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Messages - geegee

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General Discussion / Re: Riding the Gaspe Peninsula
« on: September 19, 2017, 06:36:15 am »
What kind of experience are you looking for, what are your preferences? From a scenic point of view, I think the Gaspésie is best seen counterclockwise since you'll have the sea on your side. However, the north side is quite hilly and windy, which generally means pretty strong prevailing headwinds on nice days if you're heading west and tail winds in inclement weather. The south, with the exception of the climb through the Matapédia  valley, is flatter into the town of Gaspé. Technically, it would be "easier" done clockwise with the wind pushing you through the hilliest parts. There remain missing gaps in the Route verte in the northeast, so there will be stretches without shoulders.

The train to the town of Gaspé is currently not operational if you re thinking of it as an option to return. There is rail service in Campbellton NB and Matapédia QC, on the Halifax-Montreal route though. The intercity buses (Orléans Express) will happily take your bike and they sell boxes at the stations.

If you're up for a wilder, less populated coastal experience, I just got back from riding the north shore of the Gulf of St Lawrence from Baie-Comeau to Natashquan then up the coast by ship to Labrador and northern Newfoundland. Spectacular up there!

Canada / Re: Northern Ontario — Lake Huron
« on: July 31, 2017, 10:37:19 am »
I know they've been gradually putting in shoulders on highway 6 for years, last I looked there was just 20 kms left to do south of Little Current between Espanola and South Baymouth. They might have done it this summer. I believe implementation with regards to the trail is putting up signage.

I was in the Bruce peninsula last year, a friend has a place right on the proposed route through Lion's Head. I doubt they'll do much to the county roads there as the traffic is super light anyway.

The eTrex runs on two AA batteries, which is really convenient. You can get about 20 hours out of a pair. I carry a several spare rechargeables with me, as soon as it warns me the batteries are low I just switch out and recharge later.

The notifications on the eTrex are just beeps, you glance at the screen see which direction to turn.

By the way, I use the mount made by RAM, they are so much better than the ones Garmin makes.

I like using a dedicated GPS unit that gives audible cues for turns. It replaces a bike computer since it automatically records distance, speed and altitude (I don't even have to jot these down and reset the computer daily), and allows me to enjoy the scenery or concentrate on road safety without having to constantly glance down at a map or be preoccupied with wayfinding. It also gives me the freedom of taking any interesting detours with its ability to automatically reroute me back on track further on.

I toured with paper maps throughout Europe and North America in the 1990s and early 2000s and I much prefer the simplicity of something like a Garmin eTrex on my handlebar now.

General Discussion / Re: Canada+USA: Biggest accepted bill?
« on: May 30, 2017, 11:05:15 am »
Gas station stores rarely have problems with breaking $50s and $100s. Ever since Canada went with polymer bills which are easier to check for counterfeit with due diligence and training, the comfort level in accepting larger bills has improved.

Routes / Re: Total Solar Eclipse
« on: May 29, 2017, 10:47:49 pm »
I remember cycle touring in Europe during a total solar eclipse in 1999, it was awesome. I ended up being on a hilltop in rural Hungary, right next to the Discovery Channel crew filming it so I knew I was in a good spot :) Try being where the eclipse happens at high noon, it will be a real treat if there are no clouds in the sky as the stars will come out. Don't forget the special glasses/filters for you eyes!

Five years ago I was riding through northern Texas where the annular solar eclipse happened at sunset. It was also incredible to look at but without the need for much eye protection since it was sinking into the horizon:

Canada / Northern Ontario — Lake Huron
« on: May 04, 2017, 11:12:52 pm »
Just a heads up to cross-Canada cyclists, a bike route from Sault Ste. Marie to Sudbury avoiding quite a bit of Highway 17. Free downloadable maps at:

General Discussion / Re: La Route Verte- Quebec
« on: May 04, 2017, 10:46:21 pm »
July and August will be quite similar weatherwise. One thing that might influence your decision is the Quebec construction holiday which falls on July 23 to August 6 this year. It's when the construction industry officially goes on vacation, filling up a lot of the accommodations and campgrounds throughout the province.

General Discussion / Re: Bears in Canada?
« on: March 27, 2017, 08:25:41 am »
I like enjoy this type of touring: Flat, small grades and able to chew up a lot of miles. I also enjoy the desert and great plains. Easy to plan for reaching the next town because there is no steep mountain pass in between that will suck all energy out of you.

Highway 17 along Lake Superior is a roller coaster, with pretty steep grades (10+%). Highway 11 which veers farther north through Hearst and Kapuskasing is a flatter alternative with less traffic. The Canadian Shield geology is mostly extremely tough granite which makes road building expensive and difficult, so they tended to do minimal grading on the old highways. If you come across road construction where they're flattening or straightening there's a lot of dynamite involved. So many rivers and lakes though, if you have a filter you'll never be short of water.

But on the roads in Ontario and Quebec I have no idea what the real situation is: Do I need to take Rocky Mountain like precautions already there?

In the Rockies the valleys are very limiting, so that the roads and railways share the same tight corridors as wildlife. Northern Ontario and Quebec are wide open wilderness where wildlife can roam freely with fewer obstacles. I find the likelihood of seeng wildlife much higher in the Rockies and almost a guarantee, whereas you can do a long drive on the main highways here and not see a large wild animal. I've lived 35 years in Ontario and done a lot of wilderness camping, and I've only seen bear along the road maybe 3 times.

General Discussion / Re: Bears in Canada?
« on: March 26, 2017, 11:38:34 pm »
Your chances of seeing a black bear are probably high in Northern Ontario closer to larger bodies of water. Quebec tends to clear-cut wide swaths along its highways, if there was a bear, you'd see it from a good distance. Bears hate road noise though, there's enough wilderness for them to enjoy than hanging around near the highway.

Interesting route, I'm just wondering if you'd get bored with too much of the Canadian Shield and the Boreal forest. That's almost 3,000 kilometres, from Kenora to Saguenay, of "rocks and trees and trees and rocks" as the song goes. I get a few cross-Canada cyclists stay with me each year via WarmShowers, and by the time they get through Northern Ontario and into Ottawa they're relieved to be out of the boonies.

I've ridden out to Saguenay, the fjord is awesome. There's some good whale watching at the mouth, I saw belugas swimming 20 feet from the shore. The north shore of the Gulf of St Lawrence is spectacular, I'm contemplating riding out to the end of that highway past Sept-Îles all the way to Kegashka later in the summer and maybe catch the coastal ferry out to Labrador.

Canada / Re: Trans-Canada Trail V The Great Trail
« on: December 01, 2016, 07:00:53 pm »
From British Columbia to Saskatchewan good routes are easy to plot because most of the highways in BC, AB and SK have good shoulders. Manitoba is tough, I'd pick the small prairie roads with the least traffic and avoid the main highways. Northern Ontario offers little choice if you want to stick to Canada, as there is only one road between Thunder Bay and Nipigon. Highway 17 can be a tough ride with barely a shoulder in long stretches. Traffic isn't super busy but the trucks can be unnerving. I've ridden from BC back to Ottawa twice, and the last time I figured I'd go down through Michigan's UP which is a flatter but less scenic route (blog here). Quebec is the most organized for cycle touring with Route verte routes. New Brunswick has good secondary highways with shoulders. With the rest of the Atlantic provinces, the highways you see on the map are pretty much your only choices and there are very few restrictions on cyclists (mainly within Halifax), but traffic is generally light and the drivers are mostly courteous.

Canada / Re: Bike transport by train
« on: December 01, 2016, 06:39:01 pm »
VIA Rail only takes bikes on trains with baggage cars/bike racks. The longer distance trains like the "Ocean" which runs from Halifax to Montreal (via Mont-Joli) usually do. The "Corridor" trains that go from Montreal to Ottawa sometimes don't, which poses a problem when I take the train from Ottawa. However, if you are taking it from Mont-Joli they may transfer it to another train which means you'll get it later. Here's the current schedule of trains with bike racks:

General Discussion / Re: My front V-Brake is squealing like a pig???
« on: November 09, 2016, 08:49:28 pm »
Drown it with banjo music  ;D

In addition to the suggestions above, check the tightness of mounting bolts and maybe re--grease mounting pins liberally to dampen  micro vibrations.

General Discussion / Re: Which Route Would You Suggest?
« on: November 09, 2016, 08:26:36 pm »
August will be hot and steamy in the South. If you're not used to very humid temperatures in the mid to high 30˚C/90˚F and over it can be really draining. I would probably pick the Pacific Coast (Seattle to SF or LA) or the Sierra Cascades for that time of year.

Canada / Re: Trans-Canada Trail V The Great Trail
« on: September 07, 2016, 02:16:56 am »
They are the same thing. "The Great Trail" is just the Trans Canada Trail organization's new branding. It sort of puzzles me why they did this because it just confuses people.

The Trans Canada Trail is misunderstood conceptually, it isn't a great way to cross Canada, it's a way to connect Canadians. People need to understand the semantics of that — it's a shared facility that is imagined to stretch out to every province and territory. It is impossible to ride it end to end because significant portions of it are water trails. It's an idea that someone cycling a pathway in Ottawa is connected to someone kayaking in Thunder Bay or hiking in Banff or dog-sledding in Whitehorse because it is (or will be) a contiguous (but terribly meandering) line. You kinda have to be Canadian to get it :) Maybe that's why they're focusing on calling it the "Great Trail" because "Trans Canada" implies you can ride it coast to coast.

If you're bike touring, stick to the tried and true routes like the Yellowhead, the Trans Canada Highway, Route verte, etc., and when you stumble across part of the Trans Canada Trail from time to time, hop on and off at your convenience, but don't expect it to be all suitable for touring.

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