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Messages - great_egret

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Canada / Re: Northern Ontario — Lake Huron
« on: July 31, 2017, 10:32:07 am »
I just found the answer to my own question  :D

Waterfront Regeneration Trust's Waterfront Trail webpage says it will be completed in April 2018:

Canada / Re: Northern Ontario — Lake Huron
« on: July 31, 2017, 10:05:35 am »
This is great GeeGee.  Thanks for sharing. 

Do you know the status of the Georgian Bay section of the the Waterfront Trail?  This is the route from Owen Sound to Sudbury through Manitoulin Island.  I've read that some routes are being implemented in 2017, but I wasn't really clear if implementation meant open for trail users or project implementation. 


Oh, boy! that stretch of 93 just west of Whitefish was the worst and most dangerous section of my entire NTR tour in 2016.  So I hear you on that.

I'm glad to hear the hiker/biker sites in Whitefish Lake SP are complete.  When I was there they were just a few spots of with a ton of pea gravel as the pad.

I love Bull Lake.  I camped at Bad Medicine and loved it.  I'll have to head to Dorr Skeels next time.

I can almost smell the fried chicken at Frontier. Perfect place to stop after the climb around Koocanusa.  NFDR 228 on the Western side of Koocanusa is much better than 37.  Ride it next if haven't ever.

Thanks for sharing.  I wasn't able to take my tour this year, so it's nice to see the pics too.  Especially the sun road.

Routes / Gravel Roads/Alternative Routes along the Northern Tier
« on: March 31, 2017, 07:33:00 pm »
I'll be traveling along the Northern Tier in late May and early June. I'm headed west to east from Anacortes and ending at Glacier where I'll take the Amtrak to MSP.   This will be my second trip along this route, so I know I will want to explore some towns and campgrounds I didn't last time.  I'll also want to find some good alternative routes and gravel roads to ride.  Last time I took River Road near Cabinet  and rode the gravel road into Montana (I'm considering staying at the Amber Bear Inn this time). I also rode FR 228 on the west side of Lake Koocanusa.  That was one of the best rides in my trip.  I saw a lot of wildlife and only the only vehicle I saw was a motorcycle that past me with a friendly wave from the rider coming from the opposite direction. Last time I also planned an alternative route too stay off hwy 2 longer between Glacier and Whitefish. It added about five miles to my day, but I got to see a moose.   Hwy 93 between Eureka and Whitefish is pure cycling misery.  If the roads are open, this spring I am planning on taking the GDMBR from Eureka to Whitefish with a stop in Polebridge. 

With the understanding that there has been record snowfalls this year in Washington, could any of you seasoned NT route touring cyclists and bikepackers suggest any great gravel and/or forest roads to take as alternative routes along or near the Northern Tier? I know Indyfabz has some knowledge here.  You've given some good tips in the past on here.  Do you have any suggestions?

Thanks!  Looking forward to seeing some of you folks out there this spring.

If you're using any of the apps suggested by mdxix, put your smartphone in airplane mode while keeping your "location services" on. This will allow these apps to be used while your smartphone conserves battery power by not searching for cell signals.

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General Discussion / Re: Hire of touring bike in Seattle
« on: March 26, 2017, 07:45:07 pm »
Most rental shops expect you to pick up and drop off the bike at the same location.  If you are riding part of the Northern Tier route together, how are you going to get the rental bike back to the shop where you got it?
I wonder if a renter could work it out to pick up the bike at REI in Seattle and drop it off at REI in Sandpoint. Two weeks is plenty of time to do that mileage. (I'm thinking out loud here, I haven't actually called REI).

Edit: never mind I see Sandpoint doesn't have an REI, but Spokane does and they could dip down there from Colville instead of riding hwy 20.

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General Discussion / Re: Hire of touring bike in Seattle
« on: March 26, 2017, 07:06:47 am »
Give REI in Seattle a call. They rent kayaks, bikes, and camping equipment. They may even rent panniers. If you're heading out of Anacortes, give local bike shops a call. Skagit Cycle Center offers weekly rates for bicycle rentals:

If you're starting elsewhere, give local bike shops a call. If they don't offer rentals (most do), they'll know who does.

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Gear Talk / Re: Advice on Lower Gearing
« on: March 25, 2017, 11:31:50 am »
The article, "A Big Shift" in the April 2016 issue of Adventure Cyclist is a good primer on the confusing world of drive trains for touring bikes.  The blog Cycling About has some very specific solutions to getting down to the desired 20 gear inches.  Check out the post here:

The biggest issue is your crank.  Depending on your wheel size, with your 34t inner ring, it won't be possible to get below 29-ish gear inches with a 32t rear cog and 27-ish gear inches with a 34t rear cog. 

Compatibility is confusing and hopefully the Adventure Cyclist article and the Cycling About blog post clarify things.  There are good solutions.  They become easier and more expensive the more willing you are to swap out drive train components.

Gear Talk / Re: Gear Inches for the Northern Tier
« on: April 23, 2016, 10:38:39 am »

Late May is when I started from Seattle both times. Three days up to the NT at Bay View, WA, a bit east of Anacortes. Don't know what the winter was like this year, but the winter of '98-'99 was really snowy. We got rained on then snowed on crossing Rainy and Washington Passes. Winthrop to Tonakset was quite warm. Then we woke to flurries in Republic and had more on the descent from Sherman Pass.

Howard Miller Steelhead Park in Rockport, WA has Adirondack shelters. Nice amenity if it's cold and wet like it was when we were there. This spring, construction will start on biker sites at Whitefish Lake State Park. Don't know when they will be ready, and it's my understanding from people that the train noise at the park can be disturbing.

In '00 I went to Glacier, rode up the west slope of Going to the Sun then back down, then backtracked to Columbia Falls/Whitefish and took the Great Parks North to Missoula. I then continued on the TransAm to Yellowstone and eventually ended up on Cortez, CO via the Great Parks South. I prefer Sprague Creek Campground in Glacier. It's within walking distance of the Lake McDonald lodge. If you don't mind being dependent upon the shuttle, Avalanche Campground might make more sense. Shop for groceries in W. Glacier, before you enter the park. The selection at the store at the lodge is more along the lines of "junk food."

In '11 and '14 I did two loops out of Missoula on the TA as far east as Twin Bridges. I will actually be back in MSO on June 14th for another loop that will take me as far east as Ennis before I head north and then west back to MSO. If you don't mind some (about 6.5 miles) of pretty easy gravel, don't pass up the Old Darby Rd. Alternative between Hamilton and Darby, MT. Great views and quitter than U.S. 93. Shop in Darby as the grocery selection at the Sula Country Store & Campground is very limited (the breakfast is good), and the store portion closes at 5 p.m. When I got there in '14 at about 5:02 the store was dark and locked up tight. This year I plan to stay at Spring Gulch Campground (U.S.F.S.), which is a few miles west of there, just for something different. There is a cyclist-only site there.

If you want a real dirt challenge, take Gibbons Pass east of Sula if it's open. I did it in '11. The west slope is narrow and rough in places, but doable with sturdy, wide tires. (I ride 35c.) But it really is like being in the backcountry, and it's shorter that Lost Trail/Chief Jospeh Passes. While climbing the west slope I encountered one vehicle. The east side is a totally different experience. Wide, mostly gentle grade with a good dirt surface.

West slope:

East slope:

The mosquitoes in Wisdom will eat you alive. In fact, there is a little climb about 8 miles before town, as you pass a ranch, where they are really bad. Groceries are relatively limited, but The Crossings at Fetty's serves up great grub. Didn't check on the condition of the screened shelter in the American Legion park. I pitched my tent in there back in '00. In '11 we got a motel room in town. (The GF wanted no part of the bugs.) In '14 I pushed on to Jackson and camped at the hot springs resort. Pricey (close to $30, IIRC), but that comes with use of the hot springs pool and a large towel, which is a nice treat. The food there is good, and there is another place in town, but no grocery store.

I know people often like to stay in Dillon, MT because of the size and availability of services, but I highly recommend the Bike Camp in Twin Bridges. First class facility in a nice setting along the Beaverhead river, and it's free (donations strongly recommended). The town also has a very good grocery/liquor store, library with Internet access and a couple of restaurants. The fishing access campground just outside of the center of Ennis was tranquil when I was there in '00. Plan to stay there this year.

Send me a PM if you can handle dirt (some of it rough in places) and want a really sweet detour off the TransAm after Big Hole Pass east of Jackson that ultimately takes you to Twin Bridges. There is a way you can do it without the dirt, but that way passes through Dillon on the way to Twin Bridges and adds even more miles.

Those pictures of Gibbons Pass make me want to be out there now.  I have the desire, tires, and other equipment to make it work.  Adventure Cycling's Lewis & Clark map 5 has Gibbons Pass mapped out well.  How did you determine if it was open?  Did you ask around in Sula (possibly at the ranger station there?) or is there another resource?

Right now the plan is to take Gibbons Pass.  Thanks for the pics and other information.  It makes planning even more fun.   

Gear Talk / Re: Gear Inches for the Northern Tier
« on: April 05, 2016, 09:11:13 am »

While it was some time ago, I did the entire NT W to E and, the following year, the western portion to Glacier a second time. If you are a light, strong person with a lighter load, 19.3 should be o.k. During my rides, I was about 50 lbs. heavier than you are carried a lot of weight thanks to a lot of film camera equipment. Bike and gear placed on a truck stop scale was 90 lbs. Low gear was a 22x34. Worked out fine, though I struggled in some places, such as right out of blocks from Colonial Creek Campground on WA 20.

I highly recommend doing the mileage into AB. I was there again in '09 during a loop from/to Whitefish, MT. The towne campsite in Waterton Village is in a dramatic setting and is a good place for a day off. Just don't underestimate the ride there from St. Mary. I found it harder than Logan Pass in Glacier. Another harder-than-it-looks section is between Libby and Eureka. Lots of ups and downs along the lake that can wear you out. South from Eureka follow the ACA route proper. The detours off U.S. 93 are a nice break and pretty. If you need a break along that stretch, go off route the .25 miles to the mercantile in the center of Olney. (You will see a blue sign pointing towards the town center.) The place has a neat collection of old pop/soda bottles. Also follow the ACA route between Whitefish and W. Glacier. There is a section of U.S. 2 between Columbia Falls and Hungry Horse that has no shoulder. I stayed on U.S. 2 the second time. I made it alive, but I went very early in the morning. U.S. 2 can be much noisier whereas the ACA route through Blankenship is low traffic. After Blankenship Bridge, it is unpaved, but it's manageable.

What time of year are you planning on starting?

These tips are really helpful.  So much good information from folks that have done this before. I'll start out in Anacortes in late May.  I'll follow the NT route until I get to Glacier.  I plan on spending some time in MT and WY.  First in Glacier, then head down to Missoula via the Great Parks North route, then down to Yellowstone/Teton via the TA route, back up to catch the Northern tier in Dickinson, ND via Great Falls along the the Lewis & Clark. Weather, time, or other route interests may change this plan.  I've never done a tour where I didn't change the route a least a little bit for all three reasons. 

Gear Talk / Re: Gear Inches for the Northern Tier
« on: April 03, 2016, 07:21:43 pm »
I can't comment about the Northern Tier, but 22x34 is my standard low gear, and is often used particularly once the grade exceeds 10%.

For my new bike project currently underway, I'm doing away with the big ring altogether, and instead will use a 36/22 chainset with an 11-36 cassette.

I have a gravel bike with 46/36 chainrings and 11-36 cassette.  It's such a fun ride.  36/22 would be a blast on some steep hills I bet. Are you using a chainkeeper? 36/22 is a big jump.

Gear Talk / Re: Gear Inches for the Northern Tier
« on: April 03, 2016, 07:04:47 pm »
You can usually stretch a Shimano derailer rating by at least a couple of inches, so a 34 should work with the existing Sora derailer.

I can find an 11-34 cheaply. I might give it a try.  I'll have to really crank down on that B screw, or get a longer screw. The bigger issue might be the capacity of the Sora rear mech.  It's 41t and I'm already pushing that at 43t with 44-32-22 chainrings and 11-32 cassette.  If I go to an 11-34 it'll exceed the capacity by 4 at 45t.  It'll be fun to try it out before my tour, though.

I rode from Glacier west on the NT.  Most of WA 20 is limited to 6% grades, which is doable with 20 gear inches.  IIRC, there were a few steeper stretches on Loup Loup (which I didn't mind, as I was going downhill!), but they were fairly short.  Also, there's 3/4 mile of 8% going east of Tonasket that was aggravating because there was a school zone and stop sign right at the bottom -- nowhere to let it run out.  Grr.  All that climbing gone to waste.

But I digress.  You'll have to climb that, which will be easier early in the morning when you're fresh.  The rest of the Washington passes, and Idaho and western Montana, was not a major problem.  Though we had some 3,500 miles in our legs by the time we got to Glacier, which might have some bearing on my perception!  Also, if the NT is like the TransAm, the worst grades are in the east (Virginia, Kentucky, and Missouri on the TA).

Finally, don't be ashamed if you need to walk a few hundred yards.  It's still human powered travel.  And while road builders can build roads you may not be able to ride up, even when they truck the equipment and material around to the top so they can pave going down they can't pave a road you can't walk up!

Such good advice and tips!  Thanks Pat.  After long miles of all day climbing, I may have to walk more than a few hundred yards. :-)

Gear Talk / Re: Gear Inches for the Northern Tier
« on: April 03, 2016, 07:00:01 pm »
Did the N. Cascades Northern Tier w/ 17 chain inches.  I love extra low cause I prefer to carry more gear than most. 
Anyway going west to east w/ 17 worked out fine ... I would not have wanted less cause then I would have fallen over from going too slowly :- ).
- Wishing you a great tour.

Thanks BikePacker.  I'm so excited for this tour.  What do you consider more gear then most, weight wise?  I'm thinking of carrying no more than 50 lbs, likely less and I'm on the lighter side at 140 lbs.

Gear Talk / Re: Gear Inches for the Northern Tier
« on: April 03, 2016, 07:08:46 am »
Since you're using SRAM barend shifters, this really isn't an issue. We could talk for ages about this because it can get quite technical.  Mostly because there are so many options out there, many of which are not compatible. To simplify the answer:

There are not many options for low gears while using road STI shifters, or "brifters" as they are sometimes called.  This is especially true for bikes with Shimano 10 and 11-speed STI shifters.  Shimano doesn't make a road drivetrain with the low gears that are required for fully loaded touring. The solution has been to combine road STI shifters with MTB drivetrains.  However, when shimano came out with the 10-speed STI shifter, they were not comaptible with MTB derailleurs.  9-speed Shimano STI shifters still are.  SRAM STI shifters are still compatible with 10-speed MTB derailleurs.

If I wanted to swap out my 11-32 cassette for an 11-34 or 11-36, I would have to replace the rear Sora (road) derailleur for a Deore (MTB) derailleur.  Since I have 9-speed STI shifters, this is compatible.  If I had 10- or 11-speed Shimano STI shifters, I'd probably ditch the entire groupset and go with the White Industries crankset I mentioned above combined with SRAM derailleurs.

If you want a more detailed answer than I can give you here, the latest Adventure Cyclist (April 2016) has a good article on drive trains for cycling tourists:

Also, Alee from has a good blog post about road shifters and drivetrains for getting up hills:

Gear Talk / Re: Gear Inches for the Northern Tier
« on: April 02, 2016, 10:52:56 pm »
My derailer says SRAM X7 10 speed
You can go as high as a 36t cog with the X7.

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