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Messages - jamawani

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General Discussion / Re: National Parks Tour out West
« on: December 09, 2012, 06:29:45 pm »
Generally, a large, counter-clockwise loop works best temperature and weather-wise.
Consider taking Amtrak out to San Diego in early to mid April.

1. Mid April to Mid May - San Diego to Grand Canyon via the southern California desert parks -
Anza Borrego, Joshua Tree, Mojave Preserve, Death Valley is already getting pretty hot.
You can ride Old Route 66 in Ariz and drop down to Jerome and Sedona before hitting the canyon.

2. Mid May to Mid June - Grand Canyon to Taos via southern Utah and the ancient pueblo ruins -
Zion, Bryce (may be cold at elevation), Capitol Reef, Monument Valley, Mesa Verde, Pueblo Bonito.
Chaco Culture NHP is off road but the finest ruins in the Southwest.  Make sure to take US 64 and the "High Bridge" across the Rio Grande Canyon to Taos.  Taos is better than Santa Fe for cyclists.

3. Mid June to Mid July - Taos to Glacier NP via a run up the Rockies in peak wildflower season -
Great Sand Dunes, Rocky Mountain NP, Grand Teton, and Yellowstone - give yourself time. 
Using US 89 in Montana is a better route, plus sets you up for Going to the Sun Road in Glacier.
Stash you bike and do some hikes in the parks - either overnight or just day.

4. Mid July to Mid August - Glacier NP to Olympic NP via the Northern Tier and San Juan Islands -
Couldn't be a better time - consider loops in to Canada - Waterton, Victoria, Pacific Rim.
Drop down to Chelan and take the ferry up to Stehikin in North Cascades - way worth it.
Check out each of the San Juans - preferably on weekdays - and head all the way out to Neah Bay.

5. Mid August to Mid Sept - Olympic NP to Klamath - via Mount Rainier, Oregon coast, Crater Laker -
It's hard to do both the Pacific Coast and the Cascades - it requires some back and forth zigging.
From Mount Rainier you can also hit Mount St. Helens, then ride the central Oregon coast.
After hitting Redwoods NP you can follow the mighty Klamath River back up towards Crater Lake.

6. Mid Sept to Mid Oct - Klamath to Los Angeles - via Crater Lake, Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, Calif coast -
Late summer/early fall is a perfect time to do the Sierras and the mid coast - dry and pleasant.
If you do the east side of Lake Tahoe, you can also add Nevada to your list - if you didn't in May.
From Yosemite you can head back to Monterrey and do the Big Sur stretch of the Pacific Coastal Hwy.

Winds tend to be southwesterly in the SW in May, southerly in the Rockies in summer,
westerly in the northern Rockies in late summer, and northwesterly on the coast.
You beat the monsoon season in late spring in the southwest - and are after snowmelt in the Rockies -
the Oregon coast has had time to dry out by late August - and the Calif coast stays warm until Oct.

General Discussion / Re: Bicycle Touring vs Backpacking
« on: December 08, 2012, 09:58:31 am »
At Yosemite there is no shuttle, you have to go by the concessioner's office and beg nicely.  It would be better to go directly to the office of the warehouse manager than the "main" office as each employs persons with different mentalities.  The latter will say "Impossible!" while the former is more likely to say, "Yeah, we can toss it in a truck."

At Grand Canyon these is a shuttle during the summer season, but technically, they don't offer bike shuttle service.  You need to arrange to have your bike stored on the other end and have all the loose ends tied up - then meet the van departing with everything ready to go.

General Discussion / Re: Bicycle Touring vs Backpacking
« on: December 08, 2012, 01:13:10 am »
Why not both?

I have toured extensively in the West with a moderate weight 2-day pack which allows me to go on extended wilderness hikes of 3 to 4 days by hiking light.  I've had the concession service take my bike up from Yosemite Valley to Tuolumne Meadows a couple of times and have hiked up the John Muir Trail.  I shuttled my bike at Grand Canyon and have then hiked rim-to-rim a half dozen times - not to mention out-and-back hikes.  I've hiked Bryce Canyon, Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Glacier, Waterton, Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Mount Robson, North Cascades, Kluane, Wrangell-St Elias, and Denali.  All while on long bike tours.

There is no need to choose.

Pic - Backcountry camping on Upper Athabasca River in Jasper NP

Gear Talk / Re: Backroads maps of the US.
« on: November 24, 2012, 11:32:01 am »
Chappers - It sounds like you have only moderate experience with mapping.  Previous replies have mentioned USGS, DeLorme, Benchmark, and Google among others.  One thing to remember is that any map - - electronic included - - is at best a snapshot in time of a moving object.

Google, in particular, has real problems in the West showing dirt roads that are on private land and have no access.  Google and other mapping websites will even route you down some of them - - which is no fun when you come to a locked gate with a "No Trespassing!" sign on it and a 30 miles detour.

All maps have errors.  Things change on the ground.  That's why Adventure Cycling has updates and errata for its mapping products.  Especially in the West and on dirt roads, there are seasonal closures - snowmelt, critical game habitat, fire danger.  Not to mention construction, bridges out, etc. 

About bridges, there are thousands of substandard bridges on remote roads which pose a liability risk for managing local governmental bodies.  Faced with high replacement costs, many of these are simply being removed.  So even if Google satellite shows a bridge - it may no longer be there.

What I am saying - in response to your wish for an "Everything" resource - is that such an animal does not exist.  Yes, you can get a combination of sources that are reliable, but you need always to be prepared for differences on the ground - especially in remotes areas such as the West.

Routes / Re: Pacific Cycle Route tour suggestions for visiting Brits
« on: October 29, 2012, 12:11:47 pm »
When? - - is a big question.
If it's March you would want to ride in Southern Calif.
April - probably no further north than Central Calif.
May would be O.K. in Northern Calif, but could still have rain.

When spring storm do hit the prevailing wind direction is usually reversed.
So on sunny summer day on the coast, you have northwest winds.
On brutal, stormy spring days on the coast you have southerly winds.

Spring is not a pleasant time for riding over the Sierras to Reno.
Most of the passes remain closed until late May.
There is still lots of snow on the ground - facilities are still closed.
Plus late snowstorms hit up until Memorial Day - last weekend.

That said the desert parks in Southern Calif can be lovely in the spring.
Particularly if there has been good rainfall - this is when the desert blooms.
There are four huge national and state parks - from N to S -
Death Valley NP, Mojave NP, Joshua Tree NP, and Anza Borrego SP.

You could take Amtrak to Oceanside or San Diego - then ride north -
After hitting Mojave you could either continue to Death Valley or head to Las Vegas.
In Vegas you could sell/ditch your bikes - and hop on a cheapo flight to Reno.

Since you haven't provided many details - that's a general outline.

General Discussion / Re: Looking for help planning my trip.
« on: October 28, 2012, 07:29:38 pm »
Bryan - I've been touring for 20 years and almost the only time I've ridden with anyone else is when I bump into folks along the way.  After my first cross-country trip - solo - lots of my friends talked about wanting to do it, but few made any real commitment.  The one person who was most likely starting getting scarce a month before.  I knew what that meant.

It takes a lot of planning.  Getting your affairs in order, saving up moolah, arranging time off from your job (summer is great for college students), subletting your apartment, having someone look after the pets/kids/significant other - in that order.  Unless you really want to do it, you will let one of these things get in the way.

Like a number of folks have said - if you start on the Trans Am, you are almost certain to run into other folks.  There's no rule that you have to stick with them either.  Two days, a week, or the rest of trip - - most people have different cycling speeds, styles, schedules.  By and large, the people I have run into have been great touring companions - and we usually had routes that diverged after a while. 

But, I had to shake someone whose entire purpose was staying stoned and hitting bars.  I also like to get going early - esp. in the summer - so I get most of my riding done before it gets really hot.  Yes, you can jump-frog - but if you are always the one selecting the campsite for the night there can be friction - not to mention waiting to see when your compadre shows up. 

Regardless, you can enjoy the company - ride for a few days together - then go your separate ways.  White lies are often helpful in this situation and many others when you are solo.  Saying, "I just got some bad news and need to be on my own to think about it" works well.  If prodded, a firm, "I'd rather not talk about it"  should be sufficient for most people.  This applies even more for strangers you bump into along the way.  If you are uncomfortable in any manner, tell than that you are meeting up with your brother - who just got back from the Middle East - in Bigville down the road.

Many people tour by themselves - on their first tour, too.  Of course, it is more difficult for women to do so.  I am sorry to have to say that - - but to deny that truth is irresponsible.  I look forward to the day when such is no longer the case.  Anyhoo, plan away!  If someone comes on board for the entire trip - great!  Otherwise, just keep on and you will be fine.

Routes / Re: Grand Canyon to Joshua Tree to Los Angeles
« on: October 22, 2012, 03:13:00 pm »
Luke -

Gettin' cold, ain't it?
You've just hit the Rockies and it is late October.  You were lucky to have warm weather.
That is going to change this week - - big time.  40s for highs; teens for lows.

I would STRONGLY recommend that you get to lower elevation - not head straight for Cedar City.
There is an excellent straight shot from Bluff, Utah to Cameron, Ariz which will take you to Grand Canyon.
The North Rim is mostly closed now with few to no services - i.e. 45 miles away in Jacob Lake.

If you get to the South Rim, you can ride down to Williams - -
Then take Old Route 66 via Peach Springs, Oatman, and Needles to Amboy, Calif.
There is a remote, paved cutoff road from Amboy to Joshua Tree.

The direct, low route into L.A. is rather unpleasant along I-10 - sometimes even using I-10 - bleah!
If you are willing to suffer, head up into the San Gabriels via Big Bear.
The ride along the Angeles Crestcoming down into Glendale and head out to Santa Monica pier.
(Or, you can stay north of the San Gabriels and loop thru Santa Clarita via Soledad Canyon.)

General Discussion / Re: First tour for Brits in US
« on: October 19, 2012, 10:03:05 pm »
The United States is a primitive country - so come prepared.

June is iffy in the Northern Rockies.  I have lived in Wyoming for many years - including Jackson - and have skied on fresh snow in June more than once.  The unsettled weather usually ends around mid June.  Also, 50 miles per day can be too little in parts of the West between services.  Be prepared, on occasion to do more or to rough camp in remote areas without much.  Plus, Amtrak offers service with baggage handling to very few locations.

I might suggest starting by riding from San Francisto to L.A. - then catching Amtrak overnight to Santa Fe and riding thru the pueblo country of northern New Mexico and the Colorado Rockies - then flying out of Denver.

Routes / Re: Timing and weather
« on: October 16, 2012, 03:09:07 am »
Well, I lost my longer reply to the netherworld.  So, I'll be super concise.
Six cross-country trips in both directions. 
Wind is a wash - maybe a tiny advantage W to E.
So the main thing is temps and weather.

June 15 to Aug 31 -
Hot in the Plains in eaither direction.
Chilly in the West, Dog Days of August in the East if W to E.
Pleasant in the East, warm in the West if E to W.
(August is fire season in the West, wildflowers in West peak in late June.)

BTW - June riding is nice with long days.  By Sept days are rapidly shortening.

Pacific Northwest / Re: Astoria to Boise
« on: October 16, 2012, 02:50:32 am »
Ridden WA 14 a couple of times.  It may be better than I-84 but it isn't the best.  Traffic has been increasing steadily over the past 10 years - - plus the eastern stretch is devoid of most services.  Not to mention you have to get over the Blue Mountains, anyhoo.

Consider Estacada, Maupin, Fossil, John Day, to Ontario.  OR 224 turns into paved forest roads and tops out at Timothy Lake.  Traffic drops off considerable from Portland metro - esp on weekdays.  Via Maupin and Fossil is more remote and tougher.  Via Madras and Prineville will put you on the TransAm for more miles but with higher traffic levels.  From Unity to Vale - if you have downhill with a tailwind you might be averaging 25 mph.

Bicycle Route 66 / Re: Skeptical about Bike Route 66
« on: August 09, 2012, 03:46:02 am »
Fred -

Sorry, but I do not think this is a much better option.
The section quoted in the article is in New Mexico proposed by the New Mexico Touring Society.
(BTW, I had read and posted earlier in that article)

Other than the dogleg up to Santa Fe, it does little to alter the service road/interstate issue.
Here is a rough descriptionn from their website:

Proposed Route Segments (Described from West to East)
Segment 1: Arizona border to Gallup (including Gallup).  The route follows NM 118. 22 miles.
Segment 2: Gallup to Grants (scenic route).  The route follows NM 602 and NM 53. Includes Zuni and Ramah Navajo Indian Reservations, El Morro and El Malpais National Monuments. 97 miles.
Segment 3: Grants to the intersection of NM 6 and I-40.  The route follows NM 117, NM 124 and the shoulder of I-40. Communities include Acoma and Laguna Indian reservations. 46 miles.
Segment 4: Intersection of NM 6 and I-40 to Tijeras. The route follows I-40 (shoulder), local streets in Albuquerque and NM 333. 53 miles.
Segment 5: Tijeras to Santa Fe (including Santa Fe). The route follows NM 14 and local streets in Santa Fe. Communities include Tijeras, Madrid and Santa Fe. 56 miles.
Segment 6: Santa Fe to the intersection of I-25 and US 84. The route follows I-25 service roads, I-25 (Glorieta Pass) NM 50 and NM 63. Communities include Pecos.  Also includes Glorieta Battlefield and Pecos National Historical Park. 63 miles.
Segment 7: Intersection of I-25 and US 84 to the intersection of I-40 and US 84.  The route follows US 84. 42 miles.
Segment 8: Intersection of I-40 and US 84 to the Texas border. The route follows I-40 (shoulder) and I-40 service roads.  Communities include Santa Rosa and Tucumcari. 123 miles.

Section 1 - Fine if you like service roads - original sections of Route 66.
Section 2 - NM 602 has fairly heavy traffic (4000+), hills, rideable rumble strip shoulders, NM 53 nice.
Section 3 - More service roads and some I-40 riding.
Section 4 - Yikes!?!  Interstate and urban streets. Then Old 66 up Tijeras Canyon as service road.
Section 5 - NM 14/Turquoise Trail is lovely, but busy. (5000+) No shoulder mid section.
Section 6 - Santa Fe tricky to negotiate and expensive. Old Las Vegas Hwy very busy.  Pecos nice.
Section 7 - US 84 - good road, low traffic, shoulders. Nice bluffs northern end.
Section 8 - Back to interstate and service road riding.

Without doing a mile-by-mile, I'd say more than half of the route is
Interstate riding, service roads, high traffic, or congested.

Since Bike Route 66 is more than just a historical fantasy, but also a major southwestern connector -
It seems that a route which offers great roads, scenery, and the "feel" of a tour in 1950 would be preferable.

For example, NM 104 between Tucumcari and Las Vegas is stunningly empty -
Great mesas, state park, services on both endpoints.
Taos is very bike friendly, historic,  and fairly easy to bike into and out of.
Coyote to Cuba is lovely, quiet riding in high pine country.
Riding via Cuba and Crownpoint allows one the option to off road to visit the Chaco ruins.
And you can soak up the Route 66 kitsch in Gallup.

Hey, I like the Route 66 diner in Albuquerque, too.
But why ride with the roar of the interstate and fight city traffic - -
When you can have dinner on the Taos Plaza?

Bicycle Route 66 / Skeptical about Bike Route 66
« on: August 04, 2012, 01:49:21 pm »
I remain deeply skeptical about Bicycle Route 66.  I recognize that the idea has great appeal, but the reality on the ground is quite, quite different that the image created when listening to "You Get Your Kicks on Route 66" or browsing old 1950s B&W photos of Americana.

The major reason that reality diverges from image is that Interstate Highways have been built over much of the original right of way of Route 66 - especially in the West.  What that means for cycle tourists is that they have to ride either on an interstate shoulder with 20,000 vehicles zooming by or on a service road that offers little respite from the roar of the interstate.  Idyllic it is often not.

Furthermore, Route 66 had many routings over the years - i.e. there is not ONE Route 66.  This is true of many of the named highways of old such as the Lincoln Highway or the Dixie Highway.  Given this, I would argue that the preferred choice for the cyclist in the Southwest would be to approximate Route 66 - to experience the natural beauty, native cultures, and some of the cultural artifacts of Route 66 in a way as close as possible to that of early cross-country travellers - rather than to adhere to any fixed route.

For example, from northern New Mexico to the Grand Canyon, I believe it is far more rewarding to take a route such as Taos, Abiquiu, Cuba, Gallup, Window Rock, Second Mesa, Tuba City, Grand Canyon rather than follow service roads and interstate shoulders from Albuquerque to Flagstaff.  The former allows one to experience Taos Pueblo, the art of Georgia O'Keeffe, ancient pueblos, the kitsch of Gallup Route 66, Navajo life, the traditions of the Hopi, and finally, a rim ride along the Grand Canyon.

Just sayin', ya know?

Abiquiu Plaza

Routes / Re: Western express question (NV)
« on: July 24, 2012, 08:57:05 pm »
There is no bus service to Ely.
There may still be a single flight per day out of Vegas.
(Looks like there is.)
Make sure they are not using North Las Vegas -
Or else you will have to schlep all you stuff across Vegas.

Routes / Re: When is the best time to visit Yellowstone
« on: July 21, 2012, 01:44:09 am »
I only have 18 days left to live??
Puerto Rico for me.

18 days with or without travel?

DEP - London (dp 7:45a) to Jackson Hole (ar 2:00p) - 13+ hours
Most direct is via Chicago - United, others - early flight allows for delays and connection
Overnight in Jackson - bike shops, all services - play a little tourist/sleep

D1 - Via Jenny Lake in Grand Teton NP to Jackson Lake Lodge cabins
D2 - Via South Entrance to Grant Village
D3 - Via Old Faithful and Norris to Canyon
D4 - Day off in Canyon area
D5 - Via Hayden Valley and Lake to Pahaska Teepee
D6 - Via Wapita Valley to Cody (Irma Hotel?)
D7 - Day off Buffalo Bill Historical Center (best in West) Cody Nite Rodeo
D8 - Via Dead Indian Pass to Cooke City - stunning, tough, not as exposed as Beartooth Hwy
D9 - Via Tower and Mammoth to Gardiner
D10 - Via East River Rd to Livingston
D11 - Via Clyde Park and Wilsall to Bozeman
D12 - Day off in Bozeman, great college town
D13 - Via Hwy 84 to Ennis
D14 - Via US 287 (or Idaho if you wish) to West Yellowstone
D15 - Via Norris to Lake
D16 - Via Jackson Lake to Signal Mountain (big downhill)
D17 - Via Jenny Lake to Jackson - 1/2 day

RET - Jackson Hole to London overnight

You could return to Jackson via the Idaho side
But it isn't nearly as nice - and trafficky at times
No one has ever complained about cycling along the Tetons twice.

Routes / Re: When is the best time to visit Yellowstone
« on: July 20, 2012, 06:46:42 pm »
Neil -

I lived in Jackson years back and worked in the hospitality industry.  If you are staying in motels/cabins, be aware that it will be pricey even in June or September and you will need to make reservations well in advance - like 90+ days if possible.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming probably has more direct 1-stop connections than Billings, Montana - plus you would be immediately in paradise without having to risk an iffy shuttle for 13 people.  Jacskon has direct flights from Denver, Salt Lake, Chicago, and Dallas - - so you would have plenty of options with a London international connection.  You would be at 6200 ft rather than 3200 ft in Billings - a recoup day would be prudent not only for weariness, but for altitude.

Speaking of altitude - you can avoid altitude sickness by taking precautions before - but it's tough to knock out after.  Plenty of fluids, limited alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, if O.K. an aspirin a day, don't overdo it at first.

Prevailing winds tend to be southwesterly in the region, less so in June, more so as the summer progresses.  They are also impacted/magnified by topography.  That said, riding westbound from Cody into Yellowstone can put you in a brutal maw for 50 miles - a good part totally exposed.  Again, no guarantees with wind, but the Wapiti Canyon usually has strong westerlies.  It is a lovely ride - lovelier when you can raise your head.

Of places to stay three nighst in the park on a bike trip, Canyon is waaay better than Grant Village.  Both have a range of facilities, but the hiking is so much better around Canyon - along either rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, to backcountry lakes, up the Hayden Valley with all its wildlife.  There's a slightly longer, paved back route from Bozeman to Livingston - a moderately longer one thru Clyde Park.  Then there is the very quiet East River Road south of Livingston.

Unless your riders are extremely strong, I would caution you about riding the Beartooth Highway from Cooke City to Red Lodge.  Especially if you are doing this early or late - the Beartooth Plateau makes Yellowstone look tropical - plus you are exposed in near-tundra conditions for a considerable distance.  The climb is brutal and the descent is terrifying - melted rim variety.


The nice thing about starting in Jackson would be that you have an initial 50 miles of relatively flat riding, but eye-popping vistas.   A great way to get acclimated.

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