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Messages - KF8MO

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Awesome, this is wonderful stuff! Thanks so much -Lee

My wife and I are contemplating a tandem tour from Winnipeg, Manitoba to Ann Arbor, Michigan. The idea is to go south out of Winnipeg to pick up the old, pre-Bakken oil field Northern Tier route, continuing on to where it joins the current version of the route (and thence jumping off to the North Lakes). The section of the old NT would be well east of the truck and other heavy traffic that led the NT to be re-routed southerly, so I'm thinking it should still be good to ride. Any advice on that idea, and is there any source for the old route's maps? Thanks.

Routes / Re: Cross-Michigan tour?
« on: December 10, 2023, 01:15:24 pm »
If you want to make up your own route, and as Ray B says it's easy to do in Michigan, check out the state's bicycling maps:

They show traffic volumes and whether there's a usable shoulder. Our experience is that they're accurate.

My wife and I use a BOB Yak trailer, but it's because we ride a tandem. Getting enough pannier space for two people onto one bike is tough, plus the rear wheel of a tandem is already heavily loaded even when the bike isn't. Our system is pretty neatly divided: our camp goes in the trailer, packed in the order we take it out to set up. (We've never had problems with things shifting on us back there, but then we bundle it tightly.) Our clothing and such go in the rear panniers. All food and cookware, and anything else potentially interesting to bears, goes in the front panniers. That distribution seems to make our rig pretty stable riding, and is functional.

General Discussion / Re: Grizzlies in Yellowstone and Glacier
« on: December 30, 2022, 10:23:31 am »
On the bike, our front panniers contain our food, cooking stuff, and toiletries.

Ok, this thread is already slightly older and the last post 6 months ago. But still thank you for all the wonderful advice and suggestions which I will heed in another six months.

I am just wondering KF8MO: So you place your front panniers a couple of 100 ft from your tent - so if a bear smells it, it will take away the front panniers ? Or do you always have the possibility to hang them ?
I am considering obtaining a bearvault for the food during my tour, but the cooking stuff (plates, cup) probably do not fit in there - but I would not want to sacrifice some of my panniers (although having the choice between the panniers and myself, it seems rather obvious which one to take).

Thanks a lot for all the advice and suggestions, they are really helpful for someone from a bear-free country  :) !

The campgrounds in Canada that are road-accessible in bear country all have bear lockers, at least in Alberta and BC. Some of the ones way out in the backcountry have bear poles instead, but only a bikepacker would be able to reach those; our tandem isn't going there! Our front panniers go in the bear lockers, or could be hoisted up a bear pole if needed. In a few parks (e.g., Lake Louise) they have a food shed instead.

Attached is a photo of the bear lockers at one of the campgrounds in Banff National Park, with a little kid in it for scale. (Not ours - they're in their 30s.) As you can see, there's plenty of room for two sizeable panniers.

I wouldn't be keen to have our panniers ripped up either! In Michigan we were more concerned about raccoons and squirrels chewing through them. The parks there don't have lockers or poles, either. We kept the panniers in the tent vestibule there. If we were really worried, we'd probably ask one of the neighbouring car campers if we could put them in their trunk.

Gear Talk / Re: Two-wheeled trailer and rumble strips?
« on: December 09, 2022, 08:59:39 am »
We prefer the two-wheel trailer because it doesn't affect the tandem's balance at all. The single-wheel (a BOB Yak) has to be loaded carefully, with the weight concentrated low and distributed evenly. Otherwise it makes the tandem hard to keep straight at very low speeds, such as on a steep climb. It took a while on our bike tour this summer to really get it sorted out optimally. The BOB does earn its keep on narrow roads though.

Gear Talk / Re: Two-wheeled trailer and rumble strips?
« on: December 08, 2022, 07:57:57 pm »
My wife and I prefer our two-wheel trailer when touring with our tandem, but we've had to switch to a single-wheel trailer because of rumble strips. Many roads are not feasible with our two-wheel trailer, and riding in the traffic lane is not practical either.

Gear Talk / Re: Gear that I was glad to have taken
« on: November 16, 2022, 12:19:48 pm »
how does the BaoFeng BF-F8HP compare to the Yaesu VX-3R?

On the Yaesu website, they did not mention it could receive NOAA broadcasts.

I don't know how they compare, except that Yaesu's build quality is significantly better. The Yaesu's receive capability is quite wide, actually. NOAA, marine band, VHF public service, aviation, AM and FM broadcast stations, 6m ham, even shortwave broadcast (1.8-30 MHz).

Gear Talk / Re: Gear that I was glad to have taken
« on: November 16, 2022, 11:43:35 am »

While I've never taken an HT on tour, I've set up a bike many times to run portable for community service events. What HTs do you take with you? Do you use them during the day or just to pick up weather or emergencies?


We just use our little Yaesu VX-3Rs, but replace the rubber ducks (aka dummy loads) with longer antennas. We swap out the rechargeable batteries for the AA battery backs too. We do use them around camp or otherwise when we're split up. I also check our route against the repeater directory and have a list in case we need it. 73 DE KF8MO

Gear Talk / Re: Gear that I was glad to have taken
« on: November 10, 2022, 08:47:51 pm »
Out where we ride, I'm more amazed at when we do have connectivity  :)  My wife and I are ham radio operators (my name on the forum, KF8MO, is my callsign), and we take our HTs (very small portable ham radios) on tour with us. They receive, among other things, the NOAA/EC frequencies. NOAA in the US, EC (Environment Canada) up here. Don't leave home without it!

Gear Talk / Re: cooking System
« on: November 10, 2022, 06:23:14 pm »
I use a Trangia cookset (the model 25-5; even though it's just my wife and me, the "1-2 people" 27 is too small). Simple, rugged, reliable, easy to clean, and fuel can be found almost anywhere. I enjoy cooking in camp, and find it very versatile for all kinds of breakfasts and dinners.

Gear Talk / Re: Gear that I was glad to have taken
« on: November 10, 2022, 06:12:50 pm »
In areas with no cell coverage (most of our riding in the Canadian Rockies) the weather apps on my iPhone do no good, but I can get forecasts on our Garmin InReach Mini. Plus it'll let us text from where cell coverage isn't. It's tiny, light, and worth the peace of mind.

Gear Talk / Re: Chair
« on: July 31, 2022, 12:23:21 am »
My wife and I carry Helinox Zeros touring on our tandem. A pound each, but a splurge well worth the cost!

Gear Talk / Re: Need 90 PSI bicycle pump, a legitimate 90 PSI.
« on: July 27, 2022, 11:11:36 pm »
My wife and I use a Topeak Road Morph on our tandem. It does 120 psi without difficulty. It was easy to keep our tires topped up on the 2-week tour we just did.

General Discussion / Re: Grizzlies in Yellowstone and Glacier
« on: July 27, 2022, 11:07:27 pm »
My wife and I live in Alberta, and spend a lot of time in the Canadian Rockies both backpacking and bicycle touring. It is important to be conscientious in bear country. It's not hard to do, it's just important to be consistent about it. On the bike, our front panniers contain our food, cooking stuff, and toiletries. No food or food-related items ever go in the rear panniers or the BOB trailer bag. (We ride a tandem and pull a trailer.) We never eat in the tent. That's true whether we're in bear country or not, so our stuff never picks up food odors. Over-the-top stuff like worrying about clothes you wore while eating – yeah, no. (Unless you have bacon grease on your shirt.) We do keep the BOB bag in the vestibule of the tent, out of sight, though. Bears recognize coolers by sight, and a duffel bag may look enough like a cooler that if a bear can see it, s/he may "investigate". After which there wouldn't be much left!

The bear spray does stay within reach, too.

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