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Messages - DarrenBnYYC

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Gear Talk / Re: AegisMax UL Sleeping Bag thoughts
« on: March 06, 2018, 06:07:38 pm »
Your air mattress makes a huge difference to your warmth too.
Remember a true "air mattress", i.e. just an inflatable plastic shell, provides nearly no insulation under your sleeping bag.  I recommend a foam filled air mattress like the Thermarest  or one of it's knockoffs.  They can be reasonably light and roll up small but do provide some insulation.  Non-inflatable foam sleeping pads can be light and do insulate well but aren't the first choice for comfort.
Actually, that's not quite true. Some air mattresses also have a high R-value. They are pricey, but Thermarest, for example, makes their NeoAir XTherm insulated air mattress (R 5.6). But it is still super lightweight and packs down to nothing.

But I agree that, generally, you have to pay attention to air mattresses when it comes to ground insulation.

Routes / Re: Traffic Free Trails
« on: February 13, 2018, 03:09:48 pm »
Thank you all, I'm quite happy riding gravel trails and singletrack so that, I guess gives me plenty of options.   Anything over 50 miles is good but, hopefully, I will be able to link up a series of trails as John Nettles has suggested.   The Katy trail looks promising as do the various canal paths.   I'm also quite taken with visiting Minnesota, lots to explore.

I think I'm going to be very busy on Google maps in the near future.

Thank you again.
Have you checked out:

They have a map to explore at:

General Discussion / Re: Road bike vs. Cyclo-cross bike
« on: February 13, 2018, 03:06:45 pm »
You might also want to check out the other variant on the classic road bike, what some manufacturers are now branding as a "gravel" bike. These bikes are very similar to road bikes and cx bikes, but they often have a somewhat more relaxed geometry to increase stability for all-day comfort and extra confidence on steep descents down gravel roads or trails. Frames also tend to emphasize the use of steel or carbon fibre for their strength and vibration dampening properties, and they are more likely to have mounting points for racks and extra bottle cages. They are also typically manufactured with disc brakes and they have wider chain stays and forks to accommodate larger tires, sometimes as wide as mountain bike tires, although you can easily run narrower tires also, to suit your preferred surface types on your favourite routes.

GPS & Digital Data Discussion / Re: GPS Advice
« on: February 02, 2018, 12:16:20 am »
Also remember that you don't need a bike-specific GPS. A small handheld with a handlebar mount works well, too, and often they are easier to load maps and routes on to.

The Garmin eTrex 20 or eTrex 30 are really popular models with the bikepacking crowd.

General Discussion / Re: Bike friendly airlines
« on: January 30, 2018, 10:36:13 am »
Although I have never flown with a bike using Air Canada, I generally avoid them for their poor customer service. And I suspect most Canadians would prefer the customer service of WestJet over Air Canada, if they have a preference.

WestJet is also based out of Calgary, meaning they have a lot of direct flights in and out of Calgary, which may be important if you are traveling across Canada.  And they have a large presence at the Calgary Airport with excellent service, in case that matters to you.

Best to call ahead to WestJet and Air Canada and ask about their policies. Note that Air Canada has been accused in the media many times recently as quoting one policy but enforcing another, so be sure to ask their customer service reps about where their policies can be found online so that you can verify that it matches what they offer verbally (I even recall a traveler's complaint with unexpected bicycle fees on Air Canada making it on the news within the last year, but I can't seem to find it now).

Hope your tour on the GD is fantastic.

Gear Talk / Re: Search for the perfect touring bike mirror
« on: January 04, 2018, 12:44:48 am »
I didn't like the sunglasses mounted mirror at first but quickly came to rely on it.  The Take A Look mirror offers a remarkably clear view of cars while they're still a long way back.
Another plug for the Take A Look mirror. I mount mine on the visor of my helmet with a zip-tie. A nice feature of this mirror is that it can fold under the visor if I don't need it.

Routes / Re: good months for the southern route
« on: December 18, 2017, 01:55:19 pm »
I know nothing about the weather in Texas in February, but in case you haven't seen it, does a great job summarizing climate normals for most major centers in North America. For example, here are the annual and typical February conditions for Austin:

Another vote for a garden sprayer. Lifesaver in the winter.

Routes / Re: Great Parks North Advice
« on: November 23, 2017, 02:22:18 pm »
I agree that you should try to start in Jasper - the Icefields Parkway and the Bow Valley Parkway are two of the most spectacular stretches of the entire route.

A few years ago, a buddy and me found a one-way car rental cheap ($68) to get from Calgary to Jasper. We just loaded up the bikes, dropped off the car, and biked home to Calgary. If you are flying into Calgary, that could be an option for you. It would also save you the hassle of getting from Calgary to Banff (we have terrible bikeways from the airport to the west side of the city, and some of the highway route between Calgary and Banff is less than pleasant.

If getting to Banff doesn't bother you, there are also bus shuttles to Jasper that allow you to bring your bike with you. That's another option that would be well worth the extra cost and travel time, IMO.

Routes / Re: Should/could I take my dog on the Great Divide Route?
« on: October 27, 2017, 01:29:46 pm »
Also, are you taking a trailer? If not, do you have a way to carry your dog if it became injured? The route takes you into some very remote areas, which could be a real concern if there were no way to easily pack out an injured pet.

Gear Talk / Re: Best Touring Wheelset
« on: October 19, 2017, 02:13:37 pm »
If you are looking for some durable, lightweight rims, these look pretty sturdy:    ;)

Routes / Re: Great Parks North Advice
« on: October 05, 2017, 01:55:42 pm »
Thanks for all the info guys. Much appreciated. Did everyone who has commented ride with panniers? I ride a lot, but have not done much touring, so I am debating whether to go for panniers or some sort of trailer (bob, burley...). I ride a raleigh merit, if that helps at all.
I have toured the Icefields Parkway and much of the rest of the Canadian portion of the route, both with a trailer and panniers - lots of climbing and breath-taking descents. Regarding panniers vs. trailers, there is no "better" way to do it - it is a personal choice, but there are lots of discussion threads on various forums throughout the internet on this topic. For people that have tried both, panniers generally emerge as the top choice. I have found panniers to be more enjoyable, particularly on the big downhill runs in the mountains where a trailer just didn't feel stable at higher speeds. And generally speaking, racks and panniers are lighter than pulling an equivalent load in a trailer, meaning that the uphill climbs won't feel so difficult, either.

Backcountry access through most of the southeastern corner of BC and southwestern corner of AB is now closed due to fire risk. Primary and secondary highways are still open, but that's about it.

General Discussion / Re: GPS Tracker
« on: July 19, 2017, 12:29:47 am »
The Delorme (now Garmin) InReach device is another great option. The device is more expensive, but the subscription plans are more flexible. Plus, in addition to GPS tracking, you can send and receive text messages via satellite service (no cell towers needed).

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