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Messages - jamawani

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Routes / Re: TransAm and Sierra Cascades - weather question
« on: August 27, 2013, 10:25:52 am »
Hi Jim -

Depending on where you start the Sierra Cascades and how long you need to ride it, you should be fine.  August 15 would give you a little more leeway.  Three months to do the TransAm is more than ample.  Not sure how you plan to connect them - riding northbound along the coast is on the wrong side of the highway for views and against the wind.

Most importantly, late summer/early fall is the major fire season in the West as seen by the current Yosemite fire.  In the Pacific region most rain comes in the winter and spring with very little summer rain.  In California, there is almost no rain at all in the summer months.  There are almost always fires in late summer - it's natural.

That said, the coast is truly spectacular and much less subject to wildfires.  You might consider some combination of the two - either planned beforehand or flexible as weather and fire season permit.

BTW - If you are not truly set on the TransAm there are other more northerly options - because a July crossing of the Great Plains can be truly brutal.  Who was it that said, "Mad dogs and Englishmen"?  Riding in 40C temps with no shade can be a challenge.  Perhaps starting with the TransAm - shifting to the Lewis & Clark from St. Louis into South Dakota - then riding to Yellowstone and up to Glacier before heading west on the Northern Tier to Washington.

Best - J

Routes / Re: New York to Chicago routes?
« on: August 24, 2013, 01:06:19 pm »
Cadler - You haven't offered much info to go on - when, your experience, etc.

First, it's usually easier to connect up with other riders who are low-budget, camping than people who are doing motels.  The former tend to be more casual in plans, the latter more specific.

There are a number of designated cycling routes or other similar mapped routes.  The Lincoln Highway, the first transcontinental highway, has many older sections with very little traffic.

There are excellent strip maps of the old Lincoln Highway in Ohio at this website:
Tricky east of Canton, great west all the way to Indiana border.

Make sure to zig off the Lincoln Highway to Monroeville, Indiana - best cycling hospitality in the Midwest.
(Plus the stretch of 4-lane Lincoln Highway makes cycling tough.)

Indiana also has strip maps for the Lincoln Highway:
The 1928 route goes thru Columbia City, Warsaw and Plymouth - towns that have nice camping.
(The link to eastern half is wrong -

From Plymouth it gets trickier.  You might want to head NW to Michigan City and the lake.
Nice rail trails in NW Indiana -
That take you to the edge of Chitown.

Pennsylvania also has a number of designated bike routes with strip maps -

Route V generally parallels I-80 from the Ohio border to New Jersey.
Route S follows much of the Lincoln Highway - would need to cut thru Pittsburgh on rail trails to connect.
Route Y is in areas of Penna with the least traffic and most parkland.
All have clickable strip maps.

Have a safe trip - J

General Discussion / Re: complete newb, GDMBR in 2014
« on: August 23, 2013, 04:33:02 pm »
I would urge you to consider riding south to north.

Routes / Re: Santa Fe west
« on: August 23, 2013, 10:48:51 am »
Rob -

Thought I posted a few days ago, but apparently it went the way of all mysterious disappearances on the net.  I am always a little suspicious of "type in a box" for anything longer than a few words.  So, I'm typing in Word and will paste.

Yeah, the date you propose is pretty darn late for the West.  Not sure where you are from or your level of cycling experience.  All I have to go on is your comment about your attempted ride out of Austin.  Two things are going to be in play - colder temperatures and shorter days.  For example, Gallup, NM has an average high in mid-November in the 50s and an average low in the 20s.  Some days may be warmer, but also some may be colder.  It also means that the mornings will be pretty chilly for quite some time - further shortening your riding day.  Not to mention that the first good snow usually comes about then.

I've lived in the West for 25 years and cycled every part from the Mexican border to the Arctic.  The West is gorgeous, but unforgiving.  If you plan a November tour, you should not push it - especially if you have limited touring experience.  It all comes down to one concept -"Why be miserable?"

I think you should ride no further north than historic Route 66 - i.e. roughly I-40.  I am strongly against your riding the Western Express because it will be too risky, too cold, and too far between services.  And I have ridded the WX numerous times.  I just don't think it is a good idea to ride when you have 80-plus miles between services and may end up having poor weather with headwinds with limited daylight.  As it is, you will be hard pressed to find accessible lodging in more remote locations.

Santa Fe is tough to ride out of - my sister lives there and I have rarely ridden in - rather she picks me up.  Heading northwest you have US 285 - horribly busy 4-lane road - which does not have a continuous service road.  I-25 was built over US 85 heading southwest towards Albuquerque, so you don't have an old road option there either.  The only decent option out of Santa Fe is the Turquoise Trail - Hwy 14 - but Cerrillos Road leading out of Santa Fe is one of the most seriously nasty commercial strips which goes on forever - insane to cycle on.

If you are flying in to start a bike trip - I think Taos would be a MUCH nicer start.  All the amenities you need including bike shops - a much more people-scaled plaza - Taos Pueblo just outside town.  And you can head due west on US 64 and see the Rio Grande Gorge right off.  The problem here is that you have few to no motel options west of the town of Cuba.

As for the Route 66 option, the ACA maps should be available by late summer.  I tend to think it is a poor route - much of it follows a busy Interstate 40 on service roads - often chock-a-block up against the freeway - and often you have to ride on I-40.  There are a few nice stretches between Albuquerque and Flagstaff, but not many.  The opposite is true west of Flagstaff.  The three finest stretches of the historic highway are between Seligman and Kingman in Arizona, between Kingman and Needles, Calif., and thru the Mojave west of Needles via Amboy.  The latter stretch is very remote and you will need to make arrangements for Amboy in advance.  Still, it will be one of the high points of your trip - and stunning in November.

That said, I think you might work you trip outwards from the stretch Flagstaff, Ariz. To Barstow, Calif.  You can continue west over Cajon Pass along the Route 66 direction, but there is a easier passage that goes via Antelope Valley and Palmdale using Soledad Canyon - or other canyon routes - via Santa Clarita to the Pacific coast at Ventura.  There's a lovely Spanish mission in Ventura and a huge pier into the ocean for sunsets - not to mention that you can take a cruise out to the Channel Islands as an ending for the trip.  This also saves you mile after mile of urban riding in greater L.A.

Oh!!  And I suppose you might want to visit the Grand Canyon on this trip, eh?  If so, then I think riding thru the Navajo and Hopi Reservations is a good idea and well worth it.  Just remember, do not take photos on the Hopi Reservation and use your camera judiciously on the Navajo Rez.  There are limited services, but you have lodging at Gallup, Window Rock, Second Mesa in the middle of Hopiland, Tuba City, and Cameron.  A visit to the ancient community of Walpi is something that you will treasure - again you should use a Hopi guide and follow all tribal rules for visitation.  Google "Walpi" to get some ideas.  There may - repeat "may" - be Hopi ceremonial dances when you visit.  Dates are never known beforehand.

So that just leaves you getting to Gallup.  From Santa Fe will be tricky.  It would have to be Turquoise Trail to Albuquerque.  If that, then I would ride downriver to Las Lunas and plan to stay somewhere near Acoma Pueblo - another spectacular place to visit.  Yes, you can ride on I-40 and get to Gallup in two days - - but why?  If there were some way to find lodging west of Cuba, my best suggestion would be to start in Taos, first night out at Ojo Caliente Hot Springs, then Cuba.  Your challenge is to find some place between Cuba and Gallup on the reservation.[  I have ridden it - and there simply isn't.  If you were to try this, I would suggest writing the Navajo Chapter House at Whitehorse and asking if you could arrange private lodging.  A possibility - - and it would make for a fabulous routing.  Good luck.

BTW - There's a Navajo rug auction in Crownpoint on Nov. 8th.  And there are find Navajo rugs for viewing at the Hubbell Trading Post National Monument in Ganado.

One of my trips a few years back:

Routes / Re: Southern Tier / Grand Canyon Connector / Trans-Am
« on: August 20, 2013, 06:27:33 pm »
Couple of questions?

Have you considered east-to-west?
What's your touring style - miles per day?
Camping mostly - motels only?

For an average rider, 10 weeks is ample time.
So if you left on April 1, you would finish by June 10 with time to spare.
Have you considered other possibilities?
It sounds like you plan to stick to established routings - is that essential?
ACA will be publishing its "Route 66" maps soon.
Your time frame and plans make using parts of this route advisable.

Get out your map and trace a line from Barstow, Calif, to Williams, Ariz.
(Basically following I-40 - but then look for old Highway 66 nearby.)
It's a historic highway with lots of kitsch - not quite as hot at first.
But you do have a long stretch thru the Mojave Desert and will need to plan.

The ACA Route 66 maps will start in L.A. and take you over Cajon Pass.
If you prefer, there is an easier grade with far less traffic out of Ventura.
It follows the Santa Clara River via Santa Clarita and Palmdale to the Antelope Valley.
BTW - early April is the best time to see the wild poppies at the Antelope Valley Preserve.

Might I also suggest connecting the Grand Canyon Connector to the Western Express
Via Monument Valley - i.e. from Cameron to Kayenta to Bluff.
Monument Valley is fabulous to bike thru - the stuff of Hollywood images of the West.

By then it should be late April, if you stop to smell the poppies and visit the canyons.
It won't be a cake walk to get across Colorado, but you can use flexibility and do it.
Or - - you can stay lower via northern New Mexico and hit World Heritage sites like Taos.

I've biked 100,000 miles - mostly in the West - be glad to be of assistance.
My advice would be to make your choices for your tour, first -
Then see how closely established routes fit into your needs and preferences.

Most of the Intermountain West roads are easily bikeable -
Moderate traffic, often with shoulders.  Clearly near Vegas or Denver it's different.
Services, esp. so early in the season, may be few and far between - esp. in the mountains.
So you will need to use care in planning - but west-to-east is certainly doable.

The Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive might make a nice finale in the East in early June.

Best - J

General Discussion / Re: National Parks
« on: August 18, 2013, 06:57:55 pm »
PS -

Since it was 20 years ago, I was a bit younger then.
Absolutely loved to x-country ski the park.

Visited the park this past June and biked/hiked.
Love the backcountry, but still too hectic for me.
After visiting GTNP, I biked into Kirwin, a ghost town near Meeteetse.
I was the only person on the heart-stopping narrow road.
(I did see a horse party in the valley below, but they were gone on my way back down.)
No one was in Kirwin the entire time I was there.

Pix of me skiing long ago and on the Park Road this past June.

General Discussion / Re: National Parks
« on: August 18, 2013, 06:45:48 pm »
If this is the image you are talking about:

Then, yes, it is Grand Teton National Park.

The looming mountain is Teewinot - the Grand is behind it.
The stretch of road is the Park Road about 1 mile north of North Jenny Lake Junction.

I used to live in Jackson - still live in Wyoming 20 years after leaving Jackson.
The park is lovely, but there are quite a few people.
The photo was probably taken early on a late summer/early fall day.
There is a paved off-road trail from the Moose Entrance to Jenny Lake.
And there are a few places and times when the riding is nice.
(In spring after they plow the snow but the road isn't open yet is best.)

There is hiker/biker camping at Jenny Lake, but even the rangers don't often know about it.
Even though Jenny Lake Campground fills by noon - there are almost always hiker/biker spots.

There are lots of unpaved roads that you can ride in Grand Teton which offer all of the views -
But you have the feeling of solitude so rare on pavement.

PS - Pulled up Google Streetview of same location.  CH clearly used telephoto.

Hans -

I have been in touch with the prosecutor's office regularly.
Woodruff County is part of the Arkansas 1st Judicial District
The chief state's attorney in this issue is:

John Bell
P.O. Box 599
McCrory, AR 72101-0599
870-731-5772 (fax)

Here is the text of an email I received from his office:

August 2, 2013

  Today marks the one month anniversary of the incident north of McCrory which injured several visiting bicyclists and resulted in the tragic death of 18 year old Merritt Levitan of Milton, Massachusetts.

  The Arkansas State Police, Woodruff County Sheriff's Department and the 1st Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney's Office continue to investigate the circumstances of the incident and will proceed accordingly upon conclusion of the investigation.

  Our sympathies are again extended to the Levitan Family as well as the families of all the young people affected.

  John H. Bell
  Attorney at Law
  Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for Woodruff County, Arkansas

I have also been in touch with Danny Shameer, the state editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Danny Shameer - State Editor

He is looking into a follow-up story on this case -
especially if no action is taken in a reasonable amount of time.

Too many cyclists are killed when there is no witness other than the driver.
Because there are numerous witnesses and road/weather conditions were good,
it is essential that this case not be ignored.

This case has the potential to exacerbate a number of issues - -
The backgrounds of Ms. Levitan and the young driver could not be more dissimilar.
The cultures of suburban New England and rural Arkansas clash.

It is a tragic story, indeed.

Routes / Re: April to early for West Express and Trans Am
« on: August 16, 2013, 12:25:44 pm »
There is not a good chance of snow.
It is a certainty.

PS - You are aware that getting across the Bay Bridge at Annapolis is a pain in the a$$.
You used to be able to use a commuter bus for pretty cheap -
Now you have to pay $30 for a private shuttle.
(Or you can try to beg a ride.)

I think it's criminal that 2 people in a car can pay $4 round trip -
And 2 bicyclists would end up paying $120 - on a public roadway.
I'm tempted to use a junker bike and get arrested - then sue and hold up any federal funds.
I've tried writing the bridge authority multiple times for 15 years.

If you know people in Annapolis or Baltimore - you might have them shuttle you.

From Cortez, Colorado you can take the Western Express to Pueblo.
In Arizona you can take Old Route 66 from Needles to Williams -
Then Grand Canyon, Cameron, Kayenta, to Four Corners.
(US 89 has a detour onto US 160, expect moderate-plus traffic east of Tuba City.)

That means getting to Needles, Calif.
You are aware that the Mojave is still really hot in September?
And that Santa Ana winds can be like being in a convection oven??

You can start in Ventura and have an easy, gradual climb to Santa Clarita -
Or you can work your way to Santa Clarita from Santa Monica thru metro LA.
Then you can follow Soledad Canyon Rd to Palmdale and cross Antelope Valley
(Palmdale Ave and El Mirage are better than Hwy 18 - but pretty bleak)
From just north of Victorville you can catch Old Route 66 thru Barstow to Needles.

You will need to research limited services on Route 66 -
And, as I said above, it will be hot.

Southwest / Re: Cedar City Ut to Phoenix Az Sept 2013
« on: August 07, 2013, 10:36:42 pm »
Be aware of this closure - -

Routes / Re: What's the best cross-country route in the US?
« on: August 07, 2013, 01:10:27 pm »
Wuwei -

Not sure why you are asking the question - but if you are planning a trip some specifics might help.

When do you plan to do your trip?  West-to-east or east-to-west?
Do you prefer more services or more remoteness?  Usually it's one or the other.
Do you plan to ride with others or hope to meet up with other riders?
What is your touring style - mileage, camping or motels etc.?

I have always opted to create my own routes rather than squeeze myself into a set route.
In my nearly 100,000 miles of touring I've ridden nearly all of the TransAm and much of the Northern Tier.

I am not a big fan of the TransAm -
Kansas is brutal in mid-summer and Kentucky has lots of dogs.
Although there are frequent services, you're just yet another cyclist along the route.

The Northern Tier is much better temperature-wise in summer but has a shorter riding season.
West-to-east it starts out with some really tough climbing and limited services.
Then after Glacier National Park you have 1000 miles of Great Plains riding.

If you do plan to create your own route - you can piece together sections from ACA and others.
I favor riding further north in the summer for two reason - temperatures and bike-friendliness.
The Midwestern states are way more bike tolerant than the South.
Thus, I would lean to some variation of the Northern Tier with a few changes.

1) The Northern Tier sends you north from Iowa to Minnesota than across North Dakota.
Why not head directly west thru South Dakota where you can ride in the Black Hills -
Then head north from Yellowstone to Glacier in the Rocky Mountains?
(That would be the southern and western legs of a box rather than the northern and eastern.)

2) You may want to rethink the Washington section of the Northern Tier - esp. if you are just starting out.
It's really beautiful, but tough if you are new to touring or just a bit out of shape.
There are plenty of other great options in Oregon and Washington.

3) You can always start/end the eastern portion in southern New England or near New York -
Rather than all the way out to Bar Harbor, Maine (which is really touristy and expensive).
But northern New England and the Adirondacks are the best part of the eastern Northern Tier.

With slides like this, cyclists are usually able to get through - unless they are actually doing work on the section.  Even then, allowing a little time leeway - the construction workers will usually let you get across.  From the wording of the Montana DOT notice - "Road not safe for travel" - I suspect that it is quite possible to get through.  BUT, I do not know for certain.  I was teaching down the road in Miles City until May.  I know the road and it is quite nice - - far nicer than the interstate.  In fact, if Old US 10 has only local traffic, then it will be a delight to ride.  Ask first in Fallon or Terry.

Routes / Re: 1st cross country bike trip
« on: July 24, 2013, 05:57:17 pm »
You really need to consider the issue of heat in September in the Mojave region.
Since you don't have a route yet, I suspect that you may not be aware of heat issues either.

If you don't need to start exactly in LA city limits - then riding east from Ventura is a good way to start.
You can follow the gradually ascending river valley to Santa Clarita -
Or you can work you way north on city routes to Santa Clarita via San Fernando.
From Santa Clarita you can follow the canyon road to Palmdale then back roads thru Lancaster.

I would suggest taking US 395 north to Bishop - then US 6 thru Tonopah to Ely and the Western Express.
That will give you the least amount of extreme desert riding combined with moderate elevation gains.
And you will have reasonable services until you get past Bishop - gets very thin in Nevada, though.

There are more direct options thru the Mojave - but in September??

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