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Messages - jamawani

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General Discussion / Re: camping sites in the Western USA
« on: November 07, 2015, 03:00:00 am »
Preston -

As many of the earlier posters have said, camping on the TransAm in small towns is pretty easy and cheap.
Kansas towns are especially welcoming - nice parks with cafes and grocery stores nearby.
(What Kansas lacks in scenery is made up for by its hospitality.)

Once you hit Pueblo, CO you get into the West where public lands predominate.
You are permitted to camp anywhere on National Forest (woods) and Bureau of Land Management (desert) lands -
Provided you are at least 1/2 mile from a developed site. (Some exclusions)
Dispersed camping is generally prohibited in National Parks and varies on state lands.

Water and sanitation are issues in dispersed camping - a water filter and a trowel are essentials.
Also, water sources are infrequent - esp. in Utah and Nevada.

General Discussion / Re: Dogs n' bears
« on: November 07, 2015, 02:47:16 am »
Your voice is the first deterrent against dogs.
If you can rival Pavarotti and use choice words, a dog will back down.
Unlike most here - I do not carry dog spray -
I have rarely had to jump off my bike - I jump TOWARDS the dog.
I have never been bitten. But you have to be dominant.

As for bears, any state or national park in bear country should have beat boxes. Use them.
If you random camp in bear country - and you should for the pleasures this offers -
You should know basic bear camping techniques -

NEVER eat in your tent. The odors remain.
Not just for bears, but also for raccoons - who will rip open your tent to get to food.

Routes / Re: Diversion from Western express - advice needed !
« on: November 07, 2015, 02:29:02 am »
Preston -

I have ridden the US 163 from Kayenta to Mexican Hat a few times without concern.
Yes, it has a little more traffic than surrounding roads, but nothing like E.U. roads.
Also, by this time you will have acclimated to American road conditions - albeit without shoulders at times.

There is a lovely route from Dolores, CO to Bluff, UT via Cortez, McElmo Creek Rd., and Aneth.

Are you aware that there is a shuttle service that may take your bike from rim to rim at the Grand Canyon?
I've ridden to one rim and hiked across a half dozen times. But the service has to be begged to shuttle the bike.
Just another option, in case you are interested.

Hiking Down into the Grand Canyon

I have also ridden in to the North Rim (which has an amazing hiker/biker campground) a number of times.
It's a hefty climb in heat and with little shade up to the Kaibab Plateau - esp. for a Limey.
US 89 has heavy traffic and inconsistent shoulders - less traffic on US 89A, but still a good deal.


If you are already doing this, you might want to consider taking US 6 across Nevada rather than US 50 -
And then crossing the Sierra Nevadas on CA 120 - in Yosemite National Park.
US 6 is even more remote than US 50 - and Yosemite is, well, Yosemite.

Best - J

Routes / Re: Trans Am Yellowstone bypass
« on: November 07, 2015, 02:03:21 am »
I was planning on leaving Yorktown the first week in May, 2016. I have no real time constraint but was thinking I would shoot for 8 weeks to get to Astoria. I was just wanted to have a shortcut in my back pocket in case for physical or mental reasons I needed to cut off some days and still make it to the Pacific. I just have to end up somewhere I can get my bike shipped back to Illinois and get to an airport.

MKK - I have ridden cross country a half dozen times and a dozen more major trips in the West.
Yes, there is a stunningly beautiful and shorter route from Jackson, Wyoming west thru Idaho.
This route has moderate to low traffic most of the way - certainly less traffic than Yellowstone Park itself.
I have posted some maps and a journal over at Crazyguyonabike.

Willow Pass in central Idaho - - the Sawtooth Mountains are also spectacular.

Here is a journal with maps and photos from a trip last summer.
I tend to do a few stretches of dirt - but the Idaho route is complete -
Although W-to-E - it would be Jackson, WY to Stanley, ID to John Day, OR

I prefer the route through Rexburg rather than Idaho Falls - but I had to get a replacement bolt in Idaho Falls.


If you are planning on leaving in early May and expect an 8-week trip, you will be in the West in mid to late June.
Mid to late June in the high country can still be winter. Did you know that?
Yes, you will have fabulous wildflowers - but be prepared for a late snowstorm, too.

Routes / Re: Transam West to East; Florence or Astoria?
« on: July 15, 2015, 01:50:53 pm »
Starting in Astoria means you have a lot of riding on US 101 - which ain't the finest -
Not to mention that you don't have good ocean views for much of the distance.

Starting in Florence means that you miss some of the most spectacular coastline in the world.
Plus Florence is pretty tough to reach with your bike and gear and all.

What about starting in Tillamook?
There are two direct busses from Portland every day.
There's a bike shop in town for final tune-ups - plus the cheese factory.
And you can ride the Three Capes Loop - maybe camping at Cape Lookout.
You save some miles, get great coastal riding, and avoid most US 101 traffic.

Pic - Cape Kiwanda

Bridge Bay sux -  but that's just my humble opinion.
A veritable parking lot.

I've ridden every mile of pavement in the park -
Plus most of the legal dirt sections. Since 1987.

You have a fairly long ride on Tuesday - -
At the very end - there is a loop out to Gull Point -
Just before you reach Bridge Bay.
It is a pleasant and quiet diversion.
Saves a bit of climbing - adds a couple of miles.
(Or you can head out to Gull Point on Thurs - usually empty.)

Lake used to be on the Grand Loop Road but it has been realigned.
Still, it is worth turning off - the views are spectacular.
Fishing Bridge has an excellent museum and short trail out to the lake.
(Many of the lake areas are closed in spring due to grizzly feeding.)

Give yourself plenty of time to enjoy the Hayden Valley -
The road is not great, but the scenery and wildlife are superb.
(They pave pull-outs for RVs - but cannot have shoulders - environmental regs, right.)

Do not overlook the south rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
The road ends at Artists' Point - with lots of tourists -
But if you hike out just 1/4 mile there will be almost no one.

Then get back on the loop road and take North Rim Drive to Canyon Village.
It is one way, so you cannot easily access it from the campground.
(They should have made it two-way for cyclists - but, but, but)
There are also great hikes from Canyon Village along the rim.

If you leave in the morning from Canyon you can tour Norris Geyser Basin -
Then have a leisurely, downhill run to Madison - getting in in early afternoon.
I might suggest riding down to O.F. in the late afternoon - stopping at Grand Prismatic Spring.
(There will be fewer people if you get there around 6:00 - 17 miles each way, lightly loaded)
Then a downhill ride back in the early evening.

Pic - Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone from Artist Point Trail

Dear Chipped -

Looks like you are going east to west quite early in the season.
We've had a cold, wet May here in Wyoming as you probably know.
There should be a warm-up this weekend, but then another cool-down.

Don't let the Yellowstone closure get you down.
I have cycled every inch of Yellowstone road and know it is worth it.
Actually, I believe that the Canyon-Norris loop is a much better route.

From West Thumb - a lovely, active geyser basin on the lake - head NE to Lake.
It is worth getting off the main loop and heading down to the lake at Lake.
The old Lake Hotel and the views are superlative - plus there's a camp store and picnic spots.

From Lake - the road thru Hayden Valley can be narrow and busy at times -
But Hayden Valley is the Serengeti of Yellowstone - you are likely to see herds of buffalo.
There are also some lovely spots alone the Yellowstone River.

There are two access areas to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone -
Artist Point is on the South Rim (1st left) - hardly anyone walk out on the trail.
After you cross the river, make sure to use the North Rim Road to access Canyon Village.
You can hike down to the falls (long, steep) from the first turnout.
Canyon Village has the best hiker/biker campsites in the park - plus nearby showers and café.

From Canyon - it is a short ride west to Norris - pleasant campground, no store -
But Norris has the most extensive geyser basin in the park - best early morning or evening -
Thus it might make sense to camp here.

From Norris - the Gibbon River Road is a pleasant, downhill ride to Madison -
The road was reconstructed recently so it has moderate shoulders and good pavement.
Madison campground's hiker/biker sites are only so-so - no store -
But the river and cliffs are lovely here - plus elk herds with calves.

From Norris you can do an out-and-back to Old Faithful -
I would climb on the old Firehole Road - zoom back downhill on the return.
Above Firehole, the road follows the river - gentle ride.
Make sure to stop at Grand Prismatic Spring if you do this.
Old Faithful is a zoo - one zillion tourists and cars - even a cloverleaf interchange.

When riding in Yellowstone - consider riding early and late.
Because there are hiker/biker campsites, you need not worry about camping.
From the South Entrance - a late afternoon ride will keep you in the shade with lighter traffic -
Rather than roasting in the sun with heavy traffic and no shoulders while you climb.

I prefer Lewis Lake to Grant Village - quiet and pleasant.
(Actually, Grant Village Campground is closed until June 21 - bear habitat)
(And Lewis Lake is closed until June 15, too)
(Speaking of bears - never, never eat in your tent.)

So you will need to camp just south of the park -
I do not care for Flagg Ranch - expensive ($35) and touristy - but it is the only place.
You can also ride in a mile and rough camp along Grassy Lake Rd - 
Or camp at Lizard Creek in Grand Teton.

It's 70 miles from Lizard Creek to Canyon Village - with a big climb.
You should plan on those endpoints - the park will arrest you if caught rough camping.
And it could mean the end of your trip if you are a foreign national.
Late May/early June is still pre-season in much of the park.
But there are ways to do it and get the most from your time in the park.

Have a great ride!  J

Pic - Hayden Valley

General Discussion / Re: Flying With Touring Gear
« on: May 27, 2015, 09:30:05 am »
Generally speaking, I do not go as fast with my bike loaded with panniers as I do without -
But there have been times when I was almost "flying" even with all my touring gear.
Nevada comes to mind with all the mountain passes and airport runway, straight-shots down.
Just let 'em rip.

Gear Talk / Re: How heavy is your touring bike (unloaded)?
« on: May 23, 2015, 11:39:28 am »
She ain't heavy, she's my sister.

Gear Talk / Re: Touring without fenders - big mistake?
« on: May 20, 2015, 02:38:40 am »
Fenders?  Nah.
First off, I try to plan tours in low rainfall regions or seasons.
Second, if it does rain, I hunker down for a few hours and ride between rain showers.
Third, if it's raining all day, I chill out. Watch a game at the bar. Read in the library.
Since I don't like riding in the rain, I see little need for fenders.

In Europe they speak funny languages and have accents and umlauts.

Routes / Re: Touring From Seattle Beginning Early In May
« on: April 30, 2015, 08:29:36 am »
Also, the I-90 bridge over the Columbia at Vantage is super dangerous.
No shoulder - zero - and pretty heavy traffic.
There is no old highway bridge option.
The Milwaukee Railroad bridge downstream remains closed, too.

This is unfortunate because the old highway from Ellensburg to Vantage is super.
And the back roads on the east side of the river are also excellent for touring.

Routes / Re: Earliest to Leave on Trans Am - West to East - 2016
« on: April 29, 2015, 05:43:46 am »

Phoenix - this question has been asked many times.
Did you do a basic search?

People have been doing the TransAm since 1976 -
Leaving in late May and early June from Oregon -
And getting to the East coast by August.

Some years, McKenzie Pass opens later -
But there is always the Santiam Pass option.

It also depends upon your riding style and speed.
12 weeks is a lot of time - many average riders do it in 10 weeks.
So if you left June 10th - you could arrive by August 20th.

Very doable.

Actually - -

The large loop from West Thumb to Lake to Canyon to Norris to Madison westbound -
Or from Madison to Norris to Canyon to Lake to West Thumb eastbound -
Is so much better, anyway.

From West Thumb to Lake there are a long stretches where you are riding right along Yellowstone Lake.
(Plus, if you do the short Gull Point loop, you can have a very private time out on the point.)
From Lake to Canyon is the American Serengeti - with herds of buffalo in Hayden Valley.
The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is stunning - but missed by almost all TA riders.
Norris Basin is one of the best geyser areas - esp. in the evening if camping at Norris.
The ride along Gibbon River is quite pleasant - the road recently widened.
If you want to take in Old Faithful, you can always ride up from Madison Jct.

The stretch from Old Faithful to West Thumb is one of the worst to ride in Yellowstone.
Narrow, heavy traffic, and two passes with a dip and curve that gobbles up your downhill.
It's 30 extra miles doing the full loop - 60 if you add the Old Faithful leg.
That's 1/2 day for the loop - - 1 full day for the loop plus Old Faithful.
If you bike across the entire U.S. of A. - what's a half day?

Yellowstone traffic can be moderate-plus, even heavy at times.
The worst is at Old Faithful right after the geyser goes off and everybody leaves.
(That's why they have a ridiculous cloverleaf interchange in the park there.)
You can get the best riding in by leaving super early when roads are almost empty.
Plus, early riding affords you the best chance to see wildlife.
Also, since all campgrounds on the loop have hiker/biker campsites,
you can ride in the evening and enjoy hiking in the middle of the day.

Bicycle Route 66 / Re: Mid-summer heat on Route 66
« on: April 04, 2015, 09:12:33 am »
I have more than 100,000 miles of riding over 30+ years -
In all places and climates.

I have done a lot of "threading the needle" **
Especially when I was younger.

Sometimes I lucked out - other times I was miserable.
In retrospect, I would have enjoyed many trips more -
Without the needle - and with no loss of moral value.


** Speaking of Needles -
Needles, CA - - Avg. July Hi - 109, Avg. July Lo - 84

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