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Messages - cheesehawk

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Hey Jama Took your advice and am NOT headed to the Big Horns. Holed up in Casper right now, waiting for some gear to arrive FedEx. I have a place to stay near Pavilion so I can cross the Wind River Red in a day to Dubois. Hearing weird things since I got to Wyo. I assume I'm OK to cross solo in the day? If anyone near Casper and heading to Yellowstone let me know and we can link up.

Routes / Re: Cross-US Trail-Based Route - Feedback Please!
« on: April 24, 2015, 07:33:21 am »
Wisconsin offers a wealth of trails. Following Jane Adams Trail from Freeport Illinois, you can direct connect to the Badger State Trail through to Madison, various trails through Madison to near Sauk City, and then take back country roads to Reedsburg (and pass through Wisconsin Dells along the way - "The Waterpark Capitol of the World," if you are less commercially inclined the Dells themselves are spectacular if you get out in a boat), where you can take the 400, Elroy Sparta (the granddaddy of them all), and La Crosse River State Trail to the Minnesota border. From there you can then head west from La Crosse and catch the Root River Trail, which I just rode last summer and found to be beautiful. The La Crosse-SE Minnesota region is not flat, but things flatten out appreciably just a bit west of the Root River Trail. Due west from there would take you through the Badlands and Black Hills.

This is all a bit north of your current proposed route, with correspondingly cooler weather. Depending on when you would roll through that could be a plus or a minus. You might want to consider mapping out a couple of alternative routes and then flexing north or south depending on the weather.

GPS & Digital Data Discussion / Re: Best GPS for touring
« on: March 27, 2015, 04:01:04 pm »
I have not real experience with it, obviously. FWIW I found the cycling layer to be a little confusing to follow for stretches of northern Nebraska that I plan to cycle this spring. I think the problem (and a problem that is shared by google maps in bicycle mode) is that US highway numbers often are not present.

GPS & Digital Data Discussion / Re: Best GPS for touring
« on: March 26, 2015, 11:17:12 am »
It feels like the perfect long-distance bicycle touring device has not been offered for sale yet. I'll try to answer a couple of the questions I posed above (thanks to ACA mapping folks for having a very general discussion with me).

"It sounds like the eTrex 30 would be superior for downloading waypoints. How many waypoints are in an average ACA map section? It sounds like the Edge Touring might be simpler from the standpoint that the maps are pre-loaded. How many waypoints will it hold for when I get to the ACA portions of my ride?"

As a very rough approximation, it sounds like an ACA section will normally have over 200 waypoints for turn-by-turn navigation alone, and additional waypoints for points of interest. A single section might also have well over 1000 waypoints. The number of waypoints per section will depend greatly on the number of turns and the number of services available. More remote sections will have fewer waypoints. For example, it appears that TA section 1 has about 250 waypoints for turn-by-turn navigation alone.

The Touring and Touring Plus and Edge 1000 are all limited to 200 waypoints. The eTrex 20 and 30 each hold 2000 waypoints.  So based on this information, I would expect an eTrex 20 or 30 to hold between 1-2 sections of ACA maps with points of interest, and maybe as many as 4 with just turn-by-turn navigation. However, it does not appear to me that the eTrex 30 is able to use OSM, and it does not come pre-loaded with cycling suitable maps. This will create an additional cost. The value of OSM for long-distance touring may be limited at this point (OSM relies upon user input, so more remote areas may be less well mapped and updated), but it provides a degree of flexibility, and its free.

GPS & Digital Data Discussion / Re: Best GPS for touring
« on: March 22, 2015, 06:19:19 pm »
Looking at this issue myself. I'm riding from Baltimore to Oregon, leaving in about 4 weeks. I'll be using TA sections 1-2, and possibly 3 and 4. Other than that, it is a self-designed route.

In a previous life (circa 2011)  I owned an eTrex Vista HCX. My wife found it difficult to load the maps, and made me promise that I wouldn't do that to her again. I found the unit lacking when I got down to small backroads on the ACA UGRR route. I pre-built the entire route (UGRR sections 1 and 2) into about 8 segments, but found that the files were too large for the unit to hold and give me turn-by-turn navigation. I get that the OSMs appear to be easier to load now, but have the other issues been resolved?

It sounds like the eTrex 30 would be superior for downloading waypoints. How many waypoints are in an average ACA map section?

It sounds like the Edge Touring might be simpler from the standpoint that the maps are pre-loaded. How many waypoints will it hold for when I get to the ACA portions of my ride?

What are people using to mount their eTrex units to their bicycle?

Thanks for the help.

I'm doing my first Transcon this spring as well (April 27th, Baltimore to Oregon). I've largely designed my own route and make a few comments on the process here: I agree that there is something emotionally satisfying about riding door to door and since you are going from one coast to the other I would not let go of that idea without good reason. If nothing else it will save you money on the front-end transportation. Since you've already found notes from someone who rode from Pittsburgh to Columbus I don't think it will be that hard for you to work out getting on the UGRR. From there, as you know, you can join up with the TransAm in western Kentucky. You will want to plot out in your map notes where you (hope) will find restaurants and the like. Probably not as critical in the more densely populated east, but still a good idea in rural areas like eastern Ohio.

Since you're a tri guy I would not hesitate to add aero bars to your 1200 or whatever bike you decide to use. I think you'll be thankful when there is a headwind. They will also give you a wider variety of positions.

Good luck.

Thanks for the suggestion Indyfabz. We have friends in DC who are expecting us, but that does look like a very cool route.

Thanks for the input. For (very) late April and early May I agree that the risk of mud is real. I'm working on alternative routing in case this proves to be a problem. This would put me on country roads through small towns, but in Pennsylvania and Maryland instead of Kentucky and Missouri.

I seriously considered doing the TransAm, but ultimately I saw more pros to a self-designed route. I've still got a lot of years ahead of me. If this trip goes well then I may very well do the TransAm as published one day.

"The towpath is pretty far down on my list anyway despite living pretty close to it,"


I'm planning on using the C&O and GAP as the first leg in my cross-country tour at the end of April. Can you expand on it a bit as to why it is so far down your list? Are there better alternatives for getting to Ohio?


Routes / Re: contemplating riding TransAm in many questions!
« on: October 06, 2014, 05:23:38 pm »
I'm going to follow the TransAm at least as far as Baker City (and possibly to West Yellowstone via Missoula) next year. I'll be leaving from Seaside OR on June 2nd. I'm taking Amtrak to Portland, and I booked a bus through Amtrak to Seaside. So I've case my die with W-E and the date I've picked is probably a little bit borderline. If you decide to head out around the same time let me know.

Routes / Re: Underground RR trail
« on: August 03, 2014, 11:02:20 pm »
I rode from Land-Between-the-Lakes in KY to Mobile a few years ago (I wrote a journal at I would say that you should be fine but normal caution applies. I found the ACA route between Aberdeen and Columbus to be a bit hairy due to heavy traffic. Try to hit that stretch at low volume times if you can. There is also a neighborhood that you ride through on the south side of Aberdeen, MS where the locals are a concern - I'm not the only person who noted this in their journal. But I think you can find that in most any part of the country.

I did do my ride solo, and I think going solo is a matter of taste as much as anything else. Certainly if you do not enjoy being by yourself for two weeks, or if you would feel more comfortable with a companion, then I would not discourage you (or anyone) from finding one.

Routes / Re: Washington, DC to Madison, WI
« on: March 16, 2014, 05:10:20 pm »
I'm looking at these same basic points as the first leg of my transcon for May 2015. I'm looking at the C&O and GAP trails to Buena Vista PA, and then following a set of highways and bike paths west from there to Wierton WV via  Thompsonville/Midway/Burgettstown PA. From Wierton WV crossing into Ohio and heading from Steubenville to Bowerton, about 50% on bike path. I have not worked out the route much beyond that, except that I generally want to head to the famous Northern Tier bike overnight in Monroeville , IN, and from there make our way up to the Dunes National Lakeshore. Active Trans in Chicago sells a Chicagoland bike map here From Chicago I'll either head north and take the rail trail from Waukesha to Cottage Grove, or head northwest on back roads more directly towards Madison. Bike Federation of Wisconsin sells bike maps here You will want the Southern map. I don't care for the color-coding on the new versions of the maps, and they do not show many smaller roads (which all tend to be paved in WI) but if you are not familiar with cycling routes in the area you can do much worse than following the Bike Fed routes.

If you've got any suggestions or tips let me know. I'd love to see your completed route.


Routes / Re: NT or L&C Going West from Missoula?
« on: March 12, 2014, 10:33:10 pm »
I think I'm going to take the TransAm across Oregon instead of the NT or L&C. I appreciate all of the input. My reasoning is I'd like to "save" the NT from Washington to Glacier for a future trip. I'd still be interested in looking at options through the Sawtooth connecting through to the NT from Yellowstone if anyone has any suggestions.

Routes / Re: Portland Maine to Portland Oregon
« on: March 05, 2014, 05:13:30 pm »
If you are going to Chicago you could consider deviating from the NT route by taking the rail-trails through Wisconsin. Active trans sells a Chicago cycling map here:

If you are going to downtown Chicago you could take the Lakeshore path towards Milwaukee. There is a lengthy trail running from Waukesha (just west of Milwaukee), WI to Cottage Grove, WI (just east of Madison). If you are heading to the western suburubs of Chicago then you could make your way towards the Jane Adams Trial, which joins up with the Badger State Trail in Wisconsin, and takes you into Madison. These are generally crushed limestone trails, unless you are near a major urban area, then they are paved.

Heading out of Madison I know a back-roads route to Devil's Lake State Park, and from there it is a short ride to pick up a network of trails that will take to La Crosse, where you could rejoin the Northern Tier route. There are also more miles of bike paths on the Wisconsin side of the Missippi (again, generally crushed limestone), so you could continue north and rejoin the NT route at a later point if you chose. Options would be the bridge at Winona, MN, or you could stay on the east side of the Missippi and rejoin the route just north of Red Wing, MN.

Madison has a large Farmer's Market on the Capitol square every Saturday morning, and smaller markets elsewhere in the city on Wednesdays, Sundays and Saturdays. There are many organic suppliers and farms, and I believe some of them are within an easy ride of the route I've described above. I'd have to do more specific research. There is also a local/organic specialty grocery store in tiny Paoli, which is near the Badger State trail a few miles south of Madison.

I'm an advocate for Wisconsin cycling, obviously. Compared to Illinois and Iowa you will generally find a lot more trees, hills and bike trails. I grew up in Iowa, so I'm only biased against Illinois.  ;D The scenery in western Wisconsin near La Crosse is truly stunning.

Routes / Re: NT or L&C Going West from Missoula?
« on: March 05, 2014, 04:54:34 pm »
We liked the TA in that section.

Thanks! Opinions will vary, and I'm glad to hear positive opinions.

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