Touring - Cycling through the US Rockies in Sept/Oct
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06-23-09, 06:19 AM
Does anyone have any words of advice for cycling the US side of the Rockies in Fall? Are we crazy to be biking through the Rockies so late in the year? I'm worried that we might encounter some cold, snowy rides? Does anyone know what the weather is typically like there in September and October?
06-23-09, 08:33 AM
WIND. many people think of everything that might go awry, but forget about the wind. I dont recommend an east to west track that time of year.
I crossed the rockies in october of 2007 (going east to west), crossing over La Vita Pass in southern colorado. I didn't hit snow, but had to leave around 4 AM in order to get some riding in before the wind picked up. Coming down lavita, it took 10 hours to go 15 miles despide the downhill grade, had to pdeal in the lowest gear to get DOWN the mountain. had to rest about every two miles because of a steady 40 MPH gale.
It can start snowing at highier elevations in september, and by opctober it is a definate risk. Or not. can be quite nice. When not in China, I live in Taos, NM (southern rockies) and bicyling is quite nice in sept and oct between 7-9000 feet. it snows eariler in the colorado rockies.
in the northern rockies (montana, wyo) I would say september may be too late.
06-23-09, 10:10 AM
Well, "the rockies" is a long way north to south, so it depends on where you mean, but I think the short answer is yeah, it's too late to be in the mountains. Early September is ok, mid/late September plan on waiting out some storms, mid-October plan on being snowed on.
If you look at weather.com, and select locations you are interested in, you can find a seasonal average graph - here's one for Frisco -- as you can see, you'll have highs in the 50's and lows in the 20's overnight. And while that precip number looks small, some of that will be snow.
06-23-09, 11:52 AM
As others have suggested, it's a bit of a crap shoot in terms of whether you'll encounter unridable conditions. But if your schedule can accomodate a few days of potential down time, then I wouldn't be detered. You will have some amazing weather as well. The wind can certainly be an issue in the fall, but it isn't as consistent as in the spring, so some days might be windy while others will probably be relatively calm (speaking for Colorado).
Just remember that you will have significantly shorter days than in the summer, so your daily mileage might not be as high.
Here in Colorado it can snow on the high passes (11,000 ft +) any month of the year, but September is definitely pushing your luck. By October there is a definite possibility that it will not only snow, the snow will stick around for a few days. The ski resorts around here start their snowmaking operations in late September. In northern Wyoming (Yellowstone NP), expect overnight temperatures to consistently drop below freezing in early September at higher elevations.
Having said that, you can also have beautiful fall and (almost) Indian summer weather in the Rockies, just don't expect it to last too long.
06-24-09, 08:28 AM
Ya thats what i kinda thought. Does anyone have any good route recommendations for that time of year in the states? We're leaving from Northern Washington and our end goal is to end up in Florida around Christmas. I've been looking at the American Adventure Cycling Website and that's where we got the original idea to cycle through the rockies.
06-24-09, 08:47 AM
Pacific Coast to Southern Tier?
06-24-09, 10:07 AM
This is a little better, but you have been rather remiss on the info end of things. People can offer you far more help if you give the parameters of your trip - such as -
1. Where? The "Rockies south of the border" still covers a rather large piece of real estate.
2. When? Early Sept and Late Sept are different animals - esp. in the Rockies.
3. Your touring style and speed - on/off road, 60mi (100 km) per day? 75mi (125 km)?
Yeah, from Washington state to Florida requires a transit of the Rockies.
If you start on Sept 1, you should have no problems.
A later start gets problematic since it takes two to three weeks to reach the Rockies.
I would suggest Northern Tier only to Sandpoint -
Then via Hwy 200 to Missoula -
Then via either Helena or the TransAm to Yellowstone -
Then continuing on the TransAm to Riverton -
By this time, it will be close to or into October.
You will be much better served getting into the Great Plains
rather than staying on the Trans Am in the Rockies.
You can cut southeast thru Casper to Scottsbluff and North Platte.
Continuing east - you can get onto US 34 and Hwy 2 to Nebraska City
Then follow the Lewis & Clark and the Katy Trail into St. Louis.
I would not do this route if your stat date is anything after Sept 15.
If later in the season - Astoria, Oregon to Santa Fe, New Mexico would work better.
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