Author Topic: Over the hills and far away...  (Read 6750 times)

mickeg

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Re: Over the hills and far away...
« Reply #15 on: June 13, 2016, 08:02:30 PM »
...
I can place two panniers ( strapped together as one piece) in the baggage car, and take two on board with me, along with my handlebar bag, so that should work OK as well.

Thanks too for your suggestion of a seat on the north side of the train. Reminds me of the old POSH advice for the well-heeled taking passage from Foggie Olde to Injah, back in the day: Port Out, Starboard Home.

Cheers,

John

Different Amtrak people will tell you different things about strapping two panniers together.  My first Amtrak trip, I had heard that so that is what I did, went to the station, it is a small station with only a single employee with title of station manager.  He said no on the straps, his quote was "I can charge you for an extra piece of luggage if they are separate, you can't strap them together, they straps will come loose and one will get lost" and then he picked it up and shook it, and shook it, and shook it, and it never came undone which is what he was trying to do.  But he stuck to that story and said that I could not strap them together.  Fortunately, I had a big dry bag in my truck that I could use, but unfortunately that meant for that trip I had to lug around a big heavy dry back strapped to my rack.

On a different trip, that same employee made up two rules that did not exist, so maybe it was only him, but I hope you got the name of the person that said it would be ok in case someone else tells you differently. 

John Saxby

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Re: Over the hills and far away...
« Reply #16 on: June 14, 2016, 03:06:14 AM »
Situational ethics, eh? In Nigeria (for example--there are others) one could say, "Surely we can negotiate this?"  I don't think I have the name of the various people I've spoken with, but no-one suggested that panniers would be a problem. 

If push came to shove, I could take both "pieces" on board with me -- they're not very big, after all.

Maybe I'll just shower them with compliments, explain why I'm not using VIA to get me home, and shame them into accepting my Made-in-Canada-not-China-for-a-change bags.

Cheers,

J.

mickeg

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Re: Over the hills and far away...
« Reply #17 on: June 14, 2016, 01:56:08 PM »
Situational ethics, eh? In Nigeria (for example--there are others) one could say, "Surely we can negotiate this?"  I don't think I have the name of the various people I've spoken with, but no-one suggested that panniers would be a problem. 

If push came to shove, I could take both "pieces" on board with me -- they're not very big, after all.

Maybe I'll just shower them with compliments, explain why I'm not using VIA to get me home, and shame them into accepting my Made-in-Canada-not-China-for-a-change bags.

Cheers,

J.

That is probably a good plan.  The larger stations with more staff I think are more in tune with current practice, but the station nearest my home has that one station manager who has his own little fiefdom where he is the final authority.  So, maybe it is not anything to worry about.  Worse case scenario is that you might have to pay another fee.

And, that station manager that works at the station near me said that strapping two together is not allowed in regards to checked luggage, that topic was not raised for carryon luggage.  Strapping them together to carry on could be a way around that too. 

The Empire builder (west coast to Chicago) uses cars that are two levels, an upper and lower.  When you first get on the train, there is a small luggage rack that you walk past that you can put some of your carry on luggage on, then carry the rest with you to put on the rack over your seat.  I assume you have a seat up the stairs on the second level.

Some Amtrak trains use the two level cars, some one level, so I am not sure what you might encounter later in your trip.

I get on an airplane later today with my Nomad (mine is in an S&S case), so I won't be around to advise any further.  But I suspect you have all the information you need from me.

First photo shows what the tall two level train cars look like, the second photo is my carry on luggage before I got on the San Fransisco to Chicago train, you can see that the luggage does not have to be "official" luggage, one of my carry bags was only a shopping bag.

Matt2matt2002

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Re: Over the hills and far away...
« Reply #18 on: June 14, 2016, 02:35:08 PM »
 ???
your Nomad is in that blue bag?
 ;)
Never drink and drive. You may hit a bump  and spill your drink

mickeg

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Re: Over the hills and far away...
« Reply #19 on: June 14, 2016, 03:29:10 PM »
???
your Nomad is in that blue bag?
 ;)

No, it is in these attached photos. 

Not all of it is in the case, rear rack would not fit.  Saddle, pedals, crankarms, chainrings, water bottle cages are not in the case either.  The case as packed tips the scale at 22.1 kg or 48.4 pounds, and my airline limit is 50 pounds.  Since my scale might not match the airline scale, I want to have at least a pound of weight of contingency in my packing.  Thus, those other parts like crank arms and pedals are packed separately.

When I get home after my trip I might post better photos of how I packed the bike.  I took a series of photos, but was not really happy with the photos.  It is the 590M Nomad frame, S&S.  When I bought the frame, Thorn said that the fork would not fit in the case with the bike.  But I did get the fork in the case.  The fork had to be removed from the front half of the frame.  Both crank arms had to be removed to make it fit, I was hoping only one crank had to come off but I could not quite get it to fit that way.  Fenders are staying home.

Things like empty water bottles weigh very little, so I shoved them into the case.  There is a home made center support made from wood to try to prevent the airline staff from squeezing things together - I did not buy the S&S supports.  I put a piece of plastic tubing (135mm long) in the rear dropouts held in with the skewer also as a precaution, but if the airlines tried to crush it that much my rims would probably not survive.  Still the dropout spacer made sense as a precaution.

And, yes I knew you were joking with your question. 

Andre Jute

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Re: Over the hills and far away...
« Reply #20 on: June 14, 2016, 05:42:23 PM »
???
your Nomad is in that blue bag?
 ;)

Special Nomad made by a secret prototype division at St John Street and given to George to test for the ripple frequency of American roads. You'll see it whole when Thorn launches the 16in Backpack Tourist Trophy or 16BPTT next winter, if the folding handlebars don't delay the launch. You heard it here first.

John Saxby

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Re: Over the hills and far away...
« Reply #21 on: November 01, 2016, 01:30:42 AM »
...picking up the thread after more than a decent interval, here's Part I of my tour story.  For the sake of continuity, this repeats a couple of para's from the earliest posts.

        I must go out ‘mongst the lanes again,
      Near the lonely sea and the sky,
      And all I want is my touring bike,
      And a star to steer us by.

   (With thanks to Mr Masefield, sir, for the inspiration, and apologies for messin’ with yer verse.)

Part I

Beginnings…


The seeds of this journey lodged themselves in my mind decades ago. In the early 1970’s, on my first road trip across Canada, I was easing down Rogers Pass towards Revelstoke on Highway 1 in British Columbia—the Trans-Canada Highway had been formally opened just a couple of years earlier—when I passed three touring cyclists spinning upwards and eastwards. “Wow!” I said to myself, “That’s something I’d like to do…” Life intervened, as Life does—marriage and family, work, and the usual competing demands on one’s time—but I never quite forgot that day in the western mountains.

…and a Plan takes shape

And thus it came to pass that in the winter of 2015/16, I decided to organize my own petit tour des montages de l’ouest, following the spirit if not the tire tracks of those unknown cyclists I’d seen all those years ago. I’d visited the same terrain a few times in the intervening years, on four wheels and two (the latter, part of a transcontinental motorcycle trip in 2013, done partly to suss out the options and hazards of different cycling routes.) The mountains are as magical in my memory as when I first saw them, and I’ve learned from a decade of cycle-touring in Canada, Europe, and Southern Africa that on a bike you see, feel, smell and hear the landscape in a way that’s impossible in a motorized bubble. I’m privileged to have a very capable touring bike in Osi, my Raven-mit-Rohloff, the necessary camping gear, time and health and budget, and most of all, an understanding spouse. This year, pushing 70, I decided that the mountains would never be as easy as they are now—so why wait?

I booked The Canadian, VIA’s flagship, to the West, stopping to see old friends in Saskatoon; and then Amtrak back east from the Washington coast to upstate New York, via Chicago. I had never taken a long train journey in the States, and choosing this one was partly a matter of money—Amtrak charged me about 40% of the VIA fare—but partly too, my own modest nod of homage to this man and his song:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXGFKpWUOW0

Working with what I knew and with helpful information on the U.S. Pacific Northwest from the Adventure Cycling Association, I mapped out a route that would let ride me towards the Rockies in Jasper National Park, head south via the Icefields Parkway to Lake Louise-Banff-Canmore and Kananaskis Country; continue south to Crownest Pass and Waterton Lakes NP in Alberta, and then to its cross-border section, Glacier NP in Montana. From there, I would continue west through Montana, Idaho and Washington to the Pacific Coast, this last section including a zig-zag north to visit longtime friends in Nelson, BC.

My route, beginning in Hinton, AB, and ending in Everett, WA, is shown in the links below. (The maps include altitude profiles.) The roads are almost all tarmac, both parkways and secondary highways, with a few tertiary roads.

From Hinton, AB, to St Mary, MT (the gateway to Glacier NP): http://tinyurl.com/jgyx4pq

From St Mary, MT, via Whitefish and Troy, MT, to Creston, BC: http://tinyurl.com/hrzm8rk

From Creston via Nelson, BC, and Kettle Falls, WA, to Whidbey Island and Everett, WA: http://tinyurl.com/jjzu3a8

The entire route worked out at just over 2300 kms. I started at Hinton early in the afternoon on June 21, mid-summer’s day, and completed my journey at the train station in Everett, WA, mid-morning on July 17: in all, 27 days on the calendar. I rode on 26 of those, taking a rest day in Nelson. A “typical” day was around 100 kms—a few days were longer or shorter, for one reason or another.

Problems on the ride?  Just to spare you the suspense:  None. No problems with the bike, with my gear, nor with my body (no collywobbles, headaches, sunburn, aching joints, and the like.) In these domains, Uneventful is Good.

First swathe of Part II to come shortly -- Pt II being the photos.  We interrupt this broadcast to attend to the little ones from the neighbourhood at the front door, this being Hallowe'en.

 

John Saxby

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Re: Over the hills and far away...
« Reply #22 on: November 01, 2016, 02:07:06 AM »
Resuming now with the first section of Part II, mountain landscapes from Jasper National Park south to Kananaskis Country, just south of Banff and Canmore.  The photos are accessible (I hope!) by tinyurl links to my Dropbox cache. Eh bien -

Part II

The journey was always about the mountain landscapes …


Section II.1 – Hinton, AB, to Waterton Lakes National Park

Why start my ride in Hinton, you might ask? Simple enough: I’d been advised to begin east of Jasper so that I could ride towards the mountains, letting them gradually fill my horizon. Yes, but…after several days of bright sunshine anointing my train carriage, from Ottawa to Toronto, and across Ontario’s lakes and rocks and trees, from Winnipeg through the Qu’appelle Valley to Saskatoon and then Edmonton, I finally reached Hinton. Once there, could I see the horizon? Uh, not so much.

Cometh the train, cometh the rain: http://tinyurl.com/zuo667x  (This is the first of many links to photos on Dropbox)

No matter – the rain cleared in the 25 minutes I needed to unpack my bike from its box, reattach handlebars and pedals, and set up my panniers. I set off westwards for the campground at Snaring River, about 15 kms east of Jasper, an easy ride of 3 or 4 hours.

The lowering sky and the threat of cold mountain rain in no way lessened the grandeur of the scene: http://tinyurl.com/hacpenm

The mountains loom above you like the prows of great ships. You feel very small in these landscapes, and you begin to understand why mountain people see these peaks as great spirits. http://tinyurl.com/zb5gra4   

In “The Northwest Passage”, Stan Rogers, driving west across the Prairies, thinks “upon Mackenzie, David Thompson, and the rest/Who breached the mountain ramparts/And did show a path for me/To race the roaring Fraser to the sea…”   There are ramparts a-plenty here:

http://tinyurl.com/j7wk4ds

http://tinyurl.com/hz9r9vc
 
The ramparts deny you a direct view of the setting sun—even if you’re still awake at 10:45 PM after a day in the saddle—but in the evening, the peaks to the east have their own understated beauty:

http://tinyurl.com/jtx8dz4
 
All this is prelude. Jasper is the northern terminus of the Icefields Parkway. This is a tiny sample of what a cyclist sees in several hours’ riding south of Jasper:

http://tinyurl.com/gpc8pfm
 
http://tinyurl.com/z3kgha7

http://tinyurl.com/zwk6a5x

The hard climb up Sunwapta Pass to the Columbia glacier field—in the last few kms, 8-9-and even-10%—awaits on the second day:

http://tinyurl.com/h8y2dlt

With the beauty, there is altitude; and with that, what my mum called Scottish weather (she was a Burns, and I'm certain was unacquainted with Rual's magic camera):

http://tinyurl.com/zqcrmb7
 
The photo doesn't show the cold clammy sweat-soaked feeling you get after 10 kms of a 9% grade into a headwind. Still, a bowl of hot soup in a Visitor Centre chock-a-block with tourists from buses, cars and RVs, plus a warm dry jersey to replace a cold soggy one, can help a rider’s disposition:

http://tinyurl.com/jr8x9sx
 
Enough to let you press on, and to ease down the steep prolonged descent on the south side of Sunwapta Pass. (Of which there are no photos, because on the day I rode the 11 kms down from the summit, the heaviest rain of my entire ride poured down—and stopped abruptly when I reached the bottom!)  Early blooms, no doubt helped by the rains, bring a welcome splash of colour to the roadside:

http://tinyurl.com/joo2xmw
 
And the larger landscape brightens as on the following morning you approach Saskatchewan Crossing, the midway point of the Parkway:

http://tinyurl.com/j6mzh72

Bow Summit, the second great climb on the Parkway, is tough, with similar grades to Sunwapta. Eventually, the descent begins, and you remember that hills, unlike headwinds, give back:

http://tinyurl.com/hhf8a4k

With the descent come lakes. This one comes complete with Num-ti-Jah Lodge, its chili a filling lunch after your slog up to Bow Summit:

http://tinyurl.com/gmwocnq

On the ride east from Banff to Canmore, I enjoyed my first serious tailwind of the trip, covering the 27 kms in about an hour, while the sun and clouds played tricks around the peaks south of the bikepath:

http://tinyurl.com/zewzhrt
 
South of Canmore, the Kananaskis Country begins. I remembered the splendour of the mountain landscapes, but I had forgotten the extraordinary skyscapes. The peaks are some way west of the road…

http://tinyurl.com/zuz9yvg

http://tinyurl.com/jatjqyj

http://tinyurl.com/z54gu6c

http://tinyurl.com/hk2zr8v

… but the elevation of the passes only increases. From my campsite the night before, the climb to Highwood Pass was about 25 kms. The grade was manageable, about 5 – 6 % most of the way, with only the last few kms requiring my lowest gear. Looking back (northwards) from the highest summit of my tour:

http://tinyurl.com/gnaf5ly
 

After Highwood Pass, the road heads east to Alberta’s benchlands. The seven days’ ride from Jasper to Longview was to my eyes the longest stretch of natural beauty in my 2300 kms on the road. After the grandeur of the mountains, some creative whimsy at the side of the road makes for a nice change of pace.

In Longview, they beat their ploughshares into Harleys:

http://tinyurl.com/zeqybky

And in those parts, as everyone knows, the cowboys really are larger than life:

http://tinyurl.com/h2rqvtn
 
All for the mo', folks. More of Part II to come in the next few days -- the photos are ready, but I have to assemble some connecting tissue to link them together as we go down to Waterton Lakes, across Glacier NP's Road to the Sun, take a zig-zag back to Nelson, BC, and thence to Kettle Falls, WA, and eventually to the coast. To be continued...

« Last Edit: November 03, 2016, 01:27:34 AM by John Saxby »

jags

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Re: Over the hills and far away...
« Reply #23 on: November 01, 2016, 08:45:47 PM »
Stunning photos John no wonder your skinny (i can say that because i'm fat) going over all those mountain passes . 8)

John Saxby

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Re: Over the hills and far away...
« Reply #24 on: November 01, 2016, 09:55:31 PM »
Anto!  Good to hear from you, lad, and thanks for your kind words.  As I put that youTube link into Part I, I thought you might enjoy it.

There's some more photos to come, just working through those; and then a collection of stories about meetings with kindly strangers along the way.

Best,  John

jags

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Re: Over the hills and far away...
« Reply #25 on: November 01, 2016, 10:05:29 PM »
fantastic i'll pop over to utube now. ;)

jags

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Re: Over the hills and far away...
« Reply #26 on: November 01, 2016, 10:13:10 PM »
What a shame Steve died so young ,great sound track to have on your ipod on your tours across a great land  woody guthrie arlo  Steve sure a fella would ride a 100 mile a day listening to those guys.

John Saxby

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Re: Over the hills and far away...
« Reply #27 on: November 03, 2016, 01:59:29 AM »
The story and photos resume:

Section II.1 – Hinton, AB, to Waterton Lakes National Park (cont'd)

Hwy 22 south from Longview runs through the rolling pastures of the benchlands towards Crowsnest Pass and the mountains of Waterton Lakes. It offers classic Western vistas—impossibly clear air showing impossibly distant mountains reached by roads obviously first laid down by Roman legionaries:

http://tinyurl.com/jsfepg6     http://tinyurl.com/jyvp8of

There are no commercial services on this road, and the traffic is very light, although there are a couple of provincial parks beside rivers and lakes. If you get a cooperative wind, you can sail along: I covered 130-plus kms in just over six hours of riding, the first half of the day across big rollers with pasturelands split by woodland, the second on gently undulating open and enormous fields, both pasture and feed crops. A couple of examples of the latter:

http://tinyurl.com/zawscrs    http://tinyurl.com/hn547w3
 
The dramatic front of Waterton Lakes hints at the climbs to come. The two photos below go West to East. My route took me to the left (SE) of the second photo:

http://tinyurl.com/za49zq6     http://tinyurl.com/hes89wf
 
My route skirts the edge of Waterton Lakes Park, heading SE towards the US border. There is a long stiff climb up onto a ridge, where the peaks to the South look for all the world like the high country of Southern Africa. Chief Mountain and its neighbours could be the massif of Mt Mulanje, in Malawi:

http://tinyurl.com/gl7jg93
 
Here’s the comparison, a photo taken on the Mt Mulanje massif in May 2006. This is Nyakodzwe, the second-highest of Mulanje’s 23 peaks, a little shy of 3,000 metres:

http://tinyurl.com/jusa3an 
 
And Chief Mountain, by itself, looks like Isandlwana to me:

http://tinyurl.com/hskk7q5
 

Section II.2:   St Mary, MT, to Nelson, BC

Past Chief Mountain and some miles after the border crossing into Montana, US 89 runs due south to St Mary. This small village is the eastern gateway to Glacier NP's Road to the Sun, which crosses the Continental Divide at Logan Pass. I came down a long steep descent to 89, and was looking forward to an easy 15 miles along the valley floor to St Mary. I met instead a fierce headwind, a sign of some things to come. Two cyclists on a West-to-East loop who were camped near me, warned me that a stiff westerly had pushed them up and followed them down the pass earlier that day. But the next day, when I began the 17-mile climb to Logan Pass, the morning beside Lake St Mary was quiet, soft, and beautiful:

http://tinyurl.com/js62lwf     http://tinyurl.com/hjyhwqb

I had started early, just after 6:30 AM, so the climb was mercifully free of traffic near the top:

http://tinyurl.com/jhstcxz
 
The Visitor Centre at the summit was awash with tourist buses, which must have come from the western side. I managed to take the customary photo of the sign during in a break in the crowd:

http://tinyurl.com/zx4bz7y
 
Just a sign, really, if an elevated one, with no hint of what would follow:  The long and twisty descent from Logan Pass, snaking some 20 miles to the canyon floor was spectacularly beautiful. If the Icefields Parkway south of Jasper was the longest stretch of sustained beauty in the landscapes I rode through, the western side of Logan Pass was the most concentrated. The brilliant sunshine surely had something to do with my reaction :)  Still, I feel that my photos don’t really convey the intensity of the colours and the magnificent sweep and depth of the gorges:

http://tinyurl.com/juysg6n     http://tinyurl.com/jzgpnyl

http://tinyurl.com/h6edw45    http://tinyurl.com/gqw9422

West of the mountains, we enter ranching country, with pastures now and then broken with fields of grain:

http://tinyurl.com/hcnhvnx
 
Leaving behind the old railway town of Whitefish, MT, with its splendid faux-Bavarian station…

http://tinyurl.com/hjfj6gv
 
…the route enters the valley of the Kootenai River, and I would follow this for several days. The Kootenai (-ay in Canada) flows south into Montana from the western slope of the Canadian Rockies. The Libby Dam creates a substantial narrow lake with the lumpy name of Koocanusa:

http://tinyurl.com/j3ktb9x

The lake is calm enough here, deceptively so. Upstream on the previous afternoon, I cycled south from the small town of Eureka for three hours into the strongest headwind I’ve ever faced on a bicycle. High above the lake on its eastern shore, the road gave me a gradual descent for some twenty miles, but this was no easy doddle beside the water: the headwinds were so tough that I found myself in 8th gear, pedalling downhill, and working to keep the Rohloff in its upper range! On flat ground, the most I could manage was 3rd or 4th – the same gears I’d used on the climb up Logan Pass. Go figure…

A treat awaited me in the small town of Libby. “Henry’s” family restaurant was a pretty good place for lunch, but the surprise was parked outside:

http://tinyurl.com/j6ajaz9    http://tinyurl.com/jfqjcwx

This is an original, in the family from new in 1955. Last year, it was restored, a birthday present from the family to mark its 60th. And here I didn't even know that Studebaker had made trucks, let alone charming red-and-ivory ones. This came complete with floor starter button, robust enough to be mashed by work boots, and a three-on-the-tree tranny. I complimented the lady who owned the truck--a diner in Henry's, she was well into her 70s--on its continued existence and terrific paint job. She smiled, and said that her dad had taught her to drive in that truck, and that she just couldn't bear to let it deteriorate.

We're about to head West and North from Libby to Troy, MT, and thence to a corner of Idaho, crossing and recrossing the Kootenai as we go. (To be continued...)
 
     
« Last Edit: November 03, 2016, 05:25:38 PM by John Saxby »

alfie1952

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Re: Over the hills and far away...
« Reply #28 on: November 03, 2016, 12:21:28 PM »
A well documented grand tour and stunning scenery captured beautifully with your camera John..

 Ps looking forward to next installment

Regards Alfie
« Last Edit: November 03, 2016, 12:24:19 PM by alfie1952 »

jags

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Re: Over the hills and far away...
« Reply #29 on: November 03, 2016, 03:31:33 PM »
my grandson loves the red and white truck ;)