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Topics - jamawani

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1
General Discussion / "Least amount of car traffic"
« on: May 20, 2020, 12:35:44 am »
It was recently stated here that a person was sure to hate a route that had the "least amount of car traffic".
I politely beg to disagree. There are many routes with little or zero traffic that people love.

Let's start with rail trails:

The Great Allegheny Passage in Pennsylvania and Maryland has become a cycling destination.
Many of the little towns along the way have camping, lodging, and dining geared to cyclists.

Same goes for the Katy Trail in Missouri - people love car-free cycling.
Not to mention that it is beautiful riding under the tall bluffs and along the river.

If paved trails are more your cup of tea, then there's the Raccoon River Valley Trail in Iowa.
Or the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes in Idaho - with a bridge across Lake Coeur d'Alene.

Low-traffic roads are low-traffic because they tend to have few towns along the way.
So services may be a little on the thin side. Granted.

But many times there is the old highway - like Old U.S. 87 in northern Wyoming.
The Interstate has all the traffic and the old road has none - plus mountain views.

Or what about the Old U.S. 50 option on the Western Express between Middlegate and Austin?
So little traffic you can change your shorts in the middle of the road.

All things being equal - - and they rarely are - -
I'll take an empty road over a busy highway any day.

Pic - Magical Riding in the Palouse Hills


2
General Discussion / Going to the Sun Road - Snow Closure, 9-28-2019
« on: September 28, 2019, 01:16:31 pm »
Going to the Sun Road is currently closed.
due to an early, severe winter storm.
Snow amounts in higher elevations may top 2 feet.

Part of GTTS was closed for the past two weeks for construction.
It was supposed to reopen on Sept. 29th, but that will be delayed.
The fall closure date for 2019 was Oct 21; however,
If there is significant snowfall it may not be plowed this late.

Folks who are not from the Intermountain West
may be surprised that park roads close this early.
The can  - - - and they do.

Although there will be a few more weeks of nice weather,
cyclists should be aware of rapidly changing weather in the fall.
Almost every year there are instances of the weather changing
From sunny and 75 to blizzard conditions - - in 24 hours or less.

I've ridden Going to the Sun dozens of time -
Including this summer.
It is a jewel.
But one that requires great care.

3
General Discussion / Ocean to Ocean? Or Just Kinda Close??
« on: September 06, 2019, 07:13:06 pm »
The ocean is important to me.

This summer I did a loop of the West - 3500 miles.
Started on water's edge just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Finished on the Oregon coast after hitting all 11 western states.
On my 2016 cross-country ride it was Pacific Ocean to Atlantic Ocean.
Westport, Washington to Sandy Hook, New Jersey.

But the actual start/end may not be that important to other folks.
The west end of the Northern Tier is in Anacortes, not on the Pacific.
The east end of the TransAm is at Yorktown, not on the Atlantic.

People are always posting about how to start at Virginia Beach.
Fewer folks seem to want to get all the way out to Cape Flattery.

<<<>>>

So, I'm curious ...
Whether you have ridden cross-country or simply thinking about it,
How important is it to start and end on the ocean shore?

One issue is the extra time and hassle it takes to get to the ocean.
Although New York and Los Angeles are a bus/subway ride from the beach,
other coastal cities - D.C., Seattle, Portland - are a hundred miles away.
Flying in (or Amtrak) and connecting means an extra day or two.

Of course, if you have a good friend in Federal Way
who will take you all the way out to Neah Bay -
then all the better.

So on your cross-country trip ...
Does it have to be ocean to ocean?
Or is "close enough" good enough?

4
General Discussion / Touring Cyclist, Johann Astner, Killed
« on: April 15, 2019, 06:26:05 pm »
On Monday, April 8, Johann Astner was hit while riding and killed just north of Portales, NM.
New Mexico State Police initially released erroneous information about his nationality.
At present, there is very little information available about him.


If you know him or met him while he was touring in the U.S., your assistance would be appreciated.
Please contact either:
John Egan
jamawani@gmail.com
David Grieder, Eastern New Mexico News
dgrieder@thenews.email

Thanks

5
Much of the Lewis & Clark Route east of the Continental Divide is likely to be impacted by serious flooding this spring and summer. The Upper Missouri River Basin has received near-record snowfall this winter and areas to the south of the snow line have received extensive rains, as well. Soils are saturated and flooding has already become devastating in Nebraska and Iowa.

See attached image of 3-month "Percent of Normal" precipitation for U.S.

The northern Great Plains have received anywhere from two to five times normal precipitation, much of that as snow, which is just beginning to melt. The flooding is likely to be as serious at the floods of 2011 - which were called a "once in a century" event. Only 8 years later massive flooding is  on the horizon - and could be worse than 2011 if spring rains are excessive. Bear in mind that the region gets nearly half its annual rainfall in May and June.

Here are a couple of links to the current flooding in Nebraska - with bridges and roads washed away.

http://newschannelnebraska.com/local-news/highway-13-bridge-near-hadar-collapses/
https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/midwest-flooding-prompts-rescues-evacuations-n984086

Although Nebraska Highway 13 is not on the Lewis & Clark, damage to primary roads in the region will take precedence in repairs. Any major damage to secondary roads that are part of the L&C is likely to face significant delays in repair - quite possibly not until next year.

Although flooding will occur later along the Lower Missouri, it is highly unlikely that any part of the Missouri Valley will escape significant flooding. The worst months will be May and June in the Upper Missouri, with flooding extending into July on the Lower Missouri.

In addition to the Lewis & Clark, other ACA routes likely to be impacted are:

Northern Tier - Eastern Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota.
Great Rivers - The Mississippi Valley is likely to have at least moderate flooding, as well.
Katy Trail - The eastern 2/3s is likely to be closed for extended periods.

<<<>>>

Even if roadways are open many park and camping areas are likely to be disproportionately impacted as they are often located on lakes and waterways. In addition, parklands are frequently sacrificed to flooding to focus protection on developed areas.

6
It's one of the most irritating things about touring blogs.
Somebody who has never been to Montana asks about riding Going to the Sun Road in May.
When you tell them it is closed in May, they respond, "I don't believe you."
Or similar stuff.

Yes, I know the best response is simply to walk away.

I remember a time back 10 years ago - two young guys were biking the Northern Tier in October.
I remember telling them that they were really pushing the envelope and they blew me off.
That is - - until October snowstorms hit - - which are normal for the Northern Rockies.
And, not surprisingly, campgrounds and motels were closed for the season.
They ended up arguing with each other and splitting up - and I helped each one find routes and places to stay.
I don't know if I would do it again - probably so, but.

Yes, I know the best response is simply to walk away.

I remember, more recently, a guy who planned to ride thru Yellowstone in April.
Again, I said that Craig Pass would be closed and overall conditions would be difficult.
Again, he said that I didn't know what I was talking about.
What's more, he said that he had gotten special permission to ride and camp in closed areas.
Well, I knew that was total BS, but I contacted rangers in Yellowstone to confirm.
They assured me that no such permission was granted and the cyclist would be arrested.
(The area is closed for grizzly protection as they wake from winter hibernation.)

As it is, cyclists many times violate camping and entry restrictions in national parks.
To the point that such infractions may impact access for the broader cycling public.

Yes, I know the best response is simply to walk away.

People from Atlanta and L.A. - let along Japan and Britain - have no clue about the Northern Rockies.
They think that May means bluebirds singing when much of Glacier N.P. is still under 6 feet of snow.
A professor from the University of Louisville died in an early snowstorm in 2017 in the Bighorn Mountains.
And it really wasn't that bad of a snowstorm - but it can be if you are unprepared.

So, I struggle with walking away, but I will for the most part.
I certainly don't want to see people place themselves in danger.
I also don't want to see people head out at a time or in a place where they will likely be miserable.
But I will call out anyone who feels they have a right to violate NPS or USFS policies.

Pic - Early October Snow, Bighorn Mountains, Wyoming

7
General Discussion / Cyclists Aren't the Only Folks on the Road
« on: October 20, 2018, 04:56:29 pm »
I just got back from a three-day ride in the Bighorn Basin of Wyoming.
Absolutely glorious! Sapphire skies. Snow-capped mountains.
(Of course, the first two weeks of October were frigid, so fair payback.)

The roads I rode on normally have very little traffic - even in summer.
But right now, they are harvesting sugar beets - trying to get the crop in.
So there were beet haulers out on the road - moving fast. One every half hour.
I prefer to call them "turnip trucks" - even though they're loaded with beets.

Here's the deal - they have to get in as many runs as possible each day.
Winter is coming fast and unharvested beets will freeze in the ground.

I have the privilege of riding on glorious Wyoming autumn days.
So, I kept an eye peeled for them - waving them past -
And made sure they were not delayed by a cyclist moseying down the road.

It's a beautiful time of year for cyclists.
And turnip trucks, too.




8
200-300 inches of snow. (5-7.5 meters for metric-heads)
Massive snow drifts and sheer drop-offs.

Video of recent plowing:
https://www.facebook.com/GlacierNPS/videos/10155811973194912/?hc_ref=ARSoVrydKJ3MvOu_efXmRBER9Uj5UwUMym29w4Z6Fy4T7N2r2XFF_VtSCmlh17yGugI&fref=nf

9
Routes / Planing a Trip on the Northern Tier or GDMBR This Summer?
« on: February 15, 2018, 11:36:53 am »
If you are planning a summer trip on the Northern Tier, the GDMBR, the Great Parks North, or even the Lewis & Clark - -
you had better give serious consideration to the massive amounts of snow in the Northern Rockies of Montana.

1. Going to the Sun Road may not open this year until July 4th. Yep, July 4th.
2. Forest service roads may remain impassable until mid-July - and very muddy afterwards.
3. Park roads in the Canadian national parks, in Kananaskis, and as far south as Yellowstone will open late.
4. Some of the dirt road alternate sections of the Lewis & Clark may be impacted in the Bitterroot Mtns.

http://www.ktvh.com/2017/02/pictures-of-the-historic-record-breaking-snow-near-glacier-national-park

For people who live in California, the East Coast, or Europe this might sound crazy.
The middle of June is summer, right? Wrong.

The Northern Rockies have seen record snowfall this winter - and it keeps snowing.
The early February storm dropped 5 feet - 1.6 meters for you Europeans - in some locales.
Even if it warms up quickly in May - it will take weeks for the snow pack to melt out.
And a heavy snow pack tends to keep things cooler well into spring.

Plan accordingly, now, and you won't encounter a chilly surprise on your trip.



10
Routes / US 2 Stevens Pass - Wenatchee to Sultan
« on: December 31, 2017, 10:49:48 pm »
Would love to hear your feedback on this route.
I will avoid my own opinion so as not to influence yours.
I've crossed the Cascades in Washington every possible way by bicycle.
But it's been some years since I did US 2.

Have you ridden Stevens Pass in the past few years?
What did you think of the traffic levels and shoulders?
Were you aware of back road options?
(Easy St, North Rd, Chumstick Hwy; east)
(Old Cascade Highway, Reiter Rd, Ben Howard Rd; west)

Oh, and rate the scenery, please.

Would you ride US 2 over Stevens Pass again?
If you've done other routes, how does it compare?

Happy cycling in 2018 - and thanks.

PS - I am discussing the route - not planning a January ride.

11
The Utah DOT has closed Highway 143 between Parowan and Panguitch -
which includes the section traversed by the Western Express.

Details: Fire Affecting Roadway SR 143 between MP 3 and 50 (S of Panguitch) Iron Co.
Closed Both Directions, Use Alt Route
Last Updated: 06/23/17 07:20 PM


A detour is available by continuing on Hwy 14 east from Cedar City to US 89
Then take US 89 north the Hwy 12 turn-off to Bryce.
(Read in reverse for westbound . . .)
You may wish to take a few extra miles to resupply at Panguitch.

Updates: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5253/

12
General Discussion / It Ain't Summer in the West
« on: May 05, 2017, 01:01:28 pm »
It Ain’t Summer in the West
It may be 88 degrees in Atlanta, but not in Yellowstone.

Over the years, I have noticed that folks from the East and from Europe are blissfully unaware of the climate of the American West as they plan their bike tours. Winter comes early and stays late. In many higher areas, it can snow into early June and start up again after Labor Day. I’ve even seen snow coming down - not just a flurry - on July 4th and in August, too. And I just finished skiing thru four feet of fresh snow in the Bighorns.

<<<>>>

Full version over at Crazyguyonabike - with pix and charts -

https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/forum/board/message/?o=1mr&thread_id=775752&page=1&nested=0&v=19

Photo - Bighorn Mountains - April 29 - Snow up to the Top Rail



13
Loup Loup Pass is closed due to a major washout.
Detour EB - From Twisp Hwy 20 then Hwy 153 to Pateros, US 97 to Brewster, Old 97 to Hwy 20 4 mi S. of Okanogan
Detour WB - Hwy 20 4 mi S. of Okanagan, Old 97 to Brewster, US 97 to Pateros, Hwy 153 to Hwy 20 & Twisp

* Given the damage to paved highways, I would not attempt an early season detour on dirt forest roads.
Not only will they be snowy/muddy, but they will have big washouts, too.

BUT WAIT !!! - THERE'S MORE !!!
The North Cascades Highway remains closed and will likely be quite late opening this year.
Too often, easterners and folks from overseas just don't realize how long winter remains in the Northwest.
Not only is there the possibility of snow into June, but the heavy snowpack this winter has to melt out.


OKANOGAN – Work is under way to repair washed-away portions of Highway 20 over Loup Loup Pass, but motorists will have to take the long way between the Okanogan and Methow valleys for several more weeks.

http://www.omakchronicle.com/news/2017/apr/18/repair-work-underway-loup-loup-pass/

From Washington State DOT

SR 20 is closed in both directions from four miles west of the Loup Loup Pass summit at milepost 211 to Rock Creek at milepost 223 due to water over the roadway, mud slides, and road repairs. Currently there is no estimated time for reopening and no local detour available. Motorists can use SR 153 through the Methow Valley as an alternate route.
WEATHER:

Updated: Sunday April 23, 2017 1:33 AM


https://www.wsdot.com/traffic/passes/louploup/default.aspx

North Cascades Highway -

Conditions:
Pass is closed for the season. Spring clearing work is underway and could take as many as 8 weeks to reopen due to the volume of snow.
Weather:
Not Available
Restrictions Eastbound:
Closed for the season
Restrictions Westbound:
Closed for the season


https://www.wsdot.com/traffic/passes/passinformation.aspx?_ga=1.235887617.1854627326.1473713465#northcascadehwysr20link

http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Traffic/Passes/NorthCascades/updates2017.htm

14
I've been thinking about Westport, Washington. I started my x-USA bike trip in 2016 there.
Never had been there before, but had always wanted to.  It was magical.
It had everything, but was out-of-the-way, laid-back - almost like a 1970s beach town.
There's a historic Coast Guard Station and a lighthouse - a great harbor filled with fishing boats.
If you are lucky, on a clear afternoon you can see across Grays Harbor to the snow-capped Olympics.

Westport Harbor -


Downtown, along the harbor, has little one-story shops and cafes - no mega commercial.
There are motels, a grocery, a library, a hardware store. And two nearby state parks.
Best of all - there's a 2-mile paved bike trail along the dunes at ocean's edge.
A memorable way to start a trip.

I've started/ended trips from Cape Flattery down to southern Oregon.
Neah Bay has a great museum and Shi Shi Beach.
Cape Disappointment has great views.
Astoria is easiest to get to with every amenity.
Tillamook is funky and fun. With a cheese factory and bike shops.
Coos Bay has the feel of an old fishing & lumber town.

Average Sunset -


But Westport has the entire package - plus two great routes inland.
The one drawback is that it is somewhat tricky to get to.
But a combination of public train/bus routes will do it - albeit slowly.

<<<>>>

Heading south from Westport, WA 105 has fairly light traffic - except on summer weekends.
And there are a number of quiet backroads thru cranberry farms.
Then there is Tokeland and a sweet ride along the shores of Willapa Bay to Raymond.

Willapa Bay -


Raymond is a logging town - getting by - but with nice parks and river views.
The Willapa Hills Trail is in development from Raymond to Chehalis.
The western end is still rough - but backroads and WA 6 have light traffic.
There is a moderate climb to the crest and then down to Pe Ell.

The Old Movie Theater in Downtown Raymond -


From Pe Ell the trail is hard-pack with the last 5 miles paved.
Rainbow Falls S.P. has a preserve of big trees - always nice in the Pacific NW.
And the trail is a delightful ride into Chehalis - where you can stock up.

Willapa Hills Trail -


<<<>>>

Jackson Hwy out of Chehalis is busy, but has a wide shoulder and doesn't last long.
Middle Fork Rd. and Alpha Prairie are a mix of woods and grassland with light traffic.
The traffic almost disappears on WA 508 into Morton - which has a great town campground on the river.

Fields and Forest -


Heading east, US 12 has moderate traffic and wide shoulders. (Except for the Cowlitz bridge)
And there are two nice stretches of Old US 12 with zero traffic and gentle riding.
Also, you have occasional views of Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainier. (Best view - basketball court in Packwood)
Packwood is the last major service stop - and jumping off point for Packwood Lake Trail.
La Wis Wis campground east of town is stunning.

Glimpse of Mount Rainier near Packwood -


The climb up White Pass isn't too bad. Small to moderate shoulders or passing lane.
US 12 has one of the lowest traffic counts of the Cascade passes.
There are two spectacular viewpoints of Mount Rainier - the rest stop and a big dirt pull-out.
Don't count on the store being open at the pass.

Sunset over Mount Rainier -


Then there's the awesome ride down the east side - another story.

<<<>>>

I like Westport because if combines the best of the coast, an easy I-5 traverse, and a great Cascade crossing.

RideWithGPS -
https://ridewithgps.com/routes/19320890

15
The TransAm route through Yellowstone is closed for construction for the remainder of this year and, likely, for a chunk of 2015 over Craig Pass from Old Faithful to West Thumb. It is possible to detour via Canyon and Bridge Bay - - which is 30 additional miles. (It's actually a pretty nice route.) This route will remain open until November 3 unless - and quite possibly - closed earlier due to snow.

I have biked in Yellowstone since 1987 and it has gotten increasingly bike unfriendly - while the administration always bewails the crush of cars. Meanwhile - the NPS has constructed a cloverleaf interchange at Old Faithful so the thousands of onlookers can zoom away as soon as the geyser erupts; there are 40-foot pull-thru parking places at all of the major attractions; 4 people in a car pay $25 - but 4 cyclists pay $12 each or $48.

I have follow park activities carefully- especially cycling related activities. I toured in the park in late July. Never did I see anything related to earlier closure of Craig Pass or alternatives for cyclists - online at the park website, posted at ACA (which would have been a nice thing for the NPS to do), or posted within the park itself.

After 25 years of bike touring, I have to say that the National Park Service is, fundamentally, aimed at automotive visitors with their ever larger RVs and need for auto services. After all, everything is political and car visitors vote - especially retired folks in RVs. Whatever the various superintendents at Yosemite, Grand Canyon, or Glacier say about traffic - they really don't mean it.

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