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Messages - indyfabz

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46
But if you go by yourself you need to be okay spending a lot of time in your own head. On the plus side, no constant negotiations on how far, or how fast, or where and what to eat, or where to stay.

+1. I have done most of my touring alone and have been on the road alone for as long as nearly two months. You really do need to be comfortable with your own company to spend a long time solo. And being able to make your own decisions is a real plus.

I will also bet that solo travellers receive more "acts of kindness." My very first tour started out with ACA's group tour across the Northern Tier. When that part of the trip ended, I rode home solo in about three weeks. As a group of a dozen, we seemed more self-sufficient when together in camp and thus were rarely offered assistance. During my solo trip home, I was offered things several times, including a half a pie that a woman had baked in her RV. During the group portion of the trip, it would not be odd to find yourself riding alone. It was then that people were more likely to experience acts of kindness. One woman in the group who was riding solo one day was invited into the home of a woman in rural ND and served tea.

47
I have encountered at least a half dozen women touring alone, including one on the Northern Tier who made it to the eastern terminus just fine.

What John says, especially about the number of people on the TA vs. the NT. Did the entire NT once, the western portion to Glacier a second time, and some western portions of the TA twice. Encountered far more people on the TA. In '11, in just 2 1/2 days on the TA south/east of Missoula, I encountered at least 9 people. They had all started in the east in May. In all honesty, I don't remember encountering that many people during all my time on the NT other than the one year when I started out one day ahead of ACA's NT group tour and spent two different nights in the same towns with that group.

48
General Discussion / Re: Hello from Twin Bridges, Montana
« on: April 28, 2014, 08:53:57 pm »
Some photos photos from in and around town, including one of the Bike Camp building and a nice sunset viewed from the grassy camping area.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/davez2007/sets/72157644399024421/

49
Gear Talk / Re: Touring-oriented bike shop in Missoula?
« on: April 28, 2014, 02:01:19 pm »
All of the shops in town should be able to help you out, but as mentioned above, Hellgate Cyclery is very close to the Adventure Cycling headquarters and has great service. If looking for a shop with more product inventory, Missoula Bicycle Works is right across the river from downtown.

Thanks. I am planning to ship to Missoula for a loop tour starting on June 20th. If I don't use REI, which is convenient to the KOA where I will be spending my first night, I might use Hellgate.

OP: I used Missoula Bicycle Works when I was out that way a few years ago. They were very busy in late June. You might consider calling ahead, checking their schedule and making an appointment ahead of time if they allow that.

Even if you get service in Missoula, I recommend stopping by this place in Hamilton, MT if only to check out the shop:

http://redbarnbicycles.com/

Nice group of people. You'll ride right by the road that leads to the shop if you take the Old Darby Rd. alternative, which is something I also recommend. There is a beautiful spot on that route where the river the mountains and the sky all seem to come together.

50
Routes / Re: Philadelphia to Detroit via Canada
« on: April 28, 2014, 10:47:32 am »
One option: You can take SEPTA to Trenton then NJT to Seacucus Jct. then a third train (Metro-North service run by NJT) to Port Jervis, NY where you could (a) ride north in NY or easily make your way to the start of PA Bike Route Y in Matamoras, PA, which would take you close to Erie, PA:

ftp://ftp.dot.state.pa.us/public/pdf/bikes/state_mapY.pdf

Note that there are restriction on when you can take your bike on all these services. I think with SEPTA, you would be good even on a weekday morning since you would be going against the tide of the morning commute. As for NJT, you cannot head up north from Trenton on any train that arrives in NYC before either 9 or 10 a.m. Can't remermber which, but the rules are on NJT's web site. There are also restrictions on the Port Jervis train (since NJT runs the service, NJT's bike rules apply), but by the time you would get to Seacuacus Jct. on a weekday you would be o.k. as long as you don't wait until close to the evening/afternoon commute. I once worked out a schedule that made this combination workable on a weekday morning.

Riding from the Art Museum to Port Jervis is about 160 miles, so you would save about 2 days. 3 days of riding as opposed to 1 day of train travel. Personally, I would try to find the time to ride. The trip up the Delaware and through the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is quite nice. I was supposed to do it in reverse on Easter Weekend like I have done the last two years, but when I went to pick up the one-way rental it was discovered that my driver's license had expired. Plan B was a ride up to Upper Black Eddy, about 20 miles above Lambertville, NJ on Friday for two nights of camping and a day ride on Saturday before returring home. The campground in UBE gives all cyclists a flat $15/night rate. Farther north, there is nice riverside camping at Worthing State Forest in NJ, just across the river from Delaware Water Gap, PA.

Alternatively, you could take NJT from Trenton into NYC's Penn Station, ride to Grand Central Terminal and take the train (Metro-North) to Poughkeepsie, NY. There are some bike restriction on this service as well. Check their web site.

Don't know if Amtrak has any trains with checked baggage that go as far north as somewhere like Albany.

51
Routes / Re: Philadelphia
« on: April 28, 2014, 08:17:41 am »
I am confused. You want to ride from Philadelphia but you also want to take the train across PA? Also, the only train you can take across PA ends in Pittsburgh, and it does not allow bicycles.

How would riding up the Delaware River and then across the northern tier of PA to Erie, PA grab you?

52
General Discussion / Re: Hello from Twin Bridges, Montana
« on: April 27, 2014, 10:20:09 am »
Spent the night in TB in '11 during a loop ride in MT. Stayed at the Bike Camp and had lunch and breakfast the next morning at the Wagon Wheel. Good burger. Bought some salmon steaks at the grocery store and had a BBQ. Got some sandwiches for the road the next day from the coffee hut place. But since it was July 4th, the library was closed.

Planning to spend another night at the Bike Camp on June 23rd of this year after riding into town via Melrose Bench Road. I will make an effort to stop by.

+1 on the niceness of the lawn at the camp. As for the name, see this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twin_Bridges,_Montana

Guess the second bridge is gone, although there is a bridge across the Big Hole River on Melrose Bench Road (a/k/a Melrose Twin Bridges Country Road) which dumps you onto MT 41 at the fair grounds

53
General Discussion / Re: Hand Signs
« on: April 21, 2014, 01:38:44 pm »
BTW, I'm leery of using "on-your left" announcements on some mass rides or on Rail Trails. There are so many inexperienced and inept riders there that their response is often to veer to the left which is exactly what you DON'T want them to do.

Heh. Yesterday I was riding home during a three-day and on a busy MUP. Said "On your left" and the person moved left. Also, manny users don't hear you anyway because they have the music turned up.

54
Routes / Re: Seattle to Missoula
« on: April 21, 2014, 10:54:10 am »
One way is to head north and pick up the Northern Tier to Whitefish, MT. Then due south thru Seeley Lake.  Not the most direct, but very scenic.

+1. You can take a ferry out of Seattle to pick up the Pacific Coat route. That takes you to just east of Anacortes, where you can pick up the Northern Tier route. Great Parks will take you south from Whitefish/Columbia Falls to Missoula. As noted, it's not the most direct, but it's very scenic. Going this way also gives you few days of warm up before you cross the Cascade Mountains. Both times I rode Seattle to Whitefish at a liesurely pace is took about 17 days including rest days in Withrop, after the Cascades, and Sandpoint.

If time is not a factor, you could also keep on the NT to Glacier National Park, pitch camp for a few days, ride up and back down the west slope of Going to the Sun, then back track to Whitefish/Columbia Falls. That would add two days.

From Whitefish to Missoula is an easy three day ride. Depending on how much mileage you are willing to do, you might be able to pull it off in two days. I left Glacier, rode back to Whitefish then to Big Fork. The next day I camped at Lake Alva. Day three I was in Missoula. Don't recall any of those days being difficult.

55
General Discussion / Re: no progress with Amtrak for GAP / C&O
« on: April 16, 2014, 11:23:41 am »
Passenger rail service in this country, with the possible exceptions of the Northeast corridor (say Norfolk VA to Portland ME) and the Pacific coast from San Francisco to San Diego, has too low a population density and too much space between major cities to be economically feasible.

The Keystone service (NYC-Philly-Harrisburg) is very popular as is Milwaukee-Chicago. Both have about 14 trains each weekday. Amtrak's Illinois service is, too. That's not to mention the numerous commuter rail agencies. New Jersey Transit, for example, is tryingto add more capacity bot on and off the Northeast Corridor.

But I do believe are funding prioritiesd are out of whack.

56
General Discussion / Re: Logistics of shipping equipment for touring
« on: April 16, 2014, 11:08:31 am »
The two TSA agents I have spoken to about stoves both told me that if they are detected they will be confiscated because of fuel and/or ash residue. I have an MSR Dragonfly. No way am I willing to risk that getting confiscated.

The two times I have flown domestically for unsupported tours, I have shipped my bike via UPS in a plastic case from Crateworks:

http://www.crateworks.com/

The boxes are big but still "airline legal." Their depth allows me to fit both my large racks in the case along with my 60cm LHT. I remove them and "weave" them around the frame. I also put my stove and empty fuel bottle in the crate. I ship the package to a local bike shop at the start and have them assemble and tune the bike. The shop stores my box and the duffle bag I flew with. When I return, I take the bike to the shop and go have a beer. The shop packs and ships the bike back to the address of my choosing. The shop labor costs money, but if your airline charges a lot for a bike, youi might save money or at least break even. Plus, you don't have to worry about ground transportation with your bike if you don't plan to ride straight from the airport.

I am booked to Missoula in June on United. I think United charges $175 for a bike each way. I will be going the shipping route again. If you choose to ship, you should leave about 10 days for UPS ground shipping just to be on the safe side. I have shipped from Philly to Montana twice. It's never taken more than about 7 days, but I like to play it safe. Also, you should make arrangmentas with the shop well ahead of time so you will be on the schedule. A few years ago, the Missoula bike shop we used forgot to put us on the schedule for packing and shipping back home even though we had made it clear when we would be dropping our bikes off. That resulted in about a 4 day delay in getting our bikes back.

57
General Discussion / Re: no progress with Amtrak for GAP / C&O
« on: April 11, 2014, 08:04:22 am »
As a rail supporter since the late 1970s, I have seen a steady erosion of baggage services nationwide. Since many stops outside urban corridors have, at most, one train each day in each direction, it is prohibitively expensive to staff a station. For liability reasons it is risky to have people do their own loading.  It's one thing on urban routes with raised platforms or low-level car doors to have cyclist bring their own bikes on board - - but to get a bike into a baggage car may involve too much risk.

This plus the fact that the baggage cars Amtyrak inherited were vintage. 1950s, I believe. Many reached the ends of their useful lives. New baggage cars cost a lot of money, and the remaining ones are expensive to maintain. Amtrak labor is, in general, more expensive than the industry norm.

In Amtrak's defense re: schedules: Outside of the Northeast Corridor and the Philadelphia-Harrisburgh line, where servicve is pretty reliable, Amtrak does not own or dispatch the rigths of way it operates on. The Cumberland--Pitsburgh services operates on a very busy piece of railroad. Typically, there is a contractual incentive for the owning freight road to keep Amtrak on schedule, but that isn't always popular.

58
Routes / Re: From east to west starting June 2014
« on: April 10, 2014, 09:18:36 am »
@indyfabz : Thanks for your advices. Maybe we'll take a train to enter  and leave the cities. We think to use warmoshower, couchsurfing and hostels.

We definitely want to go to Glacier NP and spend a few day there. What is the weather there, in september ?
Excited about the ferry ride too, do you have the name of the hostel ?

According to locals I have spoken with, they love September in Glacier. The bugs are gone as are many of the crowds. Apgar, Sprague Creek and Avalanche Campgrounds, all on the west side of the road, have hiker/biker campsites. A visit to Lake McDonald lodge is a must on the west side. Grab a beer at the bar and enjoying it down by the water.

I would check the park's web site. There has been an ongoing road rehab project in the park. In past years, the park service has closed portions of Going to the Sun for periods in September to allow for uninterrupted constrcution work. Later in the year they will likely post closure information on their web site.

This is the site for the HI Hostel in Seattle:

http://www.hiusa.org/washington/seattle/the-american-hotel

I think there are a couple of others. The HI Hostel was packed in late May. Don't know how busy it is at other times, but a reservation is probably advisable.

This shows the ferries:

http://www.wsdot.com/ferries/schedule/

It's been a long time, so I don't remember the exact ferry that took me close to the ACA Pacific Coast Route, but I am pretty sure it was either the Bainbridge Isnand or Bremerton ferry.

59
Routes / Re: Northern Tier west to east, points of interest?
« on: April 09, 2014, 10:17:51 am »
If you're interested in history, the Nez Perce museum in Chinook MT is interesting

+1. We stopped there and watched the vide presentation.

If you have the time, I highly recommend doing the portion of the roue into Alberta and taking a day off in Waterton Village. There is a very scenic town campsite right on the lake. Further east in Alberta, Magrath is home to a Hutterite colony. Just remember to bring your passports.

In MN you can see a giant statue of Paul Bunyon and Babe the Blue Ox in Bemidji, walk across the Mississippi River at Lake Itasca State Park and visit the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids. The "Field of Dreams" baseball field is outside of Dyersville, IA. If you take a detour to Davenport, IA and cross the river into Moline, IL via historic Rock Island you can visit the John Deere Pavilion, which claims to be the largest agricultural museum in the world. There is a community center in Monroeville, IN where cyclists can stay. Cleveland has the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the optional tour of the city through Cleveland Heights and Shaker Heights is nice. The Rainbow Hostel in Niagara Falls was a nice place for a rest day.

60
Routes / Re: From east to west starting June 2014
« on: April 09, 2014, 09:45:58 am »
I was going to make tyhe same comment about big cities. A place like Chicago can be very difficult to navigate if you are unfamiliar with the area. If you are set on that plan, you might want to go to www.bikeforums.net and post in the relevant regional discussion area. Someone might be able to give you a good route through town. Just don't expect any camping and be prepared to pay a lot for a hotel room. I would also make reservations. Chicago is very crowded with tourists in the summer.

As for Seattle, you could head north from Missoula on ACA's Great Parks North route. That takes you to Whitefish, MT, where you can pick up the Northern Tier through ID and WA. Hang a left just east of Anacortes, WA on the Pacific Coast route and you will pass within a short ferry ride of Seattle, where there is a nice hostel for lodging. The Northern Tier through WA is quite nice.

From Whitefish, you could take a short side trip east to Glacier National Park:

http://www.nps.gov/glac/index.htm

Set up camp there for a few days and ride up and back down the west slope of Going to the Sun Road, arguably one of the most scenic roads in the country, then head back to Whitefish to pick up the Northern Tier.

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