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Messages - litespeed

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Routes / Getting Home from the big ride?
« on: July 26, 2007, 05:48:14 pm »
I just had to cut short my summer touring and come home to straighten out a major rental/tenant problem. I flew home and sent the bicycle and gear UPS. But I already had the plane ticket. I got a bike box free at a local shop and put the panniers and gear in with the bicycle and in a couple of other boxes about a foot square. I padded the bicycle and wheels with a lot of newspaper.
The problem with flying is that the further in advance you buy the ticket the cheaper it is. Changing a flight date can cost anything from free to $100. If you can go to the airport and talk personally with an agent your chances of a free ticket change are a lot better.
Naturally this is all a lot easier if you have friends or family at your destination.

Routes / Southern Tier in Winter?
« on: July 28, 2007, 10:33:26 am »
The Continental Divide on Interstate 10 (between Lordsburg and Deming) is just a sign on a flat stretch of the highway - otherwise not even noticeable. I actually laughed when I passed it. Of all the times I have bicycled across the Divide this was by far the easiest.

Routes / Southern Tier in Winter?
« on: July 27, 2007, 11:10:28 am »
Texas weather is very unpredictable. I'd say your chances of hitting cold weather in winter (Dec.-Feb) are about 50-50. You could increase your chances of warm weather by deviating south from the ACA route where feasible. For instance, you could get off the route after Louisiana, scoot down to Galveston and go along the coast and on to San Antonio. Also, you could ride the shoulder or frontage roads of I10 and I8 in Arizona.
I once crossed southern Texas west-to-east in November and fought ENE headwinds and a surprising amount of rain all the way across. So you never know....

Routes / MidWest Route info
« on: July 26, 2007, 05:56:42 pm »
The Katy Trail is very hard packed and bicyclable with any type of bicycle. It's the longest rail-to-trail in the country. I have done most of it (Clinton to Dutzow) and recommend it highly.

Routes / MidWest Route info
« on: July 18, 2007, 11:53:22 am »
If I were you I would avoid Iowa altogether. The state generally doesn't put paved shoulders on their highways - just heavily graveled shoulders that are really not usable on a touring bike or even a mountain bike. Crossing Iowa on US34 was some of the worst bicycling I have ever done.

By all means scoot south and get on the Katy Trail. It's a delightful way to cross Missouri. Get a copy of "The Katy Trail Guidebook" by Brett Dufur.

Routes / Crossing Missouri - Use Katy Trial?
« on: June 05, 2007, 12:00:04 pm »
The Katy Trail surface is plenty hard enough for your 700x32 tires. I recommend it highly. It is very peaceful and quite scenic where it hugs the Missouri River.
I did most of it - Clinton to Dutzow - last year on my return from Utah to my home in Florida. It was a highlight of my trip and a fine break from fighting traffic.
Make sure you get a copy of the "Katy Trail Guidebook" by Brett Dufur.

Routes / Northern tier, Hwy 20, washington, beware
« on: June 04, 2007, 02:04:34 pm »
Every time I have come upon a torn up (construction job) stretch of highway the flag person has either waved me through after the cars or called for a girl (it's always a girl) in a pickup to carry me and my bike through. Apparently they can't legally refuse a bicyclist passage if motor vehicles are allowed through.

This message was edited by litespeed on 6-4-07 @ 10:05 AM

Routes / Pacific Coast advice!!
« on: April 25, 2007, 10:15:08 pm »
There are KOA's at Eureka, Manchester and Petaluma and plenty of state parks on your route. At the state parks there is most always a cheap hiker/biker section with plenty of fellow touring cyclists to socialize with and exchange stories and information.

I can't think of anywhere in the country with more places to camp than the west coast.

Routes / Pacific Coast advice!!
« on: April 25, 2007, 02:39:08 pm »
The rainy season should be over by the time you leave so you should have nice weather and good tailwinds. A front might come through and break it up but that can happen any time.

This is a very bicycle friendly stretch. You will be on side roads or Route 1 most of the way. When you do you ride 101 it is no problem.

Allow some time to take in the redwoods along the way. There is nothing in the world like it.

You'll need low gears for the tough little climbs right there near Crescent City and here and there along Route 1 after the right turn at Leggett. The scenery is well worth it, though. Bring your camera and plenty of capacity.
Don't forget your copy of "Bicycling the Pacific Coast" by Tom Kirkendall and Vicky Spring. It's a necessity.

The scenery is the main draw but, aside from the redwoods, you might stop and tour Fort Ross.

Bring a good pair of walking shoes and give yourself a few days to walk all over San Francisco and Sausalito. And do a boat tour of the Bay.

This message was edited by litespeed on 4-25-07 @ 2:00 PM

Routes / Winds ... which way do they really blow?
« on: April 23, 2007, 01:33:31 pm »
My experiences with wind:
I had light westerly headwinds going east to west across Michigan and Wisconsin but no appreciable wind going westward across Iowa. I've had intermitently strong southerly winds while going westward across Nebraska then faced strong west winds when I entered Wyoming. But they were often broken up by weather fronts.
When you get out west strong westerly winds prevail up the river valleys like the Colombia on the WA/OR line and the St. Joe in northern Idaho.
The most relentless headwinds I ever faced were strong SE winds while going ESE across Kansas. The strongest headwinds I ever faced were westerly winds while going westward near Lubbock, TX.
My guess is that headwinds are less of a problem going east-to-west on your northern route.

This message was edited by litespeed on 4-23-07 @ 9:36 AM

Routes / Vancouver, Canada to San Fran
« on: April 16, 2007, 10:56:36 am »
The steep climbs are along the California coast down to a little north of San Simeon. But there was nothing that I couldn't handle. You will, however, need low gears.
The state parks/campgrounds in California aren't as well maintained as the excellent ones in Oregon. Winos are a nuisance the further south you get down the California coast.
Between October and about April storms roll through regularly. They can be pretty miserable.
I found it surprisingly difficult to get a good, hearty meal. Lots of touristy, frou-frou restaurants. No good truck stop restaurants. Keeps your weight down.
The campgrounds usually have a cheap biker section with lots of friendly touring cyclists to swap tales and information with.
Bring a good pair of walking shoes and give yourself a few days to walk all over San Francisco and Sausalito.
The west coast is spectacularly scenic. Every touring cyclist should do it at least once.

This message was edited by litespeed on 4-17-07 @ 6:44 AM

Routes / Crossing the Mighty Mac
« on: April 13, 2007, 04:09:40 pm »
I've read that they discourage or forbid cycling across the Mackinac Bridge but they have a "Drivers' Assistance Program". You call in advance or just show up and wait for help across. I have done this at the Chesapeake Bridge/Tunnel. A maintenance man took me across in his pickup. They might have a similar service for the Mac.
The website is You could e-mail or phone them and ask what to do.

Routes / Rte20 NY State
« on: April 11, 2007, 11:18:39 pm »
I have crossed the Finger Lakes region partially once and fully once. It is brutally hilly with short, steep climbs and descents. Alternate 20 is particularly bad. I don't think they even mowed the grass before laying down the asphalt.
Best to go along further north along the Erie Canal or NY Bicycle Route 5.
To order the "Cycling The Erie Canal" guidebook go to:

This message was edited by litespeed on 4-17-07 @ 4:36 PM

Routes / Cross Country Route Choice
« on: April 06, 2007, 07:15:31 pm »
As usual, I beat the drums for US14. You could take the trans-am or enjoy the tailwinds in the Colombia River gorge as far as Yellowstone, see the sights there then pick up US14. This will take you over the Big Horn Mts. (A fearsome climb, I'll admit), The Black Hills (Mt. Rushmore, etc.) and The Badlands.
Then cross Minnesota and Wisconsin to Manitowoc where you take the ferry to Ludington, MI. Bike across Michigan and into Ontario at Port Huron, across southern Ontario to Buffalo , NY. There you could pick up New York bike route 5 or do the Erie Canal Trail.
However, if you do the Northern Tier You have the advantage of being able to jog north and take in Jasper and Banff Parks, arguably the most spectacular scenery on earth.
If you do either one of these, don't forget your passport.

Routes / joshua tree from southern tier
« on: March 25, 2007, 10:48:00 am »
I did Victorville-Indio-El Centro in November. Cold at night but warm enough by day. 86 is an OK bicycling road - lots of traffic but lots of good paved shoulder. Sufficient facilities. Yucca Valley towards Palm Springs on 62 is a looong downhill.
I haven't been into Joshua Tree. It is reputed to be devoid of facilities - even water - so you might want to base yourself in Yucca valley or Twentynine Palms to tour the place.

This message was edited by litespeed on 3-25-07 @ 7:29 AM

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