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Crossing Death Valley in July?

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Crossing Death Valley in July?

Old 11-11-18, 03:14 PM
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Sharpshin
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Crossing Death Valley in July?

Rode 2,000 miles to NY in 33 days in 2014, 1,500 miles around the UK/Ireland/France in 40 days in 2016. Still commute a 12-mile round trip most days but work and family commitments have precluded tours these last couple of years. I can feel another one coming on though - San Antonio - Ruidoso NM - Las Vegas - Yosemite - Pacific Coast up to Portland and then back over the mountains to Great Falls Montana. Google says 3,400 miles give or take, I would have 70 days to complete it - June, July, August.

This route would be hot and sunny all the way to nearly Yosemite. I'm accustomed to heat and sun, I ride all summer down here, and dress and hydrate accordingly, but I expect Death Valley is special.

How does one cross Death Valley on a bicycle in July? I would like the bragging rights.

Last edited by Sharpshin; 11-11-18 at 03:55 PM.
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Old 11-11-18, 03:16 PM
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At night towing a trailer full of water. Andy
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Old 11-11-18, 03:16 PM
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A trailer full of water, travel at night? Looking for a darwin award?
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Old 11-11-18, 03:43 PM
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It sounds pretty nutty at first, lol, but you sound like you're pretty aware of your "normal" limitations, and in better shape than I am. Maybe set up a support vehicle, for just in case?
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Old 11-11-18, 03:51 PM
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First light would be a bit after 5:00am, leaving me seven hours until noontime. Hottest part of the day most places down here in summer occurs after 2pm after the ground warms up and begins to radiate heat back up, same thing appears to be the case in Death Valley. On a 108 degree day in July of 2018 it barely topped 102 by noon. I can and have packed three gallons of water along with travel/camping gear in my four Ortleibs before. Biggest limitation would be shade and available water, from memory looking at google it doesn't look to be more than 40 miles between those places anywhere along a paved highway, most places less.

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Old 11-11-18, 04:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Sharpshin View Post
First light would be a bit after 5:00am, leaving me seven hours until noontime.
You are certainly more used to hot weather than I am. This being said - why not riding from midnight onwards? And stop mid-morning in some air-conditioned accommodation? Riding at night can be exhilarating, especially if you can time your trip such that you'll be riding under a full moon. And by riding westward, you'll get sunrise at your back, meaning incredible panoramas.
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Old 11-11-18, 04:48 PM
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
You are certainly more used to hot weather than I am. This being said - why not riding from midnight onwards? And stop mid-morning in some air-conditioned accommodation? Riding at night can be exhilarating, especially if you can time your trip such that you'll be riding under a full moon. And by riding westward, you'll get sunrise at your back, meaning incredible panoramas.
Most of my bicycle commuting is before or after dark so I have no problem with riding at night but......

I would guess any paved road out there gets regular traffic 24/7, there just doesn't seem that many choices to get from Point A to Point B in Nevada, plus Death Valley lies between Las Vegas and North-Central California. Walking around out there on Google Maps, the roads also don't have a shoulder to speak of. It is impossible to tell exactly how close a car coming from behind will pass you using your mirrors, the head lights are too bright, I would have to stop and move off the shoulder every time a vehicle passes.

Plus, there's always the possibility of drunks.
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Old 11-11-18, 04:57 PM
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relative

January may be a better time .. for death valley,

As Our Nevada Folks May know Desert gets cold at night..

Cool when its 112 in the day is still somewhat warm .
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Old 11-11-18, 05:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Sharpshin View Post

Plus, there's always the possibility of drunks.
Drunks kill day or night. Maybe there are more of that kind at night... not clear to me.

Your reaction -- riding at night being more dangerous than during the day -- is interesting. I am not aware of any evidence to support this. I'd say that the opposite appears to be more likely. The leading risk factor is simply traffic volume, and there is more during the day. You are arguably more visible at night, assuming a (fixed -- blinking is said to have an hypnotic effect that may draw drivers towards you) rear light and reflective bands on your ankles/pedals.
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Old 11-11-18, 05:55 PM
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I have never been to death valley, have no opinion.

But, when I rode Pacific Coast, I was southbound. And every time I saw a northbound cyclist, I was so happy that I had the tail wind and someone else had the headwind.
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Old 11-11-18, 06:03 PM
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
Drunks kill day or night. Maybe there are more of that kind at night... not clear to me.

Your reaction -- riding at night being more dangerous than during the day -- is interesting. I am not aware of any evidence to support this. I'd say that the opposite appears to be more likely. The leading risk factor is simply traffic volume, and there is more during the day. You are arguably more visible at night, assuming a (fixed -- blinking is said to have an hypnotic effect that may draw drivers towards you) rear light and reflective bands on your ankles/pedals.
More than half my riding is done in the dark.
One hazard in darkness is being blinded by the lights of oncoming traffic, but the big one for me is not being able to judge the position of the car coming from behind in my mirrors as it approaches and passes.
Lights and reflectors are all good but do depend on the driver to see and avoid them. Since I live in a high crime area, some of my regular after-dark home commute I ride entirely without lights because I don't WANT to be seen. As long as I myself can see the cars I'm good. Outside of those areas and everywhere in my pre-dawm commute I'm lit up like a Christmas tree, I do not presume they will prevent me from getting hit tho and pretty much ride the same degree of caution with or without lights.

While drunks can happen any time, most drinking occurs in the evening and at night, early hours of the morning after the bars close is the worst.
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Old 11-11-18, 06:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
I have never been to death valley, have no opinion.

But, when I rode Pacific Coast, I was southbound. And every time I saw a northbound cyclist, I was so happy that I had the tail wind and someone else had the headwind.

Indeed, I'd be bucking a headwind most of the trip. The granny gear is my friend. Fortunately, speed is not a primary consideration.
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Old 11-11-18, 06:21 PM
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This was in January, but I think most of the time there is not much traffic on many of the roads around the park. This is a guess, but I'd think that there would be more traffic in the cooler months.



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Old 11-11-18, 09:28 PM
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I take it you're going east to west across the valley. Death Valley in July would be crazy, but if you're set on doing it you should do it at night when it gets down into the 90F range (check the historical archive in the parks website for typical July temps). That's how they do the Badwater-to-Whitney Portal race, starting about midnight. The only reliable water source is Furnace Creek, so you'd need some way to re-supply with H2O along the long stretches of open road through the park on both sides of Furnace Creek. And don't forget the area between Las Vegas and Death valley - that's pretty remote, hot, and dry, too, with very few water sources. And once out of it on the west side you'll be in the Mojave Desert/Owens Valley areas, which also have daily +100F temps in July. If going up the Owens Valley to Hwy 120/Yosemite you'll have some high altitude riding (Owens valley is 4000 ft at the start, about 7000ft around Lee Vining at the 120 turnoff). After Yosemite you come into the Calif Central Valley, and that's hot in July too (90-110F). Its a beautiful, fascinating place to visit and explore, but you idea doesn't sound like a pleasant trip to me.

Personally I'd go in the late fall when the temps have dropped. Springtime is always windy (and crowded with tourists), summer is blazing hot, and winter is bone-chillingly cold with the possibility of snow in the mountains on both sides of the Valley. Even in late fall I'd need a support vehicle for water and food supply.

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Old 11-11-18, 09:53 PM
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P.S. I agree with Tourist in MSN's warning about headwinds. North winds can be brutal on the coast. I'm speaking from experience! The second time I did the Coast Route, I took a train to Vancouver, BC, and headed south.
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Old 11-11-18, 10:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Sharpshin View Post
....Biggest limitation would be shade and available water, from memory looking at google it doesn't look to be more than 40 miles between those places anywhere along a paved highway, most places less.

a wee tad more than that! here's one of the signs in the park....next services 72 miles. you can maybe flag down an RV, but there won't be too many in july.



and there is no shade. carry your own if you wants some. a reflective emergency blanket and some zipties will do it.


anyhoo, i rode across DV in july. it was hot....and peaceful. stayed at the campground inside the park. no other campers. temp dropped to 90 degrees at night. careful when you get water from the campground faucets, comes out scalding.


check the weather! no trees, and nothing to block the wind. it gets windy. google the sailing stones....
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Old 11-12-18, 05:23 AM
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no shade save that in the shadow of the hills/mountains roadside and the temps will still be 90 + degrees. towne pass is easier east to west exiting dvnp but still a long, difficult slog.
ample prehydration, carrying at least 4 larger water bottles (if no support vehicle) and nighttime riding (still at 90 + degrees) is the only way to do it. you only have services at furnace creek and stovepipe wells
during the day and dvnp shuts down early. once out of dvnp and into the owens valley, you still face a lack of support for distances only negotiated by 2 + hours of riding and intolerable heat until lone pine and farther north.
the heat and humidity and support in a texas summer are far different than the heat, lack of humidity and lack of support in a death valley national park summer. it's a total mindf***. dvnp is the largest national park
in the lower 48. the distances are vast and the sensation of riding and making zero progress is a definite reality. you gotta be both physically/mentally motivated and conditioned. all that said, it's gorgeous
riding and a must-do at some point..just not in summer...unless you're german. as for drivers/drunk drivers...you'll see/hear them nearly a mile away at nighttime. pull off as necessary. summer daytime traffic is pretty light as well
and you can hear automobiles well in advance.
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Old 11-12-18, 06:06 AM
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My biggest concern about riding the desert at night is not being able to outrun the chupacabras.
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Old 11-12-18, 08:31 AM
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The day I rode into Yellowstone I met another cyclist who had started in San Diego and crossed Death Valley in July. He told me that the heat in DV melted the plastic stiffeners in his panniers. I think the heat also affected some of his brain cells.
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Old 11-12-18, 09:06 AM
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I have not been to Death Valley, but I do have experience riding in dry hot conditions: Eastern Sahara, Thar desert in Indian, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. In extremely dry conditions wear cotton, bring as much water as you can carry, not as much as you think you'll need ( I can carry up to 18 liters), there is no reason whatsoever to ride midday.

The most important advice I can give is not to let pride get in the way of common sense. If a driver stops and offers you anything ( water, pop, icecream, beer, fruit, cookies...whatever ) graciously accept the offer. Don't let pride be the cause of your fall.
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Old 11-12-18, 09:27 AM
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It’s gets hot there. We’re talking 130F.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.was...july-in-a-row/
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Old 11-12-18, 10:20 AM
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All I can do is agree with others: carry as much water as physically possible, and make sure that it will last. While you are used to riding in heat, are you used to being in heat 24/7 nonstop?

Anything over 90F, I personally lose the ability to carry enough water even for a half-day. Does not sound like my idea of fun, but have a good time
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Old 11-12-18, 11:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Sharpshin View Post
Indeed, I'd be bucking a headwind most of the trip. The granny gear is my friend. Fortunately, speed is not a primary consideration.
I did Pacific Coast in 2014. If you are interested, my thoughts on the trip are at this link.
https://www.bikeforums.net/touring/9...l#post16933424

They have changed the software on this forum a few times since i posted it, some of the photos disappeared and some are shown twice.
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Old 11-12-18, 11:09 AM
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An extrawheel bike trailer , for example, allows you to haul more water..
One fellow , years back, made a long Australian outback crossing this way..





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Old 11-12-18, 11:20 AM
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I've ridden in Inland SoCal summers up to around 114. My short summary of it is that the conditions are "not sustainable." In peak summer heat, I will finish drink two 25oz water bottles in less than 30 minutes. On a 100km ride averaging about 102, I drank eleven 25oz water bottles (just over 2 gallons) in three and a half hours.

Carrying water for hot weather is like gathering wood for a campfire-- however much you have, you need to double that, and it still probably won't be enough. There's a reason the Death Valley Century takes place in November (it's next weekend.) The daytime high is 71. In July, it's over 100 for ~10 hours a day.

Also-- don't forget that the air temperature and the ground temperature are two radically different things. The asphalt will easily be 180-200.
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