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Messages - briwasson

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Routes / Re: C&O canal to Pittsburgh via cumberland MD.
« on: March 12, 2010, 09:30:36 am »
RE: rental car. I meant, leave your own car in D.C. (like at Regan National airport, which isn't too hard to get to on bike) and rent a car one-way from there to Pittsburgh. Even cheaper, then, if there are only two of you, as you don't need a minivan. Just make sure you get a rental car where the rear seat folds down (most sedans do this now).

Routes / Re: C&O canal to Pittsburgh via cumberland MD.
« on: March 11, 2010, 01:20:52 pm »
Yes, parking at Great Falls and biking into the city allows you to truthfully claim that you've ridden the entire path! :-) The section just after Great Falls, going toward D.C., is really pretty, running along a small man-made lake. It's all path until you get to Georgetown, where you'll then be back in "civilization."

I've never had an issue getting bike boxes at AMTRAK's Philadelphia station. Not sure if you can call ahead to reserve. I think they are around $10-15/box. I usually buy two because I'm generally shipping a tandem, and they have always had enough. The baggage people in Philly are always remarkably friendly, too. I've shipped three tandems cross-country on AMTRAK with no problems at all.

Personally, I'd still seriously consider the rent-a-car and drive yourself option. A lot more flexible, and probably not that much more money. A quick Travelocity search shows around $240 for a one-way rental in late May. Just get a minivan/van and you should be fine with four people and bikes. Split four ways that's reasonable, even with gas and tolls.

Classifieds / Re: FS: Car drop in Arctic, early summer 2010
« on: March 11, 2010, 01:09:55 pm »
Nice thought and offer! You (or the new "owner") might have trouble, though, if you leave a U.S.-registered car in Inuvik Canada. Anyone picking it up in Canada and trying to drive it over the border might get snagged for a possibly stolen car. Likewise, if you just abandon it, the local police/RCMP might not look favorably on that. 

You'd likely have better luck with Deadhorse. Maybe post the offer on the Fairbanks Craigslist, asking whoever gets the car to drive you up to Deadhorse and drop you off (transfer the registration to them there). Or, stop at the hostel in Anchorage or Fairbanks and see if somebody is interested in taking you up on the offer.

Have a great trip!

General Discussion / Re: Amtrak & carry on luggage
« on: March 10, 2010, 12:44:11 pm »
I once carried on my bike in an S&S backpack case as well as my rear panniers connected together. This was from Washington Union Station to Philadelphia. I wore the S&S case as a backpack as I walked onto the train in order to make it look like no big deal, but man, was it heavy!

Routes / Re: C&O canal to Pittsburgh via cumberland MD.
« on: March 09, 2010, 12:38:34 pm »
Great Falls is part of the C&O canal national park. It's the main visitor area for the park near D.C. There is a visitor center, a snack bar in season, bathrooms, etc. You can park there long term if you let them know when you get there. I think there is a small entrance fee to get in (if I recall).

The Great Falls area sits right on the C&O canal path. It's an easy bike ride into downtown D.C./Union Station, about 1-1.5 hours as I mentioned. No reason not to ride it, unless you get there pretty late or something.

Not sure if anyone mentioned it yet, but the Web site has probably the best guide to biking the C&O Canal that I've seen.

Routes / Re: C&O canal to Pittsburgh via cumberland MD.
« on: March 08, 2010, 09:58:48 am »
You can park at Great Falls as you mentioned, but then you have to ride back to DC (figure 1.5 hours or so) to catch the train. If you do that, make sure you tell a park ranger that you are long-term parking and they will make a note of it for their patrols. Or, you can park at Reagan National Airport long-term parking and ride into DC for the train. There is also a parking garage at Union Station, I believe, but I don't know about long-term parking there.

A friend of mine is looking to do the trip in August and has checked on logistics, too. He's considering using one of the shuttle services (can't recall which one offhand). I think the price for his group (~6-8 people) was around $450 one way. A steep price, but worth it to him to avoid the hassles (plus they are splitting in among many people, so it's not too bad).

How about parking at Reagan, renting a car one-way to Pittsburg (~$100) and then riding back? For that matter, rent a car one-way in Maine, drive to Pittsburgh and drop it off, ride to D.C., then take Amtrak back to Maine (or Boston or wherever). That would be my choice.

Gear Talk / Re: front/rear pannier loading for credit card touring
« on: March 04, 2010, 12:15:42 pm »
I tend to put heavier, but smaller items in the front panniers, leaving extra room for stuff I use during the day like raingear, food, etc. Lighter, but bulkier stuff goes in the rear. Examples of what I carry in the front bags include my tools, lock, electronics charger(s) if any, etc. I like having the extra "flex space" available in the front bags. Just be careful not to load it up with even more heavy stuff.

General Discussion / Re: Family Cycling Delmarva
« on: March 04, 2010, 12:13:05 pm »
"DelMarVa" is a pretty big place! Some random thoughts:

1. It's a very pretty area for biking, with nice, small towns, beautiful scenery and flat topography. It can be very windy, though, so take that into consideration when planning your trip. Depending on the wind, it can offset any advantage from the lack of hills. If going in the spring and/or summer, be prepared for lack of shade and bugs (depending where you are).

2. Roads are often either large and busy (e.g., rt. 13, 113, 50, 301) or small and without shoulders. While the small roads are often low-traffic, they often  have high speed limits (50 mph) and little/no shoulders, with a drainage ditch on each side (this is pretty typical for rural roads throughout the peninsula and even down in Virginia). Although this sounds scary, I've never had a problem with cars on the small roads, even when riding with my family (on a tandem + trailer, for example). I'm not sure I'd feel comfortable with a young child (~7 y.o.) riding his/her own bike on them, though. If on a tandem or trail-a-bike, no problem.

3. Official camping can be somewhat limited. Over on the sea coast you'll find a number of campgrounds, most of which cater mainly to the RV crowd. Camping on Assateaque Island (National Park and state park) is really nice, but both the NP and state campgrounds fill up fast in the nice seasons. I wouldn't count on rolling up and getting a site on the spot. Best to reserve in advance. In Assateaque I greatly prefer the bay-side sites over the oceanfront sites.

4. With the exception of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, I believe most bridges in the area are fine for biking. Granted, they may have narrow/non-existent shoulders, but you can ride them. It's fine to bike into Chincoteague, to answer that question. (Personally, Chincoteaque doesn't do a whole lot for me and I wouldn't ride that far out of my way to see it, but that's just me. It's very touristy.) The Chincoteaque refuge itself is really nice and worth seeing, but the town isn't, IMO, given the detour needed to get there.

5. As you get farther down the peninsula (in Virginia, for example) you'll find that many of the towns become smaller and, arguably, less well-off. Don't count on finding lots of/any services in towns (food stores, etc.). Many of the services are clustered out on the main highways, like rt. 13.

6. Rt. 13 is the main N-S route and is multi-lane and high-speed. It is bikeable, and has shoulders, but isn't always the nicest route. Side roads are not terribly direct, but are pretty. Rt. 113 is smaller and also a N-S route, and is more bikeable. But, it's very busy in summer beach season.

7. A really pretty area not to miss is Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge near Cambridge, Maryland. Lots of really nice, lightly traveled roads, most with water views of some sort. It's really nice. A good family tour might take in that area, along with Easton and  St. Michaels, for example. This would be my suggestion for a first tour with kids there. In fact, we're thinking of doing it this summer with our 5-year-old son on our triplet.

8. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel does theoretically offer rides across with advance notice. You might be better off hitching a ride across with someone who has a pickup or van or whatever. If going N-S you might be able to easily do this as there is a rest area right before the bridge starts. Going S-N there isn't as much of an obvious place where people stop, as the access road is more-or-less a highway in Virginia Beach.

9. You should check out this trip report on crazyguyonabike. A family who did a tour on the peninsula:

Routes / Re: C&O canal to Pittsburgh via cumberland MD.
« on: March 01, 2010, 10:53:27 am »
Don't underestimate the difficulty of the C&O part of the trip. Yes, it is all flat, so it's easy in that regard. But the surface can vary from reasonably good to horrible depending on the section and the weather. If it rains, lots of mudholes. It's basically a double-track path for 180 miles. I did Cumberland-DC in three days @ ~60, 60 and 70 miles and it wasn't too bad (Cumberland-Hancock, Hancock-Harper's Ferry with Antietam detour, Harper's Ferry-DC), but I had good weather. Nevertheless, the constant rough track really took a toll toward the end of each day with sore butt and hands. On several occasions I detoured out onto nearby roads just to get a break from the path and the sometimes monotonous scenery: I went in August and it was mostly a green tunnel the whole way. Pretty, but it got old after a while. After I finished I didn't think I'd ever really want to do it again, but now that some time has passed I'm thinking of it again. But not in the summer. Too many bugs, too hot, and not enough scenery. I'd like to do it in the spring or fall.

A particularly nice deviation was from Williamsport to Antietam and then through Sharpsburg. Some really pretty, small, rolling roads past farms and a small village or two. You'd have to do a detour anyway in that section due to the closed section of the path, so might as well see some of the countryside. Definitely visit the Antietam visitor center and some of the battlefield if you have time. Nearby Sharpsburg and Shepherdstown are nice, too (more in Shepherdstown than Sharpsburg).

I camped/stayed at the hostel in Harper's Ferry, but for motels/B&Bs I'd definitely make reservations, as there aren't very many lodging choices along the route. The Harper's Ferry hostel is actually pretty nice, but it's at the top of a big hill and there is not much around it (no restaurants, food stores, etc.).

For the C&O I ran 1.25 road tires on a MTB that I built up as a touring bike. Handled the path fine, even with a full camping load. I understand the GAP is a much better surface. I hope to do the GAP this year to finish out the full route. Logistics can be kind of a pain, though, getting there and home.

See the following Web site for info and costs for storing luggage at FRA:

General Discussion / Re: advice for setting my bike up for touring
« on: February 17, 2010, 10:23:06 pm »
Regarding my comment about spoke tension, you are right: I shouldn't have said "mismatched" spoke tension. What I was really getting at is that I've seen true wheels with more-or-less uniformly loose-tensioned spokes. This is more likely to occur on a new (poorly built) wheel than an older wheel, to be sure, and can lead to problems down the road.

If your crankset is already set up for a third chainring that's great. It's pretty easy to add, then, and they are cheap for the smaller rings. You'll likely need to adjust the front derailleur set screw to allow it to drop down far enough to shift into the smaller chainring.

Square-taper cranks can be perfectly easy to remove, assuming you invest $10-15 in an auto-extracting crank bolt. Once installed, all you'll need is an Allen wrench to remove the crank. I have them on all my bikes and they work great. They are well worth the cost, especially for a touring bike.

General Discussion / Re: advice for setting my bike up for touring
« on: February 16, 2010, 07:42:48 pm »
I agree, that's a good starting point you have already. I'd definitely look at changing to a triple up front for your Colorado hills. You will need a crank and rings (or ring if you use your old ones) and possibly a new bottom bracket. Sugino makes a nice triple setup that you can get for around $100 or so with rings. Or, look on Ebay for a used set. You could even go with a mountain crank if you want really low gears, although you may have to also put on a new front derailleur.

Your 36-spoke wheels should be fine. I would take them to a good bike shop and ask them to make sure all the spokes are properly tensioned in addition to the wheels being trued. Your wheels can be perfectly true but have mismatched spoke tension, which could cause problems down the road under touring loads.

Regarding the rack, you can either use the brake-bolt mount type as others have suggested or a standard Blackburn Expedition-type rack with twin struts. Your LBS should have the small metal "p clamps" that wrap around the seatstays and allow you to mount a rack without having brazed-on bosses. I'd personally go this route over the brake-bolt mount type. I would not suggest drilling and tapping your frame! If you want to use low-rider front racks you can get the type that work without needing bosses on the fork, assuming that you have eyelets on the fork down near the axle.

FYI, as of 2-16-10 there is a T1 frame and fork on Ebay. Not mine, but thought  you might want to check it out.

Gear Talk / Re: 10 speed vs 9 speed for touring
« on: February 16, 2010, 12:19:03 pm »
One other note: when looking at front derailleurs for triple cranks, keep in mind that the different models are designed for different tooth gaps. I believe Dura Ace is built for a 14-tooth gap (e.g., 50-36) while Ultegra is 10 tooth (48-38 or whatever). I don't recall what Tiagra will shift, but I think it is similar to Dura Ace.

Dura Ace STI levers have more trim options for the FD, which is nice. I also think their "innards" are built a bit more robustly as they are rated for more shifts (longevity) than the Ultegras. I have a set of Tiagra 9-speed STIs on my wife's bike and they are very nice. I wouldn't hesitate to use them at all.

I was at my LBS this weekend and saw them setting up a new SRAM MTB groupo on a customers MTB. It was a 2x10 setup, with a HUGE 36-tooth cog on the cassette. The cassette alone cost $250, they said. Ouch. But, if the technology trickles down it might be an interesting thing to look at for touring in order to get rid of the challenges of setting up a triple and keeping it working well.

Also, one correction: I meant "IRD" not "IRC" in my previous post.

Gear Talk / Re: 10 speed vs 9 speed for touring
« on: February 16, 2010, 12:10:28 pm »
While I still prefer 9 speed for all my bikes (save for my MTB that is still 8 speed), I too see the writing on the wall unfortunately. I have several sets of Ultegra STIs squirreled away for Armageddon :-)

10 speed setups have been used on tandems for a few years now with good results from what I understand. In fact, tandems are a good area to look at as a barometer for sorts when considering touring drivetrains, as 1) they tend to have very wide gearing and 2) the combined torque of a tandem team puts a lot of stress on drivetrain components. Santana specs 10-speed on all their new road tandems, and have what they call a custom wide-range 10-speed cassette of 11-34, (which I presume is actually the IRC cassette) coupled with an Ultegra triple crank (53-39-30 presumably).

On our touring tandem we run 48-38-24 with an 11-34 9-speed cassette. Ultegra FD and an XTR RD with Ultegra STI shifters. Some front shifting/trimming issues occasionally, but not too bad. I run a similar setup on my single touring bike, but with a 50-36-24 TA crank, Dura Ace FD, XTR RD and Ultegra STI shifters. The 11-tooth small rear cog is overkill, but I had a hard time finding a wide-range cassette with a larger small cog (12t), so I live with it.

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