Touring - Good time for Bellingham to Portland tour?
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I am looking for my next tour and am thinking about riding the ACA Pacific Coast route from Bellingham to Portland. I have friends in Bellingham and Portland and have never been to this part of the Pacific Northwest.
When is a good time to do this ride?
I'd like to find the sweet spot between rain and traffic.
I don't mind a bit of rain but would like to avoid days of non-stop rain.
06-11-11, 11:08 AM
Good luck with that. Actually from now till about the end of September should be good. Its been kinda crazy this spring but not all that bad. Its kind of a hit and miss with the rain. We get these so called convergence zones because the systems split around the Olympic mountains and then converge back together over the Puget sound causing rain or showers nearer Seattle northward but drier in the south sound. It may be really wet in Seattle and the sun will be shining from Tacoma on southward. Look at the NOAA website and try to get the longrange forecast and you could hit it perfectly or you may end up kinda wet. I always tell family from out of town don't visit here till at least the middle of July mainly because that seems to be when the nicer weather arrives and the rain is warm. We have a very temperate climate so extreme long stretches of really HOT HOT weather are few and far between. As you can see from my post we have a really varied climate, a sort of Jekyll and Hyde thing. Have a blast and let us know what you decide.
06-11-11, 11:16 AM
Weather in the Pacific Northwest tends to be the best in July, August, and September. There will probably be less traffic from vacationers after Labor Day, so that's when I'd go. Enjoy your tour!
06-12-11, 09:54 AM
Weather-wise, I'd say July-August. If you want to miss traffic I guess wait until after Labor Day. Weather in the northwest isn't as bad as people think, except when it is. You're likely to get a nice Indian summer in September/October, but it could also rain steadily for two weeks.
If it were me, I go for the best weather and not worry so much about traffic. There will always be traffic.
I'd go down Chuckanut Drive from Bellingham, then over towards Anacortes. Turn left to go down Whidbey Island via Deception Pass. Deception Pass State Park has really nice sites for bikers, although they charge full price. The next day you'll want to choose: do you want to visit Seattle or not? Seattle is a great city to visit for a few days. Or do you want to avoid the city?
If you want to go to Seattle, continue down Whidbey Island. I usually stay at South Whidbey S. P. Again, nice hiker/biker sites; again, full price. Cross over via ferry to Mukilteo. From there it's not too hard to get into downtown. Download the Seattle bicycle map and take the Interurban. After visiting Seattle, take the ferry to Bremerton, head down Hood Canal (I like to stay at Twanoh S. P.) and pick up the bike route out to the coast.
If you choose to avoid Seattle, then take the right turn on Whidbey Island to Fort Casey and the Port Townsend Ferry. When you get to the other side, pick up the bike route south.
When you get to southwest Washington I can't help you. I was continuing down the Oregon coast when I did it, so I crossed the Columbia into Astoria (on that terrible bridge!) If you did it that way you'd still have a long, 2-day ride on Highway 30 to get to Portland. Check out the Seattle-To-Portland (STP) route.
Have fun! I love bike touring up there.
Thanks for the detailed routing advice.
Is this the ACA route or is it one you've created on your own?
I don't plan on spending time in Seattle. How many days do you figure it will take to go from Bellingham to Astoria at about 50 miles/day?
Also, I don't need to go to Portland as my friends live south of there, near Newburg, so I could head south to Tillamook and then ride over the coastal range toward Newburg.
It looks like most of the riding is on 101. Is that correct?
Also, I checked out the Astoria bridge on Google Maps and it looks narrow without any place for a bike except in the traffic lane. Is there some way to get a ride across or do I have to ride across it?
Thanks for the information. It helps alot.
06-12-11, 01:50 PM
June is iffy IMO, July and August, usually are very good months.
I'm familiar with this route and it is a great ride. If you are concerned about crossing the Columbia at Astoria, you have a couple options. You can ride across the Lewis and Clark Bridge at Longview and then continue west on Hwy 30 to your destination. The Longview bridge is part of the STP route and isn't bad but there is always a lot of debris on the shoulder. Highway 30 is fairly decent but has quite a bit of traffic. If you continue west from Longview on Hwy 411 (Washington side of Columbia), you can take the ferry across from Puget Island. It's about 30 miles from Longview and Hwy 411 is a good ride though the shoulder is narrow in places. I think the ferry runs about every 30 minutes and only $1.00 per bike when I last rode it. Once on the Oregon side just follow Hwy 30 to Astoria. BTW I highly recommend the Berry Patch restaurant in Westport, Oregon for pie. Let us know how the ride goes.
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