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Messages - jamawani

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BTW - Have you looked at the website - Crazyguyonabike?
It is THE BEST resource for bicycle touring - with lots of journals from people who have done it.
Plus a forum for questions.

One of mine:


When you say spring or fall, I am not sure.
Some people do off-season rides - but the summer months work best for temperatures as well as length of daylight.
400 miles per week is 66 miles per day. (Don't you just hate miles? - 110 km) With one day off or two half days.
You need to plan in time off - for fun, hiking, bad weather, repairs, problems with the pipes, etc.
That said - it will take no more than 11 weeks to do the TransAm for most people.

And early May start from the east will get you to the Pacific by mid July - which is probably as early as you want to do it.
And early June start from the east will get you to the Pacific by mid August - which is probably the best timing E-W.
An early June start from the west can have some tricky weather in the Rockies - nothing too bad, just chilly and wet.
A late June / early July start from the west is probably the best time for the Rockies, but it will be hot in the Plains.

There are some excellent temperature and precipitation maps at the Oregon State Prism website.

What is it that you really want to see in America? Towns and cities, landscapes, national parks, kitsch?
Do you want to camp most of the time or will you be doing more lodging? Do you like wild camping rather than developed?
Are you willing to do some dirt roads? 25 mm tires are pretty narrow - plus you are only doing double chain rings, right?
I tour on a low-geared, loaded down mountain bike - so our styles may be quite different. But I can go anywhere.

The TransAm is a well-cycled route - but that has its drawbacks as well as advantages.
People along the route have seen so many cyclists that it is nothing new. But they are also pretty welcoming.
You can see a fresher America off the beaten track - more tolerant further north, less so in the Deep South.

There are places in Ohio where you can see the brick pavement of the Lincoln Highway - the first transcontinental road.
There are places in Wyoming where you can see the wagon ruts of the Oregon Trail - where came long before the Lincoln Highway.

It all depends what you want.
You did say 2017, right? So you have lots of time and flexibility.

Best - J

You left out an important element - - when do you plan on doing this?

The E-W or W-E argument has been going on since the Middle Ages.
In general, it doesn't matter - what matters is when.

Generally speaking, a May or early June departure will work better from the east - better weather earlier in the East.
Not only can the West have snow into June - but the accumulated snow from the winter has to melt.

You want to avoid the horrible heat and humidity of Kentucky and Virginia in July and August, if possible.
By September the East is more tolerable, so if you are starting later - such as July or August, then leave from the West.

It is very hard to avoid the killer heat in Kansas since it is in the middle of the country in the middle of summer.
I doubt that you have had any experience with this kind of heat unless you have been in Australia or Africa.
Ride early - at sunrise, drink plenty of fluids, quit at noon.  Or ride further north.

I see that you have already ordered the TransAm maps - and you will encounter the most other riders on that route.
I've ridden cross-USA a half dozen times plus lots of other long tours - not convinced the TransAm is the best -
But it is the grand daddy.

For example:
The TransAm has you riding through a zillion miles of flat agribusiness farms in west Kansas / eastern Colorado.
The Sandhills of Nebraska have never been plowed and retain much of their immense, natural expanse - like an ocean.

Pic - Loup River in central Nebraska

General Discussion / Re: Missoula MT to Sand Point ID
« on: May 12, 2016, 05:55:58 pm »
Do consider going off route a few miles to St. Ignatius and the Mission Mountains.
Mission Reservoir Campground just east of town has spectacular vistas of snow-capped peaks.
In town there is the historic mission - plus cafes and groceries.

In Plains you can camp at the fairgrounds right on the river - don't know how much they charge cyclists.
I've camped at other fairgrounds for free - the caretakers are pretty nice to cyclists -
"Just find a nice spot and make yourself at home!"

Even if you don't head up Thompson Pass Road -
Make sure to ride out over the newly renovated Thompson Falls bike/ped bridge.

Best - J

Routes / Re: Newbie, Summer 2016 - where?
« on: May 06, 2016, 04:05:58 pm »
So, what you have is two tours of about 1 month, each.
And you have to get to Globe, Arizona and back in July.
(I certainly would not want to be cycling in July in southern Ariz.)

Is there a place with cheap airfares to Phoenix that could act as a midpoint?
How about Portland, Oregon? Oregon is, unquestionably, the most bike friendly state.
You could drive/fly to Portland and do an Oregon loop in June.
Then fly to Phoenix for Globe and back to Portland.
Then ride up to Glacier National Park and end with Going to the Sun Road.
And take Amtrak back to Portland if your car is there or head straight back home.

Pic - Going to the Sun Road

B+ ; A- if you work real had.

But really, I'd be more concerned with wind than grades.
Which direction are you heading?? You do know about eastern Montana and North Dakota?
Those of us who have toured tens of thousands of miles will tell you -
The wind can kick you tail far more thoroughly than any grade.

Food Talk / Re: Eating well on tour.
« on: April 29, 2016, 11:11:41 pm »
If you happen to be in small towns with church potluck dinners, stop in.
It will not matter that you have nothing - although you can offer to help clean up or something.
Most of the time you will be welcomed and overwhelmed with good wishes.
Plus the food will be the best you can get for 100 miles.
Lots of salads and casseroles - not to mention a whole table of desserts.
(And they will probably load you down with stuff for the road, too.)

Pacific Northwest / Re: Weather related Norther Tier
« on: April 22, 2016, 05:58:36 pm »
You can expect freezing weather and/or snowfall any time after Labor Day anywhere west of Shelby, Montana.
September snows are usually quick and gone soon - but they get more frequent as you near October.
Not to mention that the days are getting pretty short and facilities are largely closed by Oct. 1.

I've lived and biked in Wyoming and Montana for the past 25 years.
I know most paved and many dirt roads in both states.

A few years ago a tweeted two guys thru the western part of the Northern Tier in October.

The earlier time frame is doable with planning for a few layovers in September.
The later time frame is pushing your luck - and likely to be increasingly cold, wet & miserable.

General Discussion / Re: East to West Transam start suggestions?
« on: April 16, 2016, 09:01:04 pm »
Norfolk International Airport is closest - (ORF)

Airport van shuttle - probably $50 + bike charge to Va Bch

It's been some time since I cycled in the Virginia Tidewater area.
It's tough because of all the rivers, bridges, tunnels - most of which prohibit bicycles.

I did a wide loop to the west - took the James River Ferry -
which will connect you to the Colonial Parkway to Yorktown.

If you wanted to do a more direct route -
you would have to shuttle across the Hampton Roads Bridge/Tunnel

There are a few threads about the various possible route here
and at Crazyguyonabike and Bike Forums.
All the routes have their challenges.

General Discussion / Re: wild camping in WA, OR and CA
« on: April 12, 2016, 09:01:14 am »
It depends on what you men by "wild camping".

Dispersed camping is legal in most western states on many types of public lands.
But then, you need to know the ownership status of the lands you are camping on.

Federal lands have the broadest dispersed camping allowances.
On lands administered by the National Forest Service (USFS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
you may camp - usually for as many as 14 days - anywhere more than 1/4 mile from a developed site.
There are specific exclusions that apply - such as protected habitat or areas with overuse.
National Park Service (NPS) and National Refuges (FWS) generally prohibit dispersed camping.

State lands are more restrictive. The rule is that dispersed camping is generally prohibited unless otherwise states.
In Washington, state forests prohibit dispersed camping, state wildlife areas generally allow dispersed camping.
Oregon state forests do permit dispersed camping - and there are significant state forests in the coastal region.
Fishing access sites are a good option - but vary from site to site in WA, OR, and CA.

The days of beach camping - a la 1960s - are long over.
Although beach up to the spring high tide line are public lands, they are significant restrictions.
Many beaches are part of protected environments, refuges, recreation areas with camping restrictions.
Beaches with ease of public access also tend to be in developed areas with zoning or ordinances.

The best way to disperse camp is to know your public lands and where they are before you head out.

Routes / Re: El Nino impact on Sierra Cascade route this spring?
« on: April 04, 2016, 08:01:17 am »
No. I tried it.

Technically, even possessing a bicycle in a designated wilderness is illegal, let alone riding it.
I disassembled my bike and was planning two trips (actually meaning three including the return).
But it was too brutal - with panniers and bike parts and all.
If you had custom-designed, convertible equipment - then, maybe.

Also, since major storms 15 years ago, access is much reduced.
You used to be able to ride all the way up to Cottonwood.
Now, you can only get to High Bridge - where there is an complete wash-out.
I believe that the limitation is intentional, as does Congress - which ordered the NPS to fix the road.

Since the connector trail at High Bridge is in the wilderness,
you would be breaking the law riding or walking your bicycle over the gap.
Even this could easily be altered by a temporary superintendent's order -
i.e. permitting bicycle use of that small trail section.
But that is not the desire of North Cascades N.P. administrators.

Yes, there are conflicts between the park service's two main missions -
Preservation vs Public Use. Yellowstone is overrun with cars in midsummer.
But such has never been the case in North Cascades.
And the Stehekin-Cascade Pass has been a travel corridor since prehistoric times.


Long answer, eh?
Even with all the blah-blah-blah, it is worth taking the ferry up Lake Chelan.
Definitely, worth it.

Just come back down and ride around.
The North Cascades Highway is lovely, too.

Washington Pass on the North Cascades Highway

Routes / Re: El Nino impact on Sierra Cascade route this spring?
« on: April 02, 2016, 11:35:25 pm »
PRISM  has excellent climate normals -

Click on the July precip and you will see that the Sierras get very little in July.
The Oregon Cascades don't get much and the Washington Cascades only moderate.
The Rockies have more severe storms - but it the Cascades do get a few.

The storms are usually orographic - i.e. created by the mountains, themselves.
The pattern is - clear mornings, clouds pick up in the afternoons, storms in late afternoon - if then.
You can judge if there will be storms by the degree of build-up.
Plus, you can ride early and be done by 3:00 to reduce the risk even further.

Specifically, the Sierra Cascades route in Calif has little risk of thunderstorms.
The risk is slightly more in Oregon since you will be at higher elevation more consistently.
And much of the Washington route is at lower elevation with little risk of precip.

Actually, fire may be more of an issue than thunderstorms - esp. by late July.
Last year had extremely bad fires, but this year has seen lots of snow/rain.
Fire risk should be considerably lower this year.


The ACA Western Express doesn't get you to Yosemite.
You should NOT miss Yosemite if you can possibly do it.

Keep heading south on the Pacific Coast to Watsonville -
Then inland via Hollister and Panoche - via J1.
Cut across the Central Valley (hot!!!) to Chowchilla -
Then via Mariposa and the lovely Hwy 140 into Yosemite.

From Yosemite pick up the Sierra Cascades.
(You can hit thunderstorms crossing Tioga Pass.)

Routes / Re: TransAm question
« on: April 01, 2016, 11:04:50 am »
The Sawtooth Connector is 570 miles vs 900 for the TransAm - a savings of 330 miles.
(Almost as much savings as the Western Express - and if you cut off 150 miles in western Oregon, the same)

There is a very quiet, remote option from Arco, Idaho to West Yellowstone if you want to tour Yellowstone N.P.

Routes / Re: TransAm question
« on: April 01, 2016, 10:54:57 am »
I believe that I understand your question - and have done it.
Not Nevada, but directly across Idaho from John Day, Oregon to Jackson, Wyoming.

I've biked cross-country a half dozen times and have, perhaps, 100,000 miles touring.
It is a good route - stunningly scenic, with mountains and hot springs.

I have a general map over at RidewithGPS -
(The Rexburg option per the map is better, but I had to hit Idaho Falls for repairs.)

And a Crazyguy journal from a recent trip - Day 8 to Day 16 is the section in question

Another possible shortening in western Oregon:
On this trip, I chose to head southeast from Pacific City on the Oregon coast to Sisters.
There are easy connections between Portland and Tillamook - with the Three Capes as a starting point.

Empty Roads, Stunning Views

Routes / Re: El Nino impact on Sierra Cascade route this spring?
« on: March 26, 2016, 07:31:54 pm »
Mercy chile!
If you have to ask what makes it immoral - -
then you are already on the slippery slope.
;-)   ;-)

PS - My AADT scale:
Under 500 - Sweetness
500-1000 - Pretty darn good
1000-2000 - Tolerable
2000-4000 - Irritating
Over 4000 - Revolting

Routes / Re: El Nino impact on Sierra Cascade route this spring?
« on: March 26, 2016, 01:31:51 pm »
Andrew -

I don't think you need to be too worried, but you will probably have to do a few detours.
Map 5 should be no problem - it won't be that hot, nor too cold at Big Bear.

Map 4 will present the first challenges - esp. with the Western Divide Highway.
The main roads in Sequoia NP and Kings Canyon NP should be open.
If you have the time - and you may wish to stretch it a bit early on -
You really should head on up into Kings Canyon - worth it.

Yosemite Valley will be stunning this May. Have you ever been there?
The first time is always so amazing for everybody. Esp. in May.
So, do not, under any circumstances, skip Yosemite - even if you have to detour.

You will be coming in from the South Entrance and have your first vista past the tunnel.
Although not posted, people cycling into the park can camp 1 night at the backcountry campground.
(This is NOT Camp 4 - way better - on a bend of the Merced River - but you have to ask at backcountry office.)

More than likely, Tioga Pass will still be closed - they May (5% chance) let cyclists thru.
Most likely you will need to detour via Sonora (Hwy 108) or Ebbetts Pass (Hwy 4) - both have very steep grades.
There is a big climb out of the valley to Crane Flats - Hwy 120 is not my favorite, either.
If you have the time Hwy 140 to Mariposa is lovely along the Merced River and way less traffic.

The east side of the Sierras should be no problem. Monitor Pass usually opens in late April.
Traffic should still be pretty light north of Topaz - but campgrounds may still be closed.
Lake Tahoe will be stunning will snow-capped mountains and blue water - - but chilly.

Map 3 has a couple of challenges and question marks.
First, I don't know why ACA routes you via Graeagle, Quincy, Greenville on Hwy 70 - which is kinda sucky.
There are great 95% paved county & forest roads via Loyalton & Chilcoot then north -
Or via Calalpine and Beckwourth then north - coming out via genessee and Taylorsville.
Perfect time of year, too.
(Poor server, but give it a few tries and it will come up - esp. with new tab)
You can pick up a Plumas National Forest Map in Truckee.

The next challenge is Lassen Volcano N.P. - the main prak road may not open until June.
Your choices are to skip the park and head north to Hwy 44 via Westwood and Hwy A21 -
Or to head into the park as far as you can go, then return to the dirt forest road from Mineral to Viola.

Next is a choice - I think that it is highly immoral, although legal, to bike on interstate highways.
The ACA route takes you around Mount Shasta - lovely - but you have to do some interstate, too.
Another option is to head north from Old Station via Bieber, Lookout, and Lava Beds N.M. to Klamath Falls.

I am almost certain that the loop road at Crater Lake will still be closed in early June.
If so, then you can still ride into the park from the south but will have to use Hwy 62 & Hwy 230 to go north.
Whether you ride via Mount Shasta or Lava Beds, you should consider riding via Rocky Point on Upper Klamath Lake.

So we've gotten to Map 2 and it should be warmer - in fact, Crater Lake might be you last detour.
If possible, do the Windigo Alternate - US 97 has wide shoulders, but insane traffic.
Bend and Sisters are super yuppie - but have all services - esp, bicycle needs.
US 20 over Santiam Pass also has a good deal of traffic -
You can take the longer McKenzie Pass option - if open - Hwy 242 then Hwy 126.
From Detroit to Hood River should have few cold weather issues.

In southern Washington, do consider taking the side trip to Mt. St. Helens N.M. - worth it.
Also, there is a lovely, paved forest road from Packwood to Longmire in Mount Rainier N.P.
And you can camp just outside the park - they have no hiker/biker sites in the park - boo!

Then Map 1
It's a pretty brutal series of climbs over ridges in the park to Hwy 123.
And I don't know why the ACA routes you over White Pass on US 12 rather than Chinook Pass on Hwy 410.
Tipsoo Lake, at Chinook Pass, has one of the most spectacular views of Mount Rainier.
Then Hwy 410 is a sweet, quiet ride down to the Naches Valley and fresh cherries in June.

The Yakima Canyon along Hwy 821 is sweet - hike across the ped bridge at Umtanum Creek to camp.
North and east of Ellensburg (all services) there are two options.
The ACA route largely follows US 97 - pretty busy in Washington, too.
A lovely, but challenging option is to head east from Ellensburg on Old Vantage Highway.
The challenge is getting across the Columbia River - the I-90 bridge has no shoulders and fast traffic.
There are three ways to get across:
1. Pick a low traffic time - just before sunrise, light but no blinding sun, and ride like hell.
2. Ask or pay someone at the motel/store/campground to shuttle you across.
3. Hitch a boat ride to the Old Vantage Highway landing on the other side.

If you can do #3 it is super worth it. Esp. if you camp in Vantage, you have time to arrange #3.
The old road on the east side heads up Frenchman Coulee - stunning, sheer cliffs.
Then the south service road to George, Hwy 281 to Quincy, and Hwy 28 to Wenatchee.

Next up - when you get to Chelan, do consider taking the Lady of the Lake up to Stehekin.
You can take your bike with you and ride deep into the rugged country of the North Cascades.
By the time you hit the Methow Valley, it should be green and lovely - despite last year's fires.
And Hwy 20 over the North Cascades should be long open with all campgrounds open, too.


Just a few suggestions.
Have a great trip.

The Three Sisters - near Bend, Oregon

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