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Messages - jamawani

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Routes / Re: West from Pittsburgh to Ohio
« on: November 29, 2015, 11:47:25 pm »
Well, I live in Buffalo, Wyoming and can attest to the beauty of the Bighorns.
But they are nothing to be trifled with - tough, tough, tough.
If you hit the Black Hills in early June and the Bighorns in late June -
you will have peak wildflowers in both places.
Flowers to roll in.

Routes / Re: West from Pittsburgh to Ohio
« on: November 29, 2015, 05:31:13 pm »
NEB 91, 4 miles east of Brewster.

Routes / Re: West from Pittsburgh to Ohio
« on: November 29, 2015, 03:54:06 pm »
Rob -

I've been giving your reply a lot of thought.
As with anything, there are positives and negatives.

Yes, Southern culture is dog culture - - loose dog culture.
When I was biking across southern Alabama a few years ago I went into the the sheriff's office to complain.
When I mentioned the loose dogs, the deputy said, "Jus' shoot 'em." Hmmmm.

BUT!!! These dogs are big chickens. I was solo, you would be in a group of three.
If I stopped and went towards them - they ran with their tails between their legs.
I think that three riders would have few problems - and three riders stopping would scare any dog off.
I don't carry Halt spray - but if all of you have it - I see zero problems.
But you are right - the further north you are - the fewer loose dogs - a direct correlation.

And don't catch a bus - if for no other reason than that bus travel is worse than being chased by dogs.
(They don't call riding Greyhound, "Riding the Dog", for nothing.)
There is no way you will need to make up time - unless there is something major that goes wrong - mechanical or intestinal.
Either US 20 or NEB 2 across Nebraska is like super fabulous.
And nearly all the little towns have places to camp or tiny motels.
Plus a grocery store, a hardware store with a guy who can fix anything, and a home-cookin' cafe.
Nebraska is cycling paradise.

I've biked X-USA six times plus a lot more trips in the West -
What does your tentative route look like right now?
Are you planning to get all the way to the Pacific - or just to Seattle?

Best - J

Pic - Loup River in the Nebraska Sandhills

Routes / Re: West from Pittsburgh to Ohio
« on: November 27, 2015, 07:28:42 pm »
Rob -

Please do not trust Google Maps - they are notoriously wrong.
In the West it has routed people on nonexistent roads, private ranch roads, you name it.
It may take more work, but there are resources out there.

Years back I did the C&O in the summer and it was great - quiet, cool, adventurous.
But my roommate did it in the fall - when it was rainy - and was miserable.
As early as you are planning, all the water will be turned off, and the towpath will be a sea of mud.

I know you have talked about short daily mileage - and a six month window.
But March is just too early for this part of the country.
Not to mention what a pain it is to get across Chesapeake Bay.


Have you considered starting some place like Sapelo Island, Georgia? (Or Jekyll Island)
Then head across southern Georgia and southern Alabama - many civil rights sites.
Then grab the Underground RR ACA route -
Then working your way northwest up to St. Louie?
At 25 miles per day with every 5th day off - it would take about 9 weeks.
Not to mention lovely azaleas and dogwoods - and very few climbs.

PS - According to Rand McNally it's 827 miles from DC to St. Louis, but only 802 miles from Savannah to St. Louis.
And that doesn't include the extra 80 miles in the Delmarva peninsula plus crossing the bay.
Take away - it is no further leaving from the Georgia coast and with far better weather conditions.

Sapelo Island, Live Oaks and Palmettos

Routes / Re: Plummer ID to Ellensburg, WA
« on: November 27, 2015, 11:07:13 am »
Rob -

I've given this a lot of thought - and I have looked at your other posts to get a better idea of your overall trip.
Or course, there are three factors that, combined, limit your options - -
1) Short daily mileage 2) Avoiding routes with significant climbs 3) Using rail trails as much as possible

Most state transportation departments have traffic counts maps or date online. (AADT - Average Annual Daily Traffic)
Here is Washington's:

If you notice, WA 28 has very low traffic. WA 26 also has pretty low traffic counts, too.
Both would involve negotiating the I-90 Columbia River bridge at Vantage.
If you were to do WA 28 - I would suggest cutting up to Cheney - college town with services -
Then cutting over to Edwall and Harrington - and later cutting southwest to George (busier stretch).
If you were to do WA 26 - I would head southeast to Oakdale and Colfax -
With an option to loop down to Kahlotus and Connell for more services - then Othello and Royal City.

Via WA 28 you have the choice of hitching across the river from the boat ramp on the Old Vantage Highway.
That road has a spectacular descent down Frenchman Coulee - with basic camping at the river.
You could call the Vantage Resort and see if you could hire a person to come from the marina.
Otherwise, you would need to get on I-90 and then use extreme caution on the bridge.
Or you could call the resort and arrange a van/pickup shuttle across the bridge for either route.

I have hitched across a number of major rivers in the U.S. - Mississippi, Missouri, Potomac.
If the boat ramp is fairly busy, you just hang out and ask folks.
I was solo - with three it would be a little tougher.
It usually takes no longer than an hour or two at a well-used ramp.

Yet another option is one I outlined before -
Take the WA 26 option via Colfax and Connell then via Vernita bridge and Yakima.
The stretch from Connell to Yakima is remote, but does have minimal services at spaced intervals.
Then you have the gorgeous Yakima Canyon ride up to Ellensburg.


I would also like to mention that not all rail trails are created equal.
It's been years, but riding on the Milwaukee Road route in Montana was brutal - just railbed.
And getting to the start or from the endpoints of some rail trails sometimes defeats the purpose.
Rail trails are often built for local use - not for through riders.

The Trail of the Cooeur d'Alenes is an example.
The eastern section from Lookout Pass to Kellogg is often smack up against I-90.
It was built using environmental remediation funding because of past mining in the region.
Plus to get to the eastern end, you have to do a lot of riding on I-90 in Montana.

A little further north is a spectacular route that connects with the C d'A at Enaville.
From Thompson Falls, you cross the river on the restored High Bridge and then take MT 471 - almost no traffic.
At the Idaho border it becomes paved FR 9 (Forest Road) - Thompson Pass is only like 150 ft higher than Lookout.
Murray and Pritchard have basic services.


Routes / Re: Plummer ID to Ellensburg, WA
« on: November 24, 2015, 10:33:46 pm »
Most of the John Wayne Trail in eastern Washington is undeveloped and brutal.
Also, there is no crossing of the Columbia heading towards Ellensburg except the I-90 bridge at Vantage.
That bridge has two lanes on each side, heavy traffic, and zero shoulder.

Where are you getting your route info - Google Maps?
Because there is a lot of garbage in your route - even worse if you have a kid with you.
You can't bike the west side of the Columbia - no roads - certainly nothing but trails.
And the Yakima Firing Range is off limits to entry.
Also, you have some pretty tough gravel roads in the eastern Washington section.

Time of year matters a lot in eastern and central Washington.
If you are going to be riding in mid to late summer - you should consider further north.
The Yakima Valley broils in late summer - plus the plateau is extremely remote.

Heading over the Cascades into Seattle you have 4 options:
WA 20 - over the North Cascades - light to moderate traffic - cool, somewhat remote
US 2 - Stevens Pass - moderate-plus traffic, sometimes heavy - inconsistent shoulders
The Iron Horse Trail - Snoqualmie Tunnel - check for construction planned for next year
WA 410 - Chinook Pass - light to moderate traffic to the east with stunning views of Mount Rushmore

So it seems you want to connect the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes with the Iron Horse Trail.
Not easy - especially in August.

You can work your way southwest thru the Palouse via St Johns and Lacrosse -
Then via Washtuchna, Kahlotus, and Connell to the Vernita Bridge over the Columbia -
Then to Yakima and up the very scenic Yakima Canyon to Ellensburg.

There is camping at Scootenay west of Connell, rest area w/water at the bridge
And a store where you can get stuff and, maybe, camp behind at the junction of WA 24 & WA 241

I've biked a lot of the back roads of eastern Washington - traffic is light - but can be really remote.

Routes / Re: Bicycle Route 66
« on: November 15, 2015, 11:34:51 am »
Crazyguyonabike is featuring John Meiners' "Route 66" journal this week.
Westbound - lots of headwinds west of Amarillo. Granted, it is just one journal.

Cold. Wet.
But it would be a perfect time to tour Death Valley - -
And next March may be a bumper crop year for wildflowers.

I live in northern Wyoming and have cycled nearly every paved road in the state.
(And quite a few dirt roads, too.)

My guess is that it will be about mid-June when you hit Yellowstone - pretty perfect.
Yellowstone can still have a late snow then, but you should also catch peak wildflower season.
If you are willing to do some serious climbing - then crossing the Bighorn Mountains will be incredible.

I have mapped out sections across the northern part of the state -
From Yellowstone Lake - east on US 14/16 to Cody - the Wapiti Valley is a stunning ride.
From Cody stay on US 14/16 - but cut over via Wyo 30 to Basin - high desert and irrigated farms.
From Basin take Wyo 31 to Nowood Rd. to Tensleep - incredible colors - like a Gauguin painting.
Up from Tensleep on US 16 - magnificent canyon walls and over to Buffalo.
You should really plan to camp at moderately high elevation  and take in the wildflowers here.
From Buffalo, US 16 to Ucross and continue on US 14/16 to Gillette.
(A lovely ride - longer, but soooo much better than getting on I-90.)
From Gillette, Wyo 51 to Moorcroft - then US 14 and Wyo 24 to Devils Tower.
Continue on Wyo 24/SD 34 thru Aladin (general store) to Belle Fourche.

Tensleep Canyon

If you are interested I can forward you the strip maps.

General Discussion / Re: Getting out of Dulles Airport.
« on: November 12, 2015, 06:00:53 am »
Have you considered Warmshowers or Couchsurfing?

Routes / Re: Bicycle Route 66
« on: November 11, 2015, 08:27:49 am »
There was always two-directional traffic on Route 66.
Not all Okies when to live in California permanently - a significant portion were seasonal workers.
The song, "Route 66", references a growing tourist travel after WWII - again, both ways.
(Sorry, but there was no Route 66 in gold rush days - the Overland Trail, yes.)

And I dispute those who say wind doesn't make a difference.
The prevailing wind direction from the Colorado River to the Great Plains is from the southwest.
Windroses for Kingman and Gallup -

In the Great Plains the prevailing summer wind direction is southerly -
Westbound on R66 is actually southwest, eastbound is northeast.

Wind, of course, is highly variable - any one day or one week can vary.
But on average, a westbound rider will encounter significantly more headwind.

Probably the most important consideration is time of year.
The Mojave Desert can be brutally hot and is extremely remote.
A spring trip should probably be west-to-east - say April & May.
From June thru Sept., the Mojave is scorching.
So the best westbound time is Sept & Oct. - but days are shorter.


General Discussion / Re: camping sites in the Western USA
« on: November 07, 2015, 03:00:00 am »
Preston -

As many of the earlier posters have said, camping on the TransAm in small towns is pretty easy and cheap.
Kansas towns are especially welcoming - nice parks with cafes and grocery stores nearby.
(What Kansas lacks in scenery is made up for by its hospitality.)

Once you hit Pueblo, CO you get into the West where public lands predominate.
You are permitted to camp anywhere on National Forest (woods) and Bureau of Land Management (desert) lands -
Provided you are at least 1/2 mile from a developed site. (Some exclusions)
Dispersed camping is generally prohibited in National Parks and varies on state lands.

Water and sanitation are issues in dispersed camping - a water filter and a trowel are essentials.
Also, water sources are infrequent - esp. in Utah and Nevada.

General Discussion / Re: Dogs n' bears
« on: November 07, 2015, 02:47:16 am »
Your voice is the first deterrent against dogs.
If you can rival Pavarotti and use choice words, a dog will back down.
Unlike most here - I do not carry dog spray -
I have rarely had to jump off my bike - I jump TOWARDS the dog.
I have never been bitten. But you have to be dominant.

As for bears, any state or national park in bear country should have beat boxes. Use them.
If you random camp in bear country - and you should for the pleasures this offers -
You should know basic bear camping techniques -

NEVER eat in your tent. The odors remain.
Not just for bears, but also for raccoons - who will rip open your tent to get to food.

Routes / Re: Diversion from Western express - advice needed !
« on: November 07, 2015, 02:29:02 am »
Preston -

I have ridden the US 163 from Kayenta to Mexican Hat a few times without concern.
Yes, it has a little more traffic than surrounding roads, but nothing like E.U. roads.
Also, by this time you will have acclimated to American road conditions - albeit without shoulders at times.

There is a lovely route from Dolores, CO to Bluff, UT via Cortez, McElmo Creek Rd., and Aneth.

Are you aware that there is a shuttle service that may take your bike from rim to rim at the Grand Canyon?
I've ridden to one rim and hiked across a half dozen times. But the service has to be begged to shuttle the bike.
Just another option, in case you are interested.

Hiking Down into the Grand Canyon

I have also ridden in to the North Rim (which has an amazing hiker/biker campground) a number of times.
It's a hefty climb in heat and with little shade up to the Kaibab Plateau - esp. for a Limey.
US 89 has heavy traffic and inconsistent shoulders - less traffic on US 89A, but still a good deal.


If you are already doing this, you might want to consider taking US 6 across Nevada rather than US 50 -
And then crossing the Sierra Nevadas on CA 120 - in Yosemite National Park.
US 6 is even more remote than US 50 - and Yosemite is, well, Yosemite.

Best - J

Routes / Re: Trans Am Yellowstone bypass
« on: November 07, 2015, 02:03:21 am »
I was planning on leaving Yorktown the first week in May, 2016. I have no real time constraint but was thinking I would shoot for 8 weeks to get to Astoria. I was just wanted to have a shortcut in my back pocket in case for physical or mental reasons I needed to cut off some days and still make it to the Pacific. I just have to end up somewhere I can get my bike shipped back to Illinois and get to an airport.

MKK - I have ridden cross country a half dozen times and a dozen more major trips in the West.
Yes, there is a stunningly beautiful and shorter route from Jackson, Wyoming west thru Idaho.
This route has moderate to low traffic most of the way - certainly less traffic than Yellowstone Park itself.
I have posted some maps and a journal over at Crazyguyonabike.

Willow Pass in central Idaho - - the Sawtooth Mountains are also spectacular.

Here is a journal with maps and photos from a trip last summer.
I tend to do a few stretches of dirt - but the Idaho route is complete -
Although W-to-E - it would be Jackson, WY to Stanley, ID to John Day, OR

I prefer the route through Rexburg rather than Idaho Falls - but I had to get a replacement bolt in Idaho Falls.


If you are planning on leaving in early May and expect an 8-week trip, you will be in the West in mid to late June.
Mid to late June in the high country can still be winter. Did you know that?
Yes, you will have fabulous wildflowers - but be prepared for a late snowstorm, too.

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