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Messages - valygrl

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So, no offense, but I don't understand why you would try to force a tour into the wrong time of year.  You will almost certainly encounter a lot of rain and cold, which is not just, you know, wet and cold, but can be kind of dangerous too, as drivers won't be able to see you as well, there's more debris on the road, you get more flat tires, and to top it all off a bunch of the camp grounds will probably closed, and you won't meet any other bike tourists like you normally would.  Sure, you can tough it out, but will you enjoy it?

Why not take the constraint of your timing as the starting point, and pick a location that works well at that time?  Like maybe southern california/arizona/new mexico?

I dunno, my $0.02, YMMV, etc etc.

Routes / Re: Best way from SW Colorado on TransAm to Denver
« on: January 26, 2012, 11:49:46 pm »
^^^ what Brian said!  (Hi Brian - I'm in the republic too!)

Also, I hope your intention in "getting back on the transam" is to cross the Rockies at RMNP or Poudre Canyon to Walden, don't head up 287 and skip some of the best riding in the country!

General Discussion / Re: Favorite Eating Spots
« on: January 25, 2012, 02:22:32 pm »
In St Mary's on the east side of Glacier - the Park Cafe has amazing pie.

General Discussion / Re: Coast to coast
« on: January 25, 2012, 02:21:45 pm »
I agree West to East is better for that start date, or you'll be too late in the western mountains and encounter cold & possibly snow.

I started West to East 8/1 in Astoria Oregon, followed Lewis & Clark route to Bozeman then kind of did my own thing through SD- MN - WI - MI - OH - IN - PA - NJ.

Great weather, great scenery, took about 10 weeks.

Routes / Re: touring route for california
« on: January 24, 2012, 08:49:41 am »
Suggested South Bay loop:

SF - Santa Cruz - Monterey - Big Sur - over Nacimiento Road (very steep) - King City - Pinnacles National Monument - Hollister or San Juan Bautista - Monterrrey or points north - Santa Cruz - San Francisco.

This is too long for "half" the trip - but it's an absolutely stellar ride, I've done the loop from Carmel.  I did it in late May and the wildflowers were out of control, June might be getting hot on the inland part but will be good on the coast.  It might be good for the whole 2 weeks if you slow it down a little, which would be reasonable, you could spend extra time in Carmel or Big Sur, both lovely.

If you want to extend a southern loop, you could continue up from the Hollister area towards the east side of the coastal range and up through Los Gatos / the peninsula, or even over to the east bay out towards Calaveras Rerservoir/Sunol and come back to the Peninsula on the Dumbarton Bridge, which has a dedicated bike lane.

The only other bridge you can ride is the Golden Gate.  If you are in Oakland/East Bay and want to get back to the city/airport fast, you can take BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) with your bike during non-commute hours by just rolling it onto the train (elevators make it all-rolling, no carrying), no boxing it up.

Personally, I find the wine country is not that great, there's a lot of traffic concentrated on few roads.  On the other hand, there is lots of great riding in Marin, north of Sausalito, on quiet country roads.  I don't know these well enough to make suggestions, and I would warn you that they are generally very hilly (which it sounds like maybe you are less psyched on).

As someone said above, the Krebs maps are worth getting - they indicate services, safe cycling roads and gradients.

General Discussion / Re: Woman riding by herself
« on: January 07, 2012, 12:55:45 am »
Yeah, it's fine, go for it.

I guess I would feel a bit more uncomfortable in the south - both the deep south and the border areas - as a woman alone than I have in other areas.  But honestly, I choose not to ride those places even if I have someone to go with me.

I have found that places where there is a lot of poverty and alcohol abuse are a little sketchier, and a few times I've decided to take a motel room rather than camp somewhere that seems dangerous.

It's worth being aware of your surroundings and keeping the "radar" on, but not worth skipping your trip or riding with someone whose company you don't enjoy.  Just keep your wits about you, if something feels wrong take that seriously and change the situation.

Routes / Re: San Fran to LA along Pacific Coast in February
« on: December 07, 2011, 10:19:10 am »
Having lived between San Diego and Santa Cruz all my life - nope, I wouldn't do this if you are coming in from somewhere far away.  SF to LA is just about a week, so if you could plan it and then just not do it if the forecast was looking bad right beforehand, it would be OK.  But if you are investing in an expensive plane ticket, I'd put it off until May for near-guaranteed nice weather.

Winter storms on the coast can be very harsh, with heavy rain and strong driving wind - usually from the south during a storm.   

Here's the state park web site, to check for camping closures.  I heard many parks are closing due to budget problems, but I'm not in CA anymore, so not really sure what is affected.

Routes / Re: Best way (cheapest) to get bike and gear to the route start
« on: November 17, 2011, 11:56:03 am »
DOn't call Southwest, use their web site, they have better fares on line.

If the airport is an hour away by car, it's a day by bike - just ride!

General Discussion / Re: Hi, I'm a newby after advice!
« on: November 15, 2011, 12:15:12 pm »
Howdy & welcome!

Nothing wrong with your plan.  Good time of year for touring.   There are mountain ranges to cross, but nothing a normally fit person can't handle, and they are the most beautiful parts of the country in my opinion.

Most of the USA is safe to travel, big cities can be scary - traffic, people - but most places are fine.  I'm a small woman and I tour alone, without too much worry.  Picking roads is pretty important, as you can be miserable or overjoyed depending on if there are too many cars & not enough shoulder or the opposite.  Once you decide your general route, you can do some research here and elsewhere to get the details figured out, and ask specific questions if you need to.

You should have no problem with town spacing.  There are a few places out west where you might have to go 60-90 miles between towns, but a little planning can let you avoid that sort of thing most of the time.  Mostly you'll be through a small town at least every 30-50 miles.  You just have to pay attention to your maps and carry enough food & water to get you to the next town - usually less than a day.

Since you are on this site, I assume you've seen that they sell bike maps?  If you choose to use one of the Adventure Cycling routes, the maps show you details along the routes of town locations, camping, places to get food/water, bike shops, and elevation profiles.  If you don't use one of their routes, you'll have to figure it out yourself from other maps & resources (like state Dept. of Transportation bike maps, AAA maps, brochures you pick up along the way at the towns' Chamber of Commerce/Tourist Info places).  The A.C. maps are great to get you started, once you use them for a week or two you'll get a sense of how to plan it for yourself and can more easily wander off the map's route.  Most places outside of big cities you can camp for free (on wilderness / forest service land) or cheaply in campgrounds (services range from a pit toilet to full showers, store, etc).  Prices are $6-$30/camp site for pay sites.  In summer in National Parks you may need a camping reservation, but I rarely make reservations otherwise, a little planning day by day is enough to find camp sites. 

For preparation, I would say just get your bike as soon as you get here and start riding around your new home area (lots of great riding north & south of the city) to get used to riding and get the bike fit dialed in.  Buy a bike with low gears. There's endless gear shopping here too, including used gear and outlets, so I wouldn't buy anything more until you get here.

You'll also have to learn about safe food storage, since we have some creatures here that want to eat your food when you're camping - raccoons and bears mostly.  Don't *worry* about bears, but do educate yourself about how to keep a clean bear-aware camp.  This mostly applies in the mountains.  Raccoons are at most camp sites in the west, and are really clever.  Do some googling on this topic.

Welcome to the US and I hope you have a great trip!  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did my tour in Victoria and Tasmania a few years ago.

Gear Talk / Re: Biking Stores for getting touring bike in SF Bay Area
« on: November 11, 2011, 08:36:11 pm »

Bicycle Outfitter in Los Altos.  Used to be very touring oriented.  Not sure if they still are.  I bought my 520 there.

General Discussion / Re: Weather maps
« on: October 30, 2011, 07:20:59 pm »

Routes / Re: Pacific Coast Route
« on: October 22, 2011, 12:17:38 am »
Hey, thanks for that.
I was at Grand Canyon Village this past February - it was blooming' cold thats for sure. But it did make me want to do a hike there so pushing back a little may have to be an option.
riding through yosemite is important too, is that pass road the only way??
Thanks for that route too, looks great, ill have a better look in detail.

You're welcome.

Tioga Pass (Hwy 120) is the only way to cross the sierra west to east at Yosemite.  If you approach Yosemite from the south/west entrance (hwy 41) you can leave on the west (Hwy 140) or north/west (Hwy 120 westbound) entrance, but you can't get to Lee VIning (Hwy 120 eastbound = Tioga Pass).  Tioga Pass is a beautiful road through some high mountains, and is worth visiting in it's own right, but you can still ride into & out of Yosemite Valley when the road is closed.  BUt, you have to start out on the west side of the mountains.

General Discussion / Re: About Colorado....
« on: October 20, 2011, 03:45:10 pm »
I agree with everything John Nelson said.

CO is good for touring June through early Sept, best weather is mid-July through the end of August, and you need to be prepared to descend a long pass in the rain any time of year because in summer afternoon rain/hail/thunderstorms on the high passes are common.  As long as you get off the top by early afternoon, you probably won't have to ride in them, though.

Generally you ride over a pass and camp much lower.  It's cool in the morning and sunny and warm all day, except for the freezing thunderstorm on top of the the pass at 12:30-3:00pm.  Then the sun comes back out.  Colorado is GREAT for bike touring.

General Discussion / Re: Banff to San Francisco
« on: October 20, 2011, 03:35:00 pm »
I really like the spirit in which your comment was intended, pdlamb.    I and I can see where the word "insane" sounds harsh.


You have to look at the whole picture.  The original post is from someone who has never done a bike trip before, doesn't have the gear, has an expectation of a pace that is unrealistic for most of us.

The kind of person who can have a successful, safe and enjoyable trip in those weather conditions probably doesn't have to ask how long that will take or how much it will cost, because they have experience enough to already know.

I think it's useful to provide realistic expectations, and not always "look on the bright side."  Not because I think it can't be done by anyone, but because this person doesn't have the experience to know what is realistic him/herself.  If s/he wants to go for it, fine, but there's no reason to sugarcoat the fact that this trip is ill-timed, and not really that appropriate for a beginner.

I'm not saying "no way it can't be done" but why not let the person know what to expect?  I mean, if s/he just puts the start date out 6 weeks, there will still be plenty of challenge (including weather challenges!) but can be a beautiful enjoyable safe experience.  The original timing is a bad-weather guarantee, probably more of an endurance test than an enjoyable vacation, and has the potential for being actually dangerous.

Jamawani's idea to turn it upside down resonates with me -  if that's the available time frame, optimize the route around it. 

Routes / Re: Pacific Coast Route
« on: October 19, 2011, 10:43:31 pm »
Inland, the wind doesn't matter, that's a coastal phenomenon.  It looks like you won't be on the coast at all!

Have you seen the Sierra Cascades route?  that map might help you.

April is just maybe a little early for the Grand Canyon (north rim campground opens in May) and you might be a little early in the Sierra as well.  Tioga ROad (through Yosemite) opens around Memorial Day (last monday in May) if it's a normal snow year, can be later if there's lots of snow.

Great trip though - if you can push the start to mid-May that would be good.

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