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Messages - indyfabz

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Another male here, but I have toured with my female partner. Like me, she tried to wash her shorts every night. Like me, she carried a second pair in the event conditions were not good for drying and riding in wet/damp shorts the next day might have been a bit uncomfortable (e.g., cold temsp). I also crossed the country many years ago with a group that included five women. They did the same. I wouldn't sweat the few extra ounces.

Wash (I usually combine washing with my shower, assuming I have one) ASAP after the end of the day's ride to allow as much time for drying as possible.

Routes / Re: Ochco Divide Campground on Trans-Am (Oregon)
« on: July 16, 2015, 09:33:03 am »
The web site says you can make reservations. Maybe call Reserve America at 1-877-444-6777, at least for the fee question.

At the risk of sounding like a Sally Struthers plea for donations, if you save $5 a day--the price of a cup of coffee at some locations--from now until June of next year you should be able to purchase the bike and gear suitable for self-contained trips.

And having done tours where I have gotten hotel rooms and eaten out on occasion I can tell you those costs can add up quickly, even in small towns. For example, back in '11 the GF and I got a room at the cheaper of the two places in Wisdom, MT, a small town on the TA route. With tax it was around $50/night. We could have camped for free. Also on the TA route: Jackson Hot Springs, 18 miles down the road, will cost you over $130/night for a cabin. Mountain Spirit Inn in Darby, MT will cost you about $80/night. Stayed at a cheap place in Hamilton, MT last year and paid about $63/night including tax. Dillon, MT looks to be even pricier. I recently got back from the Black Hills of SD. The one motel in the nowhere town of Edgemont wants $60/night plus tax. Camping at the municipal campground, with showers, was $10/night. I could have camped at the fairgrounds for free. If you spend even $20 more/night because you are staying in motels vs. camping, you are talking an additional $1,600 for an 80 day trip. (Unless you do a lot Warm Showers and Couch Surfing, I think that $20 figure is very conservative.)  Again, shopping smartly, you could probably outfit yourself for the trip for that amount, if not less.

Then there is the issue of reservations.  Many places are small and can fill up, especially during high season.

Routes / A Loop Through the Black Hills
« on: July 06, 2015, 02:20:07 pm »
Photos here:

Click on the first one and advance manually to see the captions. Unfortunately, I trashed my camera on the first night. I bought a replacement but didn't have a chance to charge the battery until after I had ridden up Spearfish Canyon, which was one of the most scenic parts of the trip.

My original itinerary included a foray into remote Northwest Nebraska. However, when I reached Edgemont on Day 3 I met a family at the municipal campground who told me the 35 mile dirt road that would take me to the main reason for going to Nebraska—Toadstool Geologic Park—would be a tough ride under good conditions and likely impassible by bike due the extensive flooding the area had experienced, so I scrubbed that portion of the mission and took a rest day in Edgemont instead. From there, It was a relatively short ride to Hot Springs, which was on my original itinerary. This change in plans resulted in a total point-point/day ride mileage of about 400. Excursions into towns and attractions such as the mammoth dig site in Hot Springs added at least another 30 miles. Ride With GPS shows about 26,500’ of climbing for the point-to-point/day ride mileage.

Things worked out like this:

Rapid City to Spearfish
Spearfish to Hill City
Hill City to Edgemont
Day Off in Edgemont with a 17 mile ride towards Nebraska and back
Edgemont to Hot Springs via Old Hwy 18 and U.S. 18
Hot Springs to Custer via Wind Cave N.P.
Loop from Custer to Sylvan Lake then Needles Highway
Day ride from Custer to Hill City and back
Custer to Mt. Rushmore KOA then a loop via Old Hill City Rd. Keystone, thence to Mt. Rushmore and back to the KOA via SD 244.
Mt. Rushmore KOA to Rapid City

Some random thoughts:

Food: This was my first tour of more than two days where I did not bring cooking gear. The reason for not doing so was that cooking on at least four days was not really practicable, either because of a lack of grocery stores and the fact that I was staying in a motel at the start and end of the trip. I thought this could be a problem and it was to some extent. When touring my body runs best on a high carb diet, and high carb meals are hard to come by in an area dominated by beef and fried foods. Even salad bars are short on fresh vegetables and long on things like tuna salad and macaroni salad drowning in mayo. Later in the trip, while staying in Custer for three nights, I did find a restaurant that had some options with decent carbs, which provided pleasant relief.

The Mickelson Trail: My route included nearly all of this 108 mile rail-trail. It is unique. The surface varied between fine to larger gravel, dirt, lose sand, and even some rocks. Ruts from unusually heavy runoff were prevalent. There are several cattle gates which you have to open, negotiate and then close. There are many bridges that are less than smooth and have transitions which, in the exercise of caution, require you to slow down. Four tunnels and countless road and driveway crossings also require slowing. One evening I had to lift my bike over a downed tree. And not only is the trail not flat, you top out at over 6,000' and are over a mile a in altitude in several places. My first day on the trail I underestimated the time it would take me to get from the Englewood trailhead to Hill City. I didn't arrive in town until 8 p.m. With that said, it is a beautiful trail and passes through some isolated territory. Fortunately, there are several trailheads with shelters, rest rooms and cisterns with drinking water. If you plan to ride this trail without fenders, expect to get dirty if the surface is wet.

Sun & Rain: The sun was intense nearly every day. Even the official map for the Mickelson Trail warns you to bring sun block as much of the trail in not shaded. I know a few days were in the upper 80s, but even days in the high 70s felt much hotter due to the blazing sun hitting you at altitude. Every day but one was dry. Around 10:15 p.m. on the second night a storm that looked like it would miss my campground on the edge of Hill City suddenly moved over the area. It went from doing nothing to raining and then hailing in a matter of 90 seconds. The hailstones ranged from pea to ping pong ball sized. There were also heavy thunderstorms two nights in Custer.

I recommended good foul weather gear for the Mickelson. Before starting out on my day ride to Hill City I met a couple in the city park who was being shuttled up north on the trail so they could ride back to Custer. I thought I might run into them in Hill City. I did. While the brunt of the that afternoon's storm missed Hill City, the couple had gotten caught in the worst of it during the long descent into town. The temperature in town dropped by what seemed like some 20 degrees, so I can only imagine how cold it was up on the hill. Compounding matters was the fact that they had been delayed in the deluge by a herd of free range cattle blocking the trail. When the couple pulled into the shelter in town, the husband's fingers were literally blue from the could. He called the shuttle service, which was based in Hill City, and they got a ride back to Custer.

Climbing & Wind: The Black Hills are, well, hilly. The first day of the trip featured nearly 4,800’ of climbing in 60 miles. Much of that was in the first 35 miles or so of the ride. The second day threw close to 5,000’ of climbing at me. That’s a lot considering 40 of the day’s 70 miles was on the Mickelson Trail. The famed Needles Highway had many steep sections. I rode it clockwise and without gear during a no-move day in Custer. That allowed me to avoid the double-digit grade sections I would have encountered going the opposite way. On day two, including a fifteen minute “I need to get out of the blazing afternoon sun” shade break, one 3 mile climb took me nearly an hour going into the wind. On that subject, there was a good deal of wind, and it was often in my face. Not strong, gusty winds, but rather steady, usually between 10 and 15 mph.

Camping: Campgrounds where generally decent. The municipal campground/park in Spearfish was the nicest municipal campground I have ever stayed in, with lush grass and modern, clean facilities. I spent two nights at the municipal campground in Edgemont, which is next to the main BNSF coal train route out of Wyoming. At the height of traffic there were 135 car unit coal trains about every 35-45 minutes. I work in the rail biz so the action was of interest to me, but the noise did wake me a few times.

Overall: I had a great time. While I would have liked to have added Nebraska to the list of states I have toured in, everything worked out well in the end. Skipping Nebraska allowed me several days where I could take day rides without having to break camp. It also insured that I had time to visit the mammoth dig site, which would have been unlikely otherwise as the day from Nebraska to Hot Springs would have been an 82 mile one.

I have the route details on Ride With GPS if anyone is interested.

General Discussion / Re: What can towns offer cyclists?
« on: July 03, 2015, 09:28:14 am »
I would suggest having a store in town that sells supplies that a touring cyclist might need, mainly I have in mind stove fuel. The stores in a RV park or the hardware and grocery stores generally don't have the type of stove fuel a touring cyclist needs, often only selling the 1 lb Coleman propane bottles or the 1 gallon cans of Coleman fuel. It can be difficult to find the correct stove fuel in rural America and carrying more than about a weeks worth of fuel can be difficult.

Touring cyclists often use the 8 oz butane/propane thread on canister fuel containers or would like to buy Coleman fuel to fill their 20 oz fuel bottles. Having the canister fuel or selling Coleman fuel out of the gallon can by the ounce would be wonderful I think.
What Dan said! Buying white gas (camping fuel) by the ounce would be amazing!

Sent from my SCH-I535 using Tapatalk

+2 on being able to buy smaller amounts of White Gas/Coleman Fuel. I wouldn't even mind paying a markup on it. Beats having to buy a gallon when you only need 15 oz. and leaving the rest behind, which is something I had to do on one occasion.

Routes / Re: Pacific Coast Highway on a road bike?
« on: July 02, 2015, 03:40:42 pm »
So that covers the sleeping arrangements. Then you need to add stove, cookware, fuel, food, water and sundry other camping items.
Weight (and volume) can escalate rapidly.

a stove isn't at all necessary if you're trying to pack light. Personally, the last thing I want to do at camp is spend an hour warming a can of beans, then have to clean up etc, although I've seen plenty of tourers that do it.

I can whip up something like this, munch it down and do clean up in about an hour:

Just got back from a non-cooking tour of the Black Hills. It was my first trip of more than three days without cooking gear. I will never do that again unless I know I will be in an area where dine out options can regularly provide broad sources of nutrition as opposed to simply calories.

General Discussion / Re: What's an 'average' day?
« on: July 01, 2015, 02:05:42 pm »
Long days the saddle can be great in theory until you hit days of rain and cold and wind and rough roads, etc. Also, you will see the same scenery between points A and B whether you spend 3 days going from A to B or 5 days. Some would say you will see more if you take 5 days. Since you will only have to answer to your own schedule I wouldn't worry about an average day. My second and third tours were nearly two month solo trips. Only one of the two had a firm deadline, but it was far enough off that I didn't have to worry about it much. I had daily plans for both trips, but they changed drastically depending on external and internal conditions. For example, while touring in Andalucía I planned to spend two nights in Cordoba but spent four because it was dry and warm and convenient, unlike many of the places I had just come from.

I just got back from touring the Black Hills. Winding up not doing as many miles as I had planned, in part because, on the advice of a Nebraskan I trusted, I decided to scrub the planned Nebraska portion of the trip. While I did fewer miles than expected, the flip side was that I had plenty of time to visit the mammoth site in Hot Springs and wasn't so worn out or rushed to take a cave tour at Wind Cave National Park.

Routes / Re: Hamilton to Butte via Skalkaho Pass
« on: June 29, 2015, 04:09:41 pm »
Somewhere on this forum there is a relatively recent thread about the pass. I rode it last year in the opposite direction. Heading from Hamilton, once you cross the pass the descent was mostly soft dirt. Then there is a random paved stretch before it turns to dirt again. Once you reach Gem Mountain, the pavement picks up again. There was a washout on the Hamilton side of pass so a portion of the rode was oficially closed to traffic, but I was able to make it through. It is a fun ride. I was riding an LHT with 37c Conti Top Touring tires.

When do you plan on trying it? I rode it in late June. There had been a lot of rain so the dirt portion was a bit spongy. Just as I started the descent towards Hamilton I got caught in a torrent of cold rain. I would consider having a good rain jacket and war, gloves if you could hit some cold weather.

Note that the only thing in the way of food and drink is at Gem Mountain. They have bottled water (no potable tap water), sodas and snacks/nuke-able sandwiches. I stopped there, bought a bucket of dirt and walked away with 16.25 karats of small sapphires. Continuing on to Butte, there will be a still climb once you turn on to MT 1 from MT 38. At the top, next to Georgetown Lake, there is a marina with a small store. Never been in, but the sign suggests they sell beer and thus probably soda and snacks. For a while you cruise pretty flatly along the lake. A little after Silver Lake it's all down hill through Anaconda to the junction of MT 1 and I-90, where there is a highway rest area with water and bathrooms.

This photo to the last three of the album set were taken on MT 38, going in the opposite direction that you will be:

Note that you can make it from Anaconda to Butte without riding I-90 if you don't mind some more gravel. There is a trail which takes you up the hill into the old section of town. The camping in Butte is not so nice. I recommend treating yourself to a room at the Hotel Finlen. The motor lodge portion of the establishment is basic but well kept, and it's right in the old section of town. Throwback to an earlier era. The first year I stayed there my bathroom had a bright lemon yellow toilet, sink and bathtub/shower. Get a room on the first floor and you can roll your bike right in. The place also has a retro bar/lounge that is neat. Let me know if you want the exact route and I will map it for you.

General Discussion / Re: Has anyone biked the east coast?
« on: June 14, 2015, 10:43:41 am »
New Jersey bears are athletic:

Seriously...We just missed seeing one in the Gap during an organized century.  Alas, all we saw were his muddy  prints in the road. The year before a couple of them walked out of the woods while the official photographer was photographing cyclists.

DOH! I need new glasses.

General Discussion / Re: Has anyone biked the east coast?
« on: June 12, 2015, 09:38:36 am »
Assume you are referring to ACA'S Atlantic Coast route. Today's predicted heat index here in Philly is 99. July can bring horrible riding weather in these parts. Hot and very humid. I imagine it only gets worse the father south you go. Or it could be o.k., but I wouldn't bank on that.

As for the route, the section between Port Jervis, NY and Lambertville, NJ uses some of my favorite roads in that part of the world. I ride the subsection of that between Belvedere and Frenchtown, NJ as part of some day rides. Another nice thing about that stretch is that there are numerous places where you can wade/swim in streams and the Delaware River to cool off. Worthington State Forest has a campground right along the river, and there is a developed swimming beach a few miles north of it. Also, there is a good amount of shade in the summer, and you might have the pleasure of seeing a bear riding through the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.

Twin Bridges, Jackson and Wisdom, MT are small places that might have them. Dillon, MT surely will. There is at least one gift shop or something similar in Twin Bridges. Since I just know you will spend a night at the Bike Camp there :) you might as well explore the town. There ain't much in Jackson except a lodge/campground that has a hot springs pool, a bar and a restaurant, and a café across the street, but I think I remember some post cards at the front desk when I was there last year. Check the grocery store in Wisdom. Maybe 10 miles or so west of Wisdom you will pass the historic battlefield site. Might be a gift shop there. Maybe the Country Store/campground on your right in Sula as you are descending from Lost Trail Pass. IIRC, just before you get there you will pass the local post office.

Oh. Western-themed Virginia City, MT will certainly have them, and you will need a rest after the tough climb out of Ennis. ;)

Gear Talk / Re: Front Rack Decisions
« on: June 10, 2015, 07:13:25 am »
That was quick. If you haven't purchased yet, take a look at the Nitto Big front rack from Rivendell. The front platform is perfect for a sleeping bag or even a smallish tent. The panniers sit between high mount and lowrider level. Pricey but incredibly sturdy and pretty.

General Discussion / Re: Loaded Tour Bike Handling
« on: June 09, 2015, 09:13:07 am »
"Retroshift" (now called Gevenalle) shifters are brackets mounted on standard Tektro brake levers (both caliper/canti and V-brake versions are offered) and use downtube shift levers.  The levers are right under your hands just like brifters, can be swept across the entire cassette in one motion.  Front shift is friction allowing infinite trim and indifference to crank and front derailleur choices.   They are available with 9,10 and 11-speed Shimano compatible shifters or use your own if you want 7 or 8-speeds.

Hmmm....Too late for my upcoming tour that starts next week, but I will definitely look into them when I get back. I did a tour across PA last year. There were a couple of days with constant, severe rollers on roads with less than pristine shoulders. There were several times when I wanted to down shift to help maintain momentum through the next rise but was hesitant to take my right hand off the hood at high speed to reach the bar end shifter. Instead, I ended up coasting until my speed dropped to match the gear I was in.

General Discussion / Re: Loaded Tour Bike Handling
« on: June 08, 2015, 08:00:56 am »
I never stand when riding loaded. You can always lift your butt off the seat while coasting. Think of a jockey holding back a horse on the back stretch during a race.

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