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Topics - jamawani

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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.

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.


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 -

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

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.

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.

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.

Updated: Sunday April 23, 2017 1:33 AM

North Cascades Highway -

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.
Not Available
Restrictions Eastbound:
Closed for the season
Restrictions Westbound:
Closed for the season

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 -

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.

General Discussion / Camping at Cape Meares
« on: October 12, 2013, 01:11:54 pm »
Jogging my memory here.  If I remember correctly, there used to be a hiker/biker campsite at Cape Meares State Park.  What made it so exceptional was that there was no other camping except for hikers and cyclists.  One of the picnic table spots served double duty.  Do any other old-timers remember when you could still camp at Cape Meares?  I'm going to say 25 years ago or more.

I think the idea was great - that you had an incredible, scenic location without being chock-a-block against a giant RV.  There were already bathrooms there.  Still, I suppose that if the park was unstaffed at night there were probably issues of liability and resource protection.  Sigh.

Bicycle Route 66 / Skeptical about Bike Route 66
« on: August 04, 2012, 01:49:21 pm »
I remain deeply skeptical about Bicycle Route 66.  I recognize that the idea has great appeal, but the reality on the ground is quite, quite different that the image created when listening to "You Get Your Kicks on Route 66" or browsing old 1950s B&W photos of Americana.

The major reason that reality diverges from image is that Interstate Highways have been built over much of the original right of way of Route 66 - especially in the West.  What that means for cycle tourists is that they have to ride either on an interstate shoulder with 20,000 vehicles zooming by or on a service road that offers little respite from the roar of the interstate.  Idyllic it is often not.

Furthermore, Route 66 had many routings over the years - i.e. there is not ONE Route 66.  This is true of many of the named highways of old such as the Lincoln Highway or the Dixie Highway.  Given this, I would argue that the preferred choice for the cyclist in the Southwest would be to approximate Route 66 - to experience the natural beauty, native cultures, and some of the cultural artifacts of Route 66 in a way as close as possible to that of early cross-country travellers - rather than to adhere to any fixed route.

For example, from northern New Mexico to the Grand Canyon, I believe it is far more rewarding to take a route such as Taos, Abiquiu, Cuba, Gallup, Window Rock, Second Mesa, Tuba City, Grand Canyon rather than follow service roads and interstate shoulders from Albuquerque to Flagstaff.  The former allows one to experience Taos Pueblo, the art of Georgia O'Keeffe, ancient pueblos, the kitsch of Gallup Route 66, Navajo life, the traditions of the Hopi, and finally, a rim ride along the Grand Canyon.

Just sayin', ya know?

Abiquiu Plaza

General Discussion / Snow Closes Roads in Yellowstone / Grand Teton
« on: May 26, 2012, 02:18:39 am »
A number of roads in Yellowstone have been closed due to a spring snowstorm.
Up to a foot of snow is expected in higher elevations by Monday - with high winds.
These are, at best, nasty conditions - and can be dangerous for the unprepared.

At present - Old Faithful to West Thumb on the TA is closed.
Also, Canyon to Tower, the East Entrance, and Beartooth Pass.

Further south on the TA - Togwotee Pass is snowpacked and dangerous.

Many other roads at higher elevation in WY, MT, and ID are also impacted.

General Discussion / Spring Snow in the West
« on: May 17, 2011, 09:15:50 pm »
First - warning - there is a big snow event centered over Wyoming - with a foot of snow predicted for higher elevations - two feet in places.  The TransAm in Wyoming negotiates stretches where it is 60 miles between services.  Even if it is not snowing in lower elevations, it will be raining with a high in the high 30s or low 40s and with high winds - hypothermia conditions.

I am always amazed at how many people plan cross-country or Rocky Mountain trips starting in the West in May.  (Even June can be tricky at times.)  This year it is especially unadvisable to start a trip in the West in May because 1) there continue to be major snow events every week and 2) there is a massive snowpack iin almost all parts of the West (with the exception of Ariz & NM) that is going to take weeks to melt out - - meaning that park and campground facilities will be opening later than normal.

I have rescued many a drenched and shivvering cyclist who was unaware of the fundamentally different climate patterns of the Rocky Mountain West.  May is not summer.  May can have some delicious days, but in the high country it is still late winter - with a winter's worth of snowpack.

Please use caution.  Be willing to stop and wait.  And consider delaying your trip if you have planned on starting soon.  You'll pay a little more $$, but you will enjoy it more.

General Discussion / Early/Late Options for Western Express?
« on: March 27, 2011, 03:31:06 pm »
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.

Whatcha think?

Howdy -

Well, it's March in the West and it has been a doozy of a winter in the Sierras.
I am always telling people from back East that May in the High County is still winter.
That is especially the case this year in the Sierras.

I anticipate that the Mormon Emigrant Trail on the Western Express route
will not be snow-free until after Memorial Day - possibly mid-June.
Carson Pass has almost 10 feet of snow - as do most locations in the Upper American Basin.

The current addenda for Section 1 has the following detour:

On maps 6 and 7 the Mormon Emigrant Trail is closed during winter months and usually opens in May or June. Call the El Dorado Sheriff Dept. at 530-621-6600 to find out if the Mormon Emigrant Trail is open. There is an alternate route in listed in the riding conditions. This is an improvment on that one, with a shorter alternate and less climbing. From Placerville ride east on Main St. In 1 mi. it becomes Broadway. 2.5 mi. later it becomes Newton Rd. After 5-6 mi. turn left onto Pleasant Valley Rd. 1 mi. later turn right onto Mt. Aukum Rd. After 6 mi., turn left onto Fairplay Rd. In 3-4 mi., turn left onto Omo Ranch Rd. After 9-10 mi., you will rejoin the route on SR 88. (Jul 2005)

But Mt Aukum Road is a bear.
(I'll continue in the next thread since the text box is doing weird jumping.)

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