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Messages - jamawani

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Southwest / Re: Albuquerque to Las Vegas - or other way round?
« on: January 21, 2016, 08:34:43 pm »
I've biked the region more than a half dozen times.
Prevailing winds are usually southwesterly -
So, even though you have elevation gain heading east, the wind more than makes up.

Late June us getting pretty darn hot in the lower elevations - tolerable on the Colorado Plateau.
Why are you considering the South Rim when the North Rim is sooo much better and more on your route.
If you did South Rim from Vegas you would have to ride nasty stretches of US 93 and some on I-40.
Granted, you would also ride part of historic Route 66.

Vegas -
North Rim -
Kayenta -
Durango -
Taos  -

Connecting ACA Routes / Re: NYC to Ohio and beyond
« on: January 16, 2016, 01:36:50 pm »
Not sure who you are referencing - but here is the Penna Bike route across the north-central part of the state.
It is clickable and each section has a strip map.

Routes / Re: Three weeks - Pacific Coast or Sierra Cascades
« on: January 11, 2016, 10:09:37 am »
Martin -

Yes, starting a trip in May in San Fran could be very pleasant.
Not sure of your exact time frame or touring speed / preferences.

That said, you could easily ride down the Pacific Coast then over to the Southern Sierras -
Then do southern Nevada, the Utah parks, and Grand Canyon.
Perhaps getting to Taos may be a stretch.

And although the low desert can have highs of 35C to 40 in May -
The high desert of the Colorado Plateau has average highs of 25C in May.
And bright, blue skies.

If you have friends in San Fran, then you might start in Half Moon Bay or even Monterrey.
There's some lovely riding south of Half Moon Bay, but then tough south of Santa Cruz.
Still, starting the ride at Golden Gate Bridge has its advantages.

The Big Sur Coast south of Monterrey is the finest stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway.
You could cut inland at Cambria or take in the stunning Spanish mission at San Antonio de Padua.
Cut over the coast ranges to the Central Valley to California Hot Springs.

Sherman Pass Road might be open across the Sierras, but Hwy 178 offers a year-round back-up.
Then, depending on the heat, you can either ride thru Death Valley - which will be past spring -
Or you can ride up US 395 and thru the spectacular White Mtns and Deep Springs.

Since you said you don't like riding thru cities (I don't either) I suggest a route via Tonopah.
You hit US 95 at the largely abandoned town of Goldfield, then Tonopah, to Caliente.
If you are prudent, then there is little reason for concern riding these Nevada roads.

From Caliente, you can ride into southern Utah - either to Cedar City or St. George -
And then to Zion National Park - stunning - and up over the plateau to Kanab.
From Kanab, it's a further climb up the Kanab to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

That might entail three weeks.

If you can give me a few more details, I can offer more specifics.

Pic - Stone Cabin Valley in central Nevada -
Totally empty road and views to the edge of the earth.

Routes / Re: Three weeks - Pacific Coast or Sierra Cascades
« on: January 08, 2016, 03:24:10 pm »
May is WAAAAYYY too early for the Sierra Cascades - esp. this year with El Nino.
It's even iffy on the coast if the rainy season lasts into late spring.
I'd guess Washington - wet; Oregon - pretty wet; N. Calif. - mixed; S. Calif - nice.

I would suggest a tour of the desert Southwest -
Great national parks and Native American heritage.

You can have two options ready:
1. A more northerly loop if the weather is average.
2. A more southerly loop if it is a cold, wet spring.

With all the rain that is coming to the Southwest - the deserts will be stunning.


Sonora Pass in the Central Sierras in late May in an average year -

General Discussion / Re: training for trans am westward
« on: January 02, 2016, 12:43:18 pm »
75 miles a day isn't a whole lot - especially in summer.
I've done that on many tours - and I'm no youngster.
Even at 10 mph, it's just a morning ride and an afternoon ride.
Done by 5pm or 6pm.

But you should allow, at least, 1 day off per two weeks -
That's for weather, breakdowns, Montezuma, etc.

Routes / Re: Crossing Southern Illinois
« on: December 28, 2015, 12:08:10 pm »
I've biked thru East St. Louis many times with no problem. And I'm whiter than Snow White.
One Sunday, I stopped at the McDonalds for lunch and kids asked me the typical 101 questions.
And their folks stood there in the background smiling like anywhere else, too.
If you ride thru in the middle of the day, people will wave and ask you where you are going.
Just like anywhere else.

PS - Collinsville Road is the way in from Cahokia Mounds -
It's 4 lanes, but not too bad. Most of the traffic is on the interstate.
Collinsville Ave. used to be a thriving commercial district and a "Must See".
If you are riding across the USA to see and to understand, this will open your eyes.
Also, if you can talk to anyone - asking their view, not offering yours - you can learn a whole lot.

Older, but really important website on downtown East St. Louis -

Routes / Re: Crossing Southern Illinois
« on: December 24, 2015, 11:15:52 am »
I've ridden across southern Illinois to/from St. Louis a number of times.
There's an old, one-lane converted RR bridge across the Wabash near St. Francisville.
Then a very low-traffic, straight route from Lancaster to Centralia.
There a little towns and potential camping at convenient intervals.

West of Centralia it gets a little trickier.
I camped at the state park on the lake once.
I've also zigged and zagged thru St. Rose to Highland -
Then continued on to Edwardsville.

Edwardsville is nice because it's a college town with lots of bike services.
And Cahokia Mounds is a must-see - camping nearby at Horseshoe Lake.
Finally, Eads Bridge is THE way to bike into St. Louie - with a big view of the Arch.

General Discussion / Re: Cost of a cross country USA trip?
« on: December 22, 2015, 07:46:01 pm »
"Males ages 20 to 29 are the group most often being rescued in the national parks, according to park service data."

A close friend worked many years at Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
I hiked down often and talked with her friend, the NPS ranger about rescues.
She confirmed the above data in spades. Just FYI.

General Discussion / Re: Cost of a cross country USA trip?
« on: December 22, 2015, 11:37:35 am »
Ummmm - 90 stops?
Don't overplan - it never turns out the way you plan it.
A rigid schedule can become a straight-jacket.

General Discussion / Re: Cost of a cross country USA trip?
« on: December 22, 2015, 11:35:48 am »
I've ridden x-USA a half dozen times and toured 100,000 miles - so I have some experience.
On my first trip in 1987, I budgeted $20 per day for 70 days, plus $100 for a total of $1500.
There's been, at least, 100% inflation since then - esp. in campsite fees and small portion grocery items.
Not to mention that you learn how to save with experience.

The biggest avoidable cost is alcohol - a couple of microbrews will set you back $10 to $12 -
And if that gets to be a daily habit, then your budget will quickly be trashed.
The biggest controllable cost will be camping/lodging.
If you follow an ACA route, esp. the TransAm, there will be more low-budget options.

Unfortunately, most state parks and national forest campsites run $15 to $20.
Private campsite can run $30 to $40 - killer if you are solo.
Oregon, Wash., & Calif have hiker/biker campsite as do western national parks.
These run $5 to $8 per person - still not cheap.

You can camp for free on all federal USFS and BLM lands in the West -
Provided you know where they are and follow fire/sanitation regulations.
Also, tiny Great Plains towns will often let you camp for free in their town parks.
The bigger the town is, the less likely. But Nebraska and South Dakota are quite good.

Of course, there are host websites like Warmshowers and Couchsurfing -
Then there is also the options of contacting churches in small towns.
Catholic churches usually have the rectory where the priest lives right next door.
In small towns, Protestant ministers usually live close by.
Choose a church that has a nice grassy area in back and some privacy.
Quite often, they will let you cook and clean up in the rec hall.

There will be times - after 3 days of rain - where you will just have to get a motel.
In fact, if you are wet and exhausted, it really makes sense to do so.
The risk of a serious accident goes up geometrically when you are totally wiped out.
It is money well spent.

There are other options out there.
But I'd say $20 per day is frugal, $30 is moderate - esp. in the East.
Happy trails!  - J

Routes / Re: West from Pittsburgh to Ohio
« on: November 29, 2015, 11:47:25 pm »
Well, I live in Buffalo, Wyoming and can attest to the beauty of the Bighorns.
But they are nothing to be trifled with - tough, tough, tough.
If you hit the Black Hills in early June and the Bighorns in late June -
you will have peak wildflowers in both places.
Flowers to roll in.

Routes / Re: West from Pittsburgh to Ohio
« on: November 29, 2015, 05:31:13 pm »
NEB 91, 4 miles east of Brewster.

Routes / Re: West from Pittsburgh to Ohio
« on: November 29, 2015, 03:54:06 pm »
Rob -

I've been giving your reply a lot of thought.
As with anything, there are positives and negatives.

Yes, Southern culture is dog culture - - loose dog culture.
When I was biking across southern Alabama a few years ago I went into the the sheriff's office to complain.
When I mentioned the loose dogs, the deputy said, "Jus' shoot 'em." Hmmmm.

BUT!!! These dogs are big chickens. I was solo, you would be in a group of three.
If I stopped and went towards them - they ran with their tails between their legs.
I think that three riders would have few problems - and three riders stopping would scare any dog off.
I don't carry Halt spray - but if all of you have it - I see zero problems.
But you are right - the further north you are - the fewer loose dogs - a direct correlation.

And don't catch a bus - if for no other reason than that bus travel is worse than being chased by dogs.
(They don't call riding Greyhound, "Riding the Dog", for nothing.)
There is no way you will need to make up time - unless there is something major that goes wrong - mechanical or intestinal.
Either US 20 or NEB 2 across Nebraska is like super fabulous.
And nearly all the little towns have places to camp or tiny motels.
Plus a grocery store, a hardware store with a guy who can fix anything, and a home-cookin' cafe.
Nebraska is cycling paradise.

I've biked X-USA six times plus a lot more trips in the West -
What does your tentative route look like right now?
Are you planning to get all the way to the Pacific - or just to Seattle?

Best - J

Pic - Loup River in the Nebraska Sandhills

Routes / Re: West from Pittsburgh to Ohio
« on: November 27, 2015, 07:28:42 pm »
Rob -

Please do not trust Google Maps - they are notoriously wrong.
In the West it has routed people on nonexistent roads, private ranch roads, you name it.
It may take more work, but there are resources out there.

Years back I did the C&O in the summer and it was great - quiet, cool, adventurous.
But my roommate did it in the fall - when it was rainy - and was miserable.
As early as you are planning, all the water will be turned off, and the towpath will be a sea of mud.

I know you have talked about short daily mileage - and a six month window.
But March is just too early for this part of the country.
Not to mention what a pain it is to get across Chesapeake Bay.


Have you considered starting some place like Sapelo Island, Georgia? (Or Jekyll Island)
Then head across southern Georgia and southern Alabama - many civil rights sites.
Then grab the Underground RR ACA route -
Then working your way northwest up to St. Louie?
At 25 miles per day with every 5th day off - it would take about 9 weeks.
Not to mention lovely azaleas and dogwoods - and very few climbs.

PS - According to Rand McNally it's 827 miles from DC to St. Louis, but only 802 miles from Savannah to St. Louis.
And that doesn't include the extra 80 miles in the Delmarva peninsula plus crossing the bay.
Take away - it is no further leaving from the Georgia coast and with far better weather conditions.

Sapelo Island, Live Oaks and Palmettos

Routes / Re: Plummer ID to Ellensburg, WA
« on: November 27, 2015, 11:07:13 am »
Rob -

I've given this a lot of thought - and I have looked at your other posts to get a better idea of your overall trip.
Or course, there are three factors that, combined, limit your options - -
1) Short daily mileage 2) Avoiding routes with significant climbs 3) Using rail trails as much as possible

Most state transportation departments have traffic counts maps or date online. (AADT - Average Annual Daily Traffic)
Here is Washington's:

If you notice, WA 28 has very low traffic. WA 26 also has pretty low traffic counts, too.
Both would involve negotiating the I-90 Columbia River bridge at Vantage.
If you were to do WA 28 - I would suggest cutting up to Cheney - college town with services -
Then cutting over to Edwall and Harrington - and later cutting southwest to George (busier stretch).
If you were to do WA 26 - I would head southeast to Oakdale and Colfax -
With an option to loop down to Kahlotus and Connell for more services - then Othello and Royal City.

Via WA 28 you have the choice of hitching across the river from the boat ramp on the Old Vantage Highway.
That road has a spectacular descent down Frenchman Coulee - with basic camping at the river.
You could call the Vantage Resort and see if you could hire a person to come from the marina.
Otherwise, you would need to get on I-90 and then use extreme caution on the bridge.
Or you could call the resort and arrange a van/pickup shuttle across the bridge for either route.

I have hitched across a number of major rivers in the U.S. - Mississippi, Missouri, Potomac.
If the boat ramp is fairly busy, you just hang out and ask folks.
I was solo - with three it would be a little tougher.
It usually takes no longer than an hour or two at a well-used ramp.

Yet another option is one I outlined before -
Take the WA 26 option via Colfax and Connell then via Vernita bridge and Yakima.
The stretch from Connell to Yakima is remote, but does have minimal services at spaced intervals.
Then you have the gorgeous Yakima Canyon ride up to Ellensburg.


I would also like to mention that not all rail trails are created equal.
It's been years, but riding on the Milwaukee Road route in Montana was brutal - just railbed.
And getting to the start or from the endpoints of some rail trails sometimes defeats the purpose.
Rail trails are often built for local use - not for through riders.

The Trail of the Cooeur d'Alenes is an example.
The eastern section from Lookout Pass to Kellogg is often smack up against I-90.
It was built using environmental remediation funding because of past mining in the region.
Plus to get to the eastern end, you have to do a lot of riding on I-90 in Montana.

A little further north is a spectacular route that connects with the C d'A at Enaville.
From Thompson Falls, you cross the river on the restored High Bridge and then take MT 471 - almost no traffic.
At the Idaho border it becomes paved FR 9 (Forest Road) - Thompson Pass is only like 150 ft higher than Lookout.
Murray and Pritchard have basic services.


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