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Messages - zzzz

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Routes / Re: Sierra Cascades - total elevation gain?
« on: September 09, 2016, 02:26:51 pm »
This is very interesting.

When I first saw your post I berated myself for not actually going back and re-adding up my elevations and relying on my memory to give you the 140,000-150,000 number I gave you.

Now that I had some egg on my face I went into Garmin Connect and added my elevation totals again. As I mentioned in my previous post I started up north at Sumas (+the milage from Bellingham), followed the route exactly except incorporating Mackenzie Pass and some extra at Crater Lake (both of which added several 1000' of elevation), and exited the route by taking 2 down to Pasadena & LA, 315 miles from Mexico. I have 139,745' of elevation gain.

Either my Garmin is off by almost 44% or both Ride w GPS & Map My Ride is off by that amount. Any theories out there?


Routes / Re: Northern Tier Alternate
« on: June 21, 2016, 09:08:16 am »
I live north of Philly and for many years I had a track car I used to run at Watkins Glen (Finger Lakes) and I would drive up there 5-10 times a year and I would always take 6 unless I was running really late. It's a pretty road to drive but I would be reluctant to ride it.

If you take it, on the plus side you won't have a bunch of turns to map out and I remember it having a shoulder most of the way. On the other hand it carries a lot of traffic, many of them trucks, and everybody will be going 70+. As far as topography, it's lots of rollers but you will have that everywhere. It's probably safely ridable but that doesn't mean it will be pleasant.

I find that whole area of the Pa northern tier/NY southern tier quite lovely, especially the Finger Lakes. There would be some work involved but it's an area thats been populated for a long time and there is quite a network of small roads so I think you would be best off getting state road maps w traffic counts and working out something for yourself. Get it loaded on a GPS device to give you turn by turn directions and you won't feel like 100% of your time is consumed with following the route.

Best of luck.


Routes / Re: Sierra Cascades, Primitive Camping, and Bears. Oh my!
« on: June 20, 2016, 02:03:18 pm »
I did this route in 2014. I was staying in hotels so I can't answer your questions on camping. FWIW I did not see any bears or heard any talk of bears while I was on route.

If your doing the tour this year I don't think you have a lot of choice than going North to South. I left September 1 from Sumas and I found it almost ideal weather-wise. It was fire season and I had some smoke and all the falls at Yosemite were dry but the temps were mostly mild, passes were clear and traffic at the NP's was down.

I would think if you left now from the south it would be brutally hot till you got to at least Giant Sequoia/ Kings Canyon and if you left later in the year you might run into snow when you got to the high passes further north. If your planning for next year you could thread the needle and leave from the south planning (guessing) on hitting Tioga Pass just after it gets plowed. Of course, everything Itinerant Harper wrote still holds true for the other reasons to go North to South.

I can't emphasize enough how the heat will beat you up on this ride. We all have our self-delusions and mine is that I'm pretty good at getting a bike uphill. And most of the climbs are the usual no more than 7% that you find in the western US but when you are doing your 3rd big climb of the day and it is a windy hot day, it can really be brutal. I once saw a list for the 20 toughest climbs in Colorado and I've done most of them as well as a slew of other big passes out west and I had never got off a bike mid pass to gather myself before, I did it twice on this trip.

This is not to discourage you, it's a fantastic route, but it's pretty tough. My advice is don't make it harder than it already is.


Routes / Re: Great Parks North tips
« on: June 14, 2016, 10:03:06 am »

I went from Jasper to Rawlins (then down to Colorado) 3 years ago is September. I was credit card touring so I can't comment on camping but I'll add a couple of things to tsteven4's sound advice.

While I went from north to south so it's all opposite of your route, I don't remember any of the descents being scary and none of the climbs were really steep so I don't think you need to worry about it being too difficult.

tsteven4's reference to cycling restrictions on Logan Pass (aka Going to the Sun Rd) is that it is closed to cyclists from 11-4. This is the coolest road I have ever ridden and people come from all over to drive it so you will want to beat the traffic on it anyway. Plan on starting at dawn on the ride up.

I can't speak to traffic in the summer but there was a pretty substantial shoulder on all the highways it routes you on that I remember. I never felt unsafe.

+1 that you made the right choice. It will start out a little slow scenery wise, but once you get to Glacier it's one visual treat after another and the Icefields Parkway is fantastic. My only concern is that it may be too close in appearance to your native Switzerland for you to fully appreciate. If you went in the other direction you would see Yellowstone which is unique to this earth but way overcrowded in the summer and (I feel) kind of dangerous to ride and the Tetons but after that you got the long slog thru the wind river valley.


No NPS shuttle when I was there and when I inquired the Ranger did not give me the impression they could take me thru. That said, if there's a more conducive place to hitch a ride, I can't imagine where it would be. Even as a 58 y.o. guy who hadn't shaved recently and probably looked a little rough after 3 weeks on the road I had no trouble. With all those cars at a stop, if they have room for you and the bike it's harder to wave you off then to say yes.

Before I got there I was under the impression that they had traffic going both ways except when a large RV or tour bus came along and they would then make the tunnel one way for that vehicle to pass. That turned out not to be true and after seeing how narrow the tunnel is and how many large RVs and tour buses go thru, I didn't see any way that could ever be the case. And it was so regulated that even on the morning when I left and there was much more traffic leaving then entering the park, they still kept the tunnel open in either direction the same amount of time (say 15± minutes) each way instead of going to 10 minutes one direction and 20 minutes in the busier direction.

RE the article you linked to : I don't know where the park rangers were when these guys rolled up because they were standing sentry when I got there and they made sure to let me know in no uncertain terms to not even think about riding thru. Be that as it may, that was an exceptionally stupid move on the riders part to go in there w/o a proper front light.  There was several places in the tunnel where there was daylight but overwhelmingly it was Dark and not straight with a pretty good down hill slope.


If the hubby is along it makes it a little harder in that you need a vehicle that can fit you both but it doesn't change much, I'm sure the 2 of you are not going to look dangerous or threatening on the side of the road there and that's the important thing.

As to your question on the previous post about getting down to G.C., you only have 2 choices that I can see. You can go back the way you came in on 9 back out to 89 and head south. That's what I did. When you get to Kanab take 89A to Jacobs Lake and then turn right to go to the North Rim. Or you can go out west past Springdale and take 59 to 389 and meet up with 89A that way. I was planning on doing that but I was warned off it by a local. I can't remember whether he said it was dirt or just really broken up but he didn't thing it was a good road for a road bike.

btw: I looked this up the other day : 5m visitors per year to the South Rim versus 1m visitors per year to the North Rim. And it's not because the south rim is nicer, it's because it's much easier to get there. The road to the north rim is a 45 mile dead end so it might be tempting to skip but it will be a much nicer visit.



It will not be hard to hitch-hike at the tunnel. I got a ride immediately going into the park and going out it took about 10 minutes. As a woman traveling alone I would bet money that you will get a ride w/o even that delay.

Traffic is only allowed one-way in the tunnel at a time. What that means to you is that when you get there you will go up near the mouth of the tunnel and wait for them to hold traffic in the direction you're heading. Then all the cars back up for 20(?)± minutes and you walk down the line of cars at a stand still with your thumb out. A bunch of the cars & RV's in line will be loaded with all their gear and they will wave you off but there's always some locals coming thru with a empty pick-up truck. They'll signal you to get in and you take a ride in the back with your bike. After the tunnel they drop you off and you get a great downhill to the valley.

No need to sweat this one.


Gear Talk / Re: saddles and sores
« on: May 30, 2016, 09:37:12 am »
You have good bacteria and bad bacteria on your body that are doing their thing all the time. The bad bacteria down there is from you know where. But there's good bacteria that works against fungus that also lives down there. Alcohol kills the good bacteria while leaving the fungus unharmed and unchecked. I learned this the hard way.

The way you worded your reply, you may have thought I was talking about cleaning up after but the most important thing is cleaning up before.

So now you have some new shorts and it will be interesting to see if they make a difference. I can't help but think in reading your reply that you have a bike position problem when you're in the drops or even on the hoods. I assume you're down pretty low when doing a TT. Maybe you sit while climbing and you're using too high a gear?   As for the ride with your mom, that would generally poke a hole in my theory or maybe mom is hell on wheels and it reinforces it. Is there someone in your area that does bike fitting? There is (unfortunately) no test or certification to say you're qualified to do a bike fit and there's a lot of self-proclaimed experts out there but to have a 3rd party go for a ride with you and look at what your position is might be useful.

I'll add one other thing. I had some seat problems some years ago and I went back to the guy who built my bike for advice. He's one of the most respected frame builders in the country and recently passed 5000 frames over 40 years and I take his word as gospel on all things bike related. He said when it comes to seat comfort, shape is 90% & padding is 10%, that when I found a seat the right shape for my anatomy I would be set. I am not familiar with the Romin, Regal or the Specialized saddles you've used and how their shape compares to the Brooks that you killed or the Sella (thats a lot of seats) but you may keep that advice in mind if you go out shopping for another seat.


Gear Talk / Re: saddles and sores
« on: May 30, 2016, 08:19:41 am »
That sounds like a nasty problem to have.

It definitly is not a what is traditionally thought of as a saddle sore which is more like a pimple. That ugly little problem can be cured by a wash up before every ride with soap and water (do not use alcohol!).

There was 2 things that struck me in reading this, maybe they will help.

It's still relatively early in the riding season in most parts of the country. You said you recently rode 250 miles in 3 days and then a few days later you had a 100 mile day. Maybe you're in an area with year round riding and this comment is irrelevant but you should be building up gradually. This is true for sore sit bones but also because when you get really tired on a bike you start to use your butt as a fulcrum to push off of and that could be the cause of your problems.

The second thing is you mention a lot about seats and nothing about shorts. I've found really good riding shorts are worth the insane amount of money they charge for them. Assos has perhaps the most snob based campaign of any product I've ever seen and it pains me to give them this endorsement but their chamois is (at least for me) the best on the market. I don't wear bib shorts which is good because they charge 300+ for those but their 1/2 short is around $175. It's a stretch but you can make the good value argument for buying them. I have 2 pairs and I save them for long weekend rides and my tours where I put in 5-700 mile weeks for a month. They wear really well as my oldest pair is 6 or 7 years old and has still not worn thru despite probably being washed 50 times a year.

Good luck getting figured out.


Routes / Re: Durango to Grand Canyon, Utah, California
« on: May 26, 2016, 10:29:36 pm »
Hi Ex-Trackie:

I made a reply to a VERY SIMILAR question over at the General Discussion forum a couple of days ago to Allesandro and there is some more info there

You can do as you plan and go from Durango to Cortez get on 163 to 160 (I'm presuming) to the South Rim and you would get to see Monument Valley that way which if you take my suggestion you'll miss. You can then run what I'm reccommending below in the opposite direction with what time is availible to you.

Whatever you do, I suggest you buy ACA maps Western Express #3 and Grand Canyon Connector as they cover most of this route with all the food/stores/camping info that you can use.

But you asked for suggestions and here's mine:

You are on a MTB & many people consider Moab to have the best MTBing in the world (look up porcupine ridge trail on google). I would take 491 from Cortez  to Monticello and go north on 191 to Moab. I'd block off 2-3 days to ride the trails there and see the sights at Canyonlands/ Dead Horse State Park. There's 5 bike shops in Moab, they may all be great but the one I went to that I know is great is called Poison Spider. They will steer you to the best local MTB trails.

Leaving Moab go north on 191, the first 10 miles there is a really good bike path and then it's going to suck until you get to I-70, go west past Green River and take 24 south to Hanksville. From here you follow the ACA Western Express map #3 and you will have several hundred uninterupted miles of truly fantastic scenery. To see what you are in for look up Capital Reef NP, Grand Staircase, Kodachrome Basin, and Bryce Canyon.

Once you leave Bryce theres a long downhill and at 89 leave the WE route and go south. It's a highway w a fair amount of traffic but there's a shoulder and I didn't consider it dangerous. When you get to 9 make a right and go to Zion NP. There's 3 hikes there that you see on lists of most iconic hikes in the world, Angel's Landing, The Narrows, & Observation Point. I reccomend them all.

Go back out the way you came in and head south on 89 again. Once you hit the Arizona border 89 and 89A split (and you'll be able to get a drink at the bar again), you will take 89A and it will be more pleasent riding. You'll ride up the hill to Jacob Lake, make a right turn and go to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Thats the less crowded and more scenic side. Then back out the way you came, get back on 89A and down, down, down till you cross the river at Marble Canyon. This area is very iconic old west, like it always looked in the movies. You are surrounded by purple and pink buttes. Once 89A merges back with 89 the road is less pleasant riding but there is a shoulder and it's not dangerous. At Cameron you get off the highway and head up the hill to the South Rim.

From there you can wrap up your trip in Vegas or Phoenix (I would think buses would be availible to both).

Good Luck,


General Discussion / Re: Aggressive Drivers During Transamerica?
« on: May 25, 2016, 08:33:07 pm »
You have my empathy. I frequently wonder if my practiced indiffirence to traffic could survive after getting tagged by a car. That said, going for a ride, whether it's near home or on a tour is always an act of faith. Today is not the day I will be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

I will warn you about one place though, and it's really a shame, Yellowstone. The fact that one of the most iconic of the national parks is such an awful place to ride should be considered a scandal. The roads are narrow, not much shoulder, frequently 3-4' drop offs right where the pavement ends, and RV after RV after RV. I'm not telling you to skip it but you may want to make a point of getting your riding done early in the day before traffic builds.


I should have been more careful. I originally read your tour as starting in SLC.

To give you some help on your specific questions:

• Many places you will be passing thru do not have houses dotting the landscape between towns so knocking on someone's door to see if you can pitch a tent is frequently not an option. And when your in town there's frequently camping available.

• You may want to download an app on your phone called "AllStays" as it seams to list every campground in the US.

• Encounters with dangerous wildlife (bears) once you're south of the Tetons are pretty unlikely. And actually pretty unlikely when you're there as well. Take the normal precautions and then put it out of your mind.

• The route on your last post makes the most directional sense to me. Go due south from SLC to Zion (via Cedar Breaks/ Cedar City?) then Bryce, Grand Staircase, Capital Reef, Moab all  lay out in succession. Rent a car in Moab and go south from there to the Arizona stuff.

As for the Grand Canyon and particularly the South Rim, you will be a spec in part of a teaming mass of humanity. I still found it to be worth it. And if you decide to hike to the bottom you will be almost all by yourself until you get within a mile of the top. It's about 10 miles down and 4500' so a 20 mile day with 9000' of elevation change. And as they say "going down is optional, coming back up is mandatory".



You've picked a beautiful route. I road down from Spokane,Wa last September and wrapped up in Flagstaff, Az so I covered the route you're taking almost exactly I believe. If you haven't already I would pick up the ACA maps Western Express #3 and the Grand Canyon connector. You'll have to fudge it in some places but 400 or 500 miles will be an exact match and it will be a real help to have them.

I wish I could give you a great way to get from SLC to Moab but I can't. I will leave that section of your trip for someone else to comment on. I know the way that I came down (191) was the worst part of my 2500 mile trip. Busy highway but it did have a decent shoulder (at least until the Green River to Moab section). It would be your baptism by fire.

There is an alternate thru Dinosaur (a very cool place) and down western Colorado but I have not ridden it myself. Or you can start your bike trip with a car rental and drop off the car in Moab.

Moab is a very cool town and a destination in and of itself. Both Arches and Canyonlands are big climbs up to the sights. I'm sure you've seen the photos of Arches and so no need to explain further why it's a worthwhile stop. If you're just going to Canyonlands for the the day you probably want to go to Dead Horse State Park. It's what you'll hit first on the road and the vistas are similar and just as spectacular.

From Moab you go back on 191 north to 70 (I-70 is not bad here), go west two exits and then drop down to Hanksville. In Hanksville you pick up the Western Express route which is like no place else on earth for the next few hundred miles. Through Capital Reef and Grand Staircase you will have 1 extraordinary vista after another. If you block off a day to hike at Bryce Canyon I think you will have seen much of what it has to offer.

Then a big downhill and get off the WE route and make a left on 89S and head down to Zion. Zion was the highlight of my trip. I considered that place magic. I would block off 3 days and do the 3 iconic hikes there. Observation Point, Angel's Landing, and The Narrows. The Narrows Hike is highly dependent on the river level and in fact it was too high when I was there to do anything other than hike in a mile or so. Hopefully you will have more luck. Also, you say you want to hike down to the river when you get to the Grand Canyon. That hike is unique but these hikes in Zion are pretty stout & will tell you if you're capable of the big GC hike.

Go back out of Zion the way you came and get back on 89S and down to the North Rim. It is nominally nicer than the South Rim and nominally less crowded so it is worth going up the 90 mile round trip dead end road. It is still really crowded. Then over to the South Rim, 230 miles on the road to go 20 miles if you hiked it but it's not wasted time. After the big descent from the North Rim you'll be riding by Vermillion Cliffs and surrounded by buttes for miles.

South Rim of the Grand Canyon will be Very Crowded. And the park service will warn you that if you hike down to the bottom of the canyon and back in one day you will die. Here's the strategy for doing it safely. Leave very early, first bus to the South Kaibob Trailhead was at 5:30 in the morning when I was there, be on it. The trail is wide and easy to follow, even in the dark with a head lamp. Stop at "ooh/ahh" point on your way down and soak up the sunrise lighting up the canyon. You should be down at the river by 9, load up with water and go back up Bright Angel Trail which unlike S. Kaibob has water along the way at least one place, maybe two. You do not want to be at the bottom of the canyon hiking out in the heat of the day. That's when people get in serious trouble.

For this entire trip I would make it a point to start early, like dawn. It will likely be very hot except when you are at elevation. In addition to the 2 water bottles on my bike I had two 2 liter poly bags that when I had a long way between stops I would fill up. There was 1 95 mile day where the wind was up and I went thru all 6 liters of water I was carrying. You will fortunately not be doing that particular stretch on your trip but there will be several 50-60 mile stretches between supplies. You do not want to run out of water out there.

Don't let any of what I've written above intimidate you. Be aware of your limits and respect them.You are going to have a trip that you will remember for a lifetime


I'm at work and I don't have my maps in front of me so I didn't know the intersection of the NT and SC was in Twisp.

It's 194 miles from Twisp to Yakima and I have 8354' of gain to 9054' of loss so it's still pretty much a wash.

The biggest mistake I made on my trip was not taking the turn off to see the Mt. St. Helen's blow down. I didn't realize that it was along the way and it was already a big milage day and I had hotel reservations I had to make. I've been kicking myself for missing it for the last 2 years.


Hi Erika:

Unless you are a beginner cyclist I would recommend you take the Sierra Cascades route. I rode from the northern terminous of it to LA 2 years ago. I looked up my Garmin traces for the section you will be on and you will be going more downhill than up since your leaving from the south.

For the 3 days between Yakima and Government Camp on my ride ;

Yakima to Packwood ; 98 miles (I took a wrong turn) there was 30' difference in up/down
Packwood to Cascade Locks ; 99 miles and I was + 900' of descent (you will be opposite)
Cascade Locks to Government Camp ; 75 miles and I had 7200'  of climbing vs 3500' of descent (again, you will be opposite)

And as was mentioned earlier, unlike the coastal route, the wind direction is a crapshoot.

You will find the hills are pretty constant but the grades aren't that difficult and except for a brief bit of interstate between Hood River & Cascade Locks and some small stretches of 97 that get pretty unpleasant, I found it to be a really nice route.

Good Luck,


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