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Messages - indyfabz

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My Big Agnes SL 2 is free standing and weighs 3.25 lbs.

Routes / Re: Tran-american bike tour
« on: May 05, 2015, 08:45:48 am »
but personally I wouldn't bother with the ritual again.

+1. I actually didn't bother with the ritual at all, although some of us did jump in the water at Bar Harbor, ME.

If you want to dip, I would avoid finishing in S. Jersey for the reason noted above. Lots of sand to traverse at many of the beaches in that part of the world if you truly want to dip in the ocean as opposed to one of the back bays.

General Discussion / Re: TransAM Newbie w/ Questions
« on: May 04, 2015, 10:08:55 am »
That campground on the map may have gotten flooded yesterday and be closed today....Most of us carry emergency food just for those occasions....

Twice I have encountered U.S.F.S. campgrounds that were closed for complete renovations. The second time occurred four years ago. I had checked out the official U.S.F.S. web page for the campground and it mentioned nothing about the closure. When I got home I emailed them suggesting that they might want to note the closure. To their credit, they wrote back "Good point" and then updated the web site promptly.

As for extra food, I almost always have a half bag or so of pasta with me. Between that, the olive oil, salt and fresh garlic I carry, I can make a satisfying emergency dinner.

General Discussion / Re: TransAM Newbie w/ Questions
« on: May 01, 2015, 12:29:51 pm »
Thank you everyone. All the posts have been quite helpful to me as I am trying to visualize myself on the route making touring decisions.

When I did ACA's group unsupported Northern Tier tour we usually planned about a week ahead. Sometimes a bit farther if we intended to stay in places like hostels where reservations might be necessary. I followed took the same approach on two long solo tours but also paid attention to alternative stopping places in the event of such things as bad weather, fatigue or a great tailwind.

I think you will get the hang of it quickly. It some cases, days may be no brainers, such as when you have the choice of either a 65 mile day or a 135 mile day because there are insufficient services between the two potential stops.

What I find takes a little more effort than figuring out where I am going to camp each night is determining the best place to pick up necessary supplies for the evening and the next morning. If you stay in towns with ample services, that might not be a problem, but some planning may be useful when services are scarcer. Take my example of Sula mentioned above. I had stopped at the store/campground one late morning on an earlier tour, so I knew the grocery selection was limited. When I planned to camp there last year I had no idea of the store's hours. I could have called, but considering the limited selection I chose to shop in Darby and carry my dinner fixings to Sula. It turned out to be a good plan as I reached Sula about 2 minutes after the store's stated closing time and the place was already locked tight and empty. I couldn't even get a beer.  :(

Back in 2000 I was on the Great Parks route in CO. The campground I had chosen was close to a small grocery store but not much else. About 10 miles before that I went a couple of miles off route to a town that had a large grocery store and carried food to the campground. Turned out to be a good move as the grocery store near the campground had burned to the ground a few weeks earlier. I am the sort of person who would rather expend extra effort for a sure thing than roll the dice and possibly end up with fewer (or no) options. But there are others who are different.

General Discussion / Re: Which shops stock ACA maps?
« on: April 30, 2015, 01:24:32 pm »
I found map or two for the Pacific Coast route in a map store in Seattle, but that was 15 years ago. Other than that, I too have never seen them in retail establishments.

Routes / Re: Tips for a Rollerblader going coast-to-coast
« on: April 30, 2015, 09:54:28 am »
The Great Divide route is mostly unpaved and not suitable for rollerblades.

Also note that road construction could throw a serious monkey wrench into your plans. While riding both the TransAm and Northern Tier routes I encountered long stretches (I am talking miles) where the pavement had been ripped up for resurfacing, leaving only dirt and/or gravel, and there were not alternate, paved options. Bring some good walking shoes just in case.

General Discussion / Re: TransAM Newbie w/ Questions
« on: April 30, 2015, 09:26:20 am »
Based on my experience, I think you will run into a lot of westbound riders as your trip progresses. Heading east on the TA in MT starting in mid to late June twice I encountered numerous people heading west.

As for camping spots, if you plan to visit Missoula and stay at the KOA I would check availability ahead of time. When I was there last year at the end of June it was completely booked on a Saturday night.

The place in Sula, MT makes a nice jumping off point for the climb up to Lost Trail/Chief Joseph. Just note that the store there closes at 5 p.m. I was glad I brought groceries at the well-stoked store in Dabry. The 18 miles or so to Sula is gently up hill most of the way, so carrying food was not much of a problem. The store opens up again for breakfast pretty early.

In '11 I camped at Travelers Rest in Darby. Nice grass and bath house, but there we no picnic tables so I had to cook on the ground. The place had only recently started allowing camping. Maybe they have made some improvements since then.

The American Legion or whatever it is park in Wisdom has great views of the mountains, but it's primitive. There is a screened picnic shelter to protect you from the ravenous mosquitoes, but I don't know what shape the shelter is in these days. The grocery store in Wisdom has a limited selection and doesn't stay open late (until 6 p.m., IIRC), but there is a good bar/restaurant in town called the Crossings at Fetty's. There is also supposedly a private campground in Wisdom. Don't think it was open when I stayed at the motel in town in '11.

Last year I passed up Wisdom for Jackson. You can camp at the hot springs resort there. Nice grass and showers. There is also a bar with food and a full service dining area. The grocery store in town is closed, but there is a relatively new café. The tenting fee includes use of the hot springs pool and a towel. When I stayed there last year there were some half dozen TA riders heading west. Again, you will want mosquito repellant, but they were not as bad as Wisdom.

I highly recommend the free (donations requested) Bike Camp in Twin Bridges, MT. Nice spot with plenty of soft grass right along a river. Showers and flush toilets. And the town, although small, has everything, including a good grocery store, restaurants, coin-op laundry and a library with free Internet access.

While it's been a while since I stayed there, the fishing access spot in Ennis, MT, just outside of town, was very nice.

People riding in the opposite direction are good resources for camping recommendations.

BTW...I recommend taking the Old Darby Rd. Alternative between Hamilton and Darby. The surface of the unpaved portion is not bad, it's quieter than U.S. 93 and the views are better. It also passes close to Red Barn Bicycles (you will see the sign for it on Sleeping Child Rd.), which is worth a look. And when you get to the top of Big Hole Pass east of Jackson, take the time to walk the gravel path to the interpretive display. Amazing view of the mountains.

General Discussion / Re: How much water to carry?
« on: April 30, 2015, 08:50:17 am »
Give a lot of consideration to a Camelback or similar backpack-type water reservoir.  Even the small ones hold the equivalent of two water bottles and the big ones up to four.  They also make drinking more convenient and thus less likely to be ignored until you are dehydrated.  I have used one on long rides and was very happy to have it.

+1. I use two bottles plus a small CamelBack. 40 oz. I believe. For my first tour I didn't use one and instead took three standard bottles. That often proved not enough, especially in hot, humid weather. My second tour was in southern Spain. I ended up buying a small CamelBack about a week into the tour because it was warm and there were often long distances between services. I thought I would hate having it on my back, but it did not bother me a bit. They are also handy in camp if you are not close to a water source. I think the big ones now go up to 100 oz., if not more.

Routes / Re: Latest date to leave - TransAm East to West (2016)
« on: April 22, 2015, 01:21:12 pm »
Well put by Josh. Personally, I would rather try to stay ahead of the heat and humidity by starting early than wait for a later date in the hope of being "behind" it.

Humidity is also an important factor. With extreme humidity, an 85 degree day can be a lot worse than a 90 degree day with low or no humidity.

When riding a portion of the Trans Am in Montana in late June a few years ago I rant into a few people who had started in the east in early May. They had stayed ahead of the extreme heat in the south and midwest and hit the west after any major threat of lingering snow storms. They would also likely cross eastern and central Oregon before the crispy critter hot days of late July and beyond. (I once did much of the Oregon portion of the Trans Am starting the second week of September as part of an organized event. We had a couple of days east of McKenzie Pass that were downright roasting. The high on the rest day in Sisters was in the mid to upper 90s.) Interestingly, I did the same Montana stretch last year but started a week earlier than the previous time. I encountered only one person riding the Trans Am east to west.

Routes / Re: Getting bikes to Canada from California
« on: April 22, 2015, 09:21:26 am »
I believe the answer is no for tandems on Amtrak.

Routes / Re: TA Route from Astoria to Guilford, CT
« on: April 20, 2015, 09:35:51 am »
Sure, assuming I am not our touring. Hoping to cross the northern part of PA in September.

There are a few places on Route V with traffic. It's unavoidable. Clearfield and Du Bois are two places that come to mind. But it's generally not bad most of the way, and the stretches with heavier traffic are not long. It also depends on the day and time of day. For example, Clearfield is the county seat of Clearfield County, so the courthouse and other country offices are there. It's the main driver of the downtown economy. Outside of business hours and on the weekends, traffic drops considerably. Same for Bellefonte, which is the seat of Centre County. Route V goes right past the majestic courthouse where former PSU assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was tried.

From the photo after the trail to the pig shots are on Route V from Emlenton to just west of Catawissa:

I turned south from Catawissa to get home to Philly.

Routes / Re: Touring From Seattle Beginning Early In May
« on: April 20, 2015, 09:26:21 am »
You can find opening and closing dates on official web sites. While things may have changed, Colonial Creek Campground on the North Cascades Highway was open both times I stayed there in '99 and '00. Going W-E, it's a great jumping off point for the climb. IIRC, the U.S.F.S. campground in the Newhalem area was also open before Memorial Day. Howard Miller Steelhead Park in Rockport, which has Adirondack Shelters, was, too.

Routes / Re: TA Route from Astoria to Guilford, CT
« on: April 17, 2015, 03:25:38 pm »
I neglected to mention that the PA bike routes are signed, which makes navigating easier. The signage for Route V was pretty good, although there are a few areas where the placement of signs is inconsistent. There should be more signs along certain parts, and sometimes there are more frequent signs when they are not really needed. An example of the latter is heading east from Raymond Winter State Park towards Lewisburg. There are frequent signs along the forested stretch even though there are no roads to turn off on.

Routes / Re: Maryland to Maine route? (Breast Cancer Awareness Ride)
« on: April 17, 2015, 03:17:00 pm »
The East Coast Greenway in PA is mostly theory in that there is very little that's green about it. It uses some roads up from Delaware through Chester, PA that I would not want to ride on. Same with the roads through northeast Philly.

Routes / Re: Missoula to Anaconda via Rock Creek
« on: April 17, 2015, 09:43:51 am »
Thanks for the info.  I think we have decided to do a counter clockwise circle from Missoula to Lost Trail pass, then to Anaconda then back to Missoula via Rock Creek.  3 days.  Just don't want to have a mess for the Rock Creek section.

In three days? More power to you. Measured from the Missoula KOA it's about 262 miles to the junction of Rock Creek Rd. and I-90 assuming U.S. 93 to MT 43 through Wisdom towards Wise River then MT 569 to Anaconda, MT 1 to P'burg then Rock Creek Rd.

If you can squeeze in another day or two you might consider Wisdom to Jackson then Big Hole Pass to the Pioneer Mountains Scenic Byway to Wise River then MT 43 to MT 569 to Anaconda.

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