Show Posts

This section allows you to view all posts made by this member. Note that you can only see posts made in areas you currently have access to.

Messages - jamawani

Pages: 1 [2] 3 4 ... 33
General Discussion / Re: Finishing my TransAm ride - Where to Start
« on: January 08, 2017, 07:30:03 pm »
Well, some of the above misinfo is moot since the fall is out.
But there is no record of any snow in western Virginia in early October.
And state parks in Kentucky and Virginia stay open until late Oct to mid Nov.
(But state park camping for solo cyclists has gotten ridiculous - often $25 & $5 reserve fee.)

I would still stick with W-E for the aspect of completion.
Kansas can get pretty darn hot by July - so what about a mid June departure?
You'll have some thunder boomers all the way across.
And the humidity east of the Mississippi - well, forget about your perm.

Safe travels - J

Routes / Re: Reno to RAGBRAI?
« on: January 07, 2017, 02:51:29 pm »
Google Maps is NOT your friend - esp. if you are a cross-country touring cyclist.

The map you linked to has you riding on remote, unmaintained dirt roads, some possibly gated.
Also, puts you on I-80 and I-25 for a while.

The best route across Nevada is US 50 thru Ely.
You can access it from Reno by riding up and over Virginia City or riding I-80 to Fernley. (Yukk!)
Or you can ride up to Pyramid Lake and back down or start at the capitol in Carson City, instead.

In Utah, I would continue on US 6 to Payson - then bike routes thru Prove -
Then US 189 to Heber City - then US 40 east to Colorado thru Vernal.
There is a nice mostly paved forest road east of Spanish Fork over to Strawberry on US 40.
There are also excellent, paved back roads that get you off of US 40 most of the time.

In Colorado it's pretty straight-forward.
Continue on US 40 past Steamboat Springs - ski town, all services -
Then switch to Hwy 14 thru Walden and Fort Collins to Sterling.
Hwy 14 has fairly light traffic except near Fort Collins -
And stunning scenery in North Park and the Poudre River Canyon.
Continue on US 138 to Julesburg.

There are plenty of options for Nebraska.
It all depends when they announce the Ragbrai starting point at the end of Jan.
I suspect that it will be Onawa, Missouri Valley, or Council Bluffs this year,
since it has been NW & SW in recent years.

My suggestion for Nebraska is from Ogalalla, head north on Hwy 61 to Arthur.
Hwy 92 from Arthur to Stapleton is remote - but the Sandhills have never been plowed.
You see the Great Plains largely as they were 1000 years ago.
East of Broken Bow you could take Hwy 70 & Hwy 22 to Columbus.
From Columbus you can tailor your route to the starting point of the Ragbrai.

Nebraska Bike Map: currently unavailable because of broken link


Again, AVOID the Google Maps bike app - it is often total garbage.

General Discussion / Re: Finishing my TransAm ride - Where to Start
« on: January 07, 2017, 12:02:22 am »
Can you wait until September?

Take a look at the monthly temp and precip maps from Prism.
May/June are the peak rain months - lots of it in big storms.
(I did grad work in Kansas and know the sound of tornado sirens.)
Although the precip drops in July/Aug, the temps & humidity become brutal.

5 or 6 weeks from mid-Sept to late-Oct would be really sweet if you could swing it.
I've done a couple of fall trips - days are shorter, but oh-so-sweet.


General Discussion / Re: Finishing my TransAm ride - Where to Start
« on: January 05, 2017, 09:56:46 pm »
My vote is for Garden City.
Easy to get to on Amtrak and with liberal baggage allowances.

More importantly, finishing up in Yorktown will give you a real sense of completion.
Finishing in Garden City will be kinda "meh".

And you'll run into other cyclists no matter how you do it.

Routes / Re: Northern Tier vs. TransAm
« on: January 02, 2017, 01:29:09 pm »
This is your first tour -
You are planning on riding 4200+ miles either on the Northern Tier or the TransAm -
And you are allotting only 68 days - less than 10 weeks?

That's like 450 miles per week - with a group.
Are you planning on vehicle support?
Have you included rest days, sick days, repair days, and just play days?
Sick and repair days multiply with a group, too.
(Unless they just have to catch up when they can)

The dates you give are slightly better east-to-west - June can still be chilly in the Rockies.
But you will be crossing the Great Plains in the middle of the summer.
It's doable and many have done it before - but Kansas on the TransAm is pretty brutal.
And the Northern Tier has twice the miles of unending prairies.

Actually, the Nebraska Sandhills and the Black Hills of SD are far superior.
The Sandhills were never plowed under - so you have natural, undulating grasslands.
Not mile after mile after mile of flat wheat fields gridded off into squares.

If you are going to be self-contained and this is the first tour for most of you -
I would suggest either a shorter route or more time.

Best - J

Pic - US 20 thru the Sandhills of Nebraska, Summer 2016

Routes / Re: Help with Route Planning From KS to CA
« on: December 29, 2016, 10:28:57 am »
Dear SCG -

You do say this will be your first trip - but you don't say when you propose to do it. That is important because you are looking at riding
through the Rocky Mountains - which tend to be significant colder than surrounding areas and the Mojave Desert - which tends to be significantly hotter. And if you are going east-to-west, it is more difficult to find a workable window.

If this is your first tour, you might want to consider including significant segments of ACA's TransAm and Western Express routes.

Say, from Alexander, KS to Pueblo, CO -

Then from Pueblo, CO to Cedar City, UT -

I agree about avoiding riding thru big cities - it's tough and adds to the risk factors.
If you are meeting friends - you should have THEM come meet you - say in Pueblo or Cedar City.
Or have them come pick you up in these locations. Or you can leave your bike at a bike shop and take a bus.
(There is frequent bus service Pueblo-Denver and Cedar City-Las Vegas.)

Not sure where in K.C. you plan to start - but there are a number of eastern Kansas options.
One is to ride to Ottawa and then get on the Prairie Spirit Trail to Iola and connect with the TransAM kust to the west.
Another option is to use the Kansas DOT bike map and head directly west towards Alexander.

Finally, on the western segment, I would suggest heading through central Nevada and then south in Calif on US 395.
That would entail heading due west out of Cedar City to Rachel and Tonopah to Bishop. Services scarce.
There are few to no back road options directly from Vegas to Victorville - forcing you to use I-15.
One possibility is to head south on US 95 to Old Rute 66 - extremely hot and extremely remote.
The other is to continue south on US 95 to Hwy 62 thru 29 Palms - still pretty darn hot and remote.


Routes / Re: What is Your Favorite Cross Country Route and Why?
« on: December 18, 2016, 11:07:16 am »
Rode thru Iowa this past summer as part of an x-USA trip. From Onawa to Davenport.
And I did the Black Hills & Sandhills, too. In fact, I've ridden Nebraska many times since 1987.

How much do you want to get "back there"? And where will you be starting from?
Initially, I read you home as "1A" and looked at some reference for 1A - then realized it was IA.
Crossing the Missouri on the Kerry Bridge is nice, but Omaha is "Meh" to bike thru.
The US 30 bridge to Blair has shoulders, but the stretch in W. Iowa is busy and narrow.
The Decatur bridge has a metal grate deck and is tricky - esp. if you look down.
(Plus, the hills on the Neb. side are killer for 40 miles.)
The Sioux City Bridge has great bike lanes and bike trails on the riverfront, too.
(Although it may put you too far north for your plans.)

There are three general Sandhills routes - US 20, Neb 2, and Neb 92.
US 20 has excellent shoulders, light traffic, plenty of towns, moderate exposure to the Sandhills.
Neb 2 goes right thru the middle of the Sandhills from Broken Bow to Alliance, moderate traffic, OK shoulders.
Neb 92 west of Broken Bow is stunning - pure Sandhills - zero traffic, but remote. And the longest jog north.

Depending on how much time you have - I would go as far west as Crawford and Ft. Robinson.
Then turn north on Hwy 2/71 to Hot Springs - light traffic - and Wind Cave NP - to Pringle.
At Pringle I would shift to the Mickelson Trail all the way thru the Black Hills.
(North of Rochford you can opt to switch to the parallel road.)
After you hit Deadwood/Lead, loop back southwest to US 14A thru Spearfish Canyon (!!) to Spearfish.

From Spearfish you might be interested in hitting Devils Tower NM - but that's another post.

Pic - The Mickelson Trail

MP -

The Canadian national parks have fire trails which permit you to access backcountry campsites on a bicycle.
This is something that U.S. national parks do not allow for the most part.
So, depending on what you are riding, it is certainly worth considering.
But I would strongly suggest delaying until, at least, mid June - maybe July 1.
(Another option is to consider south to north - still, before June 15 is tricky.)

The major campgrounds in the Rocky Mountain national parks tend to be zoos.
That's why I do backcountry camping or seek out small, isolated campgrounds.
Plus, in the Canadian parks there are rustic hostels every 25 miles or so.

I used to live in Jackson and have ridden the parks up to Jasper many times.
Even though it is off your planned route - Mount Robson Provincial Park is amazing.
Plus you can ride into a backcountry site there, too.

Riding back from Sunwapta Falls along the Athabasca River you get to an incredible horseshoe.
360-degree panorama - and, usually, one or two other people.

Similarly, in Banff you have backcountry bikeable sites on Red Earth Creek and Brewster Creek.
The Spray River Trail from Banff south is fabulous and has a backcountry site, too.

The Spray River Trail connects to the Smith-Dorrien Road to Kananaskis.
It's unpaved, but hard-packed - and so much better than riding thru Canmore. (Done both)
Kananaskis is a secret jewel - visited mostly by Albertans.
At the lake there is a store and the walk-in sites by the lake are stunning.
The Great Parks North map routs you thru Kootenay N.P which is so-so.
I cannot believe they do not go via Kananaskis.

Two ways south of Kananaskis -
1 - Paved via Highwood Pass and Longview
     (Or you can do unpaved on the Trunk Road along the Livingstone River)
2 - Unpaved over Elk Pass to Elk Lakes and then via Elkford and Sparwood
15 years ago I was the only person camping in Elk Lakes Provincial Park.
There wasn't even a ranger at the ranger station - amazing, but a little spooky.

Waterton N.P. has a giant campsite in town - and there are some good cafes there.
But there are backcountry sites you can hike into from town just 1.5 miles away.
Many Glacier is not to be missed - great hiking, pizza cafe at the general store, etc.
Along Going to the Sun Road - opt for Sunrise on the east side and either Avalanche or Sprague on the west.
St. Mary and Apgar are zoos - huge RVs and constant noise - plus you pay extra.

Finally, I suggest US 89 on the east side over Hwy 83 on the west side in Montana.
Hwy 83 has more traffic, fewer shoulders, and limited views because of dense forests.
US 89 has been improved over the years with more shoulders and stunning panoramas.
(Of course, the views sometimes do come with winds - that's the trade-off.)

US 89 south of Great Falls is magically quiet with plenty of camping in the Belt Mountains.
The Eastside Road south of Livingston has almost zero traffic south of Pray.
Hot springs at White Sulphur Spgs and Chico.
Plus, you enter Yellowstone via the historic Arch at Gardiner.

Don't let people scare you about Yellowstone - just plan.
If you ride early and late you will encounter little traffic.
Getting up before sunrise and riding super early also lets you see more wildlife.
Then you can explore trails and scenery during midday.
Also, since all the campgrounds have hiker/biker sites, you can ride late without worry.

If you are entering Yellowstone at the North Entrance, (Gardiner)
then I suggest a route via Norris, Canyon, Lake, and West Thumb.
Norris makes a great overnight stop and you can do an out-and-back to Old Faithful.
(Old Faithful is the zooiest of zoos - they even have a cloverleaf interchange.
Norris geyser basin is so much more rewarding - especially early and late.)
Don not miss the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and Hayden Valley - the Serengeti of America.
Best campgrounds - Indian Creek, Norris, Canyon, Lewis Lake. Skip Mammoth, Bridge Bay, and Grant.

Lastly, in Grand Teton N.P. there are great hiker/biker sites at Jenny lake close to the camp store.
Do plan on hiking - esp. from String Lake up to Leigh Lake and beyond.
(The Cascade Canyon Loop is brutal and will take all day on a long summer day.)
Plus, there are great backcountry sites on Leigh Lake and up further.
They require a permit, but you can stow you gear in bear boxes at String Lake.

Hope that helps - - J

Pic - Big Bend Campsite in the backcountry of Jasper N.P.

Routes / Re: What is Your Favorite Cross Country Route and Why?
« on: December 16, 2016, 06:55:44 pm »
Assuming a summer ride - a combination of -

1. Glacier NP to Yellowstone NP via US 89 on the east side
Going to the Sun Road is one of the finest rides in the Lower 48.
Yellowstone is doable if you ride early and/or late - and worth it.

2. The Black Hills of South Dakota and the Sandhills of Nebraska.
Way, way better than the mind-numbing flatness of E. Colo / W. Kansas on the TransAm.
The best way to cross the Great Plains.

3. The Allegheny Passage / C&O Canal between Pittsburg and Washington, DC.
Off pavement and tricky when wet - but so nice to escape from traffic in the East.
Plus there are free campsites every 10 or 15 miles.

West of #1 you can do either the Northern Tier or the Lewis & Clark.

Between #1 & #2 you can do the Northern Tier route on the Wyoming Bike Map.

Between #2 & #3 you can do any of a number of routes across Iowa to the Northern Tier.

East of #3 you can quit in DC or ride out Cape Henlopen using passenger ferries across Chesapeake Bay.

PS - If you start with the Northern Tier you can do a ferry ride out to the San Juan Islands -
then end with a ferry ride to Smith Island in the Chesapeake Bay - nice bookends.

General Discussion / Re: Lions and tigers and bears oh my!!!
« on: December 06, 2016, 01:24:26 pm »
I have to agree with Pat - the most dangerous animals out there on the road are Fred and Doris.
Retired, driving a rental 40-foot RV with extended mirrors, taking nitroglycerin tablets for angina.
And with an attitude that bikes shouldn't be on the road.

Now those are some dangerous animals.
I'll take a mountain lion any day.

General Discussion / Re: Lions and tigers and bears oh my!!!
« on: December 06, 2016, 01:09:09 am »
I have encountered bears while riding in Grand Teton and, especially, Yellowstone numerous times.
But there will be "bear jams" whenever this happens - a hundred or more cars and RVs.
Just because a mama bear and her cubs want to cross the road and go up the hill.
Rangers do their best to keep people back - with mixed success.
It's a bizarre and sad scene - made worse by extreme TV, I suspect.

What about Santa Fe to Jackson?
I did it in 2005 - but in late June.

Another possibility is Flagstaff/Grand Canyon to Jackson.

Early June is early - especially in the northern Rockies.
I live in Wyoming and have skied on fresh snow as late as June 22nd.
Plus, there's all that snow to melt out - esp. if it's been a snowy winter.
And you are heading north to south. (Although elevation decreases from south to north)

June 1 Average Hi/Lo

58/33 - Lake Louise
61/38 - Kananaskis
64/39 - St Mary
68/40 - West Glacier
71/43 - Missoula
64/32 - Wisdom
64/32 - West Yellowstone
56/29 - Yellowstone Lake
67/34 - Jackson

I had mixed snow/rain at lower elevations coming into Missoula this past summer on June 14.
Two days later, I offered a hot lunch at the Potomac cafe to a Divide Race rider who was almost hypothermic.
Now, granted, you might just have fine weather - but it's 50/50 in my experience. Esp. at altitude.

As for campgrounds, many do not open until mid to late June.
Here are the Glacier and Yellowstone campground pages -

Most importantly, Going to the Sun Road often does not open until late June.
It would be a shame if you missed this spectacular ride because the road was still closed.


You can do an early season ride, but be prepared for cold, wet, even snowy weather.
You will need to plan more lodging, but these fill fast during bad weather.
The dividing point between late spring and early summer weather is about June 15 in the northern Rockies.
A later start might allow for a much more enjoyable trip.

General Discussion / Re: Lions and tigers and bears oh my!!!
« on: December 05, 2016, 06:07:45 pm »
PS - Article on how to hang your food.

I always pack 50 ft (15m) of good quality cording plus a carabiner.
Learning how to do this takes a few tries - but will give you greater confidence, too.
Nearly all developed campgrounds in bear country have bear boxes or hanging poles.
It's only when you random camp that you will need to do this.

PPS - NEVER eat in your tent.

General Discussion / Re: Lions and tigers and bears oh my!!!
« on: December 05, 2016, 05:50:30 pm »
80% of the time effectively applied choice words do the trick.
10% of the time the dogs flee as soon as you jump off.
10% of the time it takes some real effort on the ground.
Watch their ears - as soon as they drop, you have them.
(If you keep pedaling, they will just keep chasing.)

The above numbers apply only to loose dogs - which is nearly all of them in E. Kentucky.

There a some black bears in the Appalachians in the East - not too many, not really an issue.
There are both black bears and grizzlies in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho.
I live in Wyoming and have cycled solo on remote dirt roads and have never had a problem.
But I always practice bear-country camping techniques.
Colorado and Oregon have only black bears - but wilder than their eastern cousins.

I will tell you that I am pretty certain that I have had a grizzly circle my tent on at least two occasions.
You can hear them snorting and the tracks are the size of dinner plates. But I was in the backcountry.
Nothing is 100% - but you could get hit by a bus the next time you cross the street, too.
If you are uneasy, make sure to camp in developed campgrounds in the Rockies.

Really, there is nothing to worry about - either with dogs or bears.

BTW - the same food cautions apply to raccoons - which are numerous everywhere.
They will rip your tent open to get to any food you have inside.

Pages: 1 [2] 3 4 ... 33