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Messages - indyfabz

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General Discussion / Re: GDMRB 2015 Casual Ride!
« on: December 23, 2014, 03:27:12 pm »
I hope you realise how cold it gets there Harry. I spent 3 months working in Montreal over winter a few years back.

Depends where in B.C.. With an average January high of 46/6 and an average low of 26/2, Victoria isn't that bad.

Routes / Re: I90 into Missoula
« on: December 23, 2014, 07:50:20 am »
Some photos of Rock Creek Rd.:

I went mostly with those that show road conditions. That white stuff you see if calcium chloride. The Forest Service puts it down in places to control dust. It makes the road surface damp, resulting in a dirty spray. We had to hose off our bikes at the campground. The cable bridge affords a nice view of the rapids rushing underneath. Finally, I included a photo of the I-90 entrance ramp. It was probably taken around 9 a.m. I ride to work in heavier traffic.

Routes / Re: I90 into Missoula
« on: December 22, 2014, 01:09:45 pm »
A couple of other things...Red Barn Bicycles, just off Sleeping Child Rd., is worth a look see. It really is in an old, red barn, and the people who work there have been nice the two times I have stopped in. There is nothing between Darby and the start of Sklalkaho if you take Old Darby Rd. and Sleeping Child Rd. (which I recommend), so you will have to go to U.S. 93 and into the center of Hamilton if you need supplies. There will be a Safeway supermarket on your right in the middle of town.

Don't know when you plan on starting, but Skalkaho can experience closures due to slides/washouts caused by melting snow in June. We intended to ride it in early July of 2011, but it was impassable at the falls. Earlier in the trip we fortuitously ran into an ACA employee at a hot spings. He is the one who told us about Rock Creek Rd. as an alternative out of Philipsburg.

When I rode it this year, part of it was officially closed south of the falls due a slide, but I was able to get through with a bike. Only had to walk a short distance, and the space between the barriers was wide enough to squeeze through with the loaded bike. There was heavy equipment up there but no road crews on a Friday afternoon. If you call 511 you reach MDOT's automated road conditions report. The best source of real life conditions are the locals. This year, the slide had already happened when I started my trip from Missoula. I cheked with the shop on U.S. 93 in the center of Hamilton and Red Barn on day one and was told I should be able to get through. Since I was riding it from north to south later in the trip, I inquired at the Gem Mountain retail store in Philipsburg and then again at the mine itself. Everyone thought I would be able to get through.

Closure can be a good thing. The only vehicles I enountered between Gem Mountain and the small, U.S.F.S. Black Bear Campground outside of Hamilton were a convoy of dump trucks taking dirt up to a small section of the road north of the pass that was being graded.

Routes / Re: I90 into Missoula
« on: December 22, 2014, 11:05:08 am »
I just made a few edits to my response.

If you go here, this photo and all but the subsquent ones but the last three were taken on Skalkaho (one at Gem Mountain) from near the junction of Rock Creek Rd. towards Hamilton:

The top of the pass sign looked to have been broken off in an avalanche so I fixed it. I was there in late June and you can still see some patches of snow near the summit.

I will try to post some photos from Rock Creek this evening.

Routes / Re: I90 into Missoula
« on: December 22, 2014, 10:33:38 am »
Fine. You don't have to be on it for long. Get off at the first exit west of Rock Creek Rd. and then follow the parallel roads to the north of I-90. IIRC, there is even some bike trail/rideable sidwalk. Keep goingf past the post office and golf course and then you will evetually cross under I-90 and end up on E. Broadway. This is basically what we did to ACA's headquarters:

Rock Creek Rd. is a wonderful ride. Did it from the Jct. with MT 348 in 2011. If you want a commercial campground, there is a nice one right by the creek just before you reach I-90. No groceries near, but the restaurant is good.

I think we stayed in site No. 14.

Maybe 10 miles before you get there, you will pass Trout Bum, which is an outiftter and real estate agency. They have good coffee (including espresso). They also sell energy bars if you need a snack.

Just a bit of a warning: I see you plan to ride Skalkaho. This past June I rode the entire length, from MT 1 to Hamilton. Up from Hamilton, it's a long slog, and once you hit the dirt it can get steep, bumpy and rocky in places. The descent down to Rock Creek Rd. is a nicer surface and is actually paved for a decent stretch in the middle. Dirt ends just before Gem Mountain.

The Gem Mountain c-store shown on your map had very limited snacks and drinks, including bottled water (no drinkable tap water), and a few nukeable sandwiches. It's not really a store per se. They just sell stuff out of the office. If you have an hour or so to kill, I recommend buying a bucket of dirt and panning for sapphires. Make sure you have bug spray.

Once you turn left onto Rock Creek Rd., you will pass The Ranch at Rock Creek, which is an exclusive, all-inclusive resort where cabins go for over $5K/night. Doesn't seem like the place to pop in for a snack. Trout Bum, mentioned above, will be the next source for snacks. I think or more of the campgrounds shown on your map have water.

There is a really seedy bar at the I-90 interchange which is home to the "Testicle Festival." If they serve food, they were no longer serving it when we walked there for some take-out beer. Even if they had been serving food, I would have only eaten there if I had been starving. Treat yourself to a steak and salad bar if you stay at Ekstroms Stage. It's going to be a long day if you come from Hamilton.

General Discussion / Re: Best Time to Leave
« on: December 19, 2014, 10:27:28 am »

General Discussion / Re: Best Time to Leave
« on: December 16, 2014, 09:59:25 am »
I would definitely try to not miss McKenzie Pass if at all possible.

Something else to keep in mind is that W-E starting June could put you in some very hot and humid areas during the peak of the misery. Then again, maybe that weather suits you.

+1 on the part about the weather in the north. At 60 miles/day, you would find yourself in Cut Bank in early to mid-May, assuming some rest days. Earlier if you average more. No way you will be able to cross Logan Pass in Glacier N.P. on that schedule. In fact, if the road rehab project is still going on then, the pass might not be open until a set date in mid-June, regardless of weather conditions. Even mid-May could be dicey on the Marias Pass alternative, which is not nearly as scenic. The Alberta alternative might also be out of the question as Chief Mountain Highway might not be cleared. These are the highlights of that portion.

I have ridden the western most section of the Northern Tier (Mount Vernon, WA to Glacier N.P.) twice, starting in Seattle in late May, and the short section between Whitefish and Eureka another time. Except for the section between Winthrop, WA and Tonasket, WA, chilly, damp days were the norm. Experienced snow crossing some of the WA mountains in early June. Five years ago I spent a night at Waterton Village, AB, during the third week in June. The cold wind whipping off the lake made being outside pretty unpleasant.

Gear Talk / Re: new Blackburn Outpost Front World Touring Rack
« on: December 05, 2014, 09:34:24 am »
In between the Surly, which does weigh a ton, and this is the Nitto Big front rack. Super-strong with a large platform. However, it's twice the price of the Outpost.

General Discussion / Re: That go-to meal
« on: November 25, 2014, 08:12:08 am »
Another good one from last year. Hot sausage made in Amish country with red onion, garlic and canned spinach after an 86 mile day that required me to carry groceries for the last 17:

General Discussion / Re: That go-to meal
« on: November 24, 2014, 10:14:24 am »
Slice kielbasa into ½ inch thick pieces or whatever size you like
Brown it in a skillet with oil if you have it.
Add chopped onion and chopped green pepper and saute.
Pour in a can of stewed tomatoes
Simmer covered.
You can add spices if you have them.
Serve it with rice or noodles.

A man after my own stomach. I have made numerous variations of that, although I tend to use Roma tomatoes if available and often use asparagus instead of peppers.

Hard to see, but there is red onions, peppers (orange, I think) and chicken sausage in there. One of the rare occasions I have used jarred sauce:

That is a homemade Polish sausage similar to Keilbasa from a place in Blairstown, NJ:

General Discussion / Re: That go-to meal
« on: November 24, 2014, 10:06:59 am »
Saute 4-5 cloves of fresh garlic in a good amount of olive oil. Add two cans of cannellini beans and some of the water from one of the cans. Mix it well and let simmer for a while. Add some fresh rosemary if you can get it. Makes a sort of stew. Serve over cut pasta like farfalle. Salt and pepper to taste:

I have made this on a couple of tours over the last two years. Not only is it tasty and inexpensive, the beans are the only extra thing I need to carry since I always carry fresh garlic, olive oil and some emergency pasta. Helpful when you have to carry food for more than 35 miles like I did one day during my last trip.

General Discussion / Re: Useless advice/help
« on: November 16, 2014, 11:52:20 am »
A ranger at Bay View State Park in WA swore up and down that it was only 8 miles round trip to the grocery store in Burlington and back despite the fact that our map suggested it was 8 miles each way. "I drive it all the time." It was 8 miles each way.

Routes / Re: Co$t of Travel
« on: November 14, 2014, 11:30:01 am »
Taking advantage of free camping is a very good way to cut your daily budget by a significant percentage. I rode across PA in September. Only on the first night was there a free, legal camping option. All but one of the rest of the nights cost me in the low to mid $20s to camp. The one exception was a $34 night, and it was the worst of the private campgrounds.

General Discussion / Re: Useless advice/help
« on: November 14, 2014, 11:18:51 am »
I was riding the early miles of Sklalkaho Road heading towards Hamilton, MT this past June. That part of the road passes through wide open ranch land. I could see rain showers coming from more than a mile away. An old ranch worker came by on a motorcycle and said something like "Looks like you're gonna get wet." Really? But I don't let things like that bother me. He was just trying to be friendly. Reminded me of one of the early scenes from "Animal House." As a fraternity rush party Dorfman walks up to four guys sitting at a table playing cards and says "So. You guys playing cards?"

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