Author Topic: Credit Card Touring the Western Express  (Read 7818 times)

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Offline zzzz

Credit Card Touring the Western Express
« on: May 13, 2012, 07:22:56 pm »
Hello All:

I am looking to do a credit card tour (C2C) leaving late August and wrapping up in 30-35 days. I was looking to start in SF, take the WE to Pueblo, Trans America for the balance.

I have ridden seriously for 30 years and the 100± mile days by themselves don't worry me.

Yesterday my WE maps arrived and in reviewing how remote the Nevada & Utah sections are I thought it would be good to know if anyone out there had done this route without a tent or cooking gear. If so, I'd like to hear how it went.



Offline Bclayden

Re: Credit Card Touring the Western Express
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2012, 09:39:53 am »

I have thoroughly planned, I think, the "credit card" WE ride from Sacrameto to Baker, NV.  Leaving the WE route in Baker to head to SLC.

Ride starts in SAC June 4 so if you can wait til after then I will pass along some specifics.  Of course careful planning is critical but the "unexpected" situations are the ones we remember.  I expect a few unexpecteds.

Hotel options are very limited in parts of WE crossing NV but there are enough hotels to string together a reasonable plan.....but requires some 100+ mile days as you know.

August weather could be a challenge in NV.  This is the "monsoon" season with frequent afternoon thunderstorms.  Suggest early morning starts for the best chance to beat the t-storms and the heat too.

Anyway, stand by for some info later in June.


Offline hlazarus

Re: Credit Card Touring the Western Express
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2012, 02:46:52 pm »

I rode NYC-SF on the Trans Am and Western Express last summer. There is a long stretch in Utah between Blanding and Hanksville where I don't believe there are any accommodations. We camped at Lake Powell but at the time, there were no other places to stay.

Offline zzzz

Re: Credit Card Touring the Western Express
« Reply #3 on: May 14, 2012, 07:07:21 pm »
To Ben:

Good luck with your trip, I hope it works out great for you.

I am definitely interested in you writing afterwards with any insights you find. I assume since you are heading up to SLC you will be staying on 6 after Baker and I would like to know about that as well as I am considering alternate routes through Utah.

To hlazarus:

The stretch between Blanding and Hanksville (or in my case vice-versa) is the one that really got my attention. The map has a "M" (=motel) at Hite Marina in between those towns but their web site seems to indicate that the only rentals are for houseboats. That sounds very nice but at $325 it's a little excessive. And I can't get a phone call through to the contact phone #.

I saw on a different thread someone's suggestion that you can skip Glen Canyon, go up to Green River, across to Arches NP & Moab and rejoin to WE at Monticello. I may do that.

Thanks for your help,


Offline aggie

Re: Credit Card Touring the Western Express
« Reply #4 on: May 14, 2012, 11:19:02 pm »
There is an option if you don't mind traveling for several miles on a dirt road through Capital Reef.  I driven the road but haven't ridden it on my bicycle.

In Boulder, UT take the Burr Trail Rd (1668).  The road is paved until you enter Capital Reef National Park.  Then is is hard packed and graded dirt.  You'll come to a tee and you'll want to go right or south towards Glenn Canyon National Rec Area.  In Bullfrog there is a hotel with a restaurant.  Then take the ferry across the lake and follow the paved road to Hwy 95 (near National Bridges National Monument).  Then go east (right) on 95 to Blanding.  The road after the ferry is good and has virtually no traffic.  (I've ridden it on my bike.)

 I forgot to mention that you could also stay on paved roads by taking the 95 south from Hanksville and then taking 276 to Bullfrog.  I've ridden this route and it was a pretty good road (276) with minimal traffic.  Most of the traffic consisted of pickups pulling boat trailers.  I stayed in Torrey and then rode to Bullfrog.  Easily doable in one day.  Just have a good water supply since there isn't much between Hanksville and Bullfrog.

The website for the park says there are trailers for rent in Hite.  The NPS site says there is a store at Hite that is open except for the winter season.   
« Last Edit: May 15, 2012, 11:31:50 pm by aggie »

Offline Bclayden

Re: Credit Card Touring the Western Express
« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2012, 10:35:41 am »
Yes Pete, from Delta, UT it will be 6 to SLC, however I am still trying to determine if "Old 6 and 50" is suitable for a road bike with touring tires.  It is a dirt road of unknown condition.  I am attempting to follow the Pony Express route as closely as possible and US 50 strays pretty far from this in spots.

I will inquire from the locals or other bikers I see along the way as to secomdary road conditions and figure it out on the fly.

Offline Bclayden

Re: Credit Card Touring the Western Express
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2012, 11:01:07 am »
I just returned from a Sacramento-Salt Lake City solo 8 day ride.  Followed the Western Express route to the Utah border and used motels entirely.  Went very well.

Scarce overnight options in Austin, Eureka and Baker, NV.  There is a day with over 100 miles and some climbing but nothing gnarly, mostly in the 3%-4% range I would say.  Most days are 70-90 miles and all with some climbing.  No services of course between most towns.

I would advise booking the motel well ahead. The small town motels are filled with highway workers and drilling crews.

Riding conditions are very good however "The Loneliest Road" is over rated.  I never felt lonely at all.  Not many cars/trucks but one every 5-10 minutes on average I would say.  Riding shoulder conditions vary from county to county.  A rumble strip has been cut into the shoulder of most of this route.  Sometimes you are forced onto a 6" bit of paved shoulder or choose to ride in the traffic lane to avoid the rumble strip.  I spoke the a "rumble strip cutter" at one of the road work sites and he tells me the new NV DOT spec for rumble strips is to leave a wide shoulder for bikes.  Eventually the roads will all have plenty of room but I only saw this on the newest segment of road.  I flatted 3 times in 800+ miles on my road bike, not touring bike, tires.  Not too bad.

Between Fallon and Austin, NV you will have a choice to stay on US 50 or take the old highway, Route 722.  The junction is at about the halfway mark and just past Middlegate.  I highly recommend the 722 alternate route.  The most beautiful scenery and I counted 3 cars in 60 miles.

Wind is a big factor.  Start at sunrise if you can to get in as many miles as possible before the afternoon gusts start to blow. 

In Baker you can visit the Great Basin Nt'l Park and make the epic climb to 10,000' on the Scenic Road.  There is no fee to enter this National Park.  First time I have encountered that.

Cell phone signal is spotty along much of this route.  No signal at all for 3 days on my phone.  I did find Wifi in all the overnight towns though. 

After Delta, UT I stayed on route 6 for 60 miles then joined route 68 to get to SLC in 1 day.  This route saves 20 miles over the "recommended" route.  68 runs along the west side of Utah Lake and is very remote but without any shoulder in spots.  Super light traffic though and after 7 days on US 50 it seemed just fine to me.  Others I spoke to advised a different route around the east side of Utah Lake through the developed area.  68 seems like a fine way to go.

68 runs straight into central SLC.  This was by far my least favorite part of the trip...perhaps because I had spent a week alone on the "Loneliest Road".  SLC massive sprawl and associated traffic and red lights was a sad way to end an epic ride.

I spotted 2 other long distance solo cyclists and one big group on the route.  One dude, young Tom from the UK, is on month 8 of his around-the-world ride.  He's halfway done.  Good luck Tom.

I enjoyed the ride. It was an amazing week.

Happy to answer any more questions you have about this route Pete.  Best of luck.


« Last Edit: June 13, 2012, 12:50:56 pm by Bclayden »

Offline zzzz

Re: Credit Card Touring the Western Express
« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2012, 09:27:50 pm »

Glad to hear you had a good trip and all was safe.

This information feels really useful to me.

Specifically your advice for early hotel reservations, beating the wind with early starts, and your description of the climbing grades gives me a much more assured feeling that when I get there everything will work out fine.

Three flats @ 800 miles...ouch. I'm going to be on a road bike also, with sew-ups. I was going to take 4 spares, maybe I'll take 6.

Thank you,


Offline Bclayden

Re: Credit Card Touring the Western Express
« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2012, 09:44:38 pm »
Hi Pete.

Should add there are no bike shops between Carson City and just before Salt Lake City.


Offline rabbitoh

Re: Credit Card Touring the Western Express
« Reply #9 on: June 29, 2012, 01:09:00 am »

I have just returned from a C to C tour which included part of the Western Express (riding east to west).

As Ben posts, motel/hotel accommodation in Eureka and Austin was a bit scarce. The motel I stayed at in Eureka, filled up prety quickly & I was lucky to get the last available room in Austin, where I got snowed in (late May). I had to camp at Cold Springs Station, although I might have been able to get a room at Middlegate Station had I cycled further that day, but then perhpas not.

 Baker is only a small place, with a restaurant which is not open every day of the week, and a grocery store that looks like it has come out of  Cold War Europe. Don't rely on stocking up there. The motel where I stayed in Baker seemed to fill up quickly, once they opened for registrations (3.30pm) and the diner that was attached wasn't open that particular night, (no chef). Milford UT, also has limited motel accommodation although the motel you will come across on the western edge of town is a great place to stay, and has a diner attached to it.

US50 between Fallon and sand Mountain was particularly harrowing. I rode it on Memorial Monday, and there was a very large volume of RV traffic coming away from some ATV event at Sand Mountain. I would advise doing some research on the internet about what events have been scheduled for Sand Mountain, and to avoid it on week-ends if at all possible.

As Ben also posted, the grades of the climbs through Nevada are all manageable. It is the wind which is the killer.

Notwithstanding all that, the W.E. experience was stunningly beautiful, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone.

Please feel free to ask me for any further details if you think I can help.

Hope you have a safe and enjoyable ride.


Good Cycling

Offline aggie

Re: Credit Card Touring the Western Express
« Reply #10 on: June 29, 2012, 10:46:44 am »
I don't recommend staying in the town of Baker.  It is small and the restaurant owner is definitely anti-bike (personal experience).  I recommend the Border Inn which is on the Utah/Nevada border on Hwy 50.  It has a restaurant and a very small selection of other items.  I've stayed there several times and although it's nothing special it served my needs. 

Offline zzzz

Re: Credit Card Touring the Western Express
« Reply #11 on: July 01, 2012, 04:55:10 pm »
This forum has really proved to be a great resource. Thanks not only to those that have posted responses but also to those that set it up and run it.

Aggie: I'll make a note of your tip about the Border Inn. I'm happy to add another 5± miles to the day's trip to get a warmer welcome.

Dennis: Thanks for the advice. I've already altered my start so I will be through California & Fallon before Labor day weekend starts. I plan on making my motel reservations early for the Nevada portion of the trip even though that will not leave me with a lot of flexibility about how far I go on any given day, but if your not camping, you're doing the Nevada leg of the trip in 4 days or 5 days anyway. I just need to make up my mind which one it will be from home and not on the road.


Offline scottskaja

Re: Credit Card Touring the Western Express
« Reply #12 on: August 11, 2013, 11:27:29 pm »
I stayed at The Border Inn on my CC tour last year. They are very welcoming and accommodating people. The only thing I would look for is their annual fundraising appreciation event they hold for the area students. I was there during the event last year and found sleep very difficult. I finally had enough and was on the road by 5am. I did speak to the hotel owner from Baker, and found him very polite, didn't slander against bikers at all.

Offline aggie

Re: Credit Card Touring the Western Express
« Reply #13 on: August 12, 2013, 10:50:26 am »
The hotel (Silver Jack) and the restaurant (T & D across the street) are owned by different folks.  If you stayed at the hotel and ate in their bakery they are wonderful.  The restaurant also contains the limited market.