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Thread: Northern Tier

  1. #1
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    Northern Tier

    Well, we've decided to take the ACA Northern Tier route this summer, but there are a few things I am unsure about:

    -What is the best way to get to Anacortes, WA? Should I fly into Seattle and figure out how to get on route from there?

    -How is the weather in the Northern states in summer? I did a much more southern tour a few years ago and needed very little warm weather gear. Will I need to bulk up the clothing more for a June-August tour?

    -How long should I expect this to take? We are two 20 year olds riding and we hope to get it done in 2 months, does that sound like plenty of time so that we are not rushed?

    Thanks for any input on these!

    Matt

  2. #2
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    Getting to Anacortes:
    You can take a shuttle from the SeaTac Airport or take Amtrak to Mount Vernon and a connecting bus.
    But since you're only giving yourself two months, you won't have time to see the beauty of the San Juans.

    The weather:
    Summer - but not as hot as further south - in fact, quite pleasant.
    If you plan to ride west to east, early to mid June can be tricky in the Cascades & Rockies.

    Two months:
    You have to be kidding. The Northern Tier is 4300 miles.
    That's 75 miles per day for 60 days - no bad weather, no breaks, no breakdowns. Uh-uh.

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    Well, we are looking to leave June 20th, so the rockies are late June.

    Last tour I did an average 85 miles on riding days, it didnt seem that bad over 3100 miles. We were figuring 54 riding days, which comes out to just about 80 miles. Should we think about extending the trip a bit? We have time, but were hoping to work a bit before we head back to school.

  4. #4
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    Out here in northern Wyoming the Search & Rescue are always going out for people who did not prepare adequately or allow for the unexpected. You can expect big thunderstorms to crop up most afternoons in the Plains. Diaries over at Crazyguy mention them often. It's not a great idea to be riding thru lightning when you are on a hunk of metal; however, if you have an inflexible schedule pushing you - it is more likely that you would take that chance. Just saying - - -

    Same goes for riding when you are tired, not feeling well, into headwinds for mile after mile. Those are the situations where accidents are more likely to occur. Years ago there was this guy who started to ride with me halfway across the country - I didn't want him with me - but he tagged along. He also insisted on riding on into a brutal headwind. He wove out in front of a car and got hit. He was lucky he escaped with only a broken arm.

    My math comes out to 82 miles per day at 54 days. With one day off per week (or two half days because of weather, etc.) that's 9x6=54 - or nine weeks. Another option is to cut east from Osceola Wisconsin to Manitowoc - take the ferry across Lake Michigan - cut across Michigan to Port Huron - then cut across Ontario and get back on the Northern Tier at Niagara Falls. That saves about 500 miles.

  5. #5
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    I rode a modified version of your planed route in 2005. Put in a bit over 3800 miles in 54 days. I only took a few rest days and was happy with the trip.
    I was 56 years old, fat and lazy. http://home.comcast.net/~bikerlee/c2c/index.htm
    At 20 years old, I think it's doable if you're in shape.
    Best regards,
    Lee

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    The North Cascades Highway - Highway 20 - happens to be one of the most beautiful rides out there. Yes, there are a number of passes - 6 to be exact, and two are paired - but the climbs are worth it.
    http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/p..._id=36888&v=LL

    I've taken US 2 - lots more traffic - and a big empty stretch thru the Columbia Basin.
    Sorry, but there's just no comparison for scenery and cycling in my opinion.

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    Northern Tier

    We did the NT in 2004. Great trip

    How to get there: We flew to Sea-Tac and then took the shuttle bus to Anacortes.

    Weather: Summer. Still used long pants/leggings at times. Hot on the Plains, Rainy other times. But what do you expect for summer

    Duration: We did it in 8 weeks (56 days). We didn't take days off, but on occassion did some short mileage days. Most people allow 90 days for the NT. So, it all depends on your riding style. I'd suggest that you be allow some extra time if you need it.

    Start date: We started June 18. Places like Going to the Sun Road are typically closed until about then, so you may need to go through Maris Pass if you start much earlier than mid June.

  8. #8
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    Peaks, that is pretty much eactly what we want to do. We are planning on leaving June 20th and doing it in 60, so thanks for letting me know that it is feasible.

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