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Messages - indyfabz

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On the NT, I think Waterton Village in Alberta, Canada is a "must do." Great place for a day off and some hiking. There is a nice town campsite on the shore of the lake. And the ride back into MT on Chief Mountain Highway is quite nice. It's my understanding that a side trip off the route to Many Glacier in Glacier National Park is well worth it.

You can camp for free on most national forest land. It's called "dispersed camping":

Probably won't help you much on most of the NT as you don't pass through too much national forest land.

You should find free/cheap camping available in places like city parks and fairgrounds, at least in the west and midwest. I can remember staying in such places in IA, MN, ND, MT, ID and WA. And,, as noted, you can always ask around in a town if there is a place to camp. Personally, I like to stay in or close to towns with at least some services like groceries. It's also a good way to meet people.

Expect private campgrounds in the east to be more expensive than in the midwest and west. In some case, they can be significantly more expensive. State parks and established Forest Service and Bureau of Land Managment campground are usually less expensive than private campgrounds.

It's illegal to wild camp in Glacier National Park. However, there are hiker/biker sites at most (if not all) campgrounds within the park. The last time I was there (in '09) the rate was $5/person/night. Note that Logan Pass in the park will probably not open until at least mid-June. It could be even later. The alternative (Marias Pass) simply does not compare, and it's a long, arduous way around if you find yourself in St. Mary and Logan Pass is closed. If you can, it's worth scheduling your trip so you will have a good chance to ride Logan Pass.

General Discussion / Re: Newbie, just signed up for the TransAm tour!
« on: October 25, 2013, 10:07:48 am »

2 A great deal of enviousness towards me: An ACA tour has typically a strict mileage, which means that the group will arrive in towns, places on the exact dates as planned. Some group members count on this precision and make arrangements with friends/family/relatives along the route. So these people (maybe 1-2 persons of a group) expect to be at a certain location at a certain time - which is nice for them. For instance it could be on the planned rest days. But the weather plays a big role when biking: If the group has a 30 mi day, but the day turns out to be blessed with a strong tailwind making it possible to do 120 mi that very day - it will be very frustrating not being able to go further. Contrary, if the weather turns bad and annoying, the group HAS to move on where other cyclist would have a rest day.

On our NT tour, we had a drop-dead finish date. ACA provided a very rough, suggested itinerary that included rest days in towns with relatively good services and/or interesting things to do. The rest days also corresponded to days when post offices would be open so people could plan general delivery mail. We would plan out weekly schedules keeping in mind the drop dead finish date, terrain, etc.

Two related factors affected daily mileage, especially in the mountainous/hilly parts of the route. First, you have the availability of campgrounds. In some instances, you had a choice of a moderate day or an extremely long, difficult day. A factor that affected choice was the ability range within the group. We had members for whom a hard, 100 miles was very difficult. You have to take that into account. That sort of compromise comes with the territory. I distinctly remember a difference of opinion while riding across the relatively flat High Line in Montana. Once or twice we had the option of something like a 40 mile day or an 80 mile day. With the typical tailwinds we had been experiencing, 40 miles was a snap. There were people who were in favor of the shorter days for various reasons, including the desire to "rest." Others felt it was a bit of a waste to pack up just to have to make camp again after such a short day.

Same thing with the choice of the type of camping. I think I mentioned that a few in our group would have rarther spent more nights in more rustic campgrounds, such as U.S.F.S. campgrounds. But many in our group were more on the "high maintenance" side, if you will, preferring private campgrounds with showers and such if there was a choice. Again, this is a compromise you have to accept if you sign up with a group tour. Unless things have changed, you can take what is called a "side trip" and rejoin the group a few days later. In such an instance, you were on your own financially.

Several people in our group took side trips for varying reasons. One notable one was in Waterton Village. We "lost" a day in Glacier National Park waiting for Logan Pass to open. We were supposed to have a rest day in Waterton Village two days later but ended up cancelling it based on majority rule. One group member wanted to do some hiking out of Waterton so he stayed behind when we moved on to MacGrath the following day. To catch up to us in Cut Bank, MT, our next stop after MacGrath, he ahd to pull a hard, 120+ mile day.

Routes / Re: Ride across Nebraska route advice
« on: October 23, 2013, 09:39:36 am »
You might try contacting the ride organizers of B.R.A.N., which is a long-running annual event in Nebraska.

In fact, last year's route passed through N. Platte. and Kearney:

Routes / Re: Steamboat Springs, CO to Kentucky
« on: October 21, 2013, 09:26:42 am »
Is cold weather going to be a major issue? I enjoy riding and camping in cold weather but I don't want to be miserable the whole time either.

How cold? There are simple Google searches you can run to get average monthly temperatures. For example, a quick search revealed an average daily high for Salina, KS in Nov. of 55. Average nightly low around 33.

Keep in mind that some/many campground may be closed for the season. It's been reported that many KS city parks on the Trans Am do not allow camping once school starts.

General Discussion / Re: Newbie, just signed up for the TransAm tour!
« on: October 18, 2013, 04:00:14 pm »
One thing I'm going back and forth on is my camera. I have a nice DSLR that's not light (as DSLRs tend to be). But it feels like a missed opportunity to go on this trip and not take my best camera. I keep telling myself that I'm in super good shape, so I can handle the extra weight. But that weight does start to add up; a few ounces here, a pound there, and suddenly I'm carrying and extra 10 lbs!

Try to bring it if you can. When I did my x-country trip I was doing a lot of B&W photography. I carried a Mamiya 645 with a metered finder, power winder and 3 lenses and a 33mm with 1 lens, and, of course, film. I didn't regret it. Take it on your "shakedown" trips and see if it works for you.

BTW...Depending on the time of year, Trophy Bikes on 2nd Street in NoLibs may have several LHT's in stock. They may not have a disc version, but at least you might be able to try different sizes to get a feel for what might fit you best. And they have at least one employee that actually does some touring.

Let me know if you would like some ideas for weekend shakedown trips close to home, such as French Creek State Park. If you can arrange transportation, ACA's Atlantic Coast route between Port Jervis, NY and Philly makes a nice three day ride.

General Discussion / Re: Paying for the trip?
« on: October 18, 2013, 11:36:02 am »
Also, Indyfabz, I hope you have found work again.

Thanks. As luck would have it, I got by old job back exactly two years after I left.

General Discussion / Re: Newbie, just signed up for the TransAm tour!
« on: October 18, 2013, 11:31:47 am »
My first tour was ACA's group self-contained Northern Tier tour. The first day of the trip was only the second time I had ever ridden a fully-loaded bike. (The first time was a 62 mile day ride with all my gear the week before I hopped the train to Seattle.) The first night of the trip was the first night I ever slept in a tent. After we reached Bar Harbor, I rode home to Philly on my own and then to the beach in NJ.

I enjoyed the experience very much. The trip also taught me skills and gave me confidence I didn't have before. Armed with such I did two solo, month+ tours the follwing year, including one in Andalucia, Spain.

Not to focus on the negative, but, IMO, the two biggest "cons" are not being able to set your own schedule/itinerary and the possibility that there may be a person or two in the group that just rubs you the wrong way. There is not much you can do about the former. In our case, majority ruled, and you do have to finish by a certain date. Ultimately, the issue didn't cause much dissention. As for the latter issue, the best piece of advice I can offer you is to try to be as tolerant as possible and, most importantly, don't let the actions of others get to you to the extent that it keeps you from ejoying the experience.

Routes / Re: Biking to District of Columbia, from Chicago, IL
« on: October 17, 2013, 10:59:41 am »
As noted, more information is needed. For example, if you have the right equipment (e.g., bike suited for unpaved paths) and plan to travel at certain times of the year, this is a wonderful way to get from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, MD:

From Cumbaerland, MD you could follow the C&O Canal Path directly into D.C.

PA does have official signed bike routes:

Routes A and S might be of interest to you. Route S uses part of the Great Allegheny Passage trail, which is the first link in this message. Route S intersects Adventure Cycling's Atlantic Coast route in the Columbia, PA, area. You could follow that (Map Section 3) to D.C.:

Indoor lodging is doable but may require reservations during certain times of the year. It will also likely be significantly more expensive than camping, especially the further east you go.

Don't understand your point/question No. 4 Please clarify.

General Discussion / Re: A New Accessory (Looking for Feedback)
« on: October 14, 2013, 10:22:39 am »
An umbrella rarely does me much good when I am walking for any length.

General Discussion / Re: Paying for the trip?
« on: October 14, 2013, 10:16:28 am »
Well....When I did ACA's Northern Tier group tour, there were three people who had just finished undergrad or grad school, one who was going to be a senior in undergrad, a special ed teacher, four retired fellows (one had been an engineer and another a CHiP) and two people, inlcuding myself, who were unemployed. Prior to the trip, I was practicing law in-house with a large corporation. My unemployment was the result of a corporate acquisition that required regulatory approval. That process, along with implementation, took a long time. I had a good 18 months advance notice that I would likely be losing my job. During that time, I saved up as much as I could. Ended up taking three long tours, among other things. Being able to flop with my mom when I wasn't travelling helped with the financial end. Now that I have been working for some time, my trips are limited to 10-14 days or less including travel to and from the start/finish.

As for our leaders (there ended up being three), one was ex-Navy and did something with computers on what sounded like a consulting basis, one was a retired CIA and one, I believe, was an independent electrician.

Gear Talk / Re: See the gear on Velo Orange
« on: October 07, 2013, 01:44:17 pm »
Anyone know if "Casey" is Casey Greene?

General Discussion / Re: coast to coast touring 30 days?
« on: October 06, 2013, 10:14:44 am »
You are going to have to ride 30 centuries back-to-back with no rest days at all.

Sorry to be so negative but I don't think you have any idea what you are getting into and you better find out before committing to the trip.

+1. And I am inclined to think it would be more than 30. Per Google Maps, a direct Interstate route is nearly 2,800 miles.

General Discussion / Re: Saddle bags
« on: October 04, 2013, 10:24:34 am »
Here is another frame of reference that might be useful....

I have Ortlieb Sport Packers (front, 30L/pair) and Back Packers (rear, 50L/pair if you believe Wayne at The Touring Store, 42L/pair if you believe Ortlieb). My first tour with them was in an area and at a time that made carryi both warm weather and cold weather clothing prudent. From what I gather, I carry more clothing (both on and off bike) than the average person. I don't carry any electronics other than a cell phone. I am tall and broad shouldered so my clothes are larger than average, and I need a long sleeping bag and mattress. I had a companion but I carried virtually all of the cooking gear, which included a relatively bulky stove (MSR Dragonfly) and 22 oz. fuel bottle. Tent and sleeping bag went on the racks. Even with all that stuff I had plenty of room left over in by bags. Even when we had to carry food to camp I still had some room left.

General Discussion / Re: Motivation: why ride?
« on: September 30, 2013, 11:01:15 am »
+3 on what John said. I finished an 8-day, 475 mile, fully loaded ride earlier this month and felt/experienced every one of those things. At first I thought "smug superiority" was excluded, but then I remembered how smug and superior I felt when, on the last day, I met some friends, who were near the end of a 55 mile day ride, for coffee. My loaded bike next to their cabron fiber feathers made me feel supreior, if only a little.

General Discussion / Re: shipping bikes
« on: September 30, 2013, 10:22:41 am »
You'd better call ahead before you go down to be on the safe side.

+1. I think this issue came up a few years ago and it was determined that shipping service was not offered by all REI stores.

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