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Messages - roadrunner

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Bicycle Route 66 / Re: Skeptical about Bike Route 66
« on: September 24, 2012, 06:43:57 pm »
I just finished riding Route 66 in Illinois from the Chain of Rocks bridge across the Mississippi near St. Louis to Joliet.  I skipped the northernmost 50 miles or so into Chicago and rode Highway 4 around Springfield to avoid the urban traffic.  Most of Route 66 provides an enjoyable ride; in a very few areas traffic can be a bit "intense." 

The Illinois Depart of Natural Resources has published a guide to the Route 66 Trail which was produced by the League of Illionois Bicyclists and the DNR.  The guide is available from the DNR and on-line.  The guide's "Main Route" deviates a lot from Route 66 onto nearby roads, requiring many turns and adding significantly to the riding distance.  Generally, I found riding on Route 66 in sections the guide notes as "Advanced Shortcuts" or doesn't list at all to be reasonabe riding.  Some of that was 4-lane or 2-lane roads with no shoulders, but traffic was generally light and drivers gave wide clearance.  The guide lists services available in many of the towns along the route.

The "Mother Road" is essentially intact and generally makes for fine riding.  Much of old Route 66 is now frontage roads to I-55; in other areas it about 1 to 3 miles from the interstate (either way, the interstate carries almost all the traffic).  The pavement is generally good, with a few areas with rough surfaces.  Off-the-route trails from the Chain of Rocks bridge to Staunton, into and through Blooming/Normal, and at a few other places provide pleasant traffic-free breaks.   There are small towns at about 5 to 10 mile intervals, so services are readily available.  The towns are all viable, a switch from the ghost towns and abandoned buildings along Route 66 in the western states.  Pontiac has an interesting Route 66 Museum which is a worthwhile stop.

I combined the Katy Trail in Missouri and Illinois Route 66 into one tour.  A nice benefit of the entire route (in my view) is the lack of hills the entire tour.  Crossing bridges were the biggest climbs of the trip.

Bicycle Route 66 / Re: Skeptical about Bike Route 66
« on: August 28, 2012, 11:34:46 pm »
I've enjoyed riding historic trails, including the Oregon Trail, Santa Fe, and Chislom trails, using paved and unpave roads that adjacent to the original routes.  Now I'm picking up feasible parts of Route 66 to experience the allure of the "Mother Road."   In Arizona, the old road exists and makes for a great riding between Kingman and Flagstaff, except for a 30-mile stretch between Williams and Ash Fork where riding the I-40 shoulder is needed.  In Oklahoma, various "editions" of Route 66 are present and good riding across the entire state, as is the short Kansas portion. 

Next month, I'll be riding Route 66 Illinois, using the Illinois Route 66 Trail Users Guide, produced by the League of Illinois Bicyclists.  The guide highlights both original Route 66 roads and lower-traffic alternatives.

Most of the original Route 66 roads I've ridden are relatively near the interstate highways that replaced them (from service roads to a few miles away), so only local traffic uses the old roads.  Route 66 passes through small towns every few miles in Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, and Illinois, providing bikers many options for services while discouraging drivers from using the road.

Gear Talk / Re: Pannier J-Hook too Long. Any fixes?
« on: August 03, 2012, 01:11:54 am »
I had a similar problem with my panniers and rack.   I solved it by removing the hook from the pannier strap and replacing it with a strong split key ring; the ring is higher than the rod on the bottom of the rack.  I attached a bungie cord to the ring, passed it below the bottom of the rack and hooked the other end of the bungie cord to the top of the rack behind the pannier.

Routes / Re: Arizona 288 --Globe-Young Hwy?
« on: August 02, 2012, 09:02:14 pm »
I live in Arizona and have ridden many of the following areas.  There are reasonable alternatives to Route 288 to get to the Mogollon Rim from Silver City.  One would be to take US-70 to Globe, AZ-88 to Roosevelt, AZ-188 to AZ-87 to Payson.  From Payson, you could ride AZ-87 to the Rim Road.   From that point, you could go west through Camp Verde to Prescott (which involves a LOT of climbing), then north to Ash Fork and ride I-40 or much of old Route 66 to the California border.   I'd recommend riding from Strawberry to the Lake Mary Road which goes north to Flagstaff.  From Flagstaff, you can ride most of the way to the CA border on old Route 66.  Several websites identify parts of Route 66 that exist but are not shown on most maps.

An alternative route to the Rim Road through scenic backcountry is on US-180 from Silver City to Eagar, AZ, then AZ-260 though Show Low to the Rim Road.  There are few services, other that some at Glenwood, between Silver City and Alpine.

Routes / Re: route suggestions for a beginner
« on: August 02, 2012, 07:32:45 pm »
The Natchez Trace, with the north end in Nashville, is a relatively nearby route to you that makes for a nice tour.  It has little traffic (no commercial vehicles) and a 45-mph speed limit.  The north end of the 440-mile route has some significant hills (nothing compared to eastern TN), the southern portion is very flat.

The GAP Trail and C&O Canal trail combine to make a very interesting and scenic tour.

Routes / Spokane - Missoula - Spokane Loop
« on: March 29, 2012, 02:02:52 am »
I'm planning a tour this summer of a loop from Spokane to Missoua, taking in the Spokane an North Idaho Centennial Trails, Trail of the Coeur d'Alene and Route of the Hiawatha, and back to Spokane including the Lewis & Clark Route to Lewiston.  I'm seeking information regarding traffic, terrain, services, etc. on the following portions of the route:
   a. Getting from the North Idaho Centennial Trail to the beginning of the Trail of the Couer d'Alene.  Alternatives appear to be US-95 west of the Lake of the Couer d'Alene or Highway 97 east of the lake.
   b. Between the east end of the Trail of the Hiawatha and St. Regis, MT., are frontage roads passable for touring bikes with 35 mm tires present or is riding the I-90 shoulder the way to go?
   c. Lewiston, ID, to Spokane -- US-195 through Colvax vs. US-95 and Highways 58 and 278 through Potlatch and Plummer. 

Thanks for any information and advice.

Gear Talk / Re: Cycling Shorts vs. Padded Liners?
« on: December 29, 2011, 12:37:51 am »
After many tours and trying several clothing alternatives, I've settled on wearing biking briefs under regular nylon shorts (or zip-off pants when long pants are needed on cold mornings/evenings).  I find it a confortable and handy combination -- the briefs eliminate seams, and the shorts provide pockets and meet my preference for not wearing cycling shorts on tours. The briefs are more comfortable than wearing cycling shorts under the nylon shorts and are cooler on warm days.  I use Performance and Nashbar briefs made of a very light material with a cloth "chamois" with no padding.  They don't seem to be available now, but I'm sure similar alternatives are available.
My pants "wardrobe" consists of 1 pair of nylon shorts, 1 pair of nylon zip-off pants, 2 pairs of biking briefs, and 2 pairs of nylon underwear.  After the day's ride, I switch to regular underwear and wash the briefs and the previous day's underwear.  The shorts can be worn for several days before washing.

General Discussion / Re: Whitefish, MT lodging
« on: October 15, 2011, 01:24:18 am »
I can confirm that the state park campground is very noisy due to trains.  I stayed one night in the campground 2 years ago.  The railroad track goes right past the park; trains blowing their whistles passed by frequently all night long.

Routes / Re: Biking Mexico from Arizona to South America
« on: September 12, 2011, 10:58:01 pm »
A brother and sister team recently finished a 15-month, 17-country ride from San Diego to Montevideo, Uruguay.  Their blog,, is a great record, with photos, of their journey.  Using maps of the various countries you could trace their route.  You could contact them for details.  My wife and I hosted them for a night in Arizona and found them to be very enjoyable.

Gear Talk / Re: Sleeping pads
« on: September 08, 2011, 12:55:30 am »
I rode the Santa Fe Trail Trek 3 times.  Every time it snowed overnight in Trinidad.  I suggest being prepared for unexpected freezing temperatures, with an insulated mattress and a sleeping bag that will keep you warm.  Other than Trinidad, the weather was usually mild.

The SFT Trek is probably the best organized tour available -- an intresting historic route, well organized, small enough group to get to know everyone, and an unbeliveable cost.

Routes / Re: Safe routes from central Arizona to Flagstaff
« on: August 17, 2011, 11:23:22 pm »
I rode from Flagstaff to Payson on the Lake Mary Road and AZ-87 about 6 years ago.  I don't recall the traffic being a problem.  Of course, I was going downhill on AZ-87.

Some alternative routes:
Payson to Flagstaff: From Payson, take AZ-260 northeast to the gravel road along the Mogollon Rim(General Crook Trail).  Ride that west about 20 miles to AZ-87, then go north to Lake Mary Road to Flagstaff.

Prescott to Flagstaff: Take AZ-89 north to Ash Fork (a nice scenic ride through Chino Valley and Hell Canyon).  Ride the I-40 shoulder 21 miles east to Exit 167 just east of Williams (you can miss 4 miles of I-40 by riding through Williams on Business I-40).  From Exit 167, ride old Route 66 roads to Flagstaff.  Route 66 websites give detailed directions and historical information on that section.  There were short stretches of gravel and rough pavement on old Route 66 roads, but a touring bike handled them fine.

Prescott to Wickenburg: The first part is not difficult-riding mountainous, wooded terrain, changing to open areas around Peoples Valley.  A long, screaming downgrade south of Yarnell to the desert. 

Wickenburg to Gila Bend: Continue the above route by taking the Vulture Mine Road south out of Wickenburg (some maps incorrectly show it as unpaved).  It's a beautiful Senora Desert route with virtually no traffic (and no services or anything else) to I-10.  Especially nice in the early spring when everything is booming.  Cross I-10, go through Wintersburg to Old Highway 87, going through Arlington.  That's another very low-traffic, paved road.  Due to summer heat, I'd skip this route in the summer.

Routes / Re: St George to Flagstaff
« on: March 27, 2011, 10:19:27 pm »

As I recall, the only services between the South Rim and I-40 are at Tusayan (just outside the park boundrary) and Valle, which, at 30 miles from the South Rim, is about half way to I-40.  So, essentially, there are two 30-mile stretches with no services.  From the AZ-64/I-40 interchange, it's only a mile or so into Williams, so that's not a significant detour for services.  There is a little general store/cafe at Parks (about the only thing there), about half way from Williams to Flagstaff on old Route 66 which makes for an interesting stop.  Sorry aobut the I-10/I-40 mixup; I live in southern Arizona not too far from I-10, so that's the interstate I usually deal with.


Routes / Re: Joshua Tree to Prescott?
« on: March 24, 2011, 10:52:30 pm »
I'm assuming you're referring to Joshua Tree National Monument in California.  I don't know anything about routes from there to the Arizona border, except that either California 62 to Parker, AZ, or I-10 to Blyth, CA, have little in the way of civilization and will be very hot and dry until late fall. 

I can provide some information on the Arizona part of your question, based on routes I've ridden from Blyth to the Grand Canyon.  From Blyth, ride I-10 frontage roads and shoulder (legal in AZ) to US-60 to AZ-71 (that route and on to Wickenburg is part of the Southern Tier).  If you take California 62 to Parker, ride AZ-72 to US-60.  Take AZ-71 to US-89, with a heck of a climb up "Yarnell Hill) en route to Yarnell.  US-89 is a very scenic ride through Prescott to Ash Fork on I-40.  Ride the shoulder of I-40 to Williams, then AZ-64 and US-180 to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Gear Talk / Re: GEAR - It's adding up! Where can I compromise?
« on: March 03, 2011, 12:30:11 am »
The comments by Staehph1 and John Nelson are right on the mark, especially that going with top-of-the-line pricey items is usually not necessary.  Also consider that you’ll be carrying everything on your list for the 5+ months you’re planning to ride.  You’ll probably find, like most bike tourists, that you’ll soon be shipping many items home after a few days or weeks of riding.  The thinking changes from “what if I need this” to “what do I have to have.”
A few thoughts:  Why 4-5 tent ground cloths?  I used one of plastic sheeting for many tours.  It’s easy to get another if necessary.  Maps and questioning locals can replace the GPS.  Other items I’d skip: rain pants, brake pads (they last a long time and can be bought if needed), rolls of tape (wrap a couple feet of duct and electrical tape around your seat post).  If the degreaser is for hand cleaning, sunscreen does an acceptable job.  A Bic lighter will serve to light your stove and “survival” fire starting; if you want a backup, dip matches in candle wax and place in a film canister with a few vaseline-soaked cotton balls.
At the expense of adding a few ounces, I’d replace the small pump with a full-size one, preferably the Topeak morph with a gauge. 
One category you do not list is off-bike clothing.  I wouldn’t want to spend several weeks, not to mention months, wearing nothing but riding clothes and the same pair of shoes.  Consider adding a long-sleeve and short-sleeve shirt, a pair of nylon zip-off pants, a cap and some footwear (Crocs, flip flops, sandals).  The pants also serve as shorts, cold weather riding pants (over riding shorts), and swimsuit.

Routes / Re: St George to Flagstaff
« on: March 02, 2011, 10:55:53 pm »
Adv 911 -- I did a tour from Salt Lake City to Flagstaff (including a spur detour to Zion National Park) that included much of the area you're planning to cover.  Unless you've already ridden in Zion, I'd recommend taking Utah-9 through Zion, rather than Utah-389 (which I have not ridden).  The auto-free riding in Zion Canyon is spectacular, offset somewhat by the stiff climb at the east end of the park and the need to hitch a ride to get a bike through the tunnel.  (Getting a ride was no problem.)  I rode Alternate US-89 to Jacob Lake, which is a long climb, but not as difficult as I anticipated.  Then I took Alt 89 to US-89 to Cameron to the South Rim (another long, hot climb).

After a half day on the South Rim, I rode AZ-64 to I-10 to Flagstaff.  I chose AZ-64 over US-180 to avoid the heavier traffic and climbing on 180.  I don't know if that was a better choice, since 64 is a steady climb on a rather bland road to I-10.  I camped at a marginal Jellystone Park campground in Valle.  I rode the I-10 shoulder to Flagstaff (legal in Arizona).  Later I rode a much more interesting route -- old Route 66 which is present between I-10 Exit 167 (2 miles east of the AZ-64/I-10 interchange) and Flagstaff.  Whatever route you choose will be great.  Take sufficient water and sunscreen.

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