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Messages - indyfabz

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General Discussion / Re: WHY RIDE A BIKE?????!
« on: November 15, 2010, 02:53:55 pm »
Then there's the sublime element of riding a bike, going much faster than walking, yet slow enough to actually see the world as you pass it by.  A well-adjusted bike is an amazing machine.

"Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel from coast to coast without seeing anything."--Charles Kurault

General Discussion / Re: Surly Cross Check Touring Bike?
« on: November 12, 2010, 11:23:33 am »
Doesn't Surly offer 26" wheels on the LHT on all sizes, I thought that was one of the changes they did when they released the 2010 LHT...


They do offer 26" on all sizes, but they don't offer 700c on all sizes.  What the OP is saying is that if he went with an LHT he would be forced to use 26" wheels because his size is not available with 700c.

Routes / Re: West to East, Early Spring
« on: November 12, 2010, 11:18:46 am »

Have to believe that opened does not necessarily mean clear of snow all the time.  I had flurries both times when I crossed in late May.

Routes / Re: Different routes across Washington state
« on: November 12, 2010, 11:11:30 am »
By comparison, the ride through the North Cascades, northern Idaho, and Glacier National Park is the crown jewel of the Northern Tier, in my experience. If I had limited time, I would enjoy the mountain scenery and hop on a train as needed to cross eastern MT, ND, and MN.


Have done Route 20 through the North Cascades to Glacier N.P. twice (and the entire Northern Tier once) and cannot agree more.  Can't imagine trading it for interstate riding or U.S. 2 riding.  The one place I would get off 20 is between Sedro-Woolley and Concrete.  The S. Skagit Highway on the other side of the river is a gem.  And you may not have much traffic on 20 up to Rainy & Washington Passes depending on when you go.  Both times I did the climb in late May.  The rode was virtually empty.  Of course it snowed, but nothing heavy, and it didn’t stick.

Beyond WA…I would strongly advise avoiding U.S. 2 from Columbia Falls, MT to Glacier.  There is a curvy section with no shoulders and some trucks.  The route AC uses between these two points is nice.  Was there last year.  The unpaved portion was manageable on 37c tires.  The ride up Going to the Sun to Logan Pass in Glacier is well worth any extra days.

The final 26 photos were taken on the west side of Logan Pass.  There are ways to skip the portion into Canada is you are pressed for time.

The alternative, U.S. 2 from W. Glacier up to Marias Pass, is nothing spectacular, and it's a long, long slog up with narrow shoulders in most places.

How much time total do you anticipate having to get from Seattle to Minneapolis?

Things Like to have:

1.  A watertight tent

2.  A good flashlight/head lamp

3.  A corkscrew

4.  If our for more than a copule of days, a good book

5.  If it might be cold, warm gloves and a warm hat

6.  A sense of adventure, the expectation that not everything will go as planned and the patience to not get pissed when they don't

7.  A good idea of where I am going ahead of time

General Discussion / Re: Advice about Unique Bicycle Touring Company
« on: November 09, 2010, 06:34:51 pm »
My angle might well be custom tours--small groups of people who already know and tolerate each other.[/quote]

That's probably a better bet.  As a veteran of a group x-country tour with a dozen strangers, I can tell you that dormitory and even camping settings can pose problems, especially if you have really loud snorers.  We had to segregate snorers and non-snorers whether we camped or stayed indoors.  I cannot imagine having to sleep night after night in an RV with the snorers we had, regardless of the RV's size.  Very few people are going to be happy about being forced to wear ear plugs in order to sleep.  The nights did stay in hostals or other indoor places we had issues with people tossing and turning all night and frequent bathroom visits.  And there is the early vs. late riser issue.

Ultimately, because of the close quarters and shared facilities issues, I think you might have to make it noticeably less expensive than a hotel tour to appeal to a broad audience.  I say that because I imagine that people who want to ante up to not have to camp and carry gear will be willing to ante up a little more to have their own room, bathroom and shower or ones that are shared with only on other person.

General Discussion / Re: Pedaling thru Missoula in velomobiles
« on: November 08, 2010, 10:42:36 am »
I highly recommend some good planning through ND.  Some of the little towns in that state are blips on the radar screen.  They may have places to eat, but they may not be open late/for dinner.  As noted, the NT maps have camping and eating info. listed on them.  And unless things have changed drastically since I did the route, you pass through some fairly sizeable towns by ND standards, like New Town, Minot, Rugby and Fargo.  There was camping in all of thse towns when we passed through.  Rugby and Fargo had fairgrounds that looked like they could accomodate large groups.

General Discussion / Re: Advice about Unique Bicycle Touring Company
« on: November 08, 2010, 10:07:50 am »
How would you not be "living out of a suitcase" just because you would be sleeping in an RV instead of a hotel?  Would there be enough closert space for everyone to store their clothing outside of a suitcase or bag?  Those may be dumb questions since I have never been inside an RV.  And how would things like meals, daily rest stops and showers be handled?

General Discussion / Re: Surly Cross Check Touring Bike?
« on: November 05, 2010, 10:54:59 am »
If you are talking about the complete bike as sold by Surly, the two have different numbers of spokes and different gearing.  The stock gearing on the Cross Check wouldn't work for me.  Maybe someone with technical expertise can tell you whether the rear deraileur could handle something like a 32t cog.  The LHT has 3 bottle bosses.  The Cross Check has only 2.  Although in this day and age of Camelbacks that can hold the volume of small lakes, that might not make a difference to you.  Then again, some people like to put their fuel bottles in the cage underneath the downtube.

Routes / Re: TA and NT - How many tourists?
« on: November 04, 2010, 10:58:16 am »
While it was a long time ago ('99), we did not meet too many people on the NT.  There was one guy who joined our group for a week.  Other than that, I can only remember encountering a half dozen people or so.  And I don't think we ever camped with other cyclists who were doing the route.  This may have been affected by timing since we started in Seattle on May 23rd.

In '00 I rode the NT between Anacortes and Glacier N.P., leaving around the same time as the year before.  In different places in WA I met a group of 2 and a solo cyclist.  They were all going in the same direction and only doing parts of the route.  In Glacier NP I met another group of 2 that was doing the entire route.  The only other riders I encountered in that stretch were on organized tours with Adventire Cycling--the NT and the North Star.

I then reversed from Glacier and made my way to the TA at Missoula and rode it from there to Fairplay, CO, east of Breckenridge.  In that short span (about 2 weeks), I can remember encountering 7 groups of two, one group of 3 and 3 solo cyclists riding some or all of the route in both directions, including a Menonite couple on a Bike Friday tandem, an English gent, a couple of Germans and a guy with a prosthetic arm.  We rode and/or camped together on a number of occasions.

Amazingly, while riding through Yellowstone, a car pulled up next to me and someone said my name.  I looked over and a woman who had been on our NT tour the year before was in the passenger seat.  You never know who you might run into out there.

Juts out of curiosity, I looked up a place I stayed in Gardiner, NY.  Can't remember what I paid then, but look at the rediculous rates they now charge for tenting:

Pass it up for the state parks just north of Hyde Park.  A site there will run between $15 and $22.

I looked up the expensive place in CT mentioned above.  It's in East Caanan.  A basic tent site is now $44.

I never got a cylist discount at private campground on the portion I did except at a place in Searsport, ME.  Their 2010 solo cyclist rate was $30.  Maybe private places have become more cyclist-friendly.  As for state parks, their rates are fixed by government regulations.

Eleven years ago I came down the AC route from Bar Harbor to Norristown, PA with one deviation in CT.  Didn't have much trouble finding camping, except maybe on or two nights.  You may have to find alernative arrangements when heading to/passing through Norristown since it is so close to Philadelphia.  The closest campground north of Norristown is Bull's Island in NJ.  It's doable in a day from there, but I don't know where camping is available south of there.

Do expect to pay higher than average prices for camping, at least along the stretch I did.  To give you a frame of reference, the two state park campgrounds on the route in NJ (Bull's Island and Worthington State Forest, both not open until April 1) charged $20/night this year.  Commercial campgrounds will almost certainly be higher unless someone is feeling generous or sympathetic to your cause, which is something I never encountered.  I paid $30 at one place in CT, and that was in '99.  The place did have a bar, a pool and a hot tub, but come on.  I also paid $28 in Goddefroy, NY just north of of Port Jervis, NY, and it was "off-season."  This year, that place charged $36/night.  $38 if you wanted a site next to the river.

The main route does not pass close to NYC.  You would have to take the spur from Lambertville, where the route crosses into PA, to somewhere in north Jersey (Summit, I believe) and then hop the train.  The stretch in NJ (crossing back into PA for a time) and on up through the Delaware Water Gap on the NY side is, for the most part, quite pleasant.

General Discussion / Re: Shrink wrapping your bike for flights
« on: October 25, 2010, 09:33:57 am »
My nephew has just flown to Oz from UK...

Is he following the yellow brick road?  :)

General Discussion / Re: "Emergency" saddle adjustment?
« on: October 20, 2010, 03:31:50 pm »
Personally, I love the Terry Liberator touring saddle (men's version). It has a middle cutout, is firm enough for long days in the saddle, and is well made. In the DC area, you might see if REI or Performance Bike sells it. That way you can try it out and return it easily if it's no good.

+1 on the saddle.  Love it.  Tour on it.  Commute on it.

And +1 on getting one from REI.  REI will let you return it for any reason. 

My local Performance shop said I could return a saddle within 30 days, but only if still in good enough condition to be resold.  Perhaps mail order has a return policy like REI's.

Gear Talk / Re: Down to three bikes....
« on: October 19, 2010, 01:16:25 pm »
I am 6' 2" and ride a 60 cm LHT.  Unless you do something out of the ordinary, you will be in a more upright position than you probably would be on a road frame, but you won't be sitting straight up.  My bars are a hair above my saddle and the ride feels perfectly balanced.  Not too much weight on the hands or the rear.

As for the age-old debate about panniers vs. a trailer, there is no correct side.

Some considerations assuming, for the sake of discussion, a B.O.B./B.O.B.-style trailer:

If you take your bag(g) inside the tent, you have one bag with the trailer, more (usually 4) with panniers.

The trailer can make it easier to make a grocery or firewood run using the bike.  No need to make space in your bag or panniers.  During our group x-country tour we found a trailer extremely useful for carrying 30-paks back to camp from the store.

Without a trailer, there is one less item that might have to be boxed and shipped or might cost you an oversized baggage fee.

Less wind resistance with a trailer.  However, you don't have panniers to act like sails when you have a strong tailwind.

Some have trouble sometimes fiding parking space for and/or turning the longer bike-trailer rig.

If your tariler bag isn't compartmentalized. you may want/have to do a little more organizational work, such as keeping things in ditty bags or individual stuff sacks.  My panniers have adjutables "walls" inside the main compartments that allow me to create segregated spaces if I want to.  I happen to like that since, by nature, I am generally a disorganized person when it comes to physical items.

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