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Messages - indyfabz

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General Discussion / Re: Must upgrades for LHT
« on: January 18, 2011, 03:32:32 pm »
Out caution I will add one thing.  After maybe 1.5 yrs. of commuting and short tours, the ridges on the seat post and/or mounting hardware became worn the point where the saddle no longer stayed in position.  It would tilt back after a short time no matter how hard I tightened the bolt.  I had to replace the post.  Never heard of this happening to anyone else, so it may have been an anomoly.  And maybe my 215 lbs. had soemthing to do with it.

I also put on a Terry Liberator, but it's my understanding that the saddle that comes with the current edition is better than what the bike used to come with.

Routes / Re: Newbie Route question
« on: January 17, 2011, 02:40:49 pm »
It will run the gamut from country roads to state highways to U.S. highways.  And as noted, some wider roads, including interstates, can be safe.  In some cases, the small country rodes can pose their own problems.  For example, when I did the NT, a woman in Indiana warned us about yahoos running stop signs at intersections in the backroads that cut through cornfields.  Two years ago I did the section of the NT from Glacier N.P. to Eureka, MT.  There was heavy traffic in Columbia Falls, but very little on most of the parts of U.S. 93 that we rode except leaving Whitefish and entering Eureka, and the part of 93 that we were on had enough shoulder to get by.

One tip is to not take "shortcuts."  You may see a more direct route than the one show on the AC map.  One probable reason for the less direct route is potential traffic on the more direct route.  For example, heading west out of Sandpoint, ID, you could take U.S. 2 instead of following the official route that crosses the lake and meanders along the other side of the river before eventually getting to the same place, but you might get squashed by a logging truck trying to do so.

In sum, t's completely doable even with the areas of moderate to heavy traffic.  And at some point you will want to spend omse time in more populated areas.  Meeting the locals is part of the experience.

Routes / Re: On the Northern Tier - From Washinton heading east....
« on: January 17, 2011, 02:08:01 pm »
indyfabz & johnsondasw - Your comments lead me to believe that the ACA maps suggested by Fred would round out many of my questions relating to overnights and supplies etc.  From there, figuring out when I could jump an Amtrak home should allow me to flesh out a trip itinerary.

Yep.  The maps show everything, including camping locations, grocery stores and motels.  When you look at the maps, you will see that in WA it can be difficult to combine days shown on my itinerary.  For example, to get from Winthrop to Republic instead of stopping in Tonasket would require a very long day with two passes.  Same would be true if you stayed in Tonasket and tried to skip Republic.

The NT often follows the route of Amtrak's Empire Builder, especially east of Cut Bank.  Go to Amtrak's web site, select stations and search by state.  You will get a list of all stations in that state.  Click on a station name to see if there is checked baggage service.  The station must offer checked baggage service in order for you to be able to take your bike with you.  East of Cut Bank, MT, Shelby and Havre have checked baggage service.  I would also call ahead to make sure they have a bike box on hand.

If you find yourself pressed for time, at least try to make it into Glacier N.P. and ride the west side of Going to the Sun and maybe make the hike to the lake from Avalanche Campground.  You could then double back to Whitefish for the train.

Routes / Re: Route 464 (Duck Lake Road) from Babb to Browning, Montana
« on: January 12, 2011, 02:56:59 pm »
+1 on Waterton Village.  It has a great town campsite that is dramatically located:

The photo of grazing deer and the next 14 photos were taken in Waterton Village and on the way to St. Mary.  The one on the beach with the log in the forground was taken at the town campsite.

Unfortunately, both times I rode through there (including in 2009) we had to skip our rest days there.  I was really looking forward to Crypt Lake.

Routes / Re: On the Northern Tier - From Washinton heading east....
« on: January 12, 2011, 02:44:50 pm »
Not sure where the Washington Parks route goes, but this was my itinerary starting from Seattle and taking a ferry to pick up the Pacific Coast Rote to the Northern Tier. I don’t think many people would consider this a moderate pace.  Certainly not aggressive.  I was with a group, so we had to accommodate all abilities.

Kitsap State Park (I think that was the name)
Fort Worden State Park at Pt. Townsend
Bayview State Park
Howard Miller Steelhead Park in Rockport
Colonial Creek Campground on Rte. 20 a little east of Newhalem
Day off in Winthrop
Sandpoint, ID
Day off in Sandpoint
Junction of Rtes. 200 and 56 in MT
Sprague Creek in Glacier National Park
Day off waiting for the pass to open
St. Mary KOA
Waterton Village, AB
McGrath, AB
Cut Bank, MT

We had originally planned to take a day off in Waterton village but got delayed in Glacier, so we skipped it.  Send me a private message if you would like the rest of the itinerary or other info.

General Discussion / Re: Which Way Is Best
« on: January 11, 2011, 01:27:46 pm »
Just did the loop in June of '09 with one detour.  GTS was not fully open, so we had to go around the edge of the park to the W. Glacier entrance.  However, the following day we did get to ride up the west side to Logan Pass and back down again.  (In ’99 I climbed the west side and descended the east side.)  We started in Whitefish and went clockwise.  I agree with Valygrl for the reasons she notes and others, including...

1.  Leaving Waterton Village heading towards the U.S., the climbing on Chief Mountain Highway (MT 17) will be more forgiving.  You will have climbing for sure, but it will be easier. (I have done it both directions.)  The trade off is that you will almost certainly have a stiff headwind from the junction of MT 17 & U.S. 89 to St. Mary, but it's relatively flat.

2.  West to East on GTS Road is also wider.  Also...there is an ongoing rehab project, which I think is mostly on the west side.  You may encounter unpaved sections depending on when you go.  I prefer descending unpaved roads to climbing them.  Check the park's official web site for details and potential road closures.  The bike restrictions noted could be important.  Going west to east, you must reach Logan Pass by 11 a.m. or risk a fine.  East to west, you can ride the road between St. Mary, over Logan Pass to Sprague Creek Campground at any time.  You cannot go west of Sprague Creek between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.  Sprague creek is a nice, small campground on the lake with $5 hiker/biker spots, and it's within walking distance of Lake McDonald Lodge (which also has a camp store and a bar that allows you to take drinks down to the lake), so it makes a great place to stop for the day.

3.  There is an unpaved section between W. Glacier and Columbia Falls.  (Follow the map's advice and take this route instead of U.S. 2.)  It's predominantly downhill going clockwise, which should makes things easier.

Here is a link to some photos of our recent trip:

Send me a private message if you would like more details about what we encountered.

Routes / Re: How early can one start the NT going west to east
« on: January 10, 2011, 12:16:32 pm »
Thanks everyone. Looking at the passdates, it looks historically that route 20 is open by early May. Is it possible to start the NT route the first or second week in May?

If I had to start that early, I would choose the second week just to be safe.  As Carla notes, it's been a snowy winter so far.  And if you are starting in Anacortes, you will be crossing Rainy & Washington Passes on the third day of the trip assuming you spend the first night in Rockport and the second night in Newhalem or at Colonial Creek Campground.  Expect very cold temperatures at night in the Cascades (there is no firewood sold at Colonial Creek and gathering is not allowed) and again in Republic before Sherman Pass.

As noted previously, with such an early departure date, you will likely be shut out of Going to the Sun Road, but you never know.  It's worth checking with the park at the west entrance.  If the road is clear and safe enough, they may be letting hikers and bikers up and over on the weekends.

General Discussion / Re: need tips for first tour
« on: January 10, 2011, 11:32:39 am »
Hey Henry,

When carrying cash, cards Etc, carry them in different places. Not in the same pannier or wallet. This way if you lose one, you have a backup. Also, when I left for my trip, I got all new cards. Those magnetic strips always fail at the worst times. And check the expiration dates!

+1  While riding on a remote mountain road in Spain I left my fanny pack with all my IDs (including passport), cash and cards on top of my left rear pannier as a I started down a steep, bumpy descent.  Fortunately, I thought I heard traffic approaching from behind and looked back before the pack fell to the ground.  I would have been royally screwed if it had.

Routes / Re: How early can one start the NT going west to east
« on: January 06, 2011, 10:52:02 am »
I am pretty sure this has come up before, but I cannot find a thread on it.

One factor for the NT is the opening of Washington Pass.  This site will give you some idea of what to expect on that front:

Note that they are having a very snowy with so far.  See this thread for an idea on possible conditions in the beginning of June:

If you are doing the NT, it would be a crime to miss Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park.  I have ridden the west side three time and have descended the east side once.  It's everything they say it is:

The park has also experienced heavy snow so far this winter.  If that keeps up, I think the chances of you being able to get across before the second or third week in June will be slim.  In 2009 I tried to cross east to west on June 22nd.  The pass was not open.  It finally opened on June 24th.  I think it opened around the same time last year.  I believe the NPS site for the park has historical opening dates.

The alternative is to take U.S. 2 from West Glacier up to Marias Pass and then down to East Glacier.  It's a long slog up with not a great shoulder in places and very few services.  It's also not nearly as scenic as GTS.  From East Glacier you can continue on U.S. 2 to Cut Bank and pick up the NT there.  Alternatively, you can take MT 49 from East Glacier to U.S. 89 N to St. Mary and pick up the route there.  The latter option will allow you to ride Chief Mountain Highway and visit Waterton Village in Alberta.  Chief Mountain is a tough ride, but it’s pretty:

And the setting of the town campsite at Waterton Village is dramatic:

Routes / Re: Spokane Wa to Oak Harbor Wa Looking for advice and Route
« on: January 06, 2011, 10:07:47 am »
Thank you all for the info......

The cold does not really bother me. Was more concerned about traffic. I have been on that road (drove) a couple of times, and as we know the traffic can be crazy.

Is there a big concern of bears and those type of things up that way?

I encountered almost no traffic both times I crossed in the beginning of June.  That’s one of the advantages of going early.  The major tourist rush has not started, especially since school is still in session.  The south side of Colonial Creek Campground was virtually deserted.  There were a few logging trucks descending the west slope, but nothing to be concerned about.

As for bears, the host at Colonial Creek told us not to worry.  However, the NPS campground map indicates that there are a few bear boxes.  While I saw no bears, the Steller’s Jays were a nuisance the first year.  They tired to get into soft sided food packages left unguarded on the picnic table.  One guy had a bag of cereal leftover from that morning’s breakfast on top of his trailer bag.  A jay landed on it and began pecking a hole in it.

Routes / Re: newbie needing advice
« on: January 03, 2011, 03:06:01 pm »
The part of the Northern Tier we did in Iowa (we detoured to Devenport instead of going to Moline) was, for the most part, moderately to more severely rolling, hotter than hell and even more humid.  The portion in Indiana was mostly flat to gently rolling in places and hotter and more humid than Iowa.  The low the night we stayed at Fletcher Lake was 85 with no breeze.  The next day it hit 107 in Huntington.  Illinois was brutal as well.

The drivers in Iowa were very courteous and patient, especially when we were slugging up some steep roller.  Maybe that's an effect of RAGBRAI.  Or maybe they realize that if they going flying past in the other lane and crest the top of a hill wihout being able to see what's on the other side they might have a head on with a giant combine.   In Indiana, on the other hand, a local cashier warned us to be careful at the blind interesctions through cornfields.  She told us people often blow through stop signs on such country roads figuring no one will be there.

Routes / Re: Route 20 in Cascades, WA
« on: January 03, 2011, 02:49:09 pm »
+1 on Colonial Creek.  Scenic with running water and flush toliettes, but you will have to carry food there.

Twice I have done Bayview State Park (just east of Anacortes) to Howard Miller Steelhead park in Rockport (great camping spot and interesting dive bar in town), a short day to Colonial Creek, picking up food in Newhalem, and then over the passes the next day.  I think it's about 30 miles to Washington Pass from Colonial Creek.  The climb starts out very stiff for several miles.  Then there is actually a relatively short, gradual descent.  When that is done, it's a long slog to Rainy, 1.5 miles down, then 3.5 miles up to Washington.  According this NPS site, it's 63 miles to Winthrop from Colonial Creek:

It's a long day.  Doing the extra miles to get to Colonial Creek knocks out two short climbing sections between Newhalem and there.  Bring plenty of water as there is nothing between Colonial Creek and Mazama--except gorgeous scenery.

Sedro-Wooley to Newhalem has nothing in the way of climbing.  Maybe a few undulations in places, but nothing difficult.  The S. Skagit Highway is a delight.

Routes / Re: Spokane Wa to Oak Harbor Wa Looking for advice and Route
« on: January 03, 2011, 02:16:40 pm »
They are getting a lot of snow in the Cascades this winter.  It was a very snowy year the first time I did the Northern Tier west to east.  We crossed Rainy and Washington Passes at the beginning of June.  The rain we encountered on the way up turned into snow as we got higher (nothing stuck to the ground), and there was snow plowed six feet high along the side of the road.  This was taken near Washington Pass:

Crossed again the following year at the same time.  Less snow, but there were some light snow showers.  As noted, you will have to decide whether the possibility of encountering such weather is for you or not and adjust your dates accordingly.  Personally, I am glad I went when I did.  Made for an epic ride, and the tourist traffic was nonexistent.  Note that Winthrop, Okanagan and Tonasket will likely be warm and dry in early June.  We had snow again in Republic and on Sherman Pass.  Colville, Ione and Sandpoint were also chilly and damp.  I agree that I would not like to be in some of those places in August due to the heat.

As noted, prepare for a long stretch without anything.  If I remember correctly, the climb from Mazama to Washington Pass is about 15 miles.  Then you go down for about 3.5 miles and then up 1.5 miles to Rainy Pass.  From there, it's another 30 miles (if not more) to Newhalem, where there at least was a store.  If it’s no longer there, you will have continue on to Marblemount.  Most of that 35 miles is descending.  It’s a beautiful day.

While not as long or isolated, the climb up the east side to Loup Loup Pass has sustained sections of at least 8%.  Sherman Pass is a good climb, but not killer.  The east side of Wauconda Pass heading west from Republic is not bad.  Earlier on, there is a very steep, twisty section of road heading west from Ione.  It looks like a vertical wall on the map’s profile.  Fortunately, it’s probably only a mile or so.  Unless things have changed for the better, resist any temptation to take U.S. 2 out of Sandpoint.  Little to no shoulder in places because of rock cuts and traffic, including logging trucks.  Follow the route proper.

I found the route to have good services, including adequate camping in most places.  If the same family still owns the Winthrop KOA, they are very nice people and give cyclists a deal.  There is also a new cyclist-only camping area that opened last year between Winthrop and Mazama.  It’s called the barn or something like that.  Howard Miller Steelhead Park in Rockport has Adirondack shelters.

General Discussion / Re: Across America: Beginning August
« on: January 03, 2011, 10:44:10 am »
What I would really like to do is to go down the pacific coast line, and I will probably have to start from Minnesota,

Check out AC's Northern Tier route.  You can connect with their Pacific Coast route in Seattle.

General Discussion / Re: DIY Tips
« on: December 22, 2010, 09:28:41 am »
Letting cold water from the tap warm naturally and putting your pots in the sun before cooking can help save fuel.

If you store items inside your cooking pots, line the pots with something like a bandana to prevent surface damage.  Learned this the hard way.

The wind will usually dry wet/damp clothes quickly if they are attached outside the panniers (secure them tightly) or put in a front pannier with an outside mesh pocket.

Oh...Don't tug on Superman's cape. :)

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