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Messages - indyfabz

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Gear Talk / Re: Anyone here use Rok Straps?
« on: April 12, 2016, 09:32:52 am »
I think I like the idea that the rock straps are staying attached to the bike when you setup camp ready to re-strap the next morning.

Am I correct is assuming that both ends stay attached when not in use? If not, be careful that one end doesn't get caught in your spoke when you move the bike. I had that happen but caught it before I a disaster happened.

Routes / Re: Erie Canalway Towpath trail
« on: April 11, 2016, 01:50:38 pm »

Routes / Re: East Coast Greenway or Atlantic Route
« on: April 10, 2016, 10:16:38 am »
In DE and PA, there is very little that is green about the ECG. In fact, it uses many heavily travelled roads and city streets, some of which go through some not-so-nice places, like Chester, PA. (PA 291 though Chester in named "Industrial Highway."  That ought to tell you something.)  I live a few blocks away from it in Philly.  Many of the streets it uses to get north through town are very busy. Urban combat riding at its finest. And forget about camping opportunities.

I would at least take the ACA route to Lambertville, NJ. You could then take the D&R Feeder Canal Trail to the Trenton, NJ area to pick up the ECG. There will be some hills this way, but no mountains.

General Discussion / Re: Paniers vs. Trailer
« on: April 08, 2016, 07:43:25 am »
Note that a two-wheeled trailer can cause problems when there are rumble strips.

Don't miss the Bike Camp in Twin Bridges, MT.

You ask about boxing your bike at the airport. Unless you plan to ride your bike to the airport carrying a box, it sounds like you are expecting and counting on the airline to supply a box. I would not go that route unless there is a 100% chance that a box will be available. A safer bet is to supply your own box. If you go that route you might as well box it up before you get to the airport.

Asking others what airlines they have used will only elicit helpful answers if someone happens to have had an experience with an airline that flies to where you want to go. I will be flying to MSO in June. If I asked the question you did and someone responded "I used Southwest. They are the cheapest for bikes.", the response would not help me because Southwest does not fly to MSO.

All that aside, if your travel plans are within the U.S., have you considered shipping your bike? I will be shipping to Missoula this June. I have used on two occasions, saving A LOT of money over what I would have had to pay the airlines. Last year I shipped from Philly to Rapid City, SD for something like $47, including a 10% discount for repeat business and $1,400 in insurance. I think my airline wanted $150 for the bike. For what I saved, I had the bike professionally boxed for shipment and assembled and tuned by a local bike shop in SD. And there is no dealing with lugging a bike to the airport, going through security and having a TSA agent open the box and not close it properly. One time I flew with my bike the TSA agent couldn't figure out how to use the buckles on my box's straps. When I got to my destination, I found one of the straps tied in a crude knot.

Which box?

Is the airline I flew available to you?

Gear Talk / Re: Gear Inches for the Northern Tier
« on: April 05, 2016, 02:27:56 pm »
These tips are really helpful.  So much good information from folks that have done this before. I'll start out in Anacortes in late May.  I'll follow the NT route until I get to Glacier.  I plan on spending some time in MT and WY.  First in Glacier, then head down to Missoula via the Great Parks North route, then down to Yellowstone/Teton via the TA route, back up to catch the Northern tier in Dickinson, ND via Great Falls along the the Lewis & Clark. Weather, time, or other route interests may change this plan.  I've never done a tour where I didn't change the route a least a little bit for all three reasons.

Late May is when I started from Seattle both times. Three days up to the NT at Bay View, WA, a bit east of Anacortes. Don't know what the winter was like this year, but the winter of '98-'99 was really snowy. We got rained on then snowed on crossing Rainy and Washington Passes. Winthrop to Tonakset was quite warm. Then we woke to flurries in Republic and had more on the descent from Sherman Pass.

Howard Miller Steelhead Park in Rockport, WA has Adirondack shelters. Nice amenity if it's cold and wet like it was when we were there. This spring, construction will start on biker sites at Whitefish Lake State Park. Don't know when they will be ready, and it's my understanding from people that the train noise at the park can be disturbing.

In '00 I went to Glacier, rode up the west slope of Going to the Sun then back down, then backtracked to Columbia Falls/Whitefish and took the Great Parks North to Missoula. I then continued on the TransAm to Yellowstone and eventually ended up on Cortez, CO via the Great Parks South. I prefer Sprague Creek Campground in Glacier. It's within walking distance of the Lake McDonald lodge. If you don't mind being dependent upon the shuttle, Avalanche Campground might make more sense. Shop for groceries in W. Glacier, before you enter the park. The selection at the store at the lodge is more along the lines of "junk food."

In '11 and '14 I did two loops out of Missoula on the TA as far east as Twin Bridges. I will actually be back in MSO on June 14th for another loop that will take me as far east as Ennis before I head north and then west back to MSO. If you don't mind some (about 6.5 miles) of pretty easy gravel, don't pass up the Old Darby Rd. Alternative between Hamilton and Darby, MT. Great views and quitter than U.S. 93. Shop in Darby as the grocery selection at the Sula Country Store & Campground is very limited (the breakfast is good), and the store portion closes at 5 p.m. When I got there in '14 at about 5:02 the store was dark and locked up tight. This year I plan to stay at Spring Gulch Campground (U.S.F.S.), which is a few miles west of there, just for something different. There is a cyclist-only site there.

If you want a real dirt challenge, take Gibbons Pass east of Sula if it's open. I did it in '11. The west slope is narrow and rough in places, but doable with sturdy, wide tires. (I ride 35c.) But it really is like being in the backcountry, and it's shorter that Lost Trail/Chief Jospeh Passes. While climbing the west slope I encountered one vehicle. The east side is a totally different experience. Wide, mostly gentle grade with a good dirt surface.

West slope:

East slope:

The mosquitoes in Wisdom will eat you alive. In fact, there is a little climb about 8 miles before town, as you pass a ranch, where they are really bad. Groceries are relatively limited, but The Crossings at Fetty's serves up great grub. Didn't check on the condition of the screened shelter in the American Legion park. I pitched my tent in there back in '00. In '11 we got a motel room in town. (The GF wanted no part of the bugs.) In '14 I pushed on to Jackson and camped at the hot springs resort. Pricey (close to $30, IIRC), but that comes with use of the hot springs pool and a large towel, which is a nice treat. The food there is good, and there is another place in town, but no grocery store.

I know people often like to stay in Dillon, MT because of the size and availability of services, but I highly recommend the Bike Camp in Twin Bridges. First class facility in a nice setting along the Beaverhead river, and it's free (donations strongly recommended). The town also has a very good grocery/liquor store, library with Internet access and a couple of restaurants. The fishing access campground just outside of the center of Ennis was tranquil when I was there in '00. Plan to stay there this year.

Send me a PM if you can handle dirt (some of it rough in places) and want a really sweet detour off the TransAm after Big Hole Pass east of Jackson that ultimately takes you to Twin Bridges. There is a way you can do it without the dirt, but that way passes through Dillon on the way to Twin Bridges and adds even more miles.

Gear Talk / Re: Wheels without spokes?
« on: April 04, 2016, 04:19:26 pm »

Or you could get sturdy wheels properly built and not have to worry much. During my "modern" touring phase (since '09) I haven't broken a spoke despite touring fully loaded on some bumpy, unpaved roads.

And if you get hooked on bike shops in old, red barns, this place is on the Old Dabry Rd. Alternative of the TransAm in Hamilton, MT, or you can get there via paved roads (MT 38 and Sleeping Child Rd.) off of U.S. 93 just south/east of the center of Hamilton:

Nice group of people.

Gear Talk / Re: Gear Inches for the Northern Tier
« on: April 04, 2016, 10:10:17 am »
Thanks BikePacker.  I'm so excited for this tour.  What do you consider more gear then most, weight wise?  I'm thinking of carrying no more than 50 lbs, likely less and I'm on the lighter side at 140 lbs.

While it was some time ago, I did the entire NT W to E and, the following year, the western portion to Glacier a second time. If you are a light, strong person with a lighter load, 19.3 should be o.k. During my rides, I was about 50 lbs. heavier than you are carried a lot of weight thanks to a lot of film camera equipment. Bike and gear placed on a truck stop scale was 90 lbs. Low gear was a 22x34. Worked out fine, though I struggled in some places, such as right out of blocks from Colonial Creek Campground on WA 20.

I highly recommend doing the mileage into AB. I was there again in '09 during a loop from/to Whitefish, MT. The towne campsite in Waterton Village is in a dramatic setting and is a good place for a day off. Just don't underestimate the ride there from St. Mary. I found it harder than Logan Pass in Glacier. Another harder-than-it-looks section is between Libby and Eureka. Lots of ups and downs along the lake that can wear you out. South from Eureka follow the ACA route proper. The detours off U.S. 93 are a nice break and pretty. If you need a break along that stretch, go off route the .25 miles to the mercantile in the center of Olney. (You will see a blue sign pointing towards the town center.) The place has a neat collection of old pop/soda bottles. Also follow the ACA route between Whitefish and W. Glacier. There is a section of U.S. 2 between Columbia Falls and Hungry Horse that has no shoulder. I stayed on U.S. 2 the second time. I made it alive, but I went very early in the morning. U.S. 2 can be much noisier whereas the ACA route through Blankenship is low traffic. After Blankenship Bridge, it is unpaved, but it's manageable.

What time of year are you planning on starting?

Routes / Re: El Nino impact on Sierra Cascade route this spring?
« on: March 30, 2016, 01:49:26 pm »
Here is a previous thread that mostly touches on Windigo:

Gear Talk / Re: Who makes decent rain gear....
« on: March 29, 2016, 10:17:17 am »
Just put my new Showers Pass 2.1 jacket to the test last weekend during two cold, windy and wet days. Loving it mucho, especially since my REI dividend covered the entire cost when using the 20% coupon. ;)

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.

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