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Messages - jamawani

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Hi Alessandra -

Not sure about your touring experience and with your backcountry experience.
Also, 50 miles/80 km is not very far in remote parts of the West.
There are ACA routes with more than 80 miles/130 km between services.
And if you make your own routes, possibly further.

July 7 through August 20 is an ideal time for touring in the West.
That is the driest season for the Pacific Coast, but with this winter's rain, fire danger should be low.
Same goes for the Cascades and Sierras - excellent weather and low fire risk this year.
The Southwest and much of Nevada and Utah is usually extremely hot then.
But the Northern Rockies are beautiful - covered in wildflowers.

One of the issues is the amount of time it will take to get to the start and finish point.
You will have more options if you fly from Rome to Chicago -
Since Chicago has more connections to the West than eastern cities like New York.

If you can do a tour in both the U.S. and Canada there is a fabulous option -
Riding from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone to Glacier and thru the Canadian national parks.
Some of the finest riding in the world.

There are plenty of services and you will bump into other riders -
I think that might be important for a woman riding solo.

Another option is to ride from Santa Fe, New Mexico up to Glacier N.P.
This would keep you in the U.S. entirely.
You could start with the ancient Puebloan cultures of the Southwest, like Taos,
Then take in the parks of the Rockies in Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana.

Both of these can be all pavement - usually with low traffic -
Or you can include some dirt road options depending on your wishes.
Here's a journal with a section where I road north from Santa Fe to Glacier -

You can click for additional pages all the way up to Canada -
So it really covers both routes I outlined above.

The all-U.S. trip would be about 1500 miles / 2400 km or 400 km per week - molto probabile.
The U.S.-Canada trip would be also about 1500 miles / 2400 km.
That would give you plenty of time to explore or hike.

Best - J

Photo - Lake Josephine, Glacier N.P.

I've ridden every paved road and quite a few dirt ones between Glacier and Yellowstone.
I live in Wyoming and know both parks quite well.

First, I don't know your experience with touring and where you are from - i.e. back East.
Why? Because Going to the Sun Road, although not too difficult, is a tough start.
Not to mention that it makes a better dessert than first course.
In which case, riding from Yellowstone to Glacier would make more sense.
You would get an overall elevation loss, slightly prevailing winds, and the sun at your back, too.

As for route, I would suggest an easterly one largely following US 89. Whether S-to-N or N-to-S.
US 89 has significantly less traffic than other routes - plus you get stunning views of the Front Range.
Here's a map published by Montana DOT with summer traffic numbers:

All three highways heading north from Yellowstone US 287, US 191, and US 89 have a good deal of traffic -
But the US 89 route has a paved county road on the east side of the river that is virtually empty.
Plus the historic Chico Hot Springs where you can rent a cabin and soak.
North of Livingston, traffic on US 89 drops to very low levels with mountain ranges on both sides.
White Sulphur Springs is a funky springs town - certainly not an Aspen or Bend.

From there, US 89 heads over the Belt Mountains and down a long creek course with lots of camping.
US 287 heading into Helena has shoulders, but an insane level of traffic. (Your route above)
There is a back way into Great Falls from Belt with only a limited amount of highway riding.
Then the great stretch of US 89 heading up thru Choteau and Browning.
Hwy 83 on the west side had twice the traffic, fewer shoulders, and limited views.

Make sure to take in either Two Medicine or Many Glacier - or both - on the east side.
They have spectacular lakes and alpine scenery - Many Glacier has a cafe plus the elegant hotel.

If you are car supported, you will not be able to use the hiker/biker campsites in Yellowstone or Glacier.
Also, lodging is pricey and often booked long in advance near the parks.
I would urge you to finalize your plans and reserve camping/cabins - at least for the parks - by May 1.

Here's a tour I took 11 years ago using the US 90 route:

PS - North American Indian Days, one of the largest pow-wows, will be July 7-10 this year in Browning.

Routes / Re: Transamerica: West to East, are the passes open in May?
« on: January 22, 2016, 08:38:30 am »
This is really a bad idea - not impossible, but not likely to be much fun, either.
I have 100,000 miles touring experience - most of it in the U.S. and Canadian Wests.
Back in 1990, I got stuck in the Cascades by a snowstorm in early June.

By your user name, I am guessing that you might be from Portugal, Spain, or Italy.
If so, you probably don't have much winter touring experience.
And it's not just the passes. You will face tough conditions all the way through the Rockies.

It is hard to predict any one year, but this is an El Nino year in the West.
Already, the snow levels in most Western mountains are higher than average.
(Less so in the Northwest, more so in the southwest)
Here is a link to snow levels which is updated regularly:

May snowstorms in the North Cascades and Northern Rockies are common.
You can wait them out in the valleys - where it might be 5C, rainy, and windy.
Most campgrounds and other National Forest / National Park facilities do not open until late May.

McKenzie Pass in Oregon may or may not be open that early - you can always use Santiam Pass.
But what that means is that you will be cycling in cold, wet, windy weather.
Craig Pass in Yellowstone does not open until May 21 - few services until June.


If you plan on leaving in late April, I would STRONGLY urge you to go east-to-west.
Even then, you will experience some cool, wet weather in the eastern mountains.
But it won't be anything like May in the West.

Cycling the West in late June will be far, far more enjoyable.


Late May in the Sierras of California in an average snow year in nice weather:
(The reason I don't have many pix of heavy snow in the spring is because I avoid touring in those conditions.)

Southwest / Re: Albuquerque to Las Vegas - or other way round?
« on: January 21, 2016, 08:34:43 pm »
I've biked the region more than a half dozen times.
Prevailing winds are usually southwesterly -
So, even though you have elevation gain heading east, the wind more than makes up.

Late June us getting pretty darn hot in the lower elevations - tolerable on the Colorado Plateau.
Why are you considering the South Rim when the North Rim is sooo much better and more on your route.
If you did South Rim from Vegas you would have to ride nasty stretches of US 93 and some on I-40.
Granted, you would also ride part of historic Route 66.

Vegas -
North Rim -
Kayenta -
Durango -
Taos  -

Connecting ACA Routes / Re: NYC to Ohio and beyond
« on: January 16, 2016, 01:36:50 pm »
Not sure who you are referencing - but here is the Penna Bike route across the north-central part of the state.
It is clickable and each section has a strip map.

Routes / Re: Three weeks - Pacific Coast or Sierra Cascades
« on: January 11, 2016, 10:09:37 am »
Martin -

Yes, starting a trip in May in San Fran could be very pleasant.
Not sure of your exact time frame or touring speed / preferences.

That said, you could easily ride down the Pacific Coast then over to the Southern Sierras -
Then do southern Nevada, the Utah parks, and Grand Canyon.
Perhaps getting to Taos may be a stretch.

And although the low desert can have highs of 35C to 40 in May -
The high desert of the Colorado Plateau has average highs of 25C in May.
And bright, blue skies.

If you have friends in San Fran, then you might start in Half Moon Bay or even Monterrey.
There's some lovely riding south of Half Moon Bay, but then tough south of Santa Cruz.
Still, starting the ride at Golden Gate Bridge has its advantages.

The Big Sur Coast south of Monterrey is the finest stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway.
You could cut inland at Cambria or take in the stunning Spanish mission at San Antonio de Padua.
Cut over the coast ranges to the Central Valley to California Hot Springs.

Sherman Pass Road might be open across the Sierras, but Hwy 178 offers a year-round back-up.
Then, depending on the heat, you can either ride thru Death Valley - which will be past spring -
Or you can ride up US 395 and thru the spectacular White Mtns and Deep Springs.

Since you said you don't like riding thru cities (I don't either) I suggest a route via Tonopah.
You hit US 95 at the largely abandoned town of Goldfield, then Tonopah, to Caliente.
If you are prudent, then there is little reason for concern riding these Nevada roads.

From Caliente, you can ride into southern Utah - either to Cedar City or St. George -
And then to Zion National Park - stunning - and up over the plateau to Kanab.
From Kanab, it's a further climb up the Kanab to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

That might entail three weeks.

If you can give me a few more details, I can offer more specifics.

Pic - Stone Cabin Valley in central Nevada -
Totally empty road and views to the edge of the earth.

Routes / Re: Three weeks - Pacific Coast or Sierra Cascades
« on: January 08, 2016, 03:24:10 pm »
May is WAAAAYYY too early for the Sierra Cascades - esp. this year with El Nino.
It's even iffy on the coast if the rainy season lasts into late spring.
I'd guess Washington - wet; Oregon - pretty wet; N. Calif. - mixed; S. Calif - nice.

I would suggest a tour of the desert Southwest -
Great national parks and Native American heritage.

You can have two options ready:
1. A more northerly loop if the weather is average.
2. A more southerly loop if it is a cold, wet spring.

With all the rain that is coming to the Southwest - the deserts will be stunning.


Sonora Pass in the Central Sierras in late May in an average year -

General Discussion / Re: training for trans am westward
« on: January 02, 2016, 12:43:18 pm »
75 miles a day isn't a whole lot - especially in summer.
I've done that on many tours - and I'm no youngster.
Even at 10 mph, it's just a morning ride and an afternoon ride.
Done by 5pm or 6pm.

But you should allow, at least, 1 day off per two weeks -
That's for weather, breakdowns, Montezuma, etc.

Routes / Re: Crossing Southern Illinois
« on: December 28, 2015, 12:08:10 pm »
I've biked thru East St. Louis many times with no problem. And I'm whiter than Snow White.
One Sunday, I stopped at the McDonalds for lunch and kids asked me the typical 101 questions.
And their folks stood there in the background smiling like anywhere else, too.
If you ride thru in the middle of the day, people will wave and ask you where you are going.
Just like anywhere else.

PS - Collinsville Road is the way in from Cahokia Mounds -
It's 4 lanes, but not too bad. Most of the traffic is on the interstate.
Collinsville Ave. used to be a thriving commercial district and a "Must See".
If you are riding across the USA to see and to understand, this will open your eyes.
Also, if you can talk to anyone - asking their view, not offering yours - you can learn a whole lot.

Older, but really important website on downtown East St. Louis -

Routes / Re: Crossing Southern Illinois
« on: December 24, 2015, 11:15:52 am »
I've ridden across southern Illinois to/from St. Louis a number of times.
There's an old, one-lane converted RR bridge across the Wabash near St. Francisville.
Then a very low-traffic, straight route from Lancaster to Centralia.
There a little towns and potential camping at convenient intervals.

West of Centralia it gets a little trickier.
I camped at the state park on the lake once.
I've also zigged and zagged thru St. Rose to Highland -
Then continued on to Edwardsville.

Edwardsville is nice because it's a college town with lots of bike services.
And Cahokia Mounds is a must-see - camping nearby at Horseshoe Lake.
Finally, Eads Bridge is THE way to bike into St. Louie - with a big view of the Arch.

General Discussion / Re: Cost of a cross country USA trip?
« on: December 22, 2015, 07:46:01 pm »
"Males ages 20 to 29 are the group most often being rescued in the national parks, according to park service data."

A close friend worked many years at Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
I hiked down often and talked with her friend, the NPS ranger about rescues.
She confirmed the above data in spades. Just FYI.

General Discussion / Re: Cost of a cross country USA trip?
« on: December 22, 2015, 11:37:35 am »
Ummmm - 90 stops?
Don't overplan - it never turns out the way you plan it.
A rigid schedule can become a straight-jacket.

General Discussion / Re: Cost of a cross country USA trip?
« on: December 22, 2015, 11:35:48 am »
I've ridden x-USA a half dozen times and toured 100,000 miles - so I have some experience.
On my first trip in 1987, I budgeted $20 per day for 70 days, plus $100 for a total of $1500.
There's been, at least, 100% inflation since then - esp. in campsite fees and small portion grocery items.
Not to mention that you learn how to save with experience.

The biggest avoidable cost is alcohol - a couple of microbrews will set you back $10 to $12 -
And if that gets to be a daily habit, then your budget will quickly be trashed.
The biggest controllable cost will be camping/lodging.
If you follow an ACA route, esp. the TransAm, there will be more low-budget options.

Unfortunately, most state parks and national forest campsites run $15 to $20.
Private campsite can run $30 to $40 - killer if you are solo.
Oregon, Wash., & Calif have hiker/biker campsite as do western national parks.
These run $5 to $8 per person - still not cheap.

You can camp for free on all federal USFS and BLM lands in the West -
Provided you know where they are and follow fire/sanitation regulations.
Also, tiny Great Plains towns will often let you camp for free in their town parks.
The bigger the town is, the less likely. But Nebraska and South Dakota are quite good.

Of course, there are host websites like Warmshowers and Couchsurfing -
Then there is also the options of contacting churches in small towns.
Catholic churches usually have the rectory where the priest lives right next door.
In small towns, Protestant ministers usually live close by.
Choose a church that has a nice grassy area in back and some privacy.
Quite often, they will let you cook and clean up in the rec hall.

There will be times - after 3 days of rain - where you will just have to get a motel.
In fact, if you are wet and exhausted, it really makes sense to do so.
The risk of a serious accident goes up geometrically when you are totally wiped out.
It is money well spent.

There are other options out there.
But I'd say $20 per day is frugal, $30 is moderate - esp. in the East.
Happy trails!  - J

Routes / Re: West from Pittsburgh to Ohio
« on: November 29, 2015, 11:47:25 pm »
Well, I live in Buffalo, Wyoming and can attest to the beauty of the Bighorns.
But they are nothing to be trifled with - tough, tough, tough.
If you hit the Black Hills in early June and the Bighorns in late June -
you will have peak wildflowers in both places.
Flowers to roll in.

Routes / Re: West from Pittsburgh to Ohio
« on: November 29, 2015, 05:31:13 pm »
NEB 91, 4 miles east of Brewster.

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