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Working on the road...

Old 12-09-13, 09:43 PM
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Working on the road...

Does anybody work during their tours?

Just curious, as I have seen some blogs where the person has a full time job and tours with a laptop, solar charger, and wireless network card and works while touring.

Unfortunately, my personal situation allows me to only take a week or maybe 2 max off of work at a time. Not to mention a wife and owning pets. I do currently work in the software industry, and work from home, so I'm wondering how feasible working from the road actually is. If only allowing me to do a 3 week instead of a 2 week tour, it may be something worth exploring.

Lol, how do you people take off months at a time to do a tour? I'm really curious. My dream is do tour the pacific coast but I dont ever see myself having time for that.
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Old 12-09-13, 10:33 PM
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Well as for the last part of your question and taking longer periods of time to tour - It's really simple, I think. Do you want to tour or work more? At least for me, it's not a mystical secret that I've figured out that the rest of the US hasn't. I've just decided that I'd rather put my job on hold for a few months each year or two and go experience some of this world. That experience is worth more than the money to me. But I don't own a brand new car or a big house, and I'm not wrapped up in the typical US life of the latest reality TV shows and having the latest gadgets/fashion, etc. I lead a simple life within my earning limits and enjoy hiking and bike touring. If you want to go ride down the West coast(which shouldn't take you months, so I think you should go for it and I think you'd love it), make that a priority. I'll warn you, though, you might get hooked and end up having to find a new job that you can take off for months at a time once in a while.

As for working from the road, that is something others can hopefully help with. It would, perhaps, be a wonderful situation and let you "have your cake and eat it too" to some extent, but I think it's definitely a rarity. Personally, I don't think a tour would really be the kind of tour I want if I were worried about work all the time, but great for you if you can balance it out.
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Old 12-10-13, 05:13 AM
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Originally Posted by mvallejo
Does anybody work during their tours?

Just curious, as I have seen some blogs where the person has a full time job and tours with a laptop, solar charger, and wireless network card and works while touring.

Unfortunately, my personal situation allows me to only take a week or maybe 2 max off of work at a time. Not to mention a wife and owning pets. I do currently work in the software industry, and work from home, so I'm wondering how feasible working from the road actually is. If only allowing me to do a 3 week instead of a 2 week tour, it may be something worth exploring.

Lol, how do you people take off months at a time to do a tour? I'm really curious. My dream is do tour the pacific coast but I dont ever see myself having time for that.
Answering the second question first ...

For the last decade, I've taken extended time off just about every year. In 2003, I quit my job and toured Australia for 3 months. Since then, I've taken a lot of temp jobs/contract work. Temp/contract work is great because I can choose to work for a certain number of months, and then choose to take a month or more off. In 2009, I moved to Australia which helped too ... Australians get a decent amount of holiday time off. Soon after I got here, I got a lengthy contract position which provided me with about 6.5 weeks of holiday time + stat holidays.

And then Rowan and I lived frugally and saved, and were able to take 8 months off to tour the world in 2012.


As for the first question ...

When Rowan and I left for our 8-month trip, my supervisors from that lengthy contract position asked me if I would be interested in working while on the road. It's easy enough to log on from anywhere in the world. I thought about it for a while, and then declined ... the last thing I wanted was to spend a day cycling or sightseeing, and then spend the evening/night working. Extended travel is tiring enough without adding a day's work in the midst.


Can you bank time?

Where I work now, I've got "flex time" so if I come in a bit earlier, leave a bit later, and take shorter lunches, conceivably I could start banking an extra hour or two a day.
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Old 12-10-13, 06:04 AM
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Originally Posted by mvallejo
Lol, how do you people take off months at a time to do a tour? I'm really curious. My dream is do tour the pacific coast but I dont ever see myself having time for that.
One year I did the Pacific Coast but did it in three separate chunks:
- Week of Memorial Day, I went from Vancouver, BC to Eugene, OR
- Week of 4th of July, I went from Eugene, OR to San Jose, CA
- Week of Labor Day, I went from San Jose, CA to Tijuana, BJ MEX.

I've managed software teams for many years and during that time, I've taken breaks of 6 weeks, 3 months, 12 months, 10 months and most recently 6 months for long bike trips. There are a few factors that have let me do this:
- I've been fortunate in my choice of employers to let me do this as well as establishing good track record and rapport with my boss.
- I ask way early. If I were to have a discussion today about taking off most of 2014 - chances are good I'd be looking at a change in employers. However, if I were to have discussion about taking off most of 2016, then it might be a different story since that seems further away than typical cycle time on current projects. Once on the "calendar", it slowly gets closer over time. In meantime, I'm taking shorter trips as vacations.
- I work with my bosses on it and do whatever I can to eliminate my job and/or coach and grow my successors so company does well in my old role and I'm ready to do a new role on my return. Often I've found that it takes 12-18 months to get really good at what I do and I want to contribute for a time. However, after a few years in a role, I'm not growing/learning as much as I did when things are new and at some point both myself and team can benefit by something new. So the ideal time between really long trips is ~4-5 years , which is what I've been able to do and also worked with my bosses.
- Most all these breaks have been under a "leave of absence" policy at companies I've worked for. Companies have to have plans for certain legally sanctioned leaves (e.g. maternity, military leave, FMLA) so they figure out how to make those work. However, for good performers who work with their bosses and give sufficient notice there might be other ways to request a "personal leave of absence" and make it work too. However, if for some reason I needed to switch employers I've also built up both enough skills and contacts - and have some flexibility in where I work - that I have reasonable confidence that I could find something different if I needed to (*). I've also lived a fair amount below my means to give me some additional flexibility.
- No spouse, no pets
- Been fortunate and lucky - but also made some explicit choices in my priorities that these extended tours are important for physical and mental health so found a way to do them.

(*) I learned one lesson early in my career when suddenly the software team I was part of was shut down and work was moved elsewhere. That gave me perspective both that I need to be able to switch and find other work if necessary - but also that I can be the one initiating such change by purposefully deciding to take an extended leave and then seeing what comes next in my employment. In both cases, what is necessary is similar: keep skills/contacts current, have some flexibility including keeping extra savings. For me it then became a question of priorities - how important was it to prioritize and find situations that let me take extended trips every 4-5 years vs. other priorities. I'd rather take such trips now when I'm younger and able to do it, than wait many years to retirement and then discover I no longer had ability to do as much.
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Old 12-10-13, 08:02 AM
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I hope to work on the road... I guess the trick for me has been to find my 'niche', my particular skill-set and use that on the road.

I'm a writer and journalist, and hoping to break into the freelance market as I travel. I hope to eventually become a freelance travel writer. That's the big goal, but, baby steps.

In terms of your questions about taking time off. That all depends, at least in my opinion, on how much you want to do a bike tour - and how far you want to go. If your dream is to cycle around the World, then begin! Do a Tom Allen, or Alastair Humphreys... And sell all your Worldly possessions (Wife included - okay... Maybe not! ) Quit your job, or take a series of months off from it... And go! The only thing stopping you is yourself and limitations are but those that you set yourself.
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Old 12-10-13, 08:04 AM
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Here is the way I look at it from perspective of managing software engineers.

If one of my team members came to me, said she was pregnant and going to take maternity leave. I would make sure we adjusted the software plans so would take leave and come back to the team. If someone was called for military service or had to take care of an ill family member for two months or two, same thing. In each of those cases, I would have legal requirements to do so, but would also be right thing to do.

If a team member came and asked to do an extended bicycle ride or similar longer time away - I wouldn't have the same legal obligation and I'd look at it slightly differently: how good an employee were they, what was their track record and passion. If they were good at what they did and we both saw this as a leave where they'd come back, then I'd work with them to allow a personal leave of absence for the extended trip and adjust the software project in similar fashion. If they weren't so good or perhaps not seeing this as their passion then we might have a conversation if it would be better fit for them to quit and find something better on their return. I'd still wish them the best but not have that leave.

So looking as an employee there is some luck involved in getting the right situation, company and boss. However, there are also things I can do to make it more likely I can take this leave and with right bosses, I've been able to do this multiple times for extended trips.
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Old 12-10-13, 08:56 AM
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You guys all make great points, and I do feel like I could probably take up to 3 weeks at a time MAX if I wanted to, and that would be time for a sufficient trip I'd think (1200-1300 mile trip?).

My situation is that I work in the Sales Operations area of a Software company. My fear is that if I went in and told them I was taking a huge chunk of time off, they would tell me to find another job, an idea which wouldnt be entirely suitable at this point in time, especially being that I generally like my job. The other part of the equation is that I just recently got married, and while I dont have young children at this point, we have a few dogs. It is one of my dreams to do a long distance tour. However, even taking 3 weeks off would be tough to put on my wife as she is a veterinarian who is extremely busy and would be burdened by managing the house and maintaining the pups by herself. Probably too much info and I sound like a whiner, but you get the idea.

That said, it's definitely something to keep on the docket. It's worth exploring my companies leave of absence policy, and other time off items we have. And the idea of splitting a tour up seems somewhat appealing. Probably best to bank some time, save up 120 hours of paid time off or so, give a decent amount of notice, and schedule a trip around some holidays. I think I would be ok getting 3 weeks or so off if I gave somewhat of a long term notice... Hey, maybe at that point I can get a couple trailers for the dogs and they can come with! The idea of that makes me laugh as they would probably be extremely bored, lol.

Thanks all for the replies. Definitely seems like there are a few with somewhat similar situations out there.
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Old 12-10-13, 09:20 AM
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I work in SalesOps in a Biotech (data/reporting). At one point, I did work from the road, only it was part of a climbing trip in a van, not a bike trip - but somewhat similar. I found working actually *in* the van didn't work for me - it was too cold, I needed reliable electricity and internet and didn't really have it. So I would work a few days in a row at the library (in Moab) or a hotel, and then climb a few days.

You need to evaluate what you need to do while you are actually working - do you need internet? Is public wi-fi going to work or will your company's security block that? Do you need phone? Is your laptop screen & mouse sufficient? Do you need to work during normal working hours, which means you will be riding only half a a day or not at all when you are working? Do you know in advance which days you will need to work (feasible), or will you need to be available during large portions of workday? (not feasible)

My first tour, I tried to get a leave and they didn't grant it, so I quit the job and when I returned I got temp and contract jobs... I've now been a contractor for 10 years and am about to go back to being a full time employee. Being a contractor is great if you have skills and a network. I had a career angel who took me along with him to several contracts, that was great. If you aren't marketable, don't have a reliable network, or the idea of looking for contract work many times doesn't appeal to you, then you might not want to embark on this path. I didn't ever think I would be a contractor for so long, but it worked out and I loved it.

Be careful asking for a long leave, asking can open an exit door if things are otherwise shaky. I don't think 3 weeks is a long leave, though, it's just an extended vacation. Before I quit that job, I had several of those - I just asked for a week unpaid leave to add to my vacation time.

Good luck!
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Old 12-10-13, 09:44 AM
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Originally Posted by valygrl
I work in SalesOps in a Biotech (data/reporting). At one point, I did work from the road, only it was part of a climbing trip in a van, not a bike trip - but somewhat similar. I found working actually *in* the van didn't work for me - it was too cold, I needed reliable electricity and internet and didn't really have it. So I would work a few days in a row at the library (in Moab) or a hotel, and then climb a few days.

You need to evaluate what you need to do while you are actually working - do you need internet? Is public wi-fi going to work or will your company's security block that? Do you need phone? Is your laptop screen & mouse sufficient? Do you need to work during normal working hours, which means you will be riding only half a a day or not at all when you are working? Do you know in advance which days you will need to work (feasible), or will you need to be available during large portions of workday? (not feasible)

My first tour, I tried to get a leave and they didn't grant it, so I quit the job and when I returned I got temp and contract jobs... I've now been a contractor for 10 years and am about to go back to being a full time employee. Being a contractor is great if you have skills and a network. I had a career angel who took me along with him to several contracts, that was great. If you aren't marketable, don't have a reliable network, or the idea of looking for contract work many times doesn't appeal to you, then you might not want to embark on this path. I didn't ever think I would be a contractor for so long, but it worked out and I loved it.

Be careful asking for a long leave, asking can open an exit door if things are otherwise shaky. I don't think 3 weeks is a long leave, though, it's just an extended vacation. Before I quit that job, I had several of those - I just asked for a week unpaid leave to add to my vacation time.

Good luck!

Yah I have a feeling my work would say the same thing. But hey, if 3 weeks is what I can get, then that is what I can get. Even that I feel may be difficult. I do have a great relationship with my job and I love the flexibility I already have, working from home and all, so I dont think leaving is optimal at this point.

As far as working on the road, I would think I would have to be around a good portion of the workday, and would need somewhat regular connection. The optimal situation would be to have a wireless network card, but power would be an issue, and I would likely need phone. Doesnt exactly sound feasible.

Personal life is also just as much of an issue. If it's not one thing it's another =P I think a 3 week journey is something I can figure out and could be feasible given enough notice. This summer I am only doing a 10 day tour down the California coast, so many a 3 week tour is something to plan for next year, heading up into Wyoming and maybe east to South Dakota and back (I live in Colorado). Either way, its something somewhat sufficient (in my mind) to work with.

Thanks again for all the advice.
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Old 12-10-13, 09:49 AM
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Have you done anyt touring? If not, you might want to start with something smallish to begin with. You can pack a lot into two weeks. The GF and I have done 2 trips starting in MT in the last four years. 9 days of riding. Travel Thursday, start riding Friday, finish riding a week from Saturday. Because of the four weekend days, we only used 7 vacation days. Not even 1 1/2 weeks off from work.

As for much longer trips, we all make choices in our lives. At age 34, with (voluntarily) no mortgage, no wife, no kids and no pets, I was free to take two years off from the working world when I was downsized in the wake of a corporate acquisition. In fact, I volunteered to be laid off. Did three long tours, pursued other interests and saw a lot of matinee movies.
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Old 12-10-13, 10:00 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz
Have you done anyt touring? If not, you might want to start with something smallish to begin with. You can pack a lot into two weeks. The GF and I have done 2 trips starting in MT in the last four years. 9 days of riding. Travel Thursday, start riding Friday, finish riding a week from Saturday. Because of the four weekend days, we only used 7 vacation days. Not even 1 1/2 weeks off from work.

As for much longer trips, we all make choices in our lives. At age 34, with (voluntarily) no mortgage, no wife, no kids and no pets, I was free to take two years off from the working world when I was downsized in the wake of a corporate acquisition. In fact, I volunteered to be laid off. Did three long tours, pursued other interests and saw a lot of matinee movies.

I actually just got into the touring idea. I have been mountain biking about 5 years now and commuted to work for about 2 years. I have done a couple overnight and 2 night bike camping trips. Beginning of January I am doing a 5 day trip which will be my longest yet, and then this summer I mentioned the 10 day California coast trip. Very very much a novice at this point, but I love the idea and am looking to get more into it.

The 9-10 day trips you mentioned definitely seem like something that would be great for my wife and I, given the situation. I am envious of your no mortgage/kids/pets situation! We have two dogs and it's tough to board them for 9 days because of the expense. Think it would be fun to get some trailers and bring them, so it's definitely an option we could work with. We are quite new to Northern Colorado, do you mind shooting me a PM and sharing your Montana ride route (if you still have it)? Dreaming up routes is definitely entertaining when work is slow.
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Old 12-10-13, 10:08 AM
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I'm in CO too. It's so easy to tour here, just pick a loop in the mountains, drive to some point on the loop, ride, drive home. Are you in Ft. C? Start with a trip up Poudre Canyon and back across Trail Ridge. Or the Grand Loop - Boulder - Lyons - Estes - Granby - Winter Park - Idaho Springs - Golden - Boulder.

Or the route that Bicycle Tour of Colorado is using this year is an ideal 1-1.5 week tour.

Depending where you live, just ride out your door. This simplifies the travel and makes it cheaper.

The thing about Wyoming, is wind. wind wind wind. wind. did i mention wind? Can be pretty demoralizing. Mountains are nicer. THere's some great riding in WY (Big Horns, Tetons/Yellowstone) but there's an awful lot of long stretches of high plains that I think are not the greatest for bike touring.

Montana is great. CO is great.
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Old 12-10-13, 10:52 AM
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Originally Posted by valygrl
I'm in CO too. It's so easy to tour here, just pick a loop in the mountains, drive to some point on the loop, ride, drive home. Are you in Ft. C? Start with a trip up Poudre Canyon and back across Trail Ridge. Or the Grand Loop - Boulder - Lyons - Estes - Granby - Winter Park - Idaho Springs - Golden - Boulder.

Or the route that Bicycle Tour of Colorado is using this year is an ideal 1-1.5 week tour.

Depending where you live, just ride out your door. This simplifies the travel and makes it cheaper.

The thing about Wyoming, is wind. wind wind wind. wind. did i mention wind? Can be pretty demoralizing. Mountains are nicer. THere's some great riding in WY (Big Horns, Tetons/Yellowstone) but there's an awful lot of long stretches of high plains that I think are not the greatest for bike touring.

Montana is great. CO is great.
Yah I am in Ft Collins. Just moved here not too long ago. Poudre and Trail ridge seems amazing. Never even looked at that before. That would be a perfect short trip. Have you done it? How tough is it? Definitely adding that to the list.

That is what I was worried about with Wyoming and potentially South Dakota (biking to Rushmore was a thought). Also heard Nebraska is beautiful to bike through (plains dont bother me), but figured wind be pretty bad there.
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Old 12-10-13, 01:27 PM
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Just mapped it out on mapmyride: https://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/333870475

That first day seems intense... The first 50 miles all uphill with some decent climbs.
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Old 12-10-13, 02:15 PM
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I've done that loop a few times when I lived in Fort Collins. Not too bad first day since grades are reasonable, but watch for winds which can make it tough. Walden is a nice place for overnight with camping in the park. Coming back via Poudre Canyon is almost all downhill, so a morning climb to Cameron Pass followed by nice descent. However, summer weekend days can get very crowded in the Poudre Canyon.

If you like that loop, another one to look at is: (1) drive to Laramie and park at the airport (2) cycle to Saratoga (3) cycle to Walden (4) cycle back to Laramie. There is also a triangle ride that can be done: Laramie, Saratoga, Medicine Bow and back to Laramie - flatter but not as interesting.
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Old 12-10-13, 02:46 PM
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Originally Posted by mev
I've done that loop a few times when I lived in Fort Collins. Not too bad first day since grades are reasonable, but watch for winds which can make it tough. Walden is a nice place for overnight with camping in the park. Coming back via Poudre Canyon is almost all downhill, so a morning climb to Cameron Pass followed by nice descent. However, summer weekend days can get very crowded in the Poudre Canyon.

If you like that loop, another one to look at is: (1) drive to Laramie and park at the airport (2) cycle to Saratoga (3) cycle to Walden (4) cycle back to Laramie. There is also a triangle ride that can be done: Laramie, Saratoga, Medicine Bow and back to Laramie - flatter but not as interesting.
Lol, I want to try all of those. I do think that last triangle sounds pretty interesting, the one including medicine bow. I'm quite interested in cycling a bit of wyoming, and the flat plains like stuff can be pretty beautiful, aside from crazy winds. Thanks for the direction, awesome stuff.
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Old 12-10-13, 03:11 PM
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Ok one more if you like the wide open plains:

There is a campground (Crow Valley) at Briggsdale. I've done a three day weekend ride as follows:
- Friday late in day cycle from Fort Collins and camp at Briggsdale
- Saturday ride in search of the WY/CO/NE triple point. There is some gravel road, but nothing too bad. You can make a big square and come back via Grover. Camp at Briggsdale again.
- Sunday return
There is some nice riding out by the Pawnee Buttes.

The other one that takes a slight variation is to ride to the West Pawnee Ranch B&B. A non-cyclist can meet you out at the B&B to stay together before you ride back.

I agree with you there is a certain beauty of the wide open plains. I started an exercise of trying to ride all the roads in Weld County. I printed out a map and started checking them off (~4000 miles of county roads most of them gravel). I got ~20% done before moving from Fort Collins, so eventually will be back to do some more
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Old 12-10-13, 04:37 PM
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Awesome. Thanks so much for this. Yah I have looked out into Pawnee area a couple times. It's tough to find a decent route or loop without the dirt roads. I like the Briggsdale idea and taking the 77 up and hanging a right to go to the triple point, then coming back. Another one to add to the list. Should have a decent amount of 3 day tours.

Any recommendations for a week tour?
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Old 12-11-13, 06:30 AM
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Originally Posted by mvallejo
We are quite new to Northern Colorado, do you mind shooting me a PM and sharing your Montana ride route (if you still have it)? Dreaming up routes is definitely entertaining when work is slow.
Will do. I think I need to map it out again since Bikely.com accidentally deleted all my routes when it "updated" its site. The towns were Missoula-Darby-Wisdom-Elkhorn Hot Springs-Divide-Twin Bridges-Butte-Philipsburg-Ekstrom's Stage-Missoula. You could cut out the stop at Elkhorn. Would make a long day but, as we learned, not exceedingly difficult because the last 40 miles are pretty easy. Some unpaved roads, but they are easily doable on decent tires.
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Old 12-11-13, 09:32 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz
Will do. I think I need to map it out again since Bikely.com accidentally deleted all my routes when it "updated" its site. The towns were Missoula-Darby-Wisdom-Elkhorn Hot Springs-Divide-Twin Bridges-Butte-Philipsburg-Ekstrom's Stage-Missoula. You could cut out the stop at Elkhorn. Would make a long day but, as we learned, not exceedingly difficult because the last 40 miles are pretty easy. Some unpaved roads, but they are easily doable on decent tires.

Thanks amigo. If it's too much work dont worry about it as I could figure it out. The unpaved roads should be fine, I'm on Marathon Plus's, just nothing too rough. You mention starting in Montana... did you take a train up?
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Old 12-11-13, 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by mvallejo
You mention starting in Montana... did you take a train up?
No. I am in Philly. There is no service to Missoula. Even if there was, it would take too long. Flew United and shipped the bikes UPS to a local shop.

Amtrak does serve Whitefish, where we started and ended a loop into Candan and back through Glacier N.P. in '09. That's another decent loop, although over all not quite as scenic as the one we did from Missoula. However, it's hard to beat the ride over Going to the Sun in Glacier.
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