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Messages - indyfabz

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General Discussion / Re: If you only had a couple of weeks?
« on: Today at 09:52:30 am »
I'll be doing my third loop tour from/to Missoula, MT starting on June 14. Ten days of riding with the opportunity for a rest day or breaking one day into two shorter days. All camping except for one night in a motel in Butte, but even there you can camp if you don't mind a KOA near I-90. Some relatively short days. Some long days. (IIRC, the longest day is 80 miles but with little elevation gain.) Thing is, there are some mountains. There is also some dirt riding. Most of the dirt is benign, and there are workarounds for all of it. However, there is one 20 miles stretch that has some climbing and descending and washboards in places. The only workaround for that stretch adds some noticeable miles. Eliminating another 30 mile (but slightly down hill) stretch diminishes the beauty of the route.

Logistically, Missoula is an easy place to start a tour for me. I can fly to MSO from the east coast and take a short taxi ride to the pretty quiet KOA on the west end of town. I ship my bike to REI, which is a two block walk from the KOA, and it's ready to ride when I arrive. REI holds my bike box and duffle bag and I pick up fuel for the stove and any last minute items I may need. The next morning I shove off. When I finish, I drop the bike off at REI, give them the shipping documents, pick up my duffel bag and go have a beer.

In terms of meeting people, the first two days and some of day three follow the popular Trans Am route. After a detour off that route you rejoin it at Twin Bridges and take it for another day to Ennis before leaving it for good. From there, you end up on the L&C for a bit. Last time I rode out that way I encountered at least a dozen people doing the Trans Am or L&C and I didn't do the mileage to Ennis that year. This year my penultimate night on the road will be spent in a town where ACA's Cycle Montana supported tour will be staying.

Send me a PM if would like details, including a route map with elevation profile.

Routes / Re: TransAm trail - how fit
« on: May 02, 2016, 07:35:55 am »
When I did the Northern Tier we went off route a bit for camping and ended up doing Brandon Gap in Vermont instead of Middleburry Gap. It was the one climb of the entire trip I thought I might have to walk.

Where in northern NJ were you? I have done a little touring up there. Some nasty hill up there. The climb up Millbrook Rd. in the Delaware Water Gap NRA heading towards Blalrstown had me walking.

In any event, 26x36 should be o.k. Heading west, you will have some 8-9% stretches on Loup Loup Pass. Mazama to Washington Pass is about 16 miles, IIRC, but you won't encounter anything in the double digits. If you do the mileage from Cut Bank, MT into Alberta, there is a steep climb of about 5 miles heading back towards the MT border, but it's manageable if you pace yourself. BTW...I highly recommend not skipping that section. Waterton Village makes a great place for a rest day. The town campsite is in a dramatic setting, and there are boat ride and hike options.

Gear Talk / Re: "Adventure" bike for short rider?
« on: April 30, 2016, 09:54:04 am »
Let us know how those 28 spoke wheels hold up. There was previously a lot of discussion about them on another forum.

Pacific Northwest / Re: Weather related Norther Tier
« on: April 28, 2016, 01:43:45 pm »
The drop dead date for crossing Logan Pass this year is 10/16. With an early August start, you should be fine, but weather can close the pass earlier.

BTW...If you have never seen the plowing photos you should check them out:

General Discussion / Re: Black Hills Mickelson Trail and 38C tires
« on: April 26, 2016, 06:29:29 am »
Where was the pile of bikes at?   I would like to see that if possible.

It's right along the trail in Pringle, which you will pass through if you stay on the trail to U.S. 18 for Hot Springs.

I flew into and out of Rapid City. Shipped the bike to Cranky Jeff's.

Gear Talk / Re: Gear Inches for the Northern Tier
« on: April 25, 2016, 10:05:29 am »

Those pictures of Gibbons Pass make me want to be out there now.  I have the desire, tires, and other equipment to make it work.  Adventure Cycling's Lewis & Clark map 5 has Gibbons Pass mapped out well.  How did you determine if it was open?  Did you ask around in Sula (possibly at the ranger station there?) or is there another resource?

Right now the plan is to take Gibbons Pass.  Thanks for the pics and other information.  It makes planning even more fun.

No problem. Yes. You can stop at the ranger station in Sula assuming you are there on a weekday. When I was going to do it in '11, that's what we did. There was a ranger outside having a smoke. She told us the pass was not open. We started up the highway. After we got a few miles she chased us down and told us she had been mistaken. We weren't going to give back those miles so we stuck to the road.

In '14, I was there on a Saturday. The owner of the Sula store and campground suggested that I look around the employee housing behind the ranger station to see if I could find anyone. I couldn't find anyone so I took a leap of faith.

My advice is to ride on the left track on the way up. You don't want to topple over to your right on some stretches. It's a long way down. ;) One crazy thing is that, despite being in a remote area, I had cell phone reception going up. I took a photo and texted it to someone. Perhaps there are towers so that motorists on U.S. 93 can have service in the event of an emergency.

General Discussion / Re: Black Hills Mickelson Trail and 38C tires
« on: April 24, 2016, 03:59:20 pm »
and then down to Chadron, NE and then heading east on Hiway 20.   

If you want to try something really remote, take the trail to the end in Edgemont and then head south on SD 471 to SD 71 to NB 2 to Crawford and pick up U.S. 20 east to Chadron. I was supposed to do that as part of my trip but ended up bagging it for a couple of reasons. There is a municipal campground with showers in Edgemont. From there to Crawford there is nothing in the way f services. Even the state highway turns to gravel for a while. A guy I met at the campground in Edgemont said it's one of the most remote areas of Nebraska. I did ride a bit of it (maybe 10 miles out and then back) while in Edgemont. The only things I saw were trains and antelope.

Many of the trail sections are quite nice. You should really give it a go.  Here are some photos from my trip. The ones of/from the trail are obvious. (Note that the trail is paved in Deadwood and Custer.)

Routes / Re: El Nino impact on Sierra Cascade route this spring?
« on: April 21, 2016, 10:46:37 am »
Meh. I have circled Crater Lake twice. As long as you can make it across on the west side (e.g., up from OR 128 and down to OR 62, with a stop at the overlooks, including the lodge), circling is not worth the effort. You don't get a constant view of the lake, and both times I circled it road conditions were poor in places, especially on some descents. But if you do circle for bragging rights or whatever, make sure you take the short out and back to Cloud Cap Overlook.

General Discussion / Re: Black Hills Mickelson Trail and 38C tires
« on: April 21, 2016, 07:50:47 am »
BTW...If you can swing an extra day in Custer, riding Needle's Highway (SD 87 south from SD 89) is well wort it. Fabulous scenery.

Definitely go clockwise unless you like torture. I stayed just a bit outside the center of town, but there is a campground in town that's right off the trail. Heavily shaded tenting area, but it looked like it could be a bit buggy, especially since it's near a creek. The upside is that you can walk to the main drag a few blocks away, yet it's still pretty quiet back there:

Routes / Re: where can I buy aca maps.
« on: April 21, 2016, 07:24:24 am »
I have only seen one once. A bike shop in Seattle had the map for the nearby section of the Pacific Coast Route. I wouldn't count on it. If you decide before Pueblo call and have whatever you want sent to you on the road.

General Discussion / Re: Black Hills Mickelson Trail and 38C tires
« on: April 20, 2016, 01:56:01 pm »
Bike has 700c X 38C Marathon Plus tires.  You think I will be OK with this tire setup?

Did nearly all of the Mickelson Trail last June: A short, paved portion north in Deadwood and then the rest south from the Englewood trailhead to the end in Edgemont.  Those tires will be fine. I rode 35c Conti Top Touring II tires and was fine notwithstanding the fact that the trail was in relatively bad shape due to the seriously heavy rain fall the area experienced that month. A woman in Custer told me they were 15" above normal for that time of year.

Are you planning to do Deadwood to Hill City in one day? If so, be prepared. The only service (besides the water cisterns) south of Lead, which in only 5 miles, from Deadwood is a bar/restaurant in Rochford, and there is some climbing as rail-trails go.  IIRC, there is a climb out of Deadwood. From Englewood south there is a incline of some 5 miles. There is another long incline after Mystic that fakes you out with a false summit. The relatively rough surface compared to finely crushed limestone causes you expend more energy. Bring sustenance. But don't let that dissuade you. It's a fabulous ride.

If it would fit with your itinerary, I highly recommend staying as Spearfish. The campground and municipal park there are out of this world, and they are right next to a fish hatchery and museum. From there you can climb through Spearfish Canyon and then head to Cheyenne Junction where you can head north and pick up the trail at Englewood. That's what I did. Here is the map for that day:

In Hill City I camped at Crooked Creek. Decent place that you can access right from the trail. There is a place closer to the town center, but it doesn't look as nice.

If you are headed to Hot Springs I assume you will leave the trail at the Minnekahta trail head at U.S. 18. If so, U.S. 18 can have some traffic, but it has a wide shoulder. I circled back to Hot Springs from Edgemont via Old Rte. 18 to U.S. 18 I remember flying along on U.S. 18 with a great tailwind and finally looking up an seeing what turned out to be about a 1 mile climb over a ridge. It felt like a cold, slap in the face:

General Discussion / Re: Hammocking the Great Divide: bad idea?
« on: April 15, 2016, 08:05:35 am »
Having spent some time riding and backpacking in the backcountry in Montana, I'd venture to guess that the mosquitoes in wooded areas will be noticeable. I have done a short, paved section of the route (Polaris to Wise River) twice. Once in mid-June and once in early July. Even on the road the mosquitoes were highly noticeable. The second time, I stopped at the 8,000' summit to put on rain gear and had to do some swatting even through it was raining a bit.

General Discussion / Re: Michelin Maps or Google Maps for Europe?
« on: April 15, 2016, 07:58:25 am »
In addition to what's already been mentioned....Having spent seven weeks touring Andalucia, which Michelin makes a great map for, I can tell you that having the map with you is quite convenient. You can open it up and see the spacial relationship of a large territory all at once. Being able to do that allows you plot routes between A and B and see the entire route in detail all at once. Try doing that with Google Maps on a small computer screen. The maps also contain pass elevations and some gross grade information.

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