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Messages - indyfabz

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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.

Routes / Re: The Green Moutain State
« on: August 02, 2010, 08:17:18 am »
Brandon Pass, a typical pass was a 12% grade for 4 miles.

Which direction did you ride Brandon Gap?  We west to east on a Northern Tier route detour.  Out of all the hills I did on that entire trip, Brandon was the one I thought I might have to walk on for a bit.

Doing AC's supported Cycle Vermont tour in less than two weeks.  Wondering if I should bring the 11x28 instead of the 11x26.

Routes / Re: PA Route G
« on: July 29, 2010, 09:35:46 am »
My general recollections of Pennsylvania road riding is that the shoulders are narrow or nonexistent, the lanes are narrow, and the natives drive 20 MPH over the posted limit.

You have a good memory.

You could hit moderate traffic going into Wellsboro depending on the time of day, but there is a good shoulder into town.  In case you don't know, some of the streets in Wellsboro are still lit with gas mantle lamps.  Interesting sight.

Routes / Re: Philadelphia to Richmond
« on: July 29, 2010, 09:23:23 am »
Some counties, cities and/or townships have web sites that highlight local events and attractions. Search for them using the geographical information on maps.

For example:

Keep hitting "Get Next Matches" and the calendar of events will progress.

When I did the Great Parks North loop last year I simply Googled the name of every town in the U.S. and Canada we planned to stay in.  Doing so got me to web sites for the specific towns and/or areas.  The sites described events, attractions and lodging options.

General Discussion / Re: Getting Starting: Self Contained Touring
« on: July 29, 2010, 09:08:56 am »
one does have a triple crank for climbing.

Climbing loaded or unloaded?  You might want to calculate your gear inches.  Whiterider can give you more technical information than I can.

Also agree about the wheels.  Depending on what you have now, you might want to beef up at least the rear wheel.

Gear Talk / Re: Converting my suitcase to a trailer
« on: July 23, 2010, 09:03:34 am »
I test rode both and went with the BF NWT.  I wanted something I would push a little harder.  Riding the Brompton made me feel like I should be tooling around the English countryside at 12 mph.

Gear Talk / Re: Bicycle Shipping Cases
« on: July 21, 2010, 09:14:31 am »
Crateworks makes some good products.  I have more expensive the "plastic" one.  Good alternative to a hard case.  Have taken 5 trips with it and it's still going strong.  And there is a lot of extra space for things like your helmet, sleeping bag and even tent.  Shipped it UPS ground from the east coast to Montana last year for about $45. That was through my LBS, so maybe I got a cheaper business rate. I have also flown with 4 times and have never been charged any more than the airlines' standard fees for a bike.

As with most boxes, you will have to remove the wheels, seat post, bars and pedals and turn the stem.  I also un-bolt the rear derailleure to prevent bending the hanger.  I don't consider my self to possess extraordinary bike mechanic skills, and I can re-assemble the bike from this state in about 20 min.

Agree on the Amtrak box.  It's the easiet.  I have shipped bike via Amtrak more than a half dozen times and have never experienced any damage.

General Discussion / Re: Cycling and Lodging in the Tuscany of Italy
« on: July 19, 2010, 08:49:08 am »
There are plenty of tour companies but if you want to do your own thing, the best way to start is with a Michelin regional map, they highlight all the scenic routes.

That's how I planned a two-month tour of Andalucia.  The Rough Guide travel book was a great companion resource.  I figured out where I wanted to visit and then used the map to connect the dots.

At the time, Spain had a national tourist office in New York City.  The staff was very helpful in providing free, printed information (by region) on lodging, including camping, hotels/hostals and rentals.  Maybe Italy has something similar.

Routes / Re: PA Route G
« on: July 13, 2010, 09:36:06 am »
Hven't ridden any of it so I won't opine on road conditions, but I am somewhat familiar with the area around Wellsboro and Ansonia.  The latter area is home to the "Pennsylvania Grand Canyon."  (A real stretch, IMO.)  There are state parks on either side of the canyon.  The larger one is Leonard Harrison State Park and the other is Colton Point.  Both are shown on the Route G map.  I spent a night at the former back in 2003 or so.  Decent place with an observation deck that offers views of the canyon.  You can also make the steep trek down to the base of the canyon, which was carved by Pine Creek.  if you find yourself needing inside accomodations, the Colton Point motel on U.S. 6 just west of the center of Ansonia is a friendly, relatively inexpensive place.  In that area, U.S. 6 has a good shoulder and usually not much traffic.

Now...While the offical route follows roads, there is an alternative.  There is a rail-trail called the Pine Creek Trail that starts in the Ansonia area and runs along the Pine Creek for over 57 miles to Jersey Shore, PA:

The map shows camping areas along the trail.

Another source for commecial campgrounds is:

There is an interactive map that allows you to view places by area.

General Discussion / Re: Sierra/Cascades Route
« on: July 12, 2010, 04:50:34 pm »
You could encounter snow/ice/very cold temperatures at Crater Lake.

General Discussion / Re: TransAmerica: Which direction?
« on: July 12, 2010, 09:15:52 am »
We had one hell of a day in Wyoming when the headwinds picked up -- 50 mph by one local's estimate.

Forgot about Wyoming.  When I was on part of the TranAm heading east I met a local cycling east to his job at the Sinclair plant outside of Rawlins.  He said it took him something like him 20 min. to get to work and 45 min. to get home.  Two days before I stayed in Jeffrey City at the in(famous) J.C. Motel.  I had to lean into the wind wealking west to the cafe in town.

General Discussion / Re: TransAmerica: Which direction?
« on: July 09, 2010, 09:42:39 am »
There are lots of reasons why you might choose one or the other direction.  Here are a few.  Some assume the actual Trans America Route, but if your route is substantially different one or more may not apply.
  • Do you want the sun in your eyes in the morning or evening?
  • If you live on one coast or the other, do you want to ride away from or toward home?
  • Do you want to follow the direction US history followed?
  • Winds...  Contrary to popular belief prevailing surface winds favor E to W.  In the Summer prevailing winds in the plains come out of the SE and the TA heads SE in that area.
  • Climbing...  Want to get the worst out of the way early or save it until you are road hardened a bit?  Strangely the hardest climbing IMO was in the Appalachians
  • It is real nice if family and friends can meet you at the end so finishing near home is nice.
  • Do you want air travel out of the way in the beginning?
  • Flying to the farthest point commits you more to the ride and makes bailing less of an option.

Did the Northern Tier west to east and then rode home down the Atlantic coast.  +1 on all applicable points.

Don't discount the hills in the east.  The only climb I thought I might have to walk part of was in Vermont.  Crossing the Adirondaks wasn't a piece of cake either.

It was nice to get the travel out of the way at the start and a blast to ride directly to my front door.

We had some nasty headwinds in ND, MN, IA, IN and IL due to flows out of the southeast.

Starting in late May meant some cold, wet days in the west.  Even had to contend with snow on two days.  On a trip the following year using part of the TransAm route, Yellowstone was very cold at night even in late June.

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