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Messages - adventurepdx

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General Discussion / Re: Rain pants? Yay or Nay
« on: March 18, 2012, 05:26:57 pm »
Another option if you don't want to go full rainpants is Rainlegs:
They protect the "tops" of your legs, where you'll get rained on the most. They are a good, simple, lightweight option if it's going to be warmer out, but won't do as good as full rainpants if you are looking for warmth or wind-resistance.

(And man, the first sentence on the Rainlegs home page is badly worded. I think Rainlegs is a Dutch company and they might not have done the best translation job.)

I'd guess that many younger clerks you see along the way don't even know what a Traveler's Cheque is and wouldn't know what to do if you handed them one. According to Wikipedia:

The wider acceptance and better security of the alternatives such as credit and debit cards has meant a significant decline in the use of travelers cheques since the 1990s. In addition, the security issues for retailers accepting travelers cheques has meant that many businesses no longer accept them, making them less attractive to travelers. This has led to complaints about the difficulty that holders have in using them. In much of Europe and Asia, the cheques are no longer widely accepted and can not easily be cashed, even at the banks that issue the cheques.

That is a good point. You might be able to cash/use travelers checks in hotels and maybe larger supermarkets, but a lot of small-town businesses may be hesitant to accept them.

I worked in a hostel for five years, and we did accept travelers checks. But I rarely encountered them, maybe 10-20 total in that span of time. It seemed that most folks who used them either didn't have credit cards or were very adverse to using credit cards.

Pacific Northwest / Re: Thoughts on my plan for the Pacific Northwest
« on: March 18, 2012, 03:28:29 pm »
As far as the first day goes, I basically live at the ferry terminal on the mainland, so Vancouver was a bit misleading.

Tsawassen, you mean? Does this mean you'll use the BC Ferry to Swartz Bay, then bike the 30km along the Lochside Trail into Victoria, then take the Coho ferry to Port Angeles? That's totally doable, so long as you're cognisant of ferry schedules, esp. with the Coho. Looks like the last ferry you'd want to catch out of Victoria would be 3pm. The last ferry of the day is at 7:30 which would be tight for getting to Salt Creek unless you wanted to ride in the dark. Of course you could stay in Port Angeles if that scenario happens. (This is assuming you'll be riding during the summer.)

Gear Talk / Re: Wheel Skewer verses Bolt
« on: March 16, 2012, 03:17:09 pm »
But wheel theft isn't that common.

Well, touring through rural areas, yes. But in cities, it is more common. I regularly pass by bicycles locked up here in Portland with front/rear/both wheels missing. Of course, many of those bikes were only frame-locked and may have sat overnight. But I do know some folks who have gotten a front wheel yanked when they left a bike locked for only a few hours. So it's a good idea to lock wheels and frame in an urban area. For that reason my bikes either have skewers or bolt-on wheels.

And Portland has gotten to the point where thieves are starting to prey on Brooks saddles as well.

Pacific Northwest / Re: Thoughts on my plan for the Pacific Northwest
« on: March 16, 2012, 01:02:26 am »
Sounds like a good trip you got planned there! I agree with johnsondasw that there is abundant scenery on this ride.

Day 1 - Aug 1, My Home (Vancouver BC, Canada) to Salt Creek Campsite Washington - approx. 60km

You're talking about Salt Creek west of Port Angeles, right? I'm a bit confused by your start point, though. Do you mean Vancouver Island or the City of Vancouver? If it's the former, I can see it as a reasonable first day assuming you're taking the ferry from Victoria. If it's the latter, I don't know of any route between Salt Creek and the Terminal City that's going to be 60km. You'd have to break it into a few more days.

Day 3 - Aug 3, Neah Bay to Bogachiel State Park - 82km
Day 4 - Aug 4, Bogachiel State Park to Lake Quinnault (one of three camp grounds) - 100km

I would say if you had the time, break this section down a little bit. A lot of the cool stuff, stuff worth seeing on this section of the Olympic Peninsula, requires side trips from US 101, the main road. And you don't see the actual coast except for an approximately 15 km section between Ruby Beach and South Beach (between Bogachiel and Quinault.) If you had an extra day or two here to play with, you could take a side trip to Rialto Beach, which is a 30 km round-trip, or the Hoh Rainforest (70 km round-trip.) And when we rode through the area in 2010, the National Park campground on the north side of Quinault was closed, but the two U.S.F.S. campgrounds on the south side were open.

Day 8 - Aug 8, Nahalem Bay to Portland (Sister-in-law's house) 153km

Have you figured out which route you'd take inland from Nehalem Bay to Portland? There's a few options, but I would avoid US 26 if possible. While it's the most direct option, it's also the busiest, with narrow shoulders and three good climbs. The other routes will take more time, though.

General Discussion / Re: Campgrounds and bear boxes
« on: March 16, 2012, 12:41:23 am »
When we went through North Cascades at Newhalem, the signs said it was bear habitat, etc.  I asked the campground host if they had a way to store our food, since we didn't have the bear barrel.  He told me they hadn't seen bears in years.  Couple days later, when we found cell coverage, my wife had a fit.  She'd found a journal of a guy who'd actually seen a bear in the campground we were staying within 10 days of our arrival.

I was in that site in 2009. I overheard a ranger saying there were no bears in the area.  At that point a tourist showed us a photo he had taken of a bear 500 yards away 30 minutes earlier.

pdlamb and irc, was this campsite Colonial Creek Campground in North Cascades N.P. (the last campsite on the west side before Washington/Rainy Passes?) We got that same line last year as well!

The good news is they finally got some bear boxes. I believe they were brand new for the 2011 season. The bad news (and we learn this after we already set up camp) is the bear boxes are all the way on the far side of the other loop. They were so new that they're not marked on the map, so there was no way to figure this out beforehand. We only learned about their whereabouts after questioning the camp host. (We assumed that they would be evenly scattered through the entire campground as they are in Olympic and Glacier National Parks. Not so, obviously.)

But not to worry! They haven't seen a bear in a camp in a while, says the host, who is safely ensconced in their metal RV.

Since we didn't feel like taking down camp nor hauling our odorous items 1/2 mile from where we're camping, what we ended up doing instead was store our needed items in the "utility sink room" in the bathroom building. The door opens outward, so a bear couldn't push the door in to get in. And the campground was pretty sparse so we weren't worried about other people going through our stuff.

My favorite "Don't worry about bears" story was at a commercial campground/RV park in the Swan Valley in Montana (Great Parks North Route, between Missoula and Glacier). When we asked the owner if we should be concerned about bears, he said "Oh, I wouldn't worry! I have seen one in camp since, oh, Tuesday." We locked up our stuff in the laundry room this time.

General Discussion / Re: Campgrounds and bear boxes
« on: March 15, 2012, 08:05:52 pm »
You will definitely find them in Glacier N.P., will likely be reminded by campground hosts and/or rangers to use them and catch hell if you don't.

Yep, use those bear boxes in Glacier! I actually dealt with a bear who casually walked through my camp at Two Medicine Campground in Glacier last year. They are around!

There were none at the Town Campsite in Waterton Village when we were there in '09, and I cannot imagine them being needed. You have to be more worried about the deer.

The main campsite in Waterton Village now has bear boxes. They seem to be used more for people's garbage, though. The deer wander anywhere in the town and will wander through the campsite. The "biggest" thing to worry about is all the Columbian Ground Squirrels. They will run over your table and enter your tent if you leave it unzipped.

Gear Talk / Re: Tire recommendations
« on: March 13, 2012, 12:24:33 am »
The only tire in the Marathon line that I would shy away from, if your budget allows it, is the tire referred to as simply the Marathon. This tire is much less expensive than all the other tires in the Marathon line and is less reliable.

I had the plain ol' Marathons (700x35C) for my 4,000 mile tour this summer, and they did fine. I did get a few flats but not many. The rear was starting to wear out towards the end, and I replaced it when I got home. The front tire is still holding up.

« on: March 12, 2012, 06:44:06 pm »
My girlfriend April and I rode the Icefields as part of a bigger bike tour last year. More on that here:
We really loved the Icefields, and I think you'll have a great time!

As for logistics, you can ride the whole Parkway in 2 or 3 days, but we took longer than that in order to soak up the ambiance and do things along the way. Remember there are two passes on the Parkway, Sunwapta is the northernmost and Bow the southernmost. Both are around 7,000 feet (2,100 m) in elevation, but the elevation doesn't drop below 4,000 feet at any point on the route. The Parkway is 140 miles long and only goes between Jasper and Lake Louise. Banff is about 40 miles away via the Bow River Parkway. While the ride is not as "epic" as the Icefields Pkwy. it's still a nice ride.

We took five days on the Icefields, which I thought was an appropriate amount of time, though we could have taken longer. There's places to stay about every 20-40 miles along the route. We opted to use the primitive hostels along the way. These are also spaced about 20-40 miles apart, and if one were to use them, one could make a credit card/inn-to-inn tour the whole way from Jasper to Banff. Most of these hostels are bunks only, most don't have electricity or phones (though one has internet via satellite!), nor hot water or showers. There is running water and propane heating, and a few within Banff Nat'l Park have saunas! These hostels are very popular during the summer, so you'd need to book them in advance to guarantee a spot.

We had no trouble with the passes, but we had already encountered many more passes in Washington and Montana, so we were ready. Even with that, the climbs are not that long, I remember the climb northward to Sunwapta was about 3 miles at 8% grade. I've heard that biking southward (Jasper to Lake Louise/Banff) is tougher but can't speak from first-hand experience.

My tips:
  • Stock up on supplies in the bigger towns like Jasper, Lake Louise, Banff, and Canmore, as there are few restaurants and stores on the Parkway. (There's just enough, however, so that you'll pass something daily.) Prices along the Parkway and in the towns are going to be steep!
  • Take your time, stop at all the things you can stop at.
  • There is a good chance you will see bears, even on the side of the highway. We saw a combined number of seven during our time on Bow River Pkwy, Icefields Pkway, and 93A.

I agree with geegee about Jasper (town and park) being calmer than Banff (town and park). Banff townsite is overrun during the summer.

Can't help you about parking, but can help you with photo inspiration.

General Discussion / Re: Amtrack Question Seattle Area
« on: March 09, 2012, 01:39:00 am »
As you will be boxing your bikes, be sure you watch their weight. We've been able to load 'em no problem down here in the bay area, but the handlers in Seattle are really finicky and made me repack my tandem in two boxes, even though it says in their rules they can exceed 50 lbs..

They can also be finicky in Portland as well. They don't like it if you leave anything on the bike other than water bottles, and if they see you sneak stuff in they'll tell you to take it out (and if they see you take out the bike with extra stuff attached they may give you crap as well!) And if they don't remind you, make sure that you empty your water bottles before packing the bike. They can leak, and leak onto something else.

General Discussion / Re: Amtrack Question Seattle Area
« on: March 09, 2012, 01:35:53 am »
...I have a few questions. I will have to assemble my bike for the trip from the Seattle station, however I seem to recall the Cascade will allow me to roll it on for the trip to Vancouver. Is this correct? Also how is the neighborhood around the Seattle station. I would probably spend the night at a HiSeattle hostel.

Yep, Amtrak Cascades allow roll-on service, so no need to box. In fact in most cases they don't like boxed bikes on these trains, from what I've seen.

As for the neighborhood around King Street Station is slightly sketchy at night, especially going over towards the hostel. During the day when it's full of people, not so much. I've never felt threatened, though, but some others may get weirded out. Thankfully the American Hotel (HI-Seattle) is a few short blocks from the train station.

One thing to note about the hostel is they offer secure bike storage in the basement, so no need to lock it outside overnight.

General Discussion / Re: Amtrack Question Seattle Area
« on: March 08, 2012, 01:40:52 am »
I have taken the Amtrak twice and both times the experience was miserable.  In addition to dirty bathrooms and surly workers, the train was hours late both times.  The first time, it was so late I had to whole additional night there and then had to fight for a place on the train the next day! The next time, we were over 8 hours late getting into Seattle from LA and they lied to us the whole way about how we'd be there "almost on time" etc etc.  Never again for me.

The Coast Starlight can be pretty late, but I've had overwhelmingly decent experiences on Amtrak, and I've taken it quite a bit over the past 12 years, in most parts of the country.

General Discussion / Re: Amtrack Question Seattle Area
« on: March 07, 2012, 10:40:06 pm »
Those buses take boxed bikes, so shouldn't be a problem. In fact, the bus drivers prefer it that way and may give you crap if the bikes are unboxed.

As for Pacific Central/Vancouver, the neighborhood is on the edge of the Downtown Eastside area which is Vancouver's "sketchy" zone. I've been at that station late at night and never had any issues, though. Just keep your wits about you. And I haven't had problems riding through that area at night, but not knowing which way you'll be heading from the station, I can't give you a more definite answer.

General Discussion / Re: Affordable/free camping idea
« on: March 06, 2012, 07:55:10 pm »
While I think this is a cool concept, I tend to agree with others here that the logistics/money would not make this practical.

If we are to assume this is a nationwide network in the US, this would take a lot of cash to buy up even small parcels of land to have these bicyclist campgrounds. And even with the campgrounds being low impact, there are maintenance fees. And if it was a membership-based organization, how big of an organization would it have to be to make it feasible, and how much would dues be?

Let's take ACA as an example: in 2011, there are 43,550 members. If this non-profit organization were to be as big as Adventure Cycling, and membership dues were $40/year which is ACA's base member rate, this would mean $1,742,000 in yearly income for the organization. There would most likely be other revenue streams etc, but how far would about two million dollars a year go towards acquiring land, building campsites, maintaining them, etc?

This concept might work better on a smaller scale, local level, and partnered up with a like-minded organizaton. I know in Mt. Hood National Forest a group set up a series of "Bike Huts" for mountain bikers.

I think the best idea is encourage those organizations that are already set up for camping, like state parks, to develop hiker/biker sites either in already existing campgrounds or in other lands they own. Or get more of these small towns along ACA routes and in popular touring to allow free/nominal fee camping in their town parks.

I also agree that warmshowers is a great resource and the fear of trusting strangers is overblown. We stayed with quite a few warmshowers hosts on our trip last year, and most hosts were good to great. We had a couple less-than-stellar stays, but nothing along the line of fearing for our safety.

Classifieds / SOLD! North St. Bags "Route 7" Pannier Set
« on: March 04, 2012, 04:20:26 am »
These bags have already been sold, thanks!

I'm selling a set of North St. Bags Route 7 panniers. These panniers are hand-made here in Portland by Curtis Williams. They are basic touring panniers in an "Ortlieb" roll-top style. I have owned these panniers for about a year, and they served me well on my Cross-Con Tour. They are still in decent shape! (See below for pics.)

The official description and specs:
A simple, lightweight, waterproof pannier with a simple yet secure roll-top closure. The tapered shape allows for easier access, and a reduced change of heel-strike.
  • waterproof liner
  • d-ring tabs to add a shoulder strap
  • reflectors and blinky loops for visibility
Most of the materials in the bags are manufactured in the USA.

Size (individual bag):
6″ x 9″ (15cm x 23 cm) at the base, it tapers up to 6″ x 12″ (15cm x 30cm)
Stands 15″ (38cm) tall (not including the roll top extension).
1080 cubic inches (around 17.7 liters)

There's nothing wrong with these panniers. I'm just purging them from my collection because I don't need this size of pannier right now.

Price: $65 USD for the set. I'm not interested in selling them individually at this point.
This price is less than a single one new!

Available for local pick-up in Portland, Oregon. Shipping cost to be determined on location.

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