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Messages - roadrunner

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Routes / Seattle to Grand Canyon Route
« on: January 09, 2008, 12:14:04 am »
Hi Deborah.  I've ridden portions of the route you outlined and can offer a few observations.  On an Oregon Trail tour, most of the route between Burley, ID, and Portland, OR, was on I-84 (which closely follows the Oregon Trail), except for occasional US or state highways that are near the interstate.  They include LaGrande to Baker City, OR; Ontario to Nyssa, OR, to Payma to Boise, ID.; and Gooding to Burley, ID.  There simply aren't many alternative roads.

From Brigham City, UT, to Salt Lake City, a highway, maybe US-89, east and parallel to I-15, has fairly heavy traffic.  UT-68 and US-89 from Salt Lake City to Provo is mostly through built up areas.  To go to the Grand Canyon from Salt Lake City, I highly recommend US-89 and Alt US-89.  They are 2-lane roads with light traffic running through scenic countryside with occasional small towns.  (Springfield to Fairview was the only exception, with nearly 50-miles with little civilization along the road.)  Much of the route follows broad valleys, with little climbing.  Campgrounds and motels are available.  Bryce Canyon and Zion national parks, both spectacular, are within 20 miles of US-89.  Alt US-89 goes from Kanab, UT, to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.  Getting from the North Rim to the South Rim is almost 200 miles of mostly empty desert with a long coast down from Jacob Lake and some stiff climbs out of the Colorado River valley and up to the South Rim from Cameron, AZ.

Routes / Katy Trail, C&O/GAP or Natchez Trace
« on: December 20, 2007, 11:46:50 pm »
I've ridden all three routes you're considering.  DavePM gives a good overview of the Katy and Natchez Trace.  I found the C&O/GAP route the most appealing of the three.  In addition to the longer ride, there are many interesting and historic points of interest along the way -- D.C. monuments, C&O history, Civil War sites, and nice scenery. Towns are convienently spaced for lodging and food.  The only downside to the C&O is that much of the surface is plain dirt.  When wet it is passable but messy.  I recommend starting in D.C.; going west, all but the initial part of the GAP is downhill.
I had to travel to the area, so flew into the Baltimore airport, rode a rail-trail to Annapolis, visited the Naval Academy, then rode back roads and a rail-trail to D.C.  The Pittsburgh end of the GAP is near east end of the Montour Rail-Trail, which circles south and east of the metro area to the Pittsburgh airport.

Routes / Tuscon to Santa Fe
« on: October 05, 2007, 01:12:55 am »
Here's a suggested route if you've got time for an indirect ride.  Any route heading northeast from Tucson towards Santa Fe will involve serious mountains and, in November, cold temperatures.  From Hatch, NM to Albuquerque (and on to Santa Fe) roads stay in the Rio Grande valley.  That was the route of El Camino Real, so makes for an interesting historic tour.  It is virtually all on secondary roads paralleling the Rio Grande, with towns, including several pueblos, at about 25-mile intervals.  I rode from Las Cruces to near Santa Fe in 2004.
The shortest way to Hatch from Tucson is I-10, which avoids mountains, but would involve about 200 miles of less-than-enjoyable interstate riding.  I'd go via Sierra Vista (my hometown); Bisbee; and Douglas, AZ, to Rodeo, NM, pick up I-10 between Lordsburg and Deming, then to Hatch.  The highways weave between mountain ranges, and the weather on that route should be great in November.  My wife and I would put you up for the night here.  If that routing sounds interesting, e-mail me with any questions.  I've got a journal of the El Camino Real tour I could send you.

Routes / Oregon Trail - Extended 8-)
« on: August 15, 2007, 01:14:15 am »
I rode the Oregon Trail route from Kansas City to Portland in 2001 as a self-supported tour with one buddy.  It's a great tour for scenery and the many historic sites along the route.  I'd be happy to e-mail you my journal if you pass on an e-mail address.

A terrific reference for the history of the trail and following the route as closely as can be done on public roads is the Falcon Guide book "Traveling the Oregon Trail" by Julie Fanselow.  The book is intended for motorists, but works as well for cyclists.  My copy was copywrited in 1997.  The book has listings by state of lodging, camping opportunities, and restaurants along the route.  I'm sure the book is available on Amazon.

We rode the route on roads, except for crossing South Pass.  The original trail is still present as a rough 4WD track over "Rocky Ridge," considered the roughest part of the entire trail by the original travelers.

You should check average weather conditions on if you're planning to travel in November.  I'm sure it must get very chilly in the higher elevations.  Several Mormon handcart companies were stranded in Wyoming by winter storms, with disasterous results.

Routes / Michigan's Upper Peninsula
« on: May 24, 2007, 02:33:26 am »
After living there for 17 years (before getting enough practice shoveling snow and moving to Arizona), I highly recommend the Keweenaw Peninsula as the best riding in the U.P.  The Keweenaw offers low-traffic roads, small towns, scenic Lake Superior shorelines, forests, wildlife, and historic sites.  The peninsula is about 100 miles long, with the adjoining towns of Houghton and Hancock in the center.  Those towns are at the intersection of a figure-8 route route that encompasses the peninsula.  A suggested route from Houghton-Hancock (there's a nice campground in Hancock) is west along Portage Lake to McClain State Park, north through Calumet, Eagle River, and Eagle Harbor to Copper Harbor (Fort Wilkins State Park), then through Lac la Belle, Gay, Lake Linden and back to Hancock.  The souther half of the figure 8 is from Houghton to Baraga (Baraga State Park), west on M-38 to M-26 to Twin Lakes State Park, and on to Houghton.  That entire route is paved.  With mountain bikes, much of route can be done on railtrails, and one can continue past Copper Harbor on logging roads to the tip of the peninsula (wild camping available) and on to Lac La Belle.
Bicycling Magazine's 10th Anniversary issue rated the Keweenaw as one of the 10 best riding areas in the U.S.
The best time to tour is August or early September.  Before then, the bugs can be hungry.  Snow can come by late September.  There are websites for the Keweenaw.

Routes / First Bike Trip
« on: May 08, 2007, 03:23:38 am »
There are long stretches through the Navaho reservation with no services (or anything else but scenery), so bring lots of water, snacks, and sunscreen.  Getting to Desert View at the Grand Canyon from Cameron is 30 miles of stiff climbing, so stock up at Cameron.

Arizon has been getting hammered recently with strong westerly wind, therefore, be prepared for the possibility of headwinds (and pray they don't appear) when you approach Aguila.

Enjoy the screaming decent down Yarnell Hill just south of Yarnell, AZ.

Routes / Riding the Mogollon Rim?
« on: May 08, 2007, 03:02:49 am »
The road you're considering is very scenic, offering some spectacular views from the "Rim" and ridable with reasonably wide tires.  I suggest at least 35 mm or 1-1/2 inch.  Google "General Crook Trail" to find several websites that describe the area, road, and adjacent hiking trails.  There are several Forest Service campgrounds near the road in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest.  Some of the campgrounds have water.  Approaching the road from the east, the small communities of Heber and Overgaard would provide grub for camping.  The Rim area all along Highway 260 from NM and HIghway 87 to Flagstaff passes through Ponderosa Pine forest and offers great riding with little traffic.

Routes / DC to Central Ohio
« on: May 04, 2006, 01:12:28 am »
I've been out of town and off the net for a while, so this response is a bit late.  I hope you're still checking the forum.

If you get in some riding before summer to get your butt and legs in shape, a ride from D.C. to central Ohio is very doable.  Most of it (from D.C. to the Ohio border) can be done by riding canal trails and rail trails that avoid both hills and traffic.  I'll be taking the following route this fall on a tour from Annapolis to the Mississippi:  The C&O Canal trail from D.C. to Cumberland, MD (187 miles).  Ride, shuttle or scenic train from Cumberland to Frostburg, PA (16 miles). The Greater Allegheny Passage rail trails from Frostburg to McKeesport, PA (119 miles).  The Montour Trail (rail trail)from McKeesport to McDonald, PA (30 miles bypasses Pittsburgh).  The Panhandle Trail (rail trail)from McDonald to Weirton, WV on the WV-OH border (18 miles).  The remainder of the route to your destination would be on roads; hilly in eastern OH and flattening out as you go west.

The trails not only avoid hills and traffic, the C&O and Allegheny Passage are very scenic. All the trails have websites.

Routes / Snow really?
« on: December 08, 2004, 04:36:46 am »
Here's some information on Arizona winter weather, from a resident.  The temperatures vary with elevation (lower elevations have warmer temperatures), and there is generally about a 35° difference between the daily high and low temperatures.  The average high/low temperatures in December and January for Tucson (elevation 2,400'): 65/39 and 64/38; for Phoenox (elevation 1,100')f: 67/42 and 66/41.  February is a bit warmer than January.  Of course, the actual temperatures will vary; a few days ago they were about 10° below normal.  Camping would be quite chilly, but daytime temperatures are fine for riding.

The previous advice to avoid the higher elevations in New Mexico by dropping south to I-10 at Lordsburg (and continuing on it to El Paso) is wise.  Riding on the interstate is okay when there are no alternate roads.

General Discussion / Desert travel
« on: December 22, 2007, 12:40:03 am »
Here are some things I've learned from riding in Arizona desert areas:
Take more water than you think you'll need.  Hauling a little more weight beats running out too soon.
Using a Camelback for water is highly recommended -- they hold a lot, make frequent sipping easy, and keep water much cooler longer than any bottle.
Use high SPF sunscreen and re-apply after a few hours.
Take a wide brim hat for off-bike breaks.
Colored synthetic fabrics provide much more sun protection than cotton, especially white cotton which equals about SPF5.
Take some high energy food I take Fig Newtons or peanut butter & bagels, others use energy bars.
Start riding about sunrise (which is early in the summer) to beat the hottest part of the day.  I don't ride at night, except on rare roads with virtually no traffic.
Headsweats or other do-rags keep sweat from running into one's eyes.
Have the tools, parts, and knowledge to fix problems llikely to occur (flats, lost bolts, etc.).
Riding in deserts isn't something to be dreaded; most provide beautiful scenery and relative isolation.  Just be prepared for the conditions

General Discussion / Is there a good all-in-one clothes/body wash?
« on: November 06, 2007, 06:24:45 pm »
I take a simple approach for carrying soap for body, shampoo, laundry, and dishes -- I fill a small (2 oz.) squeeze bottle with whatever liquid dish soap my wife has under the kitchen sink.  It works well for me for all purposes.  It that runs out, I refill the bottle with liquid hand soap in a restaurant/convience store restroom.  Perhaps being bald makes me less picky about shampoo.

General Discussion / Transam rt or Northern tier ?
« on: September 27, 2007, 12:42:30 am »
Hi Fred,

I rode the C&O Canal Trail and GAP to Pittsburgh last fall as part of a Chesapeke Bay to Mississippi River tour -- they are great trails.  If you'll be looking to avoid riding through Pittsburgh, the Montour Rail Trail runs from near the end of the GAP, through suburbs south and west of the city, and ends at the airport. There is a website for the Montour Trail.

We rode the Panhandle Trail west from the Montour Trail to Weirton, WV, then took roads across Ohio.  Going north from Pittsburgh to flatter terrain could be a better route -- the first couple of days in eastern Ohio west of Pittsburgh were very hilly.

Have a good time planning -- I find it half the fun of doing a ride.

General Discussion / Problem companion
« on: November 06, 2007, 06:52:19 pm »
I've been fortunate obtaining companions for two tours through the "Companions Wanted" column.  About the only topics we discussed prior to the tours were the routes, daily milage, camping vs. motels,  sources of meals and gear we were planning to take.  In case the partnering didn't work out, I carried the gear I'd need to continue solo if we decided to split up.
More detailed discussions prior to starting off could certainly be beneficial.

General Discussion / German doesnt know where to go... Recommendations?
« on: October 22, 2007, 08:08:17 pm »

Maybe you'll check on this entry to see if there is anything new.  Congratulations on completing your tour.  I hoped you would post a journal of your ride on the Adventure Cycling website, so was excited to see your entry in the ride resistry.  However, I cannot open the link to your journal.  I would very much like to read it and learn how your experiences compared to mine when I rode much of your route.  If possible, would you e-mail the journal to me at  Thanks

Hi Jan,

Welcome to the U.S. I hope you are enjoying Chicago.  The city has many miles of bike paths you could ride to prepare for your September tour.

Your planned tour route from Glacier Park to Salt Lake City will be a wonderful tour.  I don't think you could pick a more scenic route.  I bicycled almost the same route (from Missula, Montana, to Salt Lake City in 1996 with two friends).  We followed Adventure Cycling's TransAmerica route from Missoula, southeast to Yellowstone and Grand Teton parks.  Sections 4 and 5 of Adventure Cycling's TransAmerica Bicycle Trail maps show that route and provide much useful information.  From Grand Teton park, we generally followed highway US-89 to Salt Lake City.  We averaged about 55 miles a day, taking 17 days for the tour, including some short-distance days for sight-seeing.

The route between Missoula and Dillon, Montana, includes about 4 mountain passes with long, but not extremely-steep, climbs, followed by many miles of downhill coasting.   There are no significant mountains past Dillon.  The entire route has spectacular scenery -- the beautiful Bitterroot Valley south of Missoula,  "Big Sky" country en route to Yellowstone, the wonders of Yellowstone Park and grandure of the Teton Mountains, and wide open spaces in Utah.

The entire route has little traffic, even Yellowstone Park, since you will be there after the summer tourist season.  Weather-wise, daytime temperatures should be pleasant and evenings cool, with frost likely.  Be prepared for both warm and chilly riding weather.  You can get average daily high and low temperatures by month for towns along the route from  

I have a journal (pre-internet, typed) of our tour which I could mail you if you're interested.  Just let me know your mailing address.

If you do the tour, you will have a wonderful ride and see parts of the U.S. much different from Chicago and Illinois.

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