Should there be a significantly rerouted early and late option for the Western Express in the Sierras? This year there is at least 15 feet of snow still at Carson Pass and more than 20 feet at Kirkwood Resort. Highway 88 is an all-season crossing, but it has been closed because of snow and avalanche danger numerous times in the past month. Even though it will be open in May, there is likely to be little else open - stores, lodges, and esp. campgrounds until - what - July? It's a record snow year.
Although I live in Wyoming, I have done about 10 Sierra crossings from Yosemite to northeast Calif. In Wyoming nearly every year, you have cyclists attempting the Bighorns in May. But May can look like mid-winter to those unfamiliar with the West. And I have frequently loaded cyclists up in my pickup and taken them down to stay in my house until things warmed up. (And I take them back up so they don't lose any net elevation.)
Here's the deal - you are going to have cyclists attempting the Western Express early in the season who have little experience with high elevation cycling in the West. And are often amazed that everything is still snowed in - let alone get snowed upon. Should the Western Express have a significantly lower crossing of the Sierras for early-season and late-season riders? (It's easier in the fall - since you don't have oodles of accumulated snow - but still you can have early snowstorms.)
I am morally opposed to interstate riding. One possibility would be to use service roads and cross over the Old Donner Pass on US 40-. Still that means a lot of I-80 - - yucko! Or using Highway 20 from Grass Valley - - which is pretty busy. The other option is to cross Yuba Pass on Highway 49 and then cut south to Lake Tahoe - - a really nice place to cross the border - and then into Carson City. It's a good piece longer - but much lower. And traffic on Highway 49 is light with lots of places to camp and great Forty-Niner history.