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Messages - indyfabz

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General Discussion / Re: Bear spray on Transam in Rocky Mountains
« on: May 29, 2012, 07:39:10 am »
The funny thing about wildlife habitat in the western Unted States? It's growing into the urban areas as certain species become very good at thriving among the humans and their vast supplies of free food and nice places to hide.

Funny you should mention this. Just got done watching a story on GMA this morning about a bear that took a dip in a residential swimming pool in Monrovia, CA.

Last week I saw two different stories about bears. One was captured in Steamboat Springs. The other in a heavily populated area Bucks County, PA, not that far from Philadelphia.

Saw one bear on the TA at the campground Jenny Lake in the Teetons. (Despite being warned that a bear had been seen around camp during the previous few days, an uncaring cyclist left his trash on his picnic table while he wandered off to try to get a cell phone signal.) It was a young one. Likely something had happened to the mother or she drove him off after becoming pregnant again early. A few pots and pans banged together scared him off.

As noted, your chances of even seeing a bear are generally remote, except maybe in Yellowstone where you won't be doing any wilderness camping unless you leave the bike behind and go into the backcountry. The three black bears seen during my rides on the Northern Tier wanted nothing to do with humans. They simply crossed the road and went about their business.

BTW...Unless you are going to be traveling up some unpaved road for a few miles, those U.S.F.S. campgrounds are not likely to be that remote. Many are right along the highway and can be heavily occupied depending on the location and time of year. Madison and Colter Bay campgrounds in Yellowstone N.P. were insanely crowded near the end of June. I did see some old evidence of bear activity (ripped up tree stumps) at the primitive ACA/U.S.F.S. campground on the east slope of Togwotee, but even that place is close to the highway. And with it's stunning view of the Teetons, it's worth any risk you might be exposing yourself to. Just use the bear box.

Routes / Re: Nevada and Utah 2011 ? Advice & tips please
« on: May 29, 2012, 06:43:00 am »
FYI: T-Mobile does not work well in remote areas in the US.  I use T-Mobile and will be crossing NV next week on US 50 expecting 3+ days without service.

Remote areas?  T-Mobile doesn't work all that well in the fifth largest city in the U.S. I sometimes had to leave my house to get a decent signal. In rural MT last year, my GF had several dead zones with AT&T. I had Verizon and had far fewer dead zones.

Routes / Re: Gibson Pass or Lost trail Pass?
« on: May 24, 2012, 02:21:26 pm »
Thank you very much, had no idea![/quote]

No idea of what?

General Discussion / Re: Overall weight for touring
« on: May 24, 2012, 09:48:11 am »
What pdlamb said, except that my guess is that you added the text books and water solely to test the bike with additional weight. The first time I rode with any load I carried phone books just to get a feel before I loaded up the bike with the stuff I would take on tour.

If you are comfortable with the load, go for it. Don't let anyone tell you what you should and should not take. On my first tour (x-country and more), I carried probably 15 lbs. of camera equipment, if not more. I am sure it made me work harder, but I never once regretted having the stuff. Today, I carry a small cutting board and small Santoku knife because I like to cook more elaborate meals. Some people like to fish and thus take along fishing equipment.  And I never weigh my load. While sometimes I am curious about the weight, in the end it doesn't matter. The key question is whether I am comfortable carrying what I have.

Gear Talk / Re: Temperatures on the Northern Tier?
« on: May 22, 2012, 10:11:07 am »
Starting from MA in mid-June, I'd be more concerned about the heat. July was brutal in IA, IL, and IN. Daily highs were at least 90. A couple of days near 100 degrees and at least two days over 100. In Fletcher Lake, IN the low was 85. And every day was very humid. Sleeping on the concrete floor of the airconditioned facility in Monroeville, IN was heaven. The next day, the heat broke as we headed into OH.

Note that corn provides little shade.

Routes / Re: Gibson Pass or Lost trail Pass?
« on: May 22, 2012, 09:33:55 am »
I hope you understand that neither is a trail in the sense of a bike trail. The option over Lost Trail Pass uses paved highways. Gibbons Pass uses unpaved U.S. Forest Service roads and rejoins the paved highway (U.S. 93) just east of the store/campground in Sula.

Which is better depends, in part, on your tolerances and preferences. One is unpaved. One is paved. Gibbons is more isolated since it's through the forest rather than on a main highway. If it has been raining, Gibbons might present mud issues. You probably have a better chance of seeing more wildlife on Gibbons because it's more isolated.

Routes / Re: USA touring routes - September?
« on: May 21, 2012, 11:30:12 am »
Now to look into flights, maps, accomodation and all that other necessary business!  :D

Here is a handy publication for the OR coast:

General Discussion / Re: Where do you get water from?
« on: May 21, 2012, 11:16:57 am »
I fill up where I stay, if at a camp or room.  On the road eight times out of ten I fill from the drink dispenser in a minimart or fast food place.  I usually ask first and take ice as well.  I also buy something like snacks or whatever.  I don't recall ever being told no to that request.  If I eat at a diner or other restaurant I ask them to fill my bottles.  The remaining times I fill from whatever I find.  In a few places the water was nasty enough that I would buy bottled water.

+1 on all of those things. Many, many times people in places like bars or diners have cheerfully offered to add ice, at least in the west and midwest. I never buy bottled water unless I will be riding a stretch with few/no services and need extra capacity or the water is really skunky.

Routes / Re: Gibson Pass or Lost trail Pass?
« on: May 20, 2012, 06:22:01 pm »
Supposed to be nice if you don't mind unpaved surface. The folks at The Bicycle Barn in Hamilton said our 37c tires should be good enough. Going west to east, we stopped at the U.S.F.S. ranger station at Sula to inquire about the status. Unfortunately, the employee we spoke with said it was still snowed in so we opted for the road. When we gotten several miles up the road the employee chased us down in a pickup to tell us that she was mistaken and that it was a side road that was still snowed in. She didn't want us giving incorrect info. to anyone coming the other way. We had gotten a late start from Daby that morning and did not want to backtrack so we stayed on the road to Lost Trail and Chief Joseph.

This was at the end of June. Maybe you can call from Wisdom and ask about the status.

Routes / Re: Transam trail from Twin Bridges to Missoula, Montana
« on: May 18, 2012, 07:45:46 pm »
Trail Ikenberry: Twin Bridges - Butte - Anaconda - Georgetown Lake - Drummond - Clinton - Missoula

Those are the places we went through via the route I described up to Philipsburg, where we took Rock Creek Road. If you stay on MT 1 to Drummond and then head to Missoula you will end up riding more miles on I-90 because, as Carla notes, in some places there are no frontage roads.  I would either stay on the Trans Am or take one of the routes I suggested. BTW...Sklalkaho has a long section of dirt. From the videos I have seen it looks amazing (The descent starts around 1:25 min.):

And you can pan for Sapphires at Gem Mountain.

Again, send me a PM if you would like more details.

Routes / Re: Transam trail from Twin Bridges to Missoula, Montana
« on: May 18, 2012, 01:08:02 pm »
Forgot to put in a plug for the bike camp in Twin Bridges. Very nice facility right on the river. We met one of the founders when we stayed there. Good grocery store in town along with a couple of places to eat  an a coin-op laundry.

Also forgot to mention that if you go to Butte via MT 41 and MT 2. Granny's Store is the only place to get food and water, and it's not that far from Twin Bridges. After that, you won't find anything until you hit the sprawl on the edge of Butte. There is no shade on MT 41, so if it's hot bring plenty of water. Climbing Pipestone, you can take a rest in the shade of the forest, but there was no shade on the road.

I suspect John is correct about the book being dated. A lot of the sprawl in Butte appeared to be relatively new. The entrance into town has a good deal of traffic, and because I-90 slices through the town, it can be a little tricky to navigate. I picked a route using Google Maps and it was pretty much a good one, but the way you go will depend on where you are headed in town. My route was based on getting to the Hotel Finlen in the Uptown part of the city, which is the historic part. If you are just passing through there is no need to go up there. (It's a good climb.) If you want to avoid a riding I-90 as much as possible, you need to take the frontage roads on the south side of I-90. A portiojn is unpaved, but it's easy riding. At some point, you cross under I-90 from Wild Horse Meadow onto Bossard (it looks like a drainage pipe) and follow that to interchange 211. We got on I-90 there for 3 miles to the exit for MT 1. Easy riding. Shortly after getting on MT 1 there is a nice new rest area with bathrooms and cold water.

Google Maps shows a road called Crackerville on the south side of the 211 interchnage that leads to a frontage road that ultimately leads to MT 1. However, if you look at Street View it looks like that road no longer really exists. Look at the alleged interserction of that frontage road and MT 1 and you will see what I mean. When I was out there I looked for the road and didn't see it. Whatever you do, do not take the idilic sounding Blue Bird Trail out of Butte. It's not a bike trail as its name suggests. Looks like it might have been a wagon or catle trail once upon a time. We had to walk some of it.

Routes / Re: Transam trail from Twin Bridges to Missoula, Montana
« on: May 18, 2012, 09:29:00 am »
Your question is a bit difficult to assess without knowing the exact Ikenberry route. However, I was riding in the area last year. Started in Missoula and took the Trans Am to east of Big Hole Pass. Then took the Pioneer Mountains Scenic Byway to Wise River then MT 43 to Divide, then down to Melrose via the frontage road and then to Twin Bridges via Melrose Bench Road. From there I took MT 41 to MT 2 to Butte. From there, I took I-90 frontage roads and a little bit of the interstate (3 miles) to MT 1 and rode that all the way to Philipsburg and then eventually back to Missoula via MT 348/Rock Creek Rd., I-90 (again, about 3 miles) and local roads. Back in '00 I rode the Trans Am proper from Missoula to Twin Bridges and beyond.

No offense to the natives intended, but Butte ain't the nicest place in the world. There is only one camping option around--a KOA that looks and sounds (from the reviews I found) seedy. And it's right next to the interstate. However, the Finlen hotel/motel is a neat place. The motor lodge portion is relatively affordable and very retro. Despite its age, it was very well maintained, and the room was spotless. If you like larger cities, especially ones with interesting architecture and some history, Butte is worth a look. Just watch your bike. There are signs all around town about crime. A lot of it is meth-driven.

The ride from Twin Bridges to Butte was nice until hitting town. MT 41 to the junction with MT 55 is flat to gently rolling. There are some big rollers on 41 after that. You start up Pipestone Pass as soon as you turn onto MT 2. Pipestone seemed harder than it looked on paper. A narrow shoulder, but little traffic. We rode it July 5th, so that might not be the norm. Pretty ride. After Anaconda, MT 1 to Philipsburg is very nice. If you go this way, make sure to turn around as you descend. There is a cool waterfall that you will miss if you just look ahead. There is a great campground in Philipsburg run by a very nice woman.  Rock Creek Rd. is fabulous. There is 30 miles of unpaved surface which was easily managed with 37c tires. Just before you reach I-90 there is a nice campground with a good restaurant (but no groceries around), or you can camp in the forest along the road, but there is no running water (other than the creek) and no services back there.

The original plan was to stay in Philipsburg, back track on MT 1 to MT 38, ride over Skalkaho Pass to Hamilton and then take the Trans Am back to Missoula. Unfortunately, Skalkaho Pass was washed out so we took the Rock Creek Rd. route which was recommended by an Adventure Cycling employee we fortuitously ran into at a hot springs resort in the Pioneer Mountains. If I could do it again, that’s what I would do.

I think the Trans Am is, overall, more scenic than the above-route via Butte is what you are looking for is mountain views. It’s certainly more difficult. There is free camping in Wisdom if you can tolerate the mosquitoes. The long slog north from there is very pretty and then there is a long descent all the way to Darby. Yummy sandwiches at the store in Sula. I highly recommend the Old Darby Alternative between Darby and Hamilton. There is a point where the mountains, sky and river seem to come together. Stunning. And the unpaved section is not bad.

If you are up for the challenge, doing the reverse of the above route to Twin Bridges is an option. It presents its own set of challenges, but the scenery is terrific. Send me a PM if you would like details or otherwise have any questions.

Here is a slideshow of the trip:

Routes / Re: Advice on route selection
« on: May 16, 2012, 10:04:02 am »
The section of the NT between Bismarck and Fargo, ND is new, so I cannot commnetn. I enjoyed the NT route through MN.  Took the "long way" up to Grand Rapid. (Ended up in Davenport, IA instead of Muscatine and crossed into IL there.) While I liked ND a lot and have since been back there to ride, it was nice to see some trees again in MN.  :) Lake Itasca was really nice. You can walk across the Mississippi River there. Camped at a couple of other places on lakes. Saw a bear cub in Malmo and then camped at   Mile Lacs in Isle. Also camped along the river in Palisade. Grand Rapids is the home town of Judy Garland. Went off route a bit and spent a few days in Minneapolis. In IA, the route passes through Dyersville, where the baseball field in "Field of Dreams" is.

Probably not the best route if mosquitoes really bother you. They were a constant issue in most places, including the hostal at Lake Itasca. It was also God awful humid many days, but I suppose the alternate route has some high humidty sections. On the other hand, there were actually a few days when it was on the cool side. We hit Fargo on July 6th, so that would have been early to mid-July.

General Discussion / Re: Best Fortune Cookie Ever
« on: May 15, 2012, 10:36:49 am »
How appropriate!  My best fortune cookie said; "You will be hungry in an hour.  Order take-out now".

Good one!

OP: That's pretty amazing. Here's to hoping they are good memories.

Routes / Re: Connecting Northern Tier to Chicago
« on: May 14, 2012, 04:12:52 pm »
Maybe use Google Maps biking directions from Huntington, IN as a start.  Looks to incorporate a trail or two, including one through Hammond, IN, which is a populated place. And you could have a Dan Quayle burger in Huntington.

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