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Messages - Bclayden

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Routes / Re: Best way to build a route from scratch?
« on: October 25, 2013, 09:44:34 pm »
I've planned many long distance rides both in the US and in Europe using a combination of resources.  Google maps is a good start but the "Bicycle" feature isn't much help once you've left the city.  Most states' DOTs publish bicycle friendly and recommended routes, ACA routes of course are good when they align with your route, and even the AAA map can be very helpful.

What is invaluable for planning is Google street view.  Once you've established the route you can see what the shoulder situation is, familiarize yourself with navigation cues, and of course determine if your route is in fact a gravel one. 

This forum has helped me many times too.  Once I've established a route I throw it out there for advice and always get knowledgeable and helpful answers...even for Europe trip planning....struck out with Hawaii route advice though.   Most recently I put out the "Ride across Nebraska..." question on this forum a few days ago and already have some helpful replies.

Just remember, planning is important but you'll still end up with some surprises and these, in my experience, are the best memories.

Good luck.

Routes / Re: Ride across Nebraska route advice
« on: October 25, 2013, 12:36:58 am »
Great stuff.  Thanks all for your input.  Yes, I experienced the goat heads in July coming down the slope from Wyoming and into western NE.  3 flats one day near Casper.  Goat heads a problem in May too?  Not sure.  Then there's the extreme NE weather to work around in May but that's a different story. 

Jamawani....great info.  I will follow your route advice.  My quest to follow the Pony Express route is of the semi-casual variety.  I would much rather lose the route for a day or 2 to enjoy a quiet country road than stick to the route and end up with thick traffic.

The route so far from California to western Nebraska has had limited route options often with only one road available for many days. Having a choice of routes will be refreshing.

Routes / Ride across Nebraska route advice
« on: October 22, 2013, 10:57:25 am »
Hello everyone.

This site, and specifically the Routes forum, has been super helpful to me during planning of my Pony Express Route solo ride...Sacramento, CA - St. Joseph, MO.    I have broken the 2000 mile ride into 3 X one week segments to ride 1 segment each year.  Sacramento to Salt Lake City last year and SLC to Scottsbluff, NE this past July all went very smooth thanks to the careful planning and a bit of good luck.

I am planning the final phase of this trek for next Spring and looking for any good advice as to Nebraska riding conditions, good roads and roads to avoid.  I am not camping but traveling Credit Card style so anybody with info about where to stay or not stay is also helpful.  Currently in the initial planning stages so my route can be adjusted a bit but to stay true to the original Pony Express route it looks something like this:

Day 1- Scottsbluff, NE -Julesburgh, CO   
Day 2- J'burgh - N. Platte, NE            
Day 3- N. Platte – Kearney            
Day 4- Kearney –Nelson      
Day 5- Nelson – Marysville, KS         
Day 6- Marysville – St. Joseph, MO   

Thanks in advance for your input.


Routes / Re: Edinburgh, UK route advice?
« on: September 13, 2013, 10:21:29 am »
Follow-up for those interested-

Completed about 300 miles from Edinburgh in a clockwise loop through the Highlands and back to Edinburgh.

Started out trying to follow the National Cycle Network routes but soon bailed from that.  The NCN is a fabulous concept and useful to many but I struggled with the random nature of the cycling conditions.  Although well marked it's still very tricky to navigate along them through the big towns...lots of back streets, canal towpaths, parks and random turns.   Very slow going.  In order to cover 100 miles per day I eventually found it easier to use the roads. 

Also the NCN routes I followed often run along unimproved roads, sometimes Jeep tracks, and totally unsuitable for a road bike  While using roads I caught up with parts of the NCN here and there and some of it was fine for my skinny tires but once the route veered off into the woods I would pick up the nearest "B" route. "B" roads are much better for road bikes...mostly nice country lanes with light traffic.

I was excepting the NCN routes to be like the ACA routes...good cross country routes for the distance cyclist... but it seems it's geared toward a totally different kind of cyclist..much like riding on your local recreation trail.  Once out of the developed areas the NCN routes were very nice in spots but not what I was expecting.  My mistake I suppose.

In the Scottish Highlands there are many great climbs if you're into that sort of thing and pretty good but slow descending on the narrow roads.  Gotta watch out for the numerous loose and very sharp rocks washed down from the most recent rain and sheep everywhere including lying in the road.

All in all a good ride with some scenic villages and nice places to overnight  Got wet here and there and overcast nearly the whole ride but generally dry  Best part?  A nice pint at the end of a long day. Worst?  Several pinch flats one day due to many sharp rocks in the road and sheep poop all over the tires during tube changes. 

Haggis with neeps and tatties make a nice meal at the end of a long day.   

All-in-all I recommend riding in the Scottish Highlands but for the serious cycling tourer who wants to cover 100 miles in a day stick to the mellow back roads.   A mountain bike would be more suitable for the NCN in the Scottish Highlands.

Routes / Re: Edinburgh, UK route advice?
« on: September 02, 2013, 09:48:55 pm »
Thank you all for your input!  Looks to me any direction is a good direction. 

My ride actually starts/ends at the Edinburgh airport private terminal so I will avoid most city traffic and have elected to head Northwest for a 2.5 day clockwise loop through Stirling, Killin and Perth..just about 200 miles.  Not a lot but the best I can fit into my short stay.  Most of the route follows NCN routes with a bit of improvising along country roads using Google Map and the Street View function for planning.   

I wish I had more time to explore the region. 

Thanks again.  Now, if it would just stay dry.

Routes / Re: April to early for West Express and Trans Am
« on: August 27, 2013, 10:58:31 am »
Yes, snow is likely.  I had to delay my WE Sierra crossing one day due to an incoming storm in mid-June.  And in early April if it doesn't actually snow the day you cross there will most certainly be piles of plowed snow/ice on the road side much of it on the riding shoulder. 

Also, once past the Sierra the WE route takes you over several more Nevada passes above 7000' and these are likely to have some snow too. 

Nothing is certain but if you can make it a late May or later ride your conditions should be much improved.

Routes / Edinburgh, UK route advice?
« on: August 27, 2013, 10:13:26 am »

I realize this site belongs to the AMERICAN Cycling Assoc but after some research I have come up empty looking for a simple answer.  Perhaps one of you can help.  To qualify: I am "American" and this site has helped me during my American trip planning so thought I would throw it out there.

I have 3 days to ride from/to Edinburgh, UK in early September.  I see many suggested "Cycling Routes" depicted in all different directions and wondering if anyone can suggest a general direction to head or better yet a specific route.  I prefer climbing but happy to ride on flat all day if that's necessary.  Will be staying at hotels/inns so no need to camp and can return by rail to make it a one-way trip.  The local cycling websites with route info are of the short 15-30 mile variety.  I am after an 80-100 miles per day plan.

Let's hear it...North, West or South?

Thanks!  -Ben

Guys...Tahoe is nice and all but everyone knows to avoid many parts of it on a bike, or otherwise, during the high summer season.  Not recommended. 

Try again in late September and you will see it in all its beauty but with a much more mellow riding situation.

Routes / Re: Mapquest Maps/Routes
« on: July 19, 2013, 11:09:08 am »
I have planned many multi-day rides (non-ACA routes) using Google map.  To add....Satellite View resolution in remote areas can be quite low so hard to determine the road surface.

I have had some luck with Street View feature at the nearest road junction.  If you can get a look at a bit of the routed road from either end it's often possible to determine whether it's paved or not.  Still not fool proof though, I've been surprised by the occasional un-paved section despite careful planning.

Routes / Re: Adirondack Park Route - Need advice
« on: July 18, 2013, 07:18:15 pm »
I did the Adirondack Loop in May from/to Saratoga Springs (without the spur) in a counter clockwise direction in 4 days.  Stayed in Ticonderoga, Saranac Lake, and Speculator.  It is all very scenic and the roads are in generally good riding condition.  Quite hilly though..nothing gnarly but at the end of a 100 mile day I felt as though I had climbed several thousand feet.  Never did measure it though. 

Lake Placid was fun but a bit busy.  Saranac Lak,e a bit further along, was a slightly more mellow scene.  Stayed at Gaunthier's Saranac Lake Inn..they have free kayaks to use and explore the shoreline.  Very relaxing after a long day on the bike. 

Near Blue Mtn. Lake is the Adirondack Museum.  Plan to spend a couple of hours here if you like that sort of thing.  A modern and large museum with good exhibits.  I brought a picnic and ate under a shady tree overlooking the valley below.  Very nice.

Other than that small-town-USA is about all you will get.  It's a very seasonal region so most traffic is there during the summer.  I managed to ride my route before the high season but I imagine during the summer the RV crowd will be prevalent. 


Routes / Re: Recommended Route San Jose to ACA Pacific Coast Route
« on: June 10, 2013, 08:15:46 pm »

Pat has some good route advice.  I live in the Bay Area and ride the Santa Cruz Mountains often and can add bit more.

ANY road over the mountains is much busier during commute hours.  There is a heavy flow each way but local riders know to stay off these roads going either direction during commute hours as the roads are very twisty and the people drive WAY too fast.  I stay clear after 3pm to avoid the high school drivers too.

Having said that my favorite route over the hill is from Los Gatos to Watsonville.  Join the Los Gatos Creek Trail (it starts in San Jose) and take it up to Lexington Reservoir.  There's a 2 mile segment of packed gravel road.  Follow the East side of the reservoir, Alma Bridge Road, to join Old Santa Cruz Highway, Left at Summit Rd/Highland Rd.  (this road had a washout and was closed for some time last winter so check that it's open) then, my favorite, Eureka Canyon Rd. to Watsonville.  Beautiful and once on Highland Rd. very quiet.

If a desolate and remote route with no services for 100 miles is your thing then go by way of Delta (134miles from SLC if I remember).  Not particularly scenic either but despite my description I had a wonderful day that day...until I hit the massive suburban sprawl of SLC.  Delta-SLC was the last day of my Calif.-SLC ride last summer. 

I followed the Route 68 out on the West side of Utah Lake...not much shoulder but a pretty quiet road.  Route 6 over the summit to Eureka takes you to's a remote road with very little traffic.  If this mileage is too much for 1 day I think Eureka might have a motel or camping but past that I don't recall much..not even a gas station for 90 or so miles.

Hope that helps...

From 395 best to use 207 "Kingsbury Grade" for the climb over to Lake Tahoe.  Avoid US 50 at all costs.

Once at the lake your shortest route is to head North but take the time to ride around the lake in a clockwise direction and you will be rewarded with spectacular scenery on the West side and this will avoid busy "Spooner Summit" traffic (also US 50).

From Truckee Route 89 is a good one Northbound...not the widest shoulder in places but scenic and relatively quiet.

Routes / Re: Advice for a ride beginning in NYC
« on: May 22, 2013, 05:59:32 pm »
Ride follow up:  Completed a slightly shortened version of the Adirondack Loop ACA Route.  Very nice route with clean and wide shoulders in mostly good condition.  I hit it just before Memorial Day weekend and the beginning of the busy season so no RVs....didn't see another cyclist either in the 300 miles I spent riding which surprised me.

I didn't camp, used motels, but there are ample camping opportunities and many beautiful lakes.  Quite a hilly region...nothing gnarly though..and ended up with about 4000-5000 feet of climbing each 100 mile day.   

Saranac Lake is a really nice town.  Wish I could have explored it a bit more. 

Highly recommend riding for a day or a few days in the Adirondack region.  Very bike friendly and the ACA route map was very helpful.

Routes / Re: Route through or around Los Angeles.
« on: April 29, 2013, 12:49:18 am »
Mike, I agree with Marti.  I've done Long Beach to the border....Mostly mellow roads and bike paths along the shore if you plan it well.  Sketchy drivers passing Newport Beach but a good shoulder as I remember.  Otherwise a nice ride.

Marine Base Camp Pendleton doesn't allow civilian car traffic but will allow a civilian biker with ID. No ID is a no go and no alternate route as far as I know.

Once in San Diego plenty of bike paths to make it to the border.  Tijuana?  Not recommended.


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