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Messages - jamawani

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Dear Chipped -

Looks like you are going east to west quite early in the season.
We've had a cold, wet May here in Wyoming as you probably know.
There should be a warm-up this weekend, but then another cool-down.

Don't let the Yellowstone closure get you down.
I have cycled every inch of Yellowstone road and know it is worth it.
Actually, I believe that the Canyon-Norris loop is a much better route.

From West Thumb - a lovely, active geyser basin on the lake - head NE to Lake.
It is worth getting off the main loop and heading down to the lake at Lake.
The old Lake Hotel and the views are superlative - plus there's a camp store and picnic spots.

From Lake - the road thru Hayden Valley can be narrow and busy at times -
But Hayden Valley is the Serengeti of Yellowstone - you are likely to see herds of buffalo.
There are also some lovely spots alone the Yellowstone River.

There are two access areas to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone -
Artist Point is on the South Rim (1st left) - hardly anyone walk out on the trail.
After you cross the river, make sure to use the North Rim Road to access Canyon Village.
You can hike down to the falls (long, steep) from the first turnout.
Canyon Village has the best hiker/biker campsites in the park - plus nearby showers and café.

From Canyon - it is a short ride west to Norris - pleasant campground, no store -
But Norris has the most extensive geyser basin in the park - best early morning or evening -
Thus it might make sense to camp here.

From Norris - the Gibbon River Road is a pleasant, downhill ride to Madison -
The road was reconstructed recently so it has moderate shoulders and good pavement.
Madison campground's hiker/biker sites are only so-so - no store -
But the river and cliffs are lovely here - plus elk herds with calves.

From Norris you can do an out-and-back to Old Faithful -
I would climb on the old Firehole Road - zoom back downhill on the return.
Above Firehole, the road follows the river - gentle ride.
Make sure to stop at Grand Prismatic Spring if you do this.
Old Faithful is a zoo - one zillion tourists and cars - even a cloverleaf interchange.

When riding in Yellowstone - consider riding early and late.
Because there are hiker/biker campsites, you need not worry about camping.
From the South Entrance - a late afternoon ride will keep you in the shade with lighter traffic -
Rather than roasting in the sun with heavy traffic and no shoulders while you climb.

I prefer Lewis Lake to Grant Village - quiet and pleasant.
(Actually, Grant Village Campground is closed until June 21 - bear habitat)
(And Lewis Lake is closed until June 15, too)
(Speaking of bears - never, never eat in your tent.)

So you will need to camp just south of the park -
I do not care for Flagg Ranch - expensive ($35) and touristy - but it is the only place.
You can also ride in a mile and rough camp along Grassy Lake Rd - 
Or camp at Lizard Creek in Grand Teton.

It's 70 miles from Lizard Creek to Canyon Village - with a big climb.
You should plan on those endpoints - the park will arrest you if caught rough camping.
And it could mean the end of your trip if you are a foreign national.
Late May/early June is still pre-season in much of the park.
But there are ways to do it and get the most from your time in the park.

Have a great ride!  J

Pic - Hayden Valley

General Discussion / Re: Flying With Touring Gear
« on: May 27, 2015, 09:30:05 am »
Generally speaking, I do not go as fast with my bike loaded with panniers as I do without -
But there have been times when I was almost "flying" even with all my touring gear.
Nevada comes to mind with all the mountain passes and airport runway, straight-shots down.
Just let 'em rip.

Gear Talk / Re: How heavy is your touring bike (unloaded)?
« on: May 23, 2015, 11:39:28 am »
She ain't heavy, she's my sister.

Gear Talk / Re: Touring without fenders - big mistake?
« on: May 20, 2015, 02:38:40 am »
Fenders?  Nah.
First off, I try to plan tours in low rainfall regions or seasons.
Second, if it does rain, I hunker down for a few hours and ride between rain showers.
Third, if it's raining all day, I chill out. Watch a game at the bar. Read in the library.
Since I don't like riding in the rain, I see little need for fenders.

In Europe they speak funny languages and have accents and umlauts.

Routes / Re: Touring From Seattle Beginning Early In May
« on: April 30, 2015, 08:29:36 am »
Also, the I-90 bridge over the Columbia at Vantage is super dangerous.
No shoulder - zero - and pretty heavy traffic.
There is no old highway bridge option.
The Milwaukee Railroad bridge downstream remains closed, too.

This is unfortunate because the old highway from Ellensburg to Vantage is super.
And the back roads on the east side of the river are also excellent for touring.

Routes / Re: Earliest to Leave on Trans Am - West to East - 2016
« on: April 29, 2015, 05:43:46 am »

Phoenix - this question has been asked many times.
Did you do a basic search?

People have been doing the TransAm since 1976 -
Leaving in late May and early June from Oregon -
And getting to the East coast by August.

Some years, McKenzie Pass opens later -
But there is always the Santiam Pass option.

It also depends upon your riding style and speed.
12 weeks is a lot of time - many average riders do it in 10 weeks.
So if you left June 10th - you could arrive by August 20th.

Very doable.

Actually - -

The large loop from West Thumb to Lake to Canyon to Norris to Madison westbound -
Or from Madison to Norris to Canyon to Lake to West Thumb eastbound -
Is so much better, anyway.

From West Thumb to Lake there are a long stretches where you are riding right along Yellowstone Lake.
(Plus, if you do the short Gull Point loop, you can have a very private time out on the point.)
From Lake to Canyon is the American Serengeti - with herds of buffalo in Hayden Valley.
The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is stunning - but missed by almost all TA riders.
Norris Basin is one of the best geyser areas - esp. in the evening if camping at Norris.
The ride along Gibbon River is quite pleasant - the road recently widened.
If you want to take in Old Faithful, you can always ride up from Madison Jct.

The stretch from Old Faithful to West Thumb is one of the worst to ride in Yellowstone.
Narrow, heavy traffic, and two passes with a dip and curve that gobbles up your downhill.
It's 30 extra miles doing the full loop - 60 if you add the Old Faithful leg.
That's 1/2 day for the loop - - 1 full day for the loop plus Old Faithful.
If you bike across the entire U.S. of A. - what's a half day?

Yellowstone traffic can be moderate-plus, even heavy at times.
The worst is at Old Faithful right after the geyser goes off and everybody leaves.
(That's why they have a ridiculous cloverleaf interchange in the park there.)
You can get the best riding in by leaving super early when roads are almost empty.
Plus, early riding affords you the best chance to see wildlife.
Also, since all campgrounds on the loop have hiker/biker campsites,
you can ride in the evening and enjoy hiking in the middle of the day.

Bicycle Route 66 / Re: Mid-summer heat on Route 66
« on: April 04, 2015, 09:12:33 am »
I have more than 100,000 miles of riding over 30+ years -
In all places and climates.

I have done a lot of "threading the needle" **
Especially when I was younger.

Sometimes I lucked out - other times I was miserable.
In retrospect, I would have enjoyed many trips more -
Without the needle - and with no loss of moral value.


** Speaking of Needles -
Needles, CA - - Avg. July Hi - 109, Avg. July Lo - 84

Routes / Re: USGS maps for touring anybody?
« on: March 29, 2015, 11:17:45 am »
Actually, there is an online site - -

Although it says "USGS Store" you can view almost any map that the USGS has published in the past 100 years.
The drawback is that these files (scanned maps) are huge and might be problematic downloading on the road.
Also, they might be tough to read on a smartphone - less so on a note pad.

Some of the 1:250 and 15 minute maps are terribly outdated. Even the 1:100 are often old, now.
Most 7 1/2 minute maps have been updated, but the level of detail may be more than you need.
ACA maps are great if you don't plan to wander off route - but of little use if you do.

I have found that National Forest maps are ideal for cycling - the scale is 1inch = 2 miles.
Many have topo contours now and most are now available in plastic.
Crossing the Cascades might entail two or three maps - same for the Rockies.
They have campground, backroad, trail and facilities information.
Plus, land ownership status for those who wish to do dispersed camping.

Routes / Re: Two Canadians biking across Canada & the United States
« on: March 16, 2015, 10:00:37 pm »
Quand on veut, on peut - -

Heading west in early July will put you in Vancouver by the end of summer.
Then you will have perfect weather to head down the Pacific Coast in the early fall
And good weather across the southern U.S.

Heading east, the timing doesn't work out nearly so well.

Routes / Re: Hwy. 49 from St. Mary, Mt.
« on: March 03, 2015, 03:32:10 pm »
I agree with Indy about US 2 west of the park.
There is a short stretch with zero shoulders and heavy traffic.
It would be nice if Blankenship were paved all the way or shoulders were available on US 2 -
But such is not the real world in which we live.

About camping in Glacier - -
Apgar and St. Mary are like zoos with a zillion RVs.
I think one or both also tack on a "reservation" fee for hiker biker camping.
On the west side, either Sprague Creek - close to MacDonald Lodge or Avalanche - close to the Avalanche Lake rail are nice.
On the east side, Rising Sun is super - with showers available and trails and the lake just across the road.

You are not planning to go to Many Glacier - the finest road access in the park?
Lord have mercy, child! I do not know what's gotten into you.
Again, hiker/biker campsites - camp store and pizza café nearby - plus Many Glacier Lodge.

Highway 49 is steep and pretty narrow - plus US 89 has a big climb out of St. Mary but with two lanes uphill.
After that US 89 is also narrow with a good deal of summer traffic.
Still, Two Medicine is certainly worth visiting - great hikes, camp store.

General Discussion / Re: Newbie questions on solo touring.
« on: March 01, 2015, 11:43:40 am »
Dear Newb -

40 days and 40 nights should be plenty of time -
But watch out if you see the waters rising.

Working backwards, you will be riding in Texas in early July. Uggghh!
But most of the rest of your riding will be nice if you stay fairly high.
(Of course, Colorado now has multiple definitions of that term.)

Accessing most metro areas - except places like Portland - can be tough.
Is Salt Lake City a definite destination? Some tough touring on the Wasatch Front.

The way I count it - it's usually about 2 weeks Portland to San Fran -
Then another two weeks to central Utah via the Western Express route.
(You can ride via Yosemite, Tonopah, and Caliente, too.)
So that gives you about a week to ride from central Utah to Taos, NM.
Then another week to hightail it to Austin.

On the Pacific coast most Oregon and Calif parks have cheap hiker/biker campsites.
You can camp anywhere on federal land in Nevada/Utah for free outside of National Parks.
Plenty of free camping in the national forests of Colorado and northern NM.
And small towns (not big towns) in west Texas are usually very generous letting you camp in the park.

Avoid microbreweries and women in fishnet stockings in the evenings and you should be fine $$$-wise.

Routes / Re: Primitive Camping on Pacific Coast Route
« on: February 20, 2015, 10:31:16 am »
If you are locked into the date - why not choose a better route?
Like the southwest desert country?

If you start in San Diego, you can ride northwards via Anza-Borrego and Joshua Tree to Mojave National Monument and Death Valley, then perhaps extreme southern Utah, the Grand Canyon, and the Four Corners region to Albuquerque - - and take Amtrak back.

The desert Southwest also has unlimited opportunities for dispersed camping - but also designated sites with facilities. Not sure about Oregon parks, but California parks have had multiple years of budget cuts. I would suspect that many are not open yet in March - especially those further north and on the coast.

I have to politely disagree with staehpj1. I notice that on his TransAm he averaged just shy of 60 miles per day - - 73 days, 4244 miles. Similar for his other trips. I do not know many people who average 80 miles per day over a lengthy trip. I realize that staehpj1 prefers not to take "rest" days, per se, but nearly every rider has plenty of half days. Bad weather part of the day or just coming upon a place that is really cool and you want to explore - whether its a town or a perfect campsite. And according to the old math - two halves equal a whole.

I probably do more hiking and exploring than staehpj1 does while on tour - backcountry up to the Pacific Crest in Yosemite, crossing the Grand Canyon and picking up my bike on the other side, hiking up to the ancient bristlecone forest in Great Basin. And when you ride up to the Yukon and Alaska, there are just some days where it is best not to set out at all - esp. if you have the advantage of some kind of shelter. So maybe, I use more off days - but I think you have to plan for some.

Then there are the big breakdowns which I hope you never have - but if you tour long enough you probably will. I can think of three offhand - when you are in Fumbuck, Arkansas miles from nowhere. I had a derailleur snap. I had a seat post snap. (Which makes for some rather uncomfortably cycling) And I had a wheel rim split. If you care close enough to a big town with a bike shop, you can limp along. But if you are 150 miles away from anything, you may just need to call Performance, FedEx it, and wait.

Also, there are unexpected glitches that can happen at the beginning or end of your trip. The worst thing if you fly or Amtrak it is for your bike not to show up on the baggage carousel. That has happened to me once - when it went to the wrong city. Took a day and a half to get it. (Read the small print in your baggage "contract". Nice airlines may offer to cover some of your costs, but they don't have to.)

I stick by my math - 400 miles per week (66 per day + a day off) if you are a moderate cyclists. 450 miles per week (75 per day + a day off) if you are moving at a good clip. Check out the journals at CrazyGuy and see how many people did the TransAm + Western Express (3762 miles) in less than 8 weeks.

My first cross-country trip was from Astoria, OR to the Outer Banks of NC - used a more direct route than the TransAm, so let's say about 3600 miles in 10 weeks. I was 31 at the time, commuted regularly 25 miles round-trip and had taken a few weekend rides prior to that. I stopped to smell the flowers at various national parks and other places, but 8 weeks would have been pushing it.

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