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Old 10-15-08, 10:49 AM   #1
atcfoody
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Starter tour suggestions

So my wife and I are planning our vacation for next summer (end of May through the first part of June). One of the suggestions I had was doing a bicycle tour (le Route Verte, something around wine country in California, etc), and I was wondering if the collected intelligentsia of the Bike Forums Touring section had any suggestions for a good starter tour.
We have a good deal of experience camping, as well as the gear for backpacking, so that's not an issue. We both have bikes that accept racks or have them on them already, so again, gear transport isn't a problem.
What I'm looking for: a rout that allows 30-50 mile days, preferably starting off at the lower end the first few days, and building from there. Rolling terrain is fine, but extremes probably wouldn't be the best. Since we live in about the middle of the US, something northeast, west, or southwest would probably be good locations. We'll have about 10 days to play with, including getting to and from the starting point, so a total distance of about 400 miles would probably be about the max we could handle.
Thanks,
D
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Old 10-15-08, 11:04 AM   #2
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The Pacific Coast in Oregon is a good bet. You could do most of the Oregon coast in 10 days. Might still be kind of wet in May though so maybe not unless you can go a bit later.
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Old 10-15-08, 11:07 AM   #3
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San Francisco to LA - easy airport access on both ends, great scenery, plenty of services, off-bike things to do, hiker/biker campsites and hostels and hotels are all an option, wildflowers, highly likely to have perfect weather. If you run out of time, you can rent a car in Santa Barbara and drive to LA or take the train.
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Old 10-15-08, 11:41 AM   #4
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The GAP Trail + C&O Canal towpath allow you to ride from near Pittsburgh to DC entirely traffic-free. However both are unpaved, so you're a bit at the mercy of the weather. The GAP Trail has a better surface and more varied scenery.

Since you mentioned la Route Verte, you might want to consider Le P'tit Train du Nord. I understand that most of it has been paved since I rode it several years ago. It's a great trail. You could possibly ride from Ottawa to the northern terminus of the trail, then ride the trail down to Montreal (it ends in its northern suburbs).

A friend & I did a very nice, easy tour, from Providence, Rhode Island to Newport (half of it on a trail), then over to New Bedford, Massachusetts. From there by ferry to Martha's Vineyard. From there you can take another ferry over to Nantucket, and from Nantucket a ferry to Hyannis. From Hyannis you can ride to Provincetown at the tip of Cape Cod. Most of the Cape Cod portion is on a paved rail-trail. In summer there's a ferry from P'town to Boston. A storm stopped the ferry from running the day we wanted to take it, but we were able to take the Peter Pan bus from P'town all the way to Logan Airport in Boston. You could spend as long as you wish on Martha's Vineyard & Nantucket, and both are very nice for cycling.

Another idea closer to home for you is the Katy Trail across Missouri. I haven't ridden it myself.

I think the Oregon coast would be a somewhat friendlier first tour than the California coast, but in addition to possible rain in Oregon, the logistics of getting to the start & ends points would be more of a problem than SF & LA.

I think the coast makes for better touring than Sonoma or Napa counties (i.e. wine country), and camping is much better suited to the coast than Sonoma/Napa.

A friend & I did a very nice loop in SW Utah in late May. It was great, but there is some serious climbing at times, so probably not a good first tour. The California coast certainly has its share of climbs. Somewhat less so in Oregon as I recall, and a nice shoulder in Oregon the whole way. Great hiker/biker areas in state parks in Oregon. California has them too, but I'm wondering how much state budget problems have affected the state park system.
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Old 10-15-08, 12:04 PM   #5
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We've done semi-supported tours in the Finger Lakes region of New York two years in a row. Lots of good state run campgrounds, nice scenery, good roads.

Semi-supported means that we have one vehicle to carry our stuff and we share driving that vehicle.

(edit) Some, but not all, of the routes we used can by found on my Bikely page. (end edit)

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Last edited by Speedo; 10-16-08 at 07:18 AM.
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Old 10-15-08, 12:14 PM   #6
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"Since you mentioned la Route Verte, you might want to consider Le P'tit Train du Nord. I understand that most of it has been paved since I rode it several years ago. It's a great trail. You could possibly ride from Ottawa to the northern terminus of the trail, then ride the trail down to Montreal (it ends in its northern suburbs)."



I just came back from riding the Route Verte from Mont-Laurier to Quebec City and most of the Le P'tit Train du Nord is paved and the unpaved section is in very good condition. The section from St. Jerome to Montreal is not very nice, but it does have a couple of nice spots. I’m sure you could figure out a number circular rides starting in either Montreal or Ottawa. If you start in Ottawa you could ride through Gatineau Park and include the linier park trail that goes from Low to Maniwaki and by road to Mont-Laurier. There are many other routes in Quebec that are not part of the Route Verte and if you contact the Quebec tourist authority they will send you copious amounts of information. One region that is worth exploring by the Route Verte and by other routes is the Cantons-de-L’Est (Eastern Townships).
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Old 10-15-08, 03:12 PM   #7
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Montreal to Quebec City and back. Go by the Route Verte via the Eastern Townships and return on the north side of the St Lawrence river. The route Verte website will also give links to bike friendly places to stay, which would reduce the load you would have to carry on the bikes. This tour wouldnt have much hill climbing. Much of the return trip would be along roads rather than the crushed dirt path.
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Old 10-15-08, 08:04 PM   #8
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Grand Illinois Trail: Its a little over 500 miles, most of it on trails. Part of it runs through Chicago, where there are a lot of additional trails if you are looking to ride more. Weather early June should be good. Lots of camping opportunites as well.
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Old 10-16-08, 05:54 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by atcfoody View Post
So my wife and I are planning our vacation for next summer (end of May through the first part of June). One of the suggestions I had was doing a bicycle tour (le Route Verte, something around wine country in California, etc), and I was wondering if the collected intelligentsia of the Bike Forums Touring section had any suggestions for a good starter tour.
We have a good deal of experience camping, as well as the gear for backpacking, so that's not an issue. We both have bikes that accept racks or have them on them already, so again, gear transport isn't a problem.
What I'm looking for: a rout that allows 30-50 mile days, preferably starting off at the lower end the first few days, and building from there. Rolling terrain is fine, but extremes probably wouldn't be the best. Since we live in about the middle of the US, something northeast, west, or southwest would probably be good locations. We'll have about 10 days to play with, including getting to and from the starting point, so a total distance of about 400 miles would probably be about the max we could handle.
Thanks,
D
Let me second the recommendation for the Great Allegheny Passage and C & O Canal Towpath. Throw in the unfinished Montour Trail as well - the trail just opened another segment eliminating the nastiest on-road detour, and you can get to the trail from Pittsburgh Airport.
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Old 10-16-08, 03:24 PM   #10
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Thanks for all the feedback. We talked about the trip more, and her only concern right now is that I do a lot more riding than she does, so she doesn't want one of us to get mad at the other for the discrepancy in cycling ability or speed of travel. We've got time until next summer, so we can work on that one.
Thanks again,
D
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Old 10-19-08, 11:38 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by atcfoody View Post
Thanks for all the feedback. We talked about the trip more, and her only concern right now is that I do a lot more riding than she does, so she doesn't want one of us to get mad at the other for the discrepancy in cycling ability or speed of travel. We've got time until next summer, so we can work on that one.
Thanks again,
D
There are ways around those problems. Ride some additional miles and circle back, carry her gear along with yours... if both people want to make it work, it will.
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Old 10-19-08, 12:58 PM   #12
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The Icefield Parkway in the Canadian Rockies ... you'll be so distracted by the scenery, you won't notice the climbs, and you'll be stopping to take so many photos, that a cycling discrepancy won't be noticeable.

Another idea for a starter tour would be to do a "Hub and Spoke" tour, where you camp in a central location, and every day cycle out in a different direction to see different sights or attractions, etc.
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Old 10-19-08, 01:11 PM   #13
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San Juan Islands, Washington.

You can fly to Seattle (or Vancouver), and get transport to (or cycle) out to the Islands. Each day you take a loop around each island, stashing your gear at your campsite / hotel. You then take a ferry to the next Island. Possible hiking and kayaking options as well.

Various ways to extend the trip - over to Victoria, Canada; over to Olympic Peninsula; over to Whidbey Island (all reachable by ferry).

Many photos/pictures of San Juan Island trips over at Crazy Guy on a Bike...was just a journal of a couple that cycled the Islands together....then he wanted to do more mileage, so she flew home and he cycled on down the mainland to the Columbia River.
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Old 10-19-08, 03:20 PM   #14
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The end of May/early June is a very nice time of year to tour in southern Québec and Ontario. In general, the weather is good after the third weekend in May. The South Shore of St. Lawrence River, east of Québec city, is about as flat as it gets. In fact, if you head east, you will be going ever so slightly downhill all the way. There are many historic villages along the way. It's just plain pretty, and towns are close enough that it would be a good route for first-time tourists.

In Ontario, Prince Edward County would be my first recommendation. It's my idea of cycling paradise. A good way to see the area would be to book into a B&B and use it as a start and end points every day. There are wineries and white sandy beaches and quiet country roads and good restaurants. The County is mostly flat, but after a few days, if you want more of a challenge, there are hillier parts, particularly the eastern section.

Not every couple is capable of enjoying cycling holidays together. If the stronger rider cannot graciously match the speed and pace of the weaker rider, there will be trouble. That doesn't mean that the stronger rider cannot ride ahead occasionally and either wait by the side of the road or turn around and come back. It's all about attitude. If riding with a weaker companion is going to be a source of ongoing irritation, don't go!
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