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Messages - indyfabz

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Routes / Re: Transam in Montana: best route...
« on: January 23, 2012, 10:31:49 am »
A plug for the Old Darby Rd. alternative between Hamilton and Darby.  There is some dirt, but it's well worth it. Heading to Darby there is an overlook where the mountains, sky and river come together:

See the last photo.

And Red Barn Bicycles is a neat place.

Routes / Re: Transam in Montana: best route...
« on: January 22, 2012, 02:16:02 pm »
AC's Trans Am route south on 93, etc., to Hamilton, Darby, Sula, Wisdom, Jackson, Dillon and Twin Bridges is quite nice in most places. As noted, from the Jct. of U.S. 12 and U.S. 93, there is a spur into Missoula. You then back track south on U.S. 93 to continue on the Trans Am.

This summer we did a loop from/to Missoula. We followed the TA for a few days and then did our own thing to get back to Missoula. We did pass through Twin Bridges but did not stay on the TA to get there. Instead, we took the Pioneer Mountains Scenic Byway off the TA (after descending Lost Trail Pass) to Wise River and then headed through Divide and Melrose and took the Melrose Bench Road, which is not paved, to Twin Bridges. The advantage of this route is that you get to do the scenic ride to Lost Trail and Chief Joseph Passes into Wisdom then Lost Trail Pass after Jackson. The Pioneer Mountains Scenic Byway and state route 43 to Divide is a fabulous ride. Melrose Bench is somewhat of a challenge due to the surface and some climbing, but worth it. Overall, prettier than staying on the TA to Dillon IMO. Lot's of camping on the Byway (U.S.F.S. campgrounds and dispersed camping) and in Divide (BLM along the river for $6 and Melrose (private).

Send me a private message if you would like some route options through this neck of the woods. Our route back to Missoula from Twin Bridges included Rock Creek Rd. Off the beaten path and very scenic. Most of it is not paved, but we had no problems on 37c tires. Going in your direction, you'd go through Phillipsburg, Anaconda and Butte then over Pipestone Pass (state route 2) and then come down state route 41 through Silver Star into Twin Bridges to hook back up with the TA toward Virginia City and Ennis.

Every day but the last is chronicled here:

If you stay in Twin Bridges, check out the free Bike Camp.  Great place with a shower, etc.

Agree that Missoula and the AC headquarters are nice places to visit. Some relatively cheap motels in town and a nice KOA an easy ride from the center of town and right near an REI if you need supplies.

Gear Talk / Re: Novara Randonee
« on: January 18, 2012, 10:16:34 am »
don't hesitate to buy something expensive or fancy if you so desire. I'd love a custom Co-Motion or Independent, but I cannot justify the expense.

I'd advise someone to hesitate before spending too much money on a touring bike.  The Co-Motion and Independent Fabrications bikes you mention are indeed beautiful, wonderful bikes.  But functionally they don't do anything more than the Trek 520, Surly LHT, or REI bike mentioned here.  What they do worse is make you worry about them.  The Co-Motion Americano frame costs $2000.  The IF Steel Indpendence frame costs $2300.  You will spend more time worrying about the bike than enjoying the bike tour.  You won't just lay them down on the ground to take a picture.  You won't lean them up against a pole to go into a store.  The bike will be more important than the tour experience.  And the tour may suffer for it.  Equipment gets beat up, used, abused, scraped, gouged on a tour.  The $1000-1500 range is good for touring bikes.  You get a very functional bike and maybe racks and panniers too.

Its counter productive to have too nice of a touring bike.

Gee.  I never knew of this maxim.  There must be a lot of angst-ridden Co-Mo and IF owners out there.

Gear Talk / Re: Novara Randonee
« on: January 17, 2012, 02:26:59 pm »
My Surly Long Haul Trucker hanldes relatively heavy loads very well (never any shimmy), has adequate gearing and the eyelets and brazeons for racks, fenders and three water bottle cages. And the wheels have never given me a moment's pause. They are retailing for around $1,400 these days. Whatever you end up getting, have the spokes properly tensioned before you shove off. I crossed the country on a Cannondale with a wheel set that was not up to the task. Didn't take me three days to break my first spoke. Wheel problems can really be a PITA.

And if you hit the lottery before your trip (or your budget otherwise increases), don't hesitate to buy something expensive or fancy if you so desire. I'd love a custom Co-Motion or Independent, but I cannot justify the expense.

General Discussion / Re: TRANSPORTING A BIKE ON A BUS
« on: January 17, 2012, 09:42:40 am »
Amtrak's Adirondak service is a beautiful ride that includes the west shore of Lake Champlain and the east shore of the Hudson. Unfortunately, it appears that neither checked baggage service nor roll-on bike service is offered, which means no standard bikes.  Same appears true for the Vermonter.

General Discussion / Re: Shipping Bike to Virginia
« on: January 17, 2012, 09:25:31 am »

Also, a web search shows Bike Alley Bickes, Inc. in Yorktown, VA:

There is a recent review, suggesting that the shop is still in business.

General Discussion / Re: Crossing Canadian Border
« on: January 16, 2012, 03:41:55 pm »
My bit of advice (other than seconding mdxix re: green food) is have your itinerary through Canada formulated in your head before you get to the border crossing. From what I gathered through travelling 'cross the border is that Canadian Customs/Immigration is most worried about you coming into the country, staying indefinitely, and mooching off of their social services. They want to hear that you'll be in Canada for x days, and only x days. So be ready to answer how long you'll be in the country and where you plan to exit back into the US. I know things can change a little, but having an itinerary you can rattle off makes them feel more confident about you being in their country.

Yeah.  That's what we did last time when we got the feeling the guard was concerned about our length length of stay. Told them the names of the towns we would be staying in for how many nights and our re-entry port. As the chief planner of our trips, I was able to handle that.

Back in the day (i.e., pre-911) three of us crossed back into Montana at Del Bonita. Not a soul in sight at the crossing. One of my companions asked if we could simply ride through. I opined that that probably would not be a good idea. After about 5 min. a young man appeared. He was wearing a baseball cap, silver, mirrored sun glasses and was smoking a cigarette while wiping his hands with a greasy rag. It looked like he had been doing some vehicle repair in the garage. He asked us if we were American citizens and how long we had been in Canada. After we answered "Yes." and "Three days" he said "Welcome home" and  walked away. Never asked for passports. The whole thing was very surreal. I don't expect it to ever go like that again.

General Discussion / Re: Crossing Canadian Border
« on: January 16, 2012, 10:52:51 am »
According to U.S. law, you will need a passport to get back into the U.S., at least to avoid a pain in the butt

As noted, be polite and answer all questions seriously. Maybe it's just been my bad luck, but the three  times I have crossed into Canada on a bike (and the one time in a car) the guards have ranged from icy to downright surly. Crossing at Roosville in '09 the guard, after we had described the nature of our trip and that we would be in Canada for four nights before crossing back into the U.S. at Chief Mountain suddenly blurted out "When's your next day back at work?" as if she was trying to catch us off guard. It was a Saturday and the second day of our trip. I wasn't even sure what that day's date was, much less the date two Monday's down the road. Fortunately, my girlfriend did the math and came up with the correct answer. Next it was "What do you do for a living?" "Lawyer" and "computer programmer" must have convinced her that we were above board.

I did AC's self-contained Northern Tier trip back in '99. Most of the sutff works itself out without many/any hard and fast rules.

They way we worked, it, you were paired with another participant. When it was your turn to cook/clean, up, you and your partner shopped for snack and dinner stuff that evening and breakfast and lunch stuff for the next morning. Others would almost always help transport groceries, especially when there was no opportunity to set up camp before shopping. Nothing was on a fixed schedule (e.g., dinner at a set time each night). It could depend on how long a day it was. People might not get to camp until later in the day. Since we usually bought snacks (e.g. chips and salsa) to tide us over until dinner, there was usually sometthing to get you through to dinner.

After dinner, the two cookis were also responsible for washing the shared cooking equipment (e.g., pots, pans, cutting board, etc.) and disposing of any trash. Each participant was responsible for washing his/her own personal plate, bowl, etc. to lessen the chance of mass contamination. The next morning, the same two were responsible for having the breakfast stuff "ready." Rarely did we cook breakfast.  It was more like cold cereal.  So for practical purposes, there wasn't really much to do for the two cooks. Also, participants prepared their own lunches to take with them. Usually PB&J, cookies and fruit. The early birds among us could get up when they wanted to, get their own breakfast, pacl lunch and leave whenever. The two cooks were again responsible for washing any group gear used to prepare breakfast and lunches. If it was your turn to cook, you couldn't really sleep in as late as you wanted since the person who, for example, carried the cutting board and group knives might want to hit the road and could not until that gear had been cleaned.

In response to a few of your specific questions, we only at dinner in the dark once or twice. Being on the Northern Tier helped. It usually didn't get dark until late. You were never required to be present at any of the meals, but the courtesy you mention was expected, in part so the cooks didn't over-buy and the group wasn't waiting around for you to show up. One hard rule that we did come up with was that when you reached camp or the town where we would be camping, you were required to off-load the group cooking gear you were carrying before heading off to explore. This made it easier for the cooks to do their jobs.

Remember that if you go on a long trip with 14 people, you are only responsible for cooking once a week, so the chances of that getting in the way of things are slim. Also, the group will realize that people ride at different paces.  It's highly unlikely that you will miss dinner because people didn't feel like waiting for you to get into camp. Also, if it is your turn and there is something that you would really like to do that day, you can ask for a switch, either with the next pair or an individual.

As noted, everything usually works itself out with little problem. I took a lot of photos (about 100 rolls of film) during the trip and never felt rushed by cooking duties. And if an overnight sidetrip was desired, a person could usually get a sub to cook. The biggest propblem we had, on the meal front, anyway, was with one participant. He apprently felt that doing dishes was beneath him. On several occasions, he took a little bag of trash to the dumpster, considered his work done and jumped on his bike, leaving his partner to finish the morning's tasks. When we had to shop before reaching camp and then ride with groceries, he would rush to the shopping carts and grab the lightest items, such as the bread or nacho chips. Most of the time, we simply turned this into a source of amusement rather than get pissed off about it. That's probably the most important thing about a group tour:  You need to try to not sweat the small stuff. I know, however, that that is sometimes easier said than done.

Routes / Re: Great Parks Questions
« on: January 14, 2012, 12:56:16 pm »
Looks like someone has first hand experience.

+1 on booking early in the parks if you are not camping. There are limited indoor options. I remember only two in Waterton Village--the Prince of Wales Hotel and a smaller place right in town.

Routes / Re: Great Parks Questions
« on: January 14, 2012, 12:50:26 pm »
We are looking at doing the same trip in early summer.  Here are a couple of questions I have: 

1) The "quiet 21-mile alternative between Elko and Fernie":  Does any one know if this is doable on 28c width tires?  Is the gravel compacted or deep and loose?

This will only be of limited help since we stuck to the highway, but in '09 a woman working at the store in Elko suggested what I think you are talking about--the unpaved road across the river from PR3--as an alternative.  FWIF, we were there mid-June. While there was some traffic on PR3, it wasn't that bad. No problem getting through the tunnel. It's very short, and there were long periods without any traffic. There is a bike shop in Fernie. Maybe you could give them a call for some intel.

Our trip was a loop out of Whitefish. We went up to Eureka and then to Elko, Fernie, Sparwood and Waterton Village before crossing back into the U.S. at Chief Mountain. GTS was still closed when we got to St. Mary, so we had to go around via U.S. 89, Looking Glass and Marias Pass. We then went into the park so we could at least ride up and back down the west side of GTS.  If you have any questions about the segment send me a PM.

The photos from the "Store" on are from Elko to the park:

Routes / Re: northern tier?
« on: January 12, 2012, 03:33:05 pm »
I'm not sure about the rest of it, but it certainly is not flat in the Washington part.

That's for sure. The NT route in WA includes Sherman Pass, which, if I am not mistaken, is the highest paved road in the state. You would then climb Waucunda (sp?) Pass (not that bad east to west) Loup Loup Pass (some steep sections on the east slope) and then, as mentioned, the Cascades. I agree that's it's a great area to ride. I found in-town camping in Ione, Colville, Republic, Tonasket and Withrop. Made getting groceries, etc., very convenient. And SR 20 through the Cascades is fabulous.

I went west to east, but working backwards in my mind, MN and ND were fairly benign hill-wise (note that AC is rerouting the NT in ND so things may change) as was "The High Line" between the MT border and Cut Bank, although killer headwinds could make up for the relatively flat terrain. If you followed the route proper, you would cross into Canada on the way to McGrath. That's a lot of rolling terrain. From there towards Waterton Village is also rolling. Chief Mountain Highway back into the U.S. is not easy. Just rode it again in '09. There is a steep 5-6 mile climb at the very start, and then some hills before and after the border crossing. From St. Mary, MT you enter Glacier N.P. and climb to around 6,700' to Logan Pass on Going to the Sun Road. It's not killer, and can be broken up by staying at Rising Sun Campground.  It's worth any effort that it takes. Arguably one of the most scenic mountain roads in the U.S.

The other option would be to detour off the route to East Glacier and take U.S. 2 over Marias Pass. It's a 12 mile climb and is pretty gradual. A shop owner in town told us it it's the lowest road crossing of the continental divide. Not nearly as scenic as GTS, and there can be some truck traffic. Aslo, from the pass to W. Glacier is a long (54 miles if I remember correctly) trek to W. Glacier. There is not much steep downhill, and even some more climbing in a few places.

The next major hilly section is along the shore of Lake Kookcanusa after you leave Eureka, MT. It's been a while, but I remember some severe rollers. After that, it's not bad until you get to Sherman Pass.

If you opt instead for Missoula via the NT, at Columbia Falls/Whitefish you can take the Great Parks route to Missoula. Did that in '00 and don't remember it being difficult.

General Discussion / Re: Couple of Questions re dates of change
« on: January 11, 2012, 01:30:57 pm »
the European Tire and Rim Technical Organization (ETRTO)

Heh. I'll bet their annual convention is off the hook. And it brings to mind the review of a book tracing the history of the spoke nipple that appeared in an April edition of "Adventure Cyclist" many years ago. It was a joke, but I and, according to AC, numerous others fell for it.

General Discussion / Re: Lodging in Portland Maine
« on: January 11, 2012, 01:17:09 pm »
Sorry. More than one person has said "Hmmm....I never thought of that."

General Discussion / Re: Lodging in Portland Maine
« on: January 10, 2012, 11:30:53 am »
Another option is to find a shop that will accept shipment and hold your boxes. They are likely to be more willing to do this if you have them assemble the bikes upon arrival and/or pack and ship them back. We have gone this route the last two times we have done loop tours from cities in Montana. We liked the convenience of having the bikes assembled and tuned when we arrived. At the end of each our, we simply checked in a motel, dropped our gear, rode to the shop and dropped the bikes off for shipping. The shops also held onto the duffel bag that we flew some of our gear out in.

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