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Messages - jamawani

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Connecting ACA Routes / Re: Portland, OR to Northern Tier
« on: March 30, 2011, 01:06:43 pm »
Unless you really want to see Missoula - which is a great town BTW - you can take Wash 14 to I-82 - cross the Columbia River at Umatilla - then continue along the south bank via US 730 and US 12.  There's a nice, quiet back road through Juniper Dunes to Washtucna.  Then you head up to Ritzville and take back roads through Sprague to Cheney.

Two options from Cheney -

A) Via the incredible, paved Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes from Plummer, ID to Enaville and then over Thompson Pass to Thompson Falls.  From Thompson Falls you can either follow the Thompson River on dirt to US 2 or follow Hwy 200, Hwy 28, and US 93 to Kalispell and up to the NT.

B) Via Spokane and the Centennial Trail into Idaho - then up back roads west of US 95 to Sandpoint and the NT.

General Discussion / Re: Evening rides...
« on: March 30, 2011, 12:16:13 pm »

I have 100,000 miles touring and the evening can be quite nice.
That said, the day is not evenly heated between morning and evening.
On hot days the best time to ride remains the morning - maybe until 11:00a.
It doesn't cool down to the 11:00a temperature often until AFTER sunset.

I did a fundraiser X-USA ride in 1988 - when it was 100+ through Missouri and Nebraska.
I would start before sunrise and quit by 11:00a. 
Sometimes, I would ride an hour or so at twilight.
That gave me about 6 + 1 hours.

Also, in certain places, evening riding is magical.
I love to ride in the evening at national parks that have hiker/biker campsites.
I really don't have to worry about a place to camp.
Traffic is low - and it's the best time to see wildlife.

But the very best  to ride - always - is early morning.

A rather short, direct shotalmost  all on two-lane would be from Oceanside to Joshua Tree to Needles.
Then to Grand Canyon, Four Corners, and via US 160 to Walsenburg then NE to La Junta and the TransAm.

Not quite as hot as the RAAM in Calif and Ariz.
Plus large parts of Historic Route 66 and the Grand Canyon.
Pretty much the same as RAAM in NE Ariz and W Colo.

Then why do you still route via Placerville at all?
Much longer - much more climbing.

General Discussion / Re: Early/Late Options for Western Express?
« on: March 27, 2011, 07:27:08 pm »
Actually, Yuba Pass on Highway 49 is fairly low - about 6700 ft - 2000 feet lower than Carson Pass.
Also the Highway 49 route is MUCH shorter than going via Highway 70.

From Davis you can head north to Knights Landing and then take back roads to Marysville/Yuba City.  The bridge at Knights Landing sucks.  Highway 113 is pretty busy but has shoulders.  From Marysville there are great back roads up to Bullards Bar Reservoir and then you connect with Highway 49 through Gold Country.

After you cross the pass, you have two options.  You can head dwon Highway 89 which has a great paved bike trail along the Truckee River to Lake Tahoe - then ride around the northeast corner of the lake to US 50 and to Carson City.  Or you can continue east thru Beckwourth Pass and head south to Reno.  The Lake Tahoe option may still be pretty cold - but there is a state park right on the lake with hiker/biker sites.  Lake Tahoe is only at about 6200 ft - so even if it's chilly it's doable.  Heading via Reno means a lot of 4-lane roads and city riding - but it is a back-up option.

General Discussion / Early/Late Options for Western Express?
« on: March 27, 2011, 12:31:06 pm »
Should there be a significantly rerouted early and late option for the Western Express in the Sierras?  This year there is at least 15 feet of snow still at Carson Pass and more than 20 feet at Kirkwood Resort.  Highway 88 is an all-season crossing, but it has been closed because of snow and avalanche danger numerous times in the past month.  Even though it will be open in May, there is likely to be little else open - stores, lodges, and esp. campgrounds until - what - July?  It's a record snow year.

Although I live in Wyoming, I have done about 10 Sierra crossings from Yosemite to northeast Calif.  In Wyoming nearly every year, you have cyclists attempting the Bighorns in May.  But May can look like mid-winter to those unfamiliar with the West.  And I have frequently loaded cyclists up in my pickup and taken them down to stay in my house until things warmed up.  (And I take them back up so they don't lose any net elevation.)

Here's the deal - you are going to have cyclists attempting the Western Express early in the season who have little experience with high elevation cycling in the West.  And are often amazed that everything is still snowed in - let alone get snowed upon.  Should the Western Express have a significantly lower crossing of the Sierras for early-season and late-season riders?  (It's easier in the fall - since you don't have oodles of accumulated snow - but still you can have early snowstorms.)

I am morally opposed to interstate riding.  One possibility would be to use service roads and cross over the Old Donner Pass on US 40-.  Still that means a lot of I-80 - - yucko!  Or using Highway 20 from Grass Valley - - which is pretty busy.  The other option is to cross Yuba Pass on Highway 49 and then cut south to Lake Tahoe - - a really nice place to cross the border - and then into Carson City.  It's a good piece longer - but much lower.  And traffic on Highway 49 is light with lots of places to camp and great Forty-Niner history.

Whatcha think?

Update as of March 21 - -

The current storm rolled into the Sierra on March 18, dropping 5-to-8 feet of snow from Mammoth Mountain to Lake Tahoe. 

Boreal Mountain Resort amassed 7.5 feet of snow in the weekend's storm. The new snowfall shot the resort into a record season with 679 inches of total snowfall.

Highway 88 is closed from 3.5 miles east of Kirkwood to 5 miles west of Picketts due to avalanche control. Caltrans says vehicles should choose a different route.


The High Sierras got up to 5 to 8 feet of new snow this past weekend and will get a foot or two more by next week.  Carson Pass had more than 10 feet of snow.  Hwy 88 was closed.  The Mormon Emigrant Trail is under mountains of snow.  In my last contact with Eldorado National Forest, the ranger stated that this road is allowed to melt out - i.e. not plowed.  So it may be mid to late June before it is bikeable.  Also, nearly all of the public and private camping areas on Hwy 88 will almost certainly be closed until Memorial Day.  Because of slow snowmelt and wet ground, the National Forest campgrounds will likely open significantly later than published - to prevent damage to the environment.  Private (read - expensive) campgrounds and lodges will probably try to open for Memorial Day weekend.  That suggests that there will be nowhere to camp for about 60 to 70 miles in the High Sierras on the Western Express until mid June or so.  (From Indian Grinding Stone to Sorensen's on Hwy 88.)

PS - If you are riding cross-country - then why not get a look at the Pacific Ocean, eh?
Hint, hint - - Plan B above.  Plus there great camping on the Columbia River at Skamokawa Vista Park.

Is there any reason that you absolutely have to cross this bridge in particular.  It's been a while since I rode it, but I can remember it as hair-raising.  I think they improved it since then - - but not much.  I think the "improvements" consisted of narrowing the lanes 1 foot so that you are not quite as freaked out.  But the traffic is really bad on the bridge, too.

You know that you can stay north of the river by riding down the Washington side.  You can either cross over on I-205 so that you can ride the Old Columbia Gorge Highway or stay on the Washington side on Hwy 14.  There are other back ways on the Washington side.

OR - -

You can catch a bus out of SEATAC to, let's say, Aberdeen, Wash - then ride down US 101 and inland via Hwy 4.  There's a wonderful back road along the Columbia between Skamokawa and Cathlamet - then the Cathlamet Ferry across the Columbia and US 30 on the Oregon side.  US 30 is pretty busy, but has good shoulders.

Fairfield - yep.

And no, you don't ride on Highway 12 - nota bene - Montezuma Hills Road.
Then you take the ferries across Cache and Steamboat Sloughs.
The nice thing about ferries is that you have little through traffic.
(And what little traffic there is comes is a small lump.)

From Walnut Grove you take Twin Cities Road (E13 and Hwy 104) east - NOT Hwy 12.
It's a bit busy with development around Galt,
but by the time you get to the country store at Herald it thins out.
Plus you get to ride thru some of the last large acreages of open grasslands in the Valley.
(Yeah, there are the decommissioned nuke cooling towers.)

From Ione you can either go up to Plymouth where there is camping
then continue on a very gradual climb via Fiddletown and Shake Ridge Rd.
Or you can take the back road to Sutter Creek - historic and pricey -
Then take Shake Ridge Road all the way -
or go via Volcano and the killer climb up Ram's Grade.

Both options are about the same distance - 25 miles less than the WE.
Rio Vista makes a good 1st night out.
Then it's 60 miles to Plymouth/Sutter Creek,
another 60 to Sorensens on the east side of the Sierras,
and another 60 to Dayton State Park in Nevada.

*Since I am posting this for early departures - i.e. May -
It should be mentioned that the high country campgrounds and lodges do not open until Memorial Day at the earliest.

The detour suggested combined with the regular Western Express involves about an additional 1500 feet of up and down over the Sierra Ridges in order to get to Highway 88.  Also the total distance between Fairview (on I-80 west of Davis) and the Highway 88 junction with Omo Ranch Road is 145 miles.

Yes, the American River Trail is lovely and Davis is a great college town.  But Sacramento is a big city to ride through and the current route has you on or parallel to I-80 for a lot of miles.  Hardly stunning scenery.

Why not route via Rio Vista, Ione, and Sutter Creek?
Montezuma Hills Road is one of the greatest rides in the Bay Area.
(Plus is has a huge windfarm on the ridge lines.)
The Delta ferries and back roads along the rivers and sloughs are lovely.
Hwy 104 head thru natural grasslands and by the defunct Rancho Seco nuke plant.
Then Sutter Creek and Sutter Creek - Volcano Road are some of the best in Gold Country.

Bike shops aren't as plentiful but there are enough along the way.
Traffic is lower than many of the roads in the Sacramento area.
Camping is generally available - but not around Sutter Creek.
(To camp in the foothills - go via Plymouth - county fairgrounds - and Fiddletown.)

Just wondering since Mormon Emigrant Trail won't be open for a long, long time.

Howdy -

Well, it's March in the West and it has been a doozy of a winter in the Sierras.
I am always telling people from back East that May in the High County is still winter.
That is especially the case this year in the Sierras.

I anticipate that the Mormon Emigrant Trail on the Western Express route
will not be snow-free until after Memorial Day - possibly mid-June.
Carson Pass has almost 10 feet of snow - as do most locations in the Upper American Basin.

The current addenda for Section 1 has the following detour:

On maps 6 and 7 the Mormon Emigrant Trail is closed during winter months and usually opens in May or June. Call the El Dorado Sheriff Dept. at 530-621-6600 to find out if the Mormon Emigrant Trail is open. There is an alternate route in listed in the riding conditions. This is an improvment on that one, with a shorter alternate and less climbing. From Placerville ride east on Main St. In 1 mi. it becomes Broadway. 2.5 mi. later it becomes Newton Rd. After 5-6 mi. turn left onto Pleasant Valley Rd. 1 mi. later turn right onto Mt. Aukum Rd. After 6 mi., turn left onto Fairplay Rd. In 3-4 mi., turn left onto Omo Ranch Rd. After 9-10 mi., you will rejoin the route on SR 88. (Jul 2005)

But Mt Aukum Road is a bear.
(I'll continue in the next thread since the text box is doing weird jumping.)

A ferry is the civilized way to cross the Mississippi.
Pausing at the river bank - loading the ferry - watching the river ripple by -
These allow you to experience the river in ways that no bridge can do.

Routes / Re: St George to Flagstaff
« on: February 26, 2011, 04:25:27 pm »
Dear Holier - -

A friend was a ranger in the inner canyon -
She quit.  She got tired of evacuating people out who didn't know what they were doing.
And, yes, some of these people didn't make it.

So EXCUUUUUUSE me for posting -
Since you didn't even bother to post the particulars of your experience.
Perhaps you might learn to do so initially in the future.

Routes / Re: St George to Flagstaff
« on: February 26, 2011, 02:41:32 pm »
I have crossed the canyon many times - but in involves hiking the North Kaibab and either the South Kaibab or Bright Angel as well as shuttling your bicycle on the shuttle service.

First - the North Rim doesn't open until mid-May.
Second - the shuttle service usually doesn't start until after Memorial Day.
Third - the shuttle service does not normally offer this service.
You need to know precisely what you are doing and make special arrangements.
Fourth - you must get a backcountry permit to camp in the canyon.
(These are very hard to get on short notice.)
Fifth - Or you can stay at the Phantom Ranch bunkhouse.
(This is almost impossible to get on short notice.)

If you take a bicycle on the canyon trails - not only are you crazy,
but you will be arrested, fined, and your bicycle will be impounded.

Considering that you do not seem to know the particulars of hiking/biking in the Grand Canyon -
I suggest that you enjoy biking from rim to rim via Lee's Ferry.
US 89 between Lee's Ferry and Cameron can be busy with narrow shoulders.
Caution is advised.

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