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Messages - jamawani

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Routes / Re: USGS maps for touring anybody?
« on: March 29, 2015, 11:17:45 am »
Actually, there is an online site - -

Although it says "USGS Store" you can view almost any map that the USGS has published in the past 100 years.
The drawback is that these files (scanned maps) are huge and might be problematic downloading on the road.
Also, they might be tough to read on a smartphone - less so on a note pad.

Some of the 1:250 and 15 minute maps are terribly outdated. Even the 1:100 are often old, now.
Most 7 1/2 minute maps have been updated, but the level of detail may be more than you need.
ACA maps are great if you don't plan to wander off route - but of little use if you do.

I have found that National Forest maps are ideal for cycling - the scale is 1inch = 2 miles.
Many have topo contours now and most are now available in plastic.
Crossing the Cascades might entail two or three maps - same for the Rockies.
They have campground, backroad, trail and facilities information.
Plus, land ownership status for those who wish to do dispersed camping.

Routes / Re: Two Canadians biking across Canada & the United States
« on: March 16, 2015, 10:00:37 pm »
Quand on veut, on peut - -

Heading west in early July will put you in Vancouver by the end of summer.
Then you will have perfect weather to head down the Pacific Coast in the early fall
And good weather across the southern U.S.

Heading east, the timing doesn't work out nearly so well.

Routes / Re: Hwy. 49 from St. Mary, Mt.
« on: March 03, 2015, 03:32:10 pm »
I agree with Indy about US 2 west of the park.
There is a short stretch with zero shoulders and heavy traffic.
It would be nice if Blankenship were paved all the way or shoulders were available on US 2 -
But such is not the real world in which we live.

About camping in Glacier - -
Apgar and St. Mary are like zoos with a zillion RVs.
I think one or both also tack on a "reservation" fee for hiker biker camping.
On the west side, either Sprague Creek - close to MacDonald Lodge or Avalanche - close to the Avalanche Lake rail are nice.
On the east side, Rising Sun is super - with showers available and trails and the lake just across the road.

You are not planning to go to Many Glacier - the finest road access in the park?
Lord have mercy, child! I do not know what's gotten into you.
Again, hiker/biker campsites - camp store and pizza café nearby - plus Many Glacier Lodge.

Highway 49 is steep and pretty narrow - plus US 89 has a big climb out of St. Mary but with two lanes uphill.
After that US 89 is also narrow with a good deal of summer traffic.
Still, Two Medicine is certainly worth visiting - great hikes, camp store.

General Discussion / Re: Newbie questions on solo touring.
« on: March 01, 2015, 11:43:40 am »
Dear Newb -

40 days and 40 nights should be plenty of time -
But watch out if you see the waters rising.

Working backwards, you will be riding in Texas in early July. Uggghh!
But most of the rest of your riding will be nice if you stay fairly high.
(Of course, Colorado now has multiple definitions of that term.)

Accessing most metro areas - except places like Portland - can be tough.
Is Salt Lake City a definite destination? Some tough touring on the Wasatch Front.

The way I count it - it's usually about 2 weeks Portland to San Fran -
Then another two weeks to central Utah via the Western Express route.
(You can ride via Yosemite, Tonopah, and Caliente, too.)
So that gives you about a week to ride from central Utah to Taos, NM.
Then another week to hightail it to Austin.

On the Pacific coast most Oregon and Calif parks have cheap hiker/biker campsites.
You can camp anywhere on federal land in Nevada/Utah for free outside of National Parks.
Plenty of free camping in the national forests of Colorado and northern NM.
And small towns (not big towns) in west Texas are usually very generous letting you camp in the park.

Avoid microbreweries and women in fishnet stockings in the evenings and you should be fine $$$-wise.

Routes / Re: Primitive Camping on Pacific Coast Route
« on: February 20, 2015, 10:31:16 am »
If you are locked into the date - why not choose a better route?
Like the southwest desert country?

If you start in San Diego, you can ride northwards via Anza-Borrego and Joshua Tree to Mojave National Monument and Death Valley, then perhaps extreme southern Utah, the Grand Canyon, and the Four Corners region to Albuquerque - - and take Amtrak back.

The desert Southwest also has unlimited opportunities for dispersed camping - but also designated sites with facilities. Not sure about Oregon parks, but California parks have had multiple years of budget cuts. I would suspect that many are not open yet in March - especially those further north and on the coast.

I have to politely disagree with staehpj1. I notice that on his TransAm he averaged just shy of 60 miles per day - - 73 days, 4244 miles. Similar for his other trips. I do not know many people who average 80 miles per day over a lengthy trip. I realize that staehpj1 prefers not to take "rest" days, per se, but nearly every rider has plenty of half days. Bad weather part of the day or just coming upon a place that is really cool and you want to explore - whether its a town or a perfect campsite. And according to the old math - two halves equal a whole.

I probably do more hiking and exploring than staehpj1 does while on tour - backcountry up to the Pacific Crest in Yosemite, crossing the Grand Canyon and picking up my bike on the other side, hiking up to the ancient bristlecone forest in Great Basin. And when you ride up to the Yukon and Alaska, there are just some days where it is best not to set out at all - esp. if you have the advantage of some kind of shelter. So maybe, I use more off days - but I think you have to plan for some.

Then there are the big breakdowns which I hope you never have - but if you tour long enough you probably will. I can think of three offhand - when you are in Fumbuck, Arkansas miles from nowhere. I had a derailleur snap. I had a seat post snap. (Which makes for some rather uncomfortably cycling) And I had a wheel rim split. If you care close enough to a big town with a bike shop, you can limp along. But if you are 150 miles away from anything, you may just need to call Performance, FedEx it, and wait.

Also, there are unexpected glitches that can happen at the beginning or end of your trip. The worst thing if you fly or Amtrak it is for your bike not to show up on the baggage carousel. That has happened to me once - when it went to the wrong city. Took a day and a half to get it. (Read the small print in your baggage "contract". Nice airlines may offer to cover some of your costs, but they don't have to.)

I stick by my math - 400 miles per week (66 per day + a day off) if you are a moderate cyclists. 450 miles per week (75 per day + a day off) if you are moving at a good clip. Check out the journals at CrazyGuy and see how many people did the TransAm + Western Express (3762 miles) in less than 8 weeks.

My first cross-country trip was from Astoria, OR to the Outer Banks of NC - used a more direct route than the TransAm, so let's say about 3600 miles in 10 weeks. I was 31 at the time, commuted regularly 25 miles round-trip and had taken a few weekend rides prior to that. I stopped to smell the flowers at various national parks and other places, but 8 weeks would have been pushing it.

General Discussion / Re: Green-lighted to go cross-country! (questions)
« on: January 25, 2015, 09:55:43 am »
Wow, those are lots of questions - -

The most important limitation you mention is the time frame - 8 weeks.
If that is so, you are going to be moderately pressed to make it; you, need to select a direct route and avoid zigs and zags to Virginia or Minnesota. It's roughly 3000 miles directly from NYC to SFO. Decent biking routes are usually at least 10% longer.

Second, Google Maps is not the cyclist's friend. Over and over again, it puts you on dirt, private, or nonexistent roads - especially in the West. Yours does in Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. And the Cowboy Trail is a dirt/gravel route across Nebraska that largely parallels US 20. But US 20 itself is a good choice.

I've got 100,000 miles of touring experience and can say that 400 miles per week is a moderately high average - 450 is getting up there. The former is 66 miles per day with a day off per week, the latter is 75 miles per day. Planning in a day off per week doesn't mean you have to sit around eating bon-bons. But there will be weather delays, mechanical issues, perhaps a day when your internal parts are in rebellion.

The TransAm plus the Western Express is just shy of 3800 miles. That's 475 miles per week - or 75 miles per day with only 5 days off for the entire trip. Doable, but tight. And you certainly need to take Amtrak or fly down to Virginia to start. Since you appear to be doing this solo, I would also encourage you to keep the equipment down to a minimum. It's one thing to cook when you are with a group, but if you are solo that means you have to have all of the gear and weight. I would forgo camp cooking and have hot meals at cafes and sandwiches at camp.

I do think your idea of a direct route is good - but there are other ways to create a good one. Ask for help here - go to Crazyguyonabike. Sounds like you are ready for a big trip. So, enjoy.

I used to live in Kansas and have ridden many routes off of the TransAm.

You can take CO 86 from Castle Rock to Limon - but the west half has more and more traffic.
FromLimon, CO - US 40 is a good alternative route all the way into west Kansas.
From Limon to Kit Carson it has moderate traffic - east of Kit Carson it has very little.

US 40 dumps you back on the I-70 corridor at Oakley and means a few miles of gravel road.
But there are paved service roads / county roads that parallel I-70 all the way to Junction City.


If instead you follow the service roads along I-70 in eastern Colorado to Colby, KS -
You can then take US 24 and KS 18 to Junction City. KS 18 is really a sweet ride.
You can also take US 36 east from Denver and cut down on KS 27 to Goodland.


The stretch from Junction City to Topeka is tricky.
I-70 was built on top of US 40 and bicycles are prohibited. KS 18 / US 24 has brutal traffic.
I suggest taking KS 57 and KS 4 through the Flint Hills - hilly, but scenic.


If you are heading thru Topeka and Lawrence to K.C. - it will be tough.
There are a couple of so-so options which require detailed street knowledge.

I commented on the NPS website - - blasted the hell outta them.
The reality is that the NPS caters to auto and RV visitors.
They like to complain about the number of cars - but they never do anything.
$20 for hiker/biker sites - - just pave it and fill it with RVs.

Routes / Re: Missoula to Ovando, G-town Lake, Wisdom
« on: January 09, 2015, 06:43:47 pm »
Since Indyfabz has covered the southern half, I'll do the northern half.
I've biked it a few times - first time way back in 1987, last time a couple of years ago.
Hwy 200 out of Missoula is pretty busy - shoulders have improved greatly since '87.
Traffic gets lighter after the Seeley Lake junction.

There are some excellent places to camp in the Ovando vicinity along the Blackfoot River.
Most of these are Montana Fishing Access Sites (FAS) - some free, some with a fee.
FAS camping is low-intensity and some of the nicest to be found in the West.

I love Ovando - a friend used to be the town doctor.
Ovando has a bar, café, and general store last time I was through.

Don't recall any businesses in tiny Helmville - but you could ask for water if needed.
The road to Drummond is fine - not too steep heading south -
But a pretty fast downgrade after the summit.
Used to have a 5-mile dirt section, but was paved in 2012.

Here's the Montana DOT Bike Map:

Routes / Re: Crossing into Canada?
« on: January 04, 2015, 08:17:58 pm »
Those Canadians are wild and crazy people.
I would be very careful.   ;-)

Not sure what part of the summer you are talking about -
Nor how many miles pre day you are comfortable with.

But the prevailing wind from the northwest can be tough on northbound cyclists.
(Especially those who haven't toured for a while.)

One possibility is to take the Vallejo Ferry across San Francisco Bay -
Then ride up Silverado Trail thru the Napa Valley.
By then, you should be able to pull of the climb to Clear Lake.
Then loop over to the coast at Fort Bragg.
Finally, you would ride down the coast with a tailwind -
And end your loop at the Golden Gate Bridge.

About 350 miles - 50 mpd if you ride 7 days, 60 if you take a day off.
(Can be shortened if you skip Clear Lake and ride back road parallel to US 101.)

General Discussion / Re: Best Time to Leave
« on: December 16, 2014, 03:31:42 am »
May is a better month for east to west - June is a better month for west to east.
I've been caught in a snowstorm in the Cascades with a June 1 departure.
And this year is already looking pretty snowy for the Cascades.

I'm guessing you are from somewhere without heavy snowfall.
It takes a while for all that winter snow to melt out.
Quite often, recreation sites in the West don't open until Memorial Day.
(Even later in some high altitude locations)

Howdy -

Well, I'm glad you're going to do something good for yourself when you get out of the army.
6 months is a long time - and you haven't indicated your aims or your experience.
From your other posts, it sounds like you have a few others interested.
But it also is a big trip - and some folks may not find it their cup of tea.

Your time frame for the loop you have posted is not the greatest - in some places just plain bad.
You've got yourself in the Northern Tier in late April/early May and it can still be pretty cold and wet.
Similarly, you have yourself in the Southwest desert during the hottest time of the year.
I'm sure you can survive it - but you've probably been "surviving" for the past year or so.
Not to mention that the Northern Rockies still have lots of snow in May/early June.

The route you have outlined works best with an early May start.
The time frame you have - March 15 to Sept 15 - works best if you start further West.
In fact, if this winter is rainy out in California - the deserts should be blooming in March/April.
Southern Tier/Route 66 to the Mississippi River then north and the loop to S.F. and Western Express.

It's hard to come up with a good loop starting in St. Augs in mid-March.
Either you go clockwise - i.e. west - and end up the wrong way on the Pacific Coast -
Or you get into chilly wet weather if you head north too soon.

Here's Prism's climate website with monthly temp and precip maps.

PS - Nothing says you have to stick to ACA maps.
They are good - esp. at first - but no need to limit your possibilities once you get used to riding.

Routes / Re: US Route 83
« on: November 29, 2014, 03:42:43 pm »
I was biking north on Hwy 47 near Hoven in northern South Dakota - heading towards southern North Dakota.
There was a brutal north wind. I was huffing and puffing along in my granny gear.
When I stopped at a corner store to take a break and have a Coke, I told the woman there,
"Man, I'm beat - been heading north all day."
She responded, "Must be tough riding north since you're going uphill all the time."

Sad, but true.

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