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Messages - VeloVeg

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Routes / Re: TransAmerica from DC, but I need to go east first.
« on: April 04, 2012, 10:16:25 pm »
To make it "official", you won't be riding to Portland, but 75 miles further west to the coast. The "TransAmerica" route officially begins at Yorktown, VA which would be a good option for beginning your trip. Ride on down to Yorktown (on the Atlantic) and take the TransAm route west to Missouri and connect to the fantastic Lewis & Clark route which will lead you all the way to the Oregon coast.

Of course another option is to continue all the way to Missoula, MT on the TransAm and pick-up the Lewis & Clark to the Oregon coast from there. Either way you should have a great trip!

Safe journeys,


Gear Talk / Re: 2012 Novara Randonee rear rack
« on: March 26, 2012, 08:19:02 pm »
Thank for your replies.

She's using the Tubus Tara up front. I don't think her panniers will be overloaded. Estimated 50 lbs. split between front and rear.

For the sake of the pannier mounting hardware, I'm wondering if the new rack uses 8 mm or 10 mm tubing? The Tubus is 10 mm.

Thanks again,


Gear Talk / 2012 Novara Randonee rear rack
« on: March 25, 2012, 08:10:56 pm »
Here's the question--If you were heading out on a 5,000 mile fully self-contained cross-country (USA) journey that would incorporate a wide variety of road surfaces and some pretty remote areas, would you use the stock rear rack on the 2012 Randonee or consider an upgrade as a worthy investment?

I haven't seen the new Randonee, but someone has sought my advice and knowing the reputation of stock racks, I'm leaning toward advising an upgrade. I tend to think a Tubus Cargo is a solid investment. For me, overkill in wheels and racks = peace of mind.

What do you think?


Hi Nathan,

Welcome to the forum. Not only is your trek from Brookings, SD to New Haven, CT doable in 23 days, but it can be an awesome "scenic adventure". Our small group of four is starting from the Oregon coast this summer and taking a very indirect and adventurous route to the Maine coast. We will be riding through the Black Hills and Badlands before taking Hwy. 14 across SD. We will be rolling through Brookings around the third week of July.

Meanwhile, back to your question: To start, create a bike-suitable route straight across MN and WI to Manitowoc, WI and take the ferry across Lake MI as outlined on Adventure Cycling's (ACA) "North Lakes" maps section 2. Then connect with North Lakes map section 3 at Wolf Lake, MI and follow section 3 to Monroeville, IN. At this point connect with the ACA "Northern Tier" map section 9 and follow this route east to Orchard Park, NY. From there you'll want to map out a beautiful route across NY through the Finger Lakes region and the Catskills, across the southern Berkshire Mts. into CT and you're home free. This would be a great route and very doable in 23 days.

To summarize: you should purchase the ACA maps "North Lakes" sections 2 and 3, and "Northern Tier" section 9. These maps not only map out the route, but provide locations and phone numbers for lodging, camping, groceries, points of interest, all along the route. So this part of the trip is all done for you. The rest of the route will be up to your creativity. The web is your friend.

I hope you decide to do it. It should be an awesome adventure.

Safe journeys,


Routes / Re: Bighorns
« on: February 15, 2012, 03:39:57 pm »
litespeed said: "Indeed. Going off the Bighorns westward on 14A the grade is 10% for 13 miles and very winding. Jamawani is only the second person I've heard from who has gone up this. I have gone down it and had to brake to keep from overtaking a car and a couple of motorcycles. It's the toughest grade I know of. Going up this would take very low gears and give you serious bragging rights."

14A does sound amazing, but brutal, in both directions. I'm sure it's gorgeous. As far as the "toughest grade I know". . . there are lots of short, intense (less than 5 miles) grades, especially in the east. But, for real climbs (greater than 10 miles), anyone who's toured in the Sierra Mts. knows they can be merciless. Monitor Pass comes to mind--12 miles of relentless 10-14% grade. The fully exposed views into Nevada are stunning! There is a marker at the pass in the shape of a tombstone. It's known as the "cyclists tombstone". This route is part of the famous "California Death Ride".

But my "favorite" is beautiful Ebbet's Pass/Pacific Grade--18 miles of tight 12-16% paved serpentine single lane road that finishes with a cruel twist. The final mile is a 24% grade wall! It gains/loses 1100 vertical feet in one mile! I've not climbed this monster on my touring bike (I have done it on my road bike), but I have descended it on a fully loaded bike. That first mile descending is downright scary! The brakes would barely hold. I had to stop several times over the course of the 18 miles just to keep the brakes from overheating. If you're not careful, you'll quickly become like a runaway freight train. It is, however, one gorgeous pass, in spite of the drama.

But I digress from the magnificent Bighorns! I can't wait to visit the area this summer. I think Hwy. 16 sounds perfect. Thanks for the great advice.


Routes / Re: Eastbound route through South Dakota, Minnesota
« on: February 13, 2012, 04:02:17 pm »

Thanks so much for your reply. Yes, I plan to contact the SD DOT. I'm gradually putting together a route across SD and MN. I want to wind north of the Twin Cities before connecting to the North Lakes route at Osceola--or some other point across WI. You can take a look at the proposed route thus far: ( ). It's just an early draft, but gives the general direction we'll be riding. That should be late July or so in MN, WI.

Thank you for your offer to host a rest stop. Very generous of you. I'll be PMing you.

Many safe travels,


Routes / Re: Bighorns
« on: February 13, 2012, 03:50:43 pm »
Jama and Valygrl, thanks so much for your replies. I know I've had communications with both of you in the past, but I've been in Africa for quite awhile and have been out of touch. Really anticipating this summer's tour.

The pictures are amazing and thanks for taking the time to post them. As usual, I can't wait to get started. I had tentatively planned to go through Ten Sleep, so I'm glad my instinct was good. Here's the proposed route: ( ). It's not in stone (just a rough draft), as I like to leave plenty of room for spontaneity.

I've seen some gorgeous wildflower meadows in the Sierra, but never as thick and magnificent as that picture.

Yes, I like great dirt roads--fire roads, etc. The bike has 26" wheels.

Jamawani, send me an email and I'll keep you informed of the plans. It would be great to meet you.

Thanks again.

Safe journeys,

tphelps at bikewithamission dot org (this format avoids spammers)

Routes / Bighorns
« on: February 12, 2012, 08:23:39 pm »
I'll be heading east over the Wyoming's Bighorn range mid to late July. I'm just wondering which is the preferred route: Hwy. 14 or 16? The overall beauty of the route is the priority. Decent shoulders would play a part, but the difficulty of the climb isn't a really a factor. Just looking for the prettiest route--that is, if one is nicer than the other. I've looked at a few journals, but it's really hard to determine which one is best. Is there anyone who's been over both? Jamawani?

Thanks in advance.


Routes / Re: Eastbound route through South Dakota, Minnesota
« on: February 10, 2012, 10:02:03 pm »
Thanks so much Jimbo. I've enjoyed reading from your trip blog. A good read.

Since I'm looking forward to the Upper Penninsula Michigan, I'm planning to head ENE from the Badlands through SD and probably cut north of the Twin Cities, enjoying a little bit more scenic portion of Minnesota. I'm sure I'll piece together a good route with fair skies and tailwinds!

Safe journeys,


Routes / Re: Piecing together a cross country route
« on: February 09, 2012, 04:27:57 pm »
What Carla says is certainly true. I know your son is probably exceptional, but the WE route offers many challenges, even for a seasoned bike tourist. With that being said, The Western Express is my favorite ACA route, especially when you begin mid-May (W - E) in SF. You might find my post in this thread helpful regarding the route: (

I saw on another thread that you were leaning toward doing the E - W TransAm. Your first instinct still might be your best.


Routes / Re: Eastbound route through South Dakota, Minnesota
« on: February 09, 2012, 02:32:27 pm »
Thanks karmelj for the link. Jamawani is a tremendous source of spot-on touring info. Looks like we're both in for a great summer!

I think including the Badlands is a great idea, but you will be heading SE from there (connecting to the L & C) and I'll need to head kind of ENE toward the Upper Penninsula of Michigan. So, any interesting routing through the rest of SD, MN and WI to connect to the North Lakes route and the UP MI would be great.

BTW, we'll be leaving early June from Astoria, OR on the L & C to Missoula, then go to Glacier for a couple days of hiking before heading down Hwy. 89 thru Great Falls and Yellowstone. Then Bighorns, Black Hills, etc. So, when are you leaving on the Northern Tier? Perhaps we'll cross paths at some point.

Many safe journeys,


General Discussion / Re: Weather Extremes
« on: February 09, 2012, 02:03:38 pm »
Hi Pete. That's a great map. It's strange how "science" (the map) sometimes declares one thing, and yet, sometimes our own experiences (anecdotal evidence) tells us something else. In '06, when heading eastbound from Pueblo on the TA, we had favorable winds from the SW from eastern CO, KS, and MO. We were often able to effortlessly ride at 18-20 mph and more, while quite often the poor folks we met who were heading west were struggling and exhausted. We very seldom experience headwinds in the middle of the country. However, when afternoon storms would blow up, the winds would reverse direction.

Then again, in 2009, while riding a modified TA from south of Denver up to Montana my friend Paul and I often faced headwinds, especially from Rawlins, WY to the Tetons. (That's a predominantly NW heading.) To be fair, this was mid to late August and the wind mostly seemed to be coming from the west, but shifted a lot, always feeling like a headwind. Wyoming was/is amazing, regardless of direction traveled.

I will say that that first glimpse of the Tetons when descending the west side of Togwotee Pass was awe-inspiring and a special treat for west-bounders. Unfortunately, there was enough of a westerly wind that kept us from experiencing what should have been a nice downhill into the national park. Stunning nonetheless.

Of course, there are occasional days into the wind no matter which direction one travels. The main thing is, just get out there and do it--one stroke of the pedals at a time.

Just my experiences on the road,


Routes / Eastbound route through South Dakota, Minnesota
« on: February 09, 2012, 09:14:58 am »
Beginning early June I'll be riding from Astoria, OR to Bar Harbor, ME, by way of the Lewis & Clark to Missoula, then Glacier NP, Yellowstone, Bighorns, Black Hills, Upper Penninsula Michigan (North Lakes route), and the eastern portion of the Northern Tier route. South Dakota is new territory for me, so I'm looking for an eastbound route from the Black Hills through SD and Minnesota, with the idea of connecting with the North Lakes route at Osceola, WI (or some other point??). Scenic and interesting is more important than convenient and quick. Some dirt roads OK. All suggestions are welcome.

Thanks in advance,


Routes / Re: West to East, Western Express & Trans Am -- Dates?
« on: February 08, 2012, 07:44:10 pm »
Thanks John. The WE is a magnificent route!

Routes / Re: West to East, Western Express & Trans Am -- Dates?
« on: February 08, 2012, 07:11:40 pm »
Hi Steve,

This might be a bit of a long post, but I wanted to share a few things from my experiences along the Western Express route.

The Western Express is my favorite ACA route, having travelled it twice and toured quite extensively in Northern California, Nevada, Utah, and CO. Like John said, leave SF mid-May. You will experience temperature variations right from the start. SF will be quite cool--usually in the 60s F, but the California central valley can have mid 90s F in mid to late May. The good news here is that the humidity is very low, so it isn't nearly as bad as 85F in the mid-west and eastern part of the country.

The elevation at Sacramento is 50 feet. You will begin climbing the Sierra Mts. just east of there, and you will be mostly climbing until you reach Carson Pass (8574'). This is the easiest pass over the Sierra Mts. Needless to say, the temperature will be quite cool in the mountains, and you can possibly experience some light snow squalls. It's a beautiful journey through the Sierra Mts. with a 20+ mile decent into Nevada.

The ride through Nevada in late May and early June is beautiful! With snow on the many mountains, wild flowers everywhere, and the snow melt creating temporary lakes and streams--it's the best time to enjoy Nevada and Utah. However, these two states heat up quickly in June and the distances between available water sources can be extreme. Hydrate often and carry plenty of water.

There are 13 mountain passes across Nevada, with great, flat basins in between. (Some days you might climb four of these passes). The joke is, that there are only three trees east of Fallon. Not quite true, but there aren't any trees across the vast basins, with a few on some of the passes. Once you leave Fallon there are three towns and two former Pony Express stops (turned into restaurant/bar) the entire way east across Hwy. 50--the "Loneliest Road in America". It is 60 to 85 miles between these services. Be smart and use common sense and you will enjoy this region tremendously.

East of Middlegate (free camping, "motel", restaurant/bar--and very friendly folks) there is the "Carroll Summit option". It is a lovely 12-mile climb over the summit, but it will afford you some of the most beautiful scenery on your trip across NV. You can also choose to camp at the top. Just remember, when you leave Middlegate there are NO services/water and no houses until you get to Austin. I've ridden both options, and Carroll Summit is the prettiest.

If you escape Nevada with temperatures only in the 80s, then count yourself lucky. It WILL be hot in Utah. You WILL experience 100+ degree days. Ride in the morning hours, hydrate often, carry plenty of water, and don't be a hero. Take your time through Utah. It is my favorite U.S. state for cycling. If you have the time and inclination, I would highly recommend that you get off the ACA map a little and visit Zion National Park (excellent!) and even the north rim of the Grand Canyon (a 2-day ride from Zion NP). Take time to explore each of these exceptional parks. You can easily get back on route after experiencing the Grand Canyon.

The scenery in Utah is other-worldly, with magnificent red and pink rock formations, pine forests, excellent roads, and beautiful mountains. Some of the climbs can be challenging, with 14% grades that can go on for several miles. (I met a physical education teacher from New Jersey at the top of one such brutal climb. He was gazing over the edge of the summit and decided that he was going to end his cross-country journey at the next town. Myself and a couple from the Netherlands offered him a pep talk and convinced him to continue on. He was fine after that and never regretted his decision to continue. We rode together for the next 9 days into the middle of Colorado, when we headed in different directions.)

Boulder Mountain is a steady 13 mile climb to a beautiful 9600 ft. pass with a breath-taking view to the east. There are many places to camp on Boulder Mt. On the other side of the mountain is beautiful Capital Reef National Park (good camping).

Another option from Hanksville, UT is to turn north toward Green River (camping/motels/food) and then head east toward Moab and enjoy Arches National Park and Canyonlands NP. These two parks are also awesome and are not along the standard ACA route. Moab is a great town, but lots of summer traffic. From Moab you can continue south to Monticello and get back on the ACA route into Colorado.

The mountain passes in Colorado aren't nearly as difficult as the Sierra Mts, some of the Nevada mountains, or Utah. Usually just a steady 6% grade. Expect temperature extremes in Colorado, due to elevation. You can ship your cold weather clothes home or to a friend when you arrive in Pueblo, CO. Hot and humid going east, but a great adventure across small-town rural America.

I hope this gives you a few ideas.

Have a great and safe journey,


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