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Messages - indyfabz

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General Discussion / Re: Amtrack confusion - policy vs reality?
« on: September 08, 2010, 10:29:01 am »
Putting your fate in the hands of the conductor is always a gamble I suppose, but if they are reasonable it could be possible. Plus it will be dark - perhaps more sympathy invoked.

As someone who works in the rail industry, you will almost certainly find yousrself out of luck if only because allowing you to do something that is against policy could result in disciplinary action against the employee.  There may also be labor restrictions which would prevent a conductor or trainman, not to mention a passenger, from performing the functions of a baggage handler.  The station platform length could also affect the ability to load and unload baggage safely.

Routes / Re: From Pennsylvania to New York City
« on: August 26, 2010, 09:14:49 am »
A Philadelphia-Hoboken bicycle route seems very tricky but I guess it could be done with careful planning. Sounds interesting.

A great man worked out the details back in '94:

The nightime view of lower Manhattan from the Brooklyn Heights promenade is one of the great ubran views in the world.  You can even see the Statue of Liberty in the distance.

Routes / Re: From Pennsylvania to New York City
« on: August 24, 2010, 12:56:29 pm »
If you want to ride into NYC you must ride through NJ as the only way to ride into Manhattan is over the George Washington Bridge which connects NYC with NJ. 

There are other options, such as ferries from NJ.  I have an interesting route from Philadelphia to Hoboken, NJ, where you can take either a ferry or the PATH train into Manhattan.  The former drops you at the bike path along the Hudson River.  The latter lets you off at "Ground Zero."

I will send you a PM later in the day with more info.

Routes / Re: Northern Tier motels
« on: August 23, 2010, 10:34:03 am »
When making your plans, keep in mind that some campgrounds (KOAs in particular) have cabins, cottages and similar types of indoor accomodations.  You'll still have to use the common bathrooms and showers, but you will be sleeping inside.

Just did Middlebury Gap on Thursday.  The west side was rideable (we were on 23c tires) but milled much of the way.  Just take your time.  The start of the decent is crushed lime rock.  If it has been watered it will coat you body and bike.  Saw new blacktop being put down.  Looks like they could be finished this week, maybe next.  The west slope is fine.

In other news, VT 113 into Chelsea on the East Alternative was recently paved.  Striping hadn't even been put down as of Wednesday.  It is almost like riding in a velodrome.  Sweet!

Routes / Re: Saskatoon to Vernon, BC
« on: August 12, 2010, 01:15:39 pm »
Did Crows Nest between Burmis and Elko last year in the third week of June.  If you go that way, detouring through Pincher Creek (private campground and motels in the old part of town and a very nice grocery store in the mall on the outskirts) to 507 back to 3 is a nice way to take a break from the traffic on 3.  507 is very rolling, but there is nothing tricky.  We maybe saw a half dozen cars if that many.  Right after the junction of 3 and 507 is the Burmis Tree.  The plaque claims that it's one of the most photographed trees in the world.

Overall, route 3 had a lot of traffic in places but a decent shoulder that had some gravel in places.  There are plenty of services east of Coleman.  There is a private campground in one of the towns.  Blairemore I think it is.  Most of the towns east of the pass are pretty ho hum.  It's coal mining territory.  West of Coleman (great cafe in a former church), you roll and then start to climb Crows Nest.  It's not steep and there is nohing tricky.  The west side of the pass is also not steep except for the first mile or less after the pass.  Sparwood is tidy town with a very nice campground at the west end that is run by a local civic group.  Wooded setting, all the free firewood you can burn and surprisingly modern and spacious bathhouses.  The world's largest truck in the town center is a must-see, and there is an Overweightea (Google it) grocery store.  There are no services between Coleman and Sparwood.

Sparwood to Fernie is o.k., but traffic picks up as you get close to Fernie, which is a ski resort town that seems to get summer tourism, too.  The stretch from Fernie to Elko has waves of heavy traffic, including some trucks.  A little past Fernie you begin a long slog up.  There is a rumple strip along the shoulder, but there is still enough of it to ride.  Our trip was west to east.  The shoulder had a fair amount of gravel debris in places but I don't remember having to enter the roadway too often.  Don't know what the west shoulder looks like.

As I think we were there relatively early, traffic probably picks up in late June.

  • Riding the Western Express to Pueblo, CO (just to ensure myself that I can climb 5,000 feet and scale an 11,000 foot pass  ;D )

If that's Hoosier Pass you are talking about, consider staying in Breckenridge the night before.  The town is at 9,600 ft.  That leaves you about 1,900 ft. to climb to the top.  When in was there in '00 there was an HI Hostel in town.  If it's still there, make a reservation as it's pretty small.

As for Nebraska, you might try getting in touch with the people who put on B.R.A.N.  They might be able to give you tips and possibly maps from previous rides.

Leaving for Cycle Vermont on Saturday.  I saw this info. posted on Bike Forums.  I let Sean know.  According to the poster, the east side is new pavement and is smooth as a you know what.

The east side of Brandon doesn't look too steep, but it is long.

General Discussion / Re: Airplane Travel
« on: August 12, 2010, 08:34:29 am »
"The location of the lost bikes was resolved in part because I had seen them loaded on the plane, I think it is worth watching from the gate."

I do that every time I fly with a bike and for each leg of the journey.

In addition, one airline I flew scanned each piece of luggage as it was loaded on the plain.  The agent at the gate scanned my claim check and determined that the bike had been loaded.  It's worth asking about if you miss seeing your bike being loaded.

General Discussion / Re: Shipping a bike through REI
« on: August 11, 2010, 09:59:26 am »
Buster, how far did you ship and was that price one shipment or a round trip.  Obviously, it depends on the distance and probably even what cities, but...  If one way and within the continental US it sounds kind of expensive.  If round trip it sounds reasonable.  Using a bike shop and shipping from Reno, NV to Baltimore, MD the whole deal (packing and shipping) was $100 (one way) on my last tour.

I think you are correct about the destination playing a role.  I am pretty sure there are surcharges for out-of-the-way places.  And $160 is high for one way.  Last year I paid about that round trip for boxing and shipping between Philadelphia, PA and Whitefish, MT.

Routes / Re: Sierra Cascades - anyone done it yet?
« on: August 05, 2010, 04:13:24 pm »
I you "hate hills" I would steer clear of a route named for two major western mountain chains.

General Discussion / Re: Food
« on: August 05, 2010, 08:56:25 am »
Have made a ton of good dinners on a one-burner stove.  It would be imposible to pick the best, but three relatively recent ones come to mind.

Last year outside of Eureka, MT we made pasta with linguica, fresh spinach, red onion and garlic.

Earlier this year it was pasta with portobello mushrooms, garlic and onions topped with shaved asiago cheese.

While camping on Anthrax Island we had liver with fava beans and a nice Chianti.   ;D

General Discussion / Re: Cutting Weight
« on: August 04, 2010, 10:30:16 am »
Over the years, I've tried everything I can think of to lower the packing weight of the stuff I carry. Right now, I'm down to 35-45lbs. Is there a way to get lighter? (short of not shaving or not packing any soap, I'm unsure of where to cut next.

Are you trying to lighten the load for the sake of lightening the load?  If I can comfortably carry X I am not going to bother trying to get X-1 just because I can or because it might make things easier.

In any event, one approach is to not look to ditch any particular items but rather examine whether there are lighter alternatives.  Off-bike shoes is one place to start.  Crossing the country I took a very lightweight pair of slip-on "bo-bos" from Woolworth's.  They were noticeably lighter than the sandals I have taken on my last tours.  Years back I read an article that mentioned how some people will cut off the ends of their eating utensils and toothbrushes to save a few ounces yet pack denim jeans that weigh substantially more than synthetic pants with zip-off legs.  Towels can also vary greatly in weight, even at comparable sizes.  Since I don't want to replicate all the comforts of home when I tour I take a pretty small, thin towel to save space and weight.

You mention shaving.  If you carry shaving cream, do you have a full-sized can or one of those travel sizes?  Soap.  Do you carry bar soap and something to wash cooking gear?  If so, one bottle of Camp Suds or Dr. Bonner's will work for both and can also be used as shampoo.

Routes / Re: The Green Moutain State
« on: August 03, 2010, 02:12:29 pm »
+1 on Brandon Gap. On my cross-country ride, I walked only two passes: Sonora in the Sierras and Brandon Gap. It is a pleasant walk though <grin>.

I live in Vermont and ride most of the Green Mountains Loop routes from time to time. You will not regret the lower gear, even without the full load on your steed.


Thanks.  The 11x28 arrives tomorrow.  With my compact crank, hopefully that will be enough.  If not, I will be walking since it's too late to get a refund of the cost of the trip.  :)

General Discussion / Re: Amtrak from Boston to Chicago
« on: August 03, 2010, 02:05:08 pm »
Anyone know if the train from Boston to Chicago accommodates bikes, either as walk on or checked baggage?  Has anyone traveled with their bikes on Amtrak before?  Just curious if it would be best to bring it with me on the train or to ship it home.  I've tried calling Amtrak but the automated response was very annoying/difficult to get through.  Any info would be a great help. Thanks

1.  Call 1-800-USA-RAIL.  When "Julie" answers simply press 0 and you will be trasnferred to an agent.

2.  The Lake Shore Limited does offer checked baggage service between Boston South Station and Chicago's Union Station.

3.  Shipping a bike on Amtrak is a lot easier (and cheaper) than flying or shipping it.  The boxes (sold for something like $12) are huge.  All you need to do is remove the pedals and turn the bars and stem.  You may also have to lowe the seat post depending on its height.  Then you roll it right into the box.  I have taken my bike on Amtrak numerous times (including twice across the country).  It has never been damaged.  Note that the Lakeshore Limited is a popular train.  If you haven't done so alrerady I would look into booking now if your trip is imminent.

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