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Messages - indyfabz

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General Discussion / Re: Fighting off boredom?
« on: July 17, 2014, 02:20:42 pm »
Not to push the point too far and be accused of retrogrouchery but tens of thousands of folks road much further and longer than you're planning without any electronics (or disk brakes) at all. A paperback and a notebook/pencil can keep you company for a long time and you can trade the book with another adventurer along the way.[/quote]

+1. I read "Flowers for Algernon" while touring for 9 days last month--something I had wanted to read for a whole. Nice to have relaxation time to do so. I also found that checking and sending email using the computer at a town library seemed like a chore. When touring, I like to leave behind as many routine things as I can.

General Discussion / Re: Big Bend Loop II, Van - Nov 2-10, 2014
« on: July 17, 2014, 02:12:43 pm »
Having done an ACA supported trip (Cycle Vermont), what Pat wrote. I went with someone and we rode together. Sometimes we would end up riding with others. You can ride at your own pace. When you finish each day depends on many factors. The daily routes were mostly hilly, but I never felt like we were finishing too late in the day for comfort. I take a lot of photos and we often stopped to see the sights, use the library and get our own lunches so we often finished later than most people.

Last month I crossed paths with ACA's Cycle Montana at one day's lunch stop. Small groups of people came in together. Some people came in alone. Some people stopped for a short while. Some lingered longer. It seemed like most people left lunch in small groups. I don't know whether those groups stayed together on the road because the lunch stop was my overnight stop.

Routes / Re: Idaho - Trans Am
« on: July 11, 2014, 09:10:40 am »
Hate to break it to you, but you will be encountering some high speed stretches in MT with commercial traffic and little to no shoulder. Heading west to Sheridan and a section of road between Twin Bridges and Dillon are the two that come to mind. Also, between Sula and Conner Cutoff Rd. heading towards Darby. West from Darby, the Old Darby Rd. alternative affords a nice break from U.S. 93. The unpaved stretch is not bad as unpaved roads go, and it's very pretty back there.

In any event, getting an early start can often be helpful.

Gear Talk / Re: From the road: least used gear, most appreciated gear
« on: July 10, 2014, 02:32:22 pm »
Something I really appreciate is my woolen cap and my gloves for chilly mornings. However, during summertime on the trans am you would never need that.
Not necessarily true.  In the Rockies you can get a short cold snap or even snow in any month of the year.  We did the TA an especially hot year and still had a few cold mornings and a freezing afternoon/evening once as well.  I took my light gloves and cap and used them in the Cascades and Rockies.


It was 27 degrees F when I set out from Guffey, CO on a June 15.

+2. I was just riding on and near the TA route in MT last month. I got caught in a rain/hail/wet snow event the second full day of summer. A few days later, I got got caught in a very cold rain. Surpised it didn't start snowing. Both those times involved descents of over 20 miles. And a few of the mornings were chilly. Glad I had my wool cap. My hands survived with polypro glove liners and a pair of light, full fingered gloves, but they got very cold.

General Discussion / Re: Cardboard Box for Bike as Checked Baggage
« on: July 10, 2014, 02:20:41 pm »
Funny thing is that the only times in recent memory that they didn't open the bike at BWI were the times that I had all of my gear packed with the bike.  Both times it was in a soft case rather than a box.  Not sure why they didn't open it these times.  Maybe my soft case fits in the xray machine?  If so there may be an advantage to taking off both wheels and packing in a smaller box, bag, or case.[/quote]

That's a distinct possibility. When we flew to Venice last year, the TSA opened our boxes (found cards inside saying they had been inspected.) I believe that's because PHL does not have any large scanners. For the return flight home, our bikes went through a large scanner at the Venice airport as we stood and watched. The agent literally gave us a thumbs up and we proceeded on.

Flying back from Portland a few years ago we watched in horror as a grumpy looking TSA agent (It was early a.m.) was trying to close up a bike box by repeatedly forcing the top down. Our bikes were next. Not wanting to see what might happen to our rides, we quickly left the area. Fortunately, there was no damage.

Connecting ACA Routes / Re: N tier to Seattle to Coast route?
« on: July 10, 2014, 09:38:51 am »
IIRC, the route Carla describes takes you through Port Townsend. Fort Worden S.P. is a nice place to camp. They had hiker/biker sites off in the trees, and the park is on the water. It's also the former military base that was used in the film "An Officer and a Gentleman."

Howard Miller Stealhead park in Rockport was also nice. There were Adirondack Shelters when I was there many years ago.

General Discussion / Re: Cardboard Box for Bike as Checked Baggage
« on: July 10, 2014, 09:32:49 am »
Just curious! How much did your bike and box weigh. My surly is pushing 50# and will be getting ready to head to San Diego to start Southern Tier in September. Looking for options to get it and my gear to there from Iowa.

I recently used to ship my bike from Philly to Missoula and back. 22 lbs. Crateworks plastic box (46"x11"x30"), 60cm LHT, two racks, MSR Dragonfly stove (I would not risk flying with an expensive stove), empty fuel bottle and packing materials. I wildly overestimated the weight of the entire package at 90 lbs. With the $5 pickup charge from my LBS, I paid $73 for shipping via FedEx through Bikeflights. (My airline, United, wanted $175.) Could have gotten it down lower had I had a scale to get an accurate weight and taken the package to a FedEx store myself. Shipment out took 4 days. There was a delay on the return due to some storms.

I just ran numbers for my bike box with a total weight of 70 lbs from Cedar Rapids to the REI store in San Diego. Got a price of $55 without local pick up. $60 with pickup. Transit time is 3 days.

Check out their website. You can play around with the weight and size to see how it affects price. If you decide to use them, they email you a prepaid label 10 days from your ship date. The label comes in about 10-15 min. if your ship date is less than 10 days from the date of purchase. Good customer service, too. I had a couple of questions before I purchased. They responded promptly to my emails.

As for the rest of my gear, I put everything except two panniers in a duffel bag. $25 to check that. I carried on the other two panniers. One counted as the one free piece of carry on. The other was small enough to count as my "personal item." I was doing a loop, so REI held my bag. Since you are going one way, look for a cheap bag at somewhere like a thrift/Goodwill store and toss it. Or you can mail it back home when you get to the start location.

Routes / Re: West from Missoula : TransAm or Lewis & Clark?
« on: July 09, 2014, 10:35:57 am »
Yes. OR east of the coastal range will likely be hot. Even crispy critter hot. (The forecast highs for the next few days in John Day are in the low to mid 90s.) But it's a dry heat. :) It's been a while, but I don't remember any really hard passes from when I rode much of the route as part of 2002's Cycle Oregon. There is, I believe, a long slog up from Mitchell. McKenzie east to west isn't that bad. IIRC, the first 6 or so miles out of Sisters in gradual. The remainder is not as bad as the west slope, which we rode up in '07. The views (assuming it's not doing something up there) are spectacular. There is an observatory at the top that is built out of lava rock. Looks like a place where Skeletor would live. Just be careful on the descent as there is a section with tight switchbacks.

Rode some of the gorge east to west during another edition of CO. I had heard about the winds, but for us, they didn't blow as bad as everyone said they would. Maybe we just got lucky.

If it were me, I would take the TA route. Ride early and take a mid-day break if necessary to avoid the heat.

Routes / Re: To many choices
« on: July 07, 2014, 11:32:11 am »
There is a Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox statue in Bemidji, MN on the Northern Tier route.

The world's larget purple spoon on MT 49 in East Glacier Park, MT, thought I would not skip Going to the Sun Rd. so see it.

Routes / Re: I Just Flew in From Missoula and...
« on: July 04, 2014, 12:01:07 pm »

Click on the first one and advance manually. If you use the slideshow function you get that annoying "Ken Burns Effect."

Routes / Re: Bakersfield California to Darby Montana
« on: July 02, 2014, 03:33:55 pm »
Early quit no doubt. :)

BTW...Tim Carey, the Travelling Bike Nurse, who you may know (I know some of your staff does) is an aquainance of mine. Early this month he rode up north into Canada. Not sure if he's still north of the border or headed back here.

Routes / Re: Bakersfield California to Darby Montana
« on: July 02, 2014, 09:08:42 am »
Hey Indyfabz

First, I'm bummed that we missed meeting in the office while you were in Missoula!

Second, I think you must have an older TransAm #4 map. Once the bike path was completed, we changed the route to do just as you suggest below:

The official AC route gets off the trail and crosses the river onto East Side Highway at Stevensville. No need for that. The East Side Highway is busy and has no real shoulder to speak of. Stay on the trail towards Hamilton.


Great. Mine may be from 2010 or 2011, unless I a used the one from 15 years ago.

As I think I noted in my trip report, United Airlines is to blame for my late arrival. I did stop in on 6/28 around noon. Only two people in the office. Already making good use of my Bikelingual bandana.

Routes / Re: Bakersfield California to Darby Montana
« on: July 01, 2014, 10:08:36 am »
I see that the 95 - 12 - 93 are official adventure cycling routes, so that's good news, but none of the other ones are.

Just rode from Missoula through Darby last week. Heading east on 93 at Lolo, a bike trail begins just after the gas station on the right. Definitely take that. 93 is busy and loud. Not long after I got on the trail I came to the scene of a head on collision on 93. The official AC route gets off the trail and crosses the river onto East Side Highway at Stevensville. No need for that. The East Side Highway is busy and has no real shoulder to speak of. Stay on the trail towards Hamilton. In Victor, you have to jog to the right for a bock or so of street riding, then you jog left at the cafe/mercatile (big breakfasts there) to get back on the trail. When you come to the road that crosses the river towards Corvalis, cross the intersection then cross 93 and you will pick up a trail on the other side of 93 that takes you nearly all the way into the center of Hamilton. Be careful in Hamilton. The shoulder on 93 goes away for a while and traffic can be heavy depending on the time of day.

For the final leg to Darby, I highly recommend taking Old Darby Rd. instead of 93. As you head out of the center of Hamilton on 93, you will see a green sign poiting left for Skalkaho Rd. Make that left, crossing 93. Not long aftrer that, Skalkaho curves to the left. Bear right onto unsigned Sleeeping Child Rd. then, after a few miles, make a right onto Old Darby Rd. where Sleeping Child Rd. begins to climb. (There is a cool bike shop down a dirt driveway to the right shortly after you get onto Sleeping Child called Red Barn Bicycles. As it's name implies, it's in a red barn. Nice group of people and worth a look.) Old Darby has about a 7 mile section that is unpaved, but it was not rough when I rode it. And it's quiet and very pretty back there. After you cross the river (Fishing access site on the left after the bridge. Nice place with a picnic table by the water to take a break in the shade.) Old Darby crosses 93. You can either make a left on 93 to Darby or cross 93 to stay on Old Darby, where there is a final short stretch of unpaved road before the pavement picks up again. When Old Darby ends, make a right onto 93 and you will practically be in the center of Dabry. I would stay on Old Darby as it is quieter.

Routes / I Just Flew in From Missoula and...
« on: June 30, 2014, 04:08:53 pm »
...boy are my legs tired.

Reprised a loop from three years ago with a few modifications/new roads thrown into the mix.
Highlights of the trip include:d Gibbons Pass from Sula to Jackson, the lovely view from Big Hole Pass and descending out of the Pioneer Mountains to Wise River in rain, hail and even some wet snow, on the way to Divide Bridge Campground (saw about a dozen GDMR participants); the rough, unpaved but isolated and beautiful Melrose Bench Road between Melrose and Twin Bridges, which is not for those with loose teeth, skinny tires or flimsy wheels; two relaxing days at the Twin Bridges Bike Camp, where I crossed paths with Cycle Montana and took a 21 mile spin to Sheridan and back; Pipe Stone Pass, which is harder than it looks on paper, on the way to Butte; the Pintler Veterans’ Memorial Scenic Highway up to Georgetown Lake and then down to the pleasant town of Philipsburg; panning for sapphires at Gem Mountain and the wet and wild ride over narrow, twisty, unpaved Skalkaho Pass to Hamilton.

I inadvertantly tossed my daily mileage log, but there this is the approximate breakdown:
Missoula to Sula: 83 miles
Sula to Jackson: 67 miles
Jackson to Divide: 76 miles
Divide to Twin Bridges: 34 miles
Twin Bridges to Butte: 47 miles
Butte to Philipsburg: 57 miles
Philipsburg to Hamilton: 64
Hamilton to ACA Headquarters: 43

Travel got off to a rough start. Unbeknownst to me, my 6:00 a.m. flight from PHL to CHI had been cancelled the night before due to weather in the Midwest and I had been rebooked PHL-IAD-DEN-MSO. Fortunately, the flight to IAD left at 6:14, so there was not much of an additional wait, but I had a 4 hr. layover at DEN, so I didn’t arrive at MSO until 5 p.m., well after the original 12:45 p.m. arrival that I had booked. By the time I could get a cab to the KOA, it was nearly 6 p.m. (I am wondering if I should move to the area and start my own cab company.) One of the reasons I chose to ship my bike to/from the Missoula REI is that you can literally see the back of the store from the campground office, and they are open relatively late. My fully-assembled bike, stove and fuel bottle were waiting there for me. I also picked dup some last minute supplies, like fuel. At $40 for assembly and another $40 for re-boxing, I feel I got a good deal compared to locally, where a LBS boxing will run you about $75.

The original riding plan was to spend one night in Twin Bridges, ride to Ennis the next day and then on to Butte. That would have necessitated an 86 mile day to Butte with a 4 mile, 4% climb early on, Pipestone Pass late in the day and likely lots of headwind riding in between. Seemed like the waste of a good hotel room in Butte (the Hotel Finlen rocks!) so I took it easy and ended up in Butte with plenty of energy to enjoy a good steak at Casagranda’s. Gem Mountain was fun. Walked away with a total of 15.02 ctw in small sapphires. Not going to retire on that, but it was still worth the $20 for the bucket of gravel.

Biggest disappointment was not seeing many exotic critters. I did catch a glimpse of one Dahl sheep. Other than that, there was nothing notable of the four legged variety. Birds were a plenty, including cranes, herons, a few vocal owls and what looked like ospreys. On the road to Twin Bridges I startled two Common Snipes, which proceeded to put on a noisy show for me.

I will post a link to photos once I have uploaded them to Flickr. Send me a PM if you would like route details. With some planning and alternative overnight stops, this route can be done as a “credit card” tour. It would be unwise to attempt it with skinnier tires and/or less than sturdy wheels without a few route modifications. (I rode 37c Conti Top Contact IIs While there is a paved, parallel alternative to Gibbons Pass (Lost Trail and Chief Joseph Passes), avoiding Melrose Bench and Skalkaho Rds. would require route modifications which, in my opinion, would significantly detract from the nature of the route. You might also have to do a bit of I-90 riding to escape Butte. There is a series of frontage roads that you can use to avoid I-90, but there is a mile or so of unpaved riding that might be dicey on anything less than 32c tires, but maybe not.

One day heading east in central MT on the Northern Tier I sustained a speed of 32.5 mph for several miles before I became winded and had to drop back down to 28.5 mph, where I could pedal without going into the red zone. The road was flat except for one bridge across the railroad. Whilew we did have some easterly winds in MT and ND (as I did when I did another ride in ND), thw winds in MT and ND were mostly out of the west and could get opretty strong. Ride early and take rest if they get bad.

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