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Topics - jamawani

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Routes / PPP - Big Horn Mountains Road Damage
« on: April 12, 2024, 09:26:44 am »
The frost heaves are bad this year between Powder River Pass and Buffalo.
Which is strange since this winter was far milder than last.
They are bad enough to cause a crash coming downhill at speed.
Wyoming is good about road repair - - but - -
that means there will be multiple construction segments on the east side.

The segment in question is the north-south dogleg of US 16
beginning 9 miles east of Powder River Pass
running for 13 miles to the major turn east down the mountain.
(Westbound - starting 12 miles west of Buffalo running 13 miles)

Although the danger is primarily for eastbound riders,
because there are multiple big rollers over ridge lines
westbound riders should use caution, as well.

Routes / Since We Are Talking About Cape Meares ...
« on: March 19, 2024, 11:06:19 pm »
Is there anybody out there who remembers bike camping at Cape Meares?
Or am I just getting old and imagining it?
We are, after all, talking about the 1980s.

They had a single hiker/biker site at the picnic area.
You were asked to share if other riders came along.
But there was just you, the lighthouse, and the ocean cliffs.

* Not Cape Lookout. Not the wheelbarrows at Oswald West.
It's been so long and I've done so many Oregon rides.
And I don't think I was breaking the law,
'cause I've never broken the law.

General Discussion / Some Useful Parameters When Asking for Route Help
« on: March 01, 2024, 03:58:07 pm »
A lot of people come here and ask for route help.
Too often, it's just "What's a good route between Peoria and Portland?"

1. When are you planning on doing it?
Montana is way different in May than July or October

2. Which direction are you riding and what kind of time frame?
Heading westbound in the Columbia Gorge is a challenge.
As is riding the Western Express in two weeks.

3. What's your age and your experience cycle touring?
Mega gravel isn't a good idea for newbies, nor mega miles for older riders.

That way you'll get the best advice for your situation.


Here's a recent National Park Service video of plowing operations.
As of May 21, they were 15 miles  west of Crane Flats with 25 miles still to go.
Tioga Pass is not likely to open until mid-July.
Sonora Pass and Ebbetts Pass are cleared by Caltrans.
They usually open for Memorial Day - but this year will probably be mid to late June.

Keep this in mind if you plan to do the Sierra Cascades route.
Of if you have planned to hit Yosemite and Tioga Pass on a west-to-east ride.
The Western Express uses Carson Pass further north which is plowed all winter.
(But it also had a record number of closure days this winter.)

General Discussion / Adjust Your Plans for Touring in the West
« on: March 04, 2023, 10:52:02 am »
Hey y'all -

Just came in from clearing more snow.
A lot of us out West are pretty darn sick of shovelling.
And there's more coming in March - lots more.

Other than me trolling for sympathy, what does that have to do with anything?
Well, a lot of touring plans may need adjusting because of this winter's impacts.
Yosemite National Park has an all-time record - 15 feet in some places - and winter's not over.

1) Many mountain passes and highways will open much later this year.
2) Campgrounds and services will open even later - if at all.
3) There is likely to be damage that will delay things further.
4) Snowmelt will be massive this year with probable flooding.

Even in normal years, people in Atlanta and Dallas simply don't understand winters in the West.
If you have 5 feet of snow in Yellowstone, it doesn't melt out until the end of May or early June.
In normal years.

The deepest snows and biggest records are in the California Sierras.
Mountain ranges in Nevada and the Wasatch in Utah have near records, too.
The Colorado and Wyoming Rockies have above normal snowpacks.
The Cascades in the Northwest and the Northern Rockies in Montana and Idaho
have close to average snowpacks, but longer snow seasons with March storms lined up.

Routes Impacted by Snow:
1. Sierra-Cascades -
The segments in California will be unrideable until July and may be closed for resource protection.
2. Western Express -
Carson Pass has been closed more this season than ever before. May will be tough.
Expect snowbanks and no services all the way through June.
The desert in Nevada and Utah will be beautiful this year - esp. in late May and June.
3. TransAmerica - also Parks, Peaks, and Prairies
Stay tuned. Depending on the rest of winter, there is likely to be above normal snowpack.
Yellowstone is still recovering from last year's floods. Expect later openings.
4. Northern Tier -
Sherman Pass has about 200% of normal snowpack with more to come.
Glacier N.P. has slightly above normal totals - again - with a series of March storms predicted.
Expect late pass openings in Washington (June) and a late June opening of Going to the Sun.
5. Great Divide -
Still too early to tell, but trending later for anything north of New Mexico. Wet/muddy conditions likely.
Given the moisture levels, the Southwest monsoon is likely to be strong this year in New Mexico.

Other Weather Impacts -
1. Pacific Coast -
California has had record rainfall on the coast this winter with mudslides and washouts.
There is one full closure and multiple lane closures south of Monterrey.
2. Lewis & Clark -
Any route that follows western rivers is likely to be impacted by flooding.
Flooding will be especially bad if there is a rapid warm-up. Flooding will peak in June / early July.


The moisture will mean beautiful - albeit late - wildflowers. (Also mosquitos in late summer.)
But everything will likely be a few weeks - or more - late.  YMMV


Pix -

Yosemite Valley & Half Dome Webcam
Sonora Pass on Memorial Day on a normal year

General Discussion / Getting to Your Starting Point
« on: October 16, 2022, 12:17:33 pm »
One of the most challenging things about getting started on a long bike tour is getting there.
Not a weekend out-and-back, but a months-long trek.
It ain't easy - and it seems to be getting harder.
And more expensive, for sure.

Just curious how y'all prefer to get there.

The biggest problem is that you have a lot of stuff.
Bicycle, panniers, tent, sleeping bag.
Hard to schlep around and sometime quite expensive as baggage.

Or course, it matters where you start.
If you are heading to another continent, driving there is tough.
But for the purposes of discussion, let's say you are sticking to the same continent.

I like to start on an ocean - not a bay, not an inlet - the ocean.
Which sometimes adds a complicating factor.
Westport rather than Seattle. Yet, getting to Westport is a lot harder.

In a perfect world my private pilot, Lars, would fly me there.
In an imperfect world I have a range of imperfect choices.

1) Spouse, Significant Other, Parent, or Friend driving you there.
No question, that is the #1 best way of getting there. And more fun, too.
All your stuff is with you and you get it all the way to the starting point.

2) Driving yourself.
Either in your own car - and then you have to find long-term safe parking.
Or in a one-way rental - which is increasingly hard to fin and expensive.
Still - both let you take all your stuff all the way to the starting point.

3) Amtrak or Railroads.
Amtrak service is great for inexpensive bike shipping and taking your gear.
But it varies which stations take what - and is increasingly unpredictable.
Some long distance trains have roll-on bike service, others require packing.
But Amtrak trains are often late - very late - 8, 10, 12 hours at times.
Plus they take a long time to get there.
Via Rail isn't much better. The UK, EU, and Japan are way better.

4) Airlines
The main advantage of flying is getting there quickly.
The two main drawbacks are cost, especially baggage fees, and connections.
Bike fees have increases dramatically over the past decade.
More and more airlines limit baggege and charge exorbitantly for extra bags/weight.
Then there's the problem of connecting to surface transportation to your starting point.
(Although there are some people who start their tours from the airport baggage carousel.)

5) Bus
Someone who used to post here called it "Riding the Dog". Greyhound
For many parts of rural America, it's the only option.
And bus service has been declining rapidly. For good reason.
Bus travel is often the transportation for the most marginalized in society.
I've had a bus stop for hours because someone overdosed in the back.
I've had a bus stopped and searched in the middle of the night by the ICE for illegal immigrants.
I've had a driver quit mid-route because of drinking and obscene language.
It's the very last option when there are no others.
Regional public bus services - like the Point busses in Oregon are different.


What's been your experience?
Is there some secret bike tour fairy that I don't know about?
(That last sentence is VERY risky to include.)

Pic - Cape Lookout Lighthouse - Not Easy to Reach

Routes / How Early Is Too Early? Eastbound from Oregon/Washington
« on: August 22, 2022, 08:00:05 pm »
This year I started an eastbound trip from Astoria, OR on June 1.
Cold & wet. Cold & wet. Even in eastern Oregon.
Near Baker City at noon on June 15th. 47F with a cold north wind.

If I would have done the same trip in 2021, I would have roasted.
In 2016 I started an eastbound trip from Westport, WA on June 3.
The next day it was a record 98F in Raymond.

Way back in 1990, I started an eastbound trip from Astoria on June 1.
The first few days were fine - then I got heavy snow in the Cascades.
Almost froze to death.

So - - -
When is the best time to start an eastbound cross-country trip from the Northwest coast?
Is the beginning of June too early? Should it be closer to the middle of June?
I actually like to start touring in mid-May, but I think that would be way too early.

What has your experience been?

Pic - Cold & Wet near Pendleton, but Green

Temporary ACA Route Road Closures / Yellowstone Reopening
« on: June 20, 2022, 12:42:51 am »
The Southern Loop in Yellowstone National Park will reopen on Wed., June 22.
The Northern Looop will remained closed due to flood damage.

While this may appear to allow for access on both the TA and PPP route,
most campgrounds will remain closed.

For both the TA and the PPP, Madison Campground is closed still.
Many riders use Madison eastbounf and westbound -
Because West Yellowstone is so expensive and
because national forest campgrounds have no hiker/biker provisions
and are often filled early in the day.

For PPP riders, both Norris and Canyon will remain closed.
This will require a detour via Old Faithful and West Thumb.

From/to West Yellowstone, Grant Village is the closest open campground. (47 mi.)
Remember, campgrounds outside Yellowstone and Grand Teton
will be packed this year - filled by early to mid morning.
Reservations are essential at NFS campgrounds - unless you think you can beg.
National Forests in Greater Yellowstone have dispersed camping bans.
Not to mention this issue of safe food storage in Grizzly country.

If you are lanning on riding throug Yellowstone this summer -
it will require careful planning and some long days.

Buena suerte!

General Discussion / Going Bananas Touring
« on: June 01, 2022, 08:41:46 am »
Just made a new discovery ...
A piece of bubble wrap (small bubbles) saves bananas in my panniers.
Over the years I cannot tell you how many bananas have gotten smushed.

General Discussion / Grizzlies in Yellowstone and Glacier
« on: March 26, 2022, 06:09:27 pm »
A Montana man was killed this week just north of Yellowstone.
Most likely by a grizzly bear - probably a bear just coming out of hibernation.

The victim was an experienced outdoorsman.
He probably came upon the bear suddenly.
Sows are especially defensive of their cubs just after hibernation.
And all bears are ravenously hungry just coming out of hibernation.
They do eat winter kill and roadkill.

This man may have done everything right, but he was still killed
Last summer, a cyclist was killed in the small Montana community of Ovando.
It seems that her group had used poor food handling and storage techniques.

I've lived in Wyoming and Montana for 30+ years.
I've camped - usually solo - in bear country from Wyoming to Alaska.
I am horrified reading some cyclists' journals when I see the risks they take.
Cooking in their tents because it's raining.
Eating in their tents because the mosquitos are thick.

I am actually more comfortable camping in the backcountry in Alaska than Wyoming.
Because grizzlies and other bears are still hunted there and have an innate fear of humans.
Most Yellowstone and Glacier bears have little fear of humans.

In addition, grizzly populations have increased greatly in the past 25 years.
They were nearly wiped out in the early 1970s after parks stopped allowing feeding.
The National Park Service cut them off cold turkey and they lacked foraging skills.
But now populations are such that some areas may have reached capacity.
Human/bear conflicts have increased significantly in the past 10 years.

So, let me take a moment to remind people - especially those not from the Rocky Mountains -
of a few crucial safety practices when cycling through grizzly country.


A) If you plan to camp only at designated campgrounds:

1. Never. Ever. Cook or eat in your tent. Not in Wyoming. Not in Kansas. Not in New Jersey.
If you have cooked and eaten in your tent, consider getting another tent.
You may not be able to smell the peanut butter and jelly, but bears can.

2. Nearly all national park and national forest campgrounds in bear country have bear boxes.
Use them. Put everything with any odor in them immediately. Toiletries & water bottles, too.
Place your tent upwind from the area where you will be cooking.

3. Prior to arriving, try to keep food and toiletries in specific panniers.
If food items have been in all your panniers at one time or another, then put them in the bear box, too.

4. Bears are curious and may know, already, that packs and panniers often contain food.
Keep as clean of a camp as possible - day and night - so bears have little reason to check out your campsite.

5. If the people in neighboring campsites leave food and coolers out, say something to them.
Sometimes people can get defensive with you, but rangers will fine people for doing so.
Maybe use a little fibbing and say you were threatened with a $100 fine the day before.

6. Forest service and park service rangers do haze and/or remove problem bears regularly.
So, if you stay in a developed campground, you should have minimal concerns - - -
Provided you use safe camping techniques.

B) If you plan to random camp or backcountry camp -

1) Follow all of the above, plus -

2) Backcountry camping in Yellowstone and Glacier is magnificent, but challenging.
You must get a reserved backcountry campsite. Usually, some are available the morning of.
Nearly all campsites have a bear pole. Verify. And you will near 50+ feet of lightweight climbing rope.
(Which also comes in handy as a clothesline, a tarpline in case of a quick rain storm, etc.)

3) Keep a triangular camp with your tent upwind 200 yards, cooking and bear pole 200 yards apart.

4) If you are random camping on national forests - know the rules.
Random camping is prohibited in Yellowstone N.P and Glacier N.P.
Random camping is prohibited in many national forest areas adjoining national parks.
Bicycles are prohibited in wilderness areas.

5. If random camping, know how to hang your food, how to select a tree -
Or carry a bearproof cannister or ursack.
And practice hanging your packs BEFORE you head out. (Trust me.)

6. Some areas may require cannisters because of poor hanging for many years.
Hanging your pack from a branch is worthless - probably too low or a bear can climb up.
The single tree tie-off is better than nothing, but bears have learned to chew through the diagonal cord.

Remember, that a jar of peanut butter is a huge calorie and fat food source for little effort.
Once bears discover human food they quickly become habituated and usually have to be destroyed.
The most dangerous bears are those looking for human food.
Don't give them the opportunity.

A major repaving project in Yellowstone Nationa Park is scheduled to begin in the Spring of 2022 and last through the 2023 season.
It impacts Trans America Trail on the Grand Loop Road between West Thumb and Old Faithful.

In the past, when there is road construction the pilot truck usually takes cyclists thru the construction section.
If the construction section is short and the roadbed not seriously affected, they sometimes let you ride thru.


Then again, 2022 & 2023 might be good years to take the longer loop via Lake, Canyon, and Norris.
Riding along the lakeshore of Yellowstone Lake is magical.
The Hayden Valley between Lake and Canyon is the Serengeti of America.
And the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone offers super day and overnight hikes.

Just sayin'.

General Discussion / The Letha Store
« on: February 14, 2022, 12:34:27 pm »
Back in 2015 on a tour of the West
I came upon this little store in Letha, Idaho.
I leaned my bike against the mailbox and went in.
Guessing I bought a Gatorade and some Grandma's cookies.

The owner was up there in years, his dog even more up there.
She was napping in the sunbeam on the well-worn wooden floor.
It was groceries, post office, hardware, gossip - everything.
But it closed in 2019 - even before the pandemic.

I suspect that many more country stores have closed since then.
And, most likely, they will never reopen.


Across the country - from the Carolinas to Kansas to Idaho -
Country stores are disappearing.
Sometimes a C-store gets built on the bypass in the county seat,
but I can assure you a C-store and a country store are miles apart.
(And not just pedalling miles)

I'm in my sixties and began touring in North Carolina.
Back in the 1970s & 1980s there was a country store at every crossroads.
Even today, if you ride in the rural South, you see their footprints.
Sometimes they've been converted into houses.
More often, they are boarded up and sagging.
Or gone altogether - with just the footprint of the gas pumps.

It makes a difference for touring cyclists.
In more remote places in the West, they are essential.
US 6 across central Nevada used to have four between Tonopah and Ely.
Warm Springs, Blackrock, Currant, Preston Junction.
Bar/Cafe/Store/Casino/Cabins. Everything you might need.
They are all gone. 168 miles with zero services.

Not only could you get a Coca-Cola and a moon pie,
but you also had a connection with local folks.
Unlike people driving thru, you would hang out for a while.
And because you were on a bike and the traffic was light -
the owner and the rancher stopping by for mail would chat you up.
Rarely happens in a C-store. Where the employees are on camera.
And need to mop or stock when the store isn't busy.

You see the chairs out front?
Country stores always had chairs or benches - in the shade.
So you could sit down and enjoy your root beer and visit.

It is an art that is rapidly disappearing.
And I will miss it.

General Discussion / Canada / U.S. Border
« on: July 27, 2021, 10:44:11 am »
Many of us were hoping that the Canada / U.S. border would reopen on August 9th.
Although Canada announced it would reopen the border on August 9th,
the U.S. just announced that its border would remained closed until at least Aug. 21st.

Canada will only allow in U.S. citizens/nationals with proof of immunization.
The U.S. still only permits American citizens/nationals already overseas to enter.
So, it appears that vaccinated Americans may be able to travel to Canada and get back
- after Aug. 9th - but there may be restrictions or quarantine, esp. with the Delta variant.
There is also the risk that Canada will not open its border if the U.S. does not reciprocate.

I wouldn't make any plans to bike cross-border in August.
There are still too many variables.

Pic - BC Ferry Queen of the North in the Inside Passage

The Granite Complex / Lolo Creek fire is approaching US 12 near Lolo Pass.
According to the USFS:

Lolo Creek fire: Expected to impact highway 12 at any time. Will continue to move towards Wagon Mtn to the east when it crosses the hwy. BM hill fire: will continue to move NE in granite creek, and up-canyon to the East and west. Shotgun fire: continued roll out, isolated torching and short range spotting into boulder creek towards the boulder fire scar. Potential for slope-driven runs. Primarily fuels and terrain driven fire behavior unless instability or outflow winds.

The language of the warning suggests that the event may not be a long-term closure.
The Lolo Creek fire is separate from and smaller than the main Granite Complex fire.
However, TransAm and Lewis & Clark riders should prepare for a closure soon.
Any detour would be quite long.

General Discussion / Yosemite - Tioga Road - Bikes Only
« on: May 19, 2021, 12:28:42 pm »
Yosemite National Park has announced that Tioga Road will be opened May 21 thru May 23 for bicyclists and pedestrians only.
This is an incredible chance to ride one of the most beautiful ride in the world - in a lovely season.
Park Entrance Pass and fees required if you drive in and start at Crane Flat.
If you can find a place to park just east of Tioga Pass, then no Entrance Pass is required, just fee.

The Entrance Passes are a new thing this year and are fairly limited.
The idea is to reduce visitation because of Covid - 
but the NPS has been wanting to reduce visitation for years, now.
(Not a big fan of NPS admin - tough job, but they often wiggle the truth.)

Wish I were in California, because I would sure get this ride in.
No services - bring all food, water, clothing necessary.
46 miles one-way; 92 miles r.t.

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