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Messages - jamawani

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Routes / Re: Route advice - Oregon to Maine
« on: February 24, 2017, 02:33:53 pm »
Hi again, Howard -

I don't live in Oregon - although I have friends who have been working on me for years to move there - but I have been starting and ending trips up and down the Oregon coast since September of 1987. (That was my 1st X-USA starting at Astoria.) I won't tell you how many time since you might think that i'm not quite right.

Like many, I think the southern coast is most spectacular, but it isn't convenient for a cross state tour. The middle coast has some wonderful sections - esp. from Depoe Bay south to Heceta Head. But the coast near Florence is level with dunes - not the ragged bluffs and rocks so typical of the Oregon Coast. The north coast has some great sections, too - Oswald West & the Three Capes. Pretty level near Astoria, too - unless you cross the Columbia to Cape Disappointment in Washington.

I've started/ended many trips in the Tillamook/Cape Lookout/Pacific City area. Tillamook has all services, plus a nice cheese factory. Pacific City is a funky little coast town with the essentials. On my X-USA trips, I have always wanted to have a day on either end to take in the coast. YMMV - but I like to get the feel and smell the salt and see the sun rise or set on the water.

Here's a trip inland from Pacific City recently -

I connected with the TransAm at Sisters after crossing Santiam Pass. Even if you took the designated TransAm, you would probably have to use Santiam Pass in June this year instead of McKenzie. Another option is to rougly follow US 20 from Newport (maybe Yaquina Head Lighthouse - cause the feel and the views are superb) thru the college town Corvallis to Santiam Pass. On this trip I cut off from the TransAm at Austin Jct. and rode thru the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho. There are some fantabulous hot springs that your chauffeur might enjoy.

About my pix - I don't know for sure where any of them are any more. My electronic filing methods seem to have copied my paper filing methods - which were limited, at best.

This pic - Sawtooth Mountains near Stanley in late June, 2004.

Best - J

Routes / Re: Route advice - Oregon to Maine
« on: February 23, 2017, 08:58:50 pm »
Well, the Bighorn Mountains are perfectly awful in late June.

Routes / Re: Getting Across South Dakota
« on: February 23, 2017, 04:43:34 pm »

I would hate to ride westbound on US 26 from Ontario to Austin Jct. - but eastbound is super.
Some killer downhills and, usually, a tailwind. It'll take 20 years off your face.
In 2015 I didn't get the prevailing tailwind, but the time before I was coasting in my big ring.
It really is one of the finest rides in eastern Oregon. And there is almost zero traffic until Vale.

There's a lodge at Austin Jct., store & cafe at Unity, nothing at Ironside, store long closed at Brogan but park with water, store at Willowcreek.
There's also a lovely back road along the bluffs from Vale to Ontario - much nicer than busy US 26.

(The TransAm section is fine - longer by 50+ miles - but Hwy 55 riding should be the minimum.)

About ID 55 - it has few shoulders and pretty heavy traffic.
As with all roads, it has different traffic levels depending on month, day, hour.
Much of the traffic is recreational - and not much commuter.

June - 8000; July 10,000 - - Neither is good.
Weekends have almost twice as much traffic as early weekdays.
Friday afternoon/eve and Sunday afternoons are the worst.
7:00a traffic is low every day (200 per hr) 7:00p traffic is low M, T, W (300 per hr)

This is why you get some people on websites saying - "That road was no problem."
While others say, "It was a death trap."


About Sage Creek Rd - How skinny will your tires be? Touring width? 32s or larger? I didn't have any problem with 1 3/8s. (35)
Of course, if there's a big storm, that's different. But the road is probably best 12 hours after a rain. Solid, not too much dust.
The scenery is muted - maybe one or two cars an hour - so you are not in trouble if something goes wrong.
And it allows you to ride the entire main road thru the park. Evening and early morning are best light.

Routes / Re: Route advice - Oregon to Maine
« on: February 23, 2017, 12:42:25 pm »
Howard -

Based on your other thread, sounds like you have switched from the Northern Tier to a combo of TransAm, Idaho, Wyoming, SD and then NT.
And you are going to have a sag wagon ?!?!? Piece o'cake.

Here's a link to the current snow situation in the West -

As you can see, the heaviest snows are in the Sierras and Southern Rockies.
Oregon, Idaho, and Wyoming are above average. Washington and western Montana below.
But that can change up until May. And storm tracks tend to retreat northwards in spring.
So, the Northwest could still get walloped in the next couple of months.

You don't offer a whole lot of info about how you will be riding.
I'm guessing more motels - since your sag wagon driver just may insist ??
Also speed of travel? 80 miles per day? More? Less?

I would avoid starting a trip on Memorial Day Weekend - esp. on the Pacific coast.
Before or after - but accommodations could be sold out and pricey then.
If you were to start on June 1, you will be in central Idaho pretty darn early.
I have toured in the NW in early June when it was still snowing and it ain't fun.
And big winter snows take a long time to melt out. 2015 was a light snow year.

Not to mention that Florence isn't a particularly attractive point on the Oregon coast.
And the Oregon coast is famous for being stunning.
If you're gonna do the Oregon coast, why not get the champagne?

How are you going to get out there? Will you be driving?
Two of the hardest times on a tour are getting started and getting back.
If you have a vehicle, it makes it so much easier where to start.

Gotta tell you that the Palouse southeast Washington is gorgeous in early June.
Did it last year and it was magical.

Three possible crossing options for Idaho:
Sawtooth Mountains -

Lewis & Clark Route (US 12) ACA L&C #6 -

Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes -
Miles of paved bike trail thru stunning scenery with great places for your sag driver to enjoy.


As for SD - SD 44 may be a little too far south if you are definitely hitting the Twin Cities.
(If MSP is just a waypoint, then it doesn't matter)
I would suggest US 14 and a combination of SD 34 and county roads east of Badlands N.P.

Routes / Re: Getting Across South Dakota
« on: February 22, 2017, 05:21:13 pm »
I've done the Sawtooths a couple of times -
They make a nice west-to-east route across Idaho - although Stanley can be COLD even in July.

I cut off the TransAm at Austin Jct. - staying on US 26 - with some killer downhills and tailwinds.
You can follow the Payette River all the way from Ontario to Banner Summit.
Great hot springs along the road between Garden Valley and Lowman.
(Services are extremely limited - the store/cafe at Lowman is closed, but there are a few lodges.)

I've gone thru Challis and Salmon on my trips - not Sun Valley - all beautiful.
Once you get out into the Snake River Plains it can get hot, esp. around Craters of the Moon.
I prefer ID 22/33 to Driggs over US 20/26 to Alpine.  Teton Pass is tough,
but there's almost as much climbing along Palisades Res. with narrow winding road.

Grand Teton is spectacular with a great bike trail. Jenny Lake has hiker/bikers camp sites.
They are making it harder and harder for for cyclists at Yellowstone's South Entrance.
I find that climbing up the plateau is easiest late in the day.
Traffic is lighter, you are shaded from the western sun, and hiker/biker sites are at Lewis Lake.
(I hope you are doing the big loop from West Thumb to O.F. to Norris to Canyon to Lake.)

The ride from Pahaska Tepee to Wapiti is truly spectacular along the Shoshone River
Be aware that there is no tent camping from Bridge Bay in YNP for the next 40+ miles east.
And you should hit the peak of wildflower season in the Bighorns.


Oh, yes - South Dakota.
Have you considered heading down to Spearfish and up Spearfish Canyon - super-duper!
Then you can hit touristy Deadwood and Nemo Rd into Rapid City.
Then SD 44 takes you to Badlands NP - which is really nice in early summer - brutal later.
If you are willing to do a little hardpack dirt - Sage Creek Rd from Scenic lets you ride the entire park.
(Or less dirt - 20 mi east on SD 44 to Conata Rd, 9 mi dirt)

Then a combination of US 14, SD 34, and maybe the back route I mentioned above?

And as for the Cheyenne River Res. - conditions are deplorable - and there's no excuse.
The two counties are roughly 80% Native Am and 20% white and many ways like apartheid South Africa.
Many communities lack water and sewer - substance abuse is epidemic. And horrible wrecks.
(Many it's random - but I've seen too many on my tours thru Indian country.)
The people I have met on reservations have been wonderful - but as a non-native, it's not easy.

Best - J

Pic - Badlands in June

General Discussion / Re: Recommendations for a tour beginning in Chicago
« on: February 22, 2017, 12:52:52 pm »
Time is money - and Amtrak, while cheap, is slow and often late.
I'm guessing you have from Friday evening with one week off until Monday morning 10 days out.
Driving means lots of time, exhaustion, plus getting back to your starting point.

You could ride from Chicago to the West Coast in four segments, if you are willing to look at travel options.
Since Chicago is an air and a rail hub, you could probably get in  7 days and 2 halves - max.
You saw where Canalligators combined air and rail to do four segments - something like that is needed.

Since it is about 2400 cycling miles to a number of West Coast points - then 1200 would be the midpoint.
And 600 miles is a damn good week-plus. 75 miles per. Plus there are always extra miles, don't forget.
Also, you'll want to start and end segments without a lot of complicated local travel.

I have taken the Empire Builder many times while cycling. (They left my bike in the wrong city, once ...)
Starting in places like Whitefish is great - but it is two days out from Chicago - and very late, too.
The best way to start/end in convenient locations is a non-stop flight plus a puddle-jumper.
And shipping your bike to a bike shop is usually cheaper than outrageous airline fees.
Plus, your bike will be there waiting for you.

Let's take Whitefish - for example:
Amtrak from Chicago - Dep CHI 2:15p Fri; Arr WFH 8:56p Sat
United from Chicago - Dep ORD 9:05a Sat; Arr 11:55a Sat - nonstop

Then there's time of year and direction.
There have been dissertation written about bike west-to-east vs. east-to-west.
But season is more important. The Plains have a long season, the Rockies a short one.
If you were to do an early-summer week plus a late-summer week -
It might be better to do the West west-to-east with the Rockies in later summer.
Then, perhaps, the High Plains in summer and the Corn Belt in fall the next year.

One possibility:
1. Washington coast to Kalispell or Missoula in Montana
2. Kalispell/Missoula to Sheridan in Wyoming.
3. Sheridan to Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
4. Sioux Falls to Chicago.

Another possibility:
1. Oregon coast to Missoula, Montana
And as above
Or via Idaho and Jackson, Wyoming

These would be 600+ mile weeks with tight starts and finishes.
But possible - esp. with air connections.

Routes / Re: Getting Across South Dakota
« on: February 21, 2017, 04:33:58 pm »
Agreed - there's not much quiet riding left in western ND - so why do it?
Anyhoo, the title of the thread is "Getting across South Dakota".

Between SD and Neb (and Marmarth) there are thousands of empty miles in the western Plains.

Routes / Re: Getting Across South Dakota
« on: February 21, 2017, 10:25:05 am »
But why ride on I-94 and service roads when there are so many lovely, empty roads in the Great Plains?

Routes / Re: Getting Across South Dakota
« on: February 20, 2017, 03:14:43 am »
PS - I was looking at your other posts. The Sawtooths will be cold. And snowed in.
I've biked across Idaho a number of times via the Sawtooths.
Here is one route from Ontario, OR to Teton Pass.

The stretch on ID 55 is narrow and busy - esp. on weekends.
The little burg of Howe - which used to have cafes and a camping area - burned down a few years back.
From Howe, you can swing thru Dubois and Island Park if you want to head straight to Yellowstone. But.

Here is the WY DOT bike map of Wyoming -

The Northern Route from Yellowstone thru Cody and Buffalo to Devils Tower is quite nice.
(Except that I would take Nowood Road directly from Manderson to Tensleep.)
Wildflowers in the Bighorns will probably peak in late June rather than mid June this year.

Routes / Re: Getting Across South Dakota
« on: February 20, 2017, 02:59:36 am »
That suggests to me - a Wyoming boy - that you will be riding across the West from mid-May to mid-June.
You know we are having a kicker of a winter this year, right?
Since you mentioned ACA routes - I am almost certain Going to the Sun Road in Glacier will not be open yet.
Also, roads may be late opening in Yellowstone, too - - 200% of normal snow depth - - and normal is a lot.
Most services in Yellowstone do not open until after Memorial Day and may after mid-June.

Just sayin' - ya know?

Here is the SD DOT Traffic Count Map:
I've biked US 12, US 14, SD 34, and SD 44.

Do you want to dip into the Black Hills a bit from Spearfish? Spearfish Canyon is really sweet.

None of the roads in SD are terrible - traffic is generally light and there are pretty good shoulders on primary routes.
That said, US 14 has the most traffic and US 12 near Aberdeen is pretty darn busy.
But there are plenty of lightly-traveled highways to choose from.
There is a great combo of SD 34 and county roads from Pierre to Huron.
And the eastern counties do have some very empty, paved county roads.
And SD 44 is a straight shot south of I-90 that lets you visit Badlands N.P.

West of the Missouri, anything other than the county seat is often almost a ghost town.
I've biked on the rez in SD and I am a white boy - but things are definitely not good.
US 212 traverses the Cheyenne River Res., one of the poorest reservations in the U.S.
There is no excuse for Wounded Knee and much else - but a solo non-native cyclist assumes some risk.
I have seen horrible, fatal wrecks on the rez. I have seen wasted people driving.
I have always been treated well on the rez - but it is tough.

Hope that helps.

Routes / Re: Best/easiest route from the Pacific to Michigan
« on: February 19, 2017, 12:14:38 pm »
Two quick questions - -

1. How are you getting from Vermont out to the Pacific Coast?
Will you be driving all the way? Or flying and then renting a camper?
Obviously, if you drive - it will be more than 2 days getting started.

2. Are you planning to ride via the U.P and then down the L.P.?
If so then it would probably add a week to the 60 days I mentioned earlier.
There's the fast ferry from Milwaukee to Muskegon.
But the SS Badger from Manitowoc to Ludington is so much nicer.
('Cause I prefer slow to fast.)

Routes / Re: Best/easiest route from the Pacific to Michigan
« on: February 18, 2017, 04:02:50 pm »
Denise -

Flesher Pass is a shorter and easier route than the ACA TransAm.
The ACA route is a bit more scenic - but everything in western Montana is scenic.
Also, you would run into lots more cyclists on the ACA - which has its benefits.

If you are going to Bozeman it may be a tough slog heading east.
Yes, the L&C southern options is available - but it has a lot of I-90 & service roads.

Bear in mind that by the time you reach Montana you and your son will have your cycling legs.
Starting with easier grades is prudent, but you will be surprised how quickly both of you get in synch.


I mentioned the various Yakima options above.
Hwy 24 east of Vernita Bridge sux - major time.
There hasn't been a ferry at Hanford for 80 years - would would be perfect.
So you almost have to go via Richland & Pasco.


The West is more than 1/3 of the distance but less than half, usually.
That would come out to about 23 or 24 days out of 56.
Not including 2 days to start and 2 days to end for 60 total.

If Washington is 8 days - 8 x 60 mi = 480 mi -
And Idaho is an easy 3 days - the climb is gradual.
Then that gives you 12 days to do Montana Wyoming.

I love Going to the Sun Road in Glacier NP - but in mid/late June -
With all the snow we have been having, it might still be closed.

Yellowstone does have lots of visitor - a bit less in June -
But is is awesome to cycle through if you use some planning.
And heading east out of Yellowstone to Cody is one of the finest rides there is.

Just some ideas to further confuse you.

Pic - Soda Butte Creek in Yellowstone

Routes / Re: Best/easiest route from the Pacific to Michigan
« on: February 18, 2017, 11:09:33 am »
Oh, and about those two route options east of Yakima? Actually three.

You can look at my journal from this past summer - I took the direct route on WA 24 to Othello.
Once you cross the Vernita Bridge it gets really hairy.
It is brutal - it is very remote - it is very exposed - it has no shoulder - and it has heavy, fast traffic.
Even with all my experience, I found it nerve-wracking.

The southerly dip thru the Yakima Valley has the most services and shade.
Yes, it is longer.

Another option that would save about 10 miles is to head east on WA 24 and southeast on WA 240.
There is a cafe/bar at the junction of WA 24/WA 241 - but nothing else.
Traffic drop on WA 24 after Moxie, but is moderate to moderate+ on WA 240 - but with shoulders.

If you were to stay in Yakima either at a motel/Airbnb/ or the state park - it would be two days to Palouse Falls.
If you were to take the WA 24 / WA 240 route (which is not terribly scenic on WA 240) you might aim for Richland

If you were to do it in 2 1/2 days - with lots of time for Palouse Falls -
You could take the WA 24/WA 241  route to Horn Rapids Park at the junction of WA 240 & WA 225.
Then Pasco Kahlotus Road and down Burr Canyon Road to Winddust campground on the Snake River - little hidaway.
Then up thru the spectacular Missoula Floods era Devils Canyon to Kahlotus.
The views will erase any thought of the climb.
Kahlotus is barely holding on - but you get get the absolute essentials - food/water.
But since you have a vehicle - you can stock up in Pasco.

One thing to remember -
Many of these tiny towns are really struggling.
If they charge more - remember that there is no delivery truck - they drive to Costco to pick up their own supplies.
Dropping a few bucks in the last remaining business is a nice way to offer support.


Routes / Re: Best/easiest route from the Pacific to Michigan
« on: February 18, 2017, 10:41:08 am »
Denise -

Thank you for your kinds words.
I have ridden the Missoula-Lincoln-Helena route a number of times.
Did it on my 1st x-c ride in 1987 - and did it again last sumer.
Journal on Crazyguyonabike -
Flesher Pass is a pretty easy crossing of the continental divide with low traffic.

Traffic mellows out a few iles east of Missoula and there is a shoulder.
The Blackfoot River is a "Blue Ribbon" trout stream - gorgeous mile after mile.
Nice cafe at the top of the climb at Potomac - and a good spot for a break.
You must include Ovando - general store, cafe, camping - magical.
There is a narrow stretch thru Blackfoot Canyon before Lincoln - camping/services.

There are two back ways into Helena from Silver City - Birdseye Road and Green Meadow Rd.
Birdseye is harder, but very scenic. Green Meadow is pretty level with more traffic.

Helena is a marvelous town -
There's camping out at the fairgrounds - a ways out - but if you have vehicle support, no big deal.
Last Chance Gulch downtown has amazing Western history.
The Algerian Temple, the Cathedral, great bike shops, restaurants, museums.

BTW - Here's a cycling map of Montana with summer traffic counts:

Best - Jama

PS - June is the perfect time to cross eastern Washington and to see Palouse Falls roaring.
PPS - US 12 is a gentle, low-traffic ride across eastern Montana.

Routes / Re: How to get home. Anacortes to NJ
« on: February 13, 2017, 04:16:38 pm »
Take the Wash State Ferry out to the San Juan Islands - San Juan/Friday Harbor has a county park on the west side (sunset) but is the busiest. Lopez has a county and a state park and is laid bach - a small village with store and cafe.

From Anacortes there is scheduled airporter service to SeaTac - a bit expensive but easiest. You can also take public transit with a few changes down to SeaTac. The cheapest way is to take Transit to Everett and catch Amtrak all the way across - - if you have the time. You bike only costs something like $10 extra and they have bike boxes at the station. Empire Builder to Chicago then Lakeshore to NYC-Penn.

I caught Amtrak from Penn Station to Seattle after I finished an X-C last summer. Three days - but time to unwind.

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