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Messages - zzzz

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I'm at work and I don't have my maps in front of me so I didn't know the intersection of the NT and SC was in Twisp.

It's 194 miles from Twisp to Yakima and I have 8354' of gain to 9054' of loss so it's still pretty much a wash.

The biggest mistake I made on my trip was not taking the turn off to see the Mt. St. Helen's blow down. I didn't realize that it was along the way and it was already a big milage day and I had hotel reservations I had to make. I've been kicking myself for missing it for the last 2 years.


Hi Erika:

Unless you are a beginner cyclist I would recommend you take the Sierra Cascades route. I rode from the northern terminous of it to LA 2 years ago. I looked up my Garmin traces for the section you will be on and you will be going more downhill than up since your leaving from the south.

For the 3 days between Yakima and Government Camp on my ride ;

Yakima to Packwood ; 98 miles (I took a wrong turn) there was 30' difference in up/down
Packwood to Cascade Locks ; 99 miles and I was + 900' of descent (you will be opposite)
Cascade Locks to Government Camp ; 75 miles and I had 7200'  of climbing vs 3500' of descent (again, you will be opposite)

And as was mentioned earlier, unlike the coastal route, the wind direction is a crapshoot.

You will find the hills are pretty constant but the grades aren't that difficult and except for a brief bit of interstate between Hood River & Cascade Locks and some small stretches of 97 that get pretty unpleasant, I found it to be a really nice route.

Good Luck,


General Discussion / Re: If you only had a couple of weeks?
« on: May 04, 2016, 11:27:26 am »

I won't disagree w/ both indyfabz or staehpj's answers, they're both good, but you said you can take the train to Flagstaff and that got my attention. Two weeks out of Flagstaff would allow you to ride up and thru the Grand Canyon, over to Moab for Arches and Canyonlands, up to Green River and then down to Hanksville to pick up the Western Express route which takes you thru Grand Staircase, Capital Reef, and Bryce Canyon, then drop down to Zion and back to Flagstaff. Your time slot is early August so it will likely be hot, maybe too hot, but it's an extraordinary loop.

As for meeting fellow riders I'll make a generic statement about the 4 solo 30 day trips I've taken. I like to ride alone but opinions on that vary and if one is more comfortable riding with others I make no judgement. But when I'm on a tour I never feel alone. Almost every time I go into a store or eat at a restaurant or check into a hotel or pull over at a rest stop somebody strikes up a conversation and many of these encounters have been among the most pleasant memories I take away from the trip. They have also led to invitations to spend the night at their place, or join them for dinner, or get a personal tour of their car museum (you never know who you're going to meet). I can't prove it but I believe this happens much more often when traveling alone that when you're in a group.


Routes / Re: El Nino impact on Sierra Cascade route this spring?
« on: April 05, 2016, 08:38:46 am »
I lived in Houston for 7 years in the 80's. I am well familiar w the highway overpass as "climbing".

I'm glad you appreciated the intended humor. Too often when I write something I thought was clever.....

I''m guessing with a screen name like CyclingScientists you've spent plenty of time on a bike. Riding with weight is different but not that different. Chances are your biggest adjustment is going to be to life on the road. I have less experience than some (4 trips @ 30 days each) but I believe the secret to a good tour is how you deal with things when it's not going well. When the weather is fine and the scenery is stunning life feels easy. When it's raining or you got a big headwind all day or traffic, how much good humor, or resilience, (or last but not least) determination you bring to the situation makes the trip work or not.


Routes / Re: El Nino impact on Sierra Cascade route this spring?
« on: April 03, 2016, 09:52:52 pm »
oh. You're from South Florida. You've never toured before. You're taking the pooch.

In other words the biggest climb you're currently doing is highway overpasses. You're green. And you're going to be carrying at least 30 lbs. apiece.

Stick with the route you originally designed or Jamawani's variant. You will want to  get your legs under you during the coastal part of the trip before you start the big climbs on the SC. I didn't find them to be crazy steep but a bunch of the climbs are long. You can be going up a 5-7% grade for a couple of hours on some of the big passes. And you won't know how you'll react to the thin air at elevation until you're up there the first time.

Don't worry about what I said about 89. I didn't see any lumber trucks while I was on 89 on the weekend. Do yourself a favor and  the day before and the day after Quincy try to hit on a Saturday and a Sunday. There's a lumber mill there that all the trucks are heading to. Once you're a day out the concentration of trucks trails off and I found all the drivers gave me enough room to be comfortable. As always, do your part by being predictable in every thing you do on the road.

You will have a great time.


Routes / Re: El Nino impact on Sierra Cascade route this spring?
« on: April 03, 2016, 07:58:05 pm »

People choose their route for all kinds of reasons. But you seemed open to suggestions in your reply to Jamawani so I'll add something here.

The SC is a great route but not every mile is equally great. A good portion of the part you selected is 260 miles on 89. Lassen NP is in there which is very nice but a lot of the rest is fair to middlin' and the area around Quincy is pretty thick w loaded logging trucks.

This is a thought experiment on my part so feel free to ignore part or all of it but it cherry picks some of the better stuff on the SC.

I'm suggesting you start in Klamath Falls,Or. which has a Amtrack station so you have a way to get there. Head north and get on the SC. You'll be about a 100 miles south of Crater Lake. Stay on the SC until you get to Goverment Camp/Mt. Hood (detour to take in Makenzie Pass as previously noted) . Then head east to the coast and start your Pacific Coast section of your trip. Ride south to SF as planned and pick up the WE and follow that back to the SC also as per you original plan. But instead of going north, go south on the SC. You'll go thru Yosemite, Giant Sequoia , & Kings Canyon. From there you can stay on route to Lake Isabella.

You're fairly close to Bakersfield there so that might be the place to end your trip. It's a big enough town that you should be able to arrange your transport home. If you have the time you can keep going but the route gets pretty scrubby for the next  couple of hundred miles.

Food for thought.

Routes / Re: El Nino impact on Sierra Cascade route this spring?
« on: March 29, 2016, 09:19:16 pm »
Hi Andrew:

Your question appears to be to me but I'm going to have to punt on it because with my sissy 28mm tires I skipped the 2 roads in question. Hopefully someone who's ridden the Kings Canyon Rd & the Windigo Pass Rd will kick in here and tell you your 1.6" tires will be fine. I would hope so.


Routes / Re: El Nino impact on Sierra Cascade route this spring?
« on: March 28, 2016, 10:18:54 pm »
I propose that ACA add a feature to the forum for "Reply of the Year" for the most thorough and informative answer to a posted question. And even though we are not even thru March, I will nominate Jamawani's post here. Well done, sir!

It sounds like he has done the route, or parts of it repeatedly. I, on the other hand have only done it once, and I did it from north to south, and I did it in September, all of which means my observations are much less useful than previous posts but I did want to add a couple of things.

Andrew; no where that I see here do you mention what size tires you are riding. The reason I bring this up is there have been several people who were very unhappy riding the Windigo Pass Alternate. It's a gravel road and reportedly a pretty crappy gravel road. Since I ride 28mm road tires I wasn't even giving it a try. Maybe Jamawni or someone else would like to comment on the minimum tire size they would take on that road as well as the gravel road into King's Canyon he also mentioned. As for what you avoid by taking the alternate, highway 97 on that 20± mile stretch, I didn't find it that bad. And not nearly as bad as some of the stretches of 97 up in Washington.

It sounds like Jamawani's alternate to interstate (I-5) north of Shasta is probably preferable. But if you want to stay on route I found that part of the highway to have a very clean shoulder and not too much traffic. Of course, coming from the north meant I was going down a big grade for the entire 8 miles and you will be going steeply uphill that entire time which means you will be on it for an hour instead of 12 minutes, but I will stick w the premise that as interstates go, this isn't a bad stretch. This is unlike the other stretch of interstate you hit along the Columbia River Gorge (I-84) which came pretty close to being the most unpleasent 11 miles in my life.

Also, I will give a big +1 to incorporating Makenzie Pass outside of Sisters. It adds 40 miles and several thousand feet of climbing because not only is there the climb up the pass but at the western end of the pass there's a good bit of climbing back to where you get back on Hywy 20. That said, Mackenzie Pass was a top 5 of all of that I saw on my trip. The road going up & down is great and the scenery at the top is fantastic, lava fields as far as you can see. It also gets you off Hywy 20 which is no treat to be on. And there is several weeks in spring/early summer where the pass is only open to bicycles and your timing may be just right for that.

That's my 2 cents.


General Discussion / Re: Asking too Much?
« on: March 22, 2016, 05:49:29 pm »
+1 to Ron K. I also have a custom Ti bike (Tom Kellogg/Spectrum Cycles) that I tour with and it's fast and agile enough that if I still raced would not hesitate to use it for that. But to Indyfabz's point, I travel very light (15-18 lbs), I think the handling would get funky if I had the more typical 25-30lbs back there. The other thing is a decent custom Ti frame and components is around 7k. Thats a lot and you can certainly buy a purpose built tourer & a road bike for that much money.

Alternativly, I'd look at a good steel 'cross frame. The gearings not bad, plenty of room for a larger width tire, there must be some out there that come with rack mounts, and there's not that much diffence in the ride/handling between a cross frame and a road bike.


General Discussion / Re: Newbie
« on: March 15, 2016, 05:58:18 pm »
Hi Tim:

To answer your question to me:

I use panniers. I have the smallest size arkel makes (T-28). On my last trip I had a custom frame bag made for the triangle and put 2 "everything bags" on the forks (all from Cleaveland Mountaineering) and I was very happy with that set-up and will be using it for the forseable future.

To be clear, I ride a road bike (Ti) that makes essentially no comprimises to the fact I also use it for touring. I travel very light (16-18±lbs) and mostly stay in hotels although I do carry a 1 lb tent and sleeping bag for emergency situations. I was able to fit everything I carry in just the panniers but spreading out the weight in the frame bag and the forks keeps the handling much closer to the way the bike feels unloaded.

I've never ridden w a trailer, the idea of them puts me off a bit and their unloaded weight (7-8 lbs±) is another reason I never thought much about them though they do have their fans.


General Discussion / Re: Newbie
« on: March 14, 2016, 08:20:31 pm »
Hi Tim:

Maybe I read the meaning of your question wrong but I read it a little diffirently then the previous answers. I thought that rather than asking if the 2 lane roads between Mn and Iowa were safe to be riding solo on, it was a more generic question about if bike touring solo on rural roads was safe or if you are likely to be running into lots of yahoo's.

Considering a cyclist's vulnerbility, everytime one goes out on the road for a bike ride it exhibits a certain degree of faith that this won't be the ride that you are  going to end up at the wrong place at the wrong time. That said, I have taken 4 long (between 2300-3000 mile) tours, all of them solo. And while I've had a couple of cars or trucks or RV's do something stupid, it's been unusual and certainly at no greater incidence than on the rides I take from my house when I'm not on a tour. Even off the bike, I've walked clicky-clack style with my riding shoes and lycra shorts and jersey into many a cowboy bar/ restaurant or hunting camp long after the drinking started and thought to myself this may not turn out well and I can say I have never been given a hard time.

In fact each trip I have taken so far has done nothing but increased my view that the overwhelming majority of people are decent folks and the odds are very long for running into someone who's really bad news.

Congratulations on your retirement. My advice is to plan your trips with the assumption all will turn out well, because it almost surely will.


Routes / Re: Western Express West to East, August?
« on: March 10, 2016, 08:39:10 pm »
Which one I enjoyed most is kind of a tough question to answer. They were both great routes that I thoroughly enjoyed but my head was in a very different place for the two of them.

When I started the trip that included the WE it was not only my first tour, a week before I left I had never even had a rack on a bike. I was also on a very aggressive schedule and more than a little concerned that I had bitten off more than I could chew. Everything was completely new to me and it felt like sensory overload for the entire trip. Two years later when I left on the SC route, I was a little concerned because of the shear amount of climbing but other than that I was comfortable that I knew what to expect and that I could handle whatever came my way.

I thought crossing Nevada was very, very, very cool. There is something about a place being so uninhabited and uninhabitable that makes you feel like you're on another planet. I think Southern Utah has more eye candy per square mile than anyplace on the planet. The route skirts Zion and there's a ten mile detour to go see Bryce. I skipped them both on my WE trip but on this years trip I passed thru that area again and spent a day at Bryce and 3 days ay Zion. If you have the time, and particularly if you haven't seen them before, I strongly recommend you make those detours. After Bryce it stays beautiful until Hanksville then from there to Blanding is the worst stretch of the trip. The Colorado section is nice but not as special as Utah. I enjoyed the climb up Monarch Pass and the town of Westcliffe and the drop into Pueblo was very nice.

The SC has a lot of iconic stuff all along the way. Rainier, Mt. St. Helens & Hood, Makenzie Pass (it's off-route but easy to incorporate), Crater Lake, Lassen, Yosemite, and Giant Sequoia (the big trees almost made me cry). There are some amazing roads on the ride and some really crappy roads on it as well. Sometimes the bad roads are major highways, sometimes they are 2 lane roads w a lot of heavy truck traffic, and occasionally they were little dinky roads that didn't look like they had been paved since the 50's.

All that said, I can absolutely reccomend them both without reservation.

Let me give you a couple of tips for your WE trip:

- Make sure you at least stop and grab a meal at Middlegate. It's a piece of americana you won't find anywhere else

- Take the Carroll Summit alternate outside of Middlegate. 59 miles and I was passed by 3 cars

- When you get to Baker, get your hotel room and drop off your panniers and take the ride into Great Basin NP


Routes / Re: Western Express West to East, August?
« on: March 10, 2016, 05:06:25 pm »
Hi Buddy:

You would be better off getting an answer from a local than from me who has a sample size of 1 but nobody else has stepped up.

I did the western express as part of a cross-country trip 4 years back. I finished it in 19 days and there was just a dusting of snow at the top of Monarch Pass, nothing on the road. I left on August 29 and if I was to do that route again I would be fine leaving at the same time. You are going to be riding at a more relaxed pace than I did so maybe you should leave a week earlier.

In the last 4 years I have taken 4 long trips in the month of September. After the one above I rode from Jasper down to southern Colorado where I went over Hoosier and Loveland Pass near the end of September on the Great Parks routes and they are each over 11,500'. Next I did the Sierra Cascades route. Then last year I did a self designed route from Spokane to Flagstaff. All of these trips had multiple high passes and I haven't gotten snowed on once.

I think it's also important to remember that even if it does snow, you can probably park the bike for a day at a lower elevation and the snow on the road will be gone the next day.


Routes / Re: Sierra Cascades - total elevation gain?
« on: March 09, 2016, 09:32:40 pm »

I answered this question a year or so ago but strangely when I did a search of my previous replies there was only 6 that showed and the one in question was not there. I don't have the energy tonight to add it all up again but I can tell you from memory that your 235,00 number is wrong.

I started in Bellingham, rode up to Sumas, added about 6000' of  climbing along the way  (for instance I incorporated Makenzie Pass) and wrapped up about 315 miles from the Mexican border when I dropped down to LA on 39. I was at somewhere about 140 - 150,000'. Looking at the topo trace on map 5 I didn't think I would have added another 20,000' if I continued down to Mexico.

I will also add that it's a absolutely stunning route that I really enjoyed riding.


General Discussion / Re: What's an 'average' day?
« on: August 11, 2015, 11:12:05 am »

From your original post / question I'm guessing that 1800 miles could be done in 3 weeks, give or take a day.

I'm similar in cycling background to you (though probably older at 56 y.o.). Started taking the month of September off and taking a long solo ride / tour four years ago. I typically do between 600-700 miles a week though I've had days when the wind was up that I maxed out at 50-60 miles. That said, I'm pretty well beat at the end of every day in a way many people would equate with the trip being a grind rather than a pleasure. We all do this for our own reasons and my reasons have a large component of the trip being a physical challenge.

I don't see anywhere on your post how much weight you're carrying and weather you are camping. I primarily "credit-card" tour and sleep in hotels and eat in restaurants and ride a Ti road bike so my entire rolling weight (except water) is around 35lbs. Thats not a big shock to the system the way going from a racing bike to a touring bike w 30 lbs of gear would be. There's a excellent article on packing light over at Crazy guy on a Bike by Pete Staehling (sp?) who answered your post a couple of spots ago, I suggest you read it.

Also if your camping/ cooking you have a smaller daylight window to ride in although that's somewhat offset by the fact you can camp at many more places than you can find a hotel.

One thing that I had to get used to mentally was that if you got a big wind in your face, there's a real good chance you will be dealing with it ALL day (& maybe for several days on end). Previously to taking up the touring rides I would ride a loop or an out and back ride where the wind would only be against you for one part of the ride.

Lastly, I'm not much of a social sort either and a big part of these trips for me is the hours on end of a clear head but as others have noted, some of the people you meet the way really adds to the trip. And it's all completely effortless. It may just be someone in the booth next door in the diner, the guy who runs the rural hardware store where you're trying to cobble together a fix for your stuff, or someone at the top of a pass where you've stopped to change out of your sweat soaked jersey for the big descent, these little 10 minute conversations end up being some of the trips highlights for me.


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