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Old 01-12-06, 02:03 PM   #1
srrs
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pittsburgh to pdx in 10 weeks?

I'm a very new tourer, considering a loaded nearly cross-country tour this summer, leaving may 1 and arriving before july 13. The dates are fairly set in stone, due to school and a wedding. Is this enough time to get from Pittsburgh, PA to Portland, OR? I've only been cycling for about a year, and have done no overnight touring as of yet, though I would do a couple in preparation. I already have a touring bike, (vintage Jim Merz frame); I ride 30-50 mile day-trips without trouble, have done a couple of 60-70 mile day-trips pretty well, and am a female in good shape. The big issue is the dates - I have to be in portland by mid-july. Is this enough time, or am I being too ambitious for a first tour? Oh - and I'd probably go from pittsburgh through ohio and join up with the transamerica route from there. thanks for your help!
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Old 01-12-06, 02:40 PM   #2
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I haven't toured yet, but looking at the total distance, Mapquest reports about 2650 miles. I round up to 3000 for an estimate since you will probably have to add some distance in order to avoid freeways... If you rest one day per week, you would be able to complete the trip in 10 weeks by averaging 50 miles per day on the remaining 6 days per week.

This seems like a reasonable average daily distance based on what I have read here. I am planning for my first tour to be a 2 day ride, about 60 miles out, and 60 miles back the next day... All you have to do is repeat that for several weeks...

Now that I have pulled the numbers out of the air, an experienced tourer can add insight about how that sounds for pacing on a first tour.
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Old 01-12-06, 03:08 PM   #3
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SRRS,

May I ask what route you're considering? As a 'Burgher, I'm always interested
in seeing folks's routes in and out of the area.
Bon Yoi-age,
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Old 01-12-06, 03:15 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by srrs
I'm a very new tourer, considering a loaded nearly cross-country tour this summer, leaving may 1 and arriving before july 13. The dates are fairly set in stone, due to school and a wedding. Is this enough time to get from Pittsburgh, PA to Portland, OR? I've only been cycling for about a year, and have done no overnight touring as of yet, though I would do a couple in preparation. I already have a touring bike, (vintage Jim Merz frame); I ride 30-50 mile day-trips without trouble, have done a couple of 60-70 mile day-trips pretty well, and am a female in good shape. The big issue is the dates - I have to be in portland by mid-july. Is this enough time, or am I being too ambitious for a first tour? Oh - and I'd probably go from pittsburgh through ohio and join up with the transamerica route from there. thanks for your help!
Here a my few thoughts:
1. Consider not denying yourself the trip if you are not certain that you can make it by July 13th. I think that I have this right ~ the majority of tourers enjoy it more for the adventure than the distance covered, and I hate to see you on your 1st lengthy tour with time pressures.
2. Are you considering the Northern Tier as well (I understand that your targeted destination is Portland)? I think you will find it to be shorter and there is now a documented route from Pittsburgh to Cleveland that would get you on The Northern Tier (you will need to do a search for it - it is not an Adv.Cycling Route, but I promise you that you will find it and let me know if you do not - think it runs thru Youngstown?).
3. If, in part, your objective it to cover the country coast to coast you are still going to need to get from Pgh. to the Atlantic on another ride.....so why not just allow yourself the liberty of riding each day as far as it makes sense and then, ka-boom, stop.... and wherever you and July 13th are at the same time > so be it.
Fred (grew up in an area s/w of Pittsburgh called Upper St. Clair - fyi).
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Old 01-12-06, 03:22 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by srrs
I'm a very new tourer, considering a loaded nearly cross-country tour this summer, leaving may 1 and arriving before july 13. The dates are fairly set in stone, due to school and a wedding. Is this enough time to get from Pittsburgh, PA to Portland, OR? I've only been cycling for about a year, and have done no overnight touring as of yet, though I would do a couple in preparation. I already have a touring bike, (vintage Jim Merz frame); I ride 30-50 mile day-trips without trouble, have done a couple of 60-70 mile day-trips pretty well, and am a female in good shape. The big issue is the dates - I have to be in portland by mid-july. Is this enough time, or am I being too ambitious for a first tour? Oh - and I'd probably go from pittsburgh through ohio and join up with the transamerica route from there. thanks for your help!
I usually stay away from threads like this because of their inherent subjectivity. But....here's my two cents--take it with a grain of salt--and I'll leave the final math to you.

If you are athletic and in good shape you'll average ~75 miles/day on a loaded bicycle.
Have you ridden with bags and gear yet? There is an adjustment period, but after a few weeks you'll wonder how you ever rode your bike without them. I'm assuming you're around 20, so youth will help make up for lack of experience. When packing your stuff think light. If you don't use it everyday, leave it at home. And when you get to Kansas, mail it home if you find yourself not using it.

If your route is roughly 3500 miles @ 75/day=47 days. Add another few weeks for rest and/or side trippin'---so, ~60 days. You can take it from there. Best of luck. If you have any more questions this is a good place to ask.
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Old 01-12-06, 03:32 PM   #6
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May I ask what route you're considering? As a 'Burgher, I'm always interested
in seeing folks's routes in and out of the area.
Bon Yoi-age,

i don't know what route i'm taking to get out of pittsburgh yet - i figured i'd try to make sure i could make the trip before i got all excited about specific route planning! i'll let you know when i find/choose one, though!

Quote:
Originally Posted by BikePackin
Here a my few thoughts:
1. Consider not denying yourself the trip if you are not certain that you can make it by July 13th. I think that I have this right ~ the majority of tourers enjoy it more for the adventure than the distance covered, and I hate to see you on your 1st lengthy tour with time pressures.
2. Are you considering the Northern Tier as well (I understand that your targeted destination is Portland)? I think you will find it to be shorter and there is now a documented route from Pittsburgh to Cleveland that would get you on The Northern Tier (you will need to do a search for it - it is not an Adv.Cycling Route, but I promise you that you will find it and let me know if you do not - think it runs thru Youngstown?).
3. If, in part, your objective it to cover the country coast to coast you are still going to need to get from Pgh. to the Atlantic on another ride.....so why not just allow yourself the liberty of riding each day as far as it makes sense and then, ka-boom, stop.... and wherever you and July 13th are at the same time > so be it.
Fred (grew up in an area s/w of Pittsburgh called Upper St. Clair - fyi).
My objective is not coast-to-coast, just pittsburgh to portland. my problem is that i don't get out of school until april 26 in pittsburgh, and my sister's wedding is on july 15 in portland. so i ABSOLUTELY must be in portland by the rehersal dinner. if there was some huge setback, i'm sure i could take a train or plane, but i just want to make sure that, given "normal" conditions, i can make it.

i'm looking at any route - northern or transam are probably the most feasable, but i'd look at other routes too. i was preferring the transam because so many cyclists take it, i figured that it'd help to have people used to cyclists camping in their towns, yards, churches etc. on my first tour.
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Old 01-12-06, 03:40 PM   #7
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Ride for 7-10 days. Mail things you are not using home. Figure how long it will take to complete the trip. If the time is tight, take a train for sufficient distance to enjoy the rest of the ride.
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Old 01-12-06, 03:45 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by srrs
i'm looking at any route - northern or transam are probably the most feasable, but i'd look at other routes too. i was preferring the transam because so many cyclists take it, i figured that it'd help to have people used to cyclists camping in their towns, yards, churches etc. on my first tour.
I believe that with a little reseach you could find that a comparable no. of cyclists (or at least enough to get you to your sense of comfort level) take the Northern Tier.
Here is an idea to help you with regard to this specific matter plus some of the other questions that you have posted:
Call Carla Majernik, Manager of Routes and Mapping, Adventure Cycing Association, 800-755-2453. You will find her to be very knowledgeable and helpful, too.
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Old 01-12-06, 04:45 PM   #9
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Your cycling situation sound very similar to mine this US summer when I started on my US crossing, I was full of doubt when planning the trip due to no touring experience, however now looking back I dont know why I was fussing.

I had 10 weeks to get from SF to DC, which I thought would be really pushing it as I had no idea what to expect in terms of daily mileages. I took it really easy at the start, but got stronger and stronger and ended up finishing in 8 weeks. I found the key was to listen to my body at the start and not overdo it. For the first few weeks riding 60 miles a day wasn't the problem - it was getting up the next day when tired and sore and going it agian...and agian

I say go for it. So what if you run out of time - just hop on a bus or train to get to the end
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Old 01-12-06, 06:26 PM   #10
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This link will take you to a place on Adventure Cycling that identifies a route from Cleveland to Pittsburgh. It stops in Coraopolis at the Montour Trail, anticipating future connection of the Montour to the Great Allegheny Passage. The route was selected by Anthony Ratajczak and I think it's well done.

May I offer a bad suggestion for how I'd go from the Burgh to Coraopolis? I'd try something like Station Square trail, Route51 North (lots of traffic), at the north end of McKees Rocks I'd transition to Neville Island.

Neville Island is flat, industrial, flat, ugly, and flat. Route 51 had three killer hills between McKees Rocks and Coraopolis.

On the north end of Neville Island, transition back onto 51North, and follow PA Bike Route A to Rochester, and pick up Ratajczak's routing from the Adventure Cycling book.

But here's the warning: the entire road section from Pittsburgh to Rochester is busy, congested, and not-bike friendly. I ride there, but it's not forgiving and it's not a nurturing environment. If you're not very comfortable mixing it up with traffic, it might be wise to have a buddy shuttle you to Rochester PA and pick up Ratajczak's routing from there. It could be useful to spend a day riding Pgh to Rochester to see what it's like.

I don't want to sound alarm - I really just wanted to send you the Cleveland-Pittsburgh connector link, and to mention that their route stops in Coraopolis. It sounds like a great adventure, and if it's OK to start off and end up taking a train home for the last segment, that sounds like more fun than not going at all. Enjoy!
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Old 01-13-06, 08:09 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by edtrek
This link will take you to a place on Adventure Cycling that identifies a route from Cleveland to Pittsburgh. It stops in Coraopolis at the Montour Trail, anticipating future connection of the Montour to the Great Allegheny Passage. The route was selected by Anthony Ratajczak and I think it's well done.
For anyone trying Ed's link (see his quote above) for the first time - don't give up if it doesn't work the first time or so/it is worth it. Just simply be aware that uncharactaristically in the last couple of weeks the Adventure Cycling servers aren't always kicking in (it does not seem to be a function of the time of day, either?).
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Old 01-13-06, 08:39 AM   #12
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My 1st cross-country trip was 10 weeks - Astoria, OR to Cape Hatteras, NC - in the fall with shorter days. So you should have little problem making the entire trip in the time allotted. Since you talked about school and a wedding I'm guessing you are twenty-something. All the more reason it will be a piece of cake for you.

With extra zigs and zags that back roads bring - let's say it's about 3000 miles. And let's say you take two days off every week for meeting friends, hiking, partying, and recovering from partying. That's still 50 biking days or 60 miles per day. Again - - no problem.

I would warn you that May/June are the peak precipitation months in the Great Plains. Be prepared for almost daily afternoon thunderstorms - some will fizzle out, but others will turn into real boomers with lightening and high wind. In such cases, pedalling along on a large piece of metal may not be the best idea in the world. Most little towns have parks with covered shelters and libraries. Plan on stopping.

Late June is a fabulous time in the northern Rockies - the wildflowers are nearly at their peak in the subalpine. You can get snow and cold all the way to the 4th of July, so have some appropriate gear - micro-fleece and jacket paired should do. Two tiny items make a huge difference on those chilly mornings - a fleece earband and lightweight glove liners. If you do hit a cold/snow spell in the Rockies - just wait it out rather than try riding thru it. By June there are already lots of tourists driving on the road and they will be grumpy. Find a nice town/campsite and within two days it will be beautiful again. Plus you have the time.

I've biked across northcentral Ohio - not the Northern Tier - and it's beautiful - lots of little back roads and crossroads stores. Same goes for Indiana and Illinois. You can pick up the Northern Tier at Monroeville, IN or use your own route since there are lots of small roads. I'm not sure how far south or north you plan on crossing the Great Plains. Almost all roads follow the N-S, E-W grid. The few diagonals usually have a lot of traffic. South Dakota is nice because the Black Hills offer a pleasant break from the acres and acres of fields.

In the West you are allowed to bike on Interstates - - but why?? Again - there are lots of choices of good two-lane roads. You can camp for free on any US Forest Service or BLM lands - 50% of most western states - you just have to know where they are located. If you plan to come into Portland on a route served by bus or Amtrak, you will have that as an easy back-up in case you are running behind schedule. The north bank of the Columbia River is nice - Wash Hwy 14 has light traffic and there are state parks at coomfortable intervals. BUT, be prepared for headwinds here - esp. in the Columbia Gorge.

I'll be glad to share any experience with specific routes or other ideas.
Enjoy!

Best - J
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Old 01-13-06, 12:18 PM   #13
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Hi srrs. Welcome to the forum.

As you can already ascertain, there is a lot of wisdom contained herein. And you can tell from those who've already responded to your post, that the general consensus is that you DO have enough time to make this a tour to remember for a lifetime. So, by all means, do this for yourself. You sound more than capable.

We all remember our first tour--the planning, the fears, the training, the planning, the anxiety, the planning, the anticipation, the shakedown runs--and finally, the moment arrives when you wheel you're loaded rig out of the driveway one predetermined morning enroute for distant lands. Wow! Actually, for most of us, this excitement has never stopped. Each tour involves somewhat the same excitement and anticipation, but with experience under the belt, the fears are replaced with confidence and a wonderful satisfaction.

My advice for you would be to listen and learn from others who've gone before you; plan well, but build flexibility into your itinerary; enjoy each day (smell the roses!) and don't be what I call "destination oriented" (a mistake I made on my early tours); take lots of pictures; keep a journal (see CrazyGuyOnABike.com) ; and remember that the vision we all have in our heads of our next tour involves azure blue skies, immaculate roads with no traffic, kodachrome scenery, gentle uphills and long, carefree downs, local folks waving friendly-like as you quietly pass by, and a supportive breeze assisting your every stroke of the pedals. And there will be days like that, and better! But there will also be rain, headwinds, cold temps, hot temps, jerks in pick-ups sharing their extensive vocabularies with you, fatigue, flat tires...you get the picture. That old bit of wisdom that bids us, "prepare for the worst, but expect the best" is good advice for each and every tour.

I may pass you in the opposite direction at some point along the way this summer. If so, I'll wave, stop, probably take a picture, and we can share a snack, and some experiences.

Have a great trip!

Ted Phelps
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Old 01-16-06, 10:37 PM   #14
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I'd hate for you to risk ruining your first tour with a clock hanging over your head. One thing not mentioned is that you will be heading into the prevailing winds. If it were me, I might consider taking an amtrak to St. Louis and starting from there. Give yourself enough time to enjoy the trip without worrying about the clock. I suggest St. Louis since you could follow the Lewis and Clark trail and incorporate some history into this trip.
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Old 01-17-06, 12:14 AM   #15
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Personally - -

You have plenty of time to get to Portland - you could even start in DC and do the C&O/ATA to Pitt - but you already said you were not necessarily interested in coast to coast.

Actually winds tend to be southerly in the northern Plains in the summer - you are more likely to have headwinds in Wyoming if you do the Transam route and definitely the last few days heading west into Portland. Here are wind direction maps for May and June.

http://www.wrcc.dri.edu/climmaps/winddir5.gif
http://www.wrcc.dri.edu/climmaps/winddir6.gif

Best - J
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