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Messages - adventurepdx

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Routes / Re: Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes
« on: February 20, 2012, 03:45:42 pm »
We did basically what you are looking at last year. From Missoula to the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes, as far as I could tell there's really no great way. We used I-90 from Mullan, ID (east end of the trail) to Missoula for the most part. Where we could get off the interstate and use parallel roads we did, but there are sections where it didn't seem possible, like the 30 odd miles from Lookout Pass to St. Regis. There is the old rail-grade that goes over Lookout Pass that we could have possibly used, but since no one could give us a straight answer as to what condition it was in (we knew it was unpaved, but didn't know how graded it would be) we just took I-90 over the pass. You could use MT 135/MT 200/US 93 to get from Missoula to St. Regis, but it would be longer and you would still need to use I-90 from St. Regis to Mullan.

Westward from the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes, the route we took departed the trail at Harrison, ID, headed north on ID 97 on the east shore of Coeur d'Alene lake to where it intersected I-90, got on the freeway for a couple miles, and then got off to follow the Centennial Trail through Coeur d'Alene city into Spokane. From Spokane northward we used US 395 to connect to the Northern Tier/WA 20 at Colville. (Note: when we did this trip we were travelling west-east.)

Choosing the Colville-Spokane-Coeur d'Alene-Missoula route required us to make some compromises, like quite a bit of freeway riding in Montana. We found it tolerable, if not perfect riding. Thankfully the scenery was beautiful and the traffic not so bad. Others might not like it.

General Discussion / Re: Communications on tour
« on: February 19, 2012, 04:20:42 pm »
This why, I suggest voting for the preferred method (as in the original posting).

Oops. Sorry Lucas, missed that one from the OP. Went back and voted for my primary means of communications.

It would be interesting if a poll could be "weighted", as one can make different choices but rate it 1, 2, 3 by how often used.

I found that I used the internet as the prime means of communicating with folks on my summer tour last year, but that was if these were people that I was visiting down the road, and if there was enough time (a few days) that I could assure a timely response. Sometimes I'd use my cell if I was only a day or two away. This wasn't always possible since we were in a couple Canadian provinces where I had no coverage whatsoever. (This was the first time I had to use a pay phone in a long time and I couldn't believe how expensive it was!)

But if I was communicating with people back home, I would often write postcards.

Routes / Re: Libby to Kalispell on Rt #2 OK to ride?
« on: February 19, 2012, 01:21:36 am »
My personal opinion is that U.S. 2 was fine from Columbia Falls into West Glacier.  NT routes you on a beautiful back road that turns into a rough gravel road.  No thanks, that part needs at least front suspension.

When did you ride that? We (April and myself) rode that part of the NT/Great Parks North last summer (July) and the unpaved section was fine with our bikes. It was mostly hard packed dirt. Neither of us had front suspension, and also had front bags. We were running 32mm/35mm tires. April didn't mind that section, and she HATES gravel.

Connecting ACA Routes / Re: Seattle to Northern Tier
« on: February 16, 2012, 02:59:36 pm »
Stopping at South Whidbey State Park is a great option but if one wanted a few more miles camping at Deception Pass State Park is another great place. That puts you right on the edge of Fidalgo Island and you could easily start the Northern Tier from that point (it'd only add maybe 15 miles).

Agreed that Deception Pass is a good place to camp! They have hiker/biker spots in the main Cranberry Lake campground south of the pass. (The park straddles both sides of the pass.) It's okay, but there's the constant drone from Whidbey Island Naval Air Station and aggressive raccoons. I prefer the Bowman Bay campground on the north side of the pass. While there is no dedicated hiker/biker sites, it's a smaller campground and you get great views of Bowman Bay. This was the photo from our campsite:

And info on Deception Pass here:

And Itinerant Harper, that revised route you posted looks really good!

Connecting ACA Routes / Re: Seattle to Northern Tier
« on: February 15, 2012, 02:54:13 pm »
There is a mostly pretty great ride from Seatac to Anacortes. It's a bit over a hundred miles, so if you can do that in a day, then you can. Otherwise there are places to camp on Whidbey Island at roughly the half-way point (South Whidbey Island State Park).  This Google Maps route is pretty close to what I'd do though definitely with some tweaks:

Here's the route with some of those tweaks that adds about 5 miles, but adds some very scenic, lower traffic riding on Whidbey and Fidalgo Islands:

I've ridden much of that same route, and can attest to its pretty greatness. The section of the Interurban Trail north of Shoreline can be a little grating, though.

On Whidbey Island you can detour off of SR 520 a little bit north of Freeland and use Bush Point/Smugglers Cove Road. Gets you away from the traffic for a bit, and it's not too hilly. South Whidbey Island State Park is on this detour, so it's a good camping option.

Regarding the two options on north Whidbey, I've done both. I would take the "detour Oak Harbor" option the next time. While it is much hillier and a tad longer, the traffic is minimal and the views great. The through Oak Harbor route is shorter and flatter, but Oak Harbor This was the only place where I got honked/yelled at from my last tour between Portland and Vancouver BC.

General Discussion / Re: Communications on tour
« on: February 15, 2012, 02:38:54 pm »
Wish there was a way to choose multiple choices on the poll. Since there isn't:
I use a "normal" cell phone, plus iPod Touch (internet). For the long tour I did last year, we brought a netbook so we could write long blog posts and all that. But for anything short, I wouldn't bother.

Gear Talk / Re: touring bags
« on: February 10, 2012, 11:07:56 pm »
(a) Never heard of that manufacturer.

Looks like Racktime is a subsidiary of Tubus.

I've seen some Racktime bags in bike shops. They look decent, but I've never tested them.
But if they're built as well as Tubus racks, they're probably some pretty decent bags!

General Discussion / Re: NEW BICYCLE QUESTIONS
« on: February 10, 2012, 02:22:05 pm »
Regarding the original posters plan for taking Amtrak from Michigan to Everett, WA: As far as I know, none of the trains that service Michigan have checked baggage service, nor allow regular sized bikes on board (no "roll-on" service):

You may have to ride/get a ride to Chicago, South Bend IN, or Toledo. These stations have checked baggage.

You could get on one of the Michigan trains with a folding bike, though.

Routes / Re: Best Novice Route Under 500 Miles
« on: February 02, 2012, 08:50:15 pm »
Within those parameters, what route would you nominate as the epic ride?

Well, I wouldn't go as far as "epic", as my West Coast acclimated head associates epic biking with lots and lots of mountains. But for "pretty darn good" bike touring for someone who doesn't want to deal with mountains and who wants to be near facilities, I'd recommend checking out some of the long-distance bike trails in the Upper Midwest, particularly in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Since most of these are rail-trails, they are flat or have gentle inclines, and are either paved or have crushed limestone.

I can't think of any of these paths are over 100 miles, but you could always string together a few different routes to give longer rides. I've ridden a few, like the Munger Trail in northeastern Minnesota, the Elroy-Sparta and other linked trails in southwestern Wisconsin, and the Glacial Drumlin in southeastern Wisconsin. I'd like to ride them again at some point!

You will want to note that that area is closed to public access because of the Elwha dam removal project. I think that Olympic Hot Springs Road is supposed to remain closed until the Glines Canyon Dam is fully removed (in 2014, I think).  Lake Mills (and Lake Aldwell) are not really "lakes" any longer....

I was wondering about that. I rode up there in 2010, the last year before the dam removal started It would be interesting to go there in 2014 or so to see the dam-less canyon!

Looking at the map, it looks like you could still access the two campgrounds before the dam, but getting to Olympic Hot Springs isn't possible without backcountry hiking. And I'm sure the Park Service wants it that way, as they've pretty much resolved themselves of any responsibility or liability for those hot springs.

Routes / Re: Montana 83 riding conditions?
« on: February 01, 2012, 02:49:30 am »
Hmm...somehow I don't find the Oregon Coast as bad as johnsondasw or Mr. Bent, but maybe it's because a)I live in Oregon and b) I used to live outside of Myrtle Beach. Any ugliness on the Oregon Coast pales in comparison to that sprawltastic landscape. (And Oregon does have zoning in the form of the Urban Growth Boundary around urban areas, for what it's worth.)

Yes, there is some ugly areas, like north of Tillamook for a bit, the area along 101 between Warrenton/Astoria and Seaside, and (especially) Lincoln City. But you can avoid much of the ugliness around the first two places mentioned by taking alternate routes. And there's enough positives for me interspersed in there to take my mind off the bad, like Manzanita, the Three Capes Scenic Route, Slab Creek Road, and Otter Crest Loop.

I wish the Oregon Coast could be as quaint as it was 50 years ago. But it's a popular area, and things change, not always for the better. People are drawn to the coast. But I think there's enough good around all areas of the Oregon Coast to make a ride worthwhile. Especially if you can manage to go in the shoulder season.

Routes / Re: Montana 83 riding conditions?
« on: January 30, 2012, 11:12:11 pm »
Thanks for that traffic flow map--very useful.  The traffic load on the much praised Oregon coast in the summer?  Some places with 5--10,000 vehicles.  Lousy cycling, if you ask me.


Well, the Oregon Coast is popular for a reason--the beauty. And since 101 is the only route that goes down the coast, and everyone (not just cycle tourists) wants to go to the coast...

Still, there tends to be more shoulder than not. Plus there's lots of facilities for cycle touring, like hiker/biker sites for $5-6 spaced about every 30 miles down the coast. This is why the route remains "praised" despite heavy traffic. And the best way to avoid traffic is ride it in September after Labor Day. The traffic drops dramatically but the weather is still good.

Second the Spring/Kirkendall book. Though I would still recommend using either the ACA maps or other maps in conjunction, as they are easier to navigate from en route. The Oregon Department of Transportation prints a Coast bike map that was just updated, and this new edition is definitely an improvement on the older one!

Routes / Re: Montana 83 riding conditions?
« on: January 30, 2012, 04:36:21 pm »
We managed to squeak into the last spot at Lake Alva.

Do you know if the loons were nesting there? There used to be a pair that came back to Lake Alva every year.

Oh there were loons, alright. But not the avian type.  ;)

Honestly, we got there late enough in the day and were too preoccupied with camp stuff that we didn't have a chance to notice much else. We did take a quick walk down to the lake, but I don't recall anything.

As sort of addendum to my post above: if I were to try riding 83 again, I would aim for Monday-Thursday. I get the impression that this area is a popular spot for folks from the Missoula area. The lack of shoulder, high speeds, and winding road coupled with recreational vehicles is not a good combination for bicyclists on the weekends.

Routes / Re: Montana 83 riding conditions?
« on: January 30, 2012, 04:01:59 pm »
I guess Montana 83 has light long as you don't hit it on a holiday. Or even slightly before a holiday.
Last year we turned onto 83 from Missoula to Glacier on the Thursday before the Independence Day weekend. I thought we'd be okay since it was Thursday, not Friday. Fat chance. And of course it was the worst type of traffic to deal with in this situation: RVs, camper trailers, and boat trailers. Plus, the Forest Service made had the brilliant idea of closing the main campground in the area for "repaving of the parking lot" during this weekend, so all the smaller ones were already packed. We managed to squeak into the last spot at Lake Alva.

Past Lake Alva, conditions improved significantly. But the stretch from Lake Alva south to the SR 200 junction was not fun. I thought maybe it was bad just because it was a holiday, but my friends toured through there later in July and had a similar experience (though their experience with the Ranger station was much less positive than ours):

Sorry for being a downer. But I will say the scenery is beautiful, especially as you get closer to Swan Lake.

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