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Messages - indyfabz

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Gear Talk / Re: Help me accesorize my Surly LHT
« on: August 06, 2012, 10:37:45 am »
The Surly racks are really heavy. The front one is especially heavy, tipping the scale at just over 3 lbs. And this is coming from someone who has a set of Nitto Big racks (which are definitely on the heavy side) and has never been a "weight weenie." I would at least go with something different up front unless you feel you really want and/or need a front platform. My first set of racks had large front and rear platforms and I liked that set up a lot. When a theft required me to replace them, I went with the Nittos to try to replicate what I had as close as possible. My front also afford a little more ground clearance than a low rider rack, which is nice because I am not always on paved roads.

Gear Talk / Re: Panniers and Racks
« on: August 06, 2012, 10:05:24 am »
I'll second Old Guy -- is a great supplier.  When I needed a new mount (because of an unexpected bike change), I called Ortlieb's U.S. customer service.  They didn't have it in stock, and wouldn't get it for a while, but they referred me to thetouringstore (and looked up Wayne's number for me).  That was one of the drama-free mail drops from my trip.  Highly recommended.

Last year I bought a set of BikePackers and SportPackers from Wayne. Couldn't agree more. Fast shipping and good prices. More importantly, service after the sale. When I was having a little trouble getting a solid fit, he told me to send him some photos of my racks (not Tubus). We then had a detailed conversation during which he gave me some specific ideas on how to get a more secure fit. During the second use, one side of the compression strap of on one of the BikePackers tour out of its seam. Wayne replaced it no questions asked. In fact, since I need a replacement in a hurry, he sent me one before I returned the defective one, and he picked up the shipping for the return.

I like the QL-2 for the most part. What I don't like is the bottom hook. First of all, it's not as stiff as I would like it. Second, there is a pretty wide gap between the underside of the hook and the back of the panniers. This leads to some rattle even with 10 mm rack tubing. To correct this, you can wrap some cloth tape (like the kid you would use on a tennis racket) around the areas of the racks where the hooks make contact to fill in the gaps. Finally, make sure you tighten the hooks thoroughly. This May I drove to the start of a tour only to find that at some point in time the hook of one of my SportPackers had fallen off. I compensated by securing the bottom of the pannier to the rack with a bungee cord. Interestingly, during the second day of that tour, I ran into a woman out for a day ride. She does a good amount of touring and noticed my bungee cord. She made the same comments about the hook flexibility and rattle.

Routes / Re: Allegheny Loop Info
« on: August 06, 2012, 09:44:38 am »
A report from last year:

I am thinking of doing it this fall, but I said that last year.

Routes / Re: Transportation options from Bar Harbor
« on: August 06, 2012, 09:40:28 am »
Where are you trying to get to?

Twelve years ago, I had the luxury of time to ride home to Philadelphia. One person in our group took the bus back to Chicago.

Assume you mean Portland, Maine (postal abbr. ME), not Portland Minnesota (postal abbr. MN). In case you don't know, if you will be travelling with your bike, you need bike reservations for the Downeaster. And when you arrive in Boston you will have to get yourself from North Station to South Station.

I think we might head up to Lake Koocanusa instead...we will stop by their shop before leaving Whitefish!  Sort of follow a good part of the Northern Tier route.  Happy riding everyone!!

The road along the east shore of Lake Koocanusa (FYI, a combination of "Kootenai," "Canada" and "U.S.A.") is awesome. Have a friend on the NT right now. He just rode it a few days ago from Eureka to Libby and posted this:

"Magical ride along Koocanusa Lake  No cars and great views."

Mariner's Haven on MT 37 west of Eureka was nice when I was there many years ago. Heading through Eureka on the way to Canada in '09 we came across a good grocery store on U.S. 93 called Steins.

If you head up toward Eureka and pass the sign for Olney on U.S. 93, take the short detour into the center of town. It's maybe a quarter of a mile. Neat old merchantile there with a collection of old pop bottles. Recommend sticking to the ACA route. It gets you off U.S. 93 in several places. The roads are very nice.

General Discussion / Re: Cyclists Only Campground
« on: August 02, 2012, 09:46:47 am »
The Bike Camp in Twin Bridges, MT on the Trans Am, is a great facility. Stayed there last year. Hot shower, flush toilete, bike repair stand, large camp sink, BBQ grill, screened in structure to escape the mosquitoes and lots of soft grass to pitch the tent on. And only a few minutes' walk into the center of town.

Many years ago I camped at the cyclist-only spot on the west slope of Togwotee Pass, which is also on the Trans Am. Primative, but a very nice view of the Teetons.

In the park there are hiker-biker spots at St. Mary, Rising Sun, Avalanche, Sprague Creek and Apgar. Think they are all $5/person. Don't know about Two Medicine.

There is indeed hiker/biker camping at Two Medicine, about six or eight sites towards the back of the campground. Two Medicine is a nice spot in the park to go to if you have the time, as it feels less crowded than other areas due to it not being on Going-to-the-Sun Road. (It's also the first place I ever saw a bear, incidentally.)

It is very nice. I ended by backcountry backpacking trip there. The NPS says it was a very popular place before the building of GTS because of its accessibility.

In the park there are hiker-biker spots at St. Mary, Rising Sun, Avalanche, Sprague Creek and Apgar. Think they are all $5/person. Don't know about Two Medicine. Sprague Creek has maybe three tent pads for hiker/bikers. However, they are surrounded by a large, open (but shaded) area. I stayed there in '99 during a group tour and then again in '00 the same night as a group tour that I was not part of. There was also another couple there. There were so many of us that we were allowed to pitch tents on the grassy area. I have a hard time believing you would be turned away. In '09 we were there in late June so crowding wasn't an issue.

Two things I like about Sprague Creek are that it's small and it's an easy walk to Lake McDonald Lodge (IMO, a "must see"), which is a good place to grab a beer and sit lakeside. There is also a camp store at the lodge complex. However, the distance from Avalanche to the lodge is a non-issue if you are willing to use the shuttle service. There is also nice hiking at Avalanche. The major downside to Sprague Creek is that it's close to the road, so there is more noise many times of the day. Note that there are no showers at any of the campgrounds in the park except for Rising Sun, where there are some coin-op showers.

Outside at park at St. Mary there are a few private campgrounds. We stayed at the KOA in '99. They had a couple of group sites.

At Logan Pass, try to do the relaitvely short hike to the observation platform overlooking Hidden Lake. Amazing view, and you will likely walk passed goats.

If you do get shut out on the west side of the pass, I recommend this place:

I stayed there before and after a backcountry hiking trip in the park. They only charge hiker/bikers $10 to pitch in the "meadow."

At the end of our '09 tour, we stayed at the Best Western south of the center of Whitefish on U.S. 93. Nice place with a hot tub that was more like a "warm tub."

Leaving the park, I recommend sticking to the ACA route. Not only is it nice back there, it avoids a section of U.S. 2 west of Hungry Horse that has no shoulder.

Bring plenty of sunblock. We got blasted by the sun on Marias. The stretch between Looking Glass Hill and St. Mary also has very little shade. But then you will enjoy a screaming descent into St. Mary. Think it's close to 6 miles. If I were riding your route, from Two Medicine I would try to make Rising Sun with a stop in St. Mary for lunch and any needed supplies. That would leave only about 2,000' of climbing to Logan Pass the next day. Get an early start and beat the crowds heading to the pass.

Finally, if you pay the entrance fee at Two Medicine, don't forget to save your receipt or you very well may have to pay again when you re-enter the park at St. Mary.

Have a great time!

Routes / Re: Google's bicycle directions
« on: July 30, 2012, 10:11:30 am »
Be careful using Google for bike routes.  I put in some local destinations and it will put me on some rough, unpaved roads as part of my route.  I know these roads are not ride-able on a road bike and maybe not on a touring bike either.

Yeah. For fun I picked two stops on the Trans Am--Wisdom and W. Yellowstone, MT--and asked Google for bike directions. What I got did not share much in common with the ACA route. A lot of the route appeared to be on unpaved roads with little or no services. As Fred notes, services factor into the equation.

Hi there,
We are riding from Whitefish MT through Glacier and down around Flathead Lake in a few weeks...anyone have any can't miss stops or suggestions for places to stop? It will be a camping and occasional hotel stay trip. So far the only reservation is the Isaac Walton Inn. And any hot springs in that area??

+1 on the Park Cafe.

What route are you taking? If you are staying at Isaac Walton you must be doing Marias Pass. Hope you are not planning on skipping Going to the Sun. I have done both. No comparison. If you are going over GTS to St. Mary and then around to East Glacier to come back west over Marias, bring enough water and snacks. There is nothing on U.S. 89 or MT 49, very little shade and you start the day with about a 6 mile climb before hitting lots of roller and then climbing Looking Glass Hill (MT 49), which has some fantastic views:

And don't miss the world's largest purple spoon in E. Glacier:

Heading east to west on Marias, a few miles before you get to Isaac Walton, there is a place called Goat Lick:

We didn't go down the steep hill to the area but saw goats on the right above the road.

Things can get pretty crowded in the park area. I would seriously consider making reservations for any indoor stays.

General Discussion / Re: Essential Kit for Trans AM
« on: July 17, 2012, 12:54:16 pm »
Whilst the replies given include the absolute minimum you will require you really need to give us a little more information about how you intend to travel, camping or motels, cooking yourself or using restaurants whenever possible.

+1. Your route, direction and time of year may also influence the list. For example, if you do the Northern Tier west to east in starting in May, you very well might want a warm hat, warm gloves and other stuff to keep you warm and/or dry. It can get pretty cold and wet in WA during that time of year. You might not need such stuff on a more temperate route.

While by no means was it exhaustive, I did some poking around and didn't find any senior-oriented cross country trips. I did find a company or two that caters to seniors, but they didn't offer cross country trips. I guess there isn't enough of a market for it.

I think the motel requirement is the real limiting factor when it comes to finding a supported cross country tour. Even if you were to do it fast, it would be pretty pricey. America By Bike does a fully-supported 33 day indoor lodging tour. 115+ miles/day. The price this year for triple lodging is $5,150. Imagine what a 60 day trip like that would cost.

As noted, you might have to make some compromises, like camping or doing your own credit card trip. And FWIW, the oldest person on my self-contained cross country trip turned 77 during the adventure.

Gear Talk / Re: Tire Failure - Not Sure How It Happened
« on: July 10, 2012, 09:42:11 am »
but I have my doubt that high pressure was the culprit.

Assuming no damage/wear/manufacturing defect, I think you are right. I spoke with a rep. from Continental at the "one and done" Philadelphia Interbike show many years ago. He explained that the max. pressure figure on the sidewal is nowhere near what the tire is designed to withstand, both from rupture and "blow off" persepctives.

General Discussion / Re: Near miss with truck on Trans-Am
« on: July 10, 2012, 09:32:53 am »
OP:  Let's not forget that you ascribed intent to the semi driver when your wrote that he tried to ram you off the road. Don't know how you can do that without the ability to read his mind. Let's assume that he could have safely slowed down (i.e., doing so would not have caused a wreck that squashed you and your pals) until there was enough room to pull out. One could argue that his failure to do so makes him a bad driver, but it doesn't evidence intent to ram you off the road.

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