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Looking for help regarding 700 miles trip

Old 06-21-24, 08:51 AM
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Originally Posted by NYC19
Hey everyone,

My buddy and I are planning to bike the Empire State Trail next week, covering around 750 miles from NYC to Toronto. We're looking for any feedback and tips from anyone who has done this trail before!

We're thinking about stealth camping along the way, but our bikes aren't really the best suited for this kind of trip. We're also trying to keep costs low, so any resources for finding affordable bikes in NYC would be really appreciated.

We're college students who just graduated, so money is tight, but our spirits are high! We've done two 100-mile trips and one 50-mile trip so far.

Thanks so much for any advice!
Have you figured out a route yet?

I just got home a couple days ago, started at Buffalo, went east to Lyons along the Empire State Trail. Then I took various highways north and east to where I crossed border to Wolfe Island, then Kingston. Ferry was cheap ($5 cash), border crossing took only a few minutes. Second ferry to Kingston was free.

I am not sure your routing, but I suspect that the only part of my route that matches yours is from Kingston to Toronto.

Then followed Waterfront trail west to Niagara Falls, and back to Buffalo. (My original plan was longer distance to the west, but the 90 plus degree temps earlier this weeks convinced me to call a 600 mile tour a good tour and quit early.)

I used a combination of campsites along the Erie Canal at locks where tenting is allowed, private campgrounds, and Ontario Provincial Parks.

I found the Empire State Trail and the Waterfront Trail to be flatter than my past tours, but if you are new to this sort of thing, it is hard to judge what is normal. Where the Empire State Trail was saturated (my first three days were quite rainy) the trail was pretty slow, I had 37mm wide tires. But when things dried out more, the trail was faster.

I went past Toronto, you apparently plan to end there. It was a long day on the day I went thru Toronto, went from Darlington Provincial Park to Bronti Creek Provincial Park. Took me 11.5 hours that day including stops for grocery shopping, meal stops, etc., 82.9 miles. The suburbs of Toronto, the Waterfront trail starts to get slow, in that you start making lots of turns on small residential streets, go through several community parks with winding trails, etc. I decided to speed things up so I got off the trail and took some busy roads on a more direct routing through Toronto instead. But when you get close to downtown Toronto, the Waterfront route is probably faster than anything else, as it is well marked and I seemed to get most of the lights being green, not red.

How are you navigating, do you have a phone for that or a GPS? Or map and compass? I found some GPX files on Ride with GPS for the Waterfront Trail and put those in my GSP, was much easier to avoid getting lost that way. I also got a GPX file the say way for the Empire State Trail for my GPS.

The trails intentionally do not take you directly next to things like grocery stores, so at times you may need to hunt for supplies. I put some grocery stores in my GPS while I was still at home doing my planning so that I could find them when I needed them.

If you are stealth camping and new to this, I assume you are not cooking in camp. But if you bring a butane stove, you can go fuel canister shopping at Canadian Tire stores.

Provincial Parks in Ontario can fill up on weekends, which I did not expect for early or mid June. My past trips in Canada did not have crowded parks until Canada Day (July 1) and after. But when I got to Bronte Creek, they only had three tent sites left, and all sites were taken 20 min later.

My last trip to Canada was in 2019, a number of small independent businesses did not want to take plastic due to the high fees that Visa and other card issuers charged, so I was getting cash at ATMs. But this trip over the past couple weeks, plastic was happily accepted everywhere that I went and I had to go out of my way to spend my Canadian currency before I returned to USA.

Last edited by Tourist in MSN; 06-21-24 at 11:25 AM.
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Old 06-21-24, 08:58 AM
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Originally Posted by axolotl

The following Canadian government website doesn't specify that entry to Canada by U.S. citizens having an Enhanced Driver's License (EDL) is limited to NY residents.

https://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/trans/gu...wbdisable=true

"U.S. Citizens/Nationals

Although exempt from document entry requirements, U.S. citizens must satisfy a CBSA officer of their status and identity. Documents that can be used for proof of U.S. citizenship are:
  • U.S. Passport
  • U.S. Passport Card (for land and marine travel only)
  • NEXUS card (see Part 6 for more information)
  • Enhanced Driver's License (for land and marine travel only)"
----------------------------------------------------------------------
However, I have seen non-governmental websites say that use of an EDL to enter Canada is limited to residents of WA, MN, MI, NY, & VT. I have an EDL but I'll continue to bring my passport next time I want to enter Canada.
Originally Posted by Yan
Wow, didn't know that. Thanks for pointing that out.
There is a short list of states that issue "enhanced" drivers licenses for that purpose, but those states are on the border. I think in Minnesota you have to request that "enhanced" version and it may have an extra fee. I live in Wisconsin, that option is not available.

I used a Passport Card on my recent trip across the New York and Canadian border. Passport Card is not good for international air travel, but is good for land crossings.

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Old 06-21-24, 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN
There is a short list of states that issue "enhanced" drivers licenses for that purpose, but those states are on the border. I think in Minnesota you have to request that "enhanced" version and it may have an extra fee. I live in Wisconsin, that option is not available.

I used a Passport Card on my recent trip across the New York and Canadian border. Passport Card is not good for international air travel, but is good for land crossings.
I travel internationally for work, and have for 25 years or so. I was usually flying every week. On day going though immigration in Vancouver, I presented my passport card instead of my passport, which I had with me, knowing technically it was for land border crossings and not air. I asked if I could use it. The officer said they really didn't care, and went on to say that the rule requiring US citizens to have a passport for travel to Canada was more a US rule than Canada, and they really don't care, though they have to abide by it. I thought it was funny. Of course it is required now, but Canada really doesn't care. You won't get far without a passport though.
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Old 06-21-24, 12:40 PM
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Originally Posted by phughes
I travel internationally for work, and have for 25 years or so. I was usually flying every week. On day going though immigration in Vancouver, I presented my passport card instead of my passport, which I had with me, knowing technically it was for land border crossings and not air. I asked if I could use it. The officer said they really didn't care, and went on to say that the rule requiring US citizens to have a passport for travel to Canada was more a US rule than Canada, and they really don't care, though they have to abide by it. I thought it was funny. Of course it is required now, but Canada really doesn't care. You won't get far without a passport though.
Interesting.

Years ago I lost my wallet in an airport. Fortunately, after going thru TSA screening, my drivers license was in my shirt pocket, had not yet put it back into the wallet. Thus, I had the ID and only lost cash, credit cards and all that other stuff that you really hate to lose. But that reinforced for me how important it is to not be without a photo ID. So, next time when I got a passport, I also got the passport card, it did not cost too much to get both the book and card on the same order.

I mostly use my passport card as a backup ID, but the times I have biked across the Canadian border, it has been very convenient to have that card in my pocket instead of having to carry the passport book, especially on a rainy day when everything can get wet. On this trip I just came home from, my passport book was packed in a dry bag with my meds in the bottom of a pannier, the passport card was in a small zipper wallet with my credit cards, etc. in a pocket.
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Old 06-21-24, 01:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN
Interesting.

Years ago I lost my wallet in an airport. Fortunately, after going thru TSA screening, my drivers license was in my shirt pocket, had not yet put it back into the wallet. Thus, I had the ID and only lost cash, credit cards and all that other stuff that you really hate to lose. But that reinforced for me how important it is to not be without a photo ID. So, next time when I got a passport, I also got the passport card, it did not cost too much to get both the book and card on the same order.

I mostly use my passport card as a backup ID, but the times I have biked across the Canadian border, it has been very convenient to have that card in my pocket instead of having to carry the passport book, especially on a rainy day when everything can get wet. On this trip I just came home from, my passport book was packed in a dry bag with my meds in the bottom of a pannier, the passport card was in a small zipper wallet with my credit cards, etc. in a pocket.
I also carry a paper copy of my passport, showing the ID page, and I have a picture of it on my phone. I have had a paper copy stamped a couple of times, once in the US when a ship I was working on lost my passport, and once in Japan, also while working on a ship. As I was going through immigration on the ship in New York City, I explained to the officer what happened, and showed him my driver's license, and the paper copy of the passport. He said, "Works for me," and stamped it.

I will add, it pays to be respectful in these situations.
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Old 06-21-24, 02:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN
There is a short list of states that issue "enhanced" drivers licenses for that purpose, but those states are on the border. I think in Minnesota you have to request that "enhanced" version and it may have an extra fee. I live in Wisconsin, that option is not available.

I used a Passport Card on my recent trip across the New York and Canadian border. Passport Card is not good for international air travel, but is good for land crossings.
I get frequent “suggestions” from NY DMV to upgrade to enhanced. They are somewhat less than honest in explaining that you need this enhanced to “use a drivers license” to cross to Canada and back, not mentioning clearly that a passport suffices. They clearly are trying a hard sell of these to make money, they charge $30 PLUS additional fees that they make it hard to determine as they keep pushing you to additional websites. And I do not need a new license, mine has not expired. F them. They were also pushing folks to get the new NY yellow license plates, trading in the older white ones. Most refused as it wasnt required and why pay ?. What they were not telling people is they were having huge issues with new plate readers at toll facilities that could not read the older white plate but that were able to read the new yellow plate. Thus they were and are losing millions, having pushed thru the technology to stop using real people toll collectors a bit early. You would think they would just mandate a plate switch and cover the costs.
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Old 06-23-24, 11:59 PM
  #32  
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Originally Posted by NYC19
maybe stop making assumptions? Lmao. I clearly stated above that I will have a passport. and then why are you posting and wasting my time?
Maybe people want to help, since you asked for it?¿
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Old 06-24-24, 04:03 AM
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OP: Time is short, assuming you haven't already left.

The bike required depends on your cargo, and terrain.

Terrain: Depends on how steep, and how you climb hills. I personally need low enough gears so that I can grind my way up sitting without hurting my knees, when I run out of stamina climbing standing, which is easier on my knees and can push a higher gear. You should know you.

Cargo: I assume bare minimum a sleeping bag or blanket, possibly a sleeping pad, perhaps a shared tent. Those alone will occupy a rear rack panniers, plus a few minimal tools, like hex keys to tighten rack bolts and brake parts. If you are carrying food, stove and fuel, extra clothes, you'll need front panniers too.

Considering the above, now you get to the bike; You don't have time to find a used bike and have it checked thoroughly by a bike mechanic, plus that costs money. You may be better off buying new. Key here is whether you have specific use for said bike after your tour, thus, the bike is an investment that will pay back. There are even some great touring bikes that come from the factory with excellent racks, but those are $1500 (assuming you can find one, they are out of fashion so seem to have gone out of production), plus the cost of panniers. But there are excellent bikes available for much less, but you would need to add racks capable of panniers. Assuming you just plain don't have money for new bike(s) plus appropriate racks, there are deals to be had, heck, in past weeks in CO and OR there were nearly identical vintage Specialized touring bikes for sale for a pittance here on the forums, but again, you lack time. I also have zero idea of your budget. In any case, if buying used, it's critical to replace older tires with new, not only if cracked, but old rubber will have very poor wet traction. Same for brake pads, rubber hardens and not only will it stop poorly, but will gall the aluminum rim sidewalls with a terrible grinding sound which will destroy the rims very quickly.

Submitted for your approval, my own bike, very low cost, a used folding bike, performed complete overhaul of everything, increased the gear range, added racks and panniers. A folding bike brings an additional level of complexity in monitoring the tightness of the folding latches, but easy to haul in car or bus if need be. These have a very wide range of height adjustability:



You might find used on craigslist, a Bike Friday, New World Tourist that is similarly equipped for touring. Just be careful, some were equipped with a Sachs/SRAM Dual Drive which has an Internal Gear Hub (IGH), those are not serviceable at most bike shops, so you would want to make sure it's in good condition and lubed and overhauled before a trip; Their other bikes with triple (3X) or double (2X) cranksets are much more straighforward for the average bike shop or biker to service.

Do you know your framesizes needed?

I hope this is at all helpful. Best of luck on your tour.

Last edited by Duragrouch; 06-24-24 at 04:14 AM.
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Old 06-25-24, 01:53 AM
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This is what I was thinking. Why do so many people who have no ideas about how the world works waste people's time; of course their time do not matter. now they are out there wasting people's time with whatever basement theory they can come up with!

Ty for your encouragement.
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Old 06-25-24, 03:28 AM
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Originally Posted by NYC19
This is what I was thinking. Why do so many people who have no ideas about how the world works waste people's time; of course their time do not matter. now they are out there wasting people's time with whatever basement theory they can come up with!

Ty for your encouragement.
I cannot tell from your comments whether I was any help at all, or wasting your time. But I do hope you and your friend find bikes and equipment and have a good tour.

There is tons of helpful info on here, very knowledgeable people, they just need sufficient information to help. Otherwise, in math terms, it's one equation in three unknowns; Indeterminate, too many unknown variables to find a solution. What would have been helpful is:
- Budget for bikes, and racks and panniers if needed.
- Whether any use for bikes is planned after tour.
- You and your buddy's height and inseam lengths, if you don't know your bike size; more common sizes are easier to find, though more extreme sizes sometimes yield better prices because less demand.
- Your plans for meals, whether restaurants, or buy food and cook.

Again, I hope the tour goes well. All the best.
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Old 06-25-24, 09:20 AM
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Originally Posted by NYC19
This is what I was thinking. Why do so many people who have no ideas about how the world works waste people's time; of course their time do not matter. now they are out there wasting people's time with whatever basement theory they can come up with!

Ty for your encouragement.

Why do you ask in a touring forum for advice?¿
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Old 06-25-24, 02:08 PM
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Originally Posted by NYC19
This is what I was thinking. Why do so many people who have no ideas about how the world works waste people's time; of course their time do not matter. now they are out there wasting people's time with whatever basement theory they can come up with!

Ty for your encouragement.
You have also convinced several of us that trying to help you is a waste of our time.

In my previous post, I asked you if you had figured out your route yet? And also asked how you are navigating? You provided no answers.

If you refuse to answer questions but say you are seeking information, you are going to get information that is not pertinent.
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Old 06-25-24, 02:10 PM
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Originally Posted by str
Why do you ask in a touring forum for advice?¿
I’d love to know who he’s talking about, especially given his plea for advice.
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Old 06-30-24, 02:37 PM
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Sorry for replying late! All your suggestions worked great for me; also, I went to a bike co-op in person they also sorted lotta stuff.

I understand that questions have their own merit; however, some of the people's replies here are out of the turf and demotivating!

Thank you for wishing! Real nervous as the tour starts in the next few days! Hopefully will report back here end of July!
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Old 07-01-24, 01:54 AM
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Originally Posted by NYC19
Sorry for replying late! All your suggestions worked great for me; also, I went to a bike co-op in person they also sorted lotta stuff.

I understand that questions have their own merit; however, some of the people's replies here are out of the turf and demotivating!

Thank you for wishing! Real nervous as the tour starts in the next few days! Hopefully will report back here end of July!
Getting a look at the bikes at a local co-op was smart. That, and combined with the fairly relaxed pace of your tour, 23 mile average per day, so not pushing it, improves your odds. And these days, having along a smartphone to find the nearest bike shop or walmart to buy a cheapie, gives you great backup. However if you run into any mechanical trouble, there may be others on the trail with tools, and if not a severe problem, can help you out. Such as a broken spoke, you just retrue the wheel to account for the missing spoke, loosen the brake adjustment if able and still have brakes, and keep on riding.
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Old 07-01-24, 05:38 AM
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TY> I am going to do 50 miles a day. Will take some time to return , that's why said going to reply when I return home to my computer! TY again.
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