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Messages - indyfabz

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General Discussion / Montana Trip Report
« on: July 14, 2016, 04:36:17 pm »
Photos from my eleven-day, 545 mile loop tour out of Missoula, MT starting June 15th:

(Click on the first one and advance manually.)

The route with campgrounds listed (started and ended at the Missoula KOA):

Much of the mileage I had ridden before during other tours out that way, including ones in 2011 and 2014, but some was new to me. I had planned to take the 5th day as a rest day but ended up doing a 23 mile out and back ride from the Bike Camp in Twin Bridges, where I spent two nights.

Nice weather except for 15 miles of light rain at the end of day 1 and rain (sometimes heavy) all night in camp, a couple of bouts of hail on day 2 and a thunderstorm on the penultimate day. One unplanned indoor stay in Jackson on day 2 because the hot springs lodge that allows camping was not yet open on Thursday and it was really cold and windy out by the evening. My motel stay in Butte was planned. Cooked most dinners.

The route incorporated over 70 miles of gravel/dirt roads, including 30 miles of beautiful Rock Creek Rd. and 23 miles of hilly, rough, deserted Melrose Rd., where all I could hear was the wind and other sounds of nature. Due to the heavy rain on day 1, on day 2 I ended up scrapping the additional 20 miles of gravel/dirt that is Gibbons Pass and instead rode Lost Trail and Chief Joseph Passes.

Critter sightings included two young, mule deer bucks, a beautiful fox, a common snipe, great blue and other herons, an American bald eagle, ospreys, various other raptors, sand hill cranes, hummingbirds, a beaver that crawled onto the bank of the…wait for it…Beaverhead River and even two examples of the one species of American white pelican that is native to the state. Much to my delight, the mosquitoes were not bad at all, even in Wisdom. I think I used my repellant maybe three or four times.

One shock was the development that has sprung up in the Ennis area. I camped at the fish access campground there on June 25, 2000 during a tour from Seattle to Mesa Verde N.P. There were only a few other occupied sites and no one using the boat ramp. This year I stayed there on June 20th. I got one of the last vacant sites, and there were a lot of people taking their float boats out of the Madison River. Across from the campground are new homes near the river bank.

One cool sight was the cowboy driving the cattle along the side of the road a bit east of Wise River. He was quite pleasant and asked me about my trip as he passed. When I told him, he tipped his hat and said "Sounds like a plan!"

Nice people stories: I stupidly used my one dollar bills to pay for something in Virginia City so I didn't have exact change for the $12 campground fee at Ennis. I asked around and a woman who was having a picnic there with her friend gave me two ones when it turned out she didn't have change for a five. I met a local rider while leaving Butte. He showed me a new trail that took me towards Anaconda. The trail eliminated some I-90 frontage road riding. The trail is so new it's not on RWGPS so I couldn't include it in my map. The goal is eventually have a system of trails stretching between Butte and Anaconda for, as the local joked, all eight people in Butte who ride bikes.

One disappointment was not getting to tour the caverns at Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park, where I camped. What I failed to realize when I reserved a site is that, while the campground is easy to reach from the road, the caverns are 3.2 miles up a steep hill with grades that reach 9%, and the wind was gusting over 30 mph all day and into the evening. The photo showing me clocked at 6 m.p.h. was taken as I rode towards the park.

It’s a small world. The penultimate night on the road I camped in Philipsburg  at the same location as Adventure Cycling’s supported Cycle Montana trip. The leader of that trip, along with three participants, had all been participants on AC’s 2010 Cycle Vermont Trip which I was also on.

Starting to plot next year’s western trip and am thinking of again starting in Missoula and heading northwest into Idaho.

Gear Talk / Re: Bike - Light Duty Touring Aluminum vs. Steel
« on: July 14, 2016, 07:36:41 am »

What was your girlfriends longest tour and was it self-supported?

Thanks again!

Two longest were a week+ plus in Montana and Canada and 10 days in Montana. Several other three-day trips. All self contained. She towed a trailer. She never really took to unsupported touring.

Gear Talk / Re: Bike - Light Duty Touring Aluminum vs. Steel
« on: July 13, 2016, 02:16:30 pm »
Back in 2011 I looked for a touring bike for my then GF who is 5' even. Only thing I could find off the shelf for someone her size was the smallest size (42 cm) Surly Long Haul Trucker with 26" wheels. She likes it a lot. Their Cross-Check, which they bill as a light touring bike, also comes in a 42 cm size but with 700c wheels. Both, of course, are steel.

Gear Talk / Re: Front Panniers or Rear Duffel??
« on: July 12, 2016, 07:24:29 am »
Personal preference, but I like four panniers. Good weight balance, solid bike handling, extra space when needed, and no concern about a light front wheel causing imprecise steering. There are some downsides, however, like the extra weight of a front rack and two more panniers.


Routes / Re: Trans America question: Distance between pit stops
« on: July 05, 2016, 07:35:41 am »
There are other areas where reservations might be wise. For example, I was recently on the TransAm for a few days. Everything in Ennis, MT looked pretty booked up as I headed to the fish access campground and then took a spin around town. That was on a Monday during popular fishing time.

Routes / Re: Cycling from Portland, Or to Logan's Pass
« on: June 30, 2016, 03:45:01 pm »
Many moons ago I did some of what Carla mentions, only in reverse. I started in Seattle, went up to the Northern Tier near Mt. Vernon, WA, rode to Glacier N.P. for a few days and then doubled back to the Columbia Falls/Whitefish area and took the Great Parks North to Missoula, staying at a state park campground in Big Fork and then the U.S.F.S. campground at Lake Alva.

Routes / Re: Great Sand Dunes CO
« on: June 29, 2016, 11:25:53 am »
You can see the road using Google Maps Street View. Appears to be little to no shoulder most of the way south from U.S. 285, with a wide shoulder starting a bit outside Alamosa.

Gear Talk / Re: Continental Touring Plus
« on: June 28, 2016, 09:57:06 am »
I bought a new LHT fitted with Continental Sport Contact tires.

Got a puncture first ride, and another the second ride - both from stone chips which penetrated the tire. Coincidence maybe - but this really shook my confidence in Continental touring tires.

All Conti tires are not created equal. The Top Contact/Contact II is what you need for great puncture resistance. Just got back from MT where I rode at least 75 miles of unpaved surfaces, much of which were very rough and rock-strewn.

General Discussion / Re: Pannier Discussion
« on: June 27, 2016, 07:27:27 am »
The only panniers I have ever seen with aluminum stiffeners are my Robert Beckman panniers I bought in '99. I understand he's back in business, but I don't know what he's using these days, and you may need a second mortgage on your home to afford his stuff. I am pretty hard on stuff and my current Ortlieb Packer (Sport and Back) panniers have performed well over the last five years.

Routes / Re: Northern Tier Alternate
« on: June 27, 2016, 07:18:54 am »
Thanks for all of your suggestions. I'm guessing that the fracking ban in NY State could mean less heavy vehicles than PA. Looks like we'll find our way to Ithaca and continue southeast to the headwaters of the Delaware River.

Got back from touring in MT yesterday and just saw this....

Reaching the shore in north and central NJ can be tricky in places. Send me a private message if you might be interested in passing through Philly and heading to the S. Jersey shore. A few years ago I did a nice trip from Warren, OH to my home in Philly, and I ride to the S. Jersey shore fairly frequently.  One convenient aspect of ending at the S. Jersey shore is that you can then ride to Atlantic City and take the train (with your bikes) back to Philly for transportation options back home. Also, the route down the Delaware from Port Jervis, NY to Lambertville, NJ is really nice. From there, it's easy to get to Philly.

General Discussion / Re: Getting the bike to Banff for the GDR?
« on: June 12, 2016, 07:02:25 am »
GDR ? German Democratik Republic ? If is yes, it was yesterday. What do you mean?

Gesendet von meinem GT-N8000 mit Tapatalk

He's talking about the Great Divide [Mountain Bike] Route, hence the mention of two cities in Canada.

OP: You can check, which is a discount bike shipping service that primarily uses FedEx. Just shipped my large LHT, racks, stove and empty fuel bottle from Philly to Missoula for $64, including $1,600 in insurance. However, because you are talking Canada, it my be more economical to fly the bikes.

While I had been riding for sport for a little over 20 years, I rode a fully loaded touring bike a grand total of one time (65 miles) before I headed out west to start my first tour, which was the entire Northern Tier. Then I rode home to Philly from Maine. Just get plenty of saddle time between now and then and you should be fine. While I didn't have the opportunity to do so, you have plenty of times to take shorter tours to become accustom to touring, which involves much more than just riding the bike.

I agree that riding home, or towards, home makes things easier logistically. It was fun to end my trip at my front door.

TransAm over the Atlantic Coast, if only because the Atlantic Coast starting in June means you stand a good chance of having hot, humid conditions for much (if not most) of the trip. You are also bound to run into many other cyclist on the TransAm. I am heading to Missoula on Tuesday for an eleven day loop tour. With one detour aside, I will be on the TransAm route for about four and a half days. When I was out that way two years ago I encountered well over a dozen people doing the TransAm or Lewis & Clark routes  (they overlap for a bit) in only three and a half days on the TransAm route.

^^This. And please convince your partner not to freak out if she doesn't hear from you for a couple of days. That happened a few years back with someone. I don't recall the exact details, but a family member of a young person who was riding across the country did just that. She started a thread on at least one forum (possibly this one) saying the kid was missing and asking if anyone had seen him. He was fine. IIRC, he accidentally left his phone on, the battery died and he couldn't get it charged for a few days. Whatever the exact details, he was never in any trouble. He simply couldn't get in touch.

Off the top of my head:

I would think indoor lodging would not be a rarity.

Not to hijack the thread, but I was (mistakenly) under the impression that one could get shuttled through the Mt. Carmel tunnel by the NPS. In looking up the matter I came across the this from 2014:


I have ridden through a 5,300', unlit tunnel while riding the abandoned portion of the Pennsylvania Turnpike that is now an unofficial bike trail. Even with a very bright headlamp it was easy to become a bit disoriented. I followed the advice of someone and tracked the highway median stripe, which was still visible decades after the road was abandoned. Most of these people had NO lights. The two who did had only little flashers.

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