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Messages - jamawani

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Routes / Re: Northern Tier / TransAm Start Date Question (E to W travel)
« on: January 11, 2013, 01:09:53 pm »
The advantage of starting in the east is that you have the longest daylight hours.
A 10-week trip starting on May 15 will included 35 days before and 35 after the summer solstice on June 21.
I love autumn touring, but it's hard to get a lot of sightseeing AND riding in with the short days.

And there's no reason you can't combine the Trans Am and Northern Tier -
That way you don't have to ride thru Kansas in 100-degree heat or tornados.
Using just ACA routes, you could do Trans Am, Lewis & Clark, Northern Tier.

Better still - consider your own routing.
Perhaps cut out into the Nebraska Sandhills and the Black Hills of S.D.
Then take in the Bighorn Mtns and Yellowstone before riding up to Glacier National Park.

Routes / Re: northern tier route Aug to Oct.
« on: January 09, 2013, 11:29:09 pm »
Lisa -

I've done a couple of fall cross-country trips.
I started both in the Northwest - - BUT I headed southeast.

Already by mid-August the days are getting shorter.
They really get shorter after Labor Day.

Doing the entire Northern Tier in the fall in 10 weeks would be a stretch.
But doing a modified route ending in the Mid Atlantic would be quite possible.

If you wanted to stick exclusively to Adventure Cycling routes - -
How about - Northern Tier, Lewis & Clark, Trans Am?
Plenty of other possibilities.

Connecting ACA Routes / Re: Denver, CO to NW Iowa, two alternatives?
« on: January 09, 2013, 07:29:05 pm »

Google bike mapping is worthless.
Try - better than mapmyride.

Outside of eastern Nebraska there are very few paved roads that don't show up as such on the state highway map.  Most are state highways that have traffic counts on the traffic map.  Are you O.K. with maps?
Even the best programs leave much to be desired - use a map - on line or in paper form.

Connecting ACA Routes / Re: Denver, CO to NW Iowa, two alternatives?
« on: January 08, 2013, 10:38:19 pm »
Sspeed - Nebraska has some of the finest touring in the Great Plains.  I have traversed the state many times - including on my very first cross-country trip.  I think crossing Nebraska is way more scenic than Hwy 96 in Kansas.  That said, spring is a very stormy time - not to mention there's a big difference between early spring and late spring.

Anyhoo, leaving from Denver is rather tricky.  There is no longer a good back road from Denver to Fort Morgan.  I-76 was built in many places right over US 6.  Sometimes there is a butt-ugly service road right up against the interstate - other times you have to ride on the interstate - legal but not pretty.  I suggest hopping on a shuttle bus and riding from Fort Collins east on Hwy 14.  Way nicer.

From Sterling, you can follow the South Platte valley up to Julesburg on the old road - US 138 - almost no traffic.

Nebraska presents a number of opportunities depending on your preferences.  US 30 follows the Platte Valley and has moderate-plus traffic, but good shoulders for the most part and lots of towns with services.  But, but, but - - Hwy 92 from Arthur to Broken Bow runs thru the Sandhills - an area where the land has never been plowed for farming.  There is almost no traffic and you can see what the Great Plains looked like 200 years ago.

From Broken Bow you can continue eastwards on Hwy 92 (I'm assuming you will see the advantages of choice #2 above) towards Omaha with increasing traffic.  Or you can continue northeast on Round Valley Road to Sargent.  Then head east on Hwy 91 and zig northeast thru Norfolk and Wayne, a college town.

Here is a traffic volume map of Nebraska -

Which I think is better than their Bike Map -

Small towns in Nebraska are usually very generous to cyclists - letting them camp in town parks when they don't already have a small campground.  By all means, explore Nebraska.

Best - J

Routes / Re: Start Dates?
« on: January 03, 2013, 11:05:58 pm »
Depends on which route you are taking:
Northern Tier?  US 2?  Via Mount Rainier N.P.?
Also depends on the year.
Some years it's already summer by mid-May.
Other years are cold and rainy until late June.
(Not to mention snow on the ground in campgrounds/forests)

Also, depends on where you is heading.
A mid-spring start usually implies east-to-west.
It warms up earlier in the east and is brutally hot by mid-summer.
If you are heading towards New England - then mid-June - even July 1.
If you are heading towards Georgia - then Aug 15.

Routes / Re: USA Corner to Corner
« on: December 17, 2012, 10:13:52 am »
I have done a diagonal tour NW to SE in the fall and it was wonderful.
Started in Astoria after Labor Day - but mid-August for Neah Bay is very doable.
I hit the Plains by late September - Wyoming into Nebraska.
If you head all the way down the TA into Colorado, expect early snows.

There are very few diagonal roads in the Great Plains -
and those that do exist tend to have heavy traffic.
A glorious route would be heading east in the Nebraska Sandhills -
then connecting to Hwy 99 thru the Flint Hills of Kansas.
Much of these areas remain in natural grass cover.

The major drawback of a fall trip is the shortening days.
By mid/late October this was really noticeable.
You will be heading further south than I did -
Warmer and slightly longer days the further south you are.

PS - November is the driest month in S. Ala, S Ga, and N. Fla.

Nater -

I run up the Rockies a bunch of times south to north.
I think it's the best direction to go in late spring/early summer -
although ACA recs north to south for the GDMBR.

Here's a link to one of my crazyguy journals - starting at about Day 30

The advantages of south to north are threefold -
1. The rainy season in the New Mex begins in late June - in Montana it ends then.
2. Winds tend to be generally southerly in summer Rockies, although variable.
3. You will have the sun at your back for much of the riding day.

You will have the best direction for riding Going to the Sun Road in Glacier - E to W.
(Provided you use US 89 from Yellowstone to Glacier)
The weather on the Northern Tier will be ideal.

And there's no requirement that you adhere strictly to ACA routes - esp in the West.

Routes / Re: USA Corner to Corner
« on: December 16, 2012, 10:31:33 pm »
Norsman -

How you gonna do it in the fall?
A fall trip begs a northwest to southeast orientation - but not the reverse.
To get to the Northwest before the snow flies,
you'd have to cycle through the Southeast in July and August.

Actually, leaving from Cape Flattery in Washington on Aug 1 is ideal. (Up to Sept 1)
One of the finest trips weather-wise - albeit with shortening days.
Southeast to northwest asks for a spring trip - perhaps May thru July.
Any earlier and you will encounter tough late spring weather in the Rockies.

Wind tends to be highly favorable for fall NW to SE ride.
Wind tends to be slightly unfavorable for spring SE to NW ride.
The real issue for a spring ride will be storms in the Great Plains.
50% of Plains precip comes in May-June - and the storms can be doozies.

I-90 sucks - the Vantage bridge is a death trap.  Google map it.
US 2 is O.K. in eastern Wash but gets dicey over the Cascades - not too scenic.
From late May to early October - Hwy 20 is the far better option.  Closed in winter.
If you don't want to do the whole NT in Washington -
take US 2 from Spokane to Wilbur and then via Grand Coulee to Methow Valley.
Riding out all the way to Neah Bay and Shi Shi Beach is worth it.

General Discussion / Re: National Parks Tour out West
« on: December 09, 2012, 06:29:45 pm »
Generally, a large, counter-clockwise loop works best temperature and weather-wise.
Consider taking Amtrak out to San Diego in early to mid April.

1. Mid April to Mid May - San Diego to Grand Canyon via the southern California desert parks -
Anza Borrego, Joshua Tree, Mojave Preserve, Death Valley is already getting pretty hot.
You can ride Old Route 66 in Ariz and drop down to Jerome and Sedona before hitting the canyon.

2. Mid May to Mid June - Grand Canyon to Taos via southern Utah and the ancient pueblo ruins -
Zion, Bryce (may be cold at elevation), Capitol Reef, Monument Valley, Mesa Verde, Pueblo Bonito.
Chaco Culture NHP is off road but the finest ruins in the Southwest.  Make sure to take US 64 and the "High Bridge" across the Rio Grande Canyon to Taos.  Taos is better than Santa Fe for cyclists.

3. Mid June to Mid July - Taos to Glacier NP via a run up the Rockies in peak wildflower season -
Great Sand Dunes, Rocky Mountain NP, Grand Teton, and Yellowstone - give yourself time. 
Using US 89 in Montana is a better route, plus sets you up for Going to the Sun Road in Glacier.
Stash you bike and do some hikes in the parks - either overnight or just day.

4. Mid July to Mid August - Glacier NP to Olympic NP via the Northern Tier and San Juan Islands -
Couldn't be a better time - consider loops in to Canada - Waterton, Victoria, Pacific Rim.
Drop down to Chelan and take the ferry up to Stehikin in North Cascades - way worth it.
Check out each of the San Juans - preferably on weekdays - and head all the way out to Neah Bay.

5. Mid August to Mid Sept - Olympic NP to Klamath - via Mount Rainier, Oregon coast, Crater Laker -
It's hard to do both the Pacific Coast and the Cascades - it requires some back and forth zigging.
From Mount Rainier you can also hit Mount St. Helens, then ride the central Oregon coast.
After hitting Redwoods NP you can follow the mighty Klamath River back up towards Crater Lake.

6. Mid Sept to Mid Oct - Klamath to Los Angeles - via Crater Lake, Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, Calif coast -
Late summer/early fall is a perfect time to do the Sierras and the mid coast - dry and pleasant.
If you do the east side of Lake Tahoe, you can also add Nevada to your list - if you didn't in May.
From Yosemite you can head back to Monterrey and do the Big Sur stretch of the Pacific Coastal Hwy.

Winds tend to be southwesterly in the SW in May, southerly in the Rockies in summer,
westerly in the northern Rockies in late summer, and northwesterly on the coast.
You beat the monsoon season in late spring in the southwest - and are after snowmelt in the Rockies -
the Oregon coast has had time to dry out by late August - and the Calif coast stays warm until Oct.

General Discussion / Re: Bicycle Touring vs Backpacking
« on: December 08, 2012, 09:58:31 am »
At Yosemite there is no shuttle, you have to go by the concessioner's office and beg nicely.  It would be better to go directly to the office of the warehouse manager than the "main" office as each employs persons with different mentalities.  The latter will say "Impossible!" while the former is more likely to say, "Yeah, we can toss it in a truck."

At Grand Canyon these is a shuttle during the summer season, but technically, they don't offer bike shuttle service.  You need to arrange to have your bike stored on the other end and have all the loose ends tied up - then meet the van departing with everything ready to go.

General Discussion / Re: Bicycle Touring vs Backpacking
« on: December 08, 2012, 01:13:10 am »
Why not both?

I have toured extensively in the West with a moderate weight 2-day pack which allows me to go on extended wilderness hikes of 3 to 4 days by hiking light.  I've had the concession service take my bike up from Yosemite Valley to Tuolumne Meadows a couple of times and have hiked up the John Muir Trail.  I shuttled my bike at Grand Canyon and have then hiked rim-to-rim a half dozen times - not to mention out-and-back hikes.  I've hiked Bryce Canyon, Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Glacier, Waterton, Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Mount Robson, North Cascades, Kluane, Wrangell-St Elias, and Denali.  All while on long bike tours.

There is no need to choose.

Pic - Backcountry camping on Upper Athabasca River in Jasper NP

Gear Talk / Re: Backroads maps of the US.
« on: November 24, 2012, 11:32:01 am »
Chappers - It sounds like you have only moderate experience with mapping.  Previous replies have mentioned USGS, DeLorme, Benchmark, and Google among others.  One thing to remember is that any map - - electronic included - - is at best a snapshot in time of a moving object.

Google, in particular, has real problems in the West showing dirt roads that are on private land and have no access.  Google and other mapping websites will even route you down some of them - - which is no fun when you come to a locked gate with a "No Trespassing!" sign on it and a 30 miles detour.

All maps have errors.  Things change on the ground.  That's why Adventure Cycling has updates and errata for its mapping products.  Especially in the West and on dirt roads, there are seasonal closures - snowmelt, critical game habitat, fire danger.  Not to mention construction, bridges out, etc. 

About bridges, there are thousands of substandard bridges on remote roads which pose a liability risk for managing local governmental bodies.  Faced with high replacement costs, many of these are simply being removed.  So even if Google satellite shows a bridge - it may no longer be there.

What I am saying - in response to your wish for an "Everything" resource - is that such an animal does not exist.  Yes, you can get a combination of sources that are reliable, but you need always to be prepared for differences on the ground - especially in remotes areas such as the West.

Routes / Re: Pacific Cycle Route tour suggestions for visiting Brits
« on: October 29, 2012, 12:11:47 pm »
When? - - is a big question.
If it's March you would want to ride in Southern Calif.
April - probably no further north than Central Calif.
May would be O.K. in Northern Calif, but could still have rain.

When spring storm do hit the prevailing wind direction is usually reversed.
So on sunny summer day on the coast, you have northwest winds.
On brutal, stormy spring days on the coast you have southerly winds.

Spring is not a pleasant time for riding over the Sierras to Reno.
Most of the passes remain closed until late May.
There is still lots of snow on the ground - facilities are still closed.
Plus late snowstorms hit up until Memorial Day - last weekend.

That said the desert parks in Southern Calif can be lovely in the spring.
Particularly if there has been good rainfall - this is when the desert blooms.
There are four huge national and state parks - from N to S -
Death Valley NP, Mojave NP, Joshua Tree NP, and Anza Borrego SP.

You could take Amtrak to Oceanside or San Diego - then ride north -
After hitting Mojave you could either continue to Death Valley or head to Las Vegas.
In Vegas you could sell/ditch your bikes - and hop on a cheapo flight to Reno.

Since you haven't provided many details - that's a general outline.

General Discussion / Re: Looking for help planning my trip.
« on: October 28, 2012, 07:29:38 pm »
Bryan - I've been touring for 20 years and almost the only time I've ridden with anyone else is when I bump into folks along the way.  After my first cross-country trip - solo - lots of my friends talked about wanting to do it, but few made any real commitment.  The one person who was most likely starting getting scarce a month before.  I knew what that meant.

It takes a lot of planning.  Getting your affairs in order, saving up moolah, arranging time off from your job (summer is great for college students), subletting your apartment, having someone look after the pets/kids/significant other - in that order.  Unless you really want to do it, you will let one of these things get in the way.

Like a number of folks have said - if you start on the Trans Am, you are almost certain to run into other folks.  There's no rule that you have to stick with them either.  Two days, a week, or the rest of trip - - most people have different cycling speeds, styles, schedules.  By and large, the people I have run into have been great touring companions - and we usually had routes that diverged after a while. 

But, I had to shake someone whose entire purpose was staying stoned and hitting bars.  I also like to get going early - esp. in the summer - so I get most of my riding done before it gets really hot.  Yes, you can jump-frog - but if you are always the one selecting the campsite for the night there can be friction - not to mention waiting to see when your compadre shows up. 

Regardless, you can enjoy the company - ride for a few days together - then go your separate ways.  White lies are often helpful in this situation and many others when you are solo.  Saying, "I just got some bad news and need to be on my own to think about it" works well.  If prodded, a firm, "I'd rather not talk about it"  should be sufficient for most people.  This applies even more for strangers you bump into along the way.  If you are uncomfortable in any manner, tell than that you are meeting up with your brother - who just got back from the Middle East - in Bigville down the road.

Many people tour by themselves - on their first tour, too.  Of course, it is more difficult for women to do so.  I am sorry to have to say that - - but to deny that truth is irresponsible.  I look forward to the day when such is no longer the case.  Anyhoo, plan away!  If someone comes on board for the entire trip - great!  Otherwise, just keep on and you will be fine.

Routes / Re: Grand Canyon to Joshua Tree to Los Angeles
« on: October 22, 2012, 03:13:00 pm »
Luke -

Gettin' cold, ain't it?
You've just hit the Rockies and it is late October.  You were lucky to have warm weather.
That is going to change this week - - big time.  40s for highs; teens for lows.

I would STRONGLY recommend that you get to lower elevation - not head straight for Cedar City.
There is an excellent straight shot from Bluff, Utah to Cameron, Ariz which will take you to Grand Canyon.
The North Rim is mostly closed now with few to no services - i.e. 45 miles away in Jacob Lake.

If you get to the South Rim, you can ride down to Williams - -
Then take Old Route 66 via Peach Springs, Oatman, and Needles to Amboy, Calif.
There is a remote, paved cutoff road from Amboy to Joshua Tree.

The direct, low route into L.A. is rather unpleasant along I-10 - sometimes even using I-10 - bleah!
If you are willing to suffer, head up into the San Gabriels via Big Bear.
The ride along the Angeles Crestcoming down into Glendale and head out to Santa Monica pier.
(Or, you can stay north of the San Gabriels and loop thru Santa Clarita via Soledad Canyon.)

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