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Messages - jamawani

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Routes / Re: Critique my NE CA/SW OR Loop!
« on: January 14, 2012, 05:10:29 pm »
Scott -

You may want to talk to someone at a bike shop in Klamath Falls - it's been a while for me - but I found that Hwy 140 was less than desirable over Bly Mountain - narrow, winding, no shoulder, moderate traffic & fairly high speeds.  Bliss Rd (fka - Squaw Flats Rd) is longer but has minimal traffic and relatively slow speeds.
The plan was to redo Hwy 140 in 2011 - but they are two years late - at least.

Here's the ODOT Traffic Count Map:

Calif doesn't have such a map - but data is here:
Scroll down by Hwy number in upper right corner.

Overall the loop looks quite good -
There isn't much "spectacular scenery - all very nice riding though.
Hart Mountain and Hart Lake - north of Adel - is spectacular.
If you are going to be so close - I'd suggest adding the small loop.

Best - J

Routes / Re: Critique my NE CA/SW OR Loop!
« on: January 13, 2012, 09:28:11 am »
Scott -

Wow! I see that you have routed the group into Surprise Valley.  You are aware that there is about 20 miles of dirt between  Adel, Oregon and Fort Bidwell. Calif?  There are little stores in Adel, Ft. Bidwell, and Cedarville.

Probably the most dramatic scenery along this route is just north of Adel - Hart Mountain and the lakes of the Warner Valley - almost 4000 ft sheer wall of a fault block.  Paved road loop from Adel to Plush and back to Hwy 140.  Store in Plush.  The valley floor should be fabulous in June.  Camping options galore - - BTW most camping on your route will likely be random, i.e. without services.

I noticed that you have a backtrack loop into Lava Beds NM.  You could still do the stretch from Lava Beds to Lakeview via Hwy 140.  Follow Hill Rd to State Line Rd, then take Harpold Rd to Bonanza - Bonanza ain't no Bonanza but has basic services.  Then you can continue west on Hwy 70 almost to Dairy and over the mountains to Sprague River - then east on Sprague River Rd to Hwy 140.  This avoids the busiest stretch of Hwy 140 near Klamath Falls.

Anyhoo - just some ideas.

Routes / Re: Critique my NE CA/SW OR Loop!
« on: January 11, 2012, 10:45:38 pm »
I fell in love with this area back in the late 1990s.
Ridden many routes - driven others.

First off -
Hwy 140 from Klamath Falls to Beatty is not the best choice - esp with youth.
Narrow, few shoulders, moderate+ and fast traffic, blind hills and curves.
You can take the OC&E Trail out of Klamath Falls - first 8 miles paved, then gravel.
One of the most beautiful rides in the region is along the Sprague River - from Chiloquin to Beatty.
From Klamath to Chiloquin - US 97 has shoulders but very heavy traffic - West Side Road is better.
East of Beatty, Hwy 140 has less traffic, but still pretty high speeds amd little shoulder.

Second -
Instead of Hwy 139, you can loop south from Merrill and head thru Lava Beds NM.
Since much of this loop is heavily forested, the open vistas are a treat.
Further south on Hwy 139, you can take Lookout Road to either Adin or Bieber.
Almost no traffic and you miss the Hwy 139/299 section which is a little busy at times.
Eagle Lake should have plenty of water after two wet years - great desert lake.

Third -
I love US 395 in this region - wide open and remote - like Nevada.
There's a back road east out of Susanville to Litchfield - country store.
I can't remember if the Termo Store was open when I went thru.  Be good to check.

Fourth -
The east side of the Warner Range is awesome - Surprise Valley Road
No good way to get to Eagleville without dirt - so it may not be possible for y'all.
Fandango Pass Road is hardpack - big climb coming from east then great downhill to US 395.

Lakeview is a friendly town - Hunter's Hot Springs north of town has pools and camping.

Best - J

General Discussion / Re: TramsAm: Rainy days?
« on: January 05, 2012, 10:44:45 am »
In every life some rain must fall.
That applies to bike touring as well.

One topic not discussed is the risk of riding in moderate to heavy rain.
A number of things happen when it is raining fairly hard.
Visibility is reduced - Stopping distances increase - For cars and bikes.
Also, drivers' and cyclists' moods change - and mood affects decisions.

That is why I usually opt NOT to ride when it is raining.
If it looks to be an all-day rain - that's a good day to take off.
Except for the coasts - most summer rain comes in squalls or storms.
So it clears up - you ride a while - and you chill when it starts up again.

From the Atlantic to eastern Kansas there are frequent towns.
In remote areas of the West, it tends to be dry with occasional big storms.
In western Oregon, summers tend to be quite dry, too.

I always tour with a decent jacket that has two purposes - warmth and water repellency.
(I also carry a synthetic long-sleeve turtleneck or fleece.)
I have never found an ideal jacket - I currently have a North Face Hyvent.
I sweat like a pig in totally waterproof jackets - which defeats the purpose, eh?
And repellent jackets will not keep you dry for hours in a downpour.
Gore-Tex (aka Leak-Tex) is way overrated in my book.
Also - bright colors are good for visibililty.

In addition, some kind of wind pants are important.
Again, these will be nice on cool/cold mornings in the West.
Like the jacket - 100% waterproof will mean you sweat.
Water repellent and breathable are the two parameters.
You can usually find discount prices at places like Campmor.

My rainwear/coldwear is significantly more robust than that described above.
However, most of my touring of late has been in the West, Canada, and Alaska.
I have opted for a compromise - both in weight and cost.
Not the cheapest and flimsiest - but nothing close to expedition quality.
Still, I like having the extra assurance against bad weather.

And when it really gets bad - - I hole up.

Routes / Re: Deciding / Finding / Parameters for Routes
« on: January 01, 2012, 11:55:34 am »
Yes, earlier state DOT maps that were hand created usually indicated paved vs unpaved, but newer electronic platforms no longer have this feature in most cases.  Go figure.

If you go to PDF map files that are a decade or so old, you will likely find these older formats - which still usually indicate which county roads are paved vs unpaved -- at least in rural areas.  DeLorme atlases do not show paved vs unpaved in any meaningful way - they have thicker vs thinner lines, but it doesn't necessarily mean paved or unpaved.  Benchmark Maps have far superior state atlases - and they DO show which roads are paved vs unpaved.  I do not know how accurate they are - I suspect that they have used the most recent state sources as above.

Routes / Re: Deciding / Finding / Parameters for Routes
« on: December 31, 2011, 05:55:38 pm »

YMMV - but people have different measures of what entails a good cycling route - services, shoulders, scenery, traffic levels.  I have toured more than 100,000 miles and regularly include unpaved sections into my inineraries.  Why? If you have a 40-mile paved road from Farmville to New City vs one that is 32 miles of pavement and 10 miles of dirt - 98% of the traffic will be on the paved road.  Furthermore, the speed will usually be much slower on the latter route.  Also, older county roads will rarely have the same level of engineering as state/federal highways - thus they will have lower speed limits and, generally, lower speeds.  They will have more curves and steeper grades.  That's the trade-off.

Unless you Google Streetview every mile - and some routes still have no Streetview possible - you can't be sure how much shoulder you have to use.  Then there's the issue of rumble strips on the shoulder - which can sometimes not be seen in Streetview but make the shoulder largely unusable for cyclists.  Nevada is the worst offender on this one.  Such a situation is even more dangerous than no shoulder at all since drivers will expect cyclists to be on the shoulder.  Technically speaking, I would concur that an Interstate shoulder is safer than a rural highway with low traffic but no shoulder.  But I do not tour to listen to 18-wheelers all day  and smell diesel fumes.

Most state DOT websites have AADT maps for state/federal highways.  Some state such as Kansas & Iowa even have county road AADT maps.  State highways usually have 55-65 mph speed limits.  County highways are usually 45-55 mph.  In Virginia, county roads are usually numbered in the 600s and 700s - although technically state highways.  In North Carolina they have four-digit numbers such as 1701.

I'll give you an example: Nebraska AADT Map

You could ride across Nebraska on the Old Lincoln Highway - US 30.  Plenty of towns and services.  Usually a shoulder.  Moderate to moderate-plus traffic.
Google Streetview Section: Between Hershey and North Platte
AADT - 3225

Or you could use Hwy 2 which is quite scenic in the Sandhills.  Lower traffic in the west - much higher in the east.
Google Streetview Section: Mullen and Thedford
AADT - 715

Or you could choose Hwy 92 in combination with county roads for a very quiet, stunning ride.
Google Streetview Section: Between Tryon and Stapleton
(Check out the fab Round Valley Road between Broken Bow and Sargent.)
AADT - 130

AADT rought rule of thumb for rural highways -
Under 500 - Heavenly
500-1000 - Quite nice
1000-2000 - OK, but enough traffic to require caution
2000-4000 - Moderate to moderate-plus traffic, shoulder really needed
4000+ - Heavy traffic, shoulder essential - risky without shoulder for short essential connection

Best - J

Routes / Re: Help with route in WY
« on: December 31, 2011, 05:28:47 pm »
I have lived in Wyoming more than 20 years and have biked nearly every paved, non-Interstate mile of pavement in the state.  I would urge you not to ride from Cheyenne to Rawlins, but rather to ride from Scottsbluff through Casper.  In the Panhandle, Hwy 92 generally has far less traffic than US 26.  Hwy 29 in far western Neb is a lovely, empty road - then connecting with US 20 heading west.  I prefer that to using US 26 thru Torrington to the service roads paralleling I-25.  From Orin Jct to Douglas there is a parallel paved service road - then Hwys 93 & 95 keep you from having to ride on I-25.  US 20/26 heads west to Shoshoni - great milkshakes at Yellowstone Drug - and Riverton and you can then continue on over Togwatee Pass along the TA.

Be aware that, heading west, you will encounter significant headwinds which are almost always worst in the afternoon.  If you are doing a loop with a return trip, I would suggest the section thru Sylvan Pass to Cody - Wapiti Canyon along US 14/16.  If you have your cycling legs by then, I might suggest continuing over the Bighorn Mountains - fabulous wildflowers - to Buffalo and then via Kaycee and Wright to Newcastle - then through the southern Black Hills to Hwy 2 and to Crawford, Nebraska. 
Hwy 2 in far northwestern Neb is empty and magical.

Routes / Re: Western Express - NV - early June
« on: December 30, 2011, 01:04:07 pm »
STRONGLY suggest that you do not use US 6 east of Spanish Fork, Utah.
This road has high traffic, high speeds, blind curves, and heavy truck traffic.
It is considered one of the most dangerous roads in Utah.
In addition, there is almost always construction going on - plus poor shoulders in many places.

There is a scenic, low-traffic option that does involve more climbing.
From Delta take Hwy 132 to Nephi and Moroni. (Mod traffic east of Nephi)
Take Hwy 116 to Mount Pleasant, then US 89 north to Fairview.
Hwy 31 climbs the Wasatch Front, then Hwy 264 goes to Scofield.
(Very scenic, high country area)
Hwy 96 takes you to US 6 at Colton.

There is a seasonal store in Scofield and a historic general store at Colton.
Plus, there is a cutoff road between Colton and US 191 - Emma Park/Kyune Rd.
Also, there are nice back roads between Duquesne, Vernal, and Dinosaur.


Routes / Re: Is the NT a traffic nightmare?
« on: December 26, 2011, 10:23:39 am »
Although I have ridden cross-country more than a half dozen times, I have never done a complete ACA route.  I don't mind doing parts of them - but I feel no obligation to stick to any predesignated route.  I've done parts of the TA and did the much of the western section of the NT in 2006.

To answer your questions in the order listed:
1. The Hwy 20 causeway is busy but there is a separated bike lane on the bridge and a wide shoulder elsewhere.  Remember, there is a great bike trail that goes across the bay from Anacortes.  Also, you should really consider heading out to one of the San Juan islands as a delicious extra - I'm guessing the start of your trip.
2. Hwy 200 near Sandpoint is busy with very little shoulder.  I rode it on my frist cross-country trip in 1987 and the difference is night and day.  Still, Sandpoint has turned into a recreation-based community and most drivers are used to cyclists.  Perhaps avoid the busiest commute times.
3. Logging trucks - not that frequent - don't listen to music while riding - you can hear them coming a mile away.  But do given them plenty of room - they do move quickly .
4. US 93 north of Whitefish sucks - narrow, no shoulders, busy.  There is a paved alterate - Fisher Creek & Wolf Prairie Roads - that have very low traffic and bypass Eureka thru the tiny community of Trego, but they still put you out on US 93.  Or you can take Fisher Creek Rd down to US 2 - but US 2 has some of the same traffic and shoulderless issues that US 93 does.  There is a fairly directly line unpaved road over the divide from Fisher Creek to Star Meadow Road via Twin Bridges Rd to Spencer Lake - - but still you have a short, bad stretch of US 93.  I am amazed that US 93 has no shoulder right up to the edge of Whitefish - considering that Whitefish is such a recreation-based community - but Montana is the poorest state in the West.  Also - in addition to a lack of shoulder, US 93's pavement is broken at the edge forcing you further into traffic.  I have ridden 100,000+ miles and this is one of the worst mapped stretches - but as you can see, there are no alternates.
5&6. Going to the Sun Road is not to be missed.  It is one of the finest rides in North America.  Headin west to east the park has limitations on cyclists.  The stretch from Apgar to Lake MacDonald Lodge is closed from 11a to 4p as is the uphill stretch from the bottom to Logan Pass.  Leave early and enjoy the view with light traffic.  I prefer camping at Avalanche rather than Sprague Creek - the former is quiet and gives you a head-start on the climb.  The latter has close access to facilities at the lodge, but is right next to the road and has road sounds all night.  One option you can consider - if you are not morally opposed - is to take all your gear up to the top on the free bus and put it in the lockers there - then ride up with a nearly bare bike.  If you give yourself 3 hours for the climb you will have plenty of time.  Then you should plan on spending a few hours up top hiking - if the weather is good.  And it is unforgettable - the Highline Trail has eye-popping views and sheer walls.
7. US 2 does have heavier than ideal traffic - it has been widened in most of eastern Montana - but there are a few stretches where there is no shoulder and fairly heavy traffic - like east of Havre. I suggest taking US 89 southeast from Glacier to Great Falls - then US 87 and Hwys 80 & 81 to Hwy 200 across eastern Montana - mostly the L&C routing - but staying on Hwy 200 the entire way and NOT heading into Williston, ND.
7A. I would ABSOLUTELY avoid Williston.  There is a huge oil and gas development going on there with industrial traffic and rowdy, impatient, possibly drunk, over-paid young guys in profusion.  Cheesy motel rooms go for $200 a night if you can find one.  I would stay on Hwy 200 to Washburn which has great Lewis and Clark and Mandan historic sites.  There will be places on Hwy 200 in western ND that have moderate and moderate-plus traffic - but it is generally better than US 2.  Hwy 1804 was named for the year Lewis & Clark went up river as a scenic road and was never designed for industrial traffic.  I would avoid it.

If you are willing to make small alterations to the route - and ACA is working on publishing a North Dakota alternate right now - then you will have no problem.



Routes / Re: Lewis & Clark
« on: December 20, 2011, 02:45:01 am »
John -

From Sydney, MT - MT 23 becomes ND 68.
The first dirt segment begins when ND 68 turns north.
I would advise you to check with TRNP staff to see
if it is still legit to use this gate.
NPS is increasingly iffy with such things.

Routes / Re: Lewis & Clark
« on: December 19, 2011, 11:49:25 pm »
The "backdoor" of Theodore Roosevelt N.P. (North Unit) is a great option if you are willing to do 10 miles of dirt roads.  (From ND 68 eastbound stay straight onto county road 7 miles; turn right/south 4 miles on paved county road; then left 3 miles with zigs to park) It's easier to find heading east to west than vice versa.  Also the gate is usually locked - which means lifting your bike over - usually easier to remove panniers, first.  Most importantly, you better have a map and know your directions - esp. in hot or cold weather.

Routes / Re: Lewis & Clark
« on: December 16, 2011, 07:23:51 pm »
And a 2010 North Dakota traffic count map.

Routes / Re: Lewis & Clark
« on: December 16, 2011, 07:02:41 pm »
There is a MAJOR oil and gas play going on in the Williston Basin based on reserves in the Bakken geologic formation.  Gophers driving stuff to camps in pick-ups are making $25 an hour.  Skilled workers are making $50 an hour and more.  Big money everywhere - drugs, hookers, you name it.  Motels easily go for $200 a night - if you can find one.  Campgrounds are filled with semi-permanent workers.  Roads are clogged with trucks in a hurry to get to various job sites. Not ideal.

Also, Minot got hit bad by flooding last year and lacks housing, some businesses, and overall services.

The boom is centered in Williston - but stretches over much of western North Dakota and easternmost Montana.  People are commuting from as far away as Bismarck and sleeping in man camps.  (The name says it all.)

I've always disagreed with the Northern Tier route in North Dakota anyway.  It should have been vis Hwy 200 through the Knife River Indian Villages and Mandan Villages historic sites - crossing the Missouri at Washburn.  There will be some traffic on Hwy 200 related to the energy boom - just not as much as around Williston.  The only other alternative (Not using I-94) is way south on US 12 crossing th Missouri at Mobridge, SD.

Here's a map of drilling activity:

General Discussion / Re: Cross Country with a 13 year old boy
« on: December 05, 2011, 09:25:21 am »
I looked at your website pic.
I see you are both redheads - so am I.
That means extra precautions - clothing and sunscreen.

Can you do the trip unsupported? Of course.
Should you consider the ST?  Probably not.
The Western Express also has some long, remote stretches.

I'm guessing you have early June to late August.
12 weeks max. Biking and travel time.
60 miles per day - starting more slowly.
Plus one day off per week - for fun or to chill.
That adds up to about 4200 miles.
So you could do the traditional TransAm.

The advantages of the TransAm are excellent maps and meeting others.
I would suggest an east to west ride starting in early June.
Still using mostly Adventure Cycling routes -
You could do a Combo Northern Tier & TransAm -
Maybe cutting across Iowa and Nebraska to the Grand Tetons.

I think camping would be an important part of the fun.
But you should allow yourself funds for motels, as needed.
You meet a lot more people camping -
Plus the grandmas and grampas in RVs -
Will take good care of you.

Have fun! - - J

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