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Messages - jamawani

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I see that you are new and that you are from Australia, but you offer very little info about yourselves.
Starting the Northern Tier route in Maine in mid-April isn't exactly a great idea.
If you were from Russia, Canada, even the South Island - then maybe.
The average High and Low are 10/0 C in the lower elevations - colder in the mountains.
There is a good chance of snow - plus cold rain every third day.
Not to mention that most facilities do no open until mid May or later.

In the Australian bush, if you get soaked in a storm, you can dry out quickly the next day.
Not so if you have a week of steady, cold drizzle in northern New England.
Even if it is "doable" you are likely to be miserable.
Granted, you might hit a warm, dry spell just perfectly - but not likely.
I would strongly recommend starting significantly further south in mid-April -
Then work your way diagonally north.

As for free camping -
On almost all National Forest (USFS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands -
You can camp for free for up to 14 days as long as you are 1/4 to 1/2 mile from developed sites. (varies)
These are federal lands comparable to Crown Lands in Australia.  Fire restrictions are likely to apply.
Random camping is NOT permitted in most National Parks (NPS) -
Although many offer free backcountry camping by permit, sometimes only a short distance from the road.
National Wildlife Areas and Refuges rarely offer any camping at all and huge fines for those who do.

State and local agencies offer fewer free camping options.
Some state forests offer free camping - also some state wildlife areas do.
Montana used to offer extensive free camping at Fishing Access Sites - but these have been reduced.
(I'm guessing cost and vandalism - plus liability issues.  It's a modern world.)
Usually state sites a re small and require advance knowledge/research -
But some of them are quite lovely and out-of-the-way.

Here's a link to Montana's state sites -

Yellowstone River, Miles City

Routes / Re: Best way to build a route from scratch?
« on: October 27, 2013, 01:03:39 am »
Actually, there is an outstanding PAVED bicycle path ~ 150 miles long from Anniston, Alabama into the Atlanta 'burb of Smyrna. Google Chief Ladiga Trail (Alabama) & Silver Comet Trail (Georgia).

True, but it only gets you to Smyrna.
If one is going elsewhere in Atlanta there will be a lot of urban riding.
And then there's the minor issue of getting out.
(I've gotten into many situations where getting out was harder.)

Routes / Re: Best way to build a route from scratch?
« on: October 26, 2013, 12:55:48 pm »
Nearly all state transportation departments have AADT maps.
AADT - Average annual daily traffic
These indicate which roads are busy and which have little traffic.
(Sometimes it is in spreadsheet form which means using another map and going back and forth)

Here is one of the better maps - Kansas

It's color coded with actual AADT numbers so you can see at a glance the low-traffic highways.
Low-traffic roads rarely have shoulders, shoulders imply higher traffic.
But many roads with high traffic have little to no shoulder - which really sucks on a bicycle.
Some folks want to maximize low traffic, others want shoulders.

There are very few low-traffic roads in Arizona - not to mention the heat in summer.
You may want to consider a more northerly tack in mid-summer.
And why do you have to bike into Atlanta??  Urban riding can be the pits.
It's possible to have friends meet you - in north Georgia or southern Tenn.

I have found that appointments here and there can really put a bind on a bike tour.
Either crunching to get somewhere by a certain date or riding roads that are nasty.
Your choice.

Routes / Re: Ride across Nebraska route advice
« on: October 24, 2013, 01:13:46 pm »
I've ridden across Nebraska many times - 1st time on Hwy 2.
US 26 / US 30 ain't exactly the most scenic -
But you want to retrace a specific route which, not surprisingly,
became a major transportation corridor - trail/railroad/highway/interstate.

The section between Kearney and Marysville can be very pleasant -
Provided you stay off the US highways as much as possible.
In Nebraska Hwy 74, Hwy 4, and Hwy 8 are all quite nice with low traffic.
North-south highways have more traffic than east-west ones - esp. US 81 and US 77.

Diagonal roads in the Great Plains are very rare.
You will have to zig and zag to follow the actual Pony Express route.
There is a short section of unpaved road between Powell and Fairbury
Which follows the Little Blue River - then Hwy 8 goes on to Rock Creek Station.

Old Highway 36 in eastern Kansas is great for cycling -
But the stretch between Marysville and Hiawatha has pretty heavy traffic.
Most of it has wide shoulders, but about 20% does not - narrow & gravel.
Plus the the topography is rolling with limited sight lines.

Traffic map for NE:

Traffic map for KS:

Fun image from Google in southern Nebraska:

Are you an American citizen?
Have you left and then reentered the United States?

If you are an American citizen and have not left the country,
Then Homeland Security has no right to detain you and/or ask questions.
It is clearly a violation of the 4th Amendment.

Although the Martinez-Fuerte decision in 1976 permitted such stops,
the context was within a limited range.
Since 2001, the number of checkpoints and information asked has grown dramatically.

Based on the Martinez-Fuentes decision -
At the very most, all you have to say is that you are an American citizen
And that you have not been outside of the United States.
Any other questions are illegal.

You do not have to tell them where you are going.
You do not have to tell them what you have in your panniers.
You do not have to tell them anything about your finances.
Anything above the Martinez-Fuentes minimum requires a warrant.

Our basic constitutional protections are being eroded at an alarming rate.
I have nothing to hide and do not bear any ill feeling to these officers,
But I cannot countenance internal checkpoints of U.S. citizens.

Routes / Re: Biking to District of Columbia, from Chicago, IL
« on: October 17, 2013, 12:19:09 am »
You don't provide much info about yourself.
How much touring experience do you have?
What kind of bike would you be riding?
Would you be willing to do unpaved rail trail segments with zero traffic?
Finally, what time of year?  Makes a difference.

Routes / Re: On tour, jumping to Pacific coast by Amtrak
« on: October 15, 2013, 04:50:05 pm »
It's mid October and you are talking about this year - right?
I would suggest no further north and San Francisco.
There has already been one wet spell with indian summer right now.
Soon, the northern coast will be socked in for the winter.

The Big Sur coast usually stays nice until late Oct and often into Nov.
Why not cycle between Monterrey and Morro Bay -
Then head inland to the desert parks - if they are open by then.
If the national parks are closed - Anza Borrego State Park is a good option.

That should keep you warm into December.

General Discussion / Camping at Cape Meares
« on: October 12, 2013, 01:11:54 pm »
Jogging my memory here.  If I remember correctly, there used to be a hiker/biker campsite at Cape Meares State Park.  What made it so exceptional was that there was no other camping except for hikers and cyclists.  One of the picnic table spots served double duty.  Do any other old-timers remember when you could still camp at Cape Meares?  I'm going to say 25 years ago or more.

I think the idea was great - that you had an incredible, scenic location without being chock-a-block against a giant RV.  There were already bathrooms there.  Still, I suppose that if the park was unstaffed at night there were probably issues of liability and resource protection.  Sigh.

General Discussion / Re: Natchez trace open?
« on: October 01, 2013, 08:29:26 pm »
All but about 25 of the 160 employees of the Natchez Trace Parkway, also under the National Parks Service umbrella, would be furloughed if the government shuts down, said acting Superintendent Dale Wilkerson.

“Obviously, we’re all still hopeful we will avert a shutdown, but in the event it does, all national parks will be closed and that includes the Natchez Trace Parkway,” he said.

Routes / Re: Route from MS river (Hickman, KY -Ferry) to Albuquerque, NM
« on: September 18, 2013, 11:20:00 am »
Just so happens that today's winds illustrate the above.
Granted that on any one day they can vary considerably.
But it is interesting that - right now - winds are almost exactly as stated.

Streaming wind map site -

PS - Plus there is the basic diurnal trend of an easterly component in the predawn and early morning due to heating from sunrise to the east and a westerly component in the afternoon and evening during to heating.  Thus, a region with overall prevailing southerlies will still tend to have southwesterlies during much of the day - especially the afternoon -  and southeasterly at night and very early morning.

Routes / Re: Route from MS river (Hickman, KY -Ferry) to Albuquerque, NM
« on: September 18, 2013, 11:03:58 am »
I've lived in Kansas and Wyoming and have biked the Great Plains from the Dakotas to Texas.

While what some others here have said about winds in generally true, it lacks in the specifics.  First, yes, winds in the Plains are generally either northerly or southerly, but they do vary by season and location.  Second, winds are lighter in the eastern plains - where there is a bit more tree cover - and stronger the further west you go - where trees become exceedingly rare.  Third, southerly winds predominate in the summer with a switchover to northerly during the fall.  Fourth, winds are slightly southeasterly in the eastern plains but become more pronounced southwesterly in the western plains.

If you want to check out wind roses, the most appropriate for your proposed trip are those from Amarillo, TX and Dodge City, KS.  Or course, these are only two stations - - winds vary, even in the Plains, according to local topography.  Note that Amarillo has a clear southwesterly vector in Sept, Oct & Nov.  The westerly component comes a bit later in Dodge City.

Having also driven frequently between Wyoming and northern New Mexico, I can attest that frequent, strong southwesterly winds are common in the stretch of I-25 between Santa Fe and Raton.  In dozens of trips, I can easily remember either bucking the wind southbound or sailing on it northbound - - driving - - in all seasons.  I would have hated life on a bicycle heading southwest.

Now, I am just one person, but I believe that if you were to ask people living in the High Plains - such as in Clayton, NM or Guymon, OK or La Junta, CO or Pampa, TX - you would find general agreement on southwesterly winds.

In sum, in the part of your proposed trip with the strongest winds and least cover, in the autumn the prevailing direction is southwesterly.  YMMV.

Routes / Re: Route from MS river (Hickman, KY -Ferry) to Albuquerque, NM
« on: September 18, 2013, 12:28:57 am »
I beg to differ.
I have ridden from northern New Mexico to the Hickman Ferry.
I had some of the most incredible tailwinds day after day.
And it was October.

YMMV, but "prevailing" winds are westerly.
So you are likely to encounter some serious headwinds.
If this is to be your first tour, it may be a tough slog.
Which will color your perception of bicycle touring.

Does the trip have to be east to west?
How are you getting back?
What about flying out there and riding back??
Or there's Amtrak from Fulton, KY (no baggage service)
Or Carbondale, IL (baggage and/or bikes on board)
Connect in Chicago to Albuquerque

Then again, one can always take the Ste. Genevieve Ferry -
(Which also avoids the narrow Chester bridge over the Mississippi)

It does involve extra miles - it does cost $4.
But it is a wonderful way to cross the Big Muddy -
Plus, Ste. Genevieve is a fascinating, historic river community.

Routes / Re: across USA from NY to San Francisco: ROUTES HELP!
« on: September 02, 2013, 10:59:33 am »
Alessandro -

Non c'è Route 66.
Si è andato.
Una memoria.

Ci sono solo brevi sezioni rimanenti.
Per lo più si pedala proprio accanto all'autostrada o anche su di esso.
Una cosa di più - il calore.

Si consideri la Lincoln Highway tra Pittsburgh e Chicago. - con mappe

Vorrei viaggiare più a nord in Occidente.
Ci sono molte città con storie italiani-americani - per esempio Rock Springs, Wyoming.

Buona fortuna - - J

Routes / Re: TransAm and Sierra Cascades - weather question
« on: August 27, 2013, 10:25:52 am »
Hi Jim -

Depending on where you start the Sierra Cascades and how long you need to ride it, you should be fine.  August 15 would give you a little more leeway.  Three months to do the TransAm is more than ample.  Not sure how you plan to connect them - riding northbound along the coast is on the wrong side of the highway for views and against the wind.

Most importantly, late summer/early fall is the major fire season in the West as seen by the current Yosemite fire.  In the Pacific region most rain comes in the winter and spring with very little summer rain.  In California, there is almost no rain at all in the summer months.  There are almost always fires in late summer - it's natural.

That said, the coast is truly spectacular and much less subject to wildfires.  You might consider some combination of the two - either planned beforehand or flexible as weather and fire season permit.

BTW - If you are not truly set on the TransAm there are other more northerly options - because a July crossing of the Great Plains can be truly brutal.  Who was it that said, "Mad dogs and Englishmen"?  Riding in 40C temps with no shade can be a challenge.  Perhaps starting with the TransAm - shifting to the Lewis & Clark from St. Louis into South Dakota - then riding to Yellowstone and up to Glacier before heading west on the Northern Tier to Washington.

Best - J

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