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Messages - jamawani

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Routes / Re: Connector Advice: WE to Northern Tier
« on: April 29, 2014, 03:59:33 pm »
I wrote a long comment that disappeared.

There a lots of motels in Ogallala and Broken Bow.
There's the Bunkhouse in Arthur and two motels in Arnold.
I think the Longhorn in Tryon is closed. No motel in Stapleton.

But in Tryon and Stapleton -
Call the county clerk and ask who rents rooms overnight.
There is court business that may run overnight - and hunters -
So I suspect someone in town rents rooms.

Point of info - the three counties have a combined population of less than 2000.

Routes / Re: Connector Advice: WE to Northern Tier
« on: April 29, 2014, 02:04:49 pm »
PS - Scott -

In northeast Colorado, US 6 from Fort Morgan to US 138 is a nice empty road to Julesburg.
It's a little tricky getting to Fort Morgan from Denver.

Did I mention Hwy 92 in Nebraska - - heh-heh
The longer route is from Ogallala to Arthur to Arnold
A shorter version (but morally questionable) is from North Platte via US 83.

Also, avoid US 34 in Iowa, period.

Routes / Re: Connector Advice: WE to Northern Tier
« on: April 29, 2014, 01:25:42 pm »
Here are cycling maps for both states:

Iowa -
Nebraska -

I've ridden across Nebraska many times - way better than Kansas.
Too many people stay on US 30 or US 6/34 - - bleah!
Doable if you are in a hurry and just want to cover the miles.

Hwy 92 from Arthur to Broken Bow lets you see the Plains as they were 200 years ago.
Much of the Sandhills region has never been plowed up. Very light traffic.
Little towns every 30 miles or so - much easier than Western Express.

It's a stormy time of year and you'll need to use caution.

There are some wonderful county roads across the southern tier of Iowa -
But you indicate you want to hit Des Moines.

If you cross the Missouri at Plattsmouth,
you can zig on county roads up to Silver City and Griswold.
Traffic on Hwy 92 drops considerably east of Griswold to Winterset.
Then zig-zag to Cummings and take the rail trail into DM.
Back roads via Montezuma to Iowa City.

Very few roads in Iowa have shoulders - be careful -
Choose routes with as low of traffic as possible.
Iowa is very bike-friendly - but the roads aren't great.

Pic - Loup River in Nebraska

Routes / Re: Western Express Water Supply in July
« on: April 28, 2014, 07:19:35 pm »
BG - This has been discussed at length here, at Bike Forums - Touring, and at Crazyguyonabike.

General Discussion / Re: no progress with Amtrak for GAP / C&O
« on: April 18, 2014, 02:37:33 pm »
Dave -

Passenger rail financial losses are a long and detailed subject - one that I have been involved with for some time - but also, one far too complex to discuss on cycle touring blogs. Suffice it to say that if I had an easy answer, I'd be Secretary of Transportation.

Almost all passenger rail all over the world has some degree of subsidy - but other forms of transportation do, too. Airports constructed at public expense - gate fees are only a fraction of cost. Cruise ship terminals. Etc. Etc. Despite the Highway Trust Fund - automotive transportation gets lots of hidden subsidies, too. That's why so many of us get rankled when people tell us to get our bikes off the road because THEY paid for them.

The only Amtrak route that makes money is the Northeast Corridor. Other corridors - like Los Angeles to Santa Barbara, Eugene to Vancouver - come close.  But loge-distance, overnight trains that have only one train each way per day have very high overhead, lengthy schedules, frequent delays, and high overhead costs. Washington to Chicago takes almost 18 hours on Amtrak - a little over an hour by air. Amtrak's travel time is the same as Greyhound's. Round-trip cost - - train - $188, bus - $180, plane - $240.

So even if Amtrak raised its fares to $240, they would still be losing $50+ per passenger and probably more since they would shed fare-conscious passengers to Greyhound. There are no easy answers - and getting bicycle baggage service to Cumberland is not going to be one of their top priorities - especially if it costs money.

General Discussion / Re: no progress with Amtrak for GAP / C&O
« on: April 18, 2014, 12:02:04 pm »
Remember, also, that the Capitol Limited route - Washington-Cumberland-Pittsburgh-Cleveland-Chicago - is a big money loser for Amtrak and that Amtrak is under considerable political pressure on Capitol Hill to reduce these losses. Annual losses usually exceed $25 million - with annual ridership under 225,000. That means that this train LOSES more than $100 for each passenger carried. It would be nice if Amtrak provided baggage service at Cumberland, but it is very unlikely to happen any time soon given the additional costs such would entail.

Routes / Re: From east to west starting June 2014
« on: April 12, 2014, 11:36:29 am »
Emilien -

Etes-vous flamand ou walon?
Il importe peu, trois Américains parlent français et personne ne parle flamand.
Je suis né près de Metz.

I was looking at your schedule and think it is more likely that you will be in Glacier in August, not Sept.
Also, like everyone else - you simply cannot miss Glacier and Going to the Sun.
That said, I would strongly urge you to consider a few days at Many Glacier.
Many Glacier is just north of Going to the Sun and the center for great hiking.
There is hiker/biker camping, camp store, showers, boat rentals, a pizza café, and a fine hotel.
And the hiking is out of this world.

Unless you absolutely must visit Missoula, I would suggest riding from Yellowstone to Glacier on US 89.
Between Gardiner and Livingston there is an old road on the east side of the Yellowstone River thru Pray.
Then US 89 via White Sulphur Springs has very little traffic and huge views.
It gets a little busy heading into Great Falls (The waterfalls on the Missouri are "great" but less in August.)
Great Falls has nice bike shops and outdoor services.

Heading north, US 89 has wide-open views of the Front Range and light traffic.
On the west side of Browning, there is an excellent small museum of Northern Plains Indian culture.
If you have plenty of time - I would suggest riding west on US 2, then to Two Medicine.
From Two Medicine you can ride all the way up to Many Glacier on the east side.
Otherwise, I would ride IR 464 from Browning to Babb - then into Many Glacier.

I have ridden Going to the Sun Road many times - it is ALWAYS worth it.
On the east side, I like to camp at Rising Sun rather than at St Mary -
Rising Sun also has a little café and showers - with hiker/biker camping.
St Mary campground has 400 places and is a parking lot full of RVs.

Choosing the best time to start riding Going to the Sun is tricky.
East to west is the best direction because you have the morning sun illuminating the mountains.
But you want to have sun - thus, you shouldn't leave too early.
I usually leave about a half-hour after sunrise.
No big breakfast - but I do snack often on the climb.

When you get to the top there are two possible hikes.
8 million people follow the boardwalk south to Hidden Lake - nice, but.
Highline Trail heads north from the parking lot - wow!
There is a small stretch where you have to hold on to a metal rope.
But you are literally on top of the mountains.

I usually spend a few hours up top, then zoom down.
There are two good camping options on the west side.
(Apgar, like St Mary, is way too big for me.)
Sprague Creek is on Lake McDonald right next to the lodge and services.
Avalanche is a little further away but - -
The trail to Avalanche Lake is a lovely short hike in the evening.

From Glacier I would suggest taking the Northern Tier route westwards.
There is a busy stretch of US 93 NW of Whitefish with no shoulders.
There is a totally empty paved road option from Trego to Libby Dam.
I once changed pants in the middle of this road with no concern for traffic.
Unfortunately, there is no photo to record this important event.

Anyhoo, here's a couple of photos - Along US 89 and in Glacier NP -
Tot ziens!

Routes / Re: Portland to San Francisco in 15 days, starting May 7th
« on: April 11, 2014, 02:50:52 pm »
Well - maybe or maybe not - -

If you do the coast in May - you should expect a fair amount of rain still.
If you do the Willamette Valley and Central Valley it will be drier.
Depends on what you want to do.

The Valley route is a bit shorter since you don't have to ride out to the coast.
But if you decide on the coast -
No need to go to Astoria or Tillamook - way too far -
Newburg to Carlton to Beaver - direct, forest route.

I've ridden both the Willamette and Central Valley - never together, though.
Actually, May would be a pleasant time - mid-summer is often really hot.
There are some great back roads down to Roseburg and south of Redding.
It's a little trickier getting across the Siskiyou Mountains.
But there are a number of good options.

Camping is a bit hard to find on the valley option.
There are a number of college towns -
Corvallis, Eugene, Ashland, Chico, and Davis -
So, Warmshowers or Couch Surfing should be possible.

General Discussion / Re: no progress with Amtrak for GAP / C&O
« on: April 11, 2014, 12:36:19 pm »
The Washington-Pittsburgh-Chicago route is a long-distance Amtrak route with baggage service in a traditional baggage car. That said, baggage service is limited to a few intermediate stops:

2014 Capitol Limited - Baggage Service:
Washington, DC
Pittsburgh, PA
Cleveland, OH
Toledo, OH
South Bend, IN
Chicago, IL

I think the last baggage handled at Cumberland was on the B&O Railroad up until May 1, 1971 when Amtrak took over and ended all passenger service via Cumberland until the mid-1970s. Baggage service on the former B&O segment was never restored to any intermediate stations once gone.

General Discussion / Re: no progress with Amtrak for GAP / C&O
« on: April 10, 2014, 05:18:50 pm »
Unfortunately - it is unlikely to offer many financial incentives for Amtrak. Baggage service is a headache for any and all carriers - thus, the airlines ever-increasing fees. Add to that the post-9-11 security issues and carriers would probably prefer that passengers travel with nothing - including clothing.

As a rail supporter since the late 1970s, I have seen a steady erosion of baggage services nationwide. Since many stops outside urban corridors have, at most, one train each day in each direction, it is prohibitively expensive to staff a station. For liability reasons it is risky to have people do their own loading.  It's one thing on urban routes with raised platforms or low-level car doors to have cyclist bring their own bikes on board - - but to get a bike into a baggage car may involve too much risk.

Then there is the potential for delays - ha-ha - as if Amtrak worried about delays.
I regret that Cumberland, MD does not have better rail services.
It would make a huge difference.

Routes / Re: From east to west starting June 2014
« on: April 10, 2014, 01:53:16 pm »
And as for the West -
and I must admit as a Westerner there is no place better -
You have incredible options.

Is Denver a definite destination?
From Nebraska, US 138 to Sterling is nice but then it gets tricky.
Hwy 14 to Fort Collins has light traffic and Hwy 14 is a beautiful ride over Cameron Pass.
If you want to ride Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain N.P., be aware that it is busy in summer.

Between you and me, I wouldn't head any further south than Boulder - nice college town -
Still, Fort Collins is a nice college town, too, with lots of bike services.
If you want to head into Denver - catch a shuttle from either location.

I love accessing RMNP via Cameron Pass - the Never Summer Mountains.
There is a service road that heads along a canal in the far NW corner of the park.
(Great cross-country skiing in the winter, too)
Then you can hike into the wilderness.

Walden is on the TransAm bike route.
If you are starving for company, then it make sense to follow the TransAm for a while.
But other routes are way more interesting. They do require a few miles of hard-pack roads, though.

One is via Steamboat, Craig, Maybell, Lodore, and Rock Springs.
Sections of US 40 up to Craig have moderate traffic - but then it gets really empty.
If you can arrange it, you can raft thru the Gates of Lodore in Dinosaur National Monument.
Spectacular canyons - kinda expensive though.
The ride up to Rock Springs is empty and lovely.

The other route is north from Walden to Encampment, Wyoming -
Then taking Hwy 70 over the Sierra Madre Mtns to Baggs.
Two miles south across the Colorado border is a paved road - Little Snake Rd
Mostly paved to Hwy 430 - 15 miles of hard-pack - true paradise of the empty West.

If you take either of the options you head north from Rock Springs on US 191 to Pinedale.
(Rock Springs has great railroad history of the Union Pacific - the first transcontinental RR)
If you leave Rock Spgs early in the morning, you will see the Wind River Mtns all day.

Pinedale has some spectacular scenery nearby - means heading out and back.
The best is Green River Lakes and Squaretop Mountain. Fabulous hiking.
As beautiful as the national parks with a fraction of the tourists.
Also - continuing towards Jackson - you should head to Granite Hot Springs
West of Bondurant - hot pool at the bottom of a waterfall!!

The advantages of riding via Rock Springs and Pinedale are many -
But you also can take full advantage of Jackson Hole and the Tetons.
There is a nice bike trail alongside the park road - it is a magical ride.
Plus there are hiker/biker campsites at Jenny Lake.
Plus-plus you can store your gear and hike into backcountry sites near Leigh Lake.

Yellowstone is not to be missed but requires caution in mid-summer.
I like to ride early and late - there are hiker/biker campsites at most campgrounds.
Morning and evening have far less traffic.
There is a fairly big climb from the south entrance to Lewis Lake.
I find an evening - i.e. after 6:00 - ride pleasant and shaded.
Lewis Lake has much quieter camping than Grant Village.

The TransAm route through Yellowstone cheats you out of the best.
Take a look at the park roads and notice the "Figure 8" pattern.
I would suggest Grant Village to Lake to Canyon to Norris to Mammoth.
That way you get to ride along Yellowstone Lake - take the Gull Point Rd -
And then ride through Hayden Valley with all of its wildlife.
Norris has a nice, small campground - the geyser basin is lovely in the evening.
From Norris, you can do an out & back to Old Faithful via Madison -
Then leave the park via the north entrance after visiting Mammoth Hot Springs.

Better quit now - - what to show you?? - - the Cathedral Group in Grand Teton - -

Routes / Re: From east to west starting June 2014
« on: April 10, 2014, 11:05:51 am »
Emilien -

We got stuck heading into Brussels once and it was pretty tough - which applies to you, also - because you have so many cities on your proposed route. And cities in the U.S. are probably harder to cycle into than in Europe. The real issue with U.S. cities is often the miles of suburbs where the automobile reigns supreme. Quite often, the city itself has lovely bike routes through parks and along creeks.

Which cities on your route are definite and which ones just possibilities?
With five months you will have plenty of time to take longer, but better, routes.

I agree with the discussion about getting out of New York City - there is a ferry service to Highland, New Jersey where you can ride out to the Atlantic Ocean dunes. From the coast you can ride across Jersey to the Delaware River at Lambertville and then up the Delaware River thru NE Pennsylvania and the Finger Lakes Region.

Just want to make sure that your visa will allow you to leave the U.S. - into Canada - and re-enter in Michigan.

Detroit? Really? Getting across the Detroit River is tough - plus the city ain't no picnic. There are wonderful ferries across the St. Clair River to towns like Algonac. Similarly, Chicago is not easy to ride into from the SE, but has great bike routes from the north and then leaving to the west. You could take the ferry from Muskegon, Michigan to Milwaukee, Wisconsin and then ride south into Chicago.

It will be getting hot by the time you get into Iowa and Nebraska - and unless you have ridden in North Africa or Australia - you ain't seen hot until you bake in the Great Plains. That said - I've ridden across Nebraska many times - and your route looks like it's the Interstate/AutoRoute or the roads alongside of it. Would you like to see the Great Plains as they looked 200 years ago? Highway 92 from Arnold to Arthur is spectacular.

Here are cycling map websites for Iowa and Nebraska:

And an old photo from long ago in the Nebraska Sandhills.

Routes / Re: Sierra cascades- Section 3 -in April end
« on: April 07, 2014, 02:09:03 pm »
After a very dry winter, southern Oregon and northern Calif got dumped on during March. There is considerable snow at higher elevations with the likelihood of more snow in April. Crater Lake Road will definitely be closed as will many forest roads. Plus, you have a good possibility of ongoing inclement weather in late April in the southern Cascades.

PS - There's 66" of snow at Crater Lake Headquarters today.

Rocky Mountain / Re: Fargo, ND to Denver, CO
« on: April 03, 2014, 11:03:26 am »
No - - there won't be any direct maps, but you can route yourself.
There are some fabulous roads in the Sandhills of Nebraska - truly top notch.
I suggest traffic volume maps from the various states from their DOTs.

ND -
SD -
NE -
CO -

Nebraska also has a nice cycling map -

Diagonal roads are rare in the Great Plains -
And when they do exist, they often attract high traffic levels.

There is a core route section from Valentine, NE to Sterling, CO that you should strongly consider.
From Valentine -
NE 97 south to Tryon
NE 92 west to Arthur
NE 61 south to Ogallala
US 30 west to Big Springs
US 138 - west to Sterling

This route has extremely low traffic, small towns at intervals, and great scenery.
Be aware that early summer is far better than mid summer when it can be brutally hot.

From Sterling into Denver you can follow US 6 and service roads -
But it gets increasingly tricky as you approach Denver metro.

In the eastern Dakotas you have a range of roads to choose from -
Generally they form a grid - so you will be going south, then west.
From the traffic maps above you can select highways with low traffic.

Best - J

Routes / Re: Cross Canada Tour - looking for route advice
« on: March 30, 2014, 07:10:14 pm »
Haven't been east of Winnipeg - but have done oodles west of there and up as far as the Mackenzie River in the NWT and the Yukon. I also fondly remember the "Queen of the North" which was my favorite ferry on the Inside Passage.

That said - there is an excellent, quiet route halfway between Calgary and Edmonton - i.e. neither the TransCanada or the Yellowhead. If you are okay with riding only the northern half of the Icefields Parkway from Jasper to Sask Xing, then you head east from there via Red Deer, Castor, and Kerrobert, SK to Saskatoon. You can even deviate a little off these routes thru Panoka and Hardisty and loop south of Saskatoon for even less traffic. Granted, if you skip Red Deer and Saskatoon, you will be missing most services for quite a few miles.

Have you considered starting your trip in Bella Coola or Prince Rupert? It's about 200 miles further using the Yellowhead Highway and can be wetter - esp. in May - but with very light traffic. Hwy 20 is a bear - literally with grizzlies galore - and Heckman Hill is brutal. I haven't had the pleasure of riding up Heckman, but riding down I nearly burnt out my rims. The Bella Coola route is roughly the same distance to Jasper as from Vancouver - via Williams Lake and Clearwater. From Bella Coola to Williams Lake it is super remote, but if you are familiar with backcountry BC, then you should be fine.

Have a great trip - - J

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