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Messages - indyfabz

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Routes / Re: From east to west starting June 2014
« on: April 10, 2014, 09:18:36 am »
@indyfabz : Thanks for your advices. Maybe we'll take a train to enter  and leave the cities. We think to use warmoshower, couchsurfing and hostels.

We definitely want to go to Glacier NP and spend a few day there. What is the weather there, in september ?
Excited about the ferry ride too, do you have the name of the hostel ?

According to locals I have spoken with, they love September in Glacier. The bugs are gone as are many of the crowds. Apgar, Sprague Creek and Avalanche Campgrounds, all on the west side of the road, have hiker/biker campsites. A visit to Lake McDonald lodge is a must on the west side. Grab a beer at the bar and enjoying it down by the water.

I would check the park's web site. There has been an ongoing road rehab project in the park. In past years, the park service has closed portions of Going to the Sun for periods in September to allow for uninterrupted constrcution work. Later in the year they will likely post closure information on their web site.

This is the site for the HI Hostel in Seattle:

I think there are a couple of others. The HI Hostel was packed in late May. Don't know how busy it is at other times, but a reservation is probably advisable.

This shows the ferries:

It's been a long time, so I don't remember the exact ferry that took me close to the ACA Pacific Coast Route, but I am pretty sure it was either the Bainbridge Isnand or Bremerton ferry.

Routes / Re: Northern Tier west to east, points of interest?
« on: April 09, 2014, 10:17:51 am »
If you're interested in history, the Nez Perce museum in Chinook MT is interesting

+1. We stopped there and watched the vide presentation.

If you have the time, I highly recommend doing the portion of the roue into Alberta and taking a day off in Waterton Village. There is a very scenic town campsite right on the lake. Further east in Alberta, Magrath is home to a Hutterite colony. Just remember to bring your passports.

In MN you can see a giant statue of Paul Bunyon and Babe the Blue Ox in Bemidji, walk across the Mississippi River at Lake Itasca State Park and visit the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids. The "Field of Dreams" baseball field is outside of Dyersville, IA. If you take a detour to Davenport, IA and cross the river into Moline, IL via historic Rock Island you can visit the John Deere Pavilion, which claims to be the largest agricultural museum in the world. There is a community center in Monroeville, IN where cyclists can stay. Cleveland has the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the optional tour of the city through Cleveland Heights and Shaker Heights is nice. The Rainbow Hostel in Niagara Falls was a nice place for a rest day.

Routes / Re: From east to west starting June 2014
« on: April 09, 2014, 09:45:58 am »
I was going to make tyhe same comment about big cities. A place like Chicago can be very difficult to navigate if you are unfamiliar with the area. If you are set on that plan, you might want to go to and post in the relevant regional discussion area. Someone might be able to give you a good route through town. Just don't expect any camping and be prepared to pay a lot for a hotel room. I would also make reservations. Chicago is very crowded with tourists in the summer.

As for Seattle, you could head north from Missoula on ACA's Great Parks North route. That takes you to Whitefish, MT, where you can pick up the Northern Tier through ID and WA. Hang a left just east of Anacortes, WA on the Pacific Coast route and you will pass within a short ferry ride of Seattle, where there is a nice hostel for lodging. The Northern Tier through WA is quite nice.

From Whitefish, you could take a short side trip east to Glacier National Park:

Set up camp there for a few days and ride up and back down the west slope of Going to the Sun Road, arguably one of the most scenic roads in the country, then head back to Whitefish to pick up the Northern Tier.

Routes / Re: From east to west starting June 2014
« on: April 08, 2014, 04:44:44 pm »
Your map has you riding through the Holland Tunnel. Can't do that, legally or with the hope of surviving. Same for many of the other roads your map shows you using, such as I-280 and I-80. Roads marked with red and blue shields and white numbers are called Interstate Highways. Bikes are not permitted in the eastern part of the country. You may ride on many Interstate Highways in the western part of the country, such as in Montana, but by no means all of them.

The only way west out of Manhattan by bike is the George Washington Bridge, which is at the north end of the island. I would avoid Newark and surrounding areas unless someone gives you a trusted route. New Jersey is the most densley populated state in the Unitied States. Newark is the most densley populated part of New Jersey. Not the place you want to wing or ad lib a route.

New York State has a series of signed state bike routes that can take you to, among other places, Buffalo. An interactive map can be found here:

I haven't ridden any of them. It's my understanding that their pleasantness can vary.

Another option to Buffalo is this, also with an interactive map:

Yet another option is to take a short train ride from Manhattan to Seacaucs Junction then a second, longer train ride out to Port Jervis, NY (pretty ride.) From there, ride across the Delaware River to Matamoras, Pennsylvania and pick up signed PA Bike Route L starting with Spur Y1:

That will take you close to Erie, PA. From Erie, you can follow one of the NY State Routes to Buffalo.

Personally, I would not bother riding out of Manhattan without a good route. There are several train and options, including the aforementioned train connection to Port Jervis and the Metro North line from Grand Central Terminal as far north as Poughkeepsie, New York. You cannot take your bike on during peak hours, but that can be worked around, especially if you start on a Saturday or Sunday.

Routes / Re: Looking for week-long spring route in Eastern US
« on: March 31, 2014, 02:41:32 pm »
Depends on what you consider "too."  The temperature and percipitation charts included with the Green Mountains Loop show, for mid-May, an average daily high of about 66 F and an average nightly low about 45 F. Total average rainfall for the month is slightly over 3". It's higher in June-September.

I did much of the route as a loop from/to Burlington during ACA's supported camping tour, so I can vouch for the pretty scenery. Burlington makes a good starting point as there is a campground at the north end of town. The towen intself was very vibrant. Our loop included the "East Alternative," which went through some classic Vermont countryside.  If I recall correctly, camping two nights was somewhat of an issue. I recall havign to go off route. One night was at a private campground (can't remember the name) and another at, I think, Silver Lake State Park. The other nights we stayed at Lake Carmi State Park (night 1), Brighton State Park near Island Pond (night 2) and Button Bay State Park (final night). All camping locations were nice. Glancing at the map, it looks like the main route might have a few more camping options on route compared to the East Alternative. I think the same is true for grocery sources. There were some stretches on the East Alternative that didn't have to much in that respect. For example, I remember nothing on route close to Lake Carmi, but Island Pond did have a decent grocery store for its location. Right near Siver Lake there was a cute, high-end country market that made prepared food. Can't remember if it had a decent selection of groceries. In short, depending on the route, there may be places where you will need to carry groceries for a ways if you plan to cook.

As for difficulty, as noted, I was not carryng gear so it's somewhat tough to make a comparison. There are definitely lots of ups and downs. The East Alternative has longer hills and longer descents, but fewer shorter, steeper ups and downs. In addition, there were three longer, harder climbs, including Richester Gap, which was painful for a good stretch. Middleburry Gap was not that bad until the final mile or so. The third of the long climbs, which takes you up to Jay Peak out of Richford, can be avoided by taking a flat alternative that goes into Quebec and then back into VT. We went clockwise, so we did Jay Peak on day one and then Rochester and Middleburry Gaps on the penultimate day). After Middleburry Gap, the route back to Burlington was not hard at all.

Hope all this helps.

Gear Talk / Re: Handlebar bag alternative
« on: March 30, 2014, 01:10:20 pm »
I have never used a handlebar bag. Camera goes in a jersey pocket. If snacks can't fit back there they go in the panniers. I have Ortlieb Packers so I have a small outside pockets in the rear, which means I don't need to open the main compartment to get things like my wallet or sun screen. If I have a larger lunch with me, I am going to stop to eat it anyway, so the bar bag wouldn't really much if any convenience.

And I am another one in the front platform rack camp. Never toured with anything else. I put my sleeping bag up there. When I had Beckman racks and a smaller tent, it went up there. If I need to, I can secure a map under the compression straps or bungees for easy access.

Here is one iteration:

General Discussion / Re: newbie planning Belgium tour
« on: March 26, 2014, 11:16:53 am »
I would definitely bring my own bike. Wouldn't want to have to count on finding a comfortable ride that is set up for the task at hand. Wouldn't want to expend the effort either just to save some bucks. You would also need to find bikes that are compatable with your racks.

On the subject of cost, the most expensive bike charge I have seen is $200 each way on Delta. We paid that last year when we flew to Venice. Assuming you have to pay that much, you are talking $400 round trip. What's a used bike going to cost? $200? If so, you are only saving $200. And keep in mind that you would really only be renting the used bike you purchase it since, presumably, you are not going to pay to fly it back home with you. Your trip is in 5 months. If you each put $2.50 into a jar each day you should have enough saved to pay the airline bike charge.

As for resources, I love The Rough Guide series. There is one for Belgium and Luxembourg:

They are typically pretty throrough and, more importantly, candid. If a town or a hotel isn't nice, they will tell you. They also contain a good amount of historical information about regions. Michelin makes good road maps of Europe. I used The Rough Guide to Andalucia and the Michelin map for that territory to plan a 7 week tour. Worked out great. I am sure there is at least one Michelin map for Belgium. There may even be individual maps for different regions of the country.

Routes / Re: Starting Trans America West to East in July ... ?
« on: March 26, 2014, 10:50:50 am »
Four years out of five, September and early October are some of the best months out of the year to ride in the east.

+1. The oppressive heat and humidity are likely to be gone by mid-September. Should there be a hurricane, it can often be nice shortly thereafter. In '99 I was coming down the east coast got stuck outside of Port Jervis, NY by hurricane Floyd. Had to take refuge in a motel. The next day was absolutely gorgeous. One problem with big storms is that they can cause road and facility closures. After Floyd, I rode through the Delaware Water Gap. I had to slide my bike under two downed trees and wade across a stream that had come over its banks into the road. When I finally made it to my planned camping spot at a state park, I found it was closed due to flooding.

General Discussion / Re: Tools for adventure
« on: March 25, 2014, 10:15:46 am »
Allen wrenches, chain tool, spoke wrench and a leatherman.
A small chain tool and include a short length of chain plus a couple of suitable master links or Shimano's joining pins if you have a Shimano chain.

+1. I used to think a chain tool was unnecessary. I rode across the country with 13 people. Over 52,000 bike miles. Not one chain problem. Never had a chain problem on any other tour. Then last Saturday I was on a group ride on my LHT when my drivetrain started skipping even in friction mode. It kept getting worse so I dropped out of the ride and stopped to take a throrough look down. That's when I discovered that half the outside plate of my speed link was literally missing. Fortunately, I was able to spin to a bike shop about 1.5 miles away. Got it replaced in 10 min. at a cost of $5 and change, which was slightly more than it would have cost to take the train home.

I will be getting a chain tool and some spare links this weekend, wiill learn how to make the necessary repairs and will be never take another trip without them.

General Discussion / Re: 2 General Questions
« on: March 25, 2014, 10:03:33 am »
The AC maps (with addenda) are pretty good at identifying where lodging is available.  Here you can pick a destination at lunch and call ahead; if they're full, you may have to shorten or lengthen your ride an hour or two if you're going to motel it that night.

+1. The maps are pretty thorough when it comes to lodging.  If you are looking at a city/town park, you really don't need to call ahead. With places like some U.S.F.S. campgrounds, you cannot call ahead as they are not staffed. Even full private places will often find a place to stick you, such as on a lawn, although you might not get such ammenities as a picnic table and a fire ring that you would get if had a regular site. Hotels/motels may be a different story as many of them can be on the small side. Project activity in the area can also affect room availability. On the northern tier our group found at least two motels that were booked solid with long-term guests. One place was full of archaeology students working at a nearby site. The other was booked with construction crews working on a pipeline project.

+1 on what Cycle Safe says about facility SNAFUS. I was riding the Great Parks South one year and planned to get dinner supplies at a small grocery store near my planned campground. I decided instead to go a little off rote to a larger town with the hope of finding a larger selection of groceries. Good thing I did because the store where I had originally planned to shop had burned down a few weeks before. The event was so recent that it had not made it into the addenda. The experience taught me that it can be benneficial to hit up an area with greater resources and carry food for a while rather than count on that the grocery store in the small town 15 miles down the road where I plan to camp  still being in business and not closed for the evening by the time I arrive.

Later in the trip I got to a U.S.F.S. campground near Telluride to find it closed for renovations. Same thing happened a few years ago in Montana. I had checked the web page for the campground and there was no mention of it being closed for renovations. When I got home I emailed the Forest Service and suggested that they might want to note the temporary closure on the web site. I was surprised to get a quick response which read "Good idea." I was even more surpised that they quickly followed through withthe update.

It tends to all work out in the end if you remain flexible. Personally, I like to have a "Plan B" each day if it looks like I might need it.

BTW...If you will be taking the L&C route option through the Bitteroots to Dillon then north, consider staying at the Bike Camp in Twin Bridges. Great facility with plenty of room, and there are lots of services in town, including a good grocery store--assuming it hasn't burned down.  :)

General Discussion / Re: TA in May..looking for company
« on: March 20, 2014, 09:38:50 am »
Another vote for E-W based on your starting date. You probably won't get to enjoy McKenzie Pass in OR due to snow if you go W-E starting in May. Having climbed both sides, IMO it's a "must see." You might very well have some cold, wet weather in MT in early June. I have tentative plans to fly to Missoula on June 19th for 10 days of riding. Thinking of pushing it back a week based on my experience in '11. That year, I flew out near the end of June. The week before, snow showers had been forecast for one area. I also came across a CGOB jounral of a rider who was riding west from Ennis, MT on the TransAm in mid-June. He ended up getting a ride over the pass due a heavy snow storm.

And if you are interested in riding with others, I think you are far more likely to encounter people if you go E-W starting in mid-May. I was on a portion of the TransAm at the end of June of '11. In 2.5 days east from Missoula I encountered at least 12 people heading west. The 8 who I talked to had all started in VA in May. Only met one person heading east. He had ridden out west and was returning to his home in MN. It wasn't until July 6th that I met other people heading east, but they were not on the TransAm.

Routes / Re: Washington, DC to Madison, WI
« on: March 17, 2014, 10:48:15 am »
Thanks DU, that looks good. So we could go GAP from DC to Pitt, Underground Railroad spur from Pitt to Erie and then take the Northern tier.

There is also this:

Not as direct as cutting across OH, but an option. I think the Monoiur Trail off the GAP (via the Clariton Connector) goes to Coraopolis, which is on PA Route A, map section 8.

General Discussion / Re: ACA maps and crummy areas in big cities?
« on: March 16, 2014, 12:17:17 pm »
The only place anyone ever tired to steal anything (my MSR Dragon Fly) from me during a tour was in DuBois, WY on the TA route.
Probably a bad idea to leave anything there, too tempting.

I left my stove out in plain sight at the Circle Up Camper Court in DuBois. I was sitting outside the laundry laundry facility reading a book. There was a dirt road along side the open tent camping area. From watching people come and go, I got the idea that the road led to a residential area. Only a low rail fence separating the area from the road. Two kids drive by. All of sudden, they stopped the car. After about a minute, one kid gets out, walks towards the fence and is about to hop it. I could tell what was up so I get up and start walking quickly towards my tent. The kid sees me, jumps back in the car and the two speed off.

General Discussion / Re: Cell coverage - phone type?
« on: March 16, 2014, 12:02:28 pm »
A few years ago, the GF and I did a 10 day loop in MT, which included some sparsely populated areas. I had Verizon. She had AT&T. I had better coverage. It's not that AT&T was horrible, it just wasn't as good as Verizon in some places. I would avoid T-Mobile based on my experiences several years ago.

General Discussion / Re: Bike Travel and Visiting Dress Up Sites
« on: March 14, 2014, 01:10:58 pm »
Italy is the place I've felt most inclined to want to present my best appearance.

--For a quick cover up, dark rain pants over bike short work well.

--Even in the U.S., I always make a point of taking off my bike sunglasses before entering any business.  That seems like simple politeness to me.

We didn't enounter any friction in Italy last year when we would stop for coffee and pastires or lunch while out for day rides. Maybe thats was due to the fact that where we were (northeast), so many people cycle. Cyclists relaxing in cafes was a common site. (One Sunday we saw easily hundreds of other cyclists doing group rides during a 30 mile ride of our own.) But for generally going about town after the riding was done, I definitely avoided the shorts and t-shirt look.

When I toured in Andalucia over a decade ago it was during a time when you did not see native adults wearing shorts. It may still be that way today. If I stopped for a sit down lunch, I put on my black rain pants and a light sweater out of respect for the local custom.

The removing the sublasses thing is another very good point.

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