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Messages - jamawani

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Routes / Re: Route advice - Oregon to Maine
« on: February 27, 2017, 03:53:46 pm »
Ah, Howard -

Your dream and my dream might be quite different.
I love remote - camping in the middle of nowhere - a little town here and there.
Popular destination also mean more traffic on the roads - so I often choose out-of-the-way.

Also, of course, it depends on time of the year.
Quite a few people I have helped out have chosen to bike Wyoming far too late in the season.
I find them climbing the mountain, wet, shivering, and almost hypothermic.
But in late June it can be the most magical place on earth.

I've started/ended/ridden the Wash/Ore coast all the way from Cape Flattery in the north down to southern Oregon.
It's so hard to say what is better or worse. A couple of things do frame any route.
Because of wilderness areas, there are only a limited number of Cascade crossings.
Also, the Columbia and Snake rivers present issues of crossing - and crossing safely.
(I have hitched across rivers in many places - just showing up at a boat ramp - but you have to be willing to wait.)

June in the Pacific Northwest is going to mean snow still in higher elevations and green in the lowlands.
June is cherry and berry season - esp. on the east slope - like the Yakima Valley.
And June in the Palouse is like riding thru an emerald fairyland. I finally did it in June last year.

If you already know the Sawtooths well, I would suggest the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes further north.
Then crossing Thompson Pass to Thompson Falls. That way you could also do the Palouse.

And are you aware of the Missoula Floods? The spectacular coulees of eastern Washington?
Since you are not going to do much desert - why not take in something mind-boggling?
Frenchman's Coulee, Drumheller Channels, Palouse Falls.

The I-90 bridge over the Columbia is very dangerous - heavy, fast traffic and zero shoulders.
So, you are advised to catch a lift - either by car (easier) or by boat (harder).
But either one you should have them drop you at the bottom of Old Vantage Highway.
And the road up the coulee is empty. With a waterfall!

Notice that I am backing up from Idaho? Interested?


Pic - Frenchman's Coulee

Routes / Re: Route advice - Oregon to Maine
« on: February 27, 2017, 03:22:37 pm »
Brian -

I posted on your thread about algorithm errors in Google Maps.
Your previous section had some doozies - as does this one.
I have ridden forest roads in the Ochocos - they are lovely -
but you are also on a private ranch road with no public access.
That's the problem with Google - esp. the bicycle option.

On your route thru the Ochocos -
you have to zig NW towards Mitchell - then do a big climb up the grade again.
In 2015, I rode thru Big Summit Meadow and then took Buck Point Rd down - steep! - 6 miles east.


General Discussion / Re: Transamerica trail temperatures
« on: February 27, 2017, 10:05:57 am »
Given how easy it is to find climate normals online - in the 1980s, you could still get them, albeit in reference tomes at larger libraries - I find the resistance to baseline information difficult to understand.

Based on the thread here - much of the evidence is anecdotal. Things like - "It was really cold when I did the TransAm."  Or - "It was over 100 most of the time when I rode cross-country." Well, 2009 had one of the coolest summers in a long time and 1997 one of the hottest. And on any one day in any one month in any one year, there can be a wide range.

But looking at average highs, lows, and precip can give you core knowledge from which to work. Summer temp ranges are far great in the West than the East. It might be 95 in both Montana and Ohio, but it will only go down to 70 in Ohio while it may drop to 40 in Montana. Not to mention that the humidity will be much worse in Ohio. There may be one day in the summer where the humidity in Cincinnati is lower than the humidity in Helena, but it still does not change the basic fact that Montana has far lower summer humidity.

The biggest weather misconception that most easterners have about the West has to do with June. In the Northern Rockies you can still get snow well into June. It comes and goes fast, but a day or two can be nasty. Plus, there is still a lot of snow on the ground in June at higher elevations. Especially if it has been a snowy winter, it takes a long time for the snow to melt out - particularly on back roads and forest roads that are not plowed.

Climate normals are just that - long-term averages. However, I can assure you that over a multi-year period, you have a much better chance of having good weather if you start a tour in early May on the West coast in Sausalito than in Astoria.

Routes / Re: Best/easiest route from the Pacific to Michigan
« on: February 26, 2017, 10:59:29 pm »
Denise -

I enjoy reading your posts - esp. about how short the weekend is.
I market "Day Stretchers" tm - for people with everything except enough time.
I suspect you will find the empty blocks of time and space on your trip delicious.
I don't listen to music or fixate on my gps maps or keep the gears in my head spinning.
I just pedal and look at things around me.

If you are flying into Portland without vehicle support at first - the Westport will be hard to get to.
The easiest places to reach on the coast are either Astoria or Tillamook.
How do you plan to get out to the coast - do you have a friend who might ferry you?
Otherwise there are morning & evening buses to both from downtown.
Also, I find it easier to ship my bike to a bike shop right on the coast -
Rather than schlep it through airports, trains, buses & taxis.
Sometimes it is cheaper to ship than to pay the airline bike fee, too.

Astoria would probably be the easiest to get to - plus they have a great bike shop.
Link to bus connection -
There's a scenic old shipwreck at Fort Stevens State Park.

What that means is that the initial ride will be busier and hillier than the Westport route.
Even though you may be following the Columbia River - there are high bluffs to cross.
I would suggest the first 30 miles on the Oregon side on US 30 -
Then take the Cathlamet Ferry to Wash and do 30 scenic miles on WA 4 to Longview.

There's camping in Cathlamet - plus an old historic hotel. It's a charming old river town.
Would you be camping or moteling it the first two weeks before your husband arrives?
Cathlamet would make a short 1st day with time for a slow start and not overdoing it.
2nd night could be up near Toledo and then onto US 12.

If you really want to stick with Westport as a starting point - it will take some work.


Snow by mid-June in western Wash/Oregon - nope.
Although there might be some still on the ground at higher elevations.


Care must be used with RidewithGPS and other Google maps.
Google is not necessarily our friend. Esp. in the West - if you pick the bicycle option -
it will send you on all kinds of dirt, private, closed, even nonexistent roads.
If there are no bike trails, sometimes it is better to use the auto option.

Have a nice week.


Pic - Cathlamet Waterfront (Not French like Cath-lam-MAY, but Chinook Cath-LAMM-it)

General Discussion / Re: Transamerica trail temperatures
« on: February 26, 2017, 02:01:05 pm »
Seat-of-the-pants weather knowledge is why us westerners have to rescue easterners all the time.

Rocky Mountain / Re: Yellowstone backroads
« on: February 26, 2017, 11:09:01 am »
There are NO back roads in Yellowstone N.P. - other than a few short segments of the old Grand Loop Road.
The longest stretch is Blacktail Plateau Road - one-way for cars - both for bikes, but care needed for opposite riding.

The National Park Service has a dual mission:
To provide for the public enjoyment AND to protect unimpaired for future generations.
As a long-time Wyoming resident I have seen massive tourism pressures on Yellowstone in all seasons.
4 million visitors per year is a lot for a remote, wilderness region.
Last year you had multiple serious incidents which resulted in damage to fragile environments -
As well as the deaths of tourists and wildlife. There is a reason for the regulations.

I support the current park policies which may restrict bicycle use more than I would like.
I have ridden every possible legal mile in the park - including when roads are closed to cars.
And, yes, having a cloverleaf interchange at Old Faithful is crazy.

But with careful planning, you can enjoy the park by bicycle - still.
All campgrounds except one have hiker/biker campsites.
Riding as early as possible (#1) and late can mean fairly empty roads -
Plus morning and evening are the best times to view wildlife.

Old Faithful is a zoo - Firehole Lake Drive has almost no traffic and Fountain Geyser is lonely.
A million cars are at the Artist Point parking lot, but the trail is empty 100 yards past the viewpoint.
And the Lamar Valley is wonderful with excellent hiking opportunities.

If you approach the trip with what the park can offer and how best to do that -
Rather than what you want and how to do that - then you can have a great trip.

PS - The are a few off-road opportunities immediately outside the park in national forest;
however, much of the adjoining lands are designated wilderness areas where bicycles are prohibited.
Not to mention that it is critical grizzly habitat.
There is a stunning route along thecrest of the Gravelly Range on southern Montana. July earliest.

Pic - Soda Butte Creek

Routes / Re: Getting Across South Dakota
« on: February 26, 2017, 01:01:32 am »
I'm guessing that you are staying at a condo in Sun Valley and another at Spring Ranch in Jackson.

But there are lot of little off-route squiggles and other routings onto nonexistent roads.
The most ridiculous - the service road to the toe of Buffalo Bill Dam - totally off limits.
Others, too. I would avoid bicycle mode in the West on RidewithGPS.
Also, make sure you are detailed enough to click on the road itself.

Routes / Re: Getting Across South Dakota
« on: February 25, 2017, 09:49:51 pm »
I hasten to remind you that GoogleMaps is not necessarily your friend - esp. in the West.

General Discussion / Re: Transamerica trail temperatures
« on: February 25, 2017, 04:49:42 pm »
Prism has monthly maps of temp hi/lo/mean & precip.

Routes / Re: Route advice - Oregon to Maine
« on: February 24, 2017, 02:33:53 pm »
Hi again, Howard -

I don't live in Oregon - although I have friends who have been working on me for years to move there - but I have been starting and ending trips up and down the Oregon coast since September of 1987. (That was my 1st X-USA starting at Astoria.) I won't tell you how many time since you might think that i'm not quite right.

Like many, I think the southern coast is most spectacular, but it isn't convenient for a cross state tour. The middle coast has some wonderful sections - esp. from Depoe Bay south to Heceta Head. But the coast near Florence is level with dunes - not the ragged bluffs and rocks so typical of the Oregon Coast. The north coast has some great sections, too - Oswald West & the Three Capes. Pretty level near Astoria, too - unless you cross the Columbia to Cape Disappointment in Washington.

I've started/ended many trips in the Tillamook/Cape Lookout/Pacific City area. Tillamook has all services, plus a nice cheese factory. Pacific City is a funky little coast town with the essentials. On my X-USA trips, I have always wanted to have a day on either end to take in the coast. YMMV - but I like to get the feel and smell the salt and see the sun rise or set on the water.

Here's a trip inland from Pacific City recently -

I connected with the TransAm at Sisters after crossing Santiam Pass. Even if you took the designated TransAm, you would probably have to use Santiam Pass in June this year instead of McKenzie. Another option is to rougly follow US 20 from Newport (maybe Yaquina Head Lighthouse - cause the feel and the views are superb) thru the college town Corvallis to Santiam Pass. On this trip I cut off from the TransAm at Austin Jct. and rode thru the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho. There are some fantabulous hot springs that your chauffeur might enjoy.

About my pix - I don't know for sure where any of them are any more. My electronic filing methods seem to have copied my paper filing methods - which were limited, at best.

This pic - Sawtooth Mountains near Stanley in late June, 2004.

Best - J

Routes / Re: Route advice - Oregon to Maine
« on: February 23, 2017, 08:58:50 pm »
Well, the Bighorn Mountains are perfectly awful in late June.

Routes / Re: Getting Across South Dakota
« on: February 23, 2017, 04:43:34 pm »

I would hate to ride westbound on US 26 from Ontario to Austin Jct. - but eastbound is super.
Some killer downhills and, usually, a tailwind. It'll take 20 years off your face.
In 2015 I didn't get the prevailing tailwind, but the time before I was coasting in my big ring.
It really is one of the finest rides in eastern Oregon. And there is almost zero traffic until Vale.

There's a lodge at Austin Jct., store & cafe at Unity, nothing at Ironside, store long closed at Brogan but park with water, store at Willowcreek.
There's also a lovely back road along the bluffs from Vale to Ontario - much nicer than busy US 26.

(The TransAm section is fine - longer by 50+ miles - but Hwy 55 riding should be the minimum.)

About ID 55 - it has few shoulders and pretty heavy traffic.
As with all roads, it has different traffic levels depending on month, day, hour.
Much of the traffic is recreational - and not much commuter.

June - 8000; July 10,000 - - Neither is good.
Weekends have almost twice as much traffic as early weekdays.
Friday afternoon/eve and Sunday afternoons are the worst.
7:00a traffic is low every day (200 per hr) 7:00p traffic is low M, T, W (300 per hr)

This is why you get some people on websites saying - "That road was no problem."
While others say, "It was a death trap."


About Sage Creek Rd - How skinny will your tires be? Touring width? 32s or larger? I didn't have any problem with 1 3/8s. (35)
Of course, if there's a big storm, that's different. But the road is probably best 12 hours after a rain. Solid, not too much dust.
The scenery is muted - maybe one or two cars an hour - so you are not in trouble if something goes wrong.
And it allows you to ride the entire main road thru the park. Evening and early morning are best light.

Routes / Re: Route advice - Oregon to Maine
« on: February 23, 2017, 12:42:25 pm »
Howard -

Based on your other thread, sounds like you have switched from the Northern Tier to a combo of TransAm, Idaho, Wyoming, SD and then NT.
And you are going to have a sag wagon ?!?!? Piece o'cake.

Here's a link to the current snow situation in the West -

As you can see, the heaviest snows are in the Sierras and Southern Rockies.
Oregon, Idaho, and Wyoming are above average. Washington and western Montana below.
But that can change up until May. And storm tracks tend to retreat northwards in spring.
So, the Northwest could still get walloped in the next couple of months.

You don't offer a whole lot of info about how you will be riding.
I'm guessing more motels - since your sag wagon driver just may insist ??
Also speed of travel? 80 miles per day? More? Less?

I would avoid starting a trip on Memorial Day Weekend - esp. on the Pacific coast.
Before or after - but accommodations could be sold out and pricey then.
If you were to start on June 1, you will be in central Idaho pretty darn early.
I have toured in the NW in early June when it was still snowing and it ain't fun.
And big winter snows take a long time to melt out. 2015 was a light snow year.

Not to mention that Florence isn't a particularly attractive point on the Oregon coast.
And the Oregon coast is famous for being stunning.
If you're gonna do the Oregon coast, why not get the champagne?

How are you going to get out there? Will you be driving?
Two of the hardest times on a tour are getting started and getting back.
If you have a vehicle, it makes it so much easier where to start.

Gotta tell you that the Palouse southeast Washington is gorgeous in early June.
Did it last year and it was magical.

Three possible crossing options for Idaho:
Sawtooth Mountains -

Lewis & Clark Route (US 12) ACA L&C #6 -

Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes -
Miles of paved bike trail thru stunning scenery with great places for your sag driver to enjoy.


As for SD - SD 44 may be a little too far south if you are definitely hitting the Twin Cities.
(If MSP is just a waypoint, then it doesn't matter)
I would suggest US 14 and a combination of SD 34 and county roads east of Badlands N.P.

Routes / Re: Getting Across South Dakota
« on: February 22, 2017, 05:21:13 pm »
I've done the Sawtooths a couple of times -
They make a nice west-to-east route across Idaho - although Stanley can be COLD even in July.

I cut off the TransAm at Austin Jct. - staying on US 26 - with some killer downhills and tailwinds.
You can follow the Payette River all the way from Ontario to Banner Summit.
Great hot springs along the road between Garden Valley and Lowman.
(Services are extremely limited - the store/cafe at Lowman is closed, but there are a few lodges.)

I've gone thru Challis and Salmon on my trips - not Sun Valley - all beautiful.
Once you get out into the Snake River Plains it can get hot, esp. around Craters of the Moon.
I prefer ID 22/33 to Driggs over US 20/26 to Alpine.  Teton Pass is tough,
but there's almost as much climbing along Palisades Res. with narrow winding road.

Grand Teton is spectacular with a great bike trail. Jenny Lake has hiker/bikers camp sites.
They are making it harder and harder for for cyclists at Yellowstone's South Entrance.
I find that climbing up the plateau is easiest late in the day.
Traffic is lighter, you are shaded from the western sun, and hiker/biker sites are at Lewis Lake.
(I hope you are doing the big loop from West Thumb to O.F. to Norris to Canyon to Lake.)

The ride from Pahaska Tepee to Wapiti is truly spectacular along the Shoshone River
Be aware that there is no tent camping from Bridge Bay in YNP for the next 40+ miles east.
And you should hit the peak of wildflower season in the Bighorns.


Oh, yes - South Dakota.
Have you considered heading down to Spearfish and up Spearfish Canyon - super-duper!
Then you can hit touristy Deadwood and Nemo Rd into Rapid City.
Then SD 44 takes you to Badlands NP - which is really nice in early summer - brutal later.
If you are willing to do a little hardpack dirt - Sage Creek Rd from Scenic lets you ride the entire park.
(Or less dirt - 20 mi east on SD 44 to Conata Rd, 9 mi dirt)

Then a combination of US 14, SD 34, and maybe the back route I mentioned above?

And as for the Cheyenne River Res. - conditions are deplorable - and there's no excuse.
The two counties are roughly 80% Native Am and 20% white and many ways like apartheid South Africa.
Many communities lack water and sewer - substance abuse is epidemic. And horrible wrecks.
(Many it's random - but I've seen too many on my tours thru Indian country.)
The people I have met on reservations have been wonderful - but as a non-native, it's not easy.

Best - J

Pic - Badlands in June

General Discussion / Re: Recommendations for a tour beginning in Chicago
« on: February 22, 2017, 12:52:52 pm »
Time is money - and Amtrak, while cheap, is slow and often late.
I'm guessing you have from Friday evening with one week off until Monday morning 10 days out.
Driving means lots of time, exhaustion, plus getting back to your starting point.

You could ride from Chicago to the West Coast in four segments, if you are willing to look at travel options.
Since Chicago is an air and a rail hub, you could probably get in  7 days and 2 halves - max.
You saw where Canalligators combined air and rail to do four segments - something like that is needed.

Since it is about 2400 cycling miles to a number of West Coast points - then 1200 would be the midpoint.
And 600 miles is a damn good week-plus. 75 miles per. Plus there are always extra miles, don't forget.
Also, you'll want to start and end segments without a lot of complicated local travel.

I have taken the Empire Builder many times while cycling. (They left my bike in the wrong city, once ...)
Starting in places like Whitefish is great - but it is two days out from Chicago - and very late, too.
The best way to start/end in convenient locations is a non-stop flight plus a puddle-jumper.
And shipping your bike to a bike shop is usually cheaper than outrageous airline fees.
Plus, your bike will be there waiting for you.

Let's take Whitefish - for example:
Amtrak from Chicago - Dep CHI 2:15p Fri; Arr WFH 8:56p Sat
United from Chicago - Dep ORD 9:05a Sat; Arr 11:55a Sat - nonstop

Then there's time of year and direction.
There have been dissertation written about bike west-to-east vs. east-to-west.
But season is more important. The Plains have a long season, the Rockies a short one.
If you were to do an early-summer week plus a late-summer week -
It might be better to do the West west-to-east with the Rockies in later summer.
Then, perhaps, the High Plains in summer and the Corn Belt in fall the next year.

One possibility:
1. Washington coast to Kalispell or Missoula in Montana
2. Kalispell/Missoula to Sheridan in Wyoming.
3. Sheridan to Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
4. Sioux Falls to Chicago.

Another possibility:
1. Oregon coast to Missoula, Montana
And as above
Or via Idaho and Jackson, Wyoming

These would be 600+ mile weeks with tight starts and finishes.
But possible - esp. with air connections.

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