Cycling and bicycle discussion forums. 
   Click here to join our community Log in to access your Control Panel  


Go Back   > >

Touring Have a dream to ride a bike across your state, across the country, or around the world? Self-contained or fully supported? Trade ideas, adventures, and more in our bicycle touring forum.

User Tag List

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 03-11-13, 05:32 PM   #1
gordyb
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: England
Bikes: Surly LHT
Posts: 55
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Western Express

Hi,

I'm kicking off my first tour in San Francisco and heading along the Western Express until it meets the Trans America at Pueblo. Was originally planning on taking a detour at Cedar City and heading to the grand Canyon before looping back and continuing.

My big concern is that I booked my flight to arrive in SF and start my journey too early without fully researching and appreciating the weather conditions.

Is there much chance of me getting lucky with the weather if I start on my planned departure date of May the 1st from SF. I arrive in SF on the 28th of April. I'm going to be credit card touring and not planning on rushing myself.

If this is truly a bad idea can anyone give me a suggested alternative to Pueblo that might not take too much longer at the same time as avoiding a lot of busy roads?

Last edited by gordyb; 03-11-13 at 06:06 PM.
gordyb is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-11-13, 10:31 PM   #2
jamawani 
Hooked on Touring
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Wyoming
Bikes:
Posts: 2,281
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
May 1 is pretty early. A better start date for east-to-west.
You will certainly still have snow on the ground in the high Sierras.
You may also have snow coming down.
Plus almost no services will be open from Placerville to Woodfords.
It would be prudent to call ahead for this stretch.

Early to mid May is likely to be chilly in Nevada - esp. at higher elevations.
Late May will still be chilly in the Rockies, too.
Yes, you can have glorious weather, but you can have a blizzard, too.
Since you are credit-card touring - you should be O.K.
But make sure you have appropriate cold weather riding gear.
Good rain/cold jacket, fleece layer, ear band, light gloves, long pants.
You are almost certain to get at least one cold spell.
jamawani is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-11-13, 11:30 PM   #3
raybo
Bike touring webrarian
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: San Francisco, CA
Bikes: I tour on a Waterford Adventurecycle. It is a fabulous touring bike.
Posts: 1,761
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by jamawani View Post
Plus almost no services will be open from Placerville to Woodfords.
It would be prudent to call ahead for this stretch.
I agree with everything Jamawani said but the above. It seems to me that Kirkwood, just past Carson Spur, should be open. It won't be cheap and it is a long hard ride from Placerville to Kirkwood, but there should be something available there.
raybo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-12-13, 12:34 AM   #4
jamawani 
Hooked on Touring
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Wyoming
Bikes:
Posts: 2,281
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
From last year - -

http://news.kirkwood.vailresorts.com...rticle_id=1815
Kirkwood Summer Operation Hours
Summer Activities
Kirkwood Mountain Resort will be open for summer on the weekends from July 7-September 2, 2012. Kirkwood offers a bike park, ziplining, ropes course and climbing wall, hiking, and disc golf.

Kirkwood tries to stay open for skiing thru the last weekend of April.
I doubt they have any services open in May. Maybe a caretaker and assistant manager.
A person might be able to make special arrangements - might.
A few places near the summit try to open for Memorial Day Weekend.
jamawani is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-12-13, 03:52 AM   #5
gordyb
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: England
Bikes: Surly LHT
Posts: 55
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by jamawani View Post
May 1 is pretty early. A better start date for east-to-west.
You will certainly still have snow on the ground in the high Sierras.
You may also have snow coming down.
Plus almost no services will be open from Placerville to Woodfords.
It would be prudent to call ahead for this stretch.

Early to mid May is likely to be chilly in Nevada - esp. at higher elevations.
Late May will still be chilly in the Rockies, too.
Yes, you can have glorious weather, but you can have a blizzard, too.
Since you are credit-card touring - you should be O.K.
But make sure you have appropriate cold weather riding gear.
Good rain/cold jacket, fleece layer, ear band, light gloves, long pants.
You are almost certain to get at least one cold spell.

great advice thanks
gordyb is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-12-13, 07:08 AM   #6
jamawani 
Hooked on Touring
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Wyoming
Bikes:
Posts: 2,281
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
There is the option to ride down the California coast to San Luis Obispo,
Cross the very southern end of the Sierras thru Tejon Pass then to Old Route 66.
Then head east to the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Mesa Verde -
And, perhaps, Taos before connection with the Trans Am near Pueblo.
(In which case heat might be the issue in the Mojave Desert)
jamawani is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-12-13, 08:40 AM   #7
raybo
Bike touring webrarian
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: San Francisco, CA
Bikes: I tour on a Waterford Adventurecycle. It is a fabulous touring bike.
Posts: 1,761
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Jamawani,

I stand corrected.
raybo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-12-13, 12:40 PM   #8
pdlamb
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: northern Deep South
Bikes: Fuji Touring, Novara Randonee
Posts: 2,804
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 71 Post(s)
Snowpack in the Washington passes (Cascades) this year is about half of what it was last year. Anyone know what the Sierra snowpack is like?
pdlamb is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-12-13, 01:47 PM   #9
hueyhoolihan
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Above ground, Walnut Creek, Ca
Bikes: 7⃥ 9 road bikes
Posts: 6,401
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by jamawani View Post
There is the option to ride down the California coast to San Luis Obispo,
Cross the very southern end of the Sierras thru Tejon Pass then to Old Route 66.
Then head east to the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Mesa Verde -
And, perhaps, Taos before connection with the Trans Am near Pueblo.
(In which case heat might be the issue in the Mojave Desert)
pretty much what i'm about to suggest...

heading south on AC Pacific coast route to San Diego and then to el paso via the AC Southern Tier route, then north to Pueblo is pretty much doable any time of year. distances can be minimized by taking more risk and or clothing.

heading to the California Central valley then over the Sierras at Lake Isabella will probably be okay too, then through Death Valley, but when you get to Utah i think you'll be screwed now matter what. getting out of Cedar City would be awful, of course you could go down to St. George, then through the Kaibab, over the Colorado at Page AZ, but getting through northern New Mexico would be very dicey.

two years ago i left SF in late May and suffered from the cold when traveling to Ohio on my motorcyle.

if i was heading east across the country from SF at that time, i wouldn't consider a route north of Lordsburg, NM, and El Paso TX. i've been burnt so consider the source...
hueyhoolihan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-12-13, 09:44 PM   #10
stevepusser
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Bikes:
Posts: 602
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
Snowpack in the Washington passes (Cascades) this year is about half of what it was last year. Anyone know what the Sierra snowpack is like?
As of yesterday, about the same (50-60%)
stevepusser is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-13-13, 05:13 AM   #11
gordyb
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: England
Bikes: Surly LHT
Posts: 55
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by stevepusser View Post
As of yesterday, about the same (50-60%)
Is this very good news? Not familiar with snow terminology etc
gordyb is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-13-13, 06:16 AM   #12
valygrl
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Boulder, CO
Bikes:
Posts: 8,327
Mentioned: 26 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 42 Post(s)
My take on this is that you are just a *little* too early.

If it was me I would map routes both ways - via the Western Express and hueyhoolihan's suggestion - and also be aware that once you cross the Sierra Nevada (Kirkwood & down the other side) you can head south on Hwy 395 and hook into the more southern route.

So I would fly into SF and check the 10-day forecasts for the higher elevations on the Western Express (Kirkwood, the passes in Nevada), and decide at the last minute. I wouldn't head out across Nevada on the W.E. if the weather forecast is at all snowy/cold/windy, because there really is very little traffic out there, and you wouldn't be able to count on hitch hiking.

Also check the opening dates for services at the Grand Canyon, make sure you check whichever rim you are planning to visit. North rim is quite high.

Another thought if you want to do the southern route, Frontier and Southwest Airlines offer many inexpensive flights and charge $0 and $50 respectively for the bike, so you could add a flight to San Diego or LA and start down south if you need to save time. Or Amtrak (train) is a possibility, I would not recommend Greyhound (bus) b/c it's nasty.

By the end of May in the southern Colorado Rockies, I think you will be OK but you will always have to be watching the forecast and making smart decisions about whether to wait out a storm.

Hope you have a great trip!
valygrl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-13-13, 10:22 AM   #13
jamawani 
Hooked on Touring
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Wyoming
Bikes:
Posts: 2,281
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
Actually, Gordy -

They may have misread the data.
The percentage is % of total season - i.e. thru April 1.
That is used as the peak date for snowpack.
The readings you see were generally taken in late Feb -
And there have been a few snows since then.

Here is the California Snowpack website:
http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cgi-progs/reports/EXECSUM

You can see that the Central Sierras are at 92% as of the latest readings.
So the snowpack is just slightly below normal this year.
There may be more snows - certainly in April and perhaps May, too.
I think it prudent to consider this an average snow year for planning.

And, yes, you can do the Western Express over the Sierras is you are careful.
I wouldn't go all the way down to the Southern Tier because of the heat.
The California coast along Big Sur is glorious.
And if you were to follow Old Route 66 you could take in many parks -
Also, you would have more services than US 50 in Nevada - but only slightly more.
If you were to skirt the southern edge of the Rockies -
As Valygrl said, you could catch the best of the mountains in good weather.

PS - Valygrl and I know from experience "riding the dog" - i.e. taking the Greyhound bus.
jamawani is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-13-13, 01:16 PM   #14
gordyb
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: England
Bikes: Surly LHT
Posts: 55
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Thanks Valygrl and Jamawani, all really useful advice. Do you fancy doing the trip with me? I will just follow hehe
gordyb is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-13-13, 09:08 PM   #15
stevepusser
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Bikes:
Posts: 602
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by jamawani View Post
Actually, Gordy -

They may have misread the data.
The percentage is % of total season - i.e. thru April 1.
That is used as the peak date for snowpack.
The readings you see were generally taken in late Feb -
And there have been a few snows since then.

Here is the California Snowpack website:
http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cgi-progs/reports/EXECSUM

You can see that the Central Sierras are at 92% as of the latest readings.
So the snowpack is just slightly below normal this year.
There may be more snows - certainly in April and perhaps May, too.
I think it prudent to consider this an average snow year for planning.

And, yes, you can do the Western Express over the Sierras is you are careful.
I wouldn't go all the way down to the Southern Tier because of the heat.
The California coast along Big Sur is glorious.
And if you were to follow Old Route 66 you could take in many parks -
Also, you would have more services than US 50 in Nevada - but only slightly more.
If you were to skirt the southern edge of the Rockies -
As Valygrl said, you could catch the best of the mountains in good weather.

PS - Valygrl and I know from experience "riding the dog" - i.e. taking the Greyhound bus.
Here's the daily updated report--February was very dry, so % of normal have fallen into the 50-70% range. For someone looking to have a pass open early, that's great. For those that depend on the Sierra for a water supply, not so great...

http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cgi-progs/snow/DLYSWEQ
stevepusser is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-19-13, 07:34 PM   #16
jamawani 
Hooked on Touring
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Wyoming
Bikes:
Posts: 2,281
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
Snow in late May at low elevation - just north of Honey Lake - ca 4000 ft.

Evening before & and the next morning
Attached Images
File Type: jpg DCP_1916.jpg (94.6 KB, 5 views)
File Type: jpg DCP_1917.jpg (97.6 KB, 6 views)
jamawani is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-19-13, 10:25 PM   #17
jamawani 
Hooked on Touring
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Wyoming
Bikes:
Posts: 2,281
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
OMG! After being closed for a decade, the Mizpah Hotel has reopened in Tonopah, Nevada.
A classic, Old West Hotel and casino from another era. Wow!

Taking the more southerly route in Nevada would add almost 10F degrees in mid May.
From Tonopah you would follow US 6, NV 375, US 93, NV 319, and UT 56 to Cedar City, Utah.
I have cycled this route a few times - quite lovely, but remote.

The question is getting from San Francisco to Tonopah.
If the weather is favorable, you could always take the Western Express and cut southeast from Carson Pass.
If the weather is questionable, you could ride / Amtrak down the coast and cut northeast from Walker Pass.

Pic of US 6 east of Tonopah -
Attached Images
File Type: jpg DCP_5_93.jpg (91.8 KB, 3 views)

Last edited by jamawani; 03-19-13 at 10:43 PM.
jamawani is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-20-13, 01:11 AM   #18
Niles H.
eternalvoyage
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Bikes:
Posts: 2,360
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Yuba Pass is almost certain to be open. If you google images for 'Sierra Buttes' and 'Sardine Lake Sierra Buttes', the pictures should give some idea of the beauty of the area. Downieville and Sierra City have facilities and lodging.

49 after Camptonville is quiet and scenic.

If the Sardine Lake Resort is open, it's in a beautiful location.
Niles H. is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-20-13, 02:53 PM   #19
gordyb
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: England
Bikes: Surly LHT
Posts: 55
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by jamawani View Post
If the weather is favorable, you could always take the Western Express and cut southeast from Carson Pass.
If the weather is questionable, you could ride / Amtrak down the coast and cut northeast from Walker Pass.

-
I'm going to take this advice and call it when I arrive based on the conditions. thanks
gordyb is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off



All times are GMT -6. The time now is 02:07 AM.