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Messages - indyfabz

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Routes / New England to the Atlantic Coast Route
« on: September 23, 2016, 10:39:35 am »
Some photos from my recent tour from Brattleboro, VT to Philly, hooking up with the Atlantic Coast Route in Canaan, CT:

(Click on the first image and advance manually to read the captions.)

My computer decided to go on strike the morning after my 1 mile ride from the Brattleboro Amtrak station to my motel, but mapping shows about 400 miles total. Day 2 was the hardest, with neatly 4,100' of climbing in 53 miles. The overwhelming majority of that came in the first 30 miles and featured grades in the double digits in the southern Berkshires. Other than brief showers the first two days and some humidity, the weather was quite nice.

Heard a bunch of coyotes while camping at Lone Oak in E. Canaan. The Atlantic Coast route south there has some gut buster climbs. Not long, but very steep in places. The Harlem Valley Trail south the Millerton, NY is gorgeous, as is Shunpike Rd. heading towards the Hudson Valley outside of Amenia. (CR 41 into Hyde Park, not so much, as there was a lot of traffic, and the road needs some serious work in places.) The ride along the Schwangunk Mountains south of New Paltz, NY was similarly beautiful. The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area was terrific as always. I don't think I got passed by one vehicle in nearly 30 miles and encountered maybe a dozen travelling in the other direction. The campground in Worthington State Forest is a must-stay place if you ride that section. (Sites 11 and 12 are close to the rest room and front the river.) I did deviate from the route in Phillipsburg, NJ by crossing the river into Easton, PA and riding some of the D&L Trail but got off it in Riegelsville and crossed back into NJ via the Roebling bridge there. The final night was spent in Upper Black Eddy, PA, where the owner of Dogwood Haven charges cyclist only $10 to camp.

Looks like the weather is about to start turning in these parts, but I am hoping to get in at least one more three-day trip. Last year we had a 75 degree weekend in December so it's quite possible that I will.

General Discussion / Re: Restricted Items on Amtrak ("flammable" etc.)
« on: September 23, 2016, 10:14:07 am »

While I may consider simply "smuggling" such items in my checked baggage as I now know some fellow tourist have done (perhaps unwittingly), I'm also thinking about asking Amtrak if I can declare and surrender possession of these materials for the duration of the trip. That's actually the approach I used successfully with my multi-tool pocket knives when riding the ferry from Key West to Cape Coral. The downside with this method is that it causes the Amtrak personnel to "be made aware" that I'm trying to bring this items on board, giving them the opportunity to simply deny my request. I always prefer to avoid being deceptive, but it may be better to play off ignorance of the rules in this situation.  :-X

Just last week I rode Amtrak with my bike, fuel bottle filled with White Gas, multi tool including a couple of screw drivers and an awl, and a knife. Didn't even think about their policies. I suspect "declaring" flammables more likely than not will result in them not being allowed on board. It's not having them in your possession that's the concern but rather their presence on the train, regardless of whose control they are under.

Routes / Re: Seattle to Anacortes--First time touring
« on: September 20, 2016, 09:24:03 am »
I rarely carry any food other than snacks for the day and, in some cases, emergency pasta. Doesn't sound like you are going to be in areas where food supplies are infrequent. I try to shop as close as possible to the end of the day for dinner fixings and, if necessary, breakfast stuff.

Gear Talk / Re: Getting bike and gear to start of tour
« on: September 19, 2016, 01:26:44 pm »
+2 on Amtrak. Twice upon a time I took Amtrak from the east coast to Seattle to start tours. Note that it is phasing in new baggage cars that might eliminate the need for even boxing the bike by next year.

If you decide to ship, check out I have used them several times. They are basically a discount broker for FedEx shipment. Used them again back in June to ship from Philly to Missoula and back. FAR cheaper than what my airline wanted.

Routes / Re: Seattle to Anacortes--First time touring
« on: September 19, 2016, 07:32:07 am »

My main fear is that I'll follow Google maps and end up on a two lane road with no shoulder.

Nothing inherently wrong with that. I just finished a tour from VT to my home in Philly. Rode countless miles of two lane road with no shoulder. It all depends on the level of traffic.

In any event, many years ago I started two tours from Seattle to up to the Northern Tier route a bit east of Anacortes. Used the Bremmerton ferry and followed the ACA route north. Camped at Kitsap and the state park in Port Townsend. The latter is very nice.

Routes / Re: connecting the Eastern Seaboard route with the Northern Tier
« on: September 06, 2016, 07:13:08 am »
Another option that I forgot to mention if you are willing to be flexible re: unpaved paths....

Stay on the Atlantic Coast route until it crosses paths with signed PA Bike Route S. I think that happens in/around Columbia, PA. Take Route S west. It gets on the Great Allegheny Passage Trail in Rockwood, PA. That trail will take you to Pittsburgh.

The GAP is not really that slow. I did it a few years ago fully loaded on 32c tires while heading east. Made pretty good time. In your case, you would actually be going slightly down hill most of the way, and the last several miles into Pittsburgh are paved. One thing to keep in mind that while the GAP maybe a bit slower than riding paved roads, you would encounter a lot of climbing on paved roads. You would also need to find your own services, which can be scarce in certain parts of PA. In contrast, the official guide for the GAP lists food and camping sources along the trail.

Another feature of the above is that you can take an easy detour off of Route S and ride an 8.5 mile stretch of the abandoned portion of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.  It's a neat ride as long as you have a good light are not afraid of the dark. There are two long, until tunnels. I used my strong camping headlamp and followed the median stripes in the tunnels. No problems. A friend of mine just rode the stretch last week and had a blast. One of the tunnel portals was a filming location for the film "The Road" starring Viggo Mortensen. Very post-aspocalyptic back there:

Routes / Re: connecting the Eastern Seaboard route with the Northern Tier
« on: September 05, 2016, 09:52:19 am »
One option is to stay on the Atlantic Coast until Portland, PA. From there, you can pick up the signed PA Bike Route V, which will take you to the PA-OH border near Bessemer. Then head NE towards the short of Lake Erie.

Better yet would be to do the above, but pick up the Allegheny River Trail from Route V at Emlenton, PA and take it to Franklin, PA. The trail is very scenic and paved except for a stretch that is maybe .5 miles long. There is free, riverside camping on the edge of Franklin. From there, I have a route to the Vienna/Warren, OH area that uses scenic and low-traffic roads. From Vienna, it shouldn't be hard to hook up with the Northern Tier.

Or...You can do what I did a few years ago in reverse. I can give you a nice route from the Atlantic Coast route in Chester County, PA that hooks up with Route V in Catawissa, PA. Part of my route to Route V passes through pretty Amish/Mennonite country in Lancaster County, PA. It also goes through the ghost town of Centralia., where you can ride a short stretch of abandoned state road that had to be relocated because of the underground coal fire.  Then continue with option two above once you reach Catawissa.

PA Route V is nice and was very well signed. Services, including camping, are also frequent and well spaced. Let me know if you would like details. (Note that I will be leaving for a week-long tour on Friday.) Here are some photos of my tour from Vienna/Warren home to Philly:

Routes / Re: Albany to Portland, ME
« on: August 30, 2016, 08:23:55 am »
IIRC, the Atlantic Coast route goes through Ayer, MA, so you could shoot for that. Note that MA 2 and 2A can be very busy in places. Deerfield is a nice, historic town. But I am prejudiced. I went to high school there. I could let you in on a neat stealth camping location just above town.

General Discussion / Re: Sometimes it Pays to Make a Call
« on: August 29, 2016, 07:20:39 am »
I just got a report from someone who used the Vermonter.  Someone who has led tours for ACA in the past. He said it was easy and, despite what the web site instructions say, he did not have to remove the front wheel to hang the bike in the "closets" on the car he rode. Perhaps some of the cars accommodating bikes are configured differently.

Routes / Re: Weather concerns for fall cross country?
« on: August 26, 2016, 01:46:48 pm »
Here is a neat site that shows, among other things, sunrise and sunset times:

BTW...I think Jamawani meant the C&O and GAP trail, not ACA.

General Discussion / Sometimes it Pays to Make a Call
« on: August 24, 2016, 04:19:59 pm »
Is this day and age of intricate web sites and apps, a good old phone call can still make all the difference.

I have been planning a September tour from Brattleboro, VT to my home in Philly, hooking up with ACA's Atlantic Coast route in N. Canaan, CT. Because of the way desired mileages were working out, being able to camp at Lone Oak, a bit east of N. Canaan, was a lynch pin. I checked their web site. It showed only a few expensive ($60+), full-hook up sites available on a Sunday. I checked some other dates and also found no available tent sites. At first I was simply going to suck it up and reserve an RV site, but the lack of availability on a Sunday (and on other random weekdays) after school was back in session seemed odd to me, so I decided to give them a call. Turns out there are several tent sites available. With the campground map in front of me, the woman with whom I was speaking identified sites that are close to the restrooms and showers and reserved one for me. She also gave me some great news: The place charges cyclist only $20/night, and I didn't need to pay or supply a credit card number until I arrived in case I cancel the trip.

I actually stayed at Lone Oak 17 years ago while riding home after finishing ACA's unsupported Northern Tier tour. The place is more like a resort where you sleep in a tent or RV more than it is a campground. I remember paying about $28 for a site back then and thinking that, for that price, I was going to take full advantage of the hot tub. Guess they didn't have a cyclists discount back then.

Incidentally, I will be using Amtrak's new roll-on bike service on the Vermonter. Assuming nothing gets in the way of this trip, I will report back on how it goes.

Routes / Re: Northern Tier in Minnesota: which loop?
« on: August 24, 2016, 10:47:12 am »
"If you're looking for a tour of 500 miles or less, the two sections when purchased together create a great loop route."

Thanks. The wheels in my head are spinning rapidly regarding next summer.

General Discussion / Re: Trans am route, map or gpx Garmin.
« on: August 23, 2016, 11:08:52 am »
Thanks for all of this information mate it's much appreciated. Do people sell there trans am maps after their trips?

There is a classifieds section on this forum.

This person is selling nearly the entire set if TA maps:

Gear Talk / Re: Fixing panniers
« on: August 18, 2016, 01:11:27 pm »
Tenacious Tape may be worth trying.

I was going to suggest duck tape (or is it duct tape),  but this looks far superior.  Maybe we should all have some tenacious tape in our kits.

If it looks like duck tape and quacks like duck tape....

Seriously, that does look interesting. During my June tour I noticed a tiny hole in the outside pocket of one of my Ortlieb Bike Packer panniers. Might slap a piece of this on the inside to cover it.

Routes / Re: Western express to transAm
« on: August 12, 2016, 01:37:01 pm »
I live in Philly and have done two cross-state tours to home.

The first was from Pittsburgh via the GAP trail to Cumberland, MD then mostly U.S. 220 to Bedford, PA where I picked up PA Bike Route S. Took that all the way to Lancaster County where I modified the route to get me home in a nicer fashion. I also cut out a big climb out of Betzwood, PA by riding the section of the abandoned PA Turnpike, which is an unofficial bike trail and was used as one of the filming locations for the film "The Road" starring Viggo Mortensen. . I highly recommend it as long as you have a good light and are not afraid of the dark. There are two long tunnels (the longer being over 1 mile) with no lights. The second tunnel heading east has a crown closer to the east portal, which means for much of the distance you literally cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel. The nice thing is that you can still see the median striping inside the tunnels so you can use that as a guide.

The second trip started from the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport near Vienna, OH. Made my own, nice route to Franklin, PA where I picked up the scenic, paved (except for maybe 3/4 of a mile) Allegheny River Trail for about 25 miles to Emlenton, PA. From there, I followed PA Bike Route V all the way to Rupert/Bloomsburg and then headed south via my own route, which included the abandoned town of Centralia. Depending where you might want to go in NJ, you could stay on Bike Route V all the way to the end at Portland, PA and cross the river there into Columbia, NJ via the pedestrian/bike bridge.

Overall, the PA portion of the latter trip was nicer (and more challenging) than the former. Both routes had pretty well-spaced camping (There is free, trail-side camping with Adirondack shelters in Franklin, PA, right along the river. Saw two bald eagles in the morning.) and access to good grocery sources along the way, although in many instances I hard to carry groceries for some miles as there were no stores close to my camping locations. Let me know if you would like detail on one or both of the routes.

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