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Topics - TCS

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Connecting ACA Routes / Claypool Tunnel, Old US 60
« on: October 24, 2021, 11:04:55 am »
Hey, juuuuust wondering:  Adventure Cycling Southern Tier, Section 2, US 60 between Superior and Globe - is Old US 60 and the Claypool Tunnel still bikehike-able?

This section of US 60 and the Claypool Tunnel were replaced by the Arizona Highway Department with the Queen Creek Tunnel in 1952 and the whole shebang was routed around by Adventure Cycling with a long detour through Jake's Corner and Punkin Center to, I was told, keep from riding through the Queen Creek Tunnel (which seems like a worthy goal).

Information on the 'net dating from 2015 indicates the Claypool Tunnel route was bikehike-able.

General Discussion / Mask mandate - National Parks, Monuments, Forests
« on: January 26, 2021, 02:19:07 pm »
Masks now required while cycling in/through National Parks, Monuments and Forests*?  I think so.  What's your take?

*on Forest Service roads, not public highways.

General Discussion / Cooking on the Road
« on: November 26, 2020, 09:05:43 am »
On this American feast day, I wanted to give a shout out to the 40th anniversary of the publication of 'Cooking on the Road' by John Rakowski.

(Wow.  Has it really been 40 years?)

'Cooking on the Road'  was - and remains - a different kind of cookbook.  Most cookbooks make the (reasonable) assumption you are in an equipped kitchen.  Backpacking cookbooks assume you are in the wilderness and self-supplied for the duration of your trip.  Mr. Rakowski's cookbook was written for road touring, where the traveler is daily passing through or staying in settlements with grocery shops or at the very least a crossroads with a convenience store (cue the Adventure Cycling route network).

There were tips and techniques for stoves and cooking tackle and buying fresh and buying healthy and buying in small quantities.  There were recommendations on spices to punch up bland food (the man was practically king of spice island!)  He discussed how to accomplish cookcraft, from shopping to unpacking the panniers to having the last plate and pot washed and dry at the end.  Two-thirds of the book was recipes - everything from gourmet camp cuisine (should the traveler luck into the availability of small quantity high-quality ingredients) to tasty, nutritious meals concocted from what one is universally able to find in those American crossroad convenience stores.

The bulk of the book holds up pretty well after four decades, and the vegan sections were surely ahead of their time.  In the present era with bikepackers blast-boiling water to dump in foil bags of desiccated foodstuffs (NTTAWWT), 'Cooking on the Road' remains the standard for, well, cooking on the road!

More on Mr. Rawoski:

Probably should run this on up to somewhere (Weston?) on the Lewis&Clark.

~900 miles (1500 km). Back roads (or paths) where ever possible, shoulders otherwise.

General Discussion / An American cycle tours in Europe, 75 years ago
« on: December 16, 2019, 10:39:45 am »
On December 16th, 1944, American doctor Major Clifford Graves went on a short cycle tour in Eastern Belgium.

Dr. Graves was a combat surgeon supporting the 106th Division and enjoying a quiet pre-Christmas respite in the war tempo when 25 German divisions broke through the lines, beginning what is known today as the Battle of the Bulge.

With the German tanks only miles away, Major Graves unloaded his medical equipment truck and on-boarded as many casualties from the field hospital as possible.  By the time he got this organized and sent the truck west on the narrow road, the German tanks had arrived at the far end of the small village where the field hospital was located.

Dr. Graves didn’t want to be captured.  What to do?  Well, in the year and a half he’d spent in England before D-Day, he’d purchased a derailleur geared touring bicycle and done a little touring in England, Scotland and Wales.  He’d surreptitiously crated the bicycle and included it in the medical equipment when they’d deployed to France the previous June.  He hurriedly broke the crate apart and assembled his bicycle.  By the time he got the tires pumped, the lead Panzer was just a block away.  With a farewell to the GIs in the village who had no transportation, he rode out on the main road right in front of the lead German tank and pedaled away. 

It was a horrible, cold, wet, desperate cycle tour that day, Dr. Graves barely staying ahead of the blitzkrieging Panzers.  Graves came under German airborne ground attack, being strafed and at one point bombed.  He passed through Malmedy and briefed members of the 285th Field Artillery Observation Battalion about what he knew of the situation behind him.  These GIs would be captured and murdered by SS troopers the next morning.

Late in the afternoon Major Graves arrived at Spa, where some sketchy semblance of order had been established in the retreat.  Reporting to the temporary HQ, he created as much of a sensation as possible under the chaotic conditions when he explained to command that he’d escaped the German advance on a bicycle.  As an orderly defense was thrown together, he was given a medical truck and a driver and told to head south to Bastogne, where heavy fighting was reported and resultant casualties anticipated.  Command warned Graves at Spa that German soldiers wearing American uniforms had been captured during the day.

He tossed his bike in the back of the deuce-and-a-half and they headed out in the gathering twilight.  Well after dark he and his driver thought they were on the main road to Bastogne, but observed the road they were on was getting narrower, not wider.  Major Graves decided they had taken a wrong turn and should backtrack on what had become a tiny country lane, and he told his driver to wait while he scouted ahead on his bicycle for a place they could turn the big truck around without getting stuck.  Just up the way he found a small crossroads.  Returning to the truck he informed his driver and led him to the turn-around.  As the driver was executing a multi-point turn, Graves spotted by the light of an inexplicably burning farmhouse what he assumed must be an American tank column approaching.  He rode his bicycle up to the front tank, waving his handkerchief, pointing and shouting that there was a truck blocking the road just up ahead.  The tank hatch popped open and the commander shouted something back.

Graves realized the officer was shouting in German.

He quickly analyzed the situation.  He guessed they hadn’t shot him or just run him down with the tank because, due to his bold approach on a bicycle, they had misidentified him as one of the German saboteurs.  He shouted back to the tank commander the only German that came to mind: ‘Ja! Ja! Ja! Ja! Ja! Ja!’ With a wave, he turned the bike around and sprinted back down the road.  He tossed his bike in the truck and told his driver to head back to secure American territory as fast as they could go.

Dr. Graves survived the day without getting captured and survived the war.  In the post-war occupation, he did some more touring on the Continent before returning to America and setting up a surgery practice in La Jolla, California.  With the enthusiastic support of other like-minded Americans, he founded the International Bicycle Touring Society and toured throughout North America, Europe, Japan, New Zealand and China.  Dr. Graves is considered the grandfather of the modern American cycle touring industry.

Decades later, Dr. Graves related his amazing story in Bicycling! and American Wheelman magazines and made it the lead chapter in his autobiography, ‘My Life on Two Wheels’.

More on Dr. Graves:

Take away:  Always bring your bicycle.  You’ll almost certainly have more fun than if you don’t bring it, and you never know - it could save your life.

Urban Cycling / Urban ~Touring~
« on: May 01, 2019, 10:26:05 am »
I bought a Stumpjumper in 1982.  I thought, ‘This is great!  A machine for touring unpaved country roads.’  As my riding buddies bought mountain bikes over the next several years I tried to recruit them for backroad touring.  They didn’t buy it.  ‘Mountain bikes are for singletrack out in the woods,’ they explained without actually explaining.  Oh, oh!, but now, 37 years later, gravel biking and bikepacking are the darlings of the industry and enthusiasts are clambering onboard.  Whatever, eagles soar alone, etc, etc.  I’ve moved on to urban touring.

Yeah.  Urban.  Touring.

We left our home in Plano at 4 PM on Friday and three short bike rides and two long rail rides later we were in downtown Fort Worth Texas.  That might sound trivial to the uninformed but there’s a picture out on the internet illustrating the comparable size of the Metroplex and Connecticut.  Hmm!  Anyway, the unperturbed, perfunctory staff of the Ashton Hotel stored our bikes in the empty ballroom overnight and we walked down the street for some TexMex and then on to Sundance Square where we watched the lights, fountain and people.

Fully embracing ‘early bird gets the worm’, we were up the next morning at about 9 AM, caught breakfast at the hotel and hit the road by 10:30ish.  We shoved off and coasted down to the West Fork of the Trinity River.  The many cities of the Metroplex have been building MUPs, and we turned onto Fort Worth’s Trinity Trail System headed generally east.  We pedaled gently along the river through beautiful parks and past futbol games, kayakers and family picnics for over 11 miles before we came to a low water crossing flooded from recent rains.

It was just before the eastern end of the Fort Worth portion of the trail anyway, so we hiked up the levee and picked up some neighborhood streets to reach the next section of trail.  Finally, about the 14 mile point of the day’s ride, we had to pedal in earnest for the first time, tackling Sandy Lane (peaking at 10.8% grade) and climbing away from the river valley.

We heard peacocks.  There was a stand of native tulip trees.  We rode past a private drive sign-marked ‘EIEIO Ranch’ and another home with a beautiful engraving above the front door that read ‘Thanks’ and featured the stylized outline of a bicycle.  Schweet.

We associate travel with highways, and it’s a bit of dichotomy to tour down small neighborhood streets.  Folks whose paradigms never allowed them to realize they in-fact live on a road that leads somewhere will pause from washing their cars and cutting their grass to watch loaded touring bikes roll past.  Smile.  Wave.  Repeat.  Not pressed for time, we unpacked the necessary food preparation gear (a charge card) and had Chinese food at a little neighborhood place for lunch.  Yum.

We gradually dropped down to Village Creek and rode that trail to the confluence with the West Fork at River Legacy Parks in Arlington.  The developed parts of the park were jammed with families enjoying one another’s company and sharing the beautiful day.  We slowed for safety, but then why rush past such amassed joy?  We stopped and chatted with the lady taking her pet boa constrictor for a walk.

All good things must end, and we left the trail to transit to our overnight camping spot.  We climbed away from the river (as Forrest Gump said, ‘Again’) up Brown Blvd. (peaking at 11.0% grade) and rode quiet neighborhood streets (‘Again’) to the quaint Arlington Hilton, where we had a campsite on the 15th floor.  The desk clerk held the front door for us as we rolled our bikes to the elevator.  Summoning my extensive camp-cooking experience, we walked down the street for pizza.  But then later - score! - I got to catch GoT on the campsite’s big flatscreen.

Our second day was longer and we’re experienced enough tourists to know the importance of an early start.  Our feet hit the floor and we stumbled into the breakfast buffet bleary-eyed at an ungodly 9:30 AM.  Our plan was to head east into the rising sun but impatient Sol didn’t get the memo.  We were forced to navigate by a combination of dead reckoning, the Dallas skyline in the distance and well-marked streets to the western edge of Grand Prairie’s Lone Star Trail, returning to the riparian biome of the West Fork of the Trinity River.  This led us to arguably the loveliest segment of the tour, Irving’s Campion Trail.

Typical of much of our tour, we could hear the faint white noise of cars on a freeway somewhere else in the world, but we were surrounded by visually impregnable forest.  Here, in the heart of one of the largest metropolitan areas in North America, we spotted a tree felled by a beaver.  Here also the trail follows a portion of an old roadway mentioned by Bonnie Parker in her epic autobiographical poem.  Up and over the Irving Heights, we crossed the Elm Fork of the Trinity River and picked up the Trinity Strand Trail along Turtle Creek, paralleling the Main Branch of the Trinity River.  There was a barbecue place right on the trail, we stopped for lunch and urban touring was ready to be featured on one of those ‘Life Is Good’ t-shirts.  Afterwards, we hit the remaining trail into either Downtown Dallas, Uptown Dallas, West End Dallas or the Design District, depending on which developer’s brochure you read.

Our final trail, the Katy, wasn’t like the others.  It runs not through hardwood bottomland but through the high rise apartments of Uptown.  It’s more like a boardwalk than a recreational MUP, and we did an appropriately slow ride and enjoyed people watching.  Up and over Mockingbird Lane on the new cycle bridge (for a not inconsiderable sum the city will name this after you), we arrived at the light rail station and choo choo-ed back home.

Urban touring - in 30 years, everybody will be doing it.

Urban Cycling / Urban Touring
« on: December 21, 2006, 03:39:00 pm »
When riders talk of urban cycling they usually mean commuting or short pleasure rides.  I think urban ~touring~ is the cats pajamas.

I live on the northern edge of a major metropolitan area, and I love to tour down to the state park just beyond the southern side of the city.  I use a myriad of quiet streets and a few thoroughfares that on the weekends are eminently tourable.  At the end of the day, I usually camp and cook at the state park, but there are motel and restaurant options as well.  On the second day I take a different track home.  It makes a quick get-a-way and its a good way to shake out new equipment.

Leaving out my front door, I can ride through quiet neighborhoods, past landscaped McMansions, by the best parks and public art, along winding, shaded streets, through historic areas, across major bridges, to the base of impressive architecture, through the heart of down town; traverse university campuses and ride into areas where none of the signs are in English.  I can visit any of dozens of museums and notable locations, photograph great cathedrals and tent revivals, choose from countless street-side cafes with menus from the world, stop at quirky places, see how both of the other two halves live and even go by the gravesites of the famous and infamous.  I can see where the old money and power brokers live, visit locations recently in the news and observe how the city is evolving.  All this in just two 45-mile days.

I started doing this years ago by myself.  After I got married I brought my wife along, and she loved it.  Weve started inviting friends, who say they experience more of the city in a weekend than they have in twenty years of living here.  The route varies, and last time we took in Frank Lloyd Wrights only theater, a delightful little shop that offered 167 flavors of soda water and stopped on a street corner to point out and discuss the seven locations from which assassins fired at President Kennedy.

Urban touring  give it a try!


Routes / Road tourists: gravel roads?
« on: December 08, 2006, 05:22:41 pm »
A stretch of gravel road on a touring route:

-0- Why not?  A good touring bike shouldnt have any trouble, it gets me out in the true countryside, and its no worse than a rail trail.

-0- No way.  White knuckle ride and flat tire city.  Add some bad weather and your talking one miserable experience.  A narrow shoulder on a busy highway is more fun.


Fun fact: the original Bikecentennial Trail included some gravel roads.

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