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Messages - tsteven4

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GPS Discussion / Re: Computer GPS vs ACA maps
« on: January 16, 2013, 06:40:06 am »
Hey newfydog,

Where was the Dakota in Lockhart Basin?  I seem to remember we got "lost" twice on one trip!

I think it is a matter of personal preference.  I prefer the minimal technology approach, paper for me.

I discovered some very nice places while I have been lost.  It is best to have a little extra gas in the tank though for the unexpected.

Routes / Re: Paris to the South of France (Mediterranean), and beyond
« on: November 26, 2012, 04:44:47 pm »
I'll second the "D" road or "white road" suggestion.  You just can't go wrong in France riding roads which are white on a Michelin 1:200000 scale.

and white roads with a green line next to them are even better.   the green indicates a tourist route, i.e. scenic.  yellow are a bit bigger than white but can be fine cycling.  red is to be avoided.

    red = International and national road network
   yellow =Interregional and less congested road network
   white = Regional or local road network

        green parallel line to road = Tourist route

Here is the last installment, Wallace to Thompson Falls.,-105.550567&sspn=6.026675,13.392334&t=h&z=11

This was a bit of a crazy way to go if you believe in straight lines, but if you believed in taking the shortest way from home to home you would stay home.  This is the day with 4 baby foxes frolicking in the road, a heard of elk, a moose, and more bald eagles than we could count.  It starts with Dobson pass, which has a big reputation as a steep climb.  For us it was just beautiful.  The road is actually closed a bit past the top due to a bit of a slide, but it was easily passable.   Thompson Pass is more of a wide open highway compared to the little forest road that is Dobson Pass.  The state park at Thompson Falls, where the maps ends, had plenty of room for us, although I guess we were lucky that the high water discouraged the normal boater and left room for us.

From here to Missoula there are two main choices, and this is the wea.  Hwy 200 or Hwy 200 to 135 to I90/frontage.  The south half of Hwy 200 goes through a reservation and we were told it would not be possible for us to stay there.  On the other hand there are lots of camping possibilities on 135 and in the I90 corridor.  We started west on 135 to check out Quinn's Hot Springs Resort with the intention of going back to 200 the next morning.  They wanted $120, so we moved on and ended up taking 135 to St. Regis and then the I90 corridor to Missoula.  It is very hard to get route information in the I90 corridor, the locals will tell you to just ride I90.  The only good advice we got, and it couldn't have been better, was from a Montana state trooper.  We ended up riding a combination of I90 and frontage roads.  The section of Old Hwy 10 that goes by Sloway campground was nice.   The Mullen Rd E is nice south from Superior while it lasts.  One particularly nice section the trooper told us about is Old Hwy 10 W near where the Fish Creek Road hits I90.  There is a bridge that is closed to vehicles but open to hikers and cyclists, so there is no traffic.  In between these bits we were on I90, though other possibilities probably exist.  We left I90 for good at Frenchtown, by then I90 is quite busy. 

We considered a much more adventurous route from 135 up Siegal Creek connecting with 9 mile road.  Much of that is dirt, and there is a big climb up Siegal creek.  Navigation skills are probably called for.

Here is another installment, Spokane to Plummer,-117.101898&sspn=0.65832,1.674042&t=m&z=11

The South Valley Chapel/East Valley Chapel section is fantastic.  I had heard people talk about the beauty of this region and I didn't understand, but riding that made me a believer.  We unfortunately missed the turn to South Chatcolet/East Chatcolet and continued straight on E. Hoxie Rd/278/58 to 95.  I imagine the Chatcolet section was very nice.  The part on 95 is grim.  The Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes intersects 95 in the north end of Plummer.  Continue into Plummer if you need supplies.

The Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes is well known and deserves its fine reputation.  The western 50 miles are especially amazing, another jewel.   The campground at Hawleys Landing in Heyburn State park has some very nice tent sites near the water.  The Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes was the carrot that made us do this NT/TA connection.  While it was a highlight, it turned out to be just one of many.

I will add another installment or two, there is another jewel yet to come.

Here are some detail on the approach to Spokane. 
You can download the kml file here:
or view it on a google map here:,-105.550567&sspn=6.026675,13.392334&t=h&z=11

North of Loon Lake we found 395 to be reasonable and enjoyable.  South of Loon Lake it is getting busy and unpleasant.  This route leaves 395 a few miles south of Loon Lake.  The riding is quite enjoyable.  There are a few short steep hills at the south end of Swenson Road.  We were told by a local cyclist the few miles on 291 can be hazardous during commuting hours, but we found it acceptable on a Sunday afternoon.  It is highly recommended to cross the river near nine mile dam as shown to get on the Spokane River Centennial Trail, which is fantastic, a real jewel.  This section ends at a dirt trail that takes you to a foot bridge that crosses the river to the Bowl and Pitcher park.  The final 100 feet of the bridge approach on the west side is quite difficult walking with a loaded touring bike, unfortunately the recent "improvements" were done without apparent consideration for cyclist.  We were less than impressed with the campground, it was expensive and crowded, but that's city living for you.   Following this section I recommend crossing the bridge to the west side again and continuing south on the Spokane River Centennial Trail.

I will post some other recommended bits on the route to Missoula as I have time.

We did a combination Northern Tier/Trans Am from Mount Vernon, WA to Boulder CO this year  We left the NT at Colville,WA, and picked up the Trans Am in Missoula, MT (Spokane, Plummer, Wallace, Thompson Falls, St. Regis).  A feature of this route is the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes  There is also some beautiful riding in the Palouse region of WA.  We took a bit crazy route over Dobson Pass in ID to Thompson Falls and were rewarded with a liter of foxes, a herd of elk, a moose, and countless bald eagles.  I could fill out of few details of some very nice but somewhat obscure roads we found if you are interested.

On the other hand, Glacier NP is highly recommended as well and that route is well documented by the ACA.

Gear Talk / Re: Touring Bikes - Surly LHT vs Novarra Randonee
« on: November 12, 2012, 05:34:53 pm »
I would check out bruce gordon  I believe he has some 56cm Taiwanese BLTs left.  I have a Japanese BLT and my wife has a Petaluma BLT; 10,000miles is just a warmup for these puppies.  I am 5'11" and ride a 52cm BLT or a 51cm R&R ex, so the 56 might fit.  Of course he will make you a R&R in what ever size, but they are quite a bit more than the bikes you listed.

Routes / Re: Info. on Reno to Yosemite N.P.
« on: November 04, 2012, 08:03:40 am »
You can ride S Virginia/old 395 from Reno, over Ebbetts/Pacific Grade on Hwy 4, back over Sonora Pass on Hwy 108 and it will line you up for Tioga on Hwy 120.  As I recall Hwy 4 didn't have much of a shoulder approaching Calaveras Big Trees State Park.  Be aware that the west side of Sonora has a bit at a 26% grade, the east has a 23% bit.  An advantage of doing Sonora loaded is your front wheel will stay on the ground!  Sonora Pass is exceptionally beautiful.  The Carson Pass, Ebbets Pass and Monitor Pass area is home to the Death Ride.

Alternatively you could join the Sierra Cascades at Woodfords, and climb over Monitor Pass to get back to 395.  Or you could skip all these bonus climbs and just stay on 395 until Hwy 120.

If you are up for the climbing and have the time I would highly recommend the Ebbetts/Sonora variation. 

General Discussion / Re: Tales of Calamity and Woe
« on: October 31, 2012, 05:51:57 pm »
After 40 years of cycling:
1) all the ball bearings leaked out of one freewheel, fortunately some kind soul gave me a ride.
2) countless broken spokes, but none after I started riding hand build wheels from Bruce Gordon in Petaluma or Vecchio's Bicicletteria in Boulder.
3) a couple of broke chains.  no big deal if you have a chain tool.
4) lost rear rack bolt, best to carry spares and use loctite.  Weld failure on a blackburn rear rack, a u clamp from a hardware store got me going.
5) a broken seat in England, but they have pubs to help with the discomfort.
6) a broken rear axle in Crested Butte.  Don't loosen that quick release until you are at the shop and you probably will be able to ride there.
7) total failure of a Maillard Helicomatic hub in France, fortunately within hitchhiking distance of what was probably the only bike shop that still had a dusty replacement in back.
8) a broken toe clip back in the day, not a common failure mode in these times.
9) lost a screw on a cleat, lost a screw in a clipless pedal.  In Switzerland they broke apart a cleat set and sold me one cleat screw, in Lander Gannett Peak Sports donated a screw from a retired pedal.  Thanks.
10) total failure of a front brake cable stop descending Col de la Bonette on our day off, i.e. we left the panniers at camp.  Miraculously I was going slowly or else the list could have ended here.  TEST YOUR BRAKES, pull on then occasionally very hard while stopped to make sure nothing slips or vaporizes like that cable stop.  Look for frayed cables, including inside the brake lever.
11) a occasionally slipping, but not totally clutchless, Shimano LX freehub, it took from Colorado until nearly Nevada to find a replacement.  Kudos to Cedar Cycle in Cedar City UT who replaced it after hours, it was a relief to get that fixed before heading across Nevada.
12) a cracked frame racing a thunderstorm and some dirt bikes down Pearl pass.  I won, but it was the last trip for the Bridgestone MB1.
13) a broken seat rail leaving Vancouver, Canada.  This hurt, but eventually I got to a bike store in Bellingham WA.  Thanks to some Sunday truck stop mechanics at the border who donated a hose clamp the last half of that was ridden with a sort of level seat.
14) a couple of wheels trashed by the airlines, in one case the boxed bike was thrown on top of a luggage cart and slid off somewhere on the runway in Denver.  The exploded box was described by an airline employee as "opened for inspection by TSA"  HAH!

None of these was a calamity, but that cable stop failure could have been the end.

General Discussion / Re: Posting Images to Forum
« on: October 13, 2012, 10:11:20 am »
It comes down to what Fred said
Click the Image icon, then put the URL of the image itself, not the web page, between the img and /img bracketed key words.

do this:

which will result in this:

GPS Discussion / Re: How do you use the Adventure Cycling GPS waypoints?
« on: September 11, 2012, 05:07:30 pm »

Glad you had a good time in CO.  Lin and I enjoyed our transit through MT as well.

For my purposes I don't care if you rename all the waypoints every time you update the database, the names aren't too descriptive anyway.  I don't rename them myself.   However, it might cause some confusion in communication as we couldn't refer to a common name across versions.  I think automation is the way to go, once the process is working it should be more consistent and less laborious.


Gear Talk / Re: Chain repair
« on: September 07, 2012, 03:16:37 pm »
A piece of string works pretty well, although it may take 3 hands, one for each end of the string and one to squeeze.  This chain was clean, but in my experience it works well with old dirty chains as well.

GPS Discussion / Re: GPS Data Wish List
« on: August 23, 2012, 06:45:02 pm »
The folders exist only on her computer, not in the Zip file.

Fred, the directory structure, i.e. the path or folder information, is saved in the zip file.  Look at the Path column in your WinZip listing.   Usually this directory structure is recreated by default when the file is unzipped.  I can continue to work around it if necessary, it isn't a big deal.

GPS Discussion / Re: GPS Data Wish List
« on: August 23, 2012, 04:31:20 pm »
For practical production reasons, GPX and its Garmin extensions are likely to remain our mainstay.
GPX is great.

The distributed data contain no folders. A single Zip file contains all the data for one ACA route.

I was referring to the files and folders within the zipfile for each route.
Some examples of small inconsistencies are:
1) the sierra cascades gpx files are in the root directory of the zipfile, while those for all others are in a sub-directory,
2) the sub directories are usually named something like "UC01v004 Folder", but there are two cases where the directory name does not include " Folder", these are AM01v002/AM01v002.gpx and GM01v003/GM01v003.gpx
3) Sometimes Folder uses an upper case F and sometimes a lower case f.
4) usually the gpx files use a lower case v, but the following use an upper case V instead:
GD01v009 Folder/GD01V009.gpx   
GD02v009 Folder/GD02V009.gpx   
GD03v009 Folder/GD03V009.gpx   
GD04v009 Folder/GD04V009.gpx   
GD05v009 Folder/GD05V009.gpx   
GD06v009 Folder/GD06V009.gpx   
WE01v008 Folder/WE01V008.gpx
4) the pdf files mix the case of the v as well.
5) the great divide pdf file has an extra digit, GDAboutV0011.pdf
I will grant you that all of these issues are nearly insignificant, but consistency would make automated processing of the data easier.

GPS Discussion / Re: GPS Data Wish List
« on: August 23, 2012, 06:19:11 am »
Here are some nits I would wish for assuming that the data continues to be distributed in gpx format:

7. Add elevations (gpx ele elements) for all waypoints (gpx wpt elements) and routepoints (gpx rtept elements, but not necessarily gpx extensions rpt elements).  Today I toss all the ele elements and fetch them from or if that fails from and build a SQL database of elevations.  This gives me elevations for all points, but the validity is problematic on bridges and tunnels as they fetched points will be on the surface, which in these cases is not where the route is.  The elevation data is useful in displaying profiles, although because of the sparsity of the gpx rtepts they are rough.  If your software cannot fetch the elevation data I could help with software but in my experience this is non-trivial and requires some maintenance as the web servers and protocols change with time.
8. Delete all times, i.e. (gpx time elements).  I don't think these are meaningful for the ACA data and they can cause difficulties when viewing the routes in some tools, e.g. google earth.  I could provide software to this if you don't want to take care of it upstream of the gpx file creation.
9. Delete all gpx extension Depth elements.  There are only two in the entire set today, and they are used incorrectly.   I could provide software to this if you don't want to take care of it upstream of the gpx file creation.
10. Validate all distributed gpx files.  While I haven't found invalid gpx files from ACA, invalid files are a common cause of issues reported on the gpsbabel mailing list. I can supply software to do this.  Note that this step doesn't change anything, it just guarantees that the gpx files that are about to be distributed obey the rules for gpx files as defined in the appropriate XML schema documents (xsd files).
11.  Consistently organize and name the folders and files for each route, including case and blanks in directory and file names.  These makes automated processing easier.

And one that I consider more important:

12. Have contiguous route segments, gpx rte elements, share a route point (gpx rtept).  This make display of the overall route appear as one, instead of a bunch of separate and disconnected segments.  Accidental violations of this are the most common reason I write Jennifer.

And one major request:

13. Continue to provide public access to all the gpx data, including the points of interest and route data.  There was an article in one of last years magazines that stated that points of interest data would be restricted to members in the future.  To me it seems restricting access to the points of interest is in conflict with the ACAs mission "Adventure Cycling Association inspires and empowers people to travel by bicycle."  I am concerned that a revised policy on the waypoint data might prevent me from providing online viewing tools and google earth files to the public, and I certainly believe the maps at inspire and empower people to travel by bicycle. 

I question 5, the separation of the point of interest (wpt) and route (rtept and rpt) data.  I see this as a violation of 6, "keep open and accessible across multiple platforms".  I think the separation is convenient for some applications, e.g. mdxix seems to want this, but I am not convinced this is generally desirable.  I would prefer they remain together.

I am still unsure of what Jennifer meant by "Do you like/use the sample routes provided?".  Can you cite an example of a sample route?  In 3 Fred seems to imply a sample route just corresponds to the route as shown on a paper map panel.

Thanks for all your work and including us in the conversation.

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