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Messages - haakon

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Routes / Re: USA Corner to Corner
« on: December 27, 2012, 10:28:01 pm »
What are the big issues with Highway 2 between Spokane and the coast?  Can some of those be avoided by taking some of the minor highways nearby?

Hwy 2 can get busy in some places, but overall is a fine and doable route, IMO. Hwy 20 is more dramatic and the Methow Valley of Winthrop/Mazamma beautiful, but Hwy 2 along the Columbia River from Coulee City to Wenatchee, then west to Leavenworth is beautiful as well. And Stevens Pass on Hwy 2 is only 4,000 feet, as opposed to 5,000 feet on Hwy 20 through North Cascades National Park. The west side of the pass on Hwy 2 is much more busy, so ride carefully. You're also socked into the tall pines on the west side, so it's less scenic. But you can veer off of Hwy 2 in Sultan and veer southwest towards Seattle or northwest towards Everett and Mukilteo to catch the ferry to Whidbey Island and then Port Townsend and the Olympic Peninsula.

General Discussion / Re: Advice needed!!!
« on: December 22, 2012, 12:05:54 pm »
Much of your excitement will be realizing how actually undaunting it is. I agree that a short overnight trip is really helpful to sort out how you organize your stuff. But it's pretty simple, just get on your bike and go! And if you forget something, that's OK. It's the imperfections that make it fun--you can always buy something along the way. Feel like you need another t-shirt? Buy one in some small town. Need water? Go into a cafe and ask to fill up your bottles and get lunch while you're there. Raining hard? Stay a little while longer in the small town and explore. The friends who have had the least positive experiences bike touring are ones who have set unrealistic expectations for themselves, usually in terms of travel distance and time. Like trying to go 1,000 miles in 8 days with bad weather. As long as you have time, you'll make it and it will be beautiful.

My most helpful article that I would suggest is a handlebar bag, one with a clear front to display a map through. I pack all my clothes, food, and bike stuff in the panniers and then keep my map, wallet, iPhone, chapstick, Cliff bar, etc. in the handlebar bag. It's easy to detach, so anytime I want to go into a store, I don't need to dig anything out, just rip the velcro straps and take the bag in with me.

Have fun!

Routes / Re: riding ACA northern tier
« on: July 20, 2012, 07:29:21 pm »
I found that on the midwest section of the Northern Tier route (Minnesota and North Dakota, for me, in particular), the specific NT route on the maps wasn't anything special. Other county roads or state highways worked just as fine or better in places. I veered off the maps and took my own route from Minot ND to Fargo, and again from Fargo to Minneapolis, and it worked out really well. You'll have to feel out your comfort level as you go, but with a smart phone with maps, paper maps from a gas station, and advice from people in towns, it should be no problem. Water, food and camping are usually available in small towns only anyway, so as long as there is a small town, it will probably have those things. Camping in small town parks seems to be free and OK across the midwest (I've had great experience with it), so I would recommend going off the NT if you want.

From Iowa or Minnesota you could go straight west on into South Dakota (lots of small towns along the way). Getting back up to the NT from Mt. Rushmore might be tricky as the towns are more sparse, but you could take Hwy 85 north to catch the NT near Dickinson. It might be worth it to go through Glacier NP, Sandpoint ID and the Cascades Mountains in Washington state. Sounds like a beautiful trip you're planning!

Gear Talk / Re: Tire recommendations
« on: March 14, 2012, 08:30:00 pm »
I know there's a lot of tire debates, but I'll throw in my two cents-- Schwalbe Marathon Racers. 2000-plus mile tour also on a Surly LHT, 26" tires, and had zero flats (even through the debris-ridden roads of oil boom North Dakota). Still riding them around Seattle without ever a flat. They're lighter than other Marathons and have good puncture resistance. Lots of tires will work well, and I like these.

General Discussion / Re: Long distance trip alone?
« on: February 08, 2012, 01:52:16 am »
I agree about the not-so-nice-people. It's a good thing to have on your radar, but unlikely to factor into your ride much. I just biked 2000 miles of the Northern Tier alone and met countless people who stopped to talk, wanted to know about the ride, offered a ride or a place to stay etc. I even have a stack of papers of people who gave me their phone numbers on the back of a receipt or something, saying if I needed anything or if I ran into trouble that I should just call them. No creepy people come to mind at all. Not that they don't exist, but the positive interactions by far outweighed any negative ones. Between all the friendly strangers and an iphone, traveling alone was awesome, even for an extrovert.

General Discussion / Re: Great Music For My Tour? Suggestions?
« on: September 11, 2011, 02:29:09 am »
Steve Earle. Best road music ever.

+1 on the Steve Earle!  And while I agree that you shouldn't listen to anything but your surroundings while riding, the whole Born to Run album is an "invitation" for the road (Bruce's description!).  So a little Springsteen music as you're loading up, I think, sounds really good. 

General Discussion / Car key found
« on: June 22, 2011, 11:41:17 pm »
This is probably a long shot, but I found a car key on the Northern Tier in Washington. On the way up to Washington Pass, half way between Colonial Creek and Rainy Pass, lying in the shoulder. It had a strip of Velcro attached to it.

Thought I'd post it here because I'm not sure why someone would lose a car key (with Velcro) in the middle of nowhere, unless the weren't actually driving a car. If you know it's owner or have questions, email me directly at I'm riding on the NT now but check email regularly on my phone.

General Discussion / Re: Luxuries
« on: February 08, 2011, 01:09:28 am »
I think a nice luxury for any trip is a nice bottle of whiskey or scotch or whatever you like.  Pour the liquid into an empty plastic Aquafina bottle (or two) and have a nip or two each night, rationed throughout the trip.  A nightcap is a nice way to put closure on the day, when everything is put away.  It's fun to measure an approx. length of a trip (or a section) by how much is left in the bottle too.  Something to look forward to!

General Discussion / Re: Bikes on Trains
« on: December 04, 2010, 06:11:16 pm »
Thanks everyone-- I didn't search a forum before asking, I just read the previous question and it popped in my mind.  I don't have experience touring but am looking forward to trying this summer.  Thanks for the advice!

General Discussion / Bikes on Trains
« on: December 04, 2010, 01:15:58 am »
I'd like to piggy-back a question on to this-- what is it like taking a bike on the train?  Is it easy?  Do you have to get a special bike box or pay extra?  Any suggestions?  It seems like a good way to get you and your bike back to your starting point, especially on the NT route, following the Amtrak empire builder.  

Routes / Re: Different routes across Washington state
« on: November 12, 2010, 09:58:05 pm »
These replies are great, thanks everyone.   

I assumed WA Hwy. 20 was the way to go, but I have a friend who has enjoyed riding the interstate in some stretches, particularly in the southwestern US.  He thought it was more desirable for parts of a cross country trip from FL to CA.  I was wondering if for some reason narrow roads in WA would make the freeway more desirable here.  I haven't been on hwy. 20 before.  But it sounds like the NT route and 20 is the way to go. 

Those pics are fantastic-- what a stretch of the country!  Thanks for posting. 

I don't know how much time it would take to get from Seattle to Mpls.  I have a little over a month to do it.  What are people's experiences on the NT in terms of time and mileage per day in the mountains and the flatlands?

Thanks again for the input everyone!  And great pictures Fred and indyfabz.  Thanks for whetting my appetite a little more. 

Routes / Re: Different routes across Washington state
« on: November 11, 2010, 10:28:18 pm »
I didn't think they were allowed on I-90 either, but the WSDOT site makes it seem like they are, with this exception of Snoqualmie Pass

Has anyone travelled it?  Is the wide shoulder of the freeway worth it?  How dicey is the shoulder on parts Hwy. 20 or U.S. 2?

Routes / Different routes across Washington state
« on: November 11, 2010, 07:37:23 pm »
I'm looking into biking from Seattle to Minneapolis next summer, and I'm wondering what people think about different routes going across Washington state.  I know the NT route goes across Hwy. 20, but I know there is also U.S. 2 and even I-90 (or the bike trail that parallels it for a while).  The WA DOT has a great website and maps for bikers, but I'm wondering if anyone has experience with these routes.

My initial concern is that the Hwy. 20 route doesn't look as direct as U.S. 2 or I-90.  Would one route be more direct or take more time than another?  While I want to enjoy the mountains, time might also be a bit of an issue and I don't want take a super long time as I go.

Any input or advice would be appreciated!  Thanks. 

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