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Messages - geegee

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General Discussion / Erie Canal with kayak in tow
« on: January 28, 2010, 01:40:24 am »
I'm contemplating doing something different this summer, and do a tour partly cycling and partly kayaking. I've done afternoon trips of 40 kms cycling and 10 kms paddling with this set up and I think I'd like to try doing extended tour with it. I've rigged up my other kayak (a more stable sit-on-top) with a fork rack so I can load a bike on it like this and be able to do a contiguous journey. Since I'm lucky enough to live in a region of North America that is rich in historic canals (Rideau, Erie, Trent, et al), it will be fun to slowly explore them all this way in the future.

One of the itineraries I'd like to do is to head down from where I live in Ottawa to upstate NY and hook up with the Erie Canal to Buffalo. Although I live within a few hundred miles north of the Erie Canal, I've never really been on it. I'd like to hear from others regarding cycling and paddling along this route. I'd like to cycle the parts to avoid big water (like Lake Ontario), and paddle sections that are scenic and to avoid busy roads towing a long load. One stretch I will most likely have to cycle is the Seaway Trail from Cape Vincent (where I cross the border) to Oswego (NY 12E, 180 and 3) — how busy is this route? I looked on google and it doesn't seem to have a consistent shoulder.

My other option (which I can save for another time) is to head east towards Albany and possibly loop back up to Canada from there. Which part of the Erie Canal is more interesting?

Routes / Re: Mexican excursion from Southern Tier
« on: January 22, 2010, 11:29:34 am »
I would imagine though that many make a jaunt into Juarez when they get to El Paso? Is it practical to cycle in and stay there for the night, or is it better just to walk in for the day?

General Discussion / Re: Australian Thinking Great Divide
« on: January 01, 2010, 01:50:04 pm »
After you've had a few bear encounters, you'll quickly realize they are a far overrated danger. I went on the Kettle Valley trail last year and came across at least one bear a day. While bear spray is OK to have as insurance, a more useful thing would be an air horn. A quick harmless horn blast would be enough to get a bear on the path ahead of you scrambling into the bush. If you follow recommended procedures when camping (hang your food, keep a clean site, etc.) you should not have any problems.

Cougar/Mountain Lion attacks are extremely rare, and they usually target children smaller than their size. Cougars are reclusive and stalk their prey from behind, and like most cats, hate the idea that they are being stalked themselves. When I stop for a break in cougar country, I make a habit of doing a 360˚ turn acting as if I were stalking something in the woods, making loud noises. I've been told that this illusion of being aware and aggressive can foil a cougar's plan of stalking you. If anything, it's fun and silly thing to do in the middle of the wild :)

General Discussion / Re: Wow...This place is great!
« on: December 27, 2009, 11:15:14 pm »
Maybe you could ask the folks at the Bicycle Coalition of Maine. Looks like they organize a lot of activities including a bike swap. Or you could visit bike coops elsewhere and talk to them about how they've organized themselves. It certainly requires a good group of like-minded people.

General Discussion / Re: Wow...This place is great!
« on: December 27, 2009, 12:48:05 pm »
Sounds like we'll have to tie you down until it's warm enough to ride where you are :) Reminds me of the time I received my custom touring bike late in the autumn, and spent the winter with it hooked up to a mag trainer and dreaming of the places I'd go while spinning away in my basement.

Another thing you should brush up on is bike repair and maintenance. You could join a bicycle cooperative or a community bike shop — click here to find one near you. In the one in my city, people volunteer to work on discarded or donated bikes which are then sold cheaply, or given to people who can't afford one. There are master mechanics to train and guide you, and you get one hour of shop time to work on your own bike for every hour you volunteer. It's a great way to meet people and learn from each other, and gain confidence in really knowing your bike inside out.

Routes / Re: Cycling in Newfoundland and Labrador
« on: December 24, 2009, 01:25:05 am »
As for overnight stays, there are lots of opportunities for free-camping. Pitching a tent for free on state-owned land (what we call "Crown Land") is legal for Canadian citizens (but nobody checks if you aren't). Motels and B&Bs tend to be very expensive in Newfoundland especially in the summer. While St John's is booming, the rest of Newfoundland, especially the old one-industry towns have suffered in the past years with plant closures, which has rippled into the motels/hotels because of lack of off-season business.

As you travel through Quebec and the Atlantic Canada, look for college or university residences for affordable accommodations. I've stayed in a few of them: McGill U in Montreal, Laval U in Quebec City, the CEGEP in Rivière-du-Loup, St Francis Xavier in Antigonish NS, and Memorial U in St John's NL. There are a few hostels in the cities, and I think there is one in North Sydney NS where you take the Newfoundland Ferry (I just slept in a park overlooking the docks because my boat was leaving in the very early morning)

Routes / Re: Cycling in Newfoundland and Labrador
« on: December 24, 2009, 12:26:26 am »
The single-digit highways in Newfoundland are generally very good. I've only cycled in the Avalon Peninsula from Placentia to St John's but have driven the entire Transcanada (#1) from Port aux Basques. Traffic is really light as there are only half a million residents in this province almost the size of California. The three-digit highways tend to be narrow and the grades and curves probably have evolved from when they were mere dirt roads. The highway leading up to Gros Morne and up the northern peninsula to L'anse aux Meadows is one of these. There is a ferry up to Labrador at the tip. Newfoundland can get extremely windy.

If you plan on cycling the new Trans-Labrador highway, it's probably about as epic as the Dalton in Alaska or the Dempster in the Northwest Territories. The final phase of this unpaved highway just officially opened this month so if you are a brave soul you could be one of the first cyclists to traverse this wilderness. There won't be any services for hundreds of kilometers at a time, and the blackflies in the muskeg will most likely drive you insane!

The other option for a loop if you do go up to Labrador is to take the Relais Nordik between Blanc Sablon and Natashquan. I've been dreaming of going on this boat trip. I imagine you could do quick bike rides while the ship loads/unloads at the small coastal communities along the way.

Southern Ontario should be clear of snow by mid-April, but weather will tend to be erratic, either brilliant or wet. That part of the province is extremely flat and almost featureless, but the weather is relatively mild tempered by the three Great Lakes that almost surround it.

General Discussion / Re: new bee??
« on: December 16, 2009, 10:03:29 pm »
Maybe you could look into getting a custom orthotic insert for your right foot. You should measure your inseam on your longer leg for the bike sizing guideline. One question though: is the difference in your leg length due to the femur (thigh bone) or the tibia/fibula (lower leg bone)? Orthotic inserts would work best if it was the lower leg that was shorter, meaning the distance between your hips and knees are even, because you would have less probability of knee issues.

Routes / Re: routes across canada
« on: December 09, 2009, 08:36:24 pm »
If you've never been to Canada before, I would suggest starting out west in Vancouver and head east. Highway 7 is a good way to get out of the city, then hook up with the TransCanada past Hope (Highway 1). This route goes though an amazing variety of British Columbia's landscape, and has a dramatic crossing of the Rockies through Lake Louise and Banff into Calgary. In Alberta, Highway 9 past Calgary will take you though Drumheller which sits in a deep gouge of the Badlands, exposing some fascinating dinosaur finds.

There are many roads through the Prairies, I personally like the ones that are less travelled. Staying away from the busier highways lets you appreciate the vastness of the land while tuned into its subtleties without the constant noise of traffic. If you travel though Saskatchewan in the summer, you might notice on the changing smells of wildflowers and different crops when you cross vast fields. I liked following highway 7 from Alsask to Rosetown, then cutting diagonally down to Moose Jaw, passing though Lake Diefenbaker. There is a bit of unpaved road here, though.

Be extra careful crossing Manitoba. Roads are narrower and traffic gets busy closer to Winnipeg. Northern Ontario is very hilly along the coast of Lake Superior, but it is spectacular.

Quebec and New Brunswick have the best roads for cycling. Nova Scotia and PEI have narrow roads but the drivers are cautious. Newfoundland is decent, just be prepared for a lot of wind.

Let me know if you want to know anything more specific, I've cycled through every province plus the Yukon Territory

One of the most magical moments I had while touring (and got me hooked) was riding through the Gap of Dunloe. I must have hit it at the right time because I had the place to myself.

I'd stick mostly to the coastal areas. The times I rode through a bit of the interior, I found the roads busier with inter-town traffic. Northern Ireland along the Glens of Antrim is probably one of the flatter coastal rides

General Discussion / Re: HELP! WHAT BIKE SHOULD I GET???
« on: November 28, 2009, 11:59:59 pm »
They are all good. See if you can test ride most or all of them then make your decision.

I'm one for easy one pot combinations of dry staple+something canned+something fresh if available.
For example rice + canned soup + chopped veggies.

My faves:
cream of mushroom soup + canned chicken chunks + peas, poured over rice
Mac and cheese with a can of smoked mussels stirred in
couscous + chunks of ham + small jar of salsa
Ramen noodles + canned tuna or salmon + egg

« on: November 27, 2009, 06:57:03 pm »
It's hard to offer specific advice without knowing where you are planning to tour. If you are going on a relatively populated route, you don't really need to worry about food. I've crossed the continent not bringing a stove, but I've gone up north where I really depended on one. The climate where you are planning to ride would be good to know too.

For a five day trip, you won't really need to bring that much stuff. If you are just taking some clothes and a tent/sleeping bag, any pannier will do, or you can even get away with a dry seal bag or strapped to a rear rack. I personally like having a handlebar bag for stuff I want easy access to. like my wallet or camera.

Routes / Re: Florida (again), Orlando to the Keys and back
« on: November 22, 2009, 10:58:26 pm »
Thanks for the input, folks. I think I will take your advice, cycle from Orlando down to Key West via the Atlantic coast then take the ferry to Fort Myers to head back via the Florida Connector. Am I right in assuming that it is better wind-wise to do this loop clockwise rather than the other way around?

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