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Messages - adventurepdx

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Gear Talk / Re: Tire recommendations
« on: March 13, 2012, 12:24:33 am »
The only tire in the Marathon line that I would shy away from, if your budget allows it, is the tire referred to as simply the Marathon. This tire is much less expensive than all the other tires in the Marathon line and is less reliable.

I had the plain ol' Marathons (700x35C) for my 4,000 mile tour this summer, and they did fine. I did get a few flats but not many. The rear was starting to wear out towards the end, and I replaced it when I got home. The front tire is still holding up.

« on: March 12, 2012, 06:44:06 pm »
My girlfriend April and I rode the Icefields as part of a bigger bike tour last year. More on that here:
We really loved the Icefields, and I think you'll have a great time!

As for logistics, you can ride the whole Parkway in 2 or 3 days, but we took longer than that in order to soak up the ambiance and do things along the way. Remember there are two passes on the Parkway, Sunwapta is the northernmost and Bow the southernmost. Both are around 7,000 feet (2,100 m) in elevation, but the elevation doesn't drop below 4,000 feet at any point on the route. The Parkway is 140 miles long and only goes between Jasper and Lake Louise. Banff is about 40 miles away via the Bow River Parkway. While the ride is not as "epic" as the Icefields Pkwy. it's still a nice ride.

We took five days on the Icefields, which I thought was an appropriate amount of time, though we could have taken longer. There's places to stay about every 20-40 miles along the route. We opted to use the primitive hostels along the way. These are also spaced about 20-40 miles apart, and if one were to use them, one could make a credit card/inn-to-inn tour the whole way from Jasper to Banff. Most of these hostels are bunks only, most don't have electricity or phones (though one has internet via satellite!), nor hot water or showers. There is running water and propane heating, and a few within Banff Nat'l Park have saunas! These hostels are very popular during the summer, so you'd need to book them in advance to guarantee a spot.

We had no trouble with the passes, but we had already encountered many more passes in Washington and Montana, so we were ready. Even with that, the climbs are not that long, I remember the climb northward to Sunwapta was about 3 miles at 8% grade. I've heard that biking southward (Jasper to Lake Louise/Banff) is tougher but can't speak from first-hand experience.

My tips:
  • Stock up on supplies in the bigger towns like Jasper, Lake Louise, Banff, and Canmore, as there are few restaurants and stores on the Parkway. (There's just enough, however, so that you'll pass something daily.) Prices along the Parkway and in the towns are going to be steep!
  • Take your time, stop at all the things you can stop at.
  • There is a good chance you will see bears, even on the side of the highway. We saw a combined number of seven during our time on Bow River Pkwy, Icefields Pkway, and 93A.

I agree with geegee about Jasper (town and park) being calmer than Banff (town and park). Banff townsite is overrun during the summer.

Can't help you about parking, but can help you with photo inspiration.

General Discussion / Re: Amtrack Question Seattle Area
« on: March 09, 2012, 01:39:00 am »
As you will be boxing your bikes, be sure you watch their weight. We've been able to load 'em no problem down here in the bay area, but the handlers in Seattle are really finicky and made me repack my tandem in two boxes, even though it says in their rules they can exceed 50 lbs..

They can also be finicky in Portland as well. They don't like it if you leave anything on the bike other than water bottles, and if they see you sneak stuff in they'll tell you to take it out (and if they see you take out the bike with extra stuff attached they may give you crap as well!) And if they don't remind you, make sure that you empty your water bottles before packing the bike. They can leak, and leak onto something else.

General Discussion / Re: Amtrack Question Seattle Area
« on: March 09, 2012, 01:35:53 am »
...I have a few questions. I will have to assemble my bike for the trip from the Seattle station, however I seem to recall the Cascade will allow me to roll it on for the trip to Vancouver. Is this correct? Also how is the neighborhood around the Seattle station. I would probably spend the night at a HiSeattle hostel.

Yep, Amtrak Cascades allow roll-on service, so no need to box. In fact in most cases they don't like boxed bikes on these trains, from what I've seen.

As for the neighborhood around King Street Station is slightly sketchy at night, especially going over towards the hostel. During the day when it's full of people, not so much. I've never felt threatened, though, but some others may get weirded out. Thankfully the American Hotel (HI-Seattle) is a few short blocks from the train station.

One thing to note about the hostel is they offer secure bike storage in the basement, so no need to lock it outside overnight.

General Discussion / Re: Amtrack Question Seattle Area
« on: March 08, 2012, 01:40:52 am »
I have taken the Amtrak twice and both times the experience was miserable.  In addition to dirty bathrooms and surly workers, the train was hours late both times.  The first time, it was so late I had to whole additional night there and then had to fight for a place on the train the next day! The next time, we were over 8 hours late getting into Seattle from LA and they lied to us the whole way about how we'd be there "almost on time" etc etc.  Never again for me.

The Coast Starlight can be pretty late, but I've had overwhelmingly decent experiences on Amtrak, and I've taken it quite a bit over the past 12 years, in most parts of the country.

General Discussion / Re: Amtrack Question Seattle Area
« on: March 07, 2012, 10:40:06 pm »
Those buses take boxed bikes, so shouldn't be a problem. In fact, the bus drivers prefer it that way and may give you crap if the bikes are unboxed.

As for Pacific Central/Vancouver, the neighborhood is on the edge of the Downtown Eastside area which is Vancouver's "sketchy" zone. I've been at that station late at night and never had any issues, though. Just keep your wits about you. And I haven't had problems riding through that area at night, but not knowing which way you'll be heading from the station, I can't give you a more definite answer.

General Discussion / Re: Affordable/free camping idea
« on: March 06, 2012, 07:55:10 pm »
While I think this is a cool concept, I tend to agree with others here that the logistics/money would not make this practical.

If we are to assume this is a nationwide network in the US, this would take a lot of cash to buy up even small parcels of land to have these bicyclist campgrounds. And even with the campgrounds being low impact, there are maintenance fees. And if it was a membership-based organization, how big of an organization would it have to be to make it feasible, and how much would dues be?

Let's take ACA as an example: in 2011, there are 43,550 members. If this non-profit organization were to be as big as Adventure Cycling, and membership dues were $40/year which is ACA's base member rate, this would mean $1,742,000 in yearly income for the organization. There would most likely be other revenue streams etc, but how far would about two million dollars a year go towards acquiring land, building campsites, maintaining them, etc?

This concept might work better on a smaller scale, local level, and partnered up with a like-minded organizaton. I know in Mt. Hood National Forest a group set up a series of "Bike Huts" for mountain bikers.

I think the best idea is encourage those organizations that are already set up for camping, like state parks, to develop hiker/biker sites either in already existing campgrounds or in other lands they own. Or get more of these small towns along ACA routes and in popular touring to allow free/nominal fee camping in their town parks.

I also agree that warmshowers is a great resource and the fear of trusting strangers is overblown. We stayed with quite a few warmshowers hosts on our trip last year, and most hosts were good to great. We had a couple less-than-stellar stays, but nothing along the line of fearing for our safety.

Classifieds / SOLD! North St. Bags "Route 7" Pannier Set
« on: March 04, 2012, 04:20:26 am »
These bags have already been sold, thanks!

I'm selling a set of North St. Bags Route 7 panniers. These panniers are hand-made here in Portland by Curtis Williams. They are basic touring panniers in an "Ortlieb" roll-top style. I have owned these panniers for about a year, and they served me well on my Cross-Con Tour. They are still in decent shape! (See below for pics.)

The official description and specs:
A simple, lightweight, waterproof pannier with a simple yet secure roll-top closure. The tapered shape allows for easier access, and a reduced change of heel-strike.
  • waterproof liner
  • d-ring tabs to add a shoulder strap
  • reflectors and blinky loops for visibility
Most of the materials in the bags are manufactured in the USA.

Size (individual bag):
6″ x 9″ (15cm x 23 cm) at the base, it tapers up to 6″ x 12″ (15cm x 30cm)
Stands 15″ (38cm) tall (not including the roll top extension).
1080 cubic inches (around 17.7 liters)

There's nothing wrong with these panniers. I'm just purging them from my collection because I don't need this size of pannier right now.

Price: $65 USD for the set. I'm not interested in selling them individually at this point.
This price is less than a single one new!

Available for local pick-up in Portland, Oregon. Shipping cost to be determined on location.

Routes / Re: Pittsburgh to Washington, DC
« on: March 01, 2012, 03:19:16 pm »
Great Allegheny Passage and C & O Canal Path trails:

I have not ridden them, though plan on at some point. Sure others here can chime in with first-hand experience.

Routes / Re: Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes
« on: February 27, 2012, 12:43:11 am »
The next day I road the trail and camped at a campground west of Kellog near a town that started with an "E"

That would be Enaville.

The next day I rode over Thompson Pass and camped in a nice campground on the western edge of the town of Thompson Falls that had an all you can eat buffet ( I tend to remember these things)

Did you ride to Thompson Pass/Falls from Wallace via Burke? How was that? Paved? Looks like mostly forest service roads. If I was to do the ride between the trail and Missoula again, I might try that option.

Yes, it extends about 20 more miles to Mullen, one of the strangest towns I've ever seen.  I'll leave it at that so as not to influence others' impressions.
The trail get somewhat steeper east of Wallace--one of the coolest towns I've ever seen.

It's only 7 1/2 miles from Wallace to Mullan, but second the steepness of the trail section between the two (but it's not mountain steep, maybe 3% grade, tops), strangeness of Mullan, and coolness of Wallace. It was a shame we only had a half-day to spend in Wallace. Next time I'd take at least one break day there, if not two.

Overall, I think incorporating the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes is a good idea, difficulties of getting from the east end to Missoula notwithstanding. It is definitely scenic, west half more so than the east. And the east half has Wallace. Plus, we saw a moose!

Routes / Re: Vancouver to Los Angeles
« on: February 25, 2012, 02:44:19 pm »
Well, I just moved to Vancouver, BC and plan to live here for some years... so perhaps I'll save the exploration of Washington and Olympic Park for another time... :)   I think starting in Oregon makes more sense... Thanks for the tips!

Don't forget about exploring the Sunshine Coast, Vancouver Island, Gulf/San Juan Islands, and the BC interior as well! You won't get bored, trust me.

I'm thinking of averaging about 60miles per day.  The only thing I'm concerned about is that I remember the Pacific Coast to be quite hilly... ;)

Yep, there are plenty of hills. No mountain passes, but hills for sure.
I'd say it is possible to get to LA from Astoria at that rate, but it would be tight. It doesn't allow time for break days. I did Tillamook, OR to Cambria, CA in about three weeks, not counting break days, and averaged 55 miles a day. I chose Cambria as an end for that trip because of mechanical issues, but it is past Big Sur and close to San Luis Obispo where you can hop on Amtrak. That can be an option.

Routes / Re: Vancouver to Los Angeles
« on: February 25, 2012, 03:31:32 am »
Am I missing much if I skip Washington and start in Oregon?  I would love to keep this around three weeks if possible.

Depends on who you ask and what you want to do. My short answer if you want to keep the route to three weeks and see as much of the actual Pacific Coast as possible, then yes, start in Oregon.

There are two "main" Coast Routes, the Peninsula and the Inland. The Peninsula route starts in the NE part of the Olympic Peninsula (Port Townsend/Angeles), heads west than south along the Olympic Peninsula. The Inland route goes through the Puget Sound region. Depending on whose Inland routing you use (either the Kirkendall/Spring Bicycling the Pacific Coast book or ACA's Pacific Coast Route), you can join up with the Peninsula route around Aberdeen (Kirkendall/Spring) or near Astoria (ACA).

The Peninsula Route to me is worth it if you can invest the time and energy into getting off the main road (US 101) and explore Olympic National Park. But these explorations mean side-trips anywhere from 10 to 40 miles round-trip to see things like the Hoh Rain Forest and Sol Duc Hot Springs. 101 itself stays inland north of Aberdeen so you'll see very little of the coast. South of Aberdeen 101 stays nearer to the coast.

While the inland routes go through some lovely countryside and you'll see quite a bit of the Puget Sound or Hood Canal (depending on the route), you don't see the actual ocean. But it is more direct than taking the Peninsula route.

What do you think your daily mileage will look like?

General Discussion / Re: Travel info Portland to Seattle
« on: February 24, 2012, 03:44:07 pm »
If you're going to use the ACA Pacific Coast Route from Vancouver BC to get to Portland, you can deviate from the route at Castle Rock, Washington. From Castle Rock to Kelso, where this route into Portland begins:
you can use SR 411, the Westside Highway. It's got low-to-moderate traffic but no shoulder (traffic picks up closer to Kelso/Longview.)

Or you can use this route that uses the east side of the Cowlitz River:,-122.887917&spn=0.051315,0.110378&sll=46.213655,-122.90048&sspn=0.20526,0.441513&geocode=FegbwgIdOHCs-CnF9ea1IwyUVDGG6_BxNP_MUw%3BFRAgwAIdnnKs-CktUOeavmyUVDH1-h_Qn6_kdw&dirflg=b&mra=ltm&t=m&z=13&lci=bike

I've done both routes. They're approximately the same length, 10-12 miles. The advantage to the 411/Westside route is it is more direct (one road) and shorter (10.5 miles). The advantage to the eastside route is less traffic and more scenic.

Have a fun ride!

Routes / Re: Vancouver to Los Angeles
« on: February 22, 2012, 02:16:00 pm »
1) How long would this take? The route says roughly 1800miles but with all the hills, etc... am I looking at 3 weeks roughly?

Three weeks would be quite ambitious in my opinion, unless you were mostly pulling centuries each day and not taking any break days. When I did a coast tour several years back it took me a little under two weeks to get from Tillamook, Oregon (about 100 miles south of the OR/WA line) to San Francisco. I would say at least a month, but if I were doing it again I would take 5-6 weeks, allowing for more off days. I can't really answer this question without knowing what kind of rider you are and your touring style. (Do you like long days? Don't want to stop much? Bike loaded like a pack mule or going ultralight?)

3) I have all the gear..  any idea how much a trip like this would cost? I'd prefer to wild camp / warmshowers as much as possible... but also okay to pay for camping when needed.  I'm just looking for a ballpark figure.

In Oregon, most state park campgrounds have hiker/biker sites, which are reserved exclusively for non-motorized travellers. These typically run $5 a night per person, hot shower included.

General Discussion / Re: Travel info Portland to Seattle
« on: February 22, 2012, 01:51:34 pm »
Have to disagree with the two previous posters.  I thought the STP was a great route and would do it again.  Most was rural with regular friendly small towns.

I never said I didn't like the STP routing. (Well, I'm not particularly fond of the urban stretch from Spanaway to Seattle.) I just said it wasn't thrilling, compared to say, the Oregon Coast or Columbia Gorge, two other rides in the vicinity. For me, riding the direct route between Portland and Seattle is usually more a matter of getting from point A to point B than the ride itself. But to each their own.

To mix it up a bit, one could take the ACA Pacific Coast Route from Castle Rock to Centralia. It stays east of I-5, whereas the STP stays west. It's pretty similar scenery, but has the advantage of going right past Lewis and Clark State Park, which has a hiker/biker site. Watch out for the dogs, though.

If I were to do it again any time soon, I would definitely try to integrate Vashon Island into the route like waynemyer suggests, or going for a easterly path along the Cascades like bogiesan proposes.

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