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Messages - geegee

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61
Routes / Re: Starting the Southern Tier in June
« on: June 15, 2012, 08:39:00 pm »
That's odd- the ACA says palo verde has a population of 236 and quartzite 3400. Guess that shows the unpredictability of the desert. Brawley to Blythe is ~140 miles- only town between them is palo verde. Did you stay at camp sites?

The only thing between Brawley and Palo Verde is Glamis which isn't much except for a store which was closed when I went through and the campsites there are all dry. I ended up sleeping in the wild 25 miles short of Palo Verde because the sn was  I started the day in Ocotillo and kept going past Brawley. I stopped at the campground at Palo Verde the next morning for some water but it tasted truly disgusting and I spat it out despite being super thirsty. Luckily the store is just a few miles down the road.

62
General Discussion / Re: fitting tents into rear panniers
« on: June 15, 2012, 01:48:30 pm »
I use a 20-litre dry sack strapped to the top of the rear rack. In it I stuff the tent, an inflatable sleeping mat and a 6'x8' tarp. I pack the the tarp last so it's easy to access as an emergency shelter in case of a sudden storm, or as a ground sheet for picnic lunches and quick naps.

63
Routes / Re: Starting the Southern Tier in June
« on: June 14, 2012, 09:56:39 pm »
A lot of places close for the summer in the desert in CA and AZ, so be prepared for the already limited services to have erratic hours of operation. Definitely do not leave Brawley without stocking up on water and food, you may not find anything until Palo Verde. I rode through this area in early May and most of the snowbirds had already packed up and left places like Quartzsite, which seemed like virtual ghost towns.

64
Gear Talk / Re: Bike Shorts
« on: June 07, 2012, 07:43:02 am »
With a nicely broken in Brooks saddle, I haven't used padded shorts on my last 5 long tours. I've been using mesh-lined running shorts or swim shorts with no problems or pain/sore issues. They wash and dry so much easier and faster than padded bike shorts.

65
Routes / Re: Across New Mexico on US70/380 then onward to Dallas TX
« on: May 30, 2012, 12:39:59 pm »
I just got back from my trip and I thought I'd report on this route just in case someone searches this thread.

From Las Cruces I took US70 towards Alamogordo ,Tularosa, Ruidoso and Roswell; US380 from Roswell to the Dallas area. Road conditions are really good for most of this route that I think it should seriously be considered a candidate for the USBR 84 corridor. The only uncomfortable stretch I went through was the short distance getting across Denton TX, (almost ironic that a road called University Drive would be so unfriendly to bicycles) but I'm sure alternatives could easily be found. Services were sometimes a bit lacking but there were always food, campgrounds and motels every 40 to 60 miles. The longest distances without services was Roswell to Tatum NM (60+miles) and Post to Jayton TX (50+ miles)

A summary of the route in pictures:

The Organ Mountains look daunting from Las Cruces but crossing over them really wasn't so bad


The road up to San Agustin Pass starts out very gradual and has decent room all the way to the top


View of the White Sands Missile Testing Range from the top of the pass. Occasionally they may temporarily close the highway during tests


These have got to be the widest shoulders I have ever cycled on, about 2 car lanes in width, probably for moving missile parts


A few miles of seeing this


a nice break before continuing on to Alamogordo


Past Tularosa, a long climb up towards Sierra Blanca through the Lincoln National Forest, but not steep and on very generous shoulders


The summit is a bit anti-climatic, I did most of the climb on my middle gears


On the other side of the hump the descent is also nice and gradual, coasting though a very scenic region. Ruidoso is a cool town


Ridin' through the same area as the Kid


Beautiful scenic road though the Hondo Valley


Ran into a bad storm on the high prairie west of Roswell, I thought it was going to spawn a twister


A few ups and downs across the valleys


Clear sailing into Texas. The wind was mostly from the south so depending on the slight twist in the road the cross wind was either with me or against me


A few days of cycling through this monotonous landscape...


...with road construction sometimes forcing you into a dark corner :)


66
Gear Talk / Pitching a tent along the western Southern Tier
« on: April 11, 2012, 10:09:20 am »
I'm heading off on the Southern Tier route from San Diego to Texas in a couple of weeks, my first time in the Southwest. Just wondering if the ground is mostly sandy and if I should take along beefier spade-type tent pegs instead of my thin ultra-light ones.

67
Routes / Across New Mexico on US70/380 then onward to Dallas TX
« on: April 09, 2012, 06:47:06 pm »
I'm thinking of taking the Southern Tier route from San Diego CA up to Las Cruces NM then taking a more direct route to Dallas. Has anyone have any advice/tips on this route that would take me through Roswell on US70/380 and then somehow connect with US180 to Dallas-Fort Worth? The services seem well spaced along the way, but it would be great to hear from someone who's been down this route.

Would it be better to ride past El Paso and then connect with US 180?

Glenn

68
Canada / Re: Quebec Montreal Ottawa
« on: March 22, 2012, 10:31:40 am »
What route are you taking specifically? Are you following the Route Verte network? Quebec City to Montreal is fairly straight forward, but there are several ways to get from Montreal to Ottawa depending on the kind of riding you like. The Route verte only shows the Quebec side of the Ottawa river, but cycling along highway 342 from Vaudreuil to Rigaud is decent as well. From Rigaud, you can ride across Eastern Ontario using very quiet county roads or a 60-mile stone dust rail trail that takes you straight into Ottawa. Click for maps of Prescott-Russell.

If you are taking the Route verte via Montebello, it is quite interesting but you will be riding mostly along the shoulders of a somewhat busy secondary highway (the freeway bypass isn't scheduled to be completed until later this year). Oka (monastery and uniquely Canadian cheese) and Montebello (peek into the Chateau Montebello's massive log atrium)  are certainly worth a stop if you are heading down this direction. My preference for getting into Ottawa on this route would be to take the ferry at Masson QC to Cumberland ON, ride Old Montreal Road to Trim Rd and turn towards the river to hook up with the scenic pathway that leads directly into downtown. Let me know if you need more specific information about Ottawa. If you turn on the cycling layer on Google maps, the extensive network of paved recreational pathways shows up and does a decent job of routing you through the city.

69
Routes / Re: ICEFIELDS PARKWAY -- JASPER-BANFF
« on: March 12, 2012, 07:25:46 am »
I cycled the Icefields Parkway (Jasper to Lake Louise) in two days as part of a much longer tour, but if you might want to take a extra day if you intend to go on the tours into the glaciers.

I think the climbs are less steep going north to south. ( cut and past from a previous post: Lots of campgrounds along the way, most of them rustic (no showers or flush toilets) except the ones that are close to towns (Jasper, Lake Louise, Banff which have complete services). There are a few basic hostels along the Parkway at 2, 6, 32, 85, 111, 142, and 206 kms from Jasper. There are motels and restaurants at the following points from Jasper: 54 kms at Sunwapta Falls, 103 kms at the Icefields Centre, 153 kms at Saskatchewan River Crossing, and 196 kms at Bow Lake.)

Jasper is a lot calmer than Banff which on the busier Vancouver-Calgary route. Personally, I hate driving a route before I bike it because I like the element of discovery when I ride — if you're like me, I would suggest driving to Jasper via Edmonton, cycle the Icefields N-S to Banff, grab a shuttle back to your car in Jasper, then possibly drive down the parkway to stop at places you wanted to spend more time in.

70
Routes / Re: Nova Scotia Route Advice
« on: February 07, 2012, 10:43:13 pm »
I lived in Nova Scotia for a bit, Cape Breton to be specific. In general, the 100-series highways do funnel most of the traffic from the single digit highways they are parallel to, but it usually means that the old road is not as well maintained, hillier and narrower. Many sections of the 100-series are cycleable and have shoulders, and sometimes offer an attractive shortcut. Quite a bit of improvement on Highway 4 on the island since I lived there, it's wider and has less sharp turns than I remember. It gets a bit boring heading into Sydney but it levels out – there's very little flat land in Cape Breton and anytime you head inland you are in for a bit of a climb.

It's too bad sections of the coastal road from St Peter's to Louisbourg remains unpaved. It's truly the rustic part of the island with miles of secluded pebble coves like Gabarus.

Keltic Drive (305) to get to North Sydney is good, you are not missing anything skipping Point Edward.

Northwest Newfoundland is spectacular, but you won't be able to escape hills there! Best of luck, I envy your tour.

71
Routes / Re: Houston, TX to New Orleans, LA?
« on: February 04, 2012, 11:26:23 pm »
I would like to ask if there is a reason you jogged North, instead of taking 90 through Lake Charles. Seems like 90 is the favorite, but you detoured off it there. I have had people tell me to avoid staying in Lake Charles, but Iowa is a fine town.
What was your reasoning? Thanks

From Google street view, none of the bridges though Lake Charles seem cycleable, so I didn't want to take a chance. Plus US 90 west of Lafayette wasn't so great and that road between Crowley and Eunice was so tempting with excellent shoulders as you can see from the photo. At any rate, my end destination was my cousin's place in Waller TX, and going north of Houston made the most sense for me.

72
General Discussion / Re: First long distance ride?
« on: February 03, 2012, 11:16:59 am »
@ Scott, I read much of the advice available and pamphlets on being "bear-aware" and it still left me scratching my head, so I don't blame people for being scared or confused. A lot of documents seem to stress "rules", but bears are animals and don't follow rules. I think one forms some sensibilities after a spotting a few bears and realize that bears and people really don't like each other, most of the time preferring to stay out of each other's way. The problem is that we sometimes like the same things.

There are parts in the north where trees are not much taller than humans and there is really no place to hang things, and walking a distance in any direction seems pointless. Bears are constantly in search of food and water, and would not pick a fight unless you are in the way. I definitely avoid camping too close water (especially a salmon stream!), or along an obvious path that a bear would use to access water. Sometimes it's better to do cooking and eating in that cool scenic spot and settling for the crappier tent site that's harder to get to. There were times when I had few choices and put my food relatively inaccessible but in an obvious spot in such a way that a bear would have to make a lot of noise to get at it and give me time to react from a good distance.

While bears are omnivores, they really prefer sugar and fat rich nuts and berries and fish — the smell of humans is probably not high on their list as "yummy", so I've proudly aired out my dirty laundry near my tent on occasion :) Mid- to late-summer when food is plentiful, it's hard to bother a bear. In the Northwest when the bushes are dripping with berries and the salmon are running, the bears care little of what you have unless it is out in the open.

73
Routes / Re: Best Novice Route Under 500 Miles
« on: February 03, 2012, 09:28:42 am »
No first-hand knowledge here, but Europe + no traffic + 500 miles to me sounds like a trip along the Rhine (+Rhone?) or the Danube.

Rhine ≠ Rhone. The former flows north to the Atlantic and has better beer, the latter flows south to the Mediterranean and has better wine. Both are good cycle routes! :)

74
General Discussion / Re: First long distance ride?
« on: February 03, 2012, 09:04:40 am »
I have biked through a lot of bear territory, including the Top-of-the-World highway in the Yukon and Alaska where I mostly camped in the wild, carried bear spray for insurance and not once have I even come close to using it. I saw at least a bear a day riding through remote trails in British Columbia, mostly black bears, and they get easily discouraged by noise.

Personally, I don't know what carrying a gun would achieve. Every passing motorist has the power to kill you, but they don't. By being on the road, you are already placing trust in fate or whatever higher power you believe in. Carrying a weapon in my opinion merely complicates things.

The last time I rode through an indian reservation in Washington, an old man at a gas station gave me a feather to put on my handlebar and said, "May the eagle be with you". I had good tailwinds for days after :)

75
Routes / Re: Best Novice Route Under 500 Miles
« on: February 02, 2012, 10:34:49 pm »
+1 on the Great Allegheny Passage, it is a great ride. The C&O can be a bit rough, though, and muddy and buggy if it's rainy.

You could also consider the Veloroute des Bleuets (the blueberry route) up in northern Quebec. It's an easy 160-mile loop around Lac St-Jean, but if you don't mind some hills you could easily extend the trip down the Saguenay Fjord to Tadoussac. Services are good along the way, SAG transport between accommodations is relatively cheap, and the local cuisine is a hearty brand of French Canadian country cooking. There is a surprising amount of interesting things to see and do in this area besides cycling.

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