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Old 02-20-13, 01:14 PM   #1
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Planning coast to coast 2014: East Coast Leg

Hey everyone, I'm currently in the process of hammering out my basic route idea for the coast-to-coast trip I have planned for 2014. Right now I'm working on the East Coast. All I have right now is a very, very rough idea of the general direction I want to go: south and then west. Any advice is appreciate as far as good routes to take, bad routes to take, what kind of weather I should expect, and so on.

My current plans are this: fly to Portland, Maine with my bike, ride to Conneticut to meet some friends, ride through northern Pennsylvania to Pittsburgh to meet another friend, ride south somehow to Virginia, at which point I'll hop on the Blue Ridge Parkway and make my way west.

I'll be leaving in April, so I expect a lot of inclement and cold weather, especially in the higher regions. Anyone have advice for what April in ME/CT/PA is like? I'm from Chicago, so cold is alright with me.

How is riding out of/away from Portland Maine? Any advice for someone flying into there?

Anyways, I'm pretty much open to any and all commentary/advice. Thank you!
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Old 02-20-13, 10:10 PM   #2
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I have been in New England for ten years. All I remember about spring is that it is wet.

The route is beautiful, almost with non stop scenery, mostly flat along the coast, from Portland until Boston. Food & rest stops are plenty. As you head south from Boston, near CT border, hills become routine, and you will accumulate elevation quickly.
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Old 02-21-13, 01:59 PM   #3
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Have you looked into Adventurce Cycling Association's route network?:

http://www.adventurecycling.org/routes/index.cfm

The Transamerica route from VA might be the thing for you. Their Atlantic Coast Route starts in Bar Barbor, ME and heads south through Connecticut and eventually into PA.

Here is a link to PA state bike routes:

http://www.pahighways.com/other/bicyclepa.html

You could take ACA's Atlantic Coast route south to Port Jervis, NY, cross over the Delaware River into PA at Matamoras, take PA Route Y from there to PA Route G at Ansonia to PA Route S at Manns Choice. (Route G uses part of the Pine Creek Gorge Trail. The trail was extended subsequent to the plotting of Route G. I would stay on that trail all the way to the town of Jersey Shore, PA and then pick up Route G again there.) The western part of Route S (from Rockwood, PA west) uses the Great Allegheny Passage rail-trail and would take you right into PGH. (The GAP currently stops just short of PGH, but the planned extension into the city itself will be completed late spring of this year.)
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Old 02-21-13, 02:07 PM   #4
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BTW...The weather in April can be chilly and wet in PA (April showers bring May flowers) and you could even have snow in New England, although the chances of that are not as great as they are in February. Defintiely expect hills, especially heading E-W/W-E in CT.
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Old 02-22-13, 12:17 PM   #5
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Awesome info, Indyfabz. This is basically exactly what i"m looking for. I plan to do the Transam from VA through the middle of the country, but I may have to hop off it when I get towards Nebraska and Colorado.

What's chilly consist of on the East Coast? I'm in Chicago and operate best around 50-60 degrees, especially when biking.
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Old 02-22-13, 02:16 PM   #6
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If you're going through central CT, in April, it could be anywhere from 25 degrees to 85 degrees. Seriously. I think we hit the 80 degree mark in New England in March, one day in 2012. And the NWS considers ~ May 15th as the day when the chance of frost is pretty much gone for the duration.

Two words sum up April in new England: changeable, and unpredictable.
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Old 02-25-13, 08:37 AM   #7
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Two words sum up April in new England: changeable, and unpredictable.
Same for PA, especially in the western part of the state. You might have days in the 70s or 80s. You might have 40s with rain. It could even snow. Last year was a warm one and this year Phil the groundhog has predicted an early end to winter.
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Old 02-26-13, 03:06 PM   #8
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The bridge from Kittery ME. to Portsmouth NH is under construction. May not be open until the Summer.
There is a shuttle . Check out the Maine DOt. You planning on camping or motels?
New England weather, wait 5 minutes it'll change.
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Old 02-27-13, 11:49 AM   #9
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I'll be leaving in April, so I expect a lot of inclement and cold weather, especially in the higher regions. Anyone have advice for what April in ME/CT/PA is like? I'm from Chicago, so cold is alright with me.
Wet, wet, and wet.

I live in North Central MA, and all it seems to do in April is rain. Couple that with snow melt and your in for a wet ride so bring lots of rain gear.
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Old 02-27-13, 11:53 AM   #10
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What's chilly consist of on the East Coast? I'm in Chicago and operate best around 50-60 degrees, especially when biking.
Chilly for April in New England is in the 20s-30s.

It's usually (as others have mentioned our weather is quite unpredictable) around low 40s to mid 50s for "seasonable" weather. It could get colder or warmer at the blink of an eye though.
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Old 02-27-13, 01:20 PM   #11
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New England usually means high humidity which when moving on a bike can be cold if not dressed properly. I ride all winter as long as there is no ice and snow on the roads in temps down to mid 20s F. For me, a base layer, usually merino wool, an insulating layer such as a fleece pullover with a long zip at the throat for venting and wind breaker or rain gear. Legs are two layers of tights. My feet seem to be fine with just a neopreme cover over shoes but some prefer booties over shoes. If you ride in the windy city, you will be fine in New England.
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Old 05-20-13, 08:14 AM   #12
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this is a little late but...
When you say ride through northern pennsylvania to pittsburgh are you planning to ride across PA and down 19 to pittsburgh? I have some familiarity with the 19/pittsburgh area. Feel free to PM me, I don't know for sure how to keep track of a forum thread.
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Old 05-20-13, 08:21 AM   #13
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Hey everyone, I'm currently in the process of hammering out my basic route idea for the coast-to-coast trip I have planned for 2014. Right now I'm working on the East Coast....
I made a cross-country trip back in 1995. I did it wrong! Flying into Washington D.C., I headed west toward home, (on the Pacific Coast). I figured that if I were always headed home, I'd be less likely to quit. The biggest problem is that I fought a head wind the entire trip. As you probably know, in the middle-latitudes, we have a prevailing west wind. There is a very good reason most people go from west to east. Just something to consider.
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Old 05-21-13, 07:30 AM   #14
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volosong that's a really good point. I've dreamed of going cross country (I doubt I can get the time off work anytime soon though). I had never considered a headwind.
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Old 05-22-13, 05:06 AM   #15
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volosong that's a really good point. I've dreamed of going cross country (I doubt I can get the time off work anytime soon though). I had never considered a headwind.
Anecdotal evidence does not always make something so. While the upper atmosphere winds tend from west to east, what happens on the ground can vary, especially during the time of year. A BF member overlaid the prevailing surface wind pattern during July on top of a map of ACA's Trans Am route. The prevailing winds in much of the midwest showed a southeast flow, which would give you a headwind riding west to east.

I crossed the country on the Northern Tier route. We had plenty of days of headwind in places. You get systems coming out out of the southwest with a counterclockwise flows that produce headwinds. Same was the case when I rode from Seattle to Cortez, CO via Glacier National Park. During a week in ND in July we had winds out of the SE, which gave us a headwinds heading south/east and tailwinds heading west.

I think most people tend to notice headiwnds more than tailwinds unless the tailwinds are killer and you are easily cruising along at 28 mph with panniers. You also have to keep in mind that you you are not always riding east or west. For example, coming down from northern MN I rode south for several days.
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Old 07-03-13, 11:36 AM   #16
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I've done plenty of Crazyguyonabike "research" for the last few years waiting for this trip, and I expect some headwinds heading E-W. Still, something about being an American seems to include being drawn westward.

It's been a while since I've posted in this thread, but my plan currently involved Amtrakking it to Bangor, Maine, heading south and hooking up with the Atlantic Coast ACA route, heading south from there to VA. I think I'm bypassing Pennsylvania, or at least insofar as the ACA route will take me through it.

Leaving third week of April, 2014. Gear and money are slowly coming together, it's starting to feel real......
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Old 07-03-13, 12:36 PM   #17
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I think I'm bypassing Pennsylvania, or at least insofar as the ACA route will take me through it.
Then what's the plan for that stretch? The ACA route hits the Hudson, crosses at Poughkeepsie and then continues to Port Jervis, NY, where it enters NJ. If you coninue to follow the route, you will go through the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, which is great riding. The last place you can get off the route and avoid going into PA is at Historic Millbrook Village. If you don't take Millbrook Rd. from there and instead continue down Old Mine Rd., you must go into PA. That's because when you reach the end of Old Mine Rd., you will have two choices: (1) Cross the Delaware River to Delaware Water Gap, PA using the pedestrain walkway along I-80 or (2) ride on I-80. The latter is not permitted. Once in PA, you can ride south on PA 611. In Portland, PA, there is a pedestrian bridge that takes you into Columbia, NJ, on the other side of the river. You can conitnue heading south from there on U.S. 46, which is not nearly as nice as River Rd. south of Portland on the PA side.

Is there something about the PA portion fo the route you don't like?
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Old 07-03-13, 12:52 PM   #18
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Is there something about the PA portion fo the route you don't like?
No, not at all--I think I misunderstood the route. My original intention was to go as far West in PA as Pittsburgh, but now I'm sticking to the Atlantic Coast ACA route through it. That's what I meant by "avoiding PA" but I think I misspoke: Looking at the map again--it's a significant stretch of the route, not to be easily avoided, as you say Thanks for the awesome route wisdom!
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Old 07-04-13, 05:34 AM   #19
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I'd have recommended skipping that part of PA myself, having had the displeasure of driving route 80 across it many times, on the way to Chicago.
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Old 07-04-13, 06:02 AM   #20
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Our CFO just retired and is doing a West to east ride this year with his brother...That is a EPIC ride...
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Old 07-04-13, 07:42 AM   #21
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don't go east to west! our prevailing winds are west to east. it makes a huge difference. our son and daughter-in-law are currently doing a xc tandem belated honeymoon, blog goldentandem.wordpress.com and used an adventure cycling route. Well worth the $. left san fran in late may, via seattle, currently just re-entered the states from the canadian rockies. we'll join em in upstate on our tandem in august. my brother crossed the country several times, both ways, and can attest that west to east is the way to go.
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Old 07-04-13, 09:25 AM   #22
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don't go east to west!
My heart's pretty set on it! Something about the West coast makes it seem more like a destination than a starting point. The East coast is nice, it just doesn't have all the years of history and romance of Americans trekking their way towards it, forging the frontier, etc.......
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Old 07-04-13, 09:40 AM   #23
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My heart's pretty set on it! Something about the West coast makes it seem more like a destination than a starting point. The East coast is nice, it just doesn't have all the years of history and romance of Americans trekking their way towards it, forging the frontier, etc.......
Rode East to West Summer of 2009. No problems with the wind.

June 25th to Aug 22, 2009

http://i256.photobucket.com/albums/h...uth42Route.jpg
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Old 07-04-13, 09:54 AM   #24
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I made a cross-country trip back in 1995. I did it wrong! Flying into Washington D.C., I headed west toward home, (on the Pacific Coast). I figured that if I were always headed home, I'd be less likely to quit. The biggest problem is that I fought a head wind the entire trip. As you probably know, in the middle-latitudes, we have a prevailing west wind. There is a very good reason most people go from west to east. Just something to consider.
While heading west to east across the Canadian Great Plains, we met a cyclist who gave up east of Winnipeg, bought a bus ticket to Calgary. As i vaguely recall...We had a prevailing wind behind and off our right shoulder. Also..we were well above tornado alley (by accident), but we were still caught in some hellacious thunder and lightning storms, one which pushed us so hard we were exhausted pedaling at well over 20mph (loaded touring cyclists) trying to avoid it.....which we did by 5 minutes. Lightning hit a grain tower 100 yards from us and filled the air with ozone while we hid out in the lobby of a motel (owners were very kind).
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Old 07-05-13, 11:52 AM   #25
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The prevailing ground level winds vary from region to region and during the time of year. A BF member who does a lot of touring once overlayed a prevailng surface wind chart for July on top of ACA's map showing the TransAm route. It showed prevailing winds out of the southeast in the midwest, which would mean a tailwind heading west.

I did the entire Northern Tier W-E. Had plenty of days of headwind. Same was the case when I did the section of the Trans Am from Missoula, MT to Fairplay, CO. Rode a loop in ND in August '06. Plenty of days of wind out of the SE, which, again, meant a tailwind heading west. Spent a couple of days on the Trans Am heading east two years ago. We pretty much ahd a headwind of varying degrees the entire time. The last few miles up Big Hole Pass were miserable. Wasn't sure I was going to make it. There was even a strong headwind during the descent.

I think people notice headiwnds and not tailwinds unless they are very strong and produce high speeds.

And with the OP's planned start date, west to east would likely cause problems weather-wise. McKenzie Pass, which you don't want to pass, would almost certainly be blocked my snow. Western MT in mid-May would also likely be wet and cold. In 2011, it got down to around 40 in both Darby and Wisdom. That was at the end of June.
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