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Messages - indyfabz

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Gear Talk / Re: New Rider Advice on Purchasing a Road Bike
« on: October 24, 2016, 08:00:26 am »
I would look at the REI/Novara Safari which sells for only $799.00 and comes complete with rear rack.

Better look quick as it has been discontinued, or so I am told. REI is revamping its bike lineup for next year.

Flooding has damaged a section of the Greenbrier Trail covered by maps 10 (Greenbrier River) and 11 (Harts Run). (BE-1003).

Details can be found at the top of this page:

Comparing the wording to the mileage chart, it seems that the trail is impassible roughly between Hopper (Map 11) and a few miles south of Anthony (Map 10)

General Discussion / Re: Full Time Tour Leader?
« on: October 16, 2016, 09:32:50 am »
When I did Cycle Vermont in 2010 the leader and his wife worked the tour along with others.

Routes / Re: How to know if newer map version has re-routes?
« on: October 12, 2016, 01:09:26 pm »
Good questions, and something I have been thinking about since I rode part of the Atlantic Coast route last month. I don't believe I have the latest map version for the portion I rode. After crossing the Hudson river via the bike/ped bridge, the route on my map heading south immediately takes to roads again. But you can stay on the trail and easily re-join the map route after a few more miles of car-free riding. I have been wondering if, when my map version was produced, the trail had not been extended but is now incorporated on the newest version of the map.

This issue applies significantly to the portion of the Northern Tier route in North Dakota, which underwent a major re-route due to the oil boom. Anyone relying on an old map for that area and not having knowledge of the re-route would likely have an unpleasant experience.

Gear Talk / Re: Getting bike and gear to start of tour
« on: September 27, 2016, 09:47:45 am »
For a variety of reasons, some Amtrak routes are better than others. From an on time perspective, routes that use lines that are heavily congested with freight traffic (e.g., the Capitol Limited, which is popular with GAP riders) tend to have worse on time records, but not always. Necessary maintenance work can also affect on time performance.

A few weeks ago I rode the Vermonter with my bike from Philly to Brattleboro, VT. The Vermonter has roll-on bike service. The staff at the station was very helpful. The woman at the information desk told me to ask a red cap when I needed to report for the elevator ride down to the platform. The red cap was pleasant in letting me know, and everything went smoothly. Before my stop, the conductor let me know which doors would be used to detrain. The train arrived a few minutes early. The services uses lines with little or no freight traffic, some of which are dispatched by Amtrak and commuter agencies, so I should have been more hopeful this would happen then I was.

Routes / Re: New England to the Atlantic Coast Route
« on: September 26, 2016, 10:54:33 am »
I originally eyed up Taconic State Park near Millerton, but Labor Day is the last day of its season, which seems strange. One would think there would be some leaf pepper business, at least on weekends.

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.

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