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  1. #1
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    Ok, heres my plan!

    Screen Shot 2012-10-07 at 18.59.12.jpg

    Ok, this is the route I plan to take this coming May (I hope this picture upload works - never done it before)

    If it doesn't I'm starting in San Fran, taking a direct route to Sequoia, then looping around to Las Vegas and Hoover Dam, then straight on to the Grand Canyon.

    I'm going to start on the 1st of May and hope to finish this whole leg of my journey by June the 1st?

    What do you think?
    Between Sequoia and Las Vegas should I loop around the bottom of/avoid death valley?
    Will there be plentiful amenities and campsites along the way?

    thanks,

  2. #2
    mev
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    Quote Originally Posted by gordyb View Post
    Between Sequoia and Las Vegas should I loop around the bottom of/avoid death valley?
    If it were me, I'd wait until I was underway to finalize that decision. If you watch the weather forecasts, take lots of water and avoid the hottest part of the day - should be possible and it is rather stunning scenery.

  3. #3
    weirdo
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    Gordy, what pass are you taking across the sierra? Trying to compare your map to mine, I don`t see any highway crossings directly east of Fresno. Remember that a lot of the passes will probably still be closed in May- tricky trying to guess when they`ll open and balance that against the desire to cross the desert valleys before temps start climbing there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rodar y rodar View Post
    Gordy, what pass are you taking across the sierra? Trying to compare your map to mine, I don`t see any highway crossings directly east of Fresno. Remember that a lot of the passes will probably still be closed in May- tricky trying to guess when they`ll open and balance that against the desire to cross the desert valleys before temps start climbing there.
    Yeah I think that's a hiking trail, out if Florence lake?
    ...

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    Yes, the next road pass north of Tehachapi is Tioga in Yosemite NP. Did Google really route that way over the trails? Even if it's not wilderness (no bikes allowed), you really don't want to go that route!

    You may just want to go south and around the bottom of Death Valley. It's extremely low, but flanked by high mountain ranges. (off topic) Geologist now think that from 90 MY ago to maybe 12 MY ago, the area east of the Sierra was a high plateau, like Tibet or the altiplano, and the Sierra was just the shoulder of this plateau, so have been uplands for a long, long, time. Since 12MY ago, the underlying hot subducted slab has vanished, letting the "nevadaplano" succumb to crustal extension and collapse, even to far below sea level if you look at the bedrock floor under Death Valley...

  6. #6
    eternalvoyage
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    Tioga Pass usually opens near the end of May. Depending on year and snowfall, it can be later or earlier, though. It is too early to know at this point, but by early or mid-May you should be able to find good estimates online.

    You might want to go south anyway.

    And yes, Death Valley will be rather warm by late May. Best time to visit is months earlier.

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    Quote Originally Posted by stevepusser View Post
    Yes, the next road pass north of Tehachapi is Tioga in Yosemite NP. Did Google really route that way over the trails? Even if it's not wilderness (no bikes allowed), you really don't want to go that route!
    Yeah thats what google said for a bike route. I had no idea roads would be closed because of the weather.

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    weirdo
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    Purely a technicality, Gordy. You can get through if you set your mind to it!

    e6dc6fe67.jpg

    tioga1.jpg

    EDIT: Don`t get too discouraged, friend. The route/time frame you have in mind isn`t really feasible, but hopefully you can change one or the other and still have a dandy tour!
    Last edited by rodar y rodar; 10-10-12 at 09:20 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Niles H. View Post
    Tioga Pass usually opens near the end of May. Depending on year and snowfall, it can be later or earlier, though. It is too early to know at this point, but by early or mid-May you should be able to find good estimates online.
    My experience is that those estimates can be pretty iffy up until the last minute. I forget the exact link but there is always discussion of the possible opening on the supertopo site.

  10. #10
    eternalvoyage
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    Quote Originally Posted by gordyb View Post
    Yeah thats what google said for a bike route. I had no idea roads would be closed because of the weather.
    Among the more spectacular bloopers from Google.

    All the roads and trails over the High Sierras are still buried under many feet of snow in May. They try to plow some major routes open for Memorial Day (which is an end-of-May vacation weekend and traditionally marks the beginnig of summer fun for many Americans), but it isn't always feasible.

    You might be surprised by how deep the snowpack gets.

    There are probably some youtube.com videos that would give an idea.

    Also, it can be misleading when most of California is having warm, mild, summer-like weather in May -- and despite California's popular image and reputation for pleasant weather conditions -- it can still be mighty cold and challenging above seven thousand feet. I've been caught in late snowstorms and very cold rain and wild, driving windstorms in May in the Sierras. Without proper gear, much greater unpleasantnesses would certainly have been on tap.

    And Death Valley is no joke either. It has the hottest temperature on record in the entire world (56.7 degrees C., or 134.1 F.), and has more days above 120 degrees than anywhere else. The sun is intense in May, and heat exhaustion and other exposure problems are real concerns.

    This is not meant to be discouraging -- just encouraging you to know more about what you might be riding into, and to be prepared for it.

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    wow, I have a lot to learn about the climate over there!!

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    eternalvoyage
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    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
    My experience is that those estimates can be pretty iffy up until the last minute. I forget the exact link but there is always discussion of the possible opening on the supertopo site.
    They certainly can be. In 2006 they didn't know one way or the other for until quite late in the game. Other years, it can be pretty clear -- lighter snowfall years when they open early, for example.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Niles H. View Post
    Among the more spectacular bloopers from Google.

    All the roads and trails over the High Sierras are still buried under many feet of snow in May. They try to plow some major routes open for Memorial Day (which is an end-of-May vacation weekend and traditionally marks the beginnig of summer fun for many Americans), but it isn't always feasible.

    You might be surprised by how deep the snowpack gets.

    There are probably some youtube.com videos that would give an idea.

    Also, it can be misleading when most of California is having warm, mild, summer-like weather in May -- and despite California's popular image and reputation for pleasant weather conditions -- it can still be mighty cold and challenging above seven thousand feet. I've been caught in late snowstorms and very cold rain and wild, driving windstorms in May in the Sierras. Without proper gear, much greater unpleasantnesses would certainly have been on tap.

    And Death Valley is no joke either. It has the hottest temperature on record in the entire world (56.7 degrees C., or 134.1 F.), and has more days above 120 degrees than anywhere else. The sun is intense in May, and heat exhaustion and other exposure problems are real concerns.

    This is not meant to be discouraging -- just encouraging you to know more about what you might be riding into, and to be prepared for it.
    What I meant is going by the map posted, Google has him crossing the Sierra on backpacking trails through official wilderness areas, not a paved road. Tioga Pass is far north of the route shown.

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    Ok, heres my plan!

    If May is your timing window, I would recommend the pacific coast, Portland to San Diego.
    ...

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by valygrl View Post
    If May is your timing window, I would recommend the pacific coast, Portland to San Diego.
    I am setting off on or about the 1st of May. And I am meeting family in Portland, Maine in August so definitely want to cross the USA.
    I'm thinking starting in San Fran and initialy heading North Easterly would be the wisest option... But I would love to see Sequoia/hoover Dam/Grand Canyon too but this means some tough riding/conitions!

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    Suggestion: San Francisco down the coast through Monterey to Cambria. Spectacular. Then inland through Paso Robles and Bakersfield to DV and onward. 627 miles. Should be easily doable. Don't skip DV. You'll be in good condition by then and able to handle the heat with enough water on board. And common sense. The resupply points are there. My problem in DV was ferocious headwinds that stopped me cold for a day in Stovepipe. Stovepipe wells and Furnace Creek are the two communities in DV on your route. You might get a tailwind that'll blow you right through.

    I've found that if you select 'avoid highways' and 'avoid tolls', G. maps becomes more reliable for x-country cycling. The cycling option can lead to a world of trouble unless carefully investigated. Good for locating paths though.
    Last edited by Cyclebum; 10-11-12 at 02:06 PM.
    The bicycle is one of the great inventions of mankind. Delights children, challenges young men to feats of daring, and turns old men into boys again.--Me

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    Well, if you start from Los Angeles and head northeast into the Mojave about the start of May, you may encounter only warm weather in the desert instead of blast furnace hot. That time of year, it's a very dry heat, also. The miserable monsoon humidity with hot nights doesn't kick in until late June or early July, usually. Often there's strong tailwinds in May, too. Most of the route from LA to Las Vegas is at least several thousand feet elevation, which does make some difference in temps. A side trip to Death Valley is then an option, depending on the weather forecasts.

    This then means skipping Yosemite and Sequoia...hmmm. Perhaps you could ride from SF to Yosemite Valley, then take the Amtrack bus connection to Merced and take the train to LA to resume the trip from there. You can stay one night at the North Pines backpackers campground in the valley, then you have to find another site if you want to stay longer. The bus and train take bikes, no problem, just make sure to have your tickets first. (Buy online, pickup at any station with ticket service) It's still coast-to-coast, starting in LA, and Yosemite does have several groves of Sequoia trees, just so you can see them, too. Riding through the Central Valley should also get you adapted to warm weather before the desert, too. Other tricks for desert riding include rising very early and getting most or all the day's ride in before the sun reaches its peak, then lounging around someplace with AC or a motel/campground pool for the rest of the day.
    Last edited by stevepusser; 10-12-12 at 10:26 PM.

  18. #18
    eternalvoyage
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    Quote Originally Posted by stevepusser View Post
    What I meant is going by the map posted, Google has him crossing the Sierra on backpacking trails through official wilderness areas, not a paved road. Tioga Pass is far north of the route shown.
    Steve,

    Yes, I was well aware of these points, having been all over the Sierras since early childhood and before (my father was a very keen, enthusiastic, avid dry-fly fisherman and skier; and Sierra Nevada rivers, streams, and slopes were his main haunts).

  19. #19
    eternalvoyage
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    Quote Originally Posted by gordyb View Post
    I am setting off on or about the 1st of May. And I am meeting family in Portland, Maine in August so definitely want to cross the USA.
    I'm thinking starting in San Fran and initially heading North Easterly would be the wisest option... But I would love to see Sequoia/hoover Dam/Grand Canyon too but this means some tough riding/conditions!
    Riding toward the northeast is an excellent option.

    However, I don't know whether or not you are interested in Yosemite. If you are, May would be one of the very best times to visit: the heavy crowds don't arrive until Memorial Day weekend (end of May); the waterfalls are at or near their peak (they dry up considerably as the season progresses); the weather is usually mild (Yosemite Valley is around 4000 feet elevation, and mostly pleasant at that time of year; there can be storms, but it isn't as bad as being at high elevations where it is colder, and there are plenty of facilities and amenities in the Valley); there are some of the most beautiful vistas and trails anywhere (recommend the hike to Glacier Point from the Valley floor, and visits to the waterfalls). Yosemite Valley has the most spectacular concentration of large, beautiful waterfalls anywhere in the world.

    As someone else mentioned, there are some Sequoia groves nearby (though not in the Valley itself).

    If you are interested in majestic trees and groves, I would recommend some of the Coast Redwood groves. The largest of the Sequoias have larger girths, but the tallest of the Coast Redwoods are taller. They are, respectively, the largest (most massive volume) trees in the world, and the tallest in the world. If you can only do one or the other, my recommendation would be one of the majestic old-growth Coast Redwood groves. Heritage Grove (San Mateo County) and Muir Woods (Marin County) are not far out of the way from the airport (SFO). Muir Woods is the easiest to access. Weekends can get a little crowded, but weekdays should be just fine.

    If you are serious about heading northeast (with or without Yosemite), here are some details, based on having camped, cycle-toured, and explored the area and the different options for years, and having lived in different parts of the Bay Area. Basically, the sequence from SFO would be (1) see a bit of SF, and then (2) catch the ferry to Vallejo at the Ferry Building/Embarcadero [or see Muir Woods first, either taking the ferry to Marin, or cycling over the Golden Gate Bridge (or ride over, ferry back)]. These ferry rides near SF are a special delight. (3) From Vallejo (pronounced val-LAY-hoe) there are bike routes over the hill to Fairfield, and on to Davis. (4) University of California at Davis is one of the best bike towns. There are good bike shops, including the Bike Barn on the campus itself. Great resources there. You can also have a shower and a swim there at the pool. (5) Head north and east from there. There are several options. The more scenic routes would be to go to Sacramento first, and find Old Town Sacramento. (6) There is an excellent, paved bike path that goes along the American River, beginning from Old Town Sacramento (you might like to tour the old riverboat there; Old Town was a hub in the Gold Rush days), all the way to Folsom Lake (about 33 miles paved, from Sacramento, then a few more miles of gravel around the lake). (7) Take Auburn-Folsom Road to Auburn. (8) From Auburn, head to Grass Valley (Dog Bar Road is a much better route than Hwy 49). Now you are in the Mother Lode (Gold Rush Central), and you might like to explore some of the mines and museums. There are many. There is a single mine that has about seven thousand miles of tunnels underneath, from the Gold Rush days, and more gold was found in this area than anywhere else during the California Gold Rush. (9) Head to Nevada City, a neighboring town, with some great cafes and bike shops. (10) Take Lake Vera/Purdon Road to North San Juan (North Bloomfield Road is just uphill from downtown Nevada City, taking East Broad Street; and it takes you to Lake Vera/Purdon Road). Purdon Road will turn into Oak Tree Road at Tyler Foote, for the last few miles into North San Juan. (11) Take Hwy 49 north and east, from North San Juan to Downieville and Sierra City. These are all very small Sierra towns. Downieville is a famous mountain biking mecca, and there are some world class trails in the area. (12) Turn off on Gold Lake Highway. Check out the small resort at Lower Sardine Lake (one of my favorite locations in the entire Sierra Nevadas, or anywhere for that matter). Maybe camp in the area, and take a side trip to the top of one of the mountains there (Sierra Buttes would be #1 recommendation -- a fairly short hike from Packer Saddle). Incredible views. You can see for many, many miles in all directions. On a clear day, you can see Shasta and Lassen. Breathtaking views from up there. Haskell Peak is across the valley, and would be a good second choice. This area is sometimes called the Lost Sierras, or the Hidden Sierras, because most people miss out; even Californians often miss it in the glare of the more popular tourist destinations. If you are there, atop Sierra Buttes, for sunset, there is a good chance of watching Golden Eagles sail in from the eastern deserts, to roost for the night in the crags. Prairie falcons too. (13) Head over Yuba Pass on Hwy 49 (Hwy 49 has much less traffic after North San Juan, and is a beautiful route from NSJ to Yuba Pass and Sierra Valley). There are hot springs in Sierra Valley, and a whole new biome. It's as if you are in another state once you go over Yuba Pass. Completely different. And Sierra Valley is beautiful and flat. (14) Take your choice from there -- head east, or up to Lassen. There are different routes across Nevada, or you could go up and take a more northerly route across the country. Montana is beautiful. There are some parks out that way that might be worth catching.

    Personally, I much prefer forests over deserts, once it starts warming up. If you've never spent days cycling in the relentless and intense sun and heat, you might be underestimating it. It can be certainly be done; but it isn't pleasant for most people. Especially when you have these other options open. You get to see some desert still, on the more northerly routes, but you aren't stuck in it for so long, and the desert areas to the north aren't nearly as hot as the southern deserts.

    Eastern Oregon is also an option.

    If you like greenery, rivers, and waterfalls, Multnomah Falls might be worth a look, though you could also head east and give that area a miss.

    Hope you have a great trip. This part of the West is one of the most beautiful areas you could ask for.
    Last edited by Niles H.; 10-13-12 at 04:15 PM.

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    +++ for the Yuba Pass route, been there several times. Escaping out into the expansive views of the Sierra Valley from the forests and deep canyons of the west Sierra is like coming out of a labyrinth...though I quickly did start missing the shade! And Yuba is the easiest pass over the range and I loved the miles of riverside riding at the bottom of the deep gorge.

  21. #21
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    Niles, thanks for all the advice and ideas. That's fantastic. It's a lot to digest so i'm working through it and really appreciate it

  22. #22
    eternalvoyage
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    Quote Originally Posted by gordyb View Post
    Niles, thanks for all the advice and ideas. That's fantastic. It's a lot to digest so i'm working through it and really appreciate it
    Thanks. Glad to be of service.

    There is a nice little description of Eastern Oregon here: www.travellingtwo.com/resources/top10

    Idaho and Montana have some good rides too.

    Forgot to mention that you don't have to worry about Yuba Pass -- it will be open.

    Have a great trip.

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