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Messages - jamawani

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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.

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.



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