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Messages - jamawani

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Routes / Re: Libby to Kalispell on Rt #2 OK to ride?
« on: February 20, 2012, 02:42:18 pm »
I've biked thru Eureka a few times.
It's a great town - I love the 1950s cafe.

But a couple of years ago I stumbled upon the Fisher River / Wolf Prairie route.
It is a beautiful ride with almost zero traffic - and all paved, too.
Literally - I changed from long pants to shorts in the middle of the road.
Did it intentionally for the fun of it - to prove how quiet it was.
Of course, if someone would have come around the bend -
They would have gotten mooned.

Plus, there a delicious spring 2 1/2 miles east of the summit -
And a great bar/cafe in Trego with a deck.
One of the best "accidental" finds I have come across.

Routes / Re: Libby to Kalispell on Rt #2 OK to ride?
« on: February 18, 2012, 10:59:45 pm »
US 93 north of Whitefish is terrible - but US 2 west of Kalispell isn't much better.
The state of Montana is to blame.  Montana state govt consistently fails to provide basic services.
The Flathead Valley has seen huge population growth and megamillion mcmansions -
Yet the basic road infrastructure has not been significantly improved and what's there is falling apart.

Immediately northwest of Whitefish there is about 2 inches of shoulder and this is crumbling into the lane.
Plus there is pretty heavy traffic.  At the country club they've just poured a couple of feet of cheap asphalt.
The problem with US 2 is that there is almost 40 miles of shoulderless riding from Thompson Lakes to Kalispell.
Even though the pavement condition is better - there is a much longer shoulderless stretch.

Traffic counts:
US 2 - MacGregor Lake area - 1900
US 2 - Kila area - 5700 - that's a lot without shoulders
US 93 - Stillwater Lake area - 2000
US 93 - Spencer Lake - 4000

Fisher River Road has a count of 300.
Then Wolf Prairie Rd to Trego has only 90. 
Paved.  Sweet.  Plus there's a cafe/bar in Trego.

There's a zig-zag back road option from Whitefish to C.F.
There is a back way from Kalispell to Columbia Falls using Whitefish Stage Road.
And ACA has a designated back route avoiding the narrow US 2 section east of C.F.
It's a beautiful ride using Blankenship Bridge - but does have a short dirt section.


Routes / Re: Bighorns
« on: February 12, 2012, 10:10:55 pm »
PS -


Ten Sleep Canyon

Routes / Re: Bighorns
« on: February 12, 2012, 09:38:23 pm »
Jama lives at the base of the Bighorns.
He do know them pretty well.

Mountain bike or road bike?
Westbound or eastbound?


There are actually 3 paved options - from N to S - US 14A, US 14, & US 16.
Eastbound, US 14A is brutal - left me gasping for air on every switchback.
Been up it twice, down once and practically burned out my brakes.
US14A provides access to the ancient Native American Medicine Wheel.

US 14 heads east thru Shell Canyon which is lovely but narrow.
It tops out at Granite Pass - the lowest of the three crossings.
US 14A merges with US 14 at Burgess Jct.
The downhill is a screamer which has spectacular views out into the Plains.

From Sheridan you should continue east on US 14 joining US 16 at Ucross.
There's a little store in Clearmont and bars at Arvada and Spotted Horse.


Heading to Ten Sleep there is a paved road from Manderson via the Nowood Valley.

US 16 heads east thru the spectacular Ten Sleep Canyon - truly magnificent.
You top out at Powder River Pass - almost 10,000 ft.
There are three segments east of the pass.
First a 9-mile moderate (6%) downgrade, then 12 miles with seven ridges,
Then a 12-mile moderate (6-7%) downgrade into Buffalo.

From Buffalo is may be tempting to take I-90 but that is a grave sin.
US 16 is longer heading to Gillette, but quite nice - esp the first 20 miles.


Mid July may be a little late for the wildflower display.
Nowhere in the West are there more beautiful wildflowers.
Knee-deep fields of every color - usually late June to early July.
There may still be some good areas at high elevation later.

Because the Bighorns have so many natural meadows - views are fabulous.
US 14A has no services, US 14 some - esp Burgess, US 16 the most.
All have plenty of campgrounds plus free camping anywhere.
It can snow any month of the year.


If you have wide tires, consider heading down Crazy Woman Canyon.
It's off of US 16 just after the 9-mile section east of the pass.
(It also saves you the 7 ridges - but means 12 miles of gravel.)
you come out on Hwy 196 (Old US 87) 12 miles south of Buffalo.


I'm partial to US 16.
Even though Power River Pass is higher than Granite Pass,
You drop further on the east side to Dayton than to Buffalo.
So you have to climb over a ridge east of Sheridan on US 14.
The seven ridges on US 16 are easier eastbound since each one is a little lower.

Ten Sleep Canyon is awesome - alone worth doing US 16.
You can climb it via the old highway on the south side (unpaved) but shaded and no traffic.
If you did that, you get the full expanse of the canyon views, too.

Whichever way you go I strongly urge you to spend one night up top.
It's just too beautiful up there to miss.
There are a couple of places where you can do a short wilderness hike, too.

Lemme know what your plans are.
Not sure if I'm going to be in Buffalo this summer.
If I am, you are welcome to stay.


Routes / Re: West to East, Western Express & Trans Am -- Dates?
« on: February 11, 2012, 02:27:00 pm »
I have ridden nearly every possible paved mile (except Interstates) in Nevada and a few unpaved ones, too.
I absolutely love Nevada - but it is not for the uninitiated.  Sames goes for Utah.

When to start heading east and when to end up in the west on the WE can be highly variable.
One basic parameter - spring comes earlier and winter comes later in the East.
A fall strip should almost certainly start in the West - no later than Sept 1.
A mid-spring trip should start in the East - anything before May 15 - no earlier than April 15.
Can you go outside these bounds?  Yes, but the days are shorter.
Plus there's more chance of bad weather - especially snow in the West.

Speaking of snow - when you can easily get across the Sierras is variable.
Some years the snow is gone by mid-May - other years it last to late June.
Hwy 88 is kept open year-round - but can be really rough.
Few services open before late May - even in mild years.
Same goes for the Rockies.  Many facilities do not open until mid or late June.
Remember - it takes 10 feet of snow a while to melt.
So even if it's warm and sunny, there will still be a lot of snow on the ground in spring.

Alaska/Hawaii / Re: AK Bike Routes
« on: February 02, 2012, 08:21:06 pm »
Support vehicle ?!?!?!?
I'm shocked!  Shocked!!

Routes / Re: Montana 83 riding conditions?
« on: February 01, 2012, 04:18:32 am »
Back to Montana - -
It seems that the OP likes as few cars as possible.
Although Hwy 83 is nice - US 89 / 287 has that "hardly a car" feel.
For some riders - that is something that is highly sought.
Hwy 83 has lots of trees and water.
Hwy 89 / 287 is expansive and wide open.
Different strokes - -

Routes / Re: Montana 83 riding conditions?
« on: January 30, 2012, 06:17:17 pm »
Well, at least we dont have drivers with Alberta plates - -
Notorious all over Canada, eh?

I suggest US 89 & US 287 on the east side of the divide over Hwy 83.
Why?  Less traffic, more wide-open views, and more sections with shoulders.

Here's the most recent Montana DOT Traffic Count map:

US 89 / US 287 has about a third of the traffic that Hwy 83 has.
Plus you have to negotiate some busy sections around Columbia Falls and Big Fork on Hwy 83.
I have ridden both routes a number of times.
US 89 / US 287 is far more pleasant for riding and scenery.
1500-1600 vehicles per day is not "light" traffic in my book.
It is enough traffic to require pretty good vigilance when there is no shoulder.


Connecting ACA Routes / Re: Connecting Transam and L&C
« on: January 28, 2012, 09:35:40 pm »
Karmelj -

Generally speaking, most western states don't have many camping facilities at their fairgrounds - other than for self-contained units during county fairs - because there is so much camping on public lands nearby.  Also, it would compete with commercial campgrounds in town.  If you want to camp in town it will usually cost - or you can find CouchSurfing hosts.

There are three main public lands agencies - the National Park Service - parks, the U.S. Forest Service - mountains, and the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) - desert.  Random camping - i.e. free anywhere - is usually permitted by the USFS and the BLM - but NOT by the NPS.  You just have to be 1/2 mile from a developed site.

The quality of your trip will be much enhanced if you try to avoid town hopping every night.  Yes, it's nice to have all the conveniences of town - but the West is where you have all that spectacular nature.  All you have to do is make sure to pick up supplies in the last town you pass thru.  Also, a basic water filter gives you so many more random camping options.

As you get into the Plains states, you will find many more towns that permit camping at the fairgrounds or a town park.  The Northern Tier maps will cover camping up to Glacier.  Along US 89, there's camping in Choteau, you can ask to camp behind the Warm Springs (usually if you buy a soak ticket they will let you pitch a tent for free), you can beg a spot at the Livingston fairgrounds if you catch the caretaker and there's nothing else going on.

As you get into the Plains states there is very little federal public land - after the Black Hills if you're going thru S.D.  You might consider state fishing access sites on water bodies and wildlife management areas - all searchable via the web.  WORD OF WARNING - Do not presume to pitch a tent on reservations unless clearly permitted by someone.  Native peoples do not take kindly to trespassers.  I have always been treated kindly on many, many reservations - but I do not presume and I do not stealth camp.  Common courtesy.


PS - White River, SD does have camping at the county fairgrounds,
It is a comfortable day's ride from Badlands NP campground at Interior.

Routes / Re: Best way from SW Colorado on TransAm to Denver
« on: January 26, 2012, 08:22:11 pm »
Just stay on the TransAm and take a shuttle bus from Frisco/Silverthorne.
Why add days of brutal traffic?  Into and out of Denver is no picnic.
If you don't need your bike, ask to store it at a bike shop.

Or from Granby you can take the train thru Moffat Tunnel.
Takes a little longer but is very scenic.

General Discussion / Re: Coast to coast
« on: January 25, 2012, 03:34:49 pm »
West to East starting August 1 can be really nice. Esp diagonally.

One possibility is to start on the Northern Tier from Anacortes, Washington to Glacier -
Then cut south using US 89 to Yellowstone and the TransAm.
The TransAm then continues southeast to Pueblo -
which lets you ride eastwards thru Kansas, Missouri, Kentucky and Virginia.

Doable in 10 weeks - but remember that the days are rapidly shortening.
5 weeks to Pueblo - 5 weeks to the east coast.
Late Sept and the first half of October should be lovely in the East.
Best of all worlds.

General Discussion / Re: Wind Rose Data for planning
« on: January 24, 2012, 08:51:44 am »
You can't beat the wind.  It will only beat you.
And of all things weatherwise - it is the least predictable.
I once had headwinds heading EASTBOUND in the Columbia Gorge.
Go figure.

Winds are usually lightest in the morning - strongest in late afternoon.
Ride early if you anticipate headwinds - stop when it becomes a hassle.
There's always another day.

General Discussion / Re: June Curry aka Cookie Lady
« on: January 23, 2012, 09:32:48 am »
June Curry is 90 now and has health and financial concerns.  For decades she has opened her home to thousands of strangers - sweaty, smelly cyclists huffing and puffing up the hill.  And she never asked for anything but a photo.

Now, we can return a small portion of her generosity.  The Mile Post Zero cycling club of Waynesboro, Virginia has raised funds to help June stay in her house and to cover some of her expenses.  Here is their website:

A small donation is a simple way to say, "Thank you!" for all that June has done for us over the years.

Routes / Re: UK Rider. Recommendations.
« on: January 19, 2012, 10:05:17 pm »
Just a quick note about the Carolinas and Virginia. 
(Used to live in Chapel Hill - The Southern part of heaven.)
Althought the Blue Ridge Parkway is lovely, April may be a bit early.
Also, it goes southwest to northeast and you will be trending southeast to northwest.

Much of the immediate coastal area has been built up - condos and golf courses.
To find traditional coastal environments and communities, you have to be inland a bit.
One exception to this is the part of ther Outer Banks protected as National Seashore.
Also, azaleas and other spring flowers will be in bloom.

Some places to consider:
Georgetown, SC - historic with colonial architecture

Okracoke Island, NC on the Outer Banks.
Lovely rides out to ferry at Cedar Island and back to Swan Quarter.
Somerset Plantation on Phelps Lake right next to Pettigrew State Park - camping.
(One of the finest examples of antebellum plantation with preserved slave quarters.)
(Many plantations ignore the rather significant contribution of slaves.)
Edenton is a lovely colonial town on the water - much quieter than Williamsburg.
Merchant's Millpond State Park has rental canoes - can canoe thru cypress swamps.

The Southside of Virginia has great back roads - usually numbered in the 600s and 700s.
Most have very light traffic - although services may be scant.
I would avoid the Norfolk and Richmond areas - really tough to ride thru.
High Bridge State Trail is a possibility - the bridge itself is supposed to open soon.
Maybe head west of there - roughly Courtland to Charlottesville.
If you want to hit a Civil War site - Appomattox is close.
Charlottesville is home to Unive of Va and Monticello - Jefferson's home.

Ocracoke Island, Somerset, and Edenton would give you an excellent feel for the coastal South.
And some of the routes are surprisingly remote for the East Coast.
A few older people on the Outer Banks still speak Hoi Toider - due to former isolation.
Video on this page -

Feel free to send me any direct questions.

Best - J

Routes / Re: UK Rider. Recommendations.
« on: January 15, 2012, 03:17:49 pm »
Permit me a different perspective.

The ACA routes are wonderful and carefully researched.  One of the chief advantages of a route such as the TransAm is that there are many cyclist services and you will meet a lot of other cyclists.  But that can also be a disadvantage if you are wanting to see the U.S. of A. afresh.  For two reasons.  First, you are just another of a long stream of cyclists that come through each year.  And second, there is a tendency for cyclists in a group to have group-centered dynamics.

If you are solo or just with one other cyclist, then you are forced to reach out more.  Also, if you strike out to parts unknown, then you are more likely to encounter people who will view your trip with more than a cursory glance.

Then there's the question of quality over quantity.  I have usually found that breaking up a long bicycle trip with car detours - bus/train/plane connections - tends to dilute the quality of the overall experience.  For me, at least, I get into a simple frame mind when I am touring each and every day.  That mindset,, when disrupted, takes a while to get back.

There are four major regions of the United States - Northeast, South, Midwest, and West - and each of these regions has many variations.  The Northeast has New England and well as the industrial Mid-Atlantic - highly populated and sometimes tough to negotiate on a bicycle.  The South has the Deep South with the strongest African American cultural contribution as well as the Upper South - hill country from Appalachia to the Ozarks.  The Midwest has the rich farmlands of the Great Lakes states as well as the wide open expanses of the Great Plains.  Finally, the West has not only the California coast but also the Hispanic Southwest and the Rocky Mountain interior.

I agree that east to west is probably best.  I would not start before mid April.
My choice would be to start on the Carolina or Georgia coast - in Gullah Geechie country.
Then head north-northeast thru Virginia into the Pennsylvania Dutch part of Pennsylvania.
Wouldn't hurt to head up to the Finger Lakes of New York and catch the Northern Tier,
Then take the Northern Tier across to Midwest to Iowa before striking out across Iowa and Nebraska.
You could then catch the TransAm by heading west from Fort Collins, Colorado thru the Poudre Canyon.
Once you got out to the Pacific, you could either ride down the coast -
Or if you are crunched for time you could hop on Amtrak to get to L.A.

There's also great regional literature that opens up unique perspectives.
Willa Cather's My Antonia is one of the finest works about the Great Plains.
Ivan Doig's This House of Sky is a haunting novel set in the Montana Rockies.
Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings addresses rac and poverty in the South.
Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio is a classic look at small-town morality in the Midwest.
The list could go on and on - and others may wish to add a few essential titles.
I have found that a book a week has helped me appreciate the world I see.
(Even easier now with a Kindle - Of course, famous titles are available in cheap paperback.)

If you are planning on starting on April 1, you will likely encounter cool wet weather in the eastern mountains and cool to cold weather in the Rockies if you stick to the the basic TransAm route.  June in the Rockies can still be very winter-like.  Just FYI.

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