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Messages - BobG

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Routes / Re: I90 into Missoula
« on: December 22, 2014, 05:36:50 pm »
I rode your proposed route west over Lemhi Pass on a trip back in 1983. The climb was rocky and rough but well worth it for the long, glorious descent into Idaho. Here's some pics of conditions back then.........

A rocky double track up the eastern side from Grant MT-

A cattle guard at the top-

A heavenly descent through the sagebrush into Idaho!

Enjoy your trip!

General Discussion / Re: Best Time to Leave
« on: December 16, 2014, 01:57:30 pm »
As noted above by staehpj1, even traveling East to West it's possible to be too early to ride McKenzie Pass. It was still closed on July 31, 2009 when our Westbound ACA TransAm group came through. We had to ride Santiam Pass. In 1999 McKenzie Pass was open for bikes only in late July. Still closed to cars, we got to ride it traffic free!

General Discussion / Re: Cardboard Box for Bike as Checked Baggage
« on: June 15, 2014, 02:28:25 pm »
The last time I did so was at Eugene 5 years ago with Alaska Air. The current United website says the following-

"The following items are available for sale at most United Airlines airport ticket counters:"
"Bicycle box   69 in.   8.5 in.   33.5 in.   $25.00"

Not sure if they'd sell to a customer of a different airline, but at $25 it must be a money maker and worth a try if your airline doesn't have a box.

In the past I've always found boxes or bags at Boston's Logan, Montreal's Mirabelle and Dorval, Calgary, Geneva, Paris' DeGaulle, Washington's Dulles, Bozeman MT, Missoula MT, Helena MT, Portland OR, Portland ME, Denver, LAX and Christchurch NZ. Not sure if the availability is still as widespread as some of those flights were 25 years ago on various airlines. None ever on WestJet so it would be wise for the OP to check in advance.

I've also used UPS for returns trips recently but after paying $170 last year from VA to NH because my box was 2" longer than a previous shipment + $50 to a bike shop for prep..... I may go back looking for $50 airline deals! The only time I flew SW was from St. Louis-Manchester NH without the bike.

PS Enjoy your Idaho trip! I'll be following your Crazy Guy journal.

General Discussion / Re: Cardboard Box for Bike as Checked Baggage
« on: June 15, 2014, 08:26:07 am »
it is nice to not have to deal with getting a huge box to the airport

But if the airline box is indeed available at check in* (maybe, maybe not), you never have to lug it around. Your loaded bike serves as a luggage cart all the way to baggage check at which point the airline takes it off your hands. The only time I prefer to prepackage a bike for flight is if I'm arriving at the airport by bus or train where it is already required.

I've always felt more comfortable with the BIG box as the assembled parts are in place to protect the frame. Wheels are installed to prevent dropouts from crushing, and will absorb impact from below just as they do on the road. Racks can usually be left on which protects the frame from the sides. I can never fit the front wheel into the smaller shop size box like the guy in the factory does with such robot like precision! I'm always afraid it will get crushed from the side into the frame.

*Brian, sometimes it's hard to get a phone call through to a local airline desk. If you live near your departing airport you may want to stop by and check availability and rules before the day of your flight.

General Discussion / Re: Cardboard Box for Bike as Checked Baggage
« on: June 15, 2014, 07:13:57 am »
I believe that airlines supplied boxes are identical to the Amtrak boxes. United says their bike boxes are 69"x8.5"x33.5"= 111 linear inches......

Westjet says to just remove pedals and turn bars to pack a bike which would require this big of a box. That does conflict with their 80" restriction for oversize. I suspect a phone call to them would clarify the question and availability of the box.

I boarded Alaska Air at Eugene OR in 2009 and they had the big boxes on hand then at the ticket counter. Conveniently their $50 bike fee carried over to Delta which I transferred to at Portland for a flight on to VA.

General Discussion / Re: GDR in Montana
« on: May 21, 2014, 07:04:03 am »

For a loop in that area that does include the GDR you could drive to the Raynold's Pass/Henry's Lake area west of Yellowstone and look for a place to leave your car. (maybe a campground or motel?) Follow the GDR west through Red Rock Lakes NWR to Lima then north to Bannack State Park (bring lots of bug dope for there). After Bannack catch the TransAm back to Yellowstone unless you want to attempt a dirt road route back from Dillon.

Should you do so, keep an eye out for a Moss tent that bounced off my bike 15 years ago just west of Lakeview at Red Rock!

Edit: Red Rock Pass is a bit over 7000' so check conditions first.

General Discussion / Re: GDR in Montana
« on: May 19, 2014, 08:38:29 pm »
No problem if your headed south. That side is relatively smooth. Hope the snow is gone in time!

General Discussion / Re: GDR in Montana
« on: May 19, 2014, 07:49:31 pm »

If you're taking your Surly to MT you may want to consider adding cross top brake levers if you haven't already. Gibbons Pass is a gorgeous descent northbound towards Sula. Easy packed dirt north from MT 43, becoming steep and rubbly on the descent, requiring constant braking. Photos are from TransAm, July 2009. I was on my Rock and Road with cross tops with one other rider who rode a mt bike. We had a blast. Two others from the group rode their LHTs with conventional road brake levers and they did not have fun. Too much wrist and neck fatigue from drop bar braking.

I've ridden the TransAm route 4 times now through MT and I still haven't seen Chief Joseph Pass! 3 times over Gibbons and another time included a long side trip through ID over Lemhi and Horse Creek Passes.

descent starts in burn zone...........

then opens up wide..............

road surface.............

Canada / Re: Nova Scotia to Boston
« on: May 01, 2014, 12:10:56 pm »
Ferry service from Portland ME to Yarmouth NS is to be restored on May 15 after several years of abandonment. The fares are relatively high, particularly so if you reserve a bunk for the overnight from Portland. The ferry between Bar Harbor and Yarmouth no longer exists. The other operating ferry runs between Saint John NB and Digby NS.

General Discussion / Re: Logistics of shipping equipment for touring
« on: April 28, 2014, 01:31:06 pm »
The trick is  to get a box small enough to NOT be oversized.  Most bike boxes are oversized, and the ship price just about doubles.

Exactly. Last year a bike shop used a very common size box measuring 55"x31"x8" to ship my bike with UPS. That box bumped me up into a very high tax bracket. A bike box (not a frame box) just slightly smaller used earlier that year for the same bike cost about half to ship.

With the OP flying Southwest, probably easiest to take it on the flight as planned in the huge airlines box likely to be available at the ticket counter. That way the bike serves as a luggage cart all the way to check in without all the disassembly.

General Discussion / Re: Panniers as Checked Luggage
« on: April 28, 2014, 07:13:54 am »
I just lash the two rear panniers together to make them one checked bag and mounting apparatus is no longer exposed. I'll carry on the front panniers as you do, tied together to count as one bag. Unless you are trying to reduce all four panniers to one item, bringing a duffle bag to contain them seems redundant. Kind of like buying a bag of apples at the grocery and you are given a bag to carry your bag of apples!

General Discussion / Re: ACA maps and crummy areas in big cities?
« on: March 17, 2014, 09:30:52 am »
I also question the safety of  Rock Creek Park,  the corridor for the Atlantic Coast Route through DC. Maybe times have changed, but having grown up in the area back in the 50's and 60's I remember that park as having a high crime rate. My mom and dad were even afraid to take me to the National Zoo!  :'(  This was long before the Chandra Levy murder. Can any DC area forum members update or correct me? The Park Service website calls it "relatively safe" but then goes on to suggest that hikers, runners and women travel in twos. 

Washington is so easy to approach or exit more westerly through rural Maryland and most road touring bikes can handle the lower 15 miles of the C&O canal. The C&O delivers the rider directly to Georgetown and the tourist areas of DC without crossing the whole city, albeit in a park setting.

General Discussion / Re: ACA maps and crummy areas in big cities?
« on: March 15, 2014, 10:55:19 am »
Thanks for the correction, Cyclesafe. I've re-worded my post above.

That motel may or may not have been listed in the ACA leader notes for that year, I don't remember. That list is indeed more of an edited list of both recommended stays and those to avoid. I probably added that motel to the "avoid" list in my leader notes for the trip. Some of my group were taken aback by it's state of cleanliness, repair and safety. Not sure if it's still on the map. That said, it's perfectly located right off the TransAm route in walking distance to the fun downtown. Staff also was friendly enough.  All of the big chain motels are on the outskirts, probably why it's listed.

Hmmmm.......Bramble Tree may be beyond crummy. This happened 2 years after our stay..........

General Discussion / Re: ACA maps and crummy areas in big cities?
« on: March 15, 2014, 09:21:51 am »
The ACA map service directory ('08 edition) did list a rather "crummy" motel in Pueblo CO, The Bramble Tree Inn. Our 2009 TransAm group stayed there for two nights for a layover. As leader of the group I chose that motel due to it's map listing along with convenience to the route and downtown restaurants. Upon arrival we learned that it served as a halfway house and had many residents. We had no problems but we were warned to keep our bikes locked inside.

edit- change map "recommendation" to map "listing"

Travelling with a boxed bike on trains is almost impossible, especially if you have other luggage.

If you ride all the way to the ticket counter, get the huge Amtrak box, pack it and check it, it's really easy. Re-assemble at the destination station and start your ride right from there. Yes, if you have to move your bike around from station to station still boxed it's a nuisance that may require a cart or assistance

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