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Messages - Gizmosity

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Routes / Re: Minneapolis, MN to Wolf Lake, MI Advice Sought
« on: August 09, 2012, 09:26:29 am »
Once I stepped foot on land in Makinaw City, besides my detour through the tunnel of trees, I stayed pretty much on the ACA route until I was just NE of Muskegon and then I hightailed it to there to catch the first ferry to Milwaukee.

I crossed paths with another cyclist in Traverse City at the campground in town and he had been heading North using a mapset sold by the League of Michigan Cyclists.  I see that map is out of stock now on their site, but I would have to assume it was the North Shore Route.  He said it was a great ride from where he started (can't remember where that was but I'm pretty sure it was farther south than where you would be starting in Ludington.)  He had offered to tear out the pages of his mapbook that he had already ridden and I declined thinking that it wouldn't be too hard to follow the shoreline without them.  Ultimately, I chose to follow my original route.

When/if I ever get back to that area, I would like to explore more of the Traverse Bay area and ride of the coastline.  The ACA route stays inland and generally off the busy highways when it can.  There will be a scenery/traffic trade-off, I'm sure.

I hesitate to "recommend" it, as I didn't do it, but if the weather is good and traffic is low, I would imagine it would be a steller sidetrack and it's on my future to-do list.

I'm on Warmshowers if you venture this far south along the Mississippi, but if you're heading to Manitowoc for the ferry to Ludington,  I would imagine you'll be heading east from La Crosse.

Enjoy!

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Routes / Re: Minneapolis, MN to Wolf Lake, MI Advice Sought
« on: August 07, 2012, 09:26:46 pm »
*This got REALLY long.....skip to the bottom if you're in a hurry.*

I just did parts of the Northern Tier and Northern Lakes route and finished a few weeks ago.   Maybe being from the Pacific Northwest, I'm spoiled, but there was about 200 miles of the UP that I could have done without.  It was worth every minute of it, don't get me wrong, but there was about 2-3 days of "road with trees on both sides".  I had a long talk with a friend of mine to describe it and I read her my journal entry:

"It's all forground.  There is no background.  What you see directly in front of you and to the sides of you doesn't really change much.  I'm used to the NW and there's a mountain in the background pretty much everywhere and it seems to move around in the background and you get closer to it, or you veer in another direction and see a different one. Not so much here.  It's much hillier than the maps topo shows.  The rise and fall isn't enough to show on the map but there are hills here...one after the other, after the other."

I met a couple other cyclists going the other way around and they pretty much said the same thing.  Kind of monotonous and much more elevation changes than they were expecting.

I started/ended in Platteville Wisconsin and started the ACA route starting in Marquette, IA.  The Mississippi River was fantastic.  You'll really only see it for a day starting in Minneapolis following the North Lakes route, which is too bad.  I really enjoyed that portion even though Iowa was brutally hot and had more changes in elevation than I had ever thought possible.  The Minnisota portion was awesome.

I veered off route at Clam Lake Wisconsin and made my way north to Ashland because I'd never seen Lake Superior and it was only 50 miles or so.  Nice town (Karl at Bay City Bikes was a godsend) and a very nice ride.  I took Hwy 2 and 51 south to pick up the route again near Mercer.  From there to Escanaba was tough for me.  It was unusually hot and the scenery is noted above.  Services were ok, but mainly gas station/mini marts.  Fruits and vegitables were rare for a couple of days.  I found 2 bananas in 3 days and they were nearly black.  After Escanaba services were more plentiful and the scenery was fantastic all the way to St. Ignes.  You're also on Hwy 2 for a good part of it, if not all of it.  Lots of traffic as it's about the only road. 

Basically the route from Escanaba to where I beelined to Muskegen, where I took the ferry to Milwaukee and back home, was a fantastic ride.  I did ride the 20 miles or so "Tunnel of Trees" where the maps say not to because of traffic.  Personally, I'd ride it again in a heartbeat.  It was one of the most memorable parts of my trip and the shade was a real treat.

I beelined from Milwaukee to Platteville, through Madison in two days, mostly on the Hank Aaron, Glacier Drumlin and Military Ridge trails.  Personally, I didn't like much of it.  But, I've also been through that stretch a zillion times so it wasn't new to me and I put the hammer down.

A week after I finished my tour, I headed back up to the UP and into the Keweenaw Peninsula for the first time and car camped with a girlfriend who went to school in Houghton some years ago and wanted to go back and see it again.  Wow.  I can't believe I pedaled so close to that place.  Awesome scenery everywhere.  I was stunned and a bit bummed I didn't bring my bike with me.

If I were to have to chose your three options, I'd still chose #1.  I'd also veer off route in Michigan and go into the Keweenaw Peninsula at least into the Porcupine Mountains and see Presque Isle Falls (getting to the falls could be a 50-70 mile day if you aren't camping).  If time allowed, I'd go all the way to Copper Harbor.  I'd head south and catch up with the route again near Crystal Falls and head for Escanaba. The scenery in the Keweenaw would have held me over through that rough patch from Crystal Falls to Escanaba.

If I didn't get detailed enough  :o and you want more info feel free to give me a shout. 

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Gear Talk / Re: LHT Fenders - specific
« on: August 07, 2012, 07:28:06 pm »
The FE1013 Longboard 45 in black is what I have on my LHT.  I installed them with my stock Conti 37-622 tires and they fit perfect.  I switched to a Schwalbe Marathon 37-622 with no fitment issues.  Both of these are a 700x35.  As has been mentioned, if you are truly running 37's they may not work, while the fender would adequately cover a 37, the mounting hardware could contact the tire. 

If you're running larger than 35's, as has been mentioned, the P50 would be the way to go within the SKS line.  I assume they would fit and I've thought of going with a wider tire and getting a set of them, although they don't seem to cover as much of the tire as the Longboards, a mudflap is easy enough to cobble together and attach.

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Gear Talk / Re: Help me accesorize my Surly LHT
« on: August 06, 2012, 05:03:02 pm »
I just did my first tour on my LHT.  1650 miles or so with a BOB trailer.  I will be going to panniers for my next tour for various reasons, the trailer actually worked great for me and I picked it up used for a great price.

I cannot recommend the B17 enough.  I put about 500 miles on it before it really felt right.  Adjustments with a single bolt seat post was difficult but manageable.  A double bolt is on my Xmas list. 

I have the SKS Longboard fenders and they worked great, although if you want to go wider than 35's the ones I bought won't work.  I also had to remove the rear mud flap because it interfered with the trailer. (mines got 700's).

Issues I had and you may avoid:

I bought a large Arkel handlebar bag because my IPad fit in it (and it was on sale). The LHT, in my experience, is a bit squirrely steering.  It really shines when it's loaded.  I fought with scary fast steering my whole trip.  All that weight in the bag, up high didn't help matters.  But, I was pulling a trailer so I didn't have a rack or bags on the front.  I will for my next tour.  I love that Arkel bag and it carried most everything I needed when on the road (maps, snacks,sunscreen, bug spray, hat, phone, wallet, etc).

Because of the experiences above, I'm opting for a low rider front rack like the Tubus Tara.  I'll get either the nice rack or tubus cargo for the rear, whichever is cheaper at the time.

Be prepared to futz with your brakes.  The pads that came with mine were terrible.  I found some Shimano pads that helped and I played with the geometry of the straddle cable.  I'm looking at new cantilever brakes (Tektro cr720) before my next tour.


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