Author Topic: Gear Inches for the Northern Tier  (Read 5799 times)

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Offline great_egret

Re: Gear Inches for the Northern Tier
« Reply #15 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. 

Offline RussSeaton

Re: Gear Inches for the Northern Tier
« Reply #16 on: April 05, 2016, 01:10:38 pm »
I didn't know what shifters I had but the paperwork in my bike folder it says I have SRAM TT. I am curious how the shifters impact the cassette size?

SRAM TT is bar end shifters for SRAM.  For time trial, triathalon, and touring bikes.  Not sure how SRAM handles compatibility between road and mountain shifters and derailleurs.  Supposedly with Shimano, road and mountain shifters and derailleurs are not compatible sort of since 10 speed began.  Not sure if SRAM allows mixing any and all speeds with any and all shifters and derailleurs.

Shifters effecting cassette size?  No effect at all.  If you have a 10 speed shifter of any kind, road or mountain or time trial, and the right rear derailleur, short or long cage depending on how big the cassette is, it will shift any cassette of any size, road or mountain, with 10 cogs.  Staying with Shimano brand only.  Or SRAM brand only.  You can mix and match Shimano and SRAM chains and cassettes just fine.  But for simplicity lets restrict to all Shimano or all SRAM.  What has to be matched is shifter-derailleur-chain-cassette cogs.  9 speed SRAM shifter, 9 speed SRAM derailleur, 9 speed chain, 9 speed cassette cogs.

Offline Nyimbo

Re: Gear Inches for the Northern Tier
« Reply #17 on: April 05, 2016, 02:25:13 pm »
Thanks Russ that helps!

indyfabz

  • Guest
Re: Gear Inches for the Northern Tier
« Reply #18 on: April 05, 2016, 02:27:56 pm »
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.

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:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/davez2007/14553785051/in/album-72157645062932708/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/davez2007/14555580304/in/album-72157645062932708/

East slope:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/davez2007/14370579989/in/album-72157645062932708/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/davez2007/14553786931/in/album-72157645062932708/

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.

Offline Nyimbo

Re: Gear Inches for the Northern Tier
« Reply #19 on: April 07, 2016, 05:23:59 am »
I might be able to tell you if you can swap out your 11-32 with a 11-34 or 11-36 (or 12-34 or 12-36 depending on your groupset).

What,s the reason for using a 11-36 vs 12-36? Both are available.

Offline RussSeaton

Re: Gear Inches for the Northern Tier
« Reply #20 on: April 07, 2016, 01:08:34 pm »
I might be able to tell you if you can swap out your 11-32 with a 11-34 or 11-36 (or 12-34 or 12-36 depending on your groupset).

What,s the reason for using a 11-36 vs 12-36? Both are available.

Most, all, people never ever use the 11 cog on a cassette.  The only place you can possibly ever use it is if you have a tailwind down a mountain and get into a tuck to be as aero as possible.  Then you will be hard pressed to even turn the pedals at 90rpm.  Its a wasted cog.  Like professional riders would be if you put a 32 cog on the bikes they ride.  They would never ever use it.  You only have 9 or 10 cogs on the cassette.  These 9 or 10 cogs must cover the entire 11-36 range or 12-36 range.  So 25 or 24 teeth depending on which cassette.  With the 25 teeth 11-36 cassette, you will have one jump in the cog spacing where it may be more of a jump than you want.  Its a 3 tooth jump instead of 2 tooth.  With the 24 teeth 12-36 cassette, you will not have that one spot where the jump between cogs is not right.  And this bad jump may happen in a part of the cassette you use frequently.  For shifting its almost always better to have more cogs covering a smaller space.  Exception being the largest cog on the cassette.  Its Ok or even preferable to have a huge jump in teeth to that cog because when you need the biggest cog on the bike, you want it now and its OK and fine and dandy to instantly have a "too" easy gear.

Offline BikePacker

Re: Gear Inches for the Northern Tier
« Reply #21 on: April 09, 2016, 01:15:04 pm »
a symptom of overthinking while planning, but that's part of the fun, right?
Correct, at least for me anyway .... I have found 'overthinking' to be both fun and operationally beneficial (btw - just sent you a off-line email, belatedly, to one of your earlier Qs.).

Offline great_egret

Re: Gear Inches for the Northern Tier
« Reply #22 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:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/davez2007/14553785051/in/album-72157645062932708/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/davez2007/14555580304/in/album-72157645062932708/

East slope:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/davez2007/14370579989/in/album-72157645062932708/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/davez2007/14553786931/in/album-72157645062932708/

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.   

indyfabz

  • Guest
Re: Gear Inches for the Northern Tier
« Reply #23 on: April 25, 2016, 10:05:29 am »

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.

No problem. Yes. You can stop at the ranger station in Sula assuming you are there on a weekday. When I was going to do it in '11, that's what we did. There was a ranger outside having a smoke. She told us the pass was not open. We started up the highway. After we got a few miles she chased us down and told us she had been mistaken. We weren't going to give back those miles so we stuck to the road.

In '14, I was there on a Saturday. The owner of the Sula store and campground suggested that I look around the employee housing behind the ranger station to see if I could find anyone. I couldn't find anyone so I took a leap of faith.

My advice is to ride on the left track on the way up. You don't want to topple over to your right on some stretches. It's a long way down. ;) One crazy thing is that, despite being in a remote area, I had cell phone reception going up. I took a photo and texted it to someone. Perhaps there are towers so that motorists on U.S. 93 can have service in the event of an emergency.