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Old 01-06-09, 12:21 AM   #1
JP_Kemmick
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Biking east from Seattle in May: too early?

Hey all. I'm planning a cross country trip for this upcoming summer and was planning on leaving in early May from Seattle, but I'm wondering if this might be too early, especially in light of all the nasty weather we've gotten recently. Any advice on the passability of the Cascades that time of year would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks much.
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Old 01-06-09, 01:27 AM   #2
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Depends on which pass you choose....historical dates are here:

http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/winter/passdates.htm
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Old 01-06-09, 08:17 PM   #3
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I agree with BengeBoy. I think you'd be okay in May on just about any pass, but traditionally the North Cascades Highway is one of the last to open. It should be open by May, but who knows. I rode over it in late June. There was plenty of snow on the ground, but the campgrounds were open and the weather was fine (though I got rained on on the west side - big surprise!)

Steven's Pass is beautiful, very ridable, and open all year. I've only driven on Snoqualmie Pass on I-90, which is a major freeway all the way to Boston. But there's the John Wayne Trail on Snoqualmie Pass, which might make it worth a try. Others probably have more information on that route.

It could snow in May, but it's unlikely. It could rain for weeks, which is unlikely, but much more likely than snow; it's not all that unusual up there. It could be beautiful. I remember lots of beautiful, warm springs when I lived up there (the first 35 years of my life.)

Which route are you thinking about?
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Old 01-06-09, 09:58 PM   #4
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What type of bike are you taking? If you have 32mm tires, you might go over the IronHorse Trail (John Wayne Trail).

As a Semi-Truck pilot who routinely drives over US-2 (Stevens Pass), I think you would be suicidal to bike it. Too many curves, tight or no shoulders, many guardrails that are only 16 inches from the fog line, etc. Add to that the huge increase in taffic through there in the last 15 years. Too many idiots with their boats in tow, going hell bent for leather to get to their second home in Chelan. And, if it rains, the visibilty will not help.

Go I-90
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Old 01-07-09, 09:50 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JP_Kemmick View Post
but I'm wondering if this might be too early, especially in light of all the nasty weather we've gotten recently.
Ummm - where are you from?
I'm guessing the Pacific Northwest from the "we've".

If you are biking cross country, then the West can often be the icing on the cake. Unfortunately, in early May almost all of the campgrounds are still closed and many high country trails are still snowbound - even if you can get across the passes. Then there's the issue of the Rockies and, probably(?), Glacier National Park. Going to the Sun Road is one of the most spectacular rides out there, but Logan Pass rarely opens before Memorial Day. Last year it opened in early July.

There's all kind of discussion about which is better - east-to-west or west-to-east. But one point is salient. (And I've ridden cross country seven times in all seasons.) Eastbound is better for a later start in summer. Westbound is better for an early start. It all matters where you are heading towards. Northern New England can also be pretty chilly and damp in early May.

And to answer your concerns about this year - I think the Cascades will be snowbound much longer next spring. There is little doubt about whether or not you can do it. The answer is "Yes." But in terms of enjoyment, I think you would have a more pleasant tour if you started further south or rode east-to-west.
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Old 01-07-09, 11:10 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by jamawani View Post
Ummm - where are you from?
I'm guessing the Pacific Northwest from the "we've".

If you are biking cross country, then the West can often be the icing on the cake. Unfortunately, in early May almost all of the campgrounds are still closed and many high country trails are still snowbound - even if you can get across the passes. Then there's the issue of the Rockies and, probably(?), Glacier National Park. Going to the Sun Road is one of the most spectacular rides out there, but Logan Pass rarely opens before Memorial Day. Last year it opened in early July.

There's all kind of discussion about which is better - east-to-west or west-to-east. But one point is salient. (And I've ridden cross country seven times in all seasons.) Eastbound is better for a later start in summer. Westbound is better for an early start. It all matters where you are heading towards. Northern New England can also be pretty chilly and damp in early May.

And to answer your concerns about this year - I think the Cascades will be snowbound much longer next spring. There is little doubt about whether or not you can do it. The answer is "Yes." But in terms of enjoyment, I think you would have a more pleasant tour if you started further south or rode east-to-west.
I agree 100%. In addition if you are from the North West, It is a big plus to get air travel out of the way in the beginning IMO. Definitely consider E -W, and maybe a Mid Atlantic starting point. The Trans America maybe if you are thinking established routes.

Last edited by staehpj1; 01-07-09 at 11:13 AM.
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Old 01-07-09, 08:15 PM   #7
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Why not go West?
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