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Messages - indyfabz

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Routes / Re: Marietta, Ohio to Crystal River, Fl
« on: December 15, 2015, 02:32:14 pm »
Finally, have no idea what "21,000 foot delta H." means.

I believe it's the amount of climbing measured in feet.

Routes / Re: Transam: solo or group ride? Has anyone done both?
« on: December 15, 2015, 02:28:36 pm »
indyfabz, thanks for the detailed response. Points about skill-sharing, chores and shared decision-making all taken.

No problem. I just hope I didn't sound like I was coming down too hard on the group idea.

I also should have mentioned that, unless things have changed, the leader takes care of making any necessary campground or hotel reservations/arrangements. Usually not that much of an issue, but there could be places where they are useful/necessary. Also, just because you are in a group doesn't mean you have to ride with people every day.  Our Northern Tier group was comprised of people of varying physical abilities, which I would bet is the norm. That creates some natural "segregation" on the road. That aside, sometimes a person would feel like getting a late start or simply riding alone for whatever reason. Other days, some of us would find ourselves in spirited pacelines, but there was never any peer pressure to ride at a certain pace or with a group or sub group. Absent a side trip, your basic obligation was to arrive at the night's destination by a reasonable hour so that your items of group gear were available for use in the preparation of dinner. So there is more autonomy than I may have made it seem.

I remember a riding acquaintance asking me "Why would you pay someone to ride your bike across the county?" after I told him of my plans to do a group tour. I found the expenditure well worth it because of the knowledge and confidence is helped me develop.

General Discussion / Re: How to get from Washington DC to Yorktown, VA?
« on: December 14, 2015, 01:42:23 pm »
I know this is an old thread but I am doing the trans am trail next summer and am sorting out a train for me and my bike and box from Washington to Yorktown. I have seen the reply re the 7.30am train which takes checked baggage so I will plan to get that one. It seems easy enough to reserve the seat for me but I am confused as to how a reserve a space for my bike and bike box. There does not seem to be a step during the reservation process to book my bike and I don't really want to just turn up in the hope that there is space for the bike and box. Does anyone know how I do this step of the process? Do I have to call the reservation line or can I do it on line. I am flying in from the UK to Washington dc a few days before.

Many thanks

chris lehrbach
Which train are you taking? In some instances, you do not need to have the bike boxed thanks to new Amtrak baggage cars on long distance trains.

Here is the web site page about brining your bike on Amtrak:

There is "Walk-On Bicycle Service," which does not seem like it would be available where you plan to travel.

There is "Walk-Up Checked Bicycle Service," which is the new option. There are some east coast trains so it may be an option for you. A reservation is required and is probably made by calling Amtrak.

Finally, there is Boxed Bicycles in Checked Baggage Service. Your origin and destination stations must offer checked baggage service to use this option.

As suggested, get a cheap piece of luggage (I have used a duffel bag) for your panniers, etc.

Routes / Re: Transam: solo or group ride? Has anyone done both?
« on: December 09, 2015, 10:17:53 am »
The second time I ever rode a fully loaded touring bike was the first day of ACA's Northern Tier group tour. 93 days from Seattle, WA to Bar Harbor, ME. I then rode home to Philadelphia solo.  The following winter/spring I toured solo for seven weeks in Spain. Then I came back to the U.S. and did a long, solo tour from Seattle to Cortez, CO following several ACA routes, including the TransAm from Missoula, MT to Fairplay, CO. I have also done bits of the TransAm in MT a couple of times in the last few years and hope to get out there again next summer.

I chose the group format for my first tour because, as noted, I had zero, unsupported touring experience. I had also never camped in my life. My sum total of tent experience was setting up my tent once in my mom's living room and nearly knocking a table lamp over with one of the poles.

Things I liked about the group experience:

1. Meeting and sharing experiences with some members of the tour.
2. Not having to worry about budgeting money other than for personal expenditures and adult beverages, which group funds could not be used for.
3. Having experienced people to learn camping and camp cooking skills from.
4. Having a repair kit carried by the tour leader.
5. Splitting up cooking gear.

Things I liked less about the group experience:

1. Being stuck in a group with people who I didn't care much for.
2. The lack of autonomy regarding things like scheduling and picking camping locations. Majority ruled. Our group seemed relatively "high maintenance," if you will, usually preferring private campground with amenities over more woodsy places like Forest Service campgrounds some of us wanted a little more of. Occasionally we did easy, short days in a row that could have been combined into one day (e.g., two 40 flat mile days instead of one 80 flat mile day), so there was some boredom when you ended the day early in a place where there was nothing of interest to do.

The group "chore" sharing had its advantages, the chief one being that you only had to cook and clean (outside of your own personal eating gear) only once/week. However, I discovered that I really enjoy cooking in camp, so that aspect would no longer be an plus to me. Note that even when it's not your turn to cook you often end up helping carry groceries since the load is often too much for the two assigned people. One disadvantage is that you cannot simply take off early in the morning when it's your turn to make dinner and have breakfast out the next morning. Also, if you are carrying a piece of group gear that gets cleaned last in the morning you may have to wait around.

If you do the TransAm solo I think you will run into other riders. My first time on the TransAm, from Missoula to Fairplay, I encountered several riders heading east. For example, for nearly a week I rode off and on with a couple on a tandem between Lander, WY and Fairplay, CO, often staying at the same places. I also encountered several westbound riders. In 2011 I encountered probably close to a dozen westbound riders during 2 1/2 days on the TransAm. Last year, on that same stretch, I encountered five eastbound riders and more than a half dozen westbound riders. I think the discrepancy can be explained by the fact that my 2014 trip started a week earlier than my 2011 trip.

I think the most important factors in determining whether group or solo is best for you are:

1. How much do you value (or even need) autonomy on a daily basis? Unless the rules have changed, you can take some side trips while on an ACA group tour, but ultimately you spend the overwhelming majority of the time with the group, which means you may have to compromise on things.
2. How good are you at dealing with group dynamics that you may find not to your liking? Not saying that's a given or even likely, but it could happen.

General Discussion / Re: Anouncment our NorthernTier - 06.Jun.2016 -
« on: December 01, 2015, 07:32:15 am »

we are two cyclists (from Germany) and we bike the northern tier in 2016 (on road) . We start our tour at 06.Jun.2016 from Anacortes to Bar Harbor.  We are a couple  older than 60 years (m, f). 
Our plan is, daily 80 - 140 km to cycle .  We want comfortably cycle through the NT. Our tour is inspired by ACA "self contained". We think that we have finished our tour - start or middle of September.
If anybody want biking with us - nur zu!  ( be our guest). If any question - please contact us by mail/forum.

Best regards
Rudolf & Ursula

I highly recommend doing the option into Canada after Glacier National Park and taking a day off in Waterton Village. Great campsite in town with beautiful views of the lake and mountains.

Routes / Re: West from Pittsburgh to Ohio
« on: November 30, 2015, 10:10:36 am »
For example, we'll probably  take Rte 20/12 across the Niobrara Valley to Crawford, then head up through Black Hills, which sound way too fun to miss! 

Re: An earlier mention of skipping the southern end of the Mickelson and riding to Hot Springs, Wind Cave and Custer, here is the way I did that after finishing the Mickelson in Edgemont:

Taking old Rte. 18 out of Edgemont keeps you off the main highway. I encountered one car before joining U.S. 18. (The Black Hills map they hand out to tourists like water shows 21 miles between Edgemont and U.S. 18 via the old highway. That's just plain wrong). Note that if you ride Crawford to Edgemont you have 60 miles with no services. And some of the state highway is unpaved.

Hot Springs to my campground in Custer via Wind Cave:

I got off SD 87 and took Lower French Creek Rd. It's unpaved, but the surface was pretty good. And it was quiet and very pretty. There is a spur of the Mickelson going from Stockade Lake into town. I took the road and am glad I did. The spur is not part of an old rail line but rather a paved path along the south side of U.S. 16A. There is at least one super steep grade. heading towards town. I saw someone walking it. As a practical matter, you will need close to 2 hrs. to take a cave tour. There is a campground near the park office, but no grocery source so if you stay there you will need to carry food from Hot Springs. Lots of free roaming bison in Wind Cave and Custer S.P.

Routes / Re: West from Pittsburgh to Ohio
« on: November 28, 2015, 09:11:17 am »
March? If that's correct, be advised that the Big Savage Tunnel on the GAP has variable opening dates. It might not be open until as late as the second week in April. There is no easy work around.

General Discussion / Re: Surly LHT/Disc Trucker
« on: November 24, 2015, 04:07:37 pm »
This sounds terrible but I just cannot do the color.  I figured since I was building the bike I would truly make it mine.  The powder coat company is very well known and has a great reputation.  They do bikes and when speaking to the guy it sounded like he knew exactly what I was talking about.  Im going to call him back, maybe this morning, and make sure he clearly understands.

Do they do Cerakote applications? Back in May I had my custom ti road frame colored with Cerakote. It's a ceramic coating that is allegedly stronger and lighter than paint. Some of the builder's MTB customers have been using it. The colors are matte, but if they are custom blended them with the gloss white you get a sort of pearl finish. The downside is that if you do get a chip you cannot purchase touch up "paint."

The stuff is primarily used to coat firearms, but more and more people have been using it for bikes:

This is the bike my builder built for himself last year. The photo doesn't do it justice:

Paintbytodd also did my frame.

General Discussion / Re: Surly LHT/Disc Trucker
« on: November 24, 2015, 03:49:24 pm »
The frames are built for 26" wheels through 54CM, 56CM starts the 700C wheels.

A point of clarification in case it matters to you: For the regular LHT, you can get the 26" version across the full range of sizes. In the Disc Trucker, you can get 26" version up to 58cm. Thus, if you can get a 56cm for either 700c or 26".
Yes but the OP is trying to AVOID 26" wheels.  His problem is that the 54 cm Disc Trucker only comes with 26" wheels and he wants 700c which start at 56 cm.
DOH! Sorry. Missed that crucial detail.

Routes / Re: Western NY to NYC and the Atlantic route
« on: November 23, 2015, 10:06:01 am »
You can forget about quiet roads the closer you get to NYC.

Something totally slipped my mind about the PA option. Before it gets to Matamoras, PA Bike Route Y passes through Milford, PA. From there, it's a short hop across the Delaware River via the ped path on the U.S. 206 bridge to join ACA's Atlantic Coast route south through the Delaware Water Gap. I just rode from Port Jervis, NY to Philly using that route last month. Mostly quiet roads, pretty roads. There are bike trail options in PA and NJ that probably total close to 40 miles.

There are decently spaced campgrounds up to Upper Black Eddy, PA. You can reach Philly from there in one day. No camping near own, but there is a HI Hostel in the park that is within biking distance to the center of town:

You could make it from Philly to the NJ shore in one day or break it up into two days. I know a nice state forest with camping along the way to Ocean City, which would be a good place to end the trip (unless you want a beer at the end).  Riding through Camden, NJ is not fun, but there is a short train option (bikes allowed) that allows you to hop over that area.

Once "down the shore" as we say, you can ride north to Atlantic City for a train ride (bikes allowed) back to Philly for transportation home.

Routes / Re: Trans Am Yellowstone bypass
« on: November 19, 2015, 10:06:56 am »
I was referring to the labeling of Idaho and Wyoming, in case that wasn't clear. E.g., Driggs is shown as being in WY instead of ID.

General Discussion / Re: Surly LHT/Disc Trucker
« on: November 19, 2015, 10:01:16 am »
The frames are built for 26" wheels through 54CM, 56CM starts the 700C wheels.

A point of clarification in case it matters to you: For the regular LHT, you can get the 26" version across the full range of sizes. In the Disc Trucker, you can get 26" version up to 58cm. Thus, if you can get a 56cm for either 700c or 26".

Routes / Re: Trans Am Yellowstone bypass
« on: November 17, 2015, 08:11:54 am »
I believe the ACA tours cannot go through Yellowstone and I believe their route is similar to this one;

Heh. Check your map borders.

Routes / Re: Western NY to NYC and the Atlantic route
« on: November 15, 2015, 08:09:25 am »
BTW...NY and OH don't border each other.

One option would be to take PA Bike Route Y to the end (Map 29B):

That will put you in Matamoras, PA, which is right across the Delaware River from Port Jervis, NY. IIIRC, if you go from there to Middletown, NY (U.S. 6 is most direct, but U.S. 209 and NY 211 should be quieter) you can take NY Bike Route 17 to Bike Route 9. The latter takes you into NYC. I have the hardest time trying to find maps for the NY bike routes on line. Maybe you will have better luck.

Routes / Re: Western NY to NYC and the Atlantic route
« on: November 13, 2015, 04:31:24 pm »
While I can't tell you a good way to get to these places, maybe Coney Island or somewhere along the south shore of Long Island, like Rockaway Beach. Maybe you could hitch a ride there. :) Three are also ferries from Hoboken/Jersey City and Manhattan to Atlantic Highlands, NJ, which I hear is nice.

Coming from the west, the G.W. Bridge is the only option to actually ride into Manhattan.

Another option you may not have considered is to ride the Philly area and then continue to the S. Jersey shore area.

Personally, I wouldn't want to drag by bike across an expanse of sand just to dip a wheel.

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