Friday, August 31, 2012

September Bike Tour - OPEN TO ALL

Second, you may recall reading months ago about the Northern Wisconsin bike tour. It'll be a week of bike adventure Sept 23-30, along some of the rustic back roads of Northern Wisconsin. And you're invited!
What to expect:

1. The scenery and solitude of the North Woods: endless forests, lakes, streams, wildlife, campfires, and rustic forest roads. Bring a camera and take lots of pictures.

2. Rustic forest roads = dirt, gravel, and/or pavement (in order of preference): I have not yet plotted the exact route, and even if I had, I wouldn't tell you what it is. But here's my basic guiding principle: when given a choice between two roads, I will most likely select dirt over pavement, low traffic over high traffic. In other words, a bike with fat, versatile tires is strongly preferred to a bike that has skinny, high-pressure tires. Two-inch or wider tires are ideal, but you will probably be able to do ok with something as skinny as 700x35, if you must.

3. Self-supported: You will be carrying your own gear. There is no support car. We will stop in small towns along the route for resupply at least once every day or two, so you won't need a week's worth of food/water on-board, but you will need to carry at least a one-day food/water supply. We will most often camp in state/national forest campgrounds, which will likely have potable water sources, and maybe a lake to rinse off road grime, but showers will be few and far between, I expect. Bring money for food and camping and other on-the-road expenses. You are responsible for you, more or less.

4. Every cyclist is welcome. My goal is to have the route be easy enough that any halfway fit cyclist can ride it comfortably. This is not intended to be a race or an endurance challenge, but a pleasant excursion in the north woods. I am reluctant to state how many miles we'll ride in a day, because we'll be traveling a variety of surfaces that will dictate our speed and distance. As a rough guide to the expected fitness level, you should be able to ride 50 miles on moderately hilly pavement in a day.

5. Late September can mean a wide range of weather conditions in Northern Wisconsin. Snow is unlikely, as are 90-degree days, but both are certainly not impossible. On average, we can likely expect pleasant daytime highs and cooler evenings, nights, and mornings. Check the weather forecasts and bring appropriate clothing. Better to have multiple thin layers that can be combined as needed for cool weather than to have a heavy winter ensemble stuffed into your panniers. Cool-weather gloves and hats are a good idea.

6. We'll leave, by car, early-ish in the day on September 23. The idea is to coordinate vehicles to get all of us and our bikes/gear in as few vehicles as possible. We'll drive to a lakefront cabin owned by the family of one of the tour participants. The driving time is approximately 4 hours. We'll spend the first night at this cabin (most likely sleeping in our tents, not in the cabin). The lake at the cabin is good for fishing right off the dock, so bring your fishing stuff, if you're so inclined. The next morning, we'll have breakfast, load up the bikes, and roll out. We'll leave the cars at the cabin. Then we'll return there sometime on Sept 30 to drive back to the Twin Cities.

Any questions? Email hiawathacyclery at gmail. Often some people want to participate in the tour, but make special arrangements, such as meeting a loved one at a predetermined location and/or doing only part of the weeklong tour (meeting us three days into it, or peeling off at some halfway point). Such plans are fine, but please figure this out on your own. It's impossible for me to tell you in advance where we'll be at a certain time or on a certain day. And cell service will be spotty at best, so coordinating meeting points and times on the fly will be somewhat dicey.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Back from Montana

The Montana excursion was a glorious experience. Weasel and I rode some amazing countryside. We Amtrak'ed to Whitefish, MT, spent the night in a motel, and embarked up the Great Divide Route at the crack of noon the next day. There was little or no descending that first day, and no pavement for most of the first three days.


In our search for a campground marked on a cartoon-like map, we made a wrong turn up this two-track road with a relentless grade. The view was nice.
Near Upper Whitefish Lake

But we eventually found the place, Upper Whitefish Lake. It was a pretty primitive campground. There was no way to pay, and we'd neglected to purchase the necessary state camping permit back in town. So for this first night, we were campsite pirates. The view was nice.
Upper Whitefish Lake

Upper Whitefish Lake

More climbing toward Red Meadow Pass (about 5600 feet amsl, 2500 feet above Whitefish). The view was nice.
heading to Red Meadow Pass

heading to Red Meadow Pass

Over the pass, past the gorgeous Red Meadow Lake (which I didn't photograph for some reason), and down a sketchy descent, we eventually made our way to the "town" of Polebridge. The view was nice.
Polebridge, MT

From Polebridge, we were able to enter into Glacier National Park. It was getting late in the afternoon, and campsites were apparently in short supply at Bowman Lake, but we decided to chance it. After all, it was only 6 miles. Those 6 miles were arduous, to say the least. Bowman Lake Road is very steep in places and rough everywhere. The view was nice.
Bowman Lake

Bowman Lake

filth and neglect

From Bowman Lake, we headed down the Inside North Fork Road, a portion of which is closed to cars. It was rugged terrain, a rustic road (my favorite), and there were thimbleberries and huckleberries to snack on. Also, lots of grizzly poop in the road. The view was nice.
Thimble berry, Inside North Fork Road

The Weasel, Inside North Fork Road

Inside North Fork Road

Inside North Fork Road

Inside North Fork Road

This brought us to the large campground at Apgar. Apgar also had a restaurant and ice cream and a paved road, which we detoured with a short chunk of singletrack. The next morning, we started on the first piece of the Going to the Sun Road, which is closed to bikes 11am-4pm. We took a break during these 5 hours at Lake McDonald Lodge. I caught a fish. The view was nice.

After camping at Avalanche Creek, we were back on Going to the Sun Road, now going uphill in earnest. The view was nice.

Going to the Sun Road

Going to the Sun Road

Going to the Sun Road

Going to the Sun Road

Going to the Sun Road

Finally, after 32 miles of going uphill, much of which on the side of a mountain ravine, we made Logan Pass, a beautiful place if ever there was one. The view was very nice.
Logan Pass, Going to the Sun Road

After Logan Pass, we bombed down the other side to Rising Sun for our 5th night of camping. This is on St Mary's Lake. The water was cold, but the view was nice.
Going to the Sun Road
Our final day of riding brought us to East Glacier and Brownie's hostel, which was neat place. I'd consider living there, I think. Of course, the view was nice.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

August vacation: shop closed Aug 8 through Aug 13

The Weasel and I are going to NW Montana:

Image found here.

We'll be open normal hours through August 7, but closed Wednesday, August 8 through Monday, August 13. Back to semi-normal Tuesday, August 14.