hear any other thoughts!

Rob

3
Routes / Re: Cross-US Trail-Based Route - Feedback Please!
« on: April 17, 2015, 01:20:14 pm »
Hi John,

Thanks for these ideas.  I hadn't really noticed the Kansas trail possibilities and I'm going to add it our list of possibilities.  That said, I like the idea of heading north from mid-Missouri, as that's the time when we'll be getting more into summer, and as I said before we are heat averse.  I've heard that on average Nebraska (especially northern Nebraska) is a few degrees cooler than Kansas and just as if not more scenic. 

And yes, I've been intrigued by the Cowboy Trail in Nebraska, but from everything I can tell it's still pretty rough going.  I suspect we'll want to make some miles through Nebraska and 20 itself won't be too crowded to bike safely.  Of course, we can always decide when we get there.

I've also given the Mickelson Trail some long looks, but ultimately I think we won't have time to head into the Black Hills and then cut west.  Primarily because then we'd have to cross Wyoming via what seems to be a much hillier route through the Bighorns. 

Thanks again for the ideas and the good wishes!

Rob

4
Routes / Re: Cross-US Trail-Based Route - Feedback Please!
« on: April 17, 2015, 11:28:18 am »
Whoa, thanks for the heads up on the Big Savage Tunnel, indyfabz!  My first thought was "Nooooooooooo!  The whole trip is ruined!"  Then I got off the floor, went on the googlewebs, and found out that it's only a 9-mile closed section with an 11-mile detour and a shuttle option.  That sounds very work-aroundable!  So the trip is back on!

Come on, what else you got to throw on me?  Is that the best you can do?    :)

Rob

5
Routes / Cross-US Trail-Based Route - Feedback Please!
« on: April 16, 2015, 10:18:04 pm »
Hi everyone!

First post in a long time! My wife and I have a daughter who is currently 8.  We're looking into a cross-country tour in 2017, when she'll be 10. We did a 3 1/2 month tour of Maine, Atlantic Canada, and Quebec when she was 5 (using a Weehoo) and it went great. Then a 2-week tour in Quebec last summer where she was on her own bike w/ a Follow Me attachment for hills/heat/moods.  We expect in two years she'll still be small enough to use a 20" bike and Follow Me, although there's a chance she would graduate to 24" tires in which case the Follow Me won't fit and she'd be completely on her own.

Now we're dreaming about the Big One, and I'd love any thoughts on our preliminary route.  Some background and context:

-- We take our time.  In 2012 we averaged 25 miles/day, five days a week.  Although that pace would be painfully slow for most, we found it just about right for a 5-year old.  For the 2017 trip we would aim for 30 miles/day, 5 days a week, or 150 miles per week.  I suspect that across the plains we'll do better than this, but in the mountains maybe slower.  This means that for a 3,500-mile crossing, we would need about 23 weeks.  We plan to have 6 months off, so that works out just about right.  We'll have 26 weeks or so from March 1 to the end of August, which includes getting back home to Maine.
-- We're especially slooooow on hills, and we have a history of knee problems.  So although we'll take a hilly route if it's a standout (such as the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia, one of the highlights of our last trip), all else being equal or nearly so, we'll take a flat road over a hilly road.
-- We like trails, so our daughter can ride without as much supervision or caution.  We did Montreal to Quebec City last summer, almost all on trails, and we had a blast.  I know trails can slow us down, and be dispiriting in the rain, and sometimes you miss cool towns or areas and feel like you're in a green tunnel.  So if we're having those experiences we might switch to nearby roads.  But in general I like the idea of working in as many trails as possible.
-- We are heat-averse.  It's not that we like being cold, but we'd rather be a bit cold than bake in a heat wave.
-- We (I) are history buffs, and we're also birdwatchers and all-around naturalists.
-- If we're way behind, or in a long-term rut, we're keeping the option open of hopping on a bus or train to get across the plains.  Basically if our daughter isn't having fun, no one around her will be having fun.  So we won't punish her and ourselves with a forced march approach.

Ok, given those parameters, here's what I've laid out:

-- Start at Cape Henlopen State Park in Delaware around March 1.  Ideally we'd start April 1, but in order to get back in time for school the following year, March 1 it is.  If it's a late winter and the nights are still cold, we'll keep camping to a minimum and try Warmshowers, friends, hotels.  If the days are still cold, then we'll just delay or hole up somewhere and wait it out.

-- Bike to DC.  Only drawback is that we have to take a bike shuttle over the Bay Bridge to Annapolis, but we really want to start at the ocean, not the Chesapeake Bay.  And we want to get to DC to pick up the...

-- C&O and GAP to Pittsburgh.  You all saw this one coming, right?  347 miles of off-road bliss?  I've read that the C&O can be muddy in the spring.  If so we'll consider a work-around.  Could also be cold in the Appalachians in March, but we'd rather be cold for a couple weeks in March than baking in July in the midwest.

-- Pittsburgh to Ohio Amish country, and then pick up the Ohio to Erie Trail (which I think is also the Underground Railroad Trail) to Cincinnati.  About half of this segment would be on trails.

-- Cincinnati to St. Louis across southern Indiana and Illinois.  Southern Indiana sounds pretty neat, although maybe a bit hilly in parts.  Southern Illinois sounds a bit more mundane, but flatter!  Any route suggestions in either state would be much appreciated!  I've done a fair amount of research (state bike maps, other trip journals, etc) and have some ideas, but welcome any thoughts.

-- 170 miles or so of the Katy Trail to New Franklin, MO.  From there, cut NW across Missouri to get to Iowa border at Blanchard, where we pick up the...

-- Wabash Trace Trail into Council Bluffs, Iowa.  63 more miles of trail!

-- Follow L&C up the Missouri to at least Sioux City.  Then either cut across northeast Nebraska to Valentine, or else stay on L&C into part of South Dakota and then drop down onto Route 12 in northern Nebraska.

-- Route 20 across northern Nebraska.  I keep reading all sorts of great things about cycling through Nebraska, and this route seems especially promising for low traffic.  We might have to go all day to get from town to town, but that's ok.

-- Wyoming.  This one's a bit of a puzzle still.  We'd cut through Lusk, Douglas and Casper to Shoshone.  Then I can't decide whether to (a) cut north through the Wind River Canyon and Thermopolis to hit Cody and enter Yellowstone from the east, or (b) pick up the Trans Am to go through Grand Tetons and enter Yellowstone from the south.  Anyone know about the first route?  I tried some searches but can't seem to find many reports of this route, although I read on a car-based site that it's a neat road and it doesn't look too bad on the Wyoming DOT Bike Map.  In any case, hoping to reach Yellowstone in early July, before it's too hot on the plains and the crowds are too thick at the park.

-- From Yellowstone NP, head out through the north and take 89 and other roads to Bozeman, then Helena, then maybe Missoula and eventually on to Mullan, Idaho, to pick up the...

-- Coeur d'Alenes Trail.  71 miles of trail bliss?  Really excited when I found out that this is more or less on our route.

-- Cross the Palouse in eastern Washington State, then get to Ellensburg, where we'd pick up the Iron Horse / John Wayne Frontier Trail for 100 miles or so.  Then combination of roads and trails to our endpoint in Seattle.  If we have time, we'd make it all the way to the Pacific at Olympia National Park. 

Ok, that's quite a bit to read through.  If you're still with me, I'd love any feedback!  Any parts of this route you've done and loved?  Done and regretted?  Anything obvious I'm missing? 

Thanks so much!

Rob

6
Hi Morgan,

I can give you advice on the Maine, NB, NS portions, as we did a trip this way 3years ago.  How about at the Pipeline Pilgrimage this weekend?  Yup, funny coincidence, it's Rob from Portland who you just offered a ride home!

This sounds like an amazing and important journey and I can't wait to hear more!

Talk soon,

Rob

7
Routes / Re: Northern Tier Extension?
« on: March 26, 2015, 11:09:02 pm »
Hi Jim,

In 2012, my family and I did a route along coast of Maine, into a corner of New Brunswick, up through Nova Scotia, and on to the west coast of Newfoundland.  We then came back through Quebec and Maine.  A great great route, if you ask me!  Journal here:    http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/biketrip2012.

8
Youth Bicyle Travel / Re: tour with small children
« on: February 15, 2012, 09:58:56 am »
I'd say give it a try, but be flexible with how it all goes. 

We took our then-two-year-old on an overnight bike trip three years ago.  Not the greatest experience, but I'm glad we tried it.  She did much better at 3 and 4. 

I would suggest stopping every hour or so, not every two hours, and having very modest mileage goals. 

Also, food bribery is allowed on bike trips.  We've found that a granola bar or a bag of gorp (with M&M's of course!) or dried fruit can be an instant kill switch on fussiness!  Just keep plying them with treats, healthy and otherwise, and it'll keep things much more fun.  And marshmallows at the campsite are a must!

Rob Levin

9
Routes / Re: Quebec City to Portland Maine Route Advice
« on: February 08, 2012, 01:47:29 pm »
Anyone out there?  Anyone?  The silence is deafening!

Rob  :)

10
Routes / Re: Nova Scotia Route Advice
« on: February 08, 2012, 01:31:17 pm »
Thanks for the help Geegee and Bikerbob! 

Someone else recommended the Trans Canada Trail from the Canso Causeway to Inverness.  Sounds very interesting.  But then it doesn't look like there's an easy way to get from Inverness to North Sydney. 

Anyway, thanks again!

Rob Levin

11
Routes / Quebec City to Portland Maine Route Advice
« on: February 04, 2012, 11:43:17 am »
Hi fellow bike tourers!

My wife and I and our five-year-old daughter are planning a 3 ½ month loop trip starting this May.

Here's our route in a nutshell: From our home in Portland, Maine, across Maine, into New Brunswick, ferry to Digby, through Annapolis Valley, over to Halifax, up far north coast pas Halifax (Route 7), onto CBI heading towards Louisbourg, then North Sydney, then ferry to Port Aux Basques, then up to Gros Morne and Northern Peninsula, ferry to Blanc Sablon, and ferries to Rimouski, then biking into Quebec City, and finally dropping down through Eastern Townships and over the mountains and back to Portland.

Fledgling journal here: http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/biketrip2012, with the route shown on the 'Before the Beginning' page.

Here's a bit more about us and our trip: We're planning to take our time, about 25 miles a day, and will be heavy on the sightseeing and getting to know people side of the spectrum, rather than just grinding out miles. We're open to a spirit of adventure, and willing to go out of the way somewhat if there's a particularly scenic or interesting route. We'll be on standard touring bikes (Surly LHT's), with our daughter in a Weehoo (hybrid b/w a trailer and a tag-a-long/trail-a-bike). Dirt roads are not kind to us, although we can handle a mile or two here or there. And we're very slow (and a tad grouchy!) on hills. And we're high on safety - if a road is unsafe, we'll go somewhat far out of the way if there's an alternative.

So here are my questions, if anyone has time to give this some thought:

(1)  Route 27 or Route 201 - I'm definitely thinking Route 27 is the way to go.  It looks like 201 is the major highway into Quebec, and is much busier than 27.  And I like the idea of following the Chain of Ponds and the Arnold Trail.  Everyone agree?  Or are there dissenters?

(2)  Assuming we take Route 27, what is the best way to get from Quebec City (Levis, really) to the Route 27 crossing.  Do we follow the Route Verte along the Chaudiere River?  If so, where should we drop down to Lac Megantic?  Should we go to Saint-Georges and take 204?  Or bushwhack from Saint-Joseph-de-Beauce or Beauceville?  Other ideas?

(3) Once we're in Maine, assuming we're on Route 27, we'll take that to at least Kingfield.  Ultimately, to get back to Portland, we'll be trying to avoid the Route 95 corridor/Augusta metro area and the Lewiston/Auburn metro area.  That puts us in the Belgrade Lakes area, and then the Wayne/Winthrop/Monmouth/Litchfield area.  So...  the question then is whether to stay on 27 (or 42/145/4 - is that better?) to Farmington, and then connect with Route 41 on down to Winthrop.  Or, in Kingfield, do we cut across on 16 to Anson and Norridgewock, and then drop down on 8 to Belgrade, and then to 135 to Litchfield.  Or do you have an even better suggestion for us? 

Thanks so much for any advice you might have!

Rob, Sarah, and Cedar
Portland, Maine

12
Routes / Nova Scotia Route Advice
« on: February 04, 2012, 11:19:27 am »
Hi fellow bike tourers!

My wife and I and our five-year-old daughter are planning a 3 ½ month loop trip starting this May.

Here's our route in a nutshell: From our home in Portland, Maine, across Maine, into New Brunswick, ferry to Digby, through Annapolis Valley, over to Halifax, up far north coast pas Halifax (Route 7), onto CBI heading towards Louisbourg, then North Sydney, then ferry to Port Aux Basques, then up to Gros Morne and Northern Peninsula, ferry to Blanc Sablon, and ferries to Rimouski, then biking into Quebec City, and finally dropping down through Eastern Townships and over the mountains and back to Portland.

Fledgling journal here: http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/biketrip2012, with the route shown on the 'Before the Beginning' page.

Here's a bit more about us and our trip: We're planning to take our time, about 25 miles a day, and will be heavy on the sightseeing and getting to know people side of the spectrum, rather than just grinding out miles. We're open to a spirit of adventure, and willing to go out of the way somewhat if there's a particularly scenic or interesting route. We'll be on standard touring bikes (Surly LHT's), with our daughter in a Weehoo (hybrid b/w a trailer and a tag-a-long/trail-a-bike). Dirt roads are not kind to us, although we can handle a mile or two here or there. And we're very slow (and a tad grouchy!) on hills. And we're high on safety - if a road is unsafe, we'll go somewhat far out of the way if there's an alternative.

So here are my questions, if anyone has time to give this some thought:

(1) From Digby to Annapolis Royal - Does anyone know if there is any way to hop a boat across the gut to Victoria Beach or Port Wade and cycle on the north shore of Annapolis Basin, via Granville Road, so we go by Port Royal? It also looks like going along the south shore, the only way to go is along Route 1, which doesn't look too appealing. I was thinking we might just ask around at the docks when we arrive on the ferry, and see if anyone would take us across in their lobster boat for a few bucks. But if folks tell me that Route 1 isn't so bad, then maybe we'll just take that.

(2) Grand Pre to Halifax - I'm hoping that 101 bears most of the traffic, and Route 1 isn't too bad in this stretch. Is that fairly accurate? We really want to see Kentville, Wolfeville, and Grand Pre, and don't want to do much backtracking, so we'll take Route 1 if we have to. Also, I've already done the South Shore, so cutting across on 12 and approaching Halifax from Chester isn't all that appealing.

(3) Halifax to Canso Causeway - We are pretty much planning to follow Route 207 and then 7 along the Eastern Shore, and then cutting across from Larry's River to Lundy to Guysborough, and on from there along 344 to the causeway. Is that the obvious way to go, or does anyone have other suggestions?

(4) Canso Causeway to Louisbourg - In part because of the aforementioned issues with hills, and in part because one of us has been there before, we're not planning on cycling the Cabot Trail. I know, I know, this is blasphemy! We'll save it for another time, we promise! So with that admission out of the way, the question is which is the best route from Canso to Louisbourg? Our instinct is to take Route 4 along the east side of Bras d'Or Lake and then getting to Louisbourg by either (1) taking Morley Road from East Bay to Marion Bridge, then Hillside Road to 22, or (2) Route 4 all the way to 22. Or would folks recommend 327 instead of Route 4? Route 4 is much more direct, and it looks scenic on the map, but is 327 some sort of hidden gem?

(5) Louisbourg to North Sydney - The most direct route looks to be 22 to Churchill Drive (in Sydney) to 4 to 305. Winding around through Mira and Glace Bay and New Waterford looks interesting, but quite a bit more distance. Unless folks highly recommend this, we'll probably do the former.

Thanks so much for any advice you might have!

Rob, Sarah, and Cedar
Portland, Maine

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