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Routes / Re: Cross-US Trail-Based Route - Feedback Please!
« on: April 19, 2015, 02:09:41 am »
Like you, whitebirch, I enjoy incorporating trails into tours and minimizing climbing when feasible.  I’ve done some tours which include some of the trails you mentioned and possible alternative routes. 

About 600 of a 1,200-mile tour from Baltimore, MD, to Davenport, IA, were on trails (BWI, Baltimore & Annapolis, and Washington, Baltimore & Annapolis trails in Maryland; the C&O and GAP to Pittsburgh, the Montour and Panhandle trails around Pittsburgh to Ohio; the Kokosing Trail in Ohio; and the Kankakee River, Illinois & Michigan Canal, and Hennepin Canal trails across almost all of Illinois.  That route goes north of the route you’re considering, but it avoids the hills of southern Ohio and Indiana (there was only one day of significant hills in eastern Ohio).  To avoid heavy traffic near D.C., we rode the Metro train from Bowie, MD, into D.C.  I could have continued across Iowa from Davenport to Council Bluffs, much of the way on rail trails.

A nice route west from Council Bluffs is to follow the Platte River to Kearney, NE, where the Oregon Trail route joins the river and follow the Oregon Trail to Portland, OR.  The 2,400-mile trail (I started in Kansas City) minimized hills by following rivers - the Platte and North Platte in NE, Sweetwater in WY, Snake across ID, and Colombia in OR. Numerous historic sites and landmarks line the trail.   Wyoming is the only state where towns are widely spaced.

If you go through Missoula, there are about 150 miles of rail trails between there and Spokane, which I rode last summer – Route of the Olympian, Hiawatha, Coeur d’Alenes, North Idaho Centennial, and Spokane Centennial.  Most of I-90 west of Missoula can be avoid by taking US-93, MT-200, and MT-135 to St. Regis, MT.

Some challenges on your proposed route:
The Katy Trail is a great ride, but from the trail north to Iowa is hill after hill after hill.
 Yellowstone is a terrific park, but has narrow roads, lack of shoulders, heavy traffic, and significant hills.
Journals from riders on the John Wayne/Ironhorse Trail state that much of it is loose ballast.

If you’re interested in details of the routes I mentioned riding, contact me at, and I can send you itineraries and journals of the tours.

Bicycle Route 66 / Places of Interest along Route 66
« on: April 08, 2015, 11:39:11 pm »
With Route 66 maps now available, people planning to ride the route may like to hear from previous riders what they feel are worthwhile places to see along the Mother Road.  I'll kick off what could be a continuing thread describing "gems" along the route.

The Route 66 Association of Illinois Hall of Fame and Museum (110 West Howard Street) is a good Mother Road museum, concentrating on the history of Route 66 in Illinois.   

The Livingston County War Museum (321 N. Main Street) contains artifacts, weapons, and uniforms worn by county residents from WWI to Afghanistan and Iraq.  The extensive collection and the stories of the veterans manning the museum vividly demonstrate the contribution of one small county to our nation.

 Afton Station, housed in an old 1930s D-X gas station downtown on Route 66, is a free, friendly, privately-owned Route 66 visitor's center with a wonderful collection of vintage Packards and Route 66 memorabilia.  Maps, guide books and a few trinkets with a Route 66 theme are available.

Stroud Safety Apparel, on Route 66 downtown, manufactures high-visibility shirts, vests, and other safety clothing.  If you can use some high-viz items, with or without reflective stripes, this place will meet your needs.  While its business is fabricating thousands of items for shipment, the friendly staff is happy to provide just what you need.

Built in 1936, the Rock Cafe has been a popular Route 66 attraction for over 70 years.  Destroyed to just walls by a 2008 fire, the cafe was rebuilt and re-opened in 2009.
Rock Café proprietor Dawn Welch is the basis for animated character Sally Carrera in the Pixar film Cars.

The Oklahoma Route 66 Museum in Clinton is my pick for the best of many Route 66 museums along the route.   The museum’s galleries provide an exciting, well-displayed journey through the history of the Mother Road.  The museum is about ½ mile north of I-40 Exit 65 on Business I-40 (Gary Blvd.).

To relive early Route 66 travelers’ experience of crossing mile after mile of seemingly endless, empty high desert, divert from Adventure Cycling’s route and ride New Mexico Highway 6 between Los Lunas and I-40 Exit 126.  This 40-mile stretch of road was Route 66 from 1926-1937, when the route from the east doglegged north to Santa Fe, then south through Albuquerque to Los Lunas, where it turned northeast towards Grants.  There are no services and almost no signs of civilization on NM-6, other than the highway and a railroad track – just miles and miles of wide-open scenic New Mexico.  The easiest way to get to Los Lunas from Albuquerque is to ride the Paseo Del Bosque bike trail along the east side of the Rio Grande south to its end at Bridge Boulevard SW.  Ride Bridge Boulevard west across the river.  About 4 blocks past the river, turn south on Isleta Boulevard (NM-134) and ride that road Los Lunas.

“Sky City” of Acoma Pueblo is well worth the scenic 15-mile side trip south of Route 66.  The pueblo, the longest continuously-inhabited community in North America (since 1150) sits atop a 357-foot-high mesa, with spectacular views overlooking a green valley circled by cliffs and mesas.  A new museum and visitor center has an extensive collection of art and artifacts, as well as information about the pueblo.  Tours of the pueblo (the only way visitors are permitted) are very informative.  The visitors’ center has a good restaurant.  Roads from I-40 Exits 96 and 108 lead to the pueblo.

If one is looking for lodging in the Acoma Pueblo area, the Sky City Casino & Hotel, at I-40 Exit 102 is convenient.  It’s a modern facility, with at least a couple of dining areas.  Room prices for 2 start at about $80 Sunday through Thursday; Friday and Saturday rates are significantly higher; perhaps that’s when weekend gamblers arrive.

Bicycle Route 66 / Re: Mid-summer heat on Route 66
« on: April 04, 2015, 01:29:57 am »
Another Arizonian here.  I think you'll find the heat + humidity in Missouri and Oklahoma more uncomfortable than the drier heat in New Mexico, Arizona, and California.  The largest factor determining temperatures in the Southwest is elevation.  Most of Route 66 in New Mexico and Arizona  is at fairly high elevations, 5,000 to 7,000 feet, so very high temperatures are not common.  I live at 4,600', the temperature exceeds 100° only a couple of days a year.  From Kingman, AZ, west, the route drops to lower elevations, so temperatures, especially in California, will be higher.

As mentioned previously, dehydration is more critical than temperature.  Relative humidity of 5-10% is common  (the renown "dry heat"), so having sufficient water is a necessity.  I've ridden most of Rt 66 in Arizona and New Mexico with a 70 oz. Camelbak and one water bottle and never run dry, because places to get water (gas stations, tourist traps, towns, etc.) are probably not more than about 30 miles apart.  I can't comment on the California portion; I've not ridden that.

Do take and use plenty of sunscreen.  I prefer long-sleeve shirts.

Google "average monthly temperatures" of town along the route to get an idea of what to expect.

Route 66 is a great ride.  Take your time and enjoy the many interesting places along the "Mother Road."

Julie - I'm not particular about the shoes I use, just that they have a fairly stiff sole, are shaped to fit the Power Grip straps, and are comfortable for walking.  The most recent ones I got were Nike, more of a tennis shoe look, rather than an exotic running shoe look.  Sorry I can't be more specific, but with the setup I use, many shoes will work well.  For rides up to 25 miles, regular Teva sandals work fine.

After trying several different cycling touring shoes and finding none of them comfortable for off-the-bike use, I settled on relatively stiff soled running   shoes.  I use standard cage pedals on which I fasten (by wires) a piece of thin metal (from flashing) that forms a platform and makes it easy to get the shoe in and out of the Power Grip straps I use.  The combination is comfortable for riding all day and when off the bike after riding.

Also, I can use about any shoes or sandals with the pedals, avoiding the need to change shoes to go for a quick ride.

General Discussion / Re: Touring Bicycle
« on: November 21, 2014, 12:00:48 am »
If you're still in the market for a touring bike, I just got a whale of a deal ($718) on a 2014 Novara Randonee two weeks ago at the Tucson REI.  The 2015 model is almost twice that cost.  Have only put a couple of hundred miles on it, but it's a solid winner.  The Novara Safari was even a better deal at $533; I was temped, but already have one. 

Any REI store check other stores for such closeout bikes, if it doesn't have them.

General Discussion / Re: Grand Canyon
« on: December 14, 2013, 06:07:28 pm »
Here's a little info about cycling the Grand Canyon's South Rim.  The elevation is about 7,000 feet, so if you'd be coming directly from Florida be prepared for the altitude change.  The road along the South Rim is about 30 miles long, so a rim tour is not a long one.  From Grand Canyon Village west to Hermit's Rest (about 9 miles along the rim), only shuttle busses and bikes are allowed durng the summer.  There is a multi-use trail along a relative short section of the rim.  There are 3 routes to the South Rim.  US-180 and AZ-64 from Flagstaff is about 80 miles, initially climbing, then decending to Valle, then climbing to the rim.  US-64 from Williams is 60 miles, decending gradually to Valle, then climbing to the rim.  AZ-64 from Cameron is 32 miles of serious climbing -- about 3,000 feet.  Except in the Flagstaff and rim areas, there is little vegetation.  Dogs are not permitted on trails in the park.

Thunderstorms during the July and August monsoon are usually in the afternoon, very scattered and generally of short duration.  They can be quite violent with lots of lightning.

Since the South Rim provides such a short ride, you might consider riding other routes in the vicinity.  Old Route 66 west from Flagstaff to the California border is a great tour.  The original road can be ridden except for 40 miles between Williams and just west of Ash Fork, where riding the I-40 shoulder (legal in Arizona) in required.  Another nice tour is riding southeast from Flagstaff on Lake Mary Road to AZ-87, west on AZ-87 and AZ-260 through Camp Verde to Cottonwood, then northeast on US-89 to Sedona.  US-89 south from Flagstaff through Sedona to Cottonwood includes a very steep and winding decent down Oak Creek Canyon.

Here are some thoughts for your K.C. to Austin ride.

In April 2005, I did a tour with two buddies near to your start and finish points -- we starting in Austin and finished in Abilene, Kansas.  The objective was to ride the routes of the old Texas cattle trails, primarily the Chisholm Trail, which ended at Abilene.  Our route, which was on low-trafficked highways, went west from Austin through the Texas Hill Country, taking in Johnson City to Fredericksburg.  From Fredericksburg, we turned north on Texas 16 to Comanche, US-67 to Stephenville, US-281 to Jacksboro, and Texas 59 to Bowie.  At Bowie, we got on US-81 and rode it into and across Oklahoma to Wichita, KS.  US-81 was built on the Chisholm Trail route.  From Wichita, we rode Kansas-15 to Abilene.  We camped about half the time and stayed in motels other nights.  Camping is often available in town parks.

The route has many interesting and historic sites -- the LBJ Ranch: Lukenbach, Texas (of the country music song fame); several Texas museums, including the Dr. Pepper Museum in Dublin, TX; Chisholm Trail museums (Ducan, OK, has a great one), Caldwell, KS, wild West history; and the Eisenhower Library and Museum in Abilene.

If taking this route, you might want to consider riding from Austin, since the winds are generally from the south.  A couple of days we had unplanned 100+ mile days due to strong south winds.

If you aren't interested in the above route, an alternative is to head southwest  from K.C., to Lawrence, Bladwin City, or Ottawa, KS, to ride the Prairie Spirit Trail from Ottawa south 59 miles to Humbolt, KS.  Continue on US-169 to Tulsa, OK., then follow state highways or 2-lane US highways on to Austin.  I rode that area on my first tour from the Texas gulf coast to Lake Superior, generally winging it as far as roads to take and it worked fine.
Whatever route you take, I'd suggest avoiding May and June -- prime thunderstorm and tornado season -- and mid-summer -- hot and humid.  April and September are prime times.

Don't worry about over-planning the ride.  I generally use state highway maps for determining routes and AAA guidebooks for lodging and campground information.  Preliminary itineraries I make usually change during the ride due to weather and information from locals on better routes or things to see.  Adventure Cycling's Companions Wanted site is a good place to advertise for people to join in the ride.

Bicycle Route 66 / Arizona - New Mexico Route 66 Tour
« on: October 27, 2013, 11:35:55 pm »
Route 66 Tour from Holbrook, Arizona to Santa Fe, New Mexico

Hi – I’m John Wettack, 72 years old, living in southeast Arizona.   I enjoy touring historic routes, including the Oregon, Santa Fe, and Chisholm trails and for the past few years have toured parts of Route 66.  Here’s a report on my most recent Route 66 ride.

Three friends and I rode a 400-mile tour of Route 66 between Holbrook, AZ, and Santa Fe, NM, September 9-15, 2013.  Our objective was to ride Route 66 where present, with a couple of off-route detours.  Our overnight stops were Chambers, AZ, and, in NM: Gallup, Grants, the Sky City Casino hotel, Los Lunas, Santa Fe, and Albuquerque. 
Day 1: From Holbrook: US-180 to the Petrified Forest Road to ride through that national park (a worthwhile detour), then I-40 to Chambers.  72 miles
Day 2: From Chambers: Frontier Road (Rt. 66) to Sanders; I-40 to Lupton; NM-118 (Rt. 66) to Gallup.  55 miles
Day 3: From Gallup: NM-118 (Rt. 66) to I-40 Exit 36; I-40 to Exit 47; NM-122 (Rt. 66) to Grants.  [The I-40 shoulder between Exit 36 and 38 has cracked pavement and some loose sand/small gravel, east of Exit 38 the shoulder was in good condition.  Our group, with 32mm to 38mm tires had no problem riding the 2-mile poor shoulder section, which for us did not warrant the 30-mile detour recommended on the New Mexico Touring Society website (and perhaps on Adventure Cycling’s route).  65 miles
Day 4: From Grants: NM-124 (Rt. 66) to the Sky City Casino Hotel, with a detour (15-miles one-way) on Indian Highway 38 from McCartys to Alcoma Pueblo (Sky City) and back to McCartys.  The pueblo, occupied since the 12th Century, is well worth the detour, with a modern visitors’ center, museum, and restaurant.  55 miles
Day 5:  From Sky City Casino Hotel: NM-124 (Rt. 66) to Mesita.  A rough 8-mile section of old Route 66 south of I-40 to Correo – the first couple of miles badly cracked pavement, the last couple of miles dirt which was muddy due to previous day’s rain.  [As an alternative, the shoulder of I-40 could be ridden between Mesita and Correo.]  NM-6 (Rt. 66) to Los Lunas.   The only services on the 60-mile day were 7 miles from the start.
Day 6: From Los Lunas: Isleta Blvd. (Rt. 66) to Albuquerque – 25 miles.  We rode the Rail Runner railroad service to Santa Fe, to ride the downgrade route back to Albuquerque the next day.
Day 7: From Santa Fe – Cerrillos Rd. (Rt.66) to I-25 Exit 278 southern frontage road, also Rt. 66, to I-25 Exit 267.  I-25 shoulder to Exit 264.  To avoid riding I-25 to Exit 248 (a section where I-25 eliminated Route 66), we rode NM-16 to NM-22 to Indian Service Road 84 to NM-313 (Rt. 66) at Exit 248.  Our route passed Pena Blanca, Santo Domingo Pueblo, and San Felipe Pueblo.  NM-313 to Alameda Blvd. to get on Albuquerque’s Paseo del  Bosque bike trail which runs along the Rio Grande through the city.

The tour was a good ride through mostly wide-open, scenic country, including several Indian reservations.  I’m estimating about 75% of the ride was on Route 66.  Much of Route 66 is along or near I-40 and I-25.  Food and water are generally readily available, except along NM-6.   Chambers’ one motel is the only lodging we noticed between Holbrook, AZ and Gallup, NM.  The Paseo del Bosque bike trail is a great ride through most of Albuquerque.

Previous Route 66 tours I’ve done have been Flagstaff to Kingman, Arizona; all of Oklahoma, Kansas, and Illinois; and Carthage, Missouri to the Kansas border.  Several websites provide directions for following Route 66 and the history of current and ghost towns and points of interest along the way. 

Anyone with any questions about the parts of Route 66 I’ve ridden can contact me at

General Discussion / Re: Need week long parking, Hudson WI
« on: July 23, 2013, 04:27:22 pm »
I've had good luck in several small towns asking to park at the police department or fire station.  If you are staying at a local motel before starting your tour, it will likely let you park there.

A nice route you could take most of the way is US-89.  It is somewhat out of a direct line between Salt Lake City and Cedar City, but south of Provo it's a very nice route to tour.  You could finish by taking UT-14 from Long Valley Junction to Cedar City.  Highway 89 has nice scenery, not much traffic, and many small towns along the way.  I rode it about 10 years ago.  The Salt Lake City to Provo portion wasn't real nice, but from Provo south it was great.

Routes / Re: A Brit in New Mexico
« on: May 25, 2013, 08:33:59 pm »
Chris,  One thing I neglected to mention in the previous post.  Early July is the beginning of the summer monsoon season (which normally lasts through early September).  Expect short-duration, very scattered thunderstorms.  Mornings are usually clear; clouds form around noon; the storms hit in the afternoon; then the sky clears.  The storms are very locaized; one area may get drenched, while 1/4 mile away no rain falls.  If you do get caught in a storm, it will likely last maybe 15 minutes and drops the temperature nicely. The storms often create a lot of lightning, so don't take cover under an isolated tree (trees are few and far between anyway).

Routes / Re: A Brit in New Mexico
« on: May 24, 2013, 01:28:53 am »
I assume you will generally be following the Rio Grande until you get very near Santa Fe.  Your route will approximate the old Spanish El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro (Royal Road of the Interior), which has a facinating history.  There is a lot of information about that historic route in the internet.  Here's one site

I did a bike tour from Las Cruces to Santa Fe about 5 years go.  Interstate Highway 25 follows the Rio Grande to Santa Fe.  It is legal (and safe due to wide shoulders) to ride on the interstate, but noisy and not real pleasant.  Most of the route there are paved highways parallel and not far from the interstate, some east and some west.  These roads are much more pleasant riding.  A detailed New Mexico map will show those roads.  If you're not camping, towns with motels are spaced near enough for reasonable daily rides.  There is very little civilization between Truth or Consequences and Socorro, so load up with water and snacks for that stretch.

New Mexico Highway 28 north from El Paso goes through La Mesilla, an interesting and attractive little town just south of Las Cruces.  Of course, you will find many, many good Mexican food restaurants along the entire route.

Between a bit south of Albuquerque and Santa Fe are several Indian pueblos (towns) that are interesting to visit.  In Albuquerque, a 15-mile bike trail runs along the Rio Grande.

As others have said, it will be hot; along with water, sunscreen is a must.  Long sleeved shirts may be advisable to avoid sunscreen. Just for information: Las Cruces elevation is 3,900 feet, Santa Fe elevation is 7,200 feet.

Have a great ride.

I did a tour last month from Charleston, SC, to Norfolk, VA.  The intent was to stay a near the coast as possible.  Generally, US-17 is not very bike friendly, usually no shoulder.  There was quite a bit of traffic in April; I imagine as the summer tourist season approaches, the traffic would be much heavie.  A tourer we talked to said US-17 between Savannah and Charleston was terrible for riding -- lots of traffic and no shoulder.

Unfortunately, because of many rivers and inlets along the coast, we didn't have many options to US-17 until it went inland at Jacksonville, NC, and we stayed along the coast to get to the Outer Banks.

There are some stretches to avoid US-17 for a while -- Myrtle Beach & North Myrtle Beach, SC; NC-211 and US-421 south of Wilmington, NC; and NC-210 and NC-172 south of Jacksonville, NC.

If you aren't tied to the Adventure Cycleing route, the NC's Outer Banks make for great riding. 

Routes / Re: El Paso to San Diego via Tucson
« on: March 29, 2013, 11:44:14 pm »
Here's a route generally on low-traffic roads which is not as direct as taking I-10 from El Paso to Casa Grande, but is a lot more interesting and enjoyable than riding the shoulder of the interstate.  West of El Paso, ride NM Highway 9 all the way across southern NM.  That road is scenic and very lightly-traveled, and the towns (Columbus, Hachita, and Animas) range from small to tiny.  At the Arizon border, take Highway 80 through Douglas, Bisbee, and (for the atmosphere and history) Tombstone.  Take Charleston Road from Tombstone to Sierra Vista; Highway 90 and Highway 83 to Sonoita; and Highway 83 to I-10 east of Tucson.  Shortly thereafter, frontage roads lead into Tucson.  Bicycles are prohibited on I-10 from the east side to Tucson north thrugh Casa Grande to north of Phoenix.

You can get a bike route map of Tucson which shows bike paths and routes through most of the city.   Take Oracle Road (Highway 77) north out of Tucson to Highway 79 to Florence, then Highway 287 from Florence to Casa Grande.  Then take Highway 238 to Gila Bend.  There are frontage roads along much of I-8 west of Gila Bend; where they aren't present, ride the interstate shoulder.  At I-8 Exit 54, take the paved road to Tacna, Wellton, etc. to Yuma -- the road avoids a mountain range that I-8 crosses east of Yuma.

This routing from El Paso to Yuma is high desert and desert that get very hot in the summer, with long stretches between water sources and other civilization.  I've ridden virtually all of it and it's wonderful riding, but be prepared.

I haven't ridden from Yuma to San Diego, but you could likely find journals on of that portion.  Not too far west of Yuma, you can pick up the Southen Tour route.

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