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  1. #1
    Bike4Fun
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    Western Express Route

    I plan on biking from San Francisco to Iowa this summer and have been looking at the Western Express Route from SF to Pueblo. I am new to bike touring and would like any suggestions or comments about the Western Express Route (especially about riding through in June and July) -- would that be too dangerous/hot to ride that route alone? What other routes from coast to the Midwest would you recommend? Thanks for the help.

  2. #2
    Bike touring webrarian
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    Here is a link to the journal of my ride from SF to Carson City along the Western Express route. In September, the weather was cool and I even got a snow on the day I rested in Carson City. In the heat of June, the climbs might get tougher (is that even possible?) but they might not. You might check journals at www.crazyguyonabike.com for anyone who rode that route in June/July.

    The climb from Placerville to Carson Pass must be respected. It was my hardest day on a bike, ever. But, it was also through some beautiful country. That said, I didn't have any camping equipment so simply camping on the side of the road (plenty of places to do so) when I got tired wasn't an option.

    I don't know what happens after Carson City, though I do know that water will get to be an issue. Check out this thread at crazyguyonabike.com.

    Here is a page from www.biketouringtips.com which has 3 links to information about carrying water on tour.

    Good luck,

    Ray
    Visit the on-line Bike Touring Archive at www.biketouringtips.com

  3. #3
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    I really liked the Lewis & Clark in August. Took it to Bozeman, then detoured thru Yellowstone, across WY to the Badlands of SD... then just headed east.
    ...

  4. #4
    Savor the journey
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    Adventure Cycling Association offers the following for anyone crossing Nevada by bike: "The route in Nevada, along U.S. Highway 50, was described some years ago by a LIFE magazine writer as 'The Loneliest Road in America'. . . This section of the Western Express Route is considered very difficult due not only to terrain, but also due to lack of water, temperature extremes, and long mileages without services. Carrying a water purifer is strongly advised for any water access outside of towns. Nevada is extremely dry and has no shade except for three trees east of Fallon." HERE is one of the 3 trees!

    The Western Express route represents one of the most awesome, but challenging routes in the U.S. Good common sense is important in traveling thru these states (it's pretty helpful at other times too!) A higher level of fitness is essential thru this region. The summer temperatures are consistently above 100F, there can be 70 miles or more between water/services, and there are many, many mountain passes to climb. This is not a route for the inexperienced.

    With that being said, here are a few things that I find helpful:
    • I use a 70 oz. Camelbak, plus several 27 oz. water bottles thru Nevada and Utah--this usually gets me thru the day.
    • Take a sip of water every 10 minutes or so.
    • Don't be afraid to flag down a motorist for help if needed.
    • A lot of cyclists travel during the morning hours in these areas, before the heat of the day.
    • Bring electrolyte supplements to take.
    • Keep your energy stores up by snacking throughout the day on Cliff Bars, fruit, trail mix, etc., and eat a big meal in the evening when you're at camp/motel.
    • Enjoy the challenge and scenery and use whatever techniques that works for you to keep your spirits up when the going gets tough.
    • Use some sun screen.
    • Use the ACA maps and notes, especially thru this region.
    • Read the journals on www.crazyguyonabike.com
    Prepare yourself and learn from the wise people on this forum. You'll have a lifetime of memories.

    Have a great trip,
    Last edited by VeloVeg; 01-27-08 at 01:17 PM.
    Ted
    Veg Cyclist

  5. #5
    Hooked on Touring
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    Howdy BicycleBoy -

    You give only a few outlines, but here's my take:

    (I've toured for twenty years -
    six cross-USA trips and tens of thousands of miles in the West.)

    The Western Express is really not a good starter tour route - esp. solo.
    In addition, starting eastbound after mid-June can put you into some really hot weather.

    The challenges are both physical and mental.
    Within two days you have major climbing to do to get over Carson Pass - 8800 ft.
    Nevada and Utah are really, really tough.
    Not only do you lack services for 70, 80, 90 miles -
    but you have three of four passes to climb every day.
    Then there is the mental strain of the miles of starkness.

    I remember my early cross-country rides - esp the first.
    I was glad to have the little towns every 20 miles -
    With a cafe/store and a little grassy spot and a tree.
    It allowed for more stops - chatting with people -
    Not worrying about exactly where to get to.

    The TransAm route across Oregon is one of the best possible W to E routes
    You don't have the urban traffic of San Fran or Sacramento.
    You get Eugene two or three days into the trip where you can get
    last minute tweaks at bike shops and any additional touring stuff you forgot.
    There a greater chance you will bump into someone to ride with - if you wish.
    The climb over the Cascades is gradual - alongside rivers and streams.
    On the east side you wind thru John Day country with frequent small towns.

    If you feel pinched for time you can cut thru central Idaho and avoid Missoula.
    The Idaho Sawtooths are stunningly beautiful - a great ride to Yellowstone.
    But you would miss the Lochsa River and the Big Hole Valley - two fine sections of the TransAm.
    And if you are going to Iowa you can cut off the TransAm around Lander, Wyo.
    Then cross Nebraska along routes of the historic western trails.

    I don't know your age or experience level.
    But you said it would be your first tour.
    I REALLY think you would enjoy the TransAm option more.
    Then you can look forward to the Western Express for your next tour.

    Just my 5 cents.

    Best - Jama

    My crazyguy journals on Nevada -
    http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/p..._id=40749&v=1R
    http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/p..._id=26321&v=Qs

  6. #6
    Senior Member landshark1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bicycleboy View Post
    I plan on biking from San Francisco to Iowa this summer and have been looking at the Western Express Route from SF to Pueblo. I am new to bike touring and would like any suggestions or comments about the Western Express Route (especially about riding through in June and July) -- would that be too dangerous/hot to ride that route alone? What other routes from coast to the Midwest would you recommend? Thanks for the help.

    Are you riding to Ragbrai?

  7. #7
    Bike4Fun
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    I am hoping to ride RAGRAI, I'm originally from Iowa and am just going to back to visit and hopefully I'll be there to RAGRAI.

    I have also been looking for a new bike -- I currently only have a Hybrid and am becoming more and more unsure of which bike to travel across the country on (as I plan on doing more than just this trip from the coast to Iowa). Different bike shops have recommended the Surly LHT but then another says the Trek 520 among others. Those 2 are at the top of my list now, but what do you think. I am really getting excited for the ride and like to get this taken care of as soon I could.

  8. #8
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    I plan to ride from SF to Milwaukee using the Western Express from SF to eastern NV (but then going N. to pick up US 40 through Colorado to Granby.) I plan to follow the Platte river from Longmont to Iowa but haven't figgured out a good route across Iowa and WI. I plan to leave SF on 6/1, layover in Longmont a few days and arrive in Milwaukee by 7/3. Plan to do it credit card style. Concerned about services, heat, roads, etc.



    Quote Originally Posted by bicycleboy View Post
    I plan on biking from San Francisco to Iowa this summer and have been looking at the Western Express Route from SF to Pueblo. I am new to bike touring and would like any suggestions or comments about the Western Express Route (especially about riding through in June and July) -- would that be too dangerous/hot to ride that route alone? What other routes from coast to the Midwest would you recommend? Thanks for the help.

  9. #9
    Hooked on Touring
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    Quote Originally Posted by Longmont_Tom View Post
    I plan to ride from SF to Milwaukee using the Western Express from SF to eastern NV (but then going N. to pick up US 40 through Colorado to Granby.) I plan to follow the Platte river from Longmont to Iowa but haven't figgured out a good route across Iowa and WI. I plan to leave SF on 6/1, layover in Longmont a few days and arrive in Milwaukee by 7/3. Plan to do it credit card style. Concerned about services, heat, roads, etc.
    Having biked across Nevada many times, I must agree with those who say that the Western Express isn't the best "starter" route. It's possible, but tough - and if you're inexperienced it may take a lot of the pleasure out of touring.

    Also, you have some serious climbing pretty quickly - Carson Pass is 8600 feet.
    And you are talking about doing 2400 miles in a little over 4 weeks ?????
    My advice - and it comes with 100,000 miles of experience - is that you need to rethink. None of the major pieces seem to fit well.
    Last edited by jamawani; 01-17-10 at 12:31 PM.

  10. #10
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    Have done a lot of climbing in Colorado and a lot of miles (probably over 70K) but not much unsupported in areas where services were spaced more than 50 miles. Was planning on 80/miles per day. That works out to 30 days of riding out of 33 days. Could easily start sooner to make it more comfortable. Please explain what you had in mind with the "None of the major pieces seem to fit well" statement.

    Quote Originally Posted by jamawani View Post
    Having biked across Nevada many times, I must agree with those who say that the Western Express isn't the best "starter" route. It's possible, but tough - and if you're inexperienced it may take a lot of the pleasure out of touring.

    Also, you have some serious climbing pretty quickly - Carson Pass is 8600 feet.
    And you are talking about doing 2400 miles in a little over 4 weeks ?????
    My advice - and it comes with 100,000 miles of experience - is that you need to rethink. None of the major pieces seem to fit well.

  11. #11
    Bike touring webrarian
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    The Western Express goes through some desolate areas where you get whatever services are available when they are available. Some days you might have to ride much further than 80 miles to get the services you need (motel, restaurant) and others the choice will be to ride less. I think you would profit from roughing out your stopping places each night and then seeing if you will be able to do that pace.

    Further, your schedule calls for riding 30 days out of 33, not leaving you much leeway or rest time. I typically plan for 1 rest day out of 5 and often look forward to the day off.

    This isn't a ride you want to do without thorough planning.

    Ray
    Visit the on-line Bike Touring Archive at www.biketouringtips.com

  12. #12
    Hooked on Touring
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    Longmont - -

    If you want to discuss YOUR tour -
    Why not start a thread of your own?
    It would be inappropriate to redirect from the current OP.

  13. #13
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    Just pointing out original thread is 2 years old.
    ...

  14. #14
    Hooked on Touring
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    Gotcha -

    I don't understand why folks recycle old threads rather than starting new ones.
    It's not the first time I have missed what was going on.

    So I posted on the question two years ago -
    And Longmont brought it back up within this thread.

    I'll repeat what raybo said -
    Longmont has allowed no time for weather, illness, repairs.
    Yes, one could do 80 miles per day for 30 days straight -
    But if anything goes slightly wrong - it becomes a game of catch-up.
    Nothing it worse than trying to crunch on a bike tour.
    It defeats the entire purpose.

    Trail Ridge may not be open yet in mid June -
    So that means extra miles, etc., etc.

  15. #15
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    Hey Longmont, I'm in Boulder/Longmont and have an old copy of the Western Express Maps. If you want to check them out, let me know.
    ...

  16. #16
    Seņor Member dwnptrl_777's Avatar
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    I've been considering the Western Express + TransAm, but am listening carefully to jamawani's words, especially since this summer's trek will be my first cross-country.

    May just stick to the TransAm plan....
    Last edited by dwnptrl_777; 01-24-10 at 09:21 AM. Reason: The usual: typing faster than my brain
    ......_ .
    O/---\/O

  17. #17
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    The Western Express is amazing! Did it summer of '05 with six high school kids, all of whom had zero prior touring experience and I had only the previous 5 weeks solo on the west coast under my belt.

    It was hot, it was dry, it was beautiful and we had a blast. We were up by 5am everyday to beat the heat, carried a ton of water and found great towns along the way that never failed with cold swimming pools, basketball courts and great Americana diners. At times, it felt like we had the whole of the west to ourselves b/c the traffic was practically nonexistent on 50.

    www.bikeforeducation.com

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    If your route goes through Pueblo, Colorado, I have made a local free site which includes lodging, food suggestions, best local routes, entertainment and an interactive map. It's only good for a couple days of your journey, but hopefully it will make your stay in Pueblo more enjoyable and easier
    http://www.alternativecommutepueblo....-partners.html

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