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Messages - dombrosk

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Routes / Norther Tier-Libby to Whitefish MT
« on: January 13, 2007, 11:38:08 am »
In case others planning a Northern Tier tour look into this thread to consider detouring on their rides, I wanted to put in my two cents.  The ride from Libby up to Eureka is spectacular.  On my Seattle to East Glacier ride this segment was just about my favorite stretch.
Although you are on a paved highway, the traffic is so light you might think you're on a bike path.  There is a beautiful (artificial) lake on one side, an interesting dam and bridge to visit, good camping, and a real sense of isolation.
The hills do look daunting on the elevation profiles, but unless you are starting your ride here, they won't feel any worse than other stretches to the east and the west.  I found them to have an enjoyable roller-coaster effect, but then I enjoy riding in the rain too, so I may have some crossed wires.  :)

Routes / Northern Tier - Curlew Alternate
« on: April 04, 2005, 10:11:45 pm »
Does anyone has experience regarding staying on WA-20 vs. the Curlew alternate for the Northern Tier in central Washington?  
The Adventure Cycling addenda page for the alternate gives good riding information, and the alternate loop looks pleasant on my Rand McNally, but it would be nice to hear from anybody who's ridden either course.

Routes / Seattle - Anacortes
« on: March 18, 2005, 01:11:42 am »
I want to pass along to the forum that I've received some very helpful advice on this trip from the Cascade Cycling Club,

That site has a pdf file of a mapped inland route direct from Seattle up to the Northern Tier near Sedro-Wooley.

Also, generous cyclists have posted multiple favorite routes around both east and west shores of Puget Sound up to Anacortes.  To check out these responses,
go to the  web site, click on community, message boards, then go to the "buddy board".

My thread is entitled "Seattle to Anacortes"

Or if you'd like, just e-mail me at and I'll forward the whole thread and the pdf file to you!

Routes / Seattle - Anacortes
« on: March 09, 2005, 12:16:41 am »
Very *specific* route question.
In June I'll be taking Amtrak from St. Paul, MN, to Seattle, staying for a few days with my niece in West Seattle, then peddling home along the Northern Tier.
I'd like to ride up Whidbey Island to Anacortes.
What's my best route?
 1. Seattle inland to Mulkiteo-Clinton and north?
 2. Seattle-Bainbridge to Townsend-Keystone?
If you know the area, I'd love as many *specific* tips as possible.  Feel free to forward this note to friends in the Seattle area, or to reply personally to my email:
Thanks Adventurers!

I've had very good experiences on the Empire Builder with my bike.

I've never been asked to open up the box, I've arrived with it sealed up.

I've seen bike boxes lying on their side on the carts going out to the train, but when I asked they told me that they load them into the baggage car upright.

For your other luggage, you might think about checking through a cardboard box that you could break down and discard/recycle at Williston.

The Empire Builder does not have bike hooks... I know that some trains have those, which is very nice for folks who commute by train and bike.

Both times I've boxed my bike I was lucky to get a free box by asking at the station ahead of time--many folks who arrive with bikes just leave the boxes for the next user.  Be careful to check the box, though!  One used box I got had been cut down to a shorter length to make a custom fit for a smaller bike.

Because my bike has upright style bars with bar ends, I needed to pull the handle bar up and out and duct tape it to the top tube.  Not much of a problem, but a good reason to not wait until the night before (or at the station) to box your bike.

Have a great trip!

General Discussion / Shortwave Radio
« on: May 05, 2007, 04:26:32 pm »

The National Weather service broadcasts continuous weather information over VHF radio, including severe storm warnings, across much of the U.S.

My experience touring with a small AM/FM/Weatherband radio has been that service is reliable in agricultural or populated areas, and less common in mountainous/forested regions.

To see what areas are covered:
For more information on the service:

General Discussion / good experiences with motorists
« on: May 05, 2007, 04:44:01 pm »

I appreciate the positive notes this thread is adding to our forum.  My favorite experience involving vehicles occurred after the long, narrow, and winding eastbound climb to Wauconda on the Northern Tier.

Having plenty of time to think, as I was on a solo tour, I realized that I could categorize vehicles coming up behind me by sound.  Tires on pavement meant passenger vehicle, and I kept pedalling.  But if all I could hear was the groan of a diesel, I knew it was a big rig and I took advantage of the moment to pull over completely off the road, turn around, and wave at the trucker with a big smile.

At first, the drivers seemed a bit surprised, but after a moment they grinned and waved back.  Then something strange happened.  I noticed truckers coming down the hill towards me slowing down, flashing their lights, and waving at me with smiles.

When I got to the wonderful cafe/post office/liquor store/chinese restaurant near the top, I went in for a cheeseburger and a milk shake.

As I waited for my food, an old timer with a white beard down into his lap gazed at me from the next booth.

"You are one of the few," he said.

"How's that?"

"You are one of the few who know how to ride a bicycle on these roads.  We've been talking about you for a while now.  If every cyclist through here rode like you we'd have a lot fewer close calls."

I'll never forget that day and that encounter.  Yes, as cyclists we have the legal right to claim the road.  But as a person on vacation, I'll always be willing to tip my helmet to the working person and help them as they wrestle their big rig up a narrow road!

p.s. Interesting comment on hybrids... my sound taxonomy will fall apart when I'm being passed by a Prius!

General Discussion / Your Local Bike Shop
« on: March 24, 2007, 11:50:53 am »
It's sad to hear that there are so many folks with bad experiences with local shops.  I am fanatically loyal to my local bike shop, which is *not* part of a 'chain' despite being named the 'bicycle chain'.  They've helped me modify my ancient hybrid bike to be a great touring/commuting workhorse without ever trying to sell me something I didn't need or want.  Sometimes I'll buy the 50% off eVENT rain jacket I'll spot on-line, but more often I'll do my research on the web and then print out the item for my LBS to order for me.  If you would be OK with your local bike shop closing, then definitely don't shop there.  Otherwise, consider using your dollars to vote for local businesses.

General Discussion / inconsiderate drivers
« on: January 09, 2007, 08:08:33 pm »
In addition to bright colors, I ride with a Cateye 5-led red rear flasher, and a Cateye 3-led white front flasher running at all times, even on sunny days.  

On multiple occasions I've had drivers come up to me at cafes to thank me for being so visible.  My white front flasher uses  4 AA batteries which last about forever on flash mode, while the rear flasher eats 2 AAA batteries about once a week while on tour, or about once a month for commuting.

Being visible helps a lot, but there will be those times when you run into that driver who just seems to hate cyclists.  My approach has always been to not react. It seems to me any response is far more likely to escalate the situation while distracting me from my riding.

The sad thing is that there are also some bicyclists out there who's riding styles do incite justifiable anger in motorists.  By taking the kind of courtesy approaches mentioned earlier in this thread, we can make the roads safer for ourselves and our fellow riders.

General Discussion / Amtrak Boxes for Tall Bikes?
« on: January 16, 2006, 07:55:56 pm »
Fortunately, I happen to have an Amtrak box in the basement!  The height measures 41".

My bike is not especially tall (nor am I), but when I packed up I pulled my handlebars "up and out" and duct taped them to the frame because of my bar ends.  Not a big deal, and I am a bicyclist of VERY limited mechanical proficiency.  (Others who know better might well suggest other solutions.)

I've had many great experiences on Amtrak, with and without a bike along.  Happy Training!


General Discussion / Camping or Cheap Moteling?
« on: March 02, 2005, 10:28:37 pm »
I enjoy camping for the sake of camping, so I aim for 3/4 nights in the tent to every 1 in a motel.
I do not enjoy commercial (KOA type) campgrounds or National Park campgrounds even while car camping.  My favorite place to camp is in "National Forest" campgrounds.  They are usually much less crowded and provide more of an "outdoors" experience.  Also, cheaper, although that's just a bonus for me.  You'll generally find water, a pit toilet / latrine, and a fire pit, and that's about it.
Almost never will there be electricity, which is a huge plus, as far as I'm concerned!  ;)
Wherever you choose to sleep, I hope you enjoy your tour in the States!

General Discussion / Loading for touring
« on: January 02, 2005, 07:51:26 pm »
Deciding what to take is very personal.  At the ACA road touring class last summer our guide mentioned that we often pack things to protect us against our fears.  I carry spare tubes and a spare tire against flats and sidewall failures... but I don't carry dog spray.  Somebody else might just carry a tire patch kit, but a giant can of mace.
Last summer was my first summer of touring.  I managed to get in about a thousand miles "loaded" in preparation for doing half of the Northern Tier next summer.  After I do that ride, I'll probably have an entirely new packing list!  :)

I've put together an Excel template file that lets you input your gear weights and provides a graph showing how balanced/unbalanced your load is.  If you'd like a copy of this file, feel free to e-mail me at and I'll be glad to send it along.

General Discussion / Intro to road touring class
« on: December 25, 2004, 12:57:46 pm »
Last June I took the Intro class/tour in Wisconsin.  It was a very worthwhile experience.  The instruction was a nice blend of listening/watching/doing and our group tour was great fun.  Afterwards I solo'd about 300 miles of the Northern Tier and the information we got at the class came in very helpful.

General Discussion / touring
« on: December 02, 2004, 12:45:11 am »
Last summer I took advantage of Adventure Cycling's Introduction to Road Touring class and it was a great experience.  The instruction was great, and the week was a vacation in itself.  Sorry if this seems like a testimonial, but I'd really recommend that anybody looking for a well-organized introduction to touring consider these classes!
By the way, after our class, I did a solo tour from along 300 miles of the Mississippi River, and next summer I'm tackling the first half of the Northern Tier... ;-)

General Discussion / Knee injury
« on: January 14, 2005, 12:35:12 am »
I had near-crippling knee pain about 10 years ago, and was advised to try a cross-country ski machine to strengthen the muscles holding my kneecap in place.  After a few weeks of that exercise, my knees came back into shape again.

Now, when I tour, I intentionally push very little for the first 5 or 10 miles of each day's ride.  That and varying my seat height during the day (easier if you have a quick release seat post) have kept my knees going.

Because your situation is unique to you, I'd suggest getting some advice from a physical therapist.  Some (NOT all) MD's can be a little quick to suggest surgery, while PT's have been very helpful for me.
Good luck!

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