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Messages - dan_t

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Routes / Southern Tier road surfaces
« on: March 31, 2022, 04:57:55 pm »
I'm looking into riding the Southern Tier at some point in the next year. I rode the Northern Tier last summer, and one thing I didn't expect was the extent of chip seal roads, which shave about 2mph off my speed relative to smooth Maryland pavement. Washington, Idaho, Montana, and North Dakota were mostly chip seal, along with a lot of Illinois and Indiana. I'll be touring on vacation time, so my speed is a concern.

How are Southern Tier road surfaces? Rough chip seal? I've read that there is a lot in Texas.

Routes / Re: Delmarva
« on: March 20, 2022, 09:56:02 pm »
Just got back from the Delmarva route. My plan was to do 2.5 days (about 260 miles) on the Maryland alternate from the top of the Chesapeake Bay to the southern tip of the VA eastern shore, where I'd meet my girlfriend, who was running a marathon in Virginia Beach. On the last day, I had some strong headwinds (20-30mph) and knew I wouldn't be making it to the end of the peninsula by dark, so I quit after about 40 miles, just a few miles into VA, and caught a ride with my girlfriend. It was a bummer but that's how rigidly planned tours sometimes turn out.

A few observations:
* Chestertown hotel prices are steep -- $120+ taxes for a Red Roof Inn in March, which is still the Eastern Shore off season. I imagine that all the hotels will be very expensive during the summer. I stealth camped around Chestertown and stayed with a friendly Warmshowers host in Salisbury the next night.
* The roads are generally good quality, and either low traffic roads or busier roads with wide shoulders. I went over the Chesapeake City and Chestertown bridges during rush hour in the rain, and I was fine.
* I highly recommend taking Wildlife Drive through Blackwater Wildlife Refuge. It's just south of Key Wallace Drive. It's a narrow road through a marsh. It's one way, so if you're riding south, you'll have to do a loop.
* There is a road closed on the route SW of Vienna, MD, but there is a well-marked detour.
* The Wicomico River Ferry stopped at 6pm, which I did not make it to, so I went through Salisbury.

Routes / Re: NT Alternative between Cut Bank and St Mary in MT
« on: February 22, 2022, 10:02:14 pm »
I rode the NT last summer and from St. Mary, I took Duck Lake Road to Browning, then 89 to 44 through Valier, then met the main route. The plains start just east of Glacier NP. I think Duck Lake Road had some of the most impressive vistas on the trip. Traffic was very light from St. Mary to I-15.

Browning may be one of the most impoverished places I've ever been, and that's worth seeing firsthand. I camped at the campground just west of the town.

Routes / Re: Neah Bay to Port Angeles
« on: February 22, 2022, 09:52:32 pm »
I rode the Northern Tier last summer and wanted to do a full coast to coast route, so I started in the Olympic Peninsula. At the time, Neah Bay and La Push were closed to visitors (they're Indian reservations), but Rialto Beach just north of La Push was open. I took 101 to Port Angeles and on to Port Townsend. The traffic is a little busy, but it was manageable. There is a section without shoulders next to Lake Crescent. You can press a button on a sign that will alert drivers that there is a bike along the route. One advantage of starting at Rialto Beach is that there is a bus to Forks, and then another bus will drop you off in La Push (if it's open) or at Mora Road, about six miles from Rialto Beach.

Also, lots of people warned me about 20 between Discovery Bay and Port Townsend, but I rode it on Saturday about 6pm, and the traffic was light. I walked a spot that was steep and had no shoulder in case I needed to get out of the road.

Routes / Re: Indianapolis to Cincinnati
« on: February 22, 2022, 09:36:16 pm »
You could ride 52 for a bit, but the traffic is a little heavy, and it would be unpleasant/loud. If you stick to county roads, things would be a lot quieter.

Routes / Re: Outer Banks Route (North Carolina) -- Is there a bike shuttle?
« on: February 22, 2022, 09:34:17 pm »
Very nice, I like riding there. Definitely go northbound. Winds are strong and mostly out of the south. 

I rode south in May 2020 and had a 25 mph tailwind. A pair of tourers were heading north and looked miserable. I had actually planned to ride north, but I saw the predicted wind direction and made a last minute decision to do it the opposite way.

Routes / Re: Delmarva
« on: February 22, 2022, 09:31:05 pm »
I haven't ridden the whole route, but I'm planning to ride either the east or west route to Virginia Beach next month, and I've done a fair amount of riding in eastern MD, Delaware, and the Outer Banks. In my opinion, the western part of the route in Maryland seems like it would be better than the Delaware part. I've done a few rides through Blackwater Wildlife Refuge, and it's awesome. Basically a road through a swamp. The coast all looks the same, so to me, that further tilts things to the western route through Blackwater.

Further north, the East Coast Greenway around Wilmington and New Castle is one of the most impressive urban trail systems that I've ever ridden on. I'm not sure if the ACA route goes through there. I don't have the maps yet.

On the coast, the big variable is the wind. I had a 25 mph tailwind heading south through the Outer Banks in May 2020 and it was great, but there was a pair of tourers heading north into that wind, each with a four pannier set up, and they looked absolutely miserable.

Routes / Re: South Bend IN to Dunes NP
« on: February 22, 2022, 09:12:01 pm »
I haven't ridden that route specifically, but I grew up in the area and have a sense of what the traffic is like. And I rode from South Bend airport to Valparaiso a few years ago. Generally, I'd recommend avoiding 2, 12, 20, 35 and all of the other state or US roads. Some have shoulders, but speed limits are 55+. Cars are not used to seeing cyclists on them, and it will be a loud, unpleasant ride. Most of the county roads are fine. There are a few with 50 mph speed limits, but roads are generally flat and straight, so cars will see you from a distance and slow down. It looks like you can take county roads to Michigan City or Chesteron without too much zigzagging.

Since you're going to the park, I'll mention that the national park itself is underwhelming. All the good hikes etc are in Indiana Dunes State Park, which is surrounded by the national park. Trail 9 in the state park is my favorite.

General Discussion / Re: Northern Tier 100+ miles a day
« on: September 13, 2021, 11:17:43 am »
Glad you made it; the conditions this year were sort of tough compared to normal. 

Out of curiosity, since your original question is not an uncommon one (is 100 miles per day unreasonable), would you do this tour again like this or would you change something?  Things you regret and were glad about? 

Tailwinds, John

I think I'd mostly do things the same. 100 miles a day on average. Fewer in the west. Unless I did two passes a day in Washington, there had to be some 40 mile days. Then I did high mileage days where it was flatter. The route is pretty far north, so there is enough light to do 14-15 hour days.

I'm glad I took a recumbent. It's a little slower, but it's no problem to sit on it 14 hours a day. It's also better for checking out the vistas. On my road bike, I spend a lot of time looking down at the ground.

Maybe I'd take a somewhat faster recumbent, maybe something that climbs better. But there is often a trade off between climbing speed and speed on flats.

I had some tire trouble. Washington and Montana chip seal tore up my rear tire pretty quickly. I wouldn't get something super heavy, but I ended up needing something more durable than the Panaracer Pasela Tourguard that I started with.

And I'll try to build in some time for unexpected setbacks on my next tour. I didn't expect the heat wave, and I couldn't ride through it. Fortunately I was able to work during those days off and push back my end date.

General Discussion / Re: Northern Tier 100+ miles a day
« on: September 13, 2021, 12:12:49 am »
Hi everyone, just a report back. I did the Northern Tier in 48 days -- 43 days of riding and five days off. I had planned on 40 days of riding and three days off, so not way different than my original plan. My overall average was about 100 miles a day.

I had planned to do 100 miles a day every day through Washington and western Montana, but that turned out to be too much. I could only do one mountain pass a day, and the days that I did do 100 miles out west, it was really tough. I was on a loaded recumbent that climbs pretty slowly. And until North Dakota, every road is chip seal, which slowed me down quite a bit.

It was also super hot. I avoided the worst of the NW heat wave, but it was mid-to-high 90s all the way through Washington, Idaho, and Montana. At least in Montana, that's quite a bit hotter than usual. I had to take off three days in Great Falls to avoid 100+ temps in some remote areas of eastern Montana.

For the ~3000 miles after Great Falls, it was fine. I worked something out with my boss so I could work a little along the way, which made my end date a little more flexible. I did 100-135 most days from Great Falls to Bar Harbor, unless there was heavy rain or I met up with friends/family.

I'll say that doing the trip in 48 days was only possible because I took a recumbent (a well-used second-hand Bacchetta). I didn't have any issues with saddle sores or hand, neck, or back pain. The recumbent is a bit slower (especially climbing), but I was able to do 14 hour days and never really needed any recovery time. I just rode slow and steady all day.

Thanks for all the advice and encouragement. Washington and western Montana really felt like a reality check, and I look back at my original itinerary with some humility. But 100 a day on the Northern Tier is possible! And I really enjoyed it!

If so, I'll mail them to you.

General Discussion / Re: Northern Tier 100+ miles a day
« on: May 17, 2021, 09:09:49 pm »
Thanks for all of the advice. It's helpful to anticipate all of these issues.

I did a fairly hilly 75 mile ride on Saturday, and on Sunday, I did a 50 mile ride that included ten repeats up a 4% grade until I hit 3000 ft, so like a pass through the Cascades. Both days were fully loaded, the latter with some rain. I felt great. I'll have to scale it up 50% on the tour, but it doesn't seem like a problem.

General Discussion / Re: Northern Tier 100+ miles a day
« on: May 12, 2021, 03:59:48 pm »
Thanks for all the comments. Yeah, I've only been doing 100 a week and sometimes less. That's said, I usually do all of it in one day, so I'm regularly doing high mileage rides.

I've given a lot of thought to the wind. I have an app called Predict Wind that seems to work pretty well. If it's looking like I'll have headwinds, I'll get out early to beat the afternoon wind, stop if it gets too bad, and do laundry, sleep, etc. If it's looking like I'll have tailwinds, I'll do 160+ miles. I'm also riding a recumbent, which helps. Sound like a plan?

I'm a little worried about the Cascades. I'm planning to do 70-80 miles each day through there and making up the mileage other days. I rode Hurricane Ridge a few years ago which has about the same elevation gain of Washington Pass but in half the distance. I hadn't ridden much that summer, but I made it ok. Being on a recumbent complicates things because they don't climb as well.

I've been thinking about back up plans. I can cut 500-600 off the trip by riding home to Maryland (via rail trails) rather than to Maine. Or my boss would probably be ok with me taking a few more days, especially if I take a break and work for a while.

I'm mainly doing the tour for the physical challenge, to see some new states and regions, and for solitude.

General Discussion / Re: Northern Tier 100+ miles a day
« on: May 10, 2021, 03:43:18 pm »
Why in the world would you want ride at that pace? Enlighten me please.

I don't have much time off work, and I get kind of bored off the bike, especially if I'm camping. 110 is 7am to 6pm for me, with eight hours of riding and three hours of breaks.

General Discussion / Northern Tier 100+ miles a day
« on: May 10, 2021, 01:40:39 pm »
I'm planning to do the Northern Tier in 40 days, which is about 110 a day. I'm a little worried about whether I can do a century a day for six weeks. I've been doing a lot of distance riding for the past few months but undershot my goal of 100 miles a week. I've done loaded rides of 96 miles and 142 miles within the last month and felt pretty good during and after them. I was tired toward the end of the 142 mile one, but walked ten miles the next day and was fine. I have six more weeks to train. I'm training in a hilly area. I've tried to get some time out on windy days. I'm planning three rest days that I'm not counting in my 40 days of riding.

For context, I'm 36, overall good shape, though I'd like to lose 10 pounds in the next six weeks. I've done several tours of 5-7 days but never more than that. Last year I did 400 flat miles in three days, and I've done several one day rides of 140-200 miles in the past few year. I have a decent grasp of my food and hydration needs.

I'll camp half the days and stay in hotels the others. I won't cook. I'm riding a recumbent with 20 lbs of gear.

Does this sound crazy? Do you think I'll start to hate it a few days in?

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