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Messages - indyfabz

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General Discussion / Re: Advice on Heading South in Winter
« on: November 15, 2012, 10:41:54 am »
Several good options given. Train with the bike. Train and ship the bike. Plane and ship the bike.

I priced an arbitrary date of 12/13. Cost for coach was $212. At this late date, a flight might cost you a good bit. Personally, I would take my
chances with a train over a plane from a weather delay perspective.

The route from MSP to JAX is the Emprie Builder to Chicago, the Capitol Limited to D.C. and then the Silver Meteor. All stations have checked
baggage so brining a bike is possible. Assuming everything runs on time, the trip duration is about 50 hrs.
(The Silver Service has a pretty bad on-time record.) Some people can deal with that. Some people cannot.

I have taken the train from Philly to Seattle with my bike twice. As noted, it was pretty easy. I checked the bike and a second bag containing my tent,
racks, sleeping bag and two panneris of stuff. I carried on the other two panniers. I re-assembled the bike and attached the racks with a set
of allen wrenches.

Gear Talk / Re: Touring Bikes - Surly LHT vs Novarra Randonee
« on: November 13, 2012, 10:32:46 am »
The Surly site has more detail over the spectrum of sizes than the REI site. For exampple, the Surly site tells you the stock bar width for
all frame sizes. The REI site contains no bar width information at all. As a broad-shouldered person who is also 6' 2",
something like that is important to me. I also don't see any geometry information, but maybe I am missing something. And, of course,
the LHT is available in more sizes and with 26" wheels. I would at least try to get more detailed information from REI. As noted,
test rides of both would be ideal.

Overall, I am pleased with my LHT. My first one was stolen and I didn't hesitate to buy a second one.

Routes / Re: Southern Tier in March of 2013
« on: November 12, 2012, 10:20:52 am »
I have ridden fully loaded in some very wet places, including the western part of Northern Tier starting in late May twice. I have never once used fenders.
The gear on my rear rack sits parallel to the bike, preventing any spray from hitting me. And if it's raining hard eneough, my feet are going to get wet
with or without a front fender. In fact, I don't think any one of the 12 on our cross country trip used fenders.

General Discussion / Re: Advice needed!!!
« on: November 03, 2012, 10:55:01 am »
2% of first-time bicycle tourists underpack, 10% pack just right, and 88% overpack. Don't worry too much about underpacking. Read some of the equipment lists over at and here on this site to get ideas.

Heh. I might go even higher than 88%. Nearly everyone on my first tour (cross country with a group of 12) mailed something home within the first week. My favorite was the woman who mailed home her blow drier and her Sony Watchman TV.

There is also a "how-to" section on Adventure Cycling's web site.

General Discussion / Re: Yellowstone North Entrance Info.
« on: November 03, 2012, 10:45:42 am »
I believe it's Old Yellow Stone Trail South. Hard to find good info. on it, but it seems to be part of an old stage coach route. If you look at Google Maps Street View where the north end merges back into U.S. 89, a little ways above where SR 540 branches off from U.S. 89, you can see that it's a dirt road. There is also a portion of it you can cycle in the park between Mamouth Hot Springs and the north entrance. Open one-way to cars but both ways to bikes. Check the park's web site for details.

Could be a nice ride. Last year we did a 20 mile section of unpaved road between Melrose and Twin Bridges, MT that turned out to be a hidden gem. If it's rough going, you can cross back to U.S. 89 at Corwin Springs and Miner.

General Discussion / Re: Tales of Calamity and Woe
« on: October 31, 2012, 10:03:42 am »
During a day off in Bowling Green, OH a shop Discovered that my rear rim had cracks around nearly every spoke hole. Since I was with a group I had to keep moving so I had little choice but to shell out big $$ for the wheel off a tandem.

In the middle of nowhere Andalucia the following March, my right pedal spindal started to size up. Stramge feeling when you are pedalling and your pedal axle won't rotate. I managed to work it free but it kept acting up every few miles. I finally got it to get it to stop and made it to that evening's destination. I was then faced with the choice of trying to ride to about 60 miles to Cordoba the next day, where I was sure there would be some good bike shops, or taking a bus there and back to get a new set of pedal. I opted for the former. Not 5 miles into the ride the pedal started siezing up again. I think I finally managed to crush enough of the bearings to dust that the problem stopped for good. Found a great shop near Cordoba's city campground and told the salesman the pedals were "basura."

Routes / Re: Atlantic Coast Questions
« on: October 26, 2012, 11:19:46 am »
Unless you get a nice owner who gives you a discount, camping will cost you in PA, NJ & NY.  Places along the route south of Philadelphia will likely run at least in the high twenties/night and maybe even 30s. I doubt you will find anything free like city parks. Obviously, there is no established camping close to Philadelphia and I don't think it would be wise to stealth camp in the wooded areas of the city's public park system. For out of state residents, NJ state parks like Worthington near Delaware Water Gap,  PA, are $25/night for non-residents. Once you get into NY things probably won't get much cheaper. Commercial campgrounds were pretty expensive when I last looked into them a few years ago. Some of them were in the mid to upper 30s.  Out of curiosity, I priced a tent site with no utilities for next week at the KOA a little above Port Jervis. $36. Probably more in season. There are one or two state parks near/in Hyde Park. Don't know what they charge.

I rode a short portion of the route (Port Jervis, NY to Philadelphia) back in May. Drove a one-way rental to the start and camped a few miles outside of the center of town at this place:

$30 for a site with no utilities. The owner only charged me $15. He said it was because I was on a bike, but I think maybe it was because the place really was just gearing up for the season. The pool wasn't even open yet. The next night I stayed at Worthington for $25. The third night I stayed at Dog Wood Haven just off route in PA across from Milford, NJ. I was again charged $15 since I was on a bike. (I was also offered a free beer by the owner.) They don't have a web site so I don't know what the normal rate would have been.

I am hoping to ride part of the route next June to get to my 30th high school reunion in western MA. Guess I will have to suck it up and pay the price.

Routes / Re: Google biking maps
« on: October 18, 2012, 04:31:37 pm »
Agree with Josh. Another thing it sometimes does is route you out of your way to put you on bike paths, sometimes for short distances.

One time out of curiosity, I asked for directions between two points on the Trans Am route. Can't remember the starting point (maybe, Wisdom, Dillon or Twin Bridges), but the end was W. Yellowstone. The rotue was remarkably different than the ACA route. As Josh describes, it chose a remote route with many miles of unpaved roads and very few (if any) services).  I suspect that's because it's not considering the needs of the self-contained cyclist. That type of route is fine as long as you know what you are getting into and can prepare properly with things like sufficent water and nourishment. But if that's not your thing, you have to scrutinize the chosen route with care.

General Discussion / Re: In praise of rest days...
« on: October 18, 2012, 04:21:39 pm »
So many fun times.  Let's see....

After finishing the Northern Tier in Bar Harbor I took a few days off before heading down the coast for home. Took the bus into Acadia and walked along the beach to Thunder Hole. Saw two movies in town. That forgettable one with Steve Martin and Eddie Murphy.  Can't even remmber the name. Bo something or other I think. But it was in a nice, old theater. The next night I saw "Summer of Sam" in a combination theater-pizza parlor. If you ordered food, you got to sit down in front in old living room furniture. When your food was ready, a light lit up on an old bingo board and you went to pick it up.

A few days from home I was forced to take a day off in a Goddefroy, NY motel as hurricane Floyd moved through. The proprietor was incredibly nice. I had no food with me. After the brunt of the storm had passed, she drove me to an open deli so I could get a sandwich.

In Glasgow, MT we got to partake in the customer appreciation day BBQ at Gordon's Warehouse Grocery Store. Met quite a few insteresting locals.

Took a boat tour on Lake Itasca during which we saw a loon family and a bald eagle pair.

Took several days off in Ronda Spain during Semana Santa and got to see the evening precessions. Being from the U.S., the hoods and robes were unnerving at first. Absent the colors, they look just like KKK garb.

Both times I crossed the North Cascades Highway, days off in Winthrop to recover in the warmth was quite nice.

Hiking in Glacier N.P. waiting for Logan Pass to open.

Toured Rock Island and the John Deere center during a day off in Davenport, IA then had a 22 oz. stuffed pork chop at The Machine Shed.

Spent and evening at a county fair in Bowling Green, OH.

In Niagara Falls, ON we stayed at the Rainbow Hostel. They had a multi-hour tour on a Merry Prankster-like bus to lesser-visited attractions, including a brewery and a winery, where I tried ice wine for the first time. Everyone was pretty much snockered by the end.

General Discussion / Re: Cycling/Touring companion
« on: October 17, 2012, 10:44:57 am »
Right next door to Portugal, Andalucia has a lot of nice cycling. A good road network and little traffic in many places. Can't comment on the current suitability due to the economic climate there. The Rough Guide travel book series has an entire book devoted to the region, and Michelin makes a great map showing even the tiniest roads. Just don't go during the height of summer unless you like extreme heat. April was terrific weather-wise. The second half of March was hit or miss, with some of the more mountainous areas like the Alpujarras being cold and wet.

Mid-Atlantic / New Jersey Wolf Preserve & Campground
« on: October 15, 2012, 02:53:23 pm »
While on a day ride that included some of ACA's Atlantic Coast Route in the area of Delaware Water Gap, PA and the National Recreation Area of the same name I came across a neat place that you might want to visit on a side trip:

Who'd have thunk it in NJ?

To get there...A hundred or so feet north of the gas station on Rte. 611 in Portland, PA, which is a about 4 miles south of Delaware Water Gap, PA, there is pedestrian bridge to Columbia on the NJ side of the river. The wolf preserve is about 5.5 mile from there. Here is a map:

While on your way, if you make the right on Station Rd. from SR 94 and travel down it a short distance will see the Paulinskill Viaduct. When complteted in 1910, it was the largest reinforced concrete structre in the world. It used to carry DL&W's Lackawanna Cutoff, but it has not seen a train since about '79. New Jersey Transit has long range plans to reactivate the line all the way to Scranton. PA.


General Discussion / Re: Libraries and Touring
« on: October 15, 2012, 01:59:15 pm »
I use libraries mostly to check and send email since I don't carry a computer or "smart" gadget. During a 10 day trip in MT last year we stopped at two public libraries. During Cycle Oregon this year we hit one public library. We would have hit a few more but they were closed on the days we were there. I do on-line research into businesses/services and sometimes ask librarians for local information. I have visited libraries on several other supported and unsupported tours, both long and short.

If there is a donation jar, I always leave something.

Routes / Re: Timing and weather
« on: October 09, 2012, 01:43:24 pm »
My mention of humidity was in relation to direction. Personally, having to deal with very high humidty during summers, I would start in early June in the east to avoid as much east and midwest humidity as possible. Riding all day in what feels like a wet diaper with nothing evaporating and no associated cooling is something I like to avoid. Those are my thoughts.

Routes / Re: Timing and weather
« on: October 08, 2012, 02:51:57 pm »
Interesting that you are focussing on weather from a cold perspective. Are you familiar with/acclimated to riding in extreme heat and humidity, which you could very well enounter in the midwest and east based on your timing? Having once done it, riding through the midwest in 90-100+ temps (topping out at 107 in IN, with a low the night before of 85) and oppressive humidity for at least two weeks straight is something I would try to avoid.

Routes / Re: Northern Tier / TransAm Start Date Question (E to W travel)
« on: October 07, 2012, 01:16:40 pm »
I was on the Trans Am heading east for a few days last year. Left from Missoula on June 29th and rode to the eastern base of Big Hole Pass. On July 4th we spent the night in Twin Bridges, which is also on the Trans Am. We met several western-bound people who had started early to mid-May.

As noted, conditions can vary from year to year. When we arrived in MSO is was rather chilly and the weather had been not so nice all spring and summer up until then. The week before our trip, snow showers were forecast in some of the areas we were to ride to. Fortunately, we hit the first extended stretch of dry, warm weather.

Having done the the entire Nothern Tier, the western section to Glacier a second time and much of the OR section of the Trans Am to Florence, I can recommend taking the Trans Am to MSO and then jumping on the Great Parks to Whitefish. Form there, head to Glacier, make camp and ride up and back down the west side of Going to the Sun. Then head back west and finish on the Northern Tier. Sort of the best of both worlds. You would miss McKenzie Pass in OR, but GTS more than makes up for it IMO. Plus, I wasn't a big fan of the high desert of eastern and central OR. The WA mountains were more interesting to me.  From near the end of the Northern Tier you can pretty easily get to Seattle, which offers plenty of transportation options home.

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