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Messages - geegee

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General Discussion / Re: new to site
« on: September 09, 2013, 05:55:01 pm »
When I'm touring, I find that I am more likely to be the "victim" of other people's kindness and generosity, than being the target of ill intentions. I've gone through many dodgy areas without incident, including Croatia not too long after the war there, and slummy areas of large cities. On the other hand I cannot count the numerous times I've been offered free food or drink from total strangers, or given something extra in restaurants or stores.

Routes / Re: Canada: Any cross country routes?
« on: August 30, 2013, 12:05:07 pm »
True, which is why paved shoulders should not be promoted as purely an investment in favour of cyclists. For example, loose gravel is one of the causes of roll overs when cars drift off the road and drivers overcompensate on the steering. There is also no room for trucks with wide loads to travel on the highway — with the increasing popularity of factory built homes (partly because of the migration of skilled labour away from rural communities) we are going to see more of these monstrous transports using the road. Paved shoulders also make the roadway last longer by preventing edge erosion. And then there's the "small benefit" that cyclists become less of a nuisance to motorists :) At roughly $30,000 a kilometre to pave shoulders, the 1,500 kms of Highway 17 really should not cost more than 50 million, something that could see a return in investment within a decade. In the end, the government really has no good reasons not to pave the shoulders!

As this summer's ride was my second time going across the continent from British Columbia, I actually took the south shore of Superior route through Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Most of the roads are better, but in some stretches along M-28 not much better. The terrain is flatter but goes through mostly monotonous forested interior with rare views of the lake.

The cycling advocates in Sault Ste. Marie have mapped out this alternative route that avoids much of Highway 17 east of the city. I tried it for a abut 60 kms but reverted back to the highway when one part turned into a really rough road and I didn't find my way back on to it.

Routes / Re: Canada: Any cross country routes?
« on: August 30, 2013, 11:24:52 am »
I could not agree with  you more, Norsman, and I have and will keep on writing the Ontario and Canadian governments about this. I think with paved shoulders, cycle touring could bring millions of dollars to Northern Ontario's small towns. In my opinion, that stretch along Lake Superior is just as scenic as the Pacific coast in Oregon and Washington state. The coroner for the province of Ontario published a report last year stating that many of the cycling deaths could have been prevented had there been paved shoulders and recommended that the province invest in such infrastructure. It is important that we put pressure upon our government and put them to task on making this entire highway safer before increasing capacity and speed only on the busy segments.

Routes / Re: Canada: Any cross country routes?
« on: August 27, 2013, 11:58:59 pm »
I just finished my second ride across Canada, and this time, I used the Yellowhead Highway from the Pacific coast into the Prairies. I highly recommend this northerly route, the road is great for cycling with ample shoulders for most of the way, and the grades up the Rockies are not more than 6%.

Northern Ontario through the north shore of Lake Superior remains the biggest challenge of any true cross-Canada tour, as it is a hilly route with narrow shoulders. The traffic is relatively light though, and a with good rearview mirror and proper caution when large trucks are present, it is a very scenic route.

Here are some photos I took from the road on the western part of the route from the coast through the Rockies:

Hardly any traffic in the Queen Charlotte Islands:

Back in the BC mainland, the route through the Skeena Valley is superb, especially if you are there on a clear day:

Climbing into the interior:

I did get a bit of rain but not a lot

I was extremely lucky to have travelled through the Rockies on a stretch of clear cloudless days, with awesome views of Mt Robson:

Towards Alberta and up to the highway's highest point at Obed, east of the Rockies:

General Discussion / Re: Help Victoria Island BC
« on: July 10, 2013, 01:08:38 pm »
The bushes beside the bike paths around Victoria are usually dripping with berries in the summer, all free for the taking. I've cycled the length of the island up to Port Hardy and it gets more rustic and quieter as you head north. Past Campbell River, there are no shoulders on the highway but traffic is very light.

Routes / Re: Southern Tier timing and direction
« on: June 20, 2013, 10:42:25 pm »
I went across the southern USA in two halves, Florida to Texas, then California to Texas, and I found I got the best of tailwinds. Winds tend to swirl in the Gulf and as I rode along the coast it was mostly a grazing tailwind or a side wind. My observation in Texas is the wind mostly goes from south to north, so it's a wash going east or west.

When I rode eastward from San Diego, I remember going down the highway towards Ocotillo, screaming down the mountain with a ferocious tailwind and I had to constantly ride my brakes for fear of losing control from sheer velocity. All I could think of was pitying the poor cyclists heading west on this pass, with a double whammy of going uphill in gale force headwinds.

Since you are in Phoenix and have to get home in the end, why not consider riding from San Diego to Phoenix, then transport out to Florida to ride home again?

I cycled solo from Vancouver up to Fairbanks in the summer of 2008, awesome trip. Wind was really not a big factor. I rode up Vancouver Island to Port Hardy then took the ferry up to Prince Rupert and then on to Skagway. Going up White Pass to the Yukon takes you from sea level to 3,292 feet in 14 miles, but the views are spectacular:

I saw a few cyclists going the other way but none going my way, especially going up the Klondike and the rugged Top-of-the-World Highway. There are stretches of unpaved road, but if you go up that way, you'll ride high along the ridge of mountains to get to the northernmost point of entry by land back into the USA:

A water filter really came in handy as there were few services along the way so brought at least a couple days worth of dried food and took my water from rivers and streams. The river banks are steep and slippery, and the water often runs fast and silty so a cloth bucket came in handy to fetch water:

I remember when I got to Tok, AK it felt like such luxurious civilization. I enjoyed the Yukon the most, awesome landscapes and interesting people. I could have cycled down to Anchorage from Fairbanks, but as a treat I took the Alaska Railroad which is one of the must-ride scenic trains in the world.

General Discussion / Re: Pronounciation...
« on: June 15, 2013, 10:27:25 am »
The French will call them panniers if they are basket-like, such as the open top bags used for shopping. In French Canada, the closed saddle bags are called "sacoche".

Just like the derailleur/derailer pronunciation, it somehow depends on where you are from. My region with its strong French presence tends towards "pan-yay".

General Discussion / Re: 6 weeks from Vancouver - which route?
« on: June 08, 2013, 02:12:05 pm »
Six weeks can easily take you down the Pacific coast. From Vancouver, I would recommend riding a bit north to Horseshoe Bay and catch the ferry to Nanaimo. Personally, I find riding in Vancouver island a bit better than riding directly south from Vancouver. On the island, you can either ride to Victoria where you can catch a ferry to Port Angeles and cycle along the western Olympic Peninsula (skipping Seattle), or to ride Sidney and  island hop towards Anacortes to cycle through Puget Sound (where you can take a jaunt into Seattle via the ferry at Bremerton).

Depending on your pace, six weeks could also get you from Vancouver to Chicago, either on the Northern Tier Route or cycle the Trans Canada (BC highways 7 and 1) towards Banff and then connect with the Great Parks North route to the NT.

Practically every Starbucks, McDonald's and many other fast food chains have free WiFi. You don't even have to buy anything, just stand outside with your bike. With Skype on my iPod touch, I don't even need to use a cell phone when I cross the US.

If you'd like to see a bit more of Canada, head out towards Ottawa, either on Route verte #1 to Gatineau, or #5 to Vaudreuil-Dorion and follow the river to Hudson and Rigaud then on quiet county roads through Vankleek Hill. There is also a gravel rail trail from the Ontario border that takes you into Ottawa. You can PM me if you need more specific information on the capital region, I'm also on

From Ottawa, make your way towards Kingston where you can take a ferry to Wolfe island and another to Cape Vincent NY. From there it's an easy ride to connect with the Northern Tier to Buffalo, then the Underground Railway to connect with the TransAm at Cave-in-Rock.

If you want to skip Ottawa, you can head to Kingston from Montreal along the St-Lawrence on the Waterfront Trail.

Routes / Re: Across North America
« on: April 26, 2013, 07:13:54 pm »
...go to Ottawa, ON on the Trans Canada Trail (300 miles)...and finish with the Trans Canada Trail again that will take us to Vancouver (720 miles)...

The Trans Canada Trail is more concept than reality at this point, as there are still many sections that need to be built. Before committing yourself to any of its routing, make sure you do your research. Just looking at the map provided indicates quite a bit of unfinished routing between Jasper and Vancouver.

I wouldn't exactly call the Trans Canada Trail more concept than reality, much of it does exist (73%), some links are still unofficial or under negotiation for better routing. The intention is to complete the remaining links by 2017 for Canada's 150th birthday. However, the entire trail was never conceived to be specifically for one mode of travel and many sections of the trail are not for bicycles, for example some of them are canoe routes through Northern Ontario. Where the idea of the trail is misunderstood is it's not supposed to be something you do in its entirety in one shot — the "concept" is that it is one contiguous recreational facility that you share with others who are also on it at the same time all across the country. What can I say, it's a soft, emotional Canadian thing  :D  ;D

There are several cycling routes from Montreal to Ottawa, the TCT is certainly the most circuitous but quite scenic and rustic, winding through the Laurentian Mountains. Make sure your tires are adequate for gravel, the section into Ottawa might not be as well travelled and tamped down as the "Petit Train du Nord". There are parallel secondary highways as alternatives though. Between Ottawa and Kingston, there is a missing link in the trail from Carleton Place to Smith's Falls — a local group is negotiating an abandoned railway, they just pulled out the tracks last year (I'll try riding it this summer with a mountain bike to see what it looks like). If you think you'll make it to Ottawa before the first week of July let me know.

As for Jasper to Vancouver, one option you could consider is to ride west along the Yellowhead Highway to Prince Rupert. From there, you can take the ferry to Port Hardy on the northern tip of Vancouver Island. The ferry ride is fantastic, you'll see whales as the ship weaves around the tight passages between the snow capped coastal mountains and islands. There is a ferry to the city of Vancouver from Nanaimo, or you could go down a bit further towards Victoria for other connections. BTW, I'm actually planning to be on the Yellowhead Highway in early July.

General Discussion / Re: Bears
« on: April 18, 2013, 08:04:02 pm »
Don't worry about the bears.  You-tube search "moose tramplings".

In northern Quebec, you just share the path with them:

General Discussion / Re: Bears
« on: April 15, 2013, 11:10:44 am »
Another thing to think about when you are stealth camping in bear country is not to be too close to streams or obvious corridors to  sources of water. Bears are likely to travel along these routes and you'll be right on their path. Prepare and eat your meals near water where you can wash up, but pitch your tent elsewhere, preferably on higher ground. Although not conducive to a good night's sleep, sometimes camping closer to the road with the sound of occasional traffic turning bears off is not such a bad choice.

General Discussion / Re: Shipping Supplies to Yourself
« on: April 05, 2013, 10:09:31 am »
I've used General Delivery to a post office to send stuff I no longer needed ahead to my end destination. The post office will hold a package for 30 days, while the UPS Store generally charges $5 per package per week.

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