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Messages - adventurepdx

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I rode much of that route last summer, heading eastbound from Anacortes and diverting from the NT in the Idaho Panhandle and NW Montana. I don't know if wind direction really makes a big deal on this section.

However, I think the bigger concern is mountain passes. There are two passes that are regularly closed due to winter because of snow: Rainy/Washington Pass on SR 20/North Cascades Hwy in Washington State, and Logan Pass/Going-To-The-Sun Road in Glacier. Each of these closures are at the end of your trip, no matter which way you choose. Last year Rainy/Washington opened around May 25 and Logan around July 10! These were both late openings for the respective passes, but it's something to keep in mind. Rainy/Washington tends to open earlier than Logan, so it might be prudent to head eastbound. Even if Logan is still closed by the time you start in mid-June, it could open by the time you get there.

General Discussion / Re: Liability
« on: March 22, 2012, 09:14:53 pm »
How many people are going? Are people paying you, i.e. are you acting as a "tour guide"?

I'm not that savvy to the areas of liability, but I think these two things are big factors for liability concerns.

Routes / Re: Weather in October
« on: March 21, 2012, 06:31:09 pm »
I rode from San Francisco to outside San Luis Obispo (between SF and LA) in October of 2006, and the weather was pretty darn fine. Rained once from what I remember. Yeah, there could be fog, but generally weather in October is still good. Highs 60s-70s F (15-25 C).

I wouldn't call the route "beginner" however. No mountains but lots of hills. I don't think it would be that big of a deal if you went easy on the first few days and then worked up to longer days from that.

Both times I took the train into Seattle, stayed at the HI hostel in town, took the ferry the next morning and then rode to intersect the NT a little ways east of Anacortes. The first night I stayed in some state park (think it was called Kitsap). Second night at Fort Worden. Third night at Bayview State Park, which is on the route. between Anacortes and Sedro-Wooley. At the time, most of this in on AC's Pacific Coast Route and may still be. Not the most scenic of routes, but convenient. And I got to hang in Seattle.

On that tip, for those wanting to ride from Seattle to Anacortes, this is what we did last year: We headed north through Seattle neighborhoods and then caught the Interurban Trail North on the north side of the Ship Canal. This trail mostly follows an old rail line and winds its way through the suburbs to the north. It's pretty well signed though meandering at points. We got off the trail outside of Everett and rode to the Mukilteo Ferry Terminal, and caught it over to Whidbey Island. Whidbey Island is pretty with lots of hills.  We mostly used SR 525 north towards Coupeville, then used the ACA Pacific Coast Route, Section 1 to get to Anacortes. (SR 20 is less hilly, but the ACA route avoids a particularly unfun section through Oak Harbor.) Camping can be found at South Whidbey Island State Park and Deception Pass S.P. Or, if you are on warmshowers, you can stay at the "Bike Shack" on the south part of Whidbey.

General Discussion / Re: Campgrounds and bear boxes
« on: March 21, 2012, 05:57:47 pm »
They told us they had to chase a squirrel out and clog up a small hole in one of the walls with a tree limb to keep the squirrel from coming back in. I was afraid I would step in one of their holes and twist my ankle while walking around at night.

Yeah, that's why I never walked around at night in that campground without my headlight trained to the ground. The squirrel holes are everywhere!

The deer harrassment was amazing. The woman was walking her dog and the deer kept following her. She was yelling at it as if it understood commands like her dog and trying to shoo it away by waving her arm. This seemed to only entice the deer more. The best we could figure is that the deer thought the woman had food in her hand that she was going fling. This went on for at least 5 minutes. She finally made it back to her RV.

The deer are everywhere in the town! If you've never seen several deer nonchalantly wander down the main street of a town, unconcerned with anything, go to Waterton townsite. It's one reason why few people in town don't have gardens. And it's also why they have signs like this:

Agreed that the ride from Bellingham is beautiful (Chuckanut Drive!) and would make a good addition to a NT Ride. You can do it in less than a day, and it's on ACA's Pacific Coast Route, Section 1:
As well as Washington Parks Loop, Section 1:

But if one wanted to take transit from Bellingham to Anacortes, it is possible.
The bike shop in Anacortes, Skagit Cycle, is a good one. (There is also a Skagit Cycle in Burlington.)

General Discussion / Re: Rain pants? Yay or Nay
« on: March 18, 2012, 05:26:57 pm »
Another option if you don't want to go full rainpants is Rainlegs:
They protect the "tops" of your legs, where you'll get rained on the most. They are a good, simple, lightweight option if it's going to be warmer out, but won't do as good as full rainpants if you are looking for warmth or wind-resistance.

(And man, the first sentence on the Rainlegs home page is badly worded. I think Rainlegs is a Dutch company and they might not have done the best translation job.)

I'd guess that many younger clerks you see along the way don't even know what a Traveler's Cheque is and wouldn't know what to do if you handed them one. According to Wikipedia:

The wider acceptance and better security of the alternatives such as credit and debit cards has meant a significant decline in the use of travelers cheques since the 1990s. In addition, the security issues for retailers accepting travelers cheques has meant that many businesses no longer accept them, making them less attractive to travelers. This has led to complaints about the difficulty that holders have in using them. In much of Europe and Asia, the cheques are no longer widely accepted and can not easily be cashed, even at the banks that issue the cheques.

That is a good point. You might be able to cash/use travelers checks in hotels and maybe larger supermarkets, but a lot of small-town businesses may be hesitant to accept them.

I worked in a hostel for five years, and we did accept travelers checks. But I rarely encountered them, maybe 10-20 total in that span of time. It seemed that most folks who used them either didn't have credit cards or were very adverse to using credit cards.

Pacific Northwest / Re: Thoughts on my plan for the Pacific Northwest
« on: March 18, 2012, 03:28:29 pm »
As far as the first day goes, I basically live at the ferry terminal on the mainland, so Vancouver was a bit misleading.

Tsawassen, you mean? Does this mean you'll use the BC Ferry to Swartz Bay, then bike the 30km along the Lochside Trail into Victoria, then take the Coho ferry to Port Angeles? That's totally doable, so long as you're cognisant of ferry schedules, esp. with the Coho. Looks like the last ferry you'd want to catch out of Victoria would be 3pm. The last ferry of the day is at 7:30 which would be tight for getting to Salt Creek unless you wanted to ride in the dark. Of course you could stay in Port Angeles if that scenario happens. (This is assuming you'll be riding during the summer.)

Gear Talk / Re: Wheel Skewer verses Bolt
« on: March 16, 2012, 03:17:09 pm »
But wheel theft isn't that common.

Well, touring through rural areas, yes. But in cities, it is more common. I regularly pass by bicycles locked up here in Portland with front/rear/both wheels missing. Of course, many of those bikes were only frame-locked and may have sat overnight. But I do know some folks who have gotten a front wheel yanked when they left a bike locked for only a few hours. So it's a good idea to lock wheels and frame in an urban area. For that reason my bikes either have skewers or bolt-on wheels.

And Portland has gotten to the point where thieves are starting to prey on Brooks saddles as well.

Pacific Northwest / Re: Thoughts on my plan for the Pacific Northwest
« on: March 16, 2012, 01:02:26 am »
Sounds like a good trip you got planned there! I agree with johnsondasw that there is abundant scenery on this ride.

Day 1 - Aug 1, My Home (Vancouver BC, Canada) to Salt Creek Campsite Washington - approx. 60km

You're talking about Salt Creek west of Port Angeles, right? I'm a bit confused by your start point, though. Do you mean Vancouver Island or the City of Vancouver? If it's the former, I can see it as a reasonable first day assuming you're taking the ferry from Victoria. If it's the latter, I don't know of any route between Salt Creek and the Terminal City that's going to be 60km. You'd have to break it into a few more days.

Day 3 - Aug 3, Neah Bay to Bogachiel State Park - 82km
Day 4 - Aug 4, Bogachiel State Park to Lake Quinnault (one of three camp grounds) - 100km

I would say if you had the time, break this section down a little bit. A lot of the cool stuff, stuff worth seeing on this section of the Olympic Peninsula, requires side trips from US 101, the main road. And you don't see the actual coast except for an approximately 15 km section between Ruby Beach and South Beach (between Bogachiel and Quinault.) If you had an extra day or two here to play with, you could take a side trip to Rialto Beach, which is a 30 km round-trip, or the Hoh Rainforest (70 km round-trip.) And when we rode through the area in 2010, the National Park campground on the north side of Quinault was closed, but the two U.S.F.S. campgrounds on the south side were open.

Day 8 - Aug 8, Nahalem Bay to Portland (Sister-in-law's house) 153km

Have you figured out which route you'd take inland from Nehalem Bay to Portland? There's a few options, but I would avoid US 26 if possible. While it's the most direct option, it's also the busiest, with narrow shoulders and three good climbs. The other routes will take more time, though.

General Discussion / Re: Campgrounds and bear boxes
« on: March 16, 2012, 12:41:23 am »
When we went through North Cascades at Newhalem, the signs said it was bear habitat, etc.  I asked the campground host if they had a way to store our food, since we didn't have the bear barrel.  He told me they hadn't seen bears in years.  Couple days later, when we found cell coverage, my wife had a fit.  She'd found a journal of a guy who'd actually seen a bear in the campground we were staying within 10 days of our arrival.

I was in that site in 2009. I overheard a ranger saying there were no bears in the area.  At that point a tourist showed us a photo he had taken of a bear 500 yards away 30 minutes earlier.

pdlamb and irc, was this campsite Colonial Creek Campground in North Cascades N.P. (the last campsite on the west side before Washington/Rainy Passes?) We got that same line last year as well!

The good news is they finally got some bear boxes. I believe they were brand new for the 2011 season. The bad news (and we learn this after we already set up camp) is the bear boxes are all the way on the far side of the other loop. They were so new that they're not marked on the map, so there was no way to figure this out beforehand. We only learned about their whereabouts after questioning the camp host. (We assumed that they would be evenly scattered through the entire campground as they are in Olympic and Glacier National Parks. Not so, obviously.)

But not to worry! They haven't seen a bear in a camp in a while, says the host, who is safely ensconced in their metal RV.

Since we didn't feel like taking down camp nor hauling our odorous items 1/2 mile from where we're camping, what we ended up doing instead was store our needed items in the "utility sink room" in the bathroom building. The door opens outward, so a bear couldn't push the door in to get in. And the campground was pretty sparse so we weren't worried about other people going through our stuff.

My favorite "Don't worry about bears" story was at a commercial campground/RV park in the Swan Valley in Montana (Great Parks North Route, between Missoula and Glacier). When we asked the owner if we should be concerned about bears, he said "Oh, I wouldn't worry! I have seen one in camp since, oh, Tuesday." We locked up our stuff in the laundry room this time.

General Discussion / Re: Campgrounds and bear boxes
« on: March 15, 2012, 08:05:52 pm »
You will definitely find them in Glacier N.P., will likely be reminded by campground hosts and/or rangers to use them and catch hell if you don't.

Yep, use those bear boxes in Glacier! I actually dealt with a bear who casually walked through my camp at Two Medicine Campground in Glacier last year. They are around!

There were none at the Town Campsite in Waterton Village when we were there in '09, and I cannot imagine them being needed. You have to be more worried about the deer.

The main campsite in Waterton Village now has bear boxes. They seem to be used more for people's garbage, though. The deer wander anywhere in the town and will wander through the campsite. The "biggest" thing to worry about is all the Columbian Ground Squirrels. They will run over your table and enter your tent if you leave it unzipped.

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.

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