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Messages - jamawani

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General Discussion / Re: Affordable/free camping idea
« on: March 07, 2012, 03:00:55 am »
Generally, you can camp anywhere on USFS or BLM land as long as you are 1/2 to 1 mile from a developed area.  More than once I have found a lovely campsite just down the road a piece - much quieter - and I have the water pump and picnic tables only 1/2 mile away.  There are a few exceptions - in forests surrounding ski towns like Jackson and Aspen there are camping restrictions - otherwise the entire forest becomes an outhouse for hipsters chillin' out in the party towns.  It is unfortunate, but abuse of the resource led to the ban.

Most of the time the managing agency will NOT let you stay in group campsites unless all other campsites are full and there is no one using the group campsite.  Usually it's the ranger's call.

BTW - Many of the same camping options apply to Crown Lands in Canada.

General Discussion / Re: Affordable/free camping idea
« on: March 06, 2012, 08:49:43 pm »
Sorry, I disagree about Warmshowers.
I was a member for a couple of years.
Never stayed - but hosted quite a few folks.
Most were quite nice - a few rude -
Such as showing up drunk or having to be asked to get a move on.
(What is so hard to understand about - "I will be leaving at 8:00"?)

Last year, I randomly checked out someone.
His name - not absolutely unique, but fairly uncommon -
Was the same as someone convicted of sexually molesting frat pledges.
I did a thorough web check - his blog site confirmed identical details.
When I brought this to the attention of the Warmshowers director -
He said that it wasn't their job to screen persons using the website.

Maybe there are only a few risky folks - but it only takes one.
Plus, websites such as that DO have the potential to attract sociopaths.
Sorry, but that is how sociopaths think and operate.
They actively seek out persons who may be trusting or vulnerable.
I immediately ended my participation in Warmshowers.

General Discussion / Re: Affordable/free camping idea
« on: March 06, 2012, 06:02:56 pm »
In small-town churches nowadays, the pastor is more likely to be a she.
Quite often, the church sign will have the pastor's name.
Sometimes, they have multiple churches they serve in a few nearby towns.
It's easiest to ask - "Does Rev. Smith live here in Smallville?"
If she lives 30 miles away - then ask if a minister does live in Smallville.
So, the Baptist minister - Rev. Johnson - lives over on Maple Street.
So you call Rev. Johnson, instead, and ask.  Don't expect.
But you will usually be pleasantly surprised by the generosity.

As for public lands - I find the purchase of National Forest maps worth it.
They show surface ownership patterns - with a scale of 1 inch = 2 miles.
So they are pretty detailed for touring and back roads, too.
They have them in paper ($5) and plastic ($10).  Or thereabouts.
Even one night of pricey camping more than covers the cost of a plastic map.
Most larger towns near forests have a Forest Service office.
Plus, town libraries will often have areas maps, too.

General Discussion / Re: Affordable/free camping idea
« on: March 06, 2012, 01:20:34 pm »
Show me the $$$.
It's all about money these days and there's no money in it.

There are, however, many opportunities for free camping that have been discussed online - here, at BikeForums, and at CrazyGuy.

If you want the conveniences of town you are usually going to have to pay.  Some towns in Iowa and Nebraska have very minimal costs - then you have the stores, cafes, and taverns to choose from.   The rule of thumb is - "Smaller is better."  If the town is big enough to have a private campground, then obviously, they are unlikely to let you camp for free in the town park.  Your best bet is with towns under 1000 that have, maybe, one cafe and one store - which is really all you need.  Another option is to ask at churches.  Liability issues have made churches more squeamish, but the pastor may allow you to camp out back and use the facilities.

The most widespread free camping is on federal lands.  You can camp for free on almost all Forest Service and BLM land - but you need to know where it is.  Most is in the West - but there are national forests all over the U.S.  This does NOT apply to National Park and National Wildlife Refuge lands - where random camping is prohibited.  Most states lease state lands to ranchers or other users so random camping is not allowed.  Some states DO allow camping at fishing access sites and on state game lands.  Finally, don't random camp on Indian Reservation lands.

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.

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