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Messages - tsteven4

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General Discussion / Re: Just the Bear essentials
« on: July 07, 2011, 07:53:48 pm »
Be aware that much of the California section is shoulder-less two-lane road with lots of turns and a good amount of truck traffic (55 mph).  Can be done but it won't be relaxing by any means.  I wouldn't want to try it myself.

I couldn't agree more.  We rode from Grants Pass to Crescent City on 199 last year.  The California section was by far the most dangerous road we traveled between Portland, OR and LA.  I nearly ended up squished between the flatbed trailer of a semi rig and a rock wall next to the road.  It was so close I felt I had to pull my elbows in.  This involved a professional truck driver who made a very poor decision to pass on a corner with oncoming traffic.  But if you live through that Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park is very very nice.

Our experience matched the ACA map between Lander and Rawlins - small store at sweetwater, bar with food and camping at the lions club park in jeffrey city.  the lions club park is a cement pad with tables, shelter from the wind from two directions, shade and plenty of tumbleweeds (free, apparently unmaintained).   It was quite cold mid summer when we were there (2004).  We got water on the other side of the street near some apparently abandoned  barracks.  There might have been a motel open in jeffrey city, it looked questionable.   When we were there jeffrey city appeared to be barely hanging on, I believe the mining had fallen on hard times.  There was a restaurant between jeffrey city and rawlins, but we were going S to N and didn't stop there.  You can gander at the map and waypoints here  I don't recall any problematic road conditions between Boulder and Bozeman, other than construction in Yellowstone and lots of broken glass on the road near Lander.  There is a stretch on I80 east of rawlins, but the shoulder is very wide. 

By the way there was very nice hiker biker camping at Jenny Lake in the Tetons.  This is a smaller sought after campground, the nicest we stayed in in the Tetons Yellowstone area.  Personally I can't imagine not camping in the West so you may need to listen to somebody else on the accommodation recommendations.

I haven't been to Idaho from Yellowstone, but from Yellowstone N on the great parks route to Jasper is fantastic, especially Glacier/Waterton/Banff/Jasper NPs.  We deviated somewhat and went through West Yellowstone/Ennis/Bozeman/Helena/Lincoln.  Don't miss the Going to the Sun road (i.e. Logan Pass) in Glacier if you head that way.

Routes / Re: Gt Divide Snow
« on: June 11, 2011, 09:12:25 am »
maps showing the snow depth at observing stations (updated daily):  (looking good!)

google earth snow information (updated daily):
These graphically show SWE = snow water equivalent as a percentage of normal, but if you click on a station you can get the snow depth.  Sometimes it will say "Snow Depth: -99.9 inches", but if you click the "Site Info" link the data may be available.  The "Site Info" will also let you see the data for the last 7 days, so you can see how fast the depth is changing.
You can overlay the great divide route with this link:

Rocky Mountain / Re: Bosie to Salt Lake City (Heber UT) route help
« on: May 14, 2011, 09:42:01 am »
Not sure if you really want to go to Boise and SLC, but if this isn't a requirement you could take the Lewis & Clark route from Portland OR to Lolo MT, and the Great Parks Route to Allenspark, CO, nearly door to door on AC routes.  Online maps and google earth files are available here:

Routes / Re: Pac Coast: CA Park Closures Slated for later 2011
« on: May 14, 2011, 09:01:07 am »
Other pacific coast route parks on the closure list include Del Norte Coast Redwoods SP near Crescent City, Standish-Hickey SRA near Leggett, Russian Gulch SP near Mendocino, McGrath SB near Ventura.

Gear Talk / Re: Rain Covers AND Plastic Bags
« on: May 04, 2011, 08:17:18 pm »
But after a few days, the plastic bags get holes in them

Not my experience, my plastic bags have survived 4 month trips hole free.  I use thick garbage bags from the hardware store.  I double them, but I am paranoid.  Sometimes I get my paranoia under control and use a thinner inner bag.   I twist the top of the inner bag and tuck it in, and the twist the top of the outer bag and tuck it in.  Both are bags are inside the pannier.  I do leave my tools, which are in a nylon zip bag, underneath the plastic bags at the bottom of a pannier.  I do believe the tools could wear a whole in a plastic bag if they were inside one.  My experience is that this will stand up to torrential and sustained rain.  However, the bags do consume a bit of room.  And it is a pain to get in and out.

My wish for you is that whatever system you decide on goes untested on the road, let the sun shine!

Routes / Re: Paris to Prague to
« on: May 02, 2011, 08:09:58 pm »
Eurovelo  has a lot of routes, many of which are being developed.  See and

From personal experience it is very easy to wing it buying maps as you go and putting together the route as it happens.   I would tend to pick the smaller roads, which you may not consider "highways", because I think they are more enjoyable.  Most European maps have color coded roads indicating the the nature of the road.  For example on the Michelin maps in France the little roads are white (my favorite), one step up is yellow, and another step above that is red (which you may want to avoid).  See

The Passau to Wien (Vienna) bike route along the Donau (Danube) is a kick. 

General Discussion / Re: Shakedown Trip, still concerned
« on: April 28, 2011, 07:52:30 pm »

You should be concerned if you are attempting the WE in the summer!  I have posted in this forum about our experiences.  My recommendation would be to emulate the local population: "Almost all desert animals are smart enough to stay out of the sun during the hottest part of the day."  We got in a lot of miles before sunrise, this strategy worked very well.  It is a great route, but not for the unprepared.


Gear Talk / Re: Ground Cloth Recommends
« on: April 21, 2011, 07:56:50 am »
Like staehpj1 I also have gone from plastic sheeting to nothing.  With a waterproof sheet you must be very careful about the edges sticking out from under the tent.  Any rain running off the tent that lands on top of the sheet can run under the tent and create a pool for you to lie in.  I also don't believe that using a sheet under the tent extends the tents life.  The wear issues with the many tents I have owned are i) the coating on the fly fails which leads to water getting into the tent from above ii) the zipper on the door/net fails which can lead to water and mosquitoes getting in the tent.

I have one bike with 8 speed barcons and lx RD-M567.  no issues, high miles.
My wifes bike has 9 speed barcons and lx RD-M570.   This worked for many years fine, then it got sluggish on shifts from larger to smaller cogs, especially to the smallest cog from its neighbor, when the spring couldn't get the job done.  It would get to the point that it took a very long time to make the shift to the smallest cog.  The cable would be slack, the limit screw was properly set and not limiting the real derailleur.  Many minutes after attempting this shift it would sometimes drop in.  Cleaning and lubing the derailleur pivots helped for a while, but eventually this did not restore satisfactory performance.  Note that I wouldn't expect the friction shifting mode to help this situation at all.  Friction shifting would not strengthen the spring or reduce the friction it needs to overcome.  Replaced with xt shadow rd-m772.  no issues, but the cable routing goes a bit wide leaving the derailleur and may touch your panniers.  moderate miles on the 772.
I have another bike with 9 speed barcons and xt RD-M750.  no issues, but I haven't had this bike long and it has low miles.

Rocky Mountain / Re: Fry Canyon Lodge
« on: January 23, 2011, 04:37:17 pm »
In 2003 we camped in a dirt parking lot in Hite.  ONE HUNDRED FIFTEEN DEGREES.  It was not reasonable to get to Lake Powell as the water was very low that year and it would have involved tramping through a lot of mud.  The park service had an outdoor shower at the rest room.  We took showers every 15 minutes in a tee shirt to help with the heat.  There was an air conditioned store.  I think the rented some bungalows as well.  We might have stayed at Fry Canyon lodge, but we called ahead and they were going to be closed when we went by.

At times we carried two gallons of water each.  Most cyclist we saw ran out of water on the section between Milford, UT and Baker NV.  We left Milford at 3am at made it to the Border Inn on Hwy 50 (off route) at about 1pm.  Two gallons each was sufficient for us given the early start.  We had called ahead to Baker and the accommodations were all booked so we went to the Border Inn.  Never having seen the accommodations in Baker I have to believe they are a better choice than the Border Inn, but the Border Inn did have food and lodging.

I would highly recommend you strive to be self sufficient.  There are few if any opportunities for water between towns for many sections.  Other cyclist told us they spent many hours besides the side of the road trying to get someone to stop when they ran out of water.  People seem to be afraid to stop on some of the lonely sections such as the one  between Baker and Milford, and there is very little traffic, I seem to remember one car an hour.  Our strategy of starting early (rolling between 3-5am) and arriving around noon worked well.  The sun rises are spectacular.  Carry lots of water anyway, although you will use less when you ride in the cooler parts of the day/night.  Of course another strategy would be not to ride in July (or August)!

Be aware of the possibility rattlesnakes on the shoulder or road.  They can be difficult to spot off the road in the dirt and brush, at times you may want to just pee in the road.

Routes / Re: CO Routes 145, 50, & 160 - Safety?
« on: January 13, 2011, 02:01:29 pm »
145, placerville to cortez, loved it, quite scenic
160, cortez to del norte, liked it, quite a bit more traffic at times.  mesa verde is a worthwhile detour, yes it is uphill to the CG, and a bit of a ride from the CG to the ruins, count on a day for a loop to the ruins from and back to the CG.
50, poncha spring to montrose, liked it, can have strong winds blowing from the West around Blue Mesa Reservoir.
Ok, I at least like about everything!

I don't recall any of these inciting much fear, other than a section with CDOT dump trucks roaring by at 50mph on the gravel when we couldn't keep up with the pace vehicle in a construction zone.

550 from durango to ridgeway is a worthy alternative to 145.

If you don't mind some 4wd road you can get from silverton over cinnamon pass to lake city (not for the faint of heart, count on some pushing), then take 149 N.  See which also covers some of 160, 550, 145.

From Blue Mesa Reservoir you can take 92 NW, 133 NE, 82 SE through Aspen over Independence Pass, 24 N, 91N to I70, bike path E to 6 over Loveland Pass, I70 corridor E mostly on frontage roads.  Yes, I am not one for straight lines.  Don't know how you would get through Denver if you are heading east though.  If you want to go north from around Idaho Springs watch out for Black Hawk, where cycling is against the law!

Lovely riding in western Colorado, I would highly recommend it.  Be prepared for cold mornings (~40 but could be a bit colder) in the mountains in summer.

There is a CDOT map with shoulder ratings and traffic volumes,  For a hard copy of the Colorado Scenic Byways & Bicycle Map, send your name and mailing address to

Routes / Re: Elevation chart for Atlantic Coast route?
« on: September 12, 2010, 07:53:46 pm »
Here is a crude profile from the ACA gps data supplemented with elevation data.  The points are sparse so the elevation and cumulative distance in the profile are rough.  For better viewing you can download the image from

Alternatively you can download a kml file of the route at  Recent versions of google earth will be able to display a profile of any section of this route.  To get GE to generate a profile expand the routes in the places pane on the left.  Right click on the section of your choice and select "show elevation profile".


General Discussion / Re: Airplane Travel
« on: August 11, 2010, 09:17:26 am »
I agree about keeping the box reasonably light, but my reason is to make it easier to handle.  I hope that a light box will be treated more carefully than a heavy one.  The items I suggested loading in the box do not add much weight.  

The rules are covered in the airlines "Contract of Carriage".  You can get these from the airlines websites.  Sometimes they are a bit ambiguous.  I would recommend you are familiar with the Contract of Carriage for your airline as i) ticket agents usually are not and often tell you erroneous information ii) to help resolve any issues with a gate agent.

For SWA their website says:
Non-motorized Bicycles, including Bike Friday and Co-Pilot, will be accepted in substitution of a free piece of checked baggage at no additional charge provided the bicycle is properly packaged and the box containing the bicycle fits within the 62-inch sizing limit and weighs 50 lbs or less . (Maximum weight is 50 pounds and maximum size is 62 inches (length + width + height) per checked piece of luggage). The handlebars, kickstand, and pedals must be removed and placed inside the box. A $50.00 each-way charge applies to bicycles that don’t meet the above criteria. Bicycles packaged in a cardboard box or soft-sided case will be transported as a conditionally accepted item.

The contract of carriage in section 7(g) makes an exception for bicycles:
g. Special Items
The items listed below shall be acceptable for Carriage as Checked Baggage upon the Passenger's compliance with the special packing requirements and payment of the applicable One-way charge.
Bicycle (defined as nonmotorized and having a single seat) properly packed in a bicycle box or hardsided case larger than 62 inches in total dimensions will be accepted as Checked Baggage. Pedals and handlebars must be removed and packaged in protective materials so as not to be damaged by or cause damage to other Baggage. Bicycles packaged in cardboard or softsided cases will be transported as conditionally accepted items as outlined in Section 7h.

We used to check the remainder in a cardboard box, but now as I mentioned we carry it on.  I feel it is one less thing for the airlines to lose.  I have done box/carry on method I outlined many times (10 times post 9/11) without difficulty, other than a damaged bike 1x, and two lost bikes 1x.  The lost bikes were found after two hours.  The location of the lost bikes was resolved in part because I had seen them loaded on the plane, I think it is worth watching from the gate.  My only concern with this method would be the carry on size restrictions and your ability to meet them (or slide by).  For SWA this is
Southwest Airlines limits carryon bag dimensions to 10x16x24 inches.
 IMO this is the best argument for the extra box/suitcase method, but it has never been an issue for us.  As a back up you likely could gate check your panniers, but on some airlines their will be an additional charge.  We have never had to do this.

Wearing your helmet on is a great conversation starter with passengers, TSA, etc.  It explains why you are appear a bit odd, and people generally respect/admire/envy you for your adventure.

A box that is a bit bigger will make a large difference in how hard it is to pack.  For example uline has a 56x10x32 box,  They are a bit pricey considering the minimum order and shipping, but it is a nice size.  Be aware that some airlines have an upper limit on L+H+W.  The upper limits I have seen are in the range of 109-114 inches.  SWA does not appear to state an upper limit for bicycles.

Here are some examples of the bike in the box.  The wider box makes it a bit easier on the front wheel.  Note the home made wooden spreader through the front wheel, the fork spreader, and the removed rear derailleur.

General Discussion / Re: Airplane Travel
« on: August 10, 2010, 08:37:46 am »
After many years we arrived at the following system.
We put the sleeping pad, tent poles, pot, stove, knife, any liquids in bottles > 3oz, stove, non-cycling shoes (e.g. crocs), water bottles, pump and a nearly empty front pannier in the bike box.  Make sure everything is tied or taped in in case the box gets ripped open.  Everything else, including sleeping bag and tent, goes in the rear panniers, which are snapped to each other.  Tools that aren't sharp under 7" can be carried on.  A strap that we normally use to tie stuff to the rear rack is used so the panniers can be carried over the shoulder without your hands.  This is our "carry on".  The other front pannier, which is also nearly empty, is our "personal item".  We wear the helmet, cycling shoes, rain jacket and a fair amount of our non-cycling clothes.  You CANNOT take any fuel for your stove.  While this system has not caused any issues with any airlines SWA did manage to drop one of our bikes exploding the box and bending a wheel on our most recent trip.  Good Luck.

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