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Crossing Death Valley in July?

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Crossing Death Valley in July?

Old 11-15-18, 11:53 AM
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Originally Posted by JoeyBike View Post
... Zero humidity would be awesome for evaporation. Which of course is the problem!
There probably have been studies done on that, all of which I am unaware. But my experience is that very low humidity is preferred because your sweat evaporates quickly while it is on you, thus you got some productive cooling from the sweat evaporating.

But when I have been in very high humidity (dewpoints over 70 degrees) much of your sweat drips off of you, which provides no cooling and also the sweat that did not drip off of you won't cool your skin below the dewpoint.

But seeing where you are located, you know more about high humidity than I do.
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Old 11-15-18, 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
But seeing where you are located, you know more about high humidity than I do.
Yeah, the short story is that high humidity does not allow your sweat to evaporate and cool you. So body temp can really shoot up in a hurry. The real irony is that at sunrise the humidity is 100% so even 80*F feels miserable. Then after noon, if it doesn't rain, the sun knocks the humidity down to about 50% - so you might actually feel cool in the shade even though it's 97*F. If there is an afternoon shower, which is like tossing water on the radiator in a steam bath, then you get 97* AND 100% humidity at the same time. Brutal.
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Old 11-15-18, 05:38 PM
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I personally know two Brits who biked across S. Cali parallel to I-10 in late August and arrived at the Pacific Coast around Labor Day in 1989
They're BRITS, in Britland they all start falling over when it hits 80.

How do I know? Because from my first conciousness until my early teens I was forced into the unrelenting drudgery of tearing newspapers in half every day for use in our family-run fish and chip shop up on the North Shore of Blackpool, Lancs. Back in the days when skinhead was a lifestyle (not mine) and people still wrapped their fish and chips in wax paper and newspaper but before we discovered curry. We were actually of distinctly limited means, I mean us kids would actually haul our carts (made with pram wheels) to the railway station on Saturdays to carry the bags of holidaymakers to their B&B's for tips. On a good day you could make five bob

We was too poor to afford tropical fish, but I kept a five gallon tank and some goldfish. Why this is relevant is I remember the temperature in the tank in our living room varied between 55 and 65 degrees because I actually succeeded in keeping white cloud mountain minnows which are only semi-tropical. Only time it was warmer was when we brought in some coal from the shed and lit the fire, which is what we had to do if we wanted hot water as the tank was set in the masonry on the back wall of the fireplace. We lived right next to the railyard at the very end of the era of steam. us kids would play on the parked locomotives and get all dirty running up and down the great piles of coal. The scent of coal smoke takes me right back.....

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Old 11-15-18, 05:58 PM
  #54  
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Well, since places like Stovepipe Wells in Death Valley were settled in like 1908, well before electricity and A/C, they musta had to bring in new people constantly to replace all the dead ones which dessicated corpses coulda prob'ly been been stacked like cordwood out back.

Hottest I've ever slept out was 110 F on the floor of a friend's back porch in Phoenix in June ten years back. I slept out there with my two blue heelers to be sure they weren't suffering too much. I still sleep on the floor by habit so as to not lose the ability so I'm pretty sure I could still do that. And then there was that whole three years in a remote village in Ghana thing, and 102 in my house last summer Plus the four and five gallons of water a day while crossing out of Texas and traversing Arkansas in the second half of June of '14..

I appreciate all the advice, and I do understand the inherent hazards, but on the bright side it seems crossing Death Valley can be done in a series of 30 to 40 mile hops, which could be done in the early hours of the morning. I would anticipate the REAL hardship would be staying outside in the afternoon versus wussing out and staying in a hotel.

Also, while this ride, or attempt to ride is gonna happen 2019 or 2020, I'd have to ride a long way of hot and dry just to get there, so I might not even make it that far. It ain't like I'm getting any younger.
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Old 11-15-18, 08:02 PM
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Just a thought, bypass the hottest part of the southwest when you get to some place in west Texas. Maybe jump onto the train in Alpine, TX and take it to someplace in California?
https://www.amtrak.com/content/dam/p...table-0317.pdf

A couple years ago a friend of mine was averaging seven flats a day in the southwest from the thorns he was picking up on the road.

I think it would be neat to ride through Death Valley, but in winter. Keep in mind that if you have a mechanical problem of any kind, if a car driver does not stop to rescue you, that could be pretty serious. I have biked where there was not any retail establishment of any kind for at least 100 miles in any direction, but I had an extremely reliable bike and the tools and knowledge to fix almost anything on it. Plus, I could have walked for days out of there if I had to because the weather was not something that would kill you in a day.

Someone above mentioned how hot the pavement can get in the sun in Death Valley, I have no idea what that will do to your tires and tubes.
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Old 11-15-18, 10:09 PM
  #56  
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Originally Posted by Sharpshin View Post
Well, .....could be done in the early hours of the morning.....I would anticipate the REAL hardship would be staying outside in the afternoon versus wussing out and staying in a hotel.....

i never ride at night....unsafe and defeats (my) purpose of seeing the scenery.


but in this case? you're out in the land of nothing. no people no cars. the odd vehicle can be heard coming from a mile away.


also consider planning to ride that stretch during a full moon. out in the dessert with no pollution and low humidity, it's possible to read a newspaper by moonlight.


for the terrible afternoons, you've got your reflective blanket, and maybe a wee, tiny solar powered fan. add a few drops of water on your face and you're in heaven. (figgerative, darn it, i dinna mean....)
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Old 11-16-18, 04:10 AM
  #57  
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Originally Posted by saddlesores View Post
i never ride at night....unsafe and defeats (my) purpose of seeing the scenery.


but in this case? you're out in the land of nothing. no people no cars. the odd vehicle can be heard coming from a mile away.


also consider planning to ride that stretch during a full moon. out in the dessert with no pollution and low humidity, it's possible to read a newspaper by moonlight.


for the terrible afternoons, you've got your reflective blanket, and maybe a wee, tiny solar powered fan. add a few drops of water on your face and you're in heaven. (figgerative, darn it, i dinna mean....)
the scenery during the day is terrific but the stars at night don't exactly suck either. apples and oranges. if you're comfortably set up for night riding, dvnp is magical.
it's also my opinion that you don't truly know a place till you've ridden it at night. different, but in a good way.
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Old 11-16-18, 07:28 AM
  #58  
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
Just a thought, bypass the hottest part of the southwest when you get to some place in west Texas. Maybe jump onto the train in Alpine, TX and take it to someplace in California?
.
Here is a three way comparison between San Antonio, Alpine and Las Vegas: https://weatherspark.com/compare/y/4...-and-Las-Vegas

I wouldn't skip that part of the Southwest, but I would particularly pay attention to elevations and short run forecasts since the elevations can make a reasonable difference. So I'd avoid going through lower elevation places like the Imperial Valley or Yuma or Phoenix and cross higher elevations like Flagstaff.

I think there are enough higher elevations it can be a warmish but not extreme tour for most of the distance between San Antonio and Southern Nevada [and a quick check of the OPs suggested route via Ruidoso to Las Vegas confirms it is staying a bit higher]. I have crossed US 50 across the middle of Nevada in July and it was both cooler and higher in elevation. It still hit 100F once or twice, but those days I had finished my cycling by 1pm and missed the worst. Meanwhile on those same days it was ~115F in Las Vegas. Another similar comparison between Silver City NM at the continental divide and Yuma at elevation 140ft: https://weatherspark.com/compare/y/3...-City-and-Yuma

Goathead thorns can be an issue, though I've been pretty fortunate including a ride from El Paso to Austin this past July and the southern Tier some years before.

Last edited by mev; 11-16-18 at 07:48 AM.
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Old 11-16-18, 10:51 AM
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Originally Posted by mev View Post
...
Goathead thorns can be an issue, though I've been pretty fortunate including a ride from El Paso to Austin this past July and the southern Tier some years before.
Do you mean these?

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Old 11-16-18, 11:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
Do you mean these?

hey! don't forget the mesquite!
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Old 11-16-18, 11:32 AM
  #61  
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I have not ridden in goathead country for 20+ years. Can anyone tell me from experience that the Schwalbe Marathons work well, or do you still get flats occasionally?
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Old 11-16-18, 11:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
Do you mean these?

Yup...oops, my ride from El Paso was this May, not July. In July I rode from Abilene to Minot.

I've had goat heads on eastern plains of Colorado and also in Wichita Falls, TX and the Texas panhandle. Fortunately, haven't had them along southern tier route, but they may be there as well as along the OPs route via Ruidoso NM. Schwalbe tires seem to block many, but not all of them.

When I was in Northern Colorado, I recall a club ride I was on that went through Windsor Colorado. Our mistake was taking a short stretch of bike path along the way. Shortly thereafter, between 5 bicycles we had 8 flat tires, so a few with both front and back flat tires. We were fortunate to get everything patched and were more careful after that.
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Old 11-16-18, 12:00 PM
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Originally Posted by NoControl View Post
I have not ridden in goathead country for 20+ years. Can anyone tell me from experience that the Schwalbe Marathons work well, or do you still get flats occasionally?
That photo I posted was the older Marathons sold up until maybe 8 or so years ago. I did not flat on that trip, but when I saw the thorns I stopped and pulled every thorn out of my tires, took several minutes. I then picked up the bike and carried it back to the pavement instead of rolling it on the ground from where I had pitched my tent.

Can't say if they are prone to flats or not, I might have just been lucky. I used a disposable plastic sheet under my tent, that accumulated a lot of thorns.

A year and a half ago I got my first flat in one of the newer Marathons (with Greenguard), but I had picked up a construciton staple that would have flatted just about anything with the possible exception of a Marathon Plus.
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Old 11-16-18, 12:13 PM
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Originally Posted by mev View Post
... , I recall a club ride I was on that went through Windsor Colorado. Our mistake was taking a short stretch of bike path along the way. Shortly thereafter, between 5 bicycles we had 8 flat tires, so a few with both front and back flat tires. We were fortunate to get everything patched and were more careful after that.
Touring, I always carry two tubes, not only one. And of course a patch kit.

But day rides I only carry one tube and some of my bikes do not include a patch kit in the spares. I am glad I did not ride on that bike path.

***

My 700c touring as all been on Hutchinson Globetrotter tires, they are now out of production. I had good luck with them.

My 26 inch wheel touring as been on Schwalbe Marathons, plain Marathons (with Greenguard, 40mm wide, wire bead), Duremes (50mm width, folding variety, not the tandem rated ones), Extremes (50mm and 57mm, folding).

Still trying to decide what to use on my next trip, it will be a 26 inch tire but which exact tire I am unsure. It will not be in thorn country. Bike will be heavily loaded at times so likely 50 or 57mm.
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Old 11-16-18, 03:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Sharpshin View Post
... I would state that most ANY bike nowadays with decent components might fall into the "extremely reliable" category in the context of a US road tour, and there ain't a whole lot on a bike to fix. ....
On my last self supported tour, I finally after all these years of carrying a cassette tool finally need to have one. And fortunately I did.

If you carry a cassette tool, this might come in handy. Wow, I posted this over 6 years ago, time sure flies.
https://www.bikeforums.net/touring/8...ip-travel.html

From what you have said, I suspect you have the skill to stay out of trouble.
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Old 11-16-18, 03:58 PM
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I had an extremely reliable bike and the tools and knowledge to fix almost anything on it.
Me too, tho I would state that most ANY bike nowadays with decent components might fall into the "extremely reliable" category in the context of a US road tour, and there ain't a whole lot on a bike to fix. Chris King headsets and bottom brackets are stone axe reliable, and sorta minimum equipment for a bike ridden most every day in all weathers. I got 36 spoke wheels, stout mountain bike rims and carry a spare chain and chain tool among others. Spare cables and spokes too.

Ordinarily I try to keep five tubes on hand on trips because, ironically enough in the context of this thread, I'm a worrier

My urban commute is really hard on tires, and over the last five years I have torn up multiple Gatorskins, Gatorskin Hardshells, plain ol' Marathons and even a couple of Marathon Plus Tours. That last tire, the Marathon Plus Tour with its heavy, all-surface tread is my favorite tire. Sure they are heavy, but I can go for months between flats.

'Course, goatheads might be a whole new ballgame.

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Old 11-19-18, 10:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
Touring, I always carry two tubes, not only one. And of course a patch kit.
I usually carried a light folding tire as well. And a small supply of duct tape. Never needed the tire or duct tape during 15,000 miles of touring. I can only remember 3 flat tires, two caused by Tuffy tire liners before I stopped using them. One was a rock pinch. So few I remember the details of every one! I generally carried 3 tubes. No good reason for that number.
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Old 11-21-18, 08:12 PM
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My two tours were run mostly on Gatorskins, I did indeed bring along a folding tire on both tours, the same one 700x32. 2014 2,000 miles to New York four flats but otherwise no problem. 2016 1,500 ,mile around the UK, Ireland and Northern France. Both new Conti Top Contact II's self destructed on that second ride (musta been faulty), obliging me to deploy that folded Gatorskin.
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Old 11-24-18, 11:08 AM
  #69  
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Originally Posted by Sharpshin View Post
Google tells me that 1) Pahrump (an actual town) to Death Valley Junction is 30 miles. There is a Amargosa Cafe there at the junction presently open 8:00 - 3:00 Friday through Monday, plus a shaded porch on an abandoned building across the street.

2) Death Valley Junction to Furnace Creek is another 30 miles.

3) Furnace Creek to Stovepipe Wells; 25 miles.

4) Stovepipe Wells to Panamint Springs; 31 miles.

5) Panamint Springs to Lone Pine is 50 miles, but passes three inhabited unincorporated towns beginning at 35 miles (Keeler), alternatively it would be 42 miles to Olancha.
I rode across Death Valley, connecting the dots you've listed from west to east, in September of 2016. I rode through the hottest part of the day (Late morning to late afternoon). The air temperature was over 100 degrees and the temp on the pavement was closer to 120. It never got below 90 at night.

The short version of what I have to offer is: you'll be fine. Considering the experience and sensibilities you already have, just keep your skin covered, drink plenty of water, take it easy and enjoy the ride. (I started each day with 6 liters of water on the bike and tried to drink a liter and hour which gave plenty of margin)

Each of the towns you mention will have water, and the only one without shade is Stovepipe Wells. The "campground" there is just a parking lot. There's a general store/tourist trap and a hotel with a restaurant where you can get out of the sun during business hours. But there's no place to camp out of the sun. I sprung for a hotel room. It's amazing to be in the middle of Death Valley and have a room with A/C, a shower, a TV, and a swimming pool for only $150 (That's the cost of a seedy budget motel here in New England).

Riding through Death Valley was the absolute highlight of my touring life so far. It's like being on a different planet. And people get a kick out of seeing you out there. Many people stopped and gave me things -water, Gatorade, fruit. Some people -whether in rest stops or pulling over- were curious about my route, what gear I was using, etc. I got a lot of waves, smiles and thumbs up. I think buses full of blue-hairs got a special kick out of it. We always waved to each other.

I was told that tourist season doesn't really start in DV until late Oct, so you'll be out there very much in the off season. And since there's little-to-no reason for a person to be out there unless they are a tourist, you may not see as many people as I did. Still, the people you will see I will assume would be friendly and helpful if you run in to trouble. I've heard that if you run low on water, just hold a bottle out and shake it when a car approaches, signaling you need water. People who are driving out there have also taken provisions of extra water. And they can carry lots of it in coolers!. RVs can also be a source if you get stuck. But reading your other posts, it seems unlimly you'll get in a pinch like that.

The ride from Stovepipe Wells to Panamint Springs will be a big day. It's only 30 miles, but the first half is a 5,000-foot, 15-mile climb. And in the direction you're heading, it's pretty much dead straight. The descent down the other side into Panamint Springs will be a payoff though; absolutely breathtaking views down the 3,500 foot, 15 miles twisting descent. You'll have the satisfaction of passing all the scars on the pavement where cars stopped and burned up in flames.

Like I said Death Valley has been the highlight of my cycling career so far. (I'm 52, and have a done a LOT of all different kinds of cycling). And I wasn't even planning to ride that way. It was part of a 4 week solo-self-contained tour (my first-ever tour) from Santa Rosa, though Napa/Central Valley, over Yosemite - Mono Lake - Owens Valley - Death Valley - Las Vegas - Hoover Dam - Lake Mead - St. George UT - Zion NP - ending at the north rim of the Grand Canyon. I was originally going to take Highway 6 from Lee Vining over to St. George, but I ran into another cycle tourist in Yosemite Village who pretty much convinced me I needed to ride through Death Valley. SO glad i did. If you enjoy it half as much as I did, you'll have a blast.




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Old 11-24-18, 05:44 PM
  #70  
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Originally Posted by Sharpshin View Post
I appreciate all the input, and I'll have to look into the cotton thing.

As far as traversing the park, I figure that "services" for me would basically amount to available water.

Google tells me that 1) Pahrump (an actual town) to Death Valley Junction is 30 miles. There is a Amargosa Cafe there at the junction presently open 8:00 - 3:00 Friday through Monday, plus a shaded porch on an abandoned building across the street.

2) Death Valley Junction to Furnace Creek is another 30 miles.

3) Furnace Creek to Stovepipe Wells; 25 miles.

4) Stovepipe Wells to Panamint Springs; 31 miles.

5) Panamint Springs to Lone Pine is 50 miles, but passes three inhabited unincorporated towns beginning at 35 miles (Keeler), alternatively it would be 42 miles to Olancha.

The suggestion of bringing one's own shade with a reflective tarp or blanket is a good one.

Five days max (if those short hops were necessary), sounds doable.

Hey, pretty much the whole first 2,000 miles of this trip west out of San Antonio would be hot and miserable, trending overall hotter and more miserable over time all the way to Death Valley

So why? Because June-August is when I have off, West is where I want to go next, and simply because its there is all. Plus I got an audience of a couple of thousand high school kids plus family and friends to set an example for.
I just did the Death Valley Century last weekend and drove most of that route (Pahrump -> Furnace Creek -> Panamint -> Olancha). That schedule would be doable, but I wouldn't attempt it personally. Be aware that the route through Panamint has two sections of serious climbing. It will slow you down considerably.

I would also consider starting well before first light (4AM). That's what the construction workers in Las Vegas and Phoenix do to keep out of the heat. You have the possibility of breaking down somewhere and having to survive 130 degree heat until help arrives. Need to prepare for that. Perhaps some sort of emergency beacon device or at least a phone that would have guaranteed reception. (There are lots of dead spots out there) . And lot of water - even in November, the lack of moisture in the air was palpable.
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