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Messages - indyfabz

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Gear Talk / Re: What did you forget to pack that you needed?
« on: March 29, 2016, 10:09:31 am »
The nice thing about bike touring is that it doesn't require all that much in the way of equipment or clothing.


Before my first tour, which was a cross country tour, I asked a friend with touring experience to suggest a few items that I might miss if I didn't have them. She told me: (1) a warm hat (I was doing the Northern Tier starting in May) and (2) a good flashlight. She was correct. Other than that, I figured the rest out by looking at the suggested items on ACA's web site and on my own.

Routes / Re: Question for those who have toured in Europe
« on: March 28, 2016, 03:58:12 pm »
I was in Andalucía touring 16 years ago today. For maps, I used Michelin's map of the territory. They make some very details maps. I think I got lost maybe once in seven weeks. The nice thing about a detailed map is that if your plans change you can plot a new route.

The map for Andalucia showed some campgrounds. For more thorough information I contacted the Spanish National Tourist Office in New York. They sent me lists of campgrounds by province. But now you can find much of that on line.

General Discussion / Re: Newbie
« on: March 28, 2016, 03:50:20 pm »
Having lived around and taught many "redneck" with their big trucks (I also drive a pickup, have for 30 years) I have found that most of them will treat you with as much respect as you have for them.

My biggest fear when I first crossed PA west to east was the "Pennsyltuckian" and his pickup truck. Having now crossed the state west to east two times via two different routes, they are the least of my concerns as they were quite courteous. PA has a 4' passing law. Some of them gave me far more than that. The biggest dangers were the hurried drivers in and around mid-sized towns and in the suburban sprawl outside of my home town of Philadelphia. And people should remember that pickup trucks can be your friend. I was touring in MT and stopped a place where you can pan for sapphires. As I was leaving, I was talking with a worker there about whether getting over an unpaved pass would be difficult due to recent rain. She said if I to come back if I couldn't make it and she would give me a ride back to town in her truck.

And I agree that RV drivers can be much more of a threat. I nearly got tagged last June in Custer, SD by someone in a big motor home. I was .25 miles from camp. The road was straight and there was no oncoming traffic. After the incident I was so hoping the driver was going to turn into the campground where I was staying. He did. I rolled up to his rig and politely but sternly let him know what I thought of his actions. He was unapologetic.

Dumb phone and a bike computer. I will probably add an e-reader as I like to read at night and I am tired of blowing through headlamp batteries.

General Discussion / Re: Flying with bike racks...?
« on: March 22, 2016, 04:31:24 pm »
Yeah. I would try to "weave" the racks around the frame. That's what I do when I ship my bike to the start of tours, albeit the bike isn't coupled so the box is larger than what you are probably using.

If you are worried about them being bent, maybe devise some braces akin to the plastic pieces that are often used to span dropouts so the fork and rear triangle don' get crushed.

General Discussion / Re: How many bags do you carry on your bike?
« on: March 22, 2016, 04:24:54 pm »
What front rack are you using? I'm looking for a rack just like the one in your photo for my new Mazama.

It's the Nitto Big Front Rack from Rivendell. It's not cheap (understatement of the day), but it's incredibly strong and good looking, with a nickel plated finish. The panniers will ride a little higher than with low riders, which provides more ground clearance. I don't have any handling problems with the weight a little higher, but I cannot compare the ride to low riders since I have always used a front rack that puts the panniers higher than they would be with a low rider rack. One time I was able to duct tape a freshly baked pie from a roadside stand to the front rack on way home from a long weekend tour. I like the versatility it offers.

If you want something with a front platform that is more affordable, I think Jandd still makes its Extreme front rack.

General Discussion / Re: Asking too Much?
« on: March 22, 2016, 04:17:57 pm »
I think a lot of what the OP wants hinges on what "local rides" mean. Now if it means roadie style club rides as others speculate, then yeah, a traditional touring bike probably wouldn't be appropriate. But when I heard "local ride", I thought more commuting, or non-competitive recreational rides. For those, a touring bike would be fine. For many years my Long Haul Trucker was my good bike, so I used it for touring, commuting, and other recreational rides. And it worked fine for my needs. Sure, a lighter road bike would have been better for some of the long rides, but I didn't feel that hindered by my choice of the bike.

Yep. In addition to using my LHT for self-contained touring, I use it for general transportation. In these parts, I am B road rider. I wouldn't take my LHT on a B club ride, but I have used it for C rides when "slumming it." ;)

Another thing that has been left out is the type of touring. Credit card? Camping? Cooking? If going credit card style, you could go with something less than a full-bore touring bike.

Routes / Re: Great Divide Route - NFS Maps
« on: March 22, 2016, 08:39:42 am »
Doesn't the route also pass through Beaverhead-Deer Lodge NF south of Wise River, MT.

General Discussion / Re: How many bags do you carry on your bike?
« on: March 22, 2016, 08:33:32 am »
I am a four-bagger who now puts his tent in one pannier;

rather than on the front rack platform like I used to:

I still have the front platform for the bag if I need extra capacity for food. Plus, it makes a great firewood carrier.

Some people carry more than others and need more capacity. Some people like a bar bag because it offers easy access to oft used items like sun block and cameras, and you can easily remove it and take it and your valuables with you when you leave the bike. Some bar bags have clear map cases on the their tops. It's all good as long as your having a good time.

Routes / Re: My route for cross country 2016, ideas?
« on: March 19, 2016, 12:25:25 pm »
Here is to hoping I-10 didn't suffer damage that will cause long-term closures affecting LA 82:

General Discussion / Re: So I bought a bike now which panniers?
« on: March 19, 2016, 12:17:26 pm »
Don't overlook the Ortlieb Packers. Easier to get into if you need something on the road.

My first set of bags were made by Robert Beckman. They were compartmentalized. When I switched to Ortliebs, I thought I might find the one large pocket aspect less than ideal, but that turned out not to be the case. I went with the Sport and Back Packers. The Backs have a small outside pocket. The Sports and the Backs have insides small mesh "pockets" and a divided space that will hold thin items like books, maps and even plates.

I am scheduled to start a loop from Missoula on June 15th. I did much of this route at the same time of year in 2014. This year I follow the TransAm to Ennis but with a detour on into the Pioneer Mountains after Big Hole Pass east of Jackson, MT. In 2014 a woman I met on the first day of my trip told me that there has been several inches of slushy snow on Lost Trail Pass a day or two before. Crossing the Pioneer Mountains I had a bit of wet snow mixed with some with sleet and rain. I bring this up only to illustrate what Jama wrote.

Some unsolicited advice fort that part of the route:

If you have suitable tires and don't mind some gravel, take the Old Darby Rd. Alternative between Hamilton and Darby. It's not terribly rough and the views are excellent.

If you are planning to stay at the private campground in Sula, make sure you shop at the nice store in Darby. The campground store has a very limited selection of stuff, although you might find Ramen. However, the store closed at 5 p.m. when I was there. I arrived around 5:03 and the place was dark and locked up tight. You can still camp there and pay in the morning, but you won't be able to get anything to eat.

The spring-fed pool at Jackson Hot Springs in Jackson, MT is nice, but the place is pricey for camping. The only grocery source around is in Wisdom, the town before Jackson. IIRC, the store closes around 5 or 6 p.m. The mosquitoes in Wisdom will eat you alive unless you have repellant. There were some in Jackson, too, but they were not as bad.

Try to time things so that you stay in Twin Bridges, MT. The Bike Camp there is terrific and free (donations greatly appreciated), and the town has a very good grocery store considering the town's size.

There is a camping at the fishing access site just outside the center of Ennis. I haven't been there in 16 years, but it was nice back then. It used to be free, but now it's $12 if you don't have a MT fishing license.

I was there in mid-June. Last year was an incredibly wet spring for the Black Hills. There was a massive thunderstorm the day I landed in Rapid City. Easily several inches of rain in about 1 hr. with steady hail at times. A few weeks before I flew out some places, including Custer, got 6" or more of snow. A local in Custer told me they had gotten 15" more rain than average for that time.

Fortunately, I only experienced rain while on the road one day, but extreme weather can pop up quickly. The storm that brought rain to Rapid City when I was there spawned a small tornado that touched down just outside of Spearfish. When I camped in Hill City there was a nighttime thunderstorm that produced hail up to the size of golf balls, and there were nighttime thunderstorms in Custer two of the nights I stayed there. One evening in Edgemont a massive storm looked like it was going to hit us hard. A local resident drove through the municipal campground to warn everyone there about the weather alert that had been issued. It really looked apocalyptic, but it ended up sliding by the town. Other than that, the days were in the upper 70s with lots of sun. Nights were in the low 50s.

On my third day in Custer I took a day ride on the trail to Hill City since I hadn't had a chance to check it out during daylight the first time I was there. Before I started, I met couple in the Custer city park who was getting shuttled up north and was planning to ride back to Custer. I figured I might see them in Hill City, and I did. The storm moved in and the temperature dropped some 20 degrees or more. While it wasn't raining hard in town, it was on the trail north of town. I was waiting out the rain at the Hill City trailhead shelter when the couple pulled in. They had gotten caught in the storm at higher altitude. To make matters worse, their progress had been delayed by a stubborn group of free range cattle. The husband was wearing shorts and did not have proper foul weather gear, including gloves. He showed me his hands. They were literally blue from the cold. They called the shuttle company and got a lift back to Custer. It's a wonderful trail, but you need to be prepared for what it can throw at you.

I was on the road for 10 days or so. I had originally planned to go down into NB, but scrubbed that part of the trip for various reasons. Didn't see that many through riders on the trail. Saw mostly day users, although I did pas one group of kids with an adult leader who had started in Deadwood and were headed to Hill City. They were so pooped they were walking up the climb out of Mystic. I know they could not have reached Hill City before dark because I didn't get there until almost dark and when I left them they still had a couple of miles of walking left. Budget more time for the trail than you think you are going to need.

So - yes, please share your experiences focusing on the places you overnight, cost and nutrition? 

For got I had this photo from the Spearfish municipal campground:

Tranquil and immaculate. $20, but worth the price of admission:

Will you be cooking or eating out. For various reasons, I did not bring cooking gear on my Black Hills trip. I missed it. There is a lot of meaty and fatty restaurant fare in SD. They seem to like ranch dressing on a lot of things, including the peas in the salad bar. When I did a Needles Highway loop out of Custer I found a place that had spinach salad with goat cheese and strawberries. I nearly fainted.

BTW...If you are not in any hurry and want to do the entire Mickelson, you could finish it in Edgemont, where there is a municipal campground at the south end of town with showers for $10/night. From there, you could take the old highway 18 to where it intersects with the current U.S. 18 and then take that to Hot Springs. It would be short day and leave you plenty of time to visit the mammoth site. That's what I did. Here is the route:

The old highway was nearly deserted. At just past mile 8 you will see that it crosses the trail. That crossing is not at grade but rather via a bridge high above the trail. The crossing just before mile 17 is at grade. If you use the Street View option you can see one of the numerous trail shelters off by the tree. That one has a water cistern as several others do. One issue with staying in Edgemont is the frequent train noise, mostly from 150 car unit coal trains with locomotives on both ends. I recommend ear plugs. Also, the grocery store closes at around 5 p.m. and is not open Sunday and is at least one of the two town's real restaurants. I would avoid staying there Sunday you might end up eating from the Sinclair gas station, which makes food 24/7.

General Discussion / Re: Newbie
« on: March 16, 2016, 02:13:51 pm »
I'll counter that with....In Iowa there are three packed strips.  One in the middle and one to each side.  Cars stay on their side of the gravel. Even the non-packed parts of the road is rideable (in Iowa).  Benefit of gravel is much fewer cars, you can hear them coming from a distance and they are speeding at 45mph (so much less speed than highway).

45 mph maybe in some places. Do 45 mph on these roads and you will be needing some repairs if you don't fall off the side of the mountain:

20+ miles. 3 slowly moving cars the first time and no cars the second time:

9+ miles, one car moving about 8 mph:

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