Touring - Plan B suggestions needed
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05-27-11, 12:08 PM
From the most recent posts and weather forecasts, it looks like our planned mid June tour around Lake Champlain is washed out. I’m looking for advice on developing Plan B on short notice. Here’s a few of our considerations:
We have 9 days off = Saturday to Sunday and that includes travel time from Rhode Island.
We’re comfortable with 400-500 miles fully loaded in that timeframe.
We like to camp but are not opposed to other lodging. My wife does not want to stealth camp.
Thoughts I’ve had:
PEI; we toured the east side two years ago. Maybe tour the west side.
The Maine Coast, maybe including some time in Acadia Park.
Maybe part of La Route Verte – Montreal to ?? and back.
Any ideas or input would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
05-27-11, 12:26 PM
Adirondacks. Adventure Cycling has a downloadable map.
Route Verte could be sweet, too.
I'd just pick one and not look back. Otherwise you'll be mystified by the options. ;)
Adirondack Park loop is nice, many State Parks with campgrounds along the way with facilities, decent roads, nice views, manageable hills. As previous poster pointed out: ACA has a route. It's around 400 miles, can be more or less if you want to modify it. I did my variation of it (http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/AdamsFirstTour) in the beginning last year starting on May 30th and had to cut it short on June 8 due to very cold weather (30s at night). It can be still that cold in June. But it was mu first long tour and I wasn't really prepared for cold weather. I'm planning to do it again a month later this year in the beginning of July.
I have a GPS file with locations of all State Parks with campgrounds in NY State, if interested.
05-27-11, 12:48 PM
I did the eastern section of the Adventure Cycling Northern Tier route several years back and it was an excellent route from PA to Portland, ME. You could pick a section you want to ride near you. The Maine part is particularly nice but there are some hills you will notice. The maps they sell have camping, lodging, bike shops, etc. all indicated nicely like the old AAA Trip Ticks, but a lot nicer and specialized for bikes. Nice low traffic scenic roads too..
05-27-11, 01:02 PM
Maybe part of La Route Verte – Montreal to ?? and back.
I suggest Le P'tit Train du Nord, a very nice rail/trail going northward beginning in the northern suburbs of Montreal. When I did it 6 or 7 years ago, there were shuttle services who would transport you and your bike from one end to another for a very reasonable price. It was 125 miles/200 km long when I did it, but I believe an extension southward toward Montreal has been built adding another 19 miles/30 km.
05-27-11, 03:48 PM
I see that a few people have suggested the Adirondacks.......it's a magnificent place but be aware that June in that region can mean blackflies. They can be truly miserable. My personal fave is the Finger Lakes. I recommended to another list member recently to check out the Finger Lakes Cycling Club website, they have a large number of maps & cue sheets online for day rides, & you could easily string some of these tpgether for a tour. Start in Ithaca, Hammondsport or Watkins Glen and it's fairly hard to find an unpleasant place to ride as long as you don't mind hills. Hills can be minimized by doing whatever east/west riding you need to do up at the north end of the lakes.
05-27-11, 09:42 PM
I would suggest Route Verte plus Petit Train du Nord. I've done some of the Petit Train and have driven around the area between Montreal and Quebec City and it's great. You could also ride it from Vermont.
The black fly season in Adirondacks is usually over by the end of May, I was told, second week of June tops. I have a friend who hikes up there often and, according to him, it's just May most years. When I was there last year May 30th - June 8th I had no problems. I was also in Lake George area about 8 years ago in the beginning of June, not cycling though, and I don't recall black flies being a problem. Finger lakes would be my second choice too. I didn't bike there yet, but drove through and car-camped in that area. Very pretty indeed.
05-28-11, 03:43 PM
I don't know if you're interested in exploring urban areas and/or have passports, but I just returned from a tour scouting trip around Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks, and I saw roads with emergency measures taken, (usually jersey barriers at the edge of the road - or the single open lane - with sandbags at the base) but no road I plan to use in August was actually closed - at the time I was there, and I know that at least the causeway to the Islands wasa closed for a while. I'll make a proposal that includes a free day+ in Montreal, but will think about options that don't require passports - or, if you have no interest in Montreal/city days. I don't camp, so this is based on tours I've led where we stayed in the mentioned cities, so you would have to adjust. As described, this is a 7-day tour, with a travel day at each end.
Start in/near Middlebury, VT. Bike to Burlington (lakeside campground at North Beach just off bike path ~ 70 miles). Bike to St-Jean-sur-Richelieu area (~80, all flat to lightly rolling); perhaps find camping south of there, which gives a longer day "tomorrow"). Bike to Montreal - short day (~30), but I can supply a 70 mile route if you want it). Free day in Montreal, but a great cycling city, and I have entry/exit routes that are bikepaths most of the last ~10-15 miles. Bike to Plattsburgh area (~70 miles); maybe stay at Point au Roche State Park on the bikeway (65). Note that the land from the border (and south to Swanton in Vermont, and Plattsburgh in NY) to Montreal is absolutely flat (and perhaps somewhat boring farmland, at least in CA), but there can be very strong winds, especially from the north. I led a tour from the Lake Champlain Islands to Montreal for 25 years, so am very acquainted with the prevailing conditions. You could stay along the lake (I have no idea of current conditions in this area) the next two days, but I would suggest cycling to Lake Placid (50-60) instead. The climbing actually isn't that bad (it varies some by route) and the contrast in scenery to the lake is dramatic. Lake Placid itself is a crowded *****-tonk town loaded with souvenir stores, but there are great routes in and out, so I see it as a convenient location more than a destination in itself. My group is staying in Saranac Lake this year, a far more human-scaled place. L.P. to Ti (55, 60 or 80). A fellow who's been on perhaps a dozen tours with me says that this is his favorite day of cycling of all of them. There is one stiff 2-mile climb, but lots and lots of long downhills and absolutely gorgeous scenery. I have somewhat similar feelings towards Ti as L.P., as it is a small, somewhat "sleepy" town with not much more than a famous fort to its credit, but again it's conveniently situated. Ti to MIddlebury (42 or 48). Of course, this assumes the Fort Ti cable ferry is operating by then, but an alternate is to take the free ferry at the Crown/Chimney Point bridge construction site, which gives a 32 mile day, but I could give you extensions or you could figure them out from the Lake Champlain Bikeways map (Northern Cartographic) - not sure of the company/publishing status - I heard most employees deserted (sucked away by a competitor) a few years back (maybe a decade by now). If available, this company also does an excellent series of Vermont regional maps. I use computers, but trust hard-copy maps more than GPS for route planning purposes, and prefer to have mulpiple versions for the same area, as they do vary in what they show - and sometimes in how they show it. I'll think about an "all south of the border" solution - you mention 400-500 miles, but do you have a daily number, or say two choices for flat or hilly?
05-30-11, 06:49 AM
Wow, such great information for my wife and I to consider; thanks.
To velotrain: We have passports and I planned on spending a full day in Montreal. Perhaps find lodging near the city for two nights.
RE daily mileage; I think that my wife and I are probably good for 50 miles a day average New England terrain. So pretty flat: 60 miles is not difficult. Bigger hills: 40 miles. That's not hard and fast, just an estimate. Obviously we can throw in a much harder day when followed up by an easier day. Any additional information will be greatly appreciated.
05-30-11, 07:19 AM
I'm looking out my window at Lake Champlain now, so I'll give some updates. It is still at record high levels and that mostly affects those with seasonal camps in low lying areas, although there are plenty of year rounders suffering damage in the northern NY region where flat farms meet the lake. Road closures are mostly over with and all ferries are running (maybe not the Ticonderoga one). The only concern I'd have about doing the Lake ride would be camping in lakeside campgrounds. Call first to see if something on your route is open. I'd also concur that the NY side has some awesome cycling. I moved over to NY from VT a few years back for a few reasons, but a big one was the miles of back roads with very little traffic, great riding. I think if I wanted to tour Vt, I'd look at riding in the "Northeast Kingdom" which is what it sounds, the NE section. It is beautiful, rural, has a great lake of its own (Memphamagog) which it shares with Canada and has some good camping and B&B's.
Good luck and give us a report
05-30-11, 01:57 PM
Roger - after spending 45 minutes writing a private message to you, I lost it on Send due to a system error as I haven't sent 50 forum messages yet (so no PMs allowed). Why didn't the morons (system software designers) tell me that when I tried to create a PM in the first place? Damn - I hate losing so much writing. If you want to contact me, I'm firstname.lastname@example.org. I also have a book out on riding in the region, but am happy to help you directly. http://www.amazon.com/Bicycle-Tours-Lake-Champlain-Region/dp/0881505757
ChamplainCycler - I agree, I've always been amazed at how well even the smallest farm roads in NE NY are paved, but I gather that comes from the large Clinton county budget. Things are very different in Franklin county, and I even ran across some town meeting minutes from there saying they'd heard Clinton paved two roads that didn't need it, so maybe the paving companys have friends in the county administration. Anyway, outside of the Plattsburgh area there are many miles of quiet and well-paved roads. I like the large outdoor sculpture collection at SUNY-Plattsburgh, especially the "Fedora".
05-30-11, 02:00 PM
Then there's that bug in the system software that repeats the last word from the first line at the beginning of the second line. It doesn't seem universal, so I have no idea what triggers it, but have noticed it in many messages.
05-30-11, 06:33 PM
I'm in Essex Cty., near the mid lake ferry crossing to Charlotte Vt., which I take every work day. Its not so much that the roads are so great , but that they have low traffic here in the Adirondack foothills.
I hope I didn't minimize the damage done to homes along the lake on either side, there has been major damage. I just wanted to point out that roads are passable now and I'd probably not cancel a tour because of it. You really can't go wrong cycling in this region on either side of the lake. I'd still recommend the Northeast Kingdom for VT touring though, flooding aside. Its stunning, rolling hills instead of mountains, plenty of lakes and streams to skinny dip (oh my !) and far less traffic than the Champlain valley region of Vermont. Also abuts some very nice parts of Canada just accross the border from Jay Peak. It is the real Vermont to me, I'm sure its different for others.........
05-30-11, 10:43 PM
204146 Yup - Essex County has lots of fine cycling roads. As I recall they promote a lot of LCB "Theme Loops". One of my favorite segments of riding is descending Whallons Bay Rd. to the lake, through the avenue of trees with Camel's Hump straight ahead across the lake. I'm not fond of the stop at the bottom, but that is compensated for by 2+ miles of some of the best continuous shore riding on the whole lake, along with West Shore Road from 129 to 2 in Alburg. Dugway Rd. out of Keeseville is also sweet, although far from the lake.
Last year we took the Charlotte ferry and didn't understand the hundreds of riders we saw in Essex on a weekday. It turned out to be the Glens Falls - Montreal Le Grand Tour, with some 2K riders. I couldn't pick out my people from the continuous chain, and on the climbs out of Willsboro it reminded me of photos from the Alaska gold rush, with the long streams of men looking like ants on a hill.
We did NEK in 2008, but my riders were less than taken with it. Some of that may have been from staying in the dreary Canaan motel, although I thought riding west the next morning had some of the best scenery - with wide vistas into Quebec. Everything you say about it is true, but for me the landscape doesn't have the distinct visual appeal of other areas of Vermont, looking more like New Hampshire or Maine (simply making a comparison, and not putting either state down).
05-31-11, 03:20 PM
I'm gratified and humbled by the generosity of the BF community. Thanks to the input from those who've responded, we are going ahead with a modified version of our original plan to tour around Lake Champlain. It's practical because we already have the maps and such for the area and it has interested us for a while. I'm looking forward to corresponding a bit more with velotrain about some of the particulars, especially about Montreal and the Lake Placid area.
I also appreciate the helpful information about the NEK, Adirondacks and Finger Lakes regions. Those will be incorporated into future mini tours. Thanks.
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