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  1. #1
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    Cascades versus the Pacific Coast?

    Hi,
    I'm cycling from British Columbia to San Francisco and I am torn between the Cascades route or the Pacific route. I live on the ocean so the Cascades may be more interesting -- but can I survive the climbs?

    Thoughts?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    I think mountains are more interesting and 100 % more scenic than the coast. If you've seen a big body of water, you've seen most of them. That said, US 97 is hot, brown, and barren in some places, and it's the most direct mountainous route. There isn't something like the PCT trail for bikes or cars.

    The climbs depend obviously on your physical condition and on your route. But if you're sticking to paved roads, none of them are terribly steep. You won't find anything more than a 10 % grade on the main routes.
    Don't believe everything you think.

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    Senior Member toddles's Avatar
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    I don't know. If you catch one of your many ferries to the Olympic Peninsula -- it could be the best of both worlds. In fact, you could ride down the whole peninsula and cutover east anywhere you want if the Olympic Mountains don't do it for ya. Oregon has some beautiful passes as well. I think a trek down Hwy 395 through Bend, OR and into Northern California would be fun.

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    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    I think I wasn't very clear. What I mean about the PCT is that there are a handful of roads that cross the Cascade range east to west, but none that goes north to south through the heart of the mountains.

    Except for Hurricane Ridge Road, there really aren't roads that go through the Olympics. You can be next to them, but not in them.
    Don't believe everything you think.

  5. #5
    Senior Member TacomaSailor's Avatar
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    I just drove from San Diego to Seattle on Hwy 395 and 97. I went thru Riverside, Bishop, Reno, Bend and then headed west across the mountains to Salem.

    it was incredibly HOT - 100+ degrees from Riverside to north of Reno - that is 500+ miles over several 8000' passes. North of Reno to Bend was "only" in the mid 90 degree temperature range.

    the other problem I'd worry about is the amount of road construction - there were three places where I drove for over 10 miles on very rough dirt and heavy gravel roads with NO (ZERO!!) shoulders - I am a pretty good mountain bike rider and I would hesitate to ride even my best full suspension bike on those roads with that traffic. The construction zones were one way/one lane and I frequently saw five or 10 heavy semi-trucks lined up along the road.

    the eastside scenery is spectacular and the roads very good in most places but the heat and long climbs with no shade and little water would be a challenge.
    Last edited by TacomaSailor; 07-12-12 at 10:27 AM.

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    Sore saddle cyclist Shifty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
    I think I wasn't very clear. What I mean about the PCT is that there are a handful of roads that cross the Cascade range east to west, but none that goes north to south through the heart of the mountains.

    Except for Hurricane Ridge Road, there really aren't roads that go through the Olympics. You can be next to them, but not in them.
    Well, maybe not one road that goes N to S, but there are several that can be linked to travel from the Columbia River to the California boarder. I'll draw a map of what I mean. The route basically connects Estacada, Detroit, McKenzie Bridge, Oakridge, Cottage Grove, Crater Lake Ashland then over Siskyou Summit into California. Lots of climbing, sometimes very remote, but all paved and little traffic.
    Those voices in your head aren't real, but they have some great ideas

  7. #7
    Senior Member toddles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TacomaSailor View Post
    I just drove from San Diego to Seattle on Hwy 395 and 97. I went thru Riverside, Bishop, Reno, Bend and then headed west across the mountains to Salem.

    it was incredibly HOT - 100+ degrees from Riverside to north of Reno - that is 500+ miles over several 8000' passes. North of Reno to Bend was "only" in the mid 90 degree temperature range.

    the other problem I'd worry about is the amount of road construction - there were three places where I drove for over 10 miles on very rough dirt and heavy gravel roads with NO (ZERO!!) shoulders - I am a pretty good mountain bike rider and I would hesitate to ride even my best full suspension bike on those roads with that traffic. The construction zones were one way/one lane and I frequently saw five or 10 heavy semi-trucks lined up along the road.

    the eastside scenery is spectacular and the roads very good in most places but the heat and long climbs with no shade and little water would be a challenge.
    I know that car ride. Awesome.

  8. #8
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    Perhaps you could combine the two (thinking off the top of my head)

    Ride to Bellingham, Chuckanut Drive to Burlington, east on Hwy 20 over the mountains. South past Lake Chelan, thru Wenatchee and west a bit to go over Blewett Pass on 97. Through Ellensburg, down the Yakima Canyon to Yakima. Continue on 97 and cross the Columbia into Oregon. Continue on to Redmond and Bend, turn west and ride clockwise around Crater Lake, then down to Medford; west to Grants Pass, then west toward the Coast at Eureka (one piece of this is narrow!, poor shoulders; then pick your way along the coast.

    Major climbs: Hwy 20; Blewett; Goldendale; up to Redmond; Crater Lake.

    You may want to arrange your day to ride more in the early morning in the drier areas.

  9. #9
    Sore saddle cyclist Shifty's Avatar
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    I made this map of the Cascades back country route, all paved and on the west side of the range, so VERY beautiful. http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=NaN
    Sorry if the map doesn't load, Gmap-Pedometer has been fussy lately.

    That said, I would recommend that the OP take the Pacific Coast Bike Route, it's a beautiful ride, lot's of facilities and many interesting cyclist to keep you company.
    Those voices in your head aren't real, but they have some great ideas

  10. #10
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    I'd like to see your map, Shifty, but the link doesn't work. If you look at it, it doesn't appear to have an ID, so gmap wouldn't know from the link which route to load. Can you be talked into trying again, or posting a screen shot of the route?
    Don't believe everything you think.

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    I would get as far south as Klamath Falls and head west from there. 395 in CA in the summer is hot and dry and there is a lot of construction going on.

  12. #12
    sniffin' glue zoltani's Avatar
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    I too am interested in your map shifty. Is the route in OR or WA?
    Those who are easily shocked should be shocked more often.

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    Senior Member toddles's Avatar
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    I third that. Let's see the map Shifty!

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    Sore saddle cyclist Shifty's Avatar
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    I have made the map five times, Gmaps-Pedometer is not allowing me to save it. I'll try again in a couple of days, maybe they'll have it fixed and I can save and share. I don't think it will show well enough with a screen save. With a decent map you can follow the city by city that I posted above to get an idea of the route.

    Sorry guys.
    Those voices in your head aren't real, but they have some great ideas

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    Sore saddle cyclist Shifty's Avatar
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    OK, I got the site to take my map, but I had to break them down to 4 maps. They start in Gresham and go to the CA boarder.

    http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=5560497 Gresham to Santiam Junction

    http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=5560512 Santiam Junction to Culp Creek (near Cottage Grove) (map opens at the end of the route)

    http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=5560532 Culp Creek to Crater Lake

    http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=5560534 Crater Lake to California boarder
    Those voices in your head aren't real, but they have some great ideas

  16. #16
    Senior Member adventurepdx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
    There isn't something like the PCT trail for bikes or cars.
    There is a PCT for bikes, sort of, and I'm sort of surprised no one has mentioned it yet. Adventure Cycling Association released about a year ago their Sierra Cascades route: http://adventurecycling.org/routes/sierracascades.cfm
    The whole idea of the route is to parallel the Pacific Crest Trail as close as possible. It sticks primarily paved roads, and weaves its way back-and-forth on either side of the PCT.

    But yeah, expect to do some climbing. They say there are 25 passes on the entire route. I've biked a little bit of this route around the Columbia Gorge, and while the climbs aren't super steep (usually 6-8%) they are long and there are many of them.
    http://urbanadventureleague.blogspot.com/ http://societyofthreespeeds.wordpress.com/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/urbanadventureleaguepdx/

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    Senior Member toddles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shifty View Post
    OK, I got the site to take my map, but I had to break them down to 4 maps. They start in Gresham and go to the CA boarder.

    http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=5560497 Gresham to Santiam Junction

    http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=5560512 Santiam Junction to Culp Creek (near Cottage Grove) (map opens at the end of the route)

    http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=5560532 Culp Creek to Crater Lake

    http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=5560534 Crater Lake to California boarder
    That ends right by the Crater Lake campground. I stayed there once with my old man. It's pretty cool up there alright. Now I want to ride it! Where the hell am I going to find the time!?

  18. #18
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    Thanks!

    Thanks everyone. This is amazingly helpful!

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by TacomaSailor View Post
    I just drove from San Diego to Seattle on Hwy 395 and 97. I went thru Riverside, Bishop, Reno, Bend and then headed west across the mountains to Salem.

    it was incredibly HOT - 100+ degrees from Riverside to north of Reno - that is 500+ miles over several 8000' passes. North of Reno to Bend was "only" in the mid 90 degree temperature range.

    the other problem I'd worry about is the amount of road construction - there were three places where I drove for over 10 miles on very rough dirt and heavy gravel roads with NO (ZERO!!) shoulders - I am a pretty good mountain bike rider and I would hesitate to ride even my best full suspension bike on those roads with that traffic. The construction zones were one way/one lane and I frequently saw five or 10 heavy semi-trucks lined up along the road.

    the eastside scenery is spectacular and the roads very good in most places but the heat and long climbs with no shade and little water would be a challenge.
    I think the weather has decided it for me -- too hot on the inland route for this Canadian. Will try to do a bit inland but only if it cools down.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shifty View Post
    OK, I got the site to take my map, but I had to break them down to 4 maps. They start in Gresham and go to the CA boarder.

    http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=5560497 Gresham to Santiam Junction

    http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=5560512 Santiam Junction to Culp Creek (near Cottage Grove) (map opens at the end of the route)

    http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=5560532 Culp Creek to Crater Lake

    http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=5560534 Crater Lake to California boarder
    Thanks Shifty, I'll definitely be trying some of this route!

  21. #21
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    Living on the SW Coast of Washington I could not imagine the inland route during hot weather months. The coast route has its charms. Lots of little towns. Broad bike lanes most of the way. And it's not really by the big water, it's mostly a bit inland with some moments viewing the water. My original arrival in this country was on a bike and we caught Hwy 101 from Raymond WA straight down the coast to Newport, or is it Florence, OR, then east into Eugene. The hills are challenging, it's not a flat ride by any means. Now, it's not a mountain climb, the Alp D'Huez it ain't. But it's not a ride on a paved trail in Spokane either.

  22. #22
    Senior Member mtnbud's Avatar
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    I've ridden the coast and the Cascades through Oregon, but not Washington and California. I prefer the Cascades, but there is much more climbing. If you want to avoid lots of climbing, you may want to stick to the coast. You'll still have climbing, but much less. My preferred route through the Oregon Cascades looks something like this. Highlights of the route include Century Drive outside of Bend, Crater Lake, and Rocky Point (IMO).

    The coast is very beautiful. It would be hard to narrow down the scenic highlights of the coastal route, but #1 for me would be the California redwoods. I also like the stretch of highway from Walport to Florence and the bypass by Otter Rock. The traffic on the Oregon coast is the heaviest in the northern section. It's not as busy south of Newport. The coast route will be cooler, but will have more traffic. The coast route will have more amenities - stores, restaurants, hotels, etc. If it's very hot inland, the coast tends to be socked in with fog. Conversely, if it's really hot inland, it's really hot inland .

    I found these pictures on a supported tour website:
    Oregon Coast
    Oregon Cascades with Aufderheide
    Last edited by mtnbud; 06-27-13 at 08:12 AM.
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  23. #23
    BF Avatar Zombie Hunter Jseis's Avatar
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    I rode the Canadian coast range in early summer years ago (Fraser River Valley to Jasper) and it was way hotter in late June than anticipated. I suppose a creative logging road ride could use Forest Service and local roads to create an interesting thigh buster along the western slopes of the Cascades. The best coastal ride in Washington includes Puget Sound, a few islands, the Straits, Olympic Peninsula, and some creativity (barter a boat ride from Ocean Shores to Westport) and be way interesting and off the beaten path of AC routes. When my group when cross continent in '76 we specifically avoided the bike centennial routes as we weren't interested in running into thousands of other cyclists. So we built our own route. Oregon Coast is beautiful but packed with summer traffic.

    I'd go Bellingham to Whidbey to Port Townsend Ferry, then to PA, use as much of Olympic Disco trail, go to a few side trips like Neah Bay/Olympic beaches, south to Ocean Shores, barter a boat ride to Westport, 105 to 101, south to Cape D, then to the anti-Oregon coast by moving inland say by Astoria, Vernonia (trail) Banks, then continuing east via Willamete Valley, picking a pass then dropping into an Oregon high desert route. That'd make an interesting trip.

    if you want to make it really international, go to Port Angeles, take the fery to Victoria, then ride to the Ferry dock (Swartz Bay/Sydney) then Ferry to Tswassen, ride to Bellimgham. That'd be the Salish Sea start, then Olympics, then Wa Coast, then Oregon coast range, then Willamette Valley, then Oregon high desert. Fab environments all connected by off main routes.
    Last edited by Jseis; 06-27-13 at 08:10 AM.
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