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Messages - jamawani

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16
Routes / Re: Virginia
« on: May 26, 2014, 08:15:43 am »
Research shows that there is a direct correlation between the number of confederate flags and the number of dogs running loose on the road. Southern Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois are not much better than Kentucky, but the northern parts of these states are way better.

On a trip thru the Deep South, I had to contend with packs of dogs. A deputy in the county seat told me, "Just shoot 'em!" It's a point of view that is almost third-world. BTW - I jump off my bike TOWARDS the offending dogs with a bike pump raised and my voice at jet-engine levels. I cannot reprint the words I use on a family website. Always works.

17
General Discussion / Re: GDR in Montana
« on: May 21, 2014, 03:10:34 pm »
There is an awesome loop from Red Rock Lakes up Blacktail Deer Creek Rd to Dillon then over to Virginia City either via pavement on the TA or unpaved Sweetwater Rd. A few miles east of VC is the turnoff for the Gravelly Range Rd which is largely on the summit of the ridgeline. Truly awesome - but also truly snow-covered until late. The first two legs should be snow-free throughout - - but you would have to call the nearest forest service office about Gravelly Range Rd. I suspect July 4th at the earliest this year - - but if you are willing to trudge over some snowpack here and there - - you would have it all to yourself.

18
General Discussion / Re: GDR in Montana
« on: May 18, 2014, 02:22:44 pm »
There's even more snow in Montana -
Lot's of high elevation areas have 200% of normal.

Generally, I use a 1000-foot rule for the Rocky Mtn states.
What's 10,000 ft in NM, is 9000 in CO, 8000 in WY, and 7000 in MT.

Here's a link to the latest Snotel data map:
http://www.wrcc.dri.edu/snotelanom/basinswe.html
And data:
http://www.wrcc.dri.edu/snotelanom/snotelbasin

<<<>>>

There are some really sweet rides in the Stillwater Basin - just east of Bozeman.
Base out of Absaroka - combination of county roads and USFS roads and trails.

19
Routes / Re: Eugene Or. TransAmerica vs. Lewis & Clark to Missoula
« on: May 16, 2014, 01:08:30 pm »
US 97 has very heavy traffic - even though it has shoulder , it sucks.
If you are a newbie, perhaps you should stick with the TA.
If you want to head up to the L&C, you might consider Hwy 207.
Remote, low traffic, lots of ups and downs, services in Spray and Heppner.
Not sure if you save very much in mileage or in climbing.
But with the wet spring it should be beautiful.
Did I say remote??

20
General Discussion / Re: Glacier Skywalk
« on: May 08, 2014, 09:25:43 am »
Sorry, but I disagree.
Not only are such things unnecessary, but they actually mar the environment.
It is a means of commercializing nature to the tune of $25 per customer.

21
Routes / Re: Connector Advice: WE to Northern Tier
« on: April 29, 2014, 03:59:33 pm »
I wrote a long comment that disappeared.

There a lots of motels in Ogallala and Broken Bow.
There's the Bunkhouse in Arthur and two motels in Arnold.
I think the Longhorn in Tryon is closed. No motel in Stapleton.

But in Tryon and Stapleton -
Call the county clerk and ask who rents rooms overnight.
There is court business that may run overnight - and hunters -
So I suspect someone in town rents rooms.

Point of info - the three counties have a combined population of less than 2000.

22
Routes / Re: Connector Advice: WE to Northern Tier
« on: April 29, 2014, 02:04:49 pm »
PS - Scott -

In northeast Colorado, US 6 from Fort Morgan to US 138 is a nice empty road to Julesburg.
It's a little tricky getting to Fort Morgan from Denver.

Did I mention Hwy 92 in Nebraska - - heh-heh
The longer route is from Ogallala to Arthur to Arnold
A shorter version (but morally questionable) is from North Platte via US 83.

Also, avoid US 34 in Iowa, period.

23
Routes / Re: Connector Advice: WE to Northern Tier
« on: April 29, 2014, 01:25:42 pm »
Here are cycling maps for both states:

Iowa -
http://www.iowadot.gov/maps//msp/Bikemap/bikemap2012_front.pdf
Nebraska -
http://www.transportation.nebraska.gov/docs/bicycle-guide-current-2.pdf

I've ridden across Nebraska many times - way better than Kansas.
Too many people stay on US 30 or US 6/34 - - bleah!
Doable if you are in a hurry and just want to cover the miles.

Hwy 92 from Arthur to Broken Bow lets you see the Plains as they were 200 years ago.
Much of the Sandhills region has never been plowed up. Very light traffic.
Little towns every 30 miles or so - much easier than Western Express.

It's a stormy time of year and you'll need to use caution.

There are some wonderful county roads across the southern tier of Iowa -
But you indicate you want to hit Des Moines.

If you cross the Missouri at Plattsmouth,
you can zig on county roads up to Silver City and Griswold.
Traffic on Hwy 92 drops considerably east of Griswold to Winterset.
Then zig-zag to Cummings and take the rail trail into DM.
Back roads via Montezuma to Iowa City.

Very few roads in Iowa have shoulders - be careful -
Choose routes with as low of traffic as possible.
Iowa is very bike-friendly - but the roads aren't great.

Pic - Loup River in Nebraska

24
Routes / Re: Western Express Water Supply in July
« on: April 28, 2014, 07:19:35 pm »
BG - This has been discussed at length here, at Bike Forums - Touring, and at Crazyguyonabike.

25
General Discussion / Re: no progress with Amtrak for GAP / C&O
« on: April 18, 2014, 02:37:33 pm »
Dave -

Passenger rail financial losses are a long and detailed subject - one that I have been involved with for some time - but also, one far too complex to discuss on cycle touring blogs. Suffice it to say that if I had an easy answer, I'd be Secretary of Transportation.

Almost all passenger rail all over the world has some degree of subsidy - but other forms of transportation do, too. Airports constructed at public expense - gate fees are only a fraction of cost. Cruise ship terminals. Etc. Etc. Despite the Highway Trust Fund - automotive transportation gets lots of hidden subsidies, too. That's why so many of us get rankled when people tell us to get our bikes off the road because THEY paid for them.

The only Amtrak route that makes money is the Northeast Corridor. Other corridors - like Los Angeles to Santa Barbara, Eugene to Vancouver - come close.  But loge-distance, overnight trains that have only one train each way per day have very high overhead, lengthy schedules, frequent delays, and high overhead costs. Washington to Chicago takes almost 18 hours on Amtrak - a little over an hour by air. Amtrak's travel time is the same as Greyhound's. Round-trip cost - - train - $188, bus - $180, plane - $240.

So even if Amtrak raised its fares to $240, they would still be losing $50+ per passenger and probably more since they would shed fare-conscious passengers to Greyhound. There are no easy answers - and getting bicycle baggage service to Cumberland is not going to be one of their top priorities - especially if it costs money.

26
General Discussion / Re: no progress with Amtrak for GAP / C&O
« on: April 18, 2014, 12:02:04 pm »
Remember, also, that the Capitol Limited route - Washington-Cumberland-Pittsburgh-Cleveland-Chicago - is a big money loser for Amtrak and that Amtrak is under considerable political pressure on Capitol Hill to reduce these losses. Annual losses usually exceed $25 million - with annual ridership under 225,000. That means that this train LOSES more than $100 for each passenger carried. It would be nice if Amtrak provided baggage service at Cumberland, but it is very unlikely to happen any time soon given the additional costs such would entail.

27
Routes / Re: From east to west starting June 2014
« on: April 12, 2014, 11:36:29 am »
Emilien -

Etes-vous flamand ou walon?
Il importe peu, trois Américains parlent français et personne ne parle flamand.
Je suis né près de Metz.

I was looking at your schedule and think it is more likely that you will be in Glacier in August, not Sept.
Also, like everyone else - you simply cannot miss Glacier and Going to the Sun.
That said, I would strongly urge you to consider a few days at Many Glacier.
Many Glacier is just north of Going to the Sun and the center for great hiking.
There is hiker/biker camping, camp store, showers, boat rentals, a pizza café, and a fine hotel.
And the hiking is out of this world.

Unless you absolutely must visit Missoula, I would suggest riding from Yellowstone to Glacier on US 89.
Between Gardiner and Livingston there is an old road on the east side of the Yellowstone River thru Pray.
Then US 89 via White Sulphur Springs has very little traffic and huge views.
It gets a little busy heading into Great Falls (The waterfalls on the Missouri are "great" but less in August.)
Great Falls has nice bike shops and outdoor services.

Heading north, US 89 has wide-open views of the Front Range and light traffic.
On the west side of Browning, there is an excellent small museum of Northern Plains Indian culture.
If you have plenty of time - I would suggest riding west on US 2, then to Two Medicine.
From Two Medicine you can ride all the way up to Many Glacier on the east side.
Otherwise, I would ride IR 464 from Browning to Babb - then into Many Glacier.

I have ridden Going to the Sun Road many times - it is ALWAYS worth it.
On the east side, I like to camp at Rising Sun rather than at St Mary -
Rising Sun also has a little café and showers - with hiker/biker camping.
St Mary campground has 400 places and is a parking lot full of RVs.

Choosing the best time to start riding Going to the Sun is tricky.
East to west is the best direction because you have the morning sun illuminating the mountains.
But you want to have sun - thus, you shouldn't leave too early.
I usually leave about a half-hour after sunrise.
No big breakfast - but I do snack often on the climb.

When you get to the top there are two possible hikes.
8 million people follow the boardwalk south to Hidden Lake - nice, but.
Highline Trail heads north from the parking lot - wow!
There is a small stretch where you have to hold on to a metal rope.
But you are literally on top of the mountains.

I usually spend a few hours up top, then zoom down.
There are two good camping options on the west side.
(Apgar, like St Mary, is way too big for me.)
Sprague Creek is on Lake McDonald right next to the lodge and services.
Avalanche is a little further away but - -
The trail to Avalanche Lake is a lovely short hike in the evening.

From Glacier I would suggest taking the Northern Tier route westwards.
There is a busy stretch of US 93 NW of Whitefish with no shoulders.
There is a totally empty paved road option from Trego to Libby Dam.
I once changed pants in the middle of this road with no concern for traffic.
Unfortunately, there is no photo to record this important event.

Anyhoo, here's a couple of photos - Along US 89 and in Glacier NP -
Tot ziens!

28
Routes / Re: Portland to San Francisco in 15 days, starting May 7th
« on: April 11, 2014, 02:50:52 pm »
Well - maybe or maybe not - -

If you do the coast in May - you should expect a fair amount of rain still.
If you do the Willamette Valley and Central Valley it will be drier.
Depends on what you want to do.

The Valley route is a bit shorter since you don't have to ride out to the coast.
But if you decide on the coast -
No need to go to Astoria or Tillamook - way too far -
Newburg to Carlton to Beaver - direct, forest route.

I've ridden both the Willamette and Central Valley - never together, though.
Actually, May would be a pleasant time - mid-summer is often really hot.
There are some great back roads down to Roseburg and south of Redding.
It's a little trickier getting across the Siskiyou Mountains.
But there are a number of good options.

Camping is a bit hard to find on the valley option.
There are a number of college towns -
Corvallis, Eugene, Ashland, Chico, and Davis -
So, Warmshowers or Couch Surfing should be possible.

29
General Discussion / Re: no progress with Amtrak for GAP / C&O
« on: April 11, 2014, 12:36:19 pm »
The Washington-Pittsburgh-Chicago route is a long-distance Amtrak route with baggage service in a traditional baggage car. That said, baggage service is limited to a few intermediate stops:

2014 Capitol Limited - Baggage Service:
Washington, DC
Pittsburgh, PA
Cleveland, OH
Toledo, OH
South Bend, IN
Chicago, IL

I think the last baggage handled at Cumberland was on the B&O Railroad up until May 1, 1971 when Amtrak took over and ended all passenger service via Cumberland until the mid-1970s. Baggage service on the former B&O segment was never restored to any intermediate stations once gone.

30
General Discussion / Re: no progress with Amtrak for GAP / C&O
« on: April 10, 2014, 05:18:50 pm »
Unfortunately - it is unlikely to offer many financial incentives for Amtrak. Baggage service is a headache for any and all carriers - thus, the airlines ever-increasing fees. Add to that the post-9-11 security issues and carriers would probably prefer that passengers travel with nothing - including clothing.

As a rail supporter since the late 1970s, I have seen a steady erosion of baggage services nationwide. Since many stops outside urban corridors have, at most, one train each day in each direction, it is prohibitively expensive to staff a station. For liability reasons it is risky to have people do their own loading.  It's one thing on urban routes with raised platforms or low-level car doors to have cyclist bring their own bikes on board - - but to get a bike into a baggage car may involve too much risk.

Then there is the potential for delays - ha-ha - as if Amtrak worried about delays.
I regret that Cumberland, MD does not have better rail services.
It would make a huge difference.

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