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  1. #1
    Senior Member rockpilex's Avatar
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    Baby It's Cold/Hot Outside

    A little background-I was born and raised in South Florida. I've never seen a mountain or a desert. The Tampa Bay area has had snow 3 times since I was born, the temperature rarely drops below 45 degrees.

    Next summer I will be tour-camping along the Lewis and Clark Trail. What should I expect weather wise on the prairie, in the mountains and in the arid areas. Any special clothing, shelter/sleeping needs (I currently tour with a 2 man 3 season tent and a 45+ degree sleeping bag)? Any input on these topics would be appreciated. Thanks

  2. #2
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rockpilex
    A little background-I was born and raised in South Florida. I've never seen a mountain or a desert. The Tampa Bay area has had snow 3 times since I was born, the temperature rarely drops below 45 degrees.

    Next summer I will be tour-camping along the Lewis and Clark Trail. What should I expect weather wise on the prairie, in the mountains and in the arid areas. Any special clothing, shelter/sleeping needs (I currently tour with a 2 man 3 season tent and a 45+ degree sleeping bag)? Any input on these topics would be appreciated. Thanks
    Assuming that you are going to do the trip in the summer and not in the winter , and that you are going east to west, some things to expect:

    May: Probably pretty comfortable in terms of heat all along the route. From people who have lived in St. Louis, they tell me that May and September are the most comfortable months (been there in September). Not too hot or too muggy. Muggy doesn't matter to you but for a lizard like me, I melt! Expect weather from St. Louis to North Dakota in May that is...um, unsettled. May and early June are thunderstorm months. Prairie thunderstorms aren't like the warm things you have in Florida. Temperatures can drop very rapidly - up to 30 degrees in a few minutes! Also, late cold fronts aren't unknown in the upper prairies, especially in early May. I'd have a set of tight's in addition to rain coat and rain pants and perhaps a long sleeve shirt or jersey. If your sleeping bag is too cold, you can always put the cold weather gear on to lower the temperature range a little.

    June: It can be cold, cool, warm or even blisterly hot in the Dakotas in early June. Be prepared for all of them. Also, it is much drier (I'm assuming that you are out of Iowa and into the Dakotas by now) so make sure you carry and drink lots of water. I mean lots of water! I carry a Camelbak and I've usually gone through most of 100 oz of water by 2 or 3 in the afternoon. Gatorade helps too because you are going to be losing lots of salts. Thunderstorms are still a problem but unually only in the afternoon and evening.

    June/July/August: Assuming you are out of the Dakotas and approaching Montana by now, it's gonna be hot! You are looking at that cold weather gear and the rain stuff and saying to yourself why did I bring all that junk?! I'm sending it home...now! Don't just yet. Although the Montana mountains aren't as high as Colorado's, they can still be chilly at night and in the morning. Wait until you get to Dayton, WA before you jetison the cold weather gear.

    On to the coast: The upper Columbia was hot when I went through in a car and 2 month's later by bike. Way hot and way lonely and windy as hell! If you are going west expect to push into some very strong winds (20+ mph). And expect to get desicated! It is damned dry...eastern Colorado dry and there ain't no shade from Yakima to The Dalles! Not a stick! But once you get to The Dalles everything changes. You get trees, you get shade and then about the time you get to Rainier (and remember you dumped all of that cold weather stuff back in Dayton, WA.) you find out that you should have kept the woolies! From Rainier (or even Portland), it gets cold and wet and rainy. And about the time you reach Astoria, you understand why Lewis and Clark detested the coast. Astoria's weather would make an Englishman depressed! It's cold, rainy, misty and suicidal!

    That's it in a nutshell...sorta
    Stuart Black
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    Um... suicidal? When I was there it was bluebird. Twice.

    Never seen a mountain or a desert?!?!?! You are going to be gobsmacked! West is best bay-bee, yeah!!!

    3 season tent is fine, your bag might be too light for the mountains. You definitely need rain gear. Be prepared for hot, cold and in between. 3 regular water bottles were fine for me. I rode some of that route, west to east, and I think that's the way to do it, you sail the columbia river gorge. The folks I met coming the other way were bummed about the wind.

    Be prepared to ride up long grades. I hear Florida is flat as a pancake... low gearing is important for the mountains, you will hurt less if you can spin up the hills. I use mountain bike gearing myself - 22x32 is my low gear.

    Have fun!
    ...

  4. #4
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by valygrl
    Um... suicidal? When I was there it was bluebird. Twice.

    Never seen a mountain or a desert?!?!?! You are going to be gobsmacked! West is best bay-bee, yeah!!!

    3 season tent is fine, your bag might be too light for the mountains. You definitely need rain gear. Be prepared for hot, cold and in between. 3 regular water bottles were fine for me. I rode some of that route, west to east, and I think that's the way to do it, you sail the columbia river gorge. The folks I met coming the other way were bummed about the wind.

    Be prepared to ride up long grades. I hear Florida is flat as a pancake... low gearing is important for the mountains, you will hurt less if you can spin up the hills. I use mountain bike gearing myself - 22x32 is my low gear.

    Have fun!
    I was there for 4 days last August. Not a single day without rain and cold. And we were told that it was the dry season and that there was a high fire danger. I couldn't get a fire started with a blow torch! Did finally get the 'dry' wood started with Doritos and accidently discovered the best fire starter I've ever seen. Even better than acetone! And it has an nice cheery yellow flame
    Stuart Black
    Solo Without Pie. The search for pie in the Midwest.
    Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
    Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
    Twisting Down the Alley. Misadventures in tornado alley.
    An Good Ol' Fashion Appalachian Butt Whoopin'.

  5. #5
    My tank takes chocolate. FlowerBlossom's Avatar
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    Don't forget that tornados also start occuring June-ish. Not alot of shelter on the open prairies...just get to the lowest ground possible.
    Feminism is the profound notion that women are human beings.

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    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by valygrl
    Um... suicidal? When I was there it was bluebird. Twice.
    I'm a Colorado boy- born and bred. I get morose if it's not sunny for more than 2 hours Astoria was just hell for me. Add in the fact that the trees are all too close and I was ready to jump off that big bridge north of town after 2 days. I need wide open sunny skies!
    Stuart Black
    Solo Without Pie. The search for pie in the Midwest.
    Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
    Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
    Twisting Down the Alley. Misadventures in tornado alley.
    An Good Ol' Fashion Appalachian Butt Whoopin'.

  7. #7
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FlowerBlossom
    Don't forget that tornados also start occuring June-ish. Not alot of shelter on the open prairies...just get to the lowest ground possible.
    Luckily most of those are going to be further south of the Lewis and Clark route. Not saying they can't happen but I think they tend to be more of the Colorado variety (little, a nuisance but not particularly destructive).
    Stuart Black
    Solo Without Pie. The search for pie in the Midwest.
    Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
    Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
    Twisting Down the Alley. Misadventures in tornado alley.
    An Good Ol' Fashion Appalachian Butt Whoopin'.

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    Too bad you had a bad experience in Astoria. I looooove Colorado!!! Hoping to ride through there next month. brrrr.


    anna
    ...

  9. #9
    Punk Rock Lives Roughstuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rockpilex
    A little background-I was born and raised in South Florida. I've never seen a mountain or a desert. The Tampa Bay area has had snow 3 times since I was born, the temperature rarely drops below 45 degrees.

    Next summer I will be tour-camping along the Lewis and Clark Trail. What should I expect weather wise on the prairie, in the mountains and in the arid areas. Any special clothing, shelter/sleeping needs (I currently tour with a 2 man 3 season tent and a 45+ degree sleeping bag)? Any input on these topics would be appreciated. Thanks

    Its a long trail; too bd ya couldn't have done it this past summer, as it was the 200th anniversaryof Lewis and Clarks' return Journey. I did a huge chunk of the Oregon/Idaho/Montana partn and you'll love it. I'd upgrade your sleeping bag though, for cooler weather in the mountain regions. I don't know what type of phsyical condition you are in, but i train for my cycling tours by jogging stair laps (4 or five floors): builds awesome leg power, lung capacity. I train for about 40 minutes each day at tops. Then you'll be able to laugh at the 3-4-5% grades they call "tough" in the rockies.

    Good luck! A bad day touring beats a good day working.

    roughstuff
    Electric car sales are on fire! :)

  10. #10
    Senior Member rockpilex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by valygrl
    Um... suicidal? When I was there it was bluebird. Twice.

    Never seen a mountain or a desert?!?!?! You are going to be gobsmacked! West is best bay-bee, yeah!!!

    3 season tent is fine, your bag might be too light for the mountains. You definitely need rain gear. Be prepared for hot, cold and in between. 3 regular water bottles were fine for me. I rode some of that route, west to east, and I think that's the way to do it, you sail the columbia river gorge. The folks I met coming the other way were bummed about the wind.

    Be prepared to ride up long grades. I hear Florida is flat as a pancake... low gearing is important for the mountains, you will hurt less if you can spin up the hills. I use mountain bike gearing myself - 22x32 is my low gear.

    Have fun!

    Thanks for all responses. What does bluebird mean?

  11. #11
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    Oops, sorry, skiier terminology. Bluebird just means blue skies. Nice weather. But yeah, it can be rainy on the pacific coast.

    Cycco... I hear you about the rain and trees. I had an experience like that on the west side of Tasmania - I had to bail to better weather. Nothing like a "tunnel of trees" in the rain to put the damper (hahah, sorry) on a tour.

    To the O.P... there are lots of equipment lists over on crazyguyonabike.com that might help you out. The L&C is a long ride that covers a lot of varied terrain. Chances of experiencing just about every kind of weather are high. You should be prepared the same way the transam folks are.

    Happy planning...
    ...

  12. #12
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by valygrl
    Too bad you had a bad experience in Astoria. I looooove Colorado!!! Hoping to ride through there next month. brrrr.


    anna
    You just have to realize that about half of what I say is the truth, the rest is just good story tellin'

    September and October are possibly the best months to ride in Colorado. Just don't dress like a deer

    Where you riding?
    Stuart Black
    Solo Without Pie. The search for pie in the Midwest.
    Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
    Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
    Twisting Down the Alley. Misadventures in tornado alley.
    An Good Ol' Fashion Appalachian Butt Whoopin'.

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