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Biking on Interstates

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Biking on Interstates

Old 03-15-09, 07:44 AM
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doublesp
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Biking on Interstates

I'm mapping a tour I'll be taking this summer from Florida to California (creating routes on mapmyride.com to upload to a Garmin Edge) and wanted some help on biking interstates. Specifically, I-10 from Las Cruces, NM through Arizona and through some parts of California. I'd much prefer back roads but I haven't had any luck finding sure-fire routes that will get me from Albuquerque to Tucson. Can you even bike on interstates or I-10? Any advice or personal experiences?
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Old 03-15-09, 07:58 AM
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We took the interstate (sorta) from Gallup to Albuquerque. I say say sorta because there is actually the old Highway 66 that parallels the interstate for most of the way and you can take that. There are spots here and there where the old highway quits, but it goes most of the way - and there is virtually no traffic on it. Because it is literally right next to the interstate, you won't see it on most maps.
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Old 03-15-09, 08:36 AM
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I've been mapping most of the south-central/west portion of my ride on Rt. 66, but I have to ride off of it at Albuquerque to get to Tucson, and that's where I'm encountering difficulty finding a solid, mostly low-traffic route. Good to know that you guys had a safe trip on it though, and awesome website, btw. My dad & I bike together occasionally on afternoon rides, and it's great that you and your family can share long-distance biking experiences together.

Last edited by doublesp; 03-15-09 at 08:40 AM.
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Old 03-15-09, 08:44 AM
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Originally Posted by doublesp View Post
Specifically, I-10 from Las Cruces, NM through Arizona and through some parts of California. I'd much prefer back roads but I haven't had any luck finding sure-fire routes that will get me from Albuquerque to Tucson. Can you even bike on interstates or I-10? Any advice or personal experiences?
How strong is the Tuscon constraint? If not, the Adventure Cycling route will take you to Phoenix via Silver City and Globe and avoid I-10. Another possibility if you were willing to go a bit south would be NM 9.

With that said, cycling on interstates depends on the state. I've ridden on portions of New Mexico I-10 between Las Cruces and Deming (there is a frontage road for all but 12 miles of that stretch) and a piece of Arizona I-10 around Quartzsite. The Arizona I-10 had occasional obnoxious rumble strips and the New Mexico portion was ok. The interstates around there seem to have higher concentrations of little wires from disintegrated truck tires so I've heard of folks getting more flats. I also generally find it more pleasant to be on smaller roads than keep hearing trucks and cars all day long. However, as long as there isn't bad road construction (check AZ, NM, CA highway department web sites), riding the interstate would be a choice.
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Old 03-15-09, 08:45 AM
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These links might help.

This one is on biking around Tuscon and may have some ideas for you: http://forums.roadbikereview.com/sho...69735#poststop

This one is the Arizona Bicycle Club and has lots of resources for you: http://www.azbikeclub.com/

This one is for the New Mexico Touring Society: http://www.nmts.org/

I would think that a few emails to some of these folks might get you a nice route.

Ray
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Old 03-15-09, 08:47 AM
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If I was you, I would continue on Highway 66 to Gallup and then turn south from there. If you go south out of Albuquerque, you'll have no choice but to take I-25 (although there are frontage roads for a lot of it) - we did that and it wasn't a lot of fun. I havne't been on the roads south through eastern Arizona for many years, but they used to be great for cycling. We seriously considered continuing south on 191 rather than going to Alb, but had to have some work done on the bike and Alb seemed like the best place to do it.
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Old 03-15-09, 09:02 AM
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I know that in certain places out west, riding on interstates is necessary in order to link up two secondary roads. But in general, it's best to avoid them. I can't comment on I-10 specifically, but any interstate I've been on has been horrible.
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Old 03-15-09, 10:06 AM
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I recommend riding on Interstates when necessary. People have this preconceived notion that it's dangerous for cyclists. I found the opposite to be true. The shoulders are huge and traffic can see you long before they pass you. The scenery gets dull, but it's still there if you know where to look.

Most interstates allow you to bike on them once you're outside of city limits. There will also be signs saying all bicycles must exit now as you approach a new city.

Be very careful when using I-10 through AZ, NM, and CA. It can be 20-40 miles in between food. Thankfully there are rest stops where you can get water usually every 10-20 miles. Still, it gets very hot out there and you need to take precautions. When I used 10 to get from Phoenix to CA, I would find a place to rest around 2-4 to wait out the hottest times of the day.

I stopped under an overpass for shade once and someone called the cops on me thinking I was dying of dehydration. Another couple stopped to make sure I was ok as well. It's serious heat out there.

Besides that, interstates are good in my book. I-40 through New Mexico was some of my favorite riding on my tour.
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Old 03-15-09, 10:33 AM
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I highly recommend / second the idea of using the Adventure Cycling "Southern Tier" route and maps:



http://www.adventurecycling.org/routes/southerntier.cfm

The maps are already made, and include lots of helpful points-of-interest like campsites and food shops
You're much better off with paper maps as your primary, and GPS as a backup
They'll put you on safe(r) routes

For example, I used the ACA maps for a California coast tour. Most of it is a straight shot, but there are stretches of highway that are rather dangerous, and the ACA route avoids them.
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Old 03-15-09, 10:40 AM
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Originally Posted by permanentjaun View Post
Most interstates allow you to bike on them once you're outside of city limits. There will also be signs saying all bicycles must exit now as you approach a new city.
Be very careful - this statement is true in remote locations (and some not so remote locations) in the west. It is not true in the eastern part of the country. Riding on the interstate here in the northeast will likely get you a ticket. If you have questions about a specific state you might try reaching out to the bicycle & pedestrian coordinator for that state, links from this page - http://www.bikeleague.org/action/bik...state_laws.php.

That said, I have ridden on interstates where it was allowed in the west. The wide shoulders keep you further away from the cars than you would be on most 2-lane roads. These big roads are not my choice of a riding location, but sometimes they are the right choice of the day.

--- Denise

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Old 03-15-09, 10:51 AM
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Originally Posted by doublesp View Post
I'm mapping a tour I'll be taking this summer from Florida to California (creating routes on mapmyride.com to upload to a Garmin Edge) and wanted some help on biking interstates. Specifically, I-10 from Las Cruces, NM through Arizona and through some parts of California. I'd much prefer back roads but I haven't had any luck finding sure-fire routes that will get me from Albuquerque to Tucson. Can you even bike on interstates or I-10? Any advice or personal experiences?

Stay off the interstates! Even where you're allowed, absolutely no fun or reason. ACA Southern Tier is a better choice, yes, but for an alternative, please contact jamawani. He specializes in low traffic roads and can teach you how to map at the very best routes.

Good luck.
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Old 03-15-09, 11:05 AM
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Yes, you can bike on most interstate in the West outside of urban areas - since many were built directly on top of the old highways - but the question is - - - WHY?

You can head south from Albuquerque on the east side of the Rio Grande on NM 47, then head west on NM 6 at Los Lunas. Right at the Cibola County line you will cross Old Route 66 - the pavement is old and broken in places. (You can also tell because you will see a railroad overpass to the left. Why would there be an overpass in the boonies unless this used to be the main highway?) Turn left - west - and follow Old 66 until you cross over I-40 to the north side. This service road continues along the north side of I-40 - veering away to climb the mesa. It then connects with NM 124 - which still is Old Route 66. Follow NM 124 until you reach NM 117 west of the Acoma Res. Take NM 117 south to NM 36. Continue on NM 36 to Quemado. These two roads are VERY remote. Then take US 60 into Arizona to Globe. From Globe, continue on AZ 77 to Tucson.



Where are you going in Calif?
There is a way to head west from Tucson avoiding all interstates.
Via Tohono O'odham Reservation - remote.
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Old 03-15-09, 11:07 AM
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PS - New Mexico has one of the highest alcohol-related accident rates.
(If not the highest) Notice all the crosses on the sides of the roads.
Be especially careful in the evenings and on weekends.
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Old 03-15-09, 11:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe View Post
I highly recommend / second the idea of using the Adventure Cycling "Southern Tier" route and maps
The Southern Tier route takes you on I-10 between Ehrenberg, AZ (just on the border of CA and AZ) and 12 miles past Quartzsite, AZ (you take local roads through Quartzsite). It is a total of 34 miles. The shoulders are wide and full of debris but the road is straight, relatively flat and time on the interstate is short.

Here is a zoomable map of the ACA Southern Tier Route: http://tsteven4.qwestoffice.net/maps...TierRoute.html

Ray
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Old 03-15-09, 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by jamawani View Post
Yes, you can bike on most interstate in the West outside of urban areas - since many were built directly on top of the old highways - but the question is - - - WHY?

You can head south from Albuquerque on the east side of the Rio Grande on NM 47, then head west on NM 6 at Los Lunas. Right at the Cibola County line you will cross Old Route 66 - the pavement is old and broken in places. (You can also tell because you will see a railroad overpass to the left. Why would there be an overpass in the boonies unless this used to be the main highway?) Turn left - west - and follow Old 66 until you cross over I-40 to the north side. This service road continues along the north side of I-40 - veering away to climb the mesa. It then connects with NM 124 - which still is Old Route 66. Follow NM 124 until you reach NM 117 west of the Acoma Res. Take NM 117 south to NM 36. Continue on NM 36 to Quemado. These two roads are VERY remote. Then take US 60 into Arizona to Globe. From Globe, continue on AZ 77 to Tucson.

Where are you going in Calif?
There is a way to head west from Tucson avoiding all interstates.
Via Tohono O'odham Reservation - remote.
man, good stuff!

Seriously, I vote for your route if he has the time. At least I am wise enough to recommend you.
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Old 03-15-09, 04:09 PM
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I always look for an alternative to riding Interstate highways as much for the peace and quiet as to avoid the off debris filled shoulder areas as Raybo noted above.
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Old 03-15-09, 05:33 PM
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Thanks for the help jamawani - when I get to this part I'll be sure to heed your advice. Do you mind if I contact you in the future if I encounter any other troublesome spots? As for your question of why I'll be biking to California...well, that's a good question. I recently graduated from the University of Florida and wanted to give myself some time before looking into grad. schools. I wanted to take this time to travel and visit my friends in the U.S., as well as to experience the people and places that comprise this country that I want to dedicate myself to improving. But, I don't own a car, and flying around the country didn't seem logical from an economical or environmental standpoint. Gainesville has a great bike scene that has heavily influenced me over the years I've been here, so, I decided that a bike trip would be the wisest and most enriching way to go about it. I leave at the end of March knowing that I have no idea what's in store regardless of how much I plan...and I can't wait.
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Old 03-15-09, 05:59 PM
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I can't speak for other states, but it is illegal to ride a bicycle on freeways in North Carolina.
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Old 03-15-09, 06:15 PM
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The portion of I-10 in California that I have done was just fine, very wide shoulder with a rumble strip between you and the traffic. Not as great as backroads of course but in some areas it's the only possibility plus I got a lot of folks & truckers waving, it was kind of fun.
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Old 03-15-09, 06:40 PM
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Sorry, at first I thought you asked "why" I was going to CA, but now I see that it was "where". The first city I'll hit will be San Diego, then up to San Fran.
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Old 03-15-09, 07:05 PM
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I'd avoid interstates unless you have no choice. For this reason alone, and we've all run into this. Road construction. How many times have you been on an interstate where they are doing road construction with only jersey walls and no shoulders on the interstate???
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Old 03-15-09, 07:42 PM
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Originally Posted by doublesp View Post
I recently graduated from the University of Florida and wanted to give myself some time before looking into grad. schools....I leave at the end of March knowing that I have no idea what's in store regardless of how much I plan...and I can't wait.
Well - as Archie Bunker used to say about New Jersey - SOMEBODY has to go to Florida.
(Now I've thoroughly ticked off people in two states.)

Congrats on graduating!
I have a friend who got his PhD in history at the U of F.

You can follow most of the stretch of Old Route 66 on Google Maps using Street View
Really amazing that they have Street View on such a remote road.
The surface is poor - but you really, really are on the actual Route 66.

Feel free to contact me using the "private message" feature of Bike Forums.
If you want me to show you how to get from Tucson to San Diego without any interstates
Drop me a line.

Best - J

PS - It's gonna be getting pretty darn hot in the Imperial Valley by late May.
Kinda like 100 degrees.

PPS - You know you will be riding up the coast AGAINST the prevailing wind, eh?
Nothing makes a cyclist more heinous than riding day after day against the wind.
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Old 03-15-09, 07:45 PM
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117 from Grants to Quemado is a beautiful piece of real estate. Highly recommended.....
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Old 03-15-09, 07:51 PM
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I don't have the link handy at the moment, but CDOT in CO provides a map that classifies roads for bikes as:
- Wide paved shoulder.
- Little/no shoulder.
- Prohibited.

Believe it or not, portions of I-70 *are* open to bikes, generally based on whether or not there are alternative routes available. I have ridden I-70 between exits 252 and 254 multiple times. The paved shoulder is so wide you effectively have your own lane, and it feels a heck of a lot safer than most roads I ride.

Found the map: http://www.dot.state.co.us/BikePed/M...Bike%20Map.pdf

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Old 03-15-09, 09:01 PM
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avoid Interstate HWYs

Jamawani had a great map, but another alternative also shown on his map is dropping south from Albuquerque paralleling I-25 to Socorro and taking Hwy 60 West from there. The crosscountry races (Race across America) have used Hwy 60. From ABQ to Socorro there is only about 7 or so miles that have to be on I-25. Interstates may be doable, but they are certainly not tranqul or pleasant riding. PM me if you want specifics on ABQ to Socorro to minimize traffic and have an adequate shoulder. Tom
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