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Topics - BikeliciousBabe

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General Discussion / Stay Bear Aware
« on: July 27, 2023, 08:40:01 am »
Last Friday I was driving the portion of the Atlantic Coast route through the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area on my way to Pond Eddy, NY for a weekend of camping and rafting.  I took the scenic route up rather than U.S. 209 on the PA side of the because I was hoping to see a bear.

I got my wish--times two.  Saw two sickeningly cute, jet-black cubs playing on the edge of the road.  When they saw me, they stopped and starred for a few seconds then ran off into the woods.  Mom was likely up there.  Back in 2018 I saw a very young cub in the campground at Worthington State Forest, which is not far south, during a bike tour south from VT.  Several years before that, one ran across Old Mine Road just before a group of us came along during the...wait for it...Black Bear Century.  It left behind muddy paw prints. And earlier this summer I read about increased bear activity in Connecticut.

Just because you are in more populated areas in the northeast doesn't mean you should not take precautions.

BTW...Many of the road surfaces south of the Walpack Inn all the way to the pedestrian walkway of the I-80 bridge are in terrible shape.  Use extreme caution, especially if it has rained a lot recently.  That puddle might be a deep pothole.  I rode south through there in 2021.

I remembered the stretch immediately south of the U.S. 206 crossing being in very poor condition.  No longer wanting to be jostled around even though I have AWD, I crossed back into PA using the Dingmans Ferry toll bridge.  ($2, and they do charge bikes.)

General Discussion / Recent Vermont Trip
« on: June 24, 2022, 01:38:58 pm »
Here is a writeup of my trip that I posted on

"Did a short tour of Vermont earlier this month. Drove up to Brattleboro on June 5th and camped just outside of town at Ft. Dummer S.P. Brattleboro (smartly) allows long-term parking in a garage in town for $5/night, with Sunday’s being free. Started riding on the 6th. The trip ended in St. Albans on June 14th. Got a room for the night. The next morning I hopped Amtrak’s Vermonter with my bike for a 3 hr.+ ride back to my car. Drove down to S. Deerfield for the night then returned home to Philly on the 16th. Seven days of riding with two off days. Nights at Jamaica S.P., Mt. Ascutney S.P., Silver Lake S.P. (2), Stillwater S.P., Brighton S.P. (2) and Prouty Beach municipal campground. Daily mileage ranged from around 28 to 61.

Here is a route map:

Ride with GPS | Bike Route Planner and Cycling Navigation App

Mileage inside the parks and local errand mileage is not shown. The compressed profile makes it difficult to appreciate the steep grades (some double digit) in places, especially on some of the dirt sections. A couple of mornings I had climbs right out of camp, which is never fun for me. The trail mileage (12) between Plainfield and Stillwater was horrendous at first. There was rain/flood damage a couple of places. One spot was required walking as it was steep and rocky. The 26 mile Missisquoi Valley Rail-Trail was also tougher than I expected. Much of the surface consisted of two narrow tracks with a hump in the middle and high weeds. It also had noticeable grades both up and down. But the real pain was the numerous road crossings. Fourteen of VT 105 alone. But it beat riding the highway.

The weather was, for the most part, pleasant. Around 6 a.m. on the morning of the fourth day at Silver Lake S.P. it started to rain pretty heavily, and rain was predicted through most of the afternoon. The original plan was to ride to Stillwater S.P. that day for a two night stay and some paddling during the day off. In light of the weather, I traded my off day at Stillwater for an off day at Silver Lake. Other than that day, and a short period of rain at night at Mt. Ascutney S.P. after Day 2, skies were mostly sunny and highs were in the mid-70s, although most days were a tad humid for my liking. Nightly lows ranged between the low to upper 50s, although I think one night dipped below 50. I also seemed to have a noticeable to strong headwind each day.

The Vermont state parks were quite nice. I had a lean to each night. No need to stake out the tent or fly, and I stayed dry during the two days/nights with rain. Prouty Beach municipal campground in Newport was also nice. The three tent sites are down by the lake, close the public paths and away from the numerous RV sites, which are up on a hill. I could hear no noise from them at all. The bathroom/shower facilities are old but are close to the tent site and kept very clean by park staff. Bug spray was a must and the mosquitoes were ever present in camp.

I lost some respect for Vermont drivers during this trip. I had previously ridden south from St. Albans twice both before and during the pandemic. (In 2018 and 2021.) My 2018 trip was actually right around the same time as this one, while the 2021 trip started the Sunday after Labor Day. I experienced a lot of needless close passes. Instances where there was no oncoming traffic and good sight lines. One of my favorites was pulled off by a woman who said hello to me as I rode by her house. She was preparing to get into her car and had a large, reusable grocery bag. I assumed she was heading to the same large grocery store I was going to about 4 miles up the road. I actually wondered if she would come too close if she passed me. She didn’t disappoint. But in defense of Vermont drivers in that case, she had Massachusetts plates. (Many of you have probably heard the term “M*******.”) I have to wonder if the explanation is my route. My previous two trips had me go down the far west side of the state after leaving Burlington until I headed southeast at Manchester to Brattleboro. This trip’s route came closer to larger population centers such as St. Johnsbury, Woodstock, Barre, Montpelier and Newport.

Not too many “exotic” creature sightings. There had been recent bear activity at Stillwater, but I didn’t see one. I did see about a 3’ long ribbon snake at Brighton. Either a beaver or muskrat made its way across Silver Lake. At Silver Lake, Stillwater, Brighton and Prouty Beach I heard loons at night and in the morning. At Brighton and Prouty Beach I got to see them. Roadkill-wise I saw what looked like a member of the weasel family and a porcupine. One thing that was not as common as I expected were cows. I think I only passed 3 herds and heard one other in a field behind some trees. Guess I just wasn’t in parts of the state where dairy farming is widespread.

The lens of my Sony camera froze up early in the trip so I had to rely on my iPhone. I am having trouble figuring out how to get images from the phone to my home computer because most of them are too large to email to myself for download. I guess I will edit this post and add them using my phone."

If you want to see the photos you will have to visit the thread using the link below.  I think you can view it even if you are not a member.

Starting to think about another week or so trip in PA this September.  I have a couple in the can already that I can choose from, including one I had to abort after three days back in 2018 due to crazy weather.  I am reluctant to book a flight somewhere because I don't trust airlines to keep schedules.

General Discussion / VT State Park Reservation Policy Change
« on: May 11, 2022, 07:54:50 am »
I am planning another trip in VT using mostly VT state park. It was nice to learn yesterday that VT state parks no longer require two-night reservations for sites or lean tos between Sundays and Thursday.

General Discussion / New Indoor Accommodations Along the GAP
« on: December 22, 2021, 11:02:42 am »
Last year I took the short, easy sidetrip from the trail to see the property, before it was sold again and became a "stay experience."  You can even buy a bottle of Skin Suit Soft Body Lotion.  Just make sure you use it whenever you're told.   :D

Sorry, but don't know the exact map number, but there is apparently a bridge on the D&R Feeder Canal path at the north end of Lambertville, NJ that was taken out by the flooding caused by Ida.  The detour is simple.

Heading south, just after the U.S. 202 overpass you usually make a left then quick rights to stay on the trail.  Cannot make that right anymore. (There was a trail closure sign when I was there late last month, and a local told me about the missing bridge.) Instead of making the right, continue straight through the parking lot to NJ 29. Make a right onto NJ 29, the first right onto Cherry St then a left at the T onto N. Union St.  The first traffic light you will come to is Bridge St.  Make a right and that will take you to the bridge to New Hope, PA.  Cherry and N. Union are generally quiet, safe riding.

Also, to the extent you are considering deviating from the route at Phillipsburg, NJ, by crossing into Easton, PA, and taking the D&L Trail south, don't.  At least not any time soon.  Stay on the nice roads on the NJ side of the river. Flooding from Ida caused extensive damage in places.  In one or two places some two feet of trail surface was washed away, leaving exposed rocks.  Had to walk the bike in numerous places, and the footing was bad.  There were also a couple of downed trees.  Don't know if they have been removed yet.  Then, maybe a mile north of Upper Black Eddy, PA, a vary large section of the trail is gone.  I confronted a chasm some 50'+ long and probably 15'+ deep.  It does not look like it is something that can/will be repaired any time soon. The only workaround for this spot is to backtrack a bit, go out to PA 32 and riding that to the bridge to Upper Black Eddy and the bridge to Milford, NJ.  PA 32 is a road you want to avoid, especially on weekends.

You can still access Dogwood Haven Campground from the D&L between Canal Ln. and Lodi Hill Road, but south of that point there was another trail closure sign and some heavy machinery blocking the trail.

Routes / Atlantic Coast Route Alternatives in NY
« on: September 30, 2021, 03:58:45 pm »
Recently finished a tour from St. Albans City, VT to Philly. Picked up the Atlantic Coast Route in Millerton, NY. From there heading south I took two alternatives, both of which I had ridden in the not-so-distant past.

1. From the Harlem Valley Trail in Wassaic, instead of continuing on the highway after leaving the station I made a right onto Deep Hollow Rd.  Deep Hollow is unpaved, but the surface is very good. Mostly hard pack dirt.  Encountered two cars on a weekday before noon. People drive slowly because of the road surface. Saves mileage on a busy highway and climbing. A map of the alternative from where you leave the official route to where you rejoin it:

2. From New Paltz I skipped the Wallkill Valley Trail, which was not a great experience back in 2018. Not that great a surface and not scenic. It then leaves you off sort of in the middle of nowhere, forcing you to head through Wallkill and then take Bruyn Turnpike. Both had a good amount of traffic back in 2018. Instead, I took what was the previous routing. Low traffic once you get onto Libertyville Rd./CR 7 and much more scenic, with better views of the Shawangunks.  Again, a map showing he alternative:

Routes / GDMBR--Basin to Butte
« on: March 16, 2020, 12:59:50 pm »
I have an old version of the map for the above-mentioned section that uses "roads" closely paralleling I-15 and then I-15 itself. Some of that mileage doesn't even appear on Google Maps unless you switch to satellite view. (Assuming Tunnel No. 9 is al old railroad tunnel.)

Looking at ACA's on-line map, it appears that the route has changed to use roads further west of the route shown on my old map. Looks like it uses the same roads I am hoping to ride this June during a two-week, part paved, part dirt loop from/to Missoula.  Plan is to visit Three Forks then head to the Merry Widow  via Boulder then to Butte.  Bike would be an LHT with 37c tires that has tackled some fairly rough, unpaved roads in its day.

Anyone have experience with the old and/or new routes between those points? Particularly interested in road surface conditions.

Thanks in advance.

General Discussion / New Bike Service on Amtrak's Pennsylvanian
« on: October 22, 2019, 09:31:12 am »

Can come in quite handy for the GAP/C&O, especially since the Vermonter from D.C. to Philly, NYC, etc., has bike service as well. Opens up other possibilities, like a carless, cross-PA tour.

Routes / Montana & Idaho Trip Report
« on: July 15, 2019, 10:12:17 am »
Photo album from my two-week trip during the second half of last month:

Here is the planned route:

I ended up altering it south of Whitefish. There was a big morning storm, complete with hail. Some of the roads south of Columbia Falls are unpaved and can get messy when even slightly wet, so I stuck to U.S. 93 and MT 35 to rejoin what I had planned. There were also a few other minor deviations from the planned route.

Overnights were:

1. About 7 miles east of St Regis, MT
2. About 9 miles east of Avery, ID
3. Wallace, ID
4. Thompson Falls, MT (Got a motel room for a couple of reasons.)
5. Noxon, MT (Nice city park along the Clark Fork.)
6. Bad Medicine Campground along Bull Lake off of MT 56
7. About 3 miles west of Troy, MT
8 & 9. Pete Creek Campground near Yaak, MT
10. Rexford, MT
11. Whitefish Lake S.P.
12. Wayfayers S.P. in Bigfork, MT
13. Seeley Lake, MT (Motel so I could get an early start on the last day.)

Highlights included: Getting to ride two sections of I-90 westbound that were closed to motor vehicles; the 16 mile (15 unpaved), 3,200'+ climb up Gold Pass out of St. Regis then the incredibly scenic (and nicely paved) descent down to and then along the St. Joe River towards Avery; the former Milwaukee Road ROW from Avery then the Route of the Hiawatha Trail; the herd of elk on Blue Slide Rd. west of Thompson Falls; the Ross Creek Cedars; Kootenai Falls, seeing a bear and a youg-ish bull elk near Yaak; Porcupine Pass on the way to Rexford and my reward of some really great fried chicken there; and the two Montana state parks with special hiker/biker sites with all the trimmings.

For those planning on doing the Northern Tier I am going to put in another shameless plug for a detour into the Yaak area. Low traffic, scenic falls and lots of woods and wildlife. My bear happened when I took a ride up Pete Creek Rd. from camp during my rest day. The area is home to both black and grizzly bears. The campground host took a drive into the woods the same day and saw his third lion of the year.  Saw the bull elk the morning I was heading to Rexford. About 3 easy miles from Pete Creek Campground there is a bar and a restaurant/bar/store, although don't expect to find much in the way of groceries. I carried enough food for one dinner and two breakfasts. Ate my first dinner and the next day's lunch out. From the center of Yaak you can get back on the Northern Tier route via the way shown on my map (Porcupine Pass), which is extremely scenic (and totally paved), or you can hang a right at the intersection for the road to Libby, which I believe is partially unpaved.

In any event...Lowlights included: Climbing a couple of miles of the steep part of Thompson Pass without realizing I was in the middle chainring; U.S. 93 between Fortine and Whitefish and missing some turns along the way that would have allowed me to explore some alternatives to that death trap of a highway; some of MT 83 between Bigfork and Seeley Lake.

I had done much of this route in 2017 (The Gold Pass/St. Joe/Avery/Hiawatha sections were new to me. I also overnighted in a couple of new places.) This time the weather was much different. Cooler days and even cooler nights. Some mornings were in the 40s when I hit the road. There were three days with noticeable periods of rain, but nothing biblical, although I did have to pull over twice while descending Gold Pass, once to take cover from a brief period of hail. As you can see from the photos, conditions were often overcast or foggy. 2017 was warm to hot and humid. I don't believe I used my rain gear once. The day I arrived back in Missoula it was 91 degrees by 1 p.m. All things considered, I'll take the cooler temps any day.

Now starting to think about my Pennsylvania tour that I try to take every September. Maybe from Pittsburgh home to Philly again.

General Discussion / Three Cheers for Noxon, MT!
« on: July 03, 2019, 03:18:49 pm »
For $10 you can camp in the city park. (Register at the grocery store.) There are two covered pavilions with concrete floors, tables and chairs. You can pitch your tent under one of it's raining or on the lush grass. Electrical outlets for charging. Water. Great views of the surrounding mountains and Clark Fork River, where you can swim. Lots of ospreys flying around. Directly across the street from the park are a café that is open from 8 until 5, a grocery store than is open from 9-6 and a bar that is open until whenever. 24 hr. laundry place. Lots of friendly people. No showers and a clean Forest Service-type vault toilet. MT 200 is was across the river, so the road noise is minimal, but you will hear some trains from over there.

Great place spend the night if you are riding MT 200 west from Thompson Falls (but do take Blue Slide Rd. first) or east from the Northern Tier. Center of town is six miles east of the junction of MT 200 and MT 56. Look up at the osprey nest on the bridge.

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