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  1. #1
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    Choosing a route! Advice Please

    Hey I am trying to choose a tour route and looking for recommendations. Here are my details and hang ups.

    I will be going July/August 2013 and will have 4-6 weeks to tour. This will be my first long distance tour. Initial travel cost is NOT a worry. Daily accommodation (camping, hostels, etc) cost IS.

    I am considering:

    The Atlantic Coast (Florida to Maine)
    Pros: I have never been to the East Coast
    Cons: Not sure about Aug July weather/heat or camping availability

    The Pacific Coast (Canada to Mexico)
    Pros: Crowd favorite route, ease of camping, and good weather.
    Cons: I have lived near WA/OR Coast my whole life I have seen most all of it, just not on a bike.

    Share any advice please! Thanks!
    Trek 1220

  2. #2
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    The Atlantic Coast will have rain/thunderstorms that time of year, and possibly oppressive heat and humidity. Not really familiar with camping, either.

    You may consider the ACA Sierra-Cascades route instead of the Pacific coast. Usually any rain due to the mountains is showery and if you wait a bit, it'll pass. I do know in California, most of the state parks along and near the route have hike & bike sites with hot showers, which really are a bargain. Stealth camping is also pretty easy along the S-C route, I've done it myself outside of USFS campgrounds that I considered overpriced for vault toilets and no showers (i.e. Lake Almanor).

    If I were doing the route myself, I might cut out the more desert Southern California section and zig-zag back and forth across a few Sierra passes instead--really scenic and interesting ones include Yuba, Donner, Carson, Ebbetts, Sonora, and Yosemite's Tioga.

    Hmmm--Idaho has some really amazing scenery, big lakes, abundant hot springs and camping, too. Maybe a route could be figured out there, too.
    Last edited by stevepusser; 09-18-12 at 12:36 AM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Clarabelle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mcle8348 View Post

    The Pacific Coast (Canada to Mexico)
    Pros: Crowd favorite route, ease of camping, and good weather.
    Cons: I have lived near WA/OR Coast my whole life I have seen most all of it, just not on a bike.

    Share any advice please! Thanks!
    For what it is worth, if you haven't biked the Pacific Coast, then you really haven't seen it. I've driven it in a car many times and biked from Washington to Northern California three times. It's a totally different experience that I hope to do again before I die.

  4. #4
    mev
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    I've cycled the Atlantic Coast (Key West to Halifax, NS) and the Pacific Coast (Vancouver to Tijuana). My impression:

    1. There seems to be more temperature variation in the East Coast and hence harder to synchronize ideal time. When I did the East Coast, I actually did it as a sequence of shorter trips all in one year: Key West to Savannah, Savannah to Atlantic City, Atlantic City to Boston, Boston to Halifax. This let me enjoy the Maine Coast (beautiful) at the right time of year, while also visiting FL/GA/SC/NC at times that weren't too hot. If you are intent on seeing the Atlantic - particularly mid-summer, I'd suggest an alternative of starting in New York or Boston and heading north to catch the last bit of US Atlantic and then see the Canadian Atlantic Provinces and/or parts of Quebec/Gaspe Peninsula.

    2. Parts of the Pacific Coast I enjoyed the most were between Astoria and Pismo, Beach CA. After that it became a bit urban for my preference though still some ok cycling. There are some parts of the Atlantic I really enjoyed (e.g. Outer Banks, Coast of Maine - particularly past Bangor) though it was a bit more hit and miss.

    So my opinion is if you are intent on cycling an entire coast (Atlantic or Pacific) then despite having seen more of the Pacific, I'd still have a preference there. However, if your intent is in seeing new areas along the Atlantic, then I'd suggest altering the Florida to Maine aspect to instead look for Maine/New Brunswick/Nova Scotia/PEI/Newfoundland/Eastern Quebec instead.

  5. #5
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    First of all, find out the distance of each route, and divide it by the number of days you want to cycle.

    For example, if the distance is 4000 km, and you want to take 6 weeks (6 weeks * 5 days/week of cycling = 30 days). 4000/30 = 133.3 km/day.

    Is that the kind of distance you want to cycle each day? If not, then modify your route accordingly.


    And I'd be inclined to go with mev's suggestion of doing Maine/New Brunswick/Nova Scotia/PEI/Newfoundland/Eastern Quebec route. That's one on our to-do list.

  6. #6
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    I live on the East Coast and have ridden the Pacific Coast. The East coast route for the most part is not really on the coast at all. Camping will probably be scarcer and more expensive. Personally I think the west coast is a much nicer place to tour.

  7. #7
    Bike touring webrarian
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    I've ridden both coasts, though neither one all the way. I'd agree that the southern part of the East Coast is not all that exciting and can be very humid and hot. I did it in May - June and it was plenty hot and humid then. In fact, of all the tours I've done, the southern East Coast was one that I wouldn't particularly recommend. The northern part of the East Coast was very nice and is one I would recommend.

    I did the East Coast in two parts. One was Charleston to Lambertville, NJ. Two was from the Pocono Mountains, PA up to Acadia NP and then down to Boston. I did this ride during the fall and was able to watch the fall colors change.

    I've ridden the Washington Coast, some of the Oregon and most of California coast and I would agree that it is a much more interesting and pretty tour.

    My advice would be to do as much of the West Coast as you can (no reason to go south of San Luis Obispo, in my view, except for transportation). Though, keep in mind that the entire West Coast might take longer than 4-6 weeks without lots of long days.

    Another thought is to do what mev suggested and ride the northern part of the East Coast. If you do this, be sure to spend time in Vermont and Acadia NP.

    Either of those 2 are great rides. It would be hard to go wrong with either one.
    Visit the on-line Bike Touring Archive at www.biketouringtips.com

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
    Camping will probably be scarcer and more expensive.
    This issue was recently raised in the northeast sub-forum by someone looking to ride AC's Atlantic Coast route on a budget. If accomodations costs are an issue, I would not do the Atlantic Coast. Campground will almost certainly be far more expensive than out west. For example, state parks in NJ are $25/night for non-residents. Private campground can run you $30 and up/night during the summer. Back in early May I did a short trip from Port Jervis, NY to Philly. Two private places cut me deals for $15/night, but only because it was off season and the places were mostly empty. Full price would have been around $30/night.

    FL and the other southern states in July and August? Would you like extra heat and humidity with your order? Even in PA and NJ it could be oppressive that time of year. August in Maine will be mucho crowded with people and the associated traffic.

    You live in the northwest. Why not a one-way loop out there? WA, OR, ID, MT, WY and/or CO. Some nice riding. If you don't want to develop the entire route yourself, look into using ACA's routes as a starting point.

  9. #9
    Hooked on Touring
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    Honey - If you are from the Pac Northwest you will positively melt in the east in July and August. Have you every heard the phrase, "Hot enought to fry an egg on the sidewalk!"? And then there's the humidity. Now if you wanted to cycle the Canadian Maritimes, that would be different. Maybe fly into Boston and connect to Portland, Maine. You do need a passport nowadays, but I'm guessing you already have one if you are from the NW. When the Canadian dollar was a lot less than the US dollar it was O.K. touring in Canada, but now it will be pretty expensive.

    Another option you do not mention is the northern Great Lakes. July & August are perfet time to tour - except for the mosquitos. But hey, never can be perfect, right? Maybe fly into Minneapolis - or Amtrak it if you have the time. Direct flights from SeaTac and PDX - also daily Amtrak. DO northern Minnesota, northern Wisconsin, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Drop into the Lower Peninsula and cross Lake Michigan on the Manitowoc ferry to make a big loop. The Apostle Islands and Lake SUperior shoreline are fabulous.

    My choice would be the northern Great Lakes.

  10. #10
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    Thank you for all of the Great ideas and help. I am now leaning towards Vancouver to Tijuana. Or something on the East coast that is further north as mev suggested. Thanks again!
    Trek 1220

  11. #11
    Fraser Valley Dave
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    If a passport isn't a problem, what about a loop tour through British Columbia. You can ride from home to either Port Angles, taking the Ferry over to Victoria on Vancouver Island, then ride up to Port Hardy, catching the Ferry for the 18 hour 'Inside Passage' sail to Prince Rupert, making your way to Prince George, or enter one of the other 3 Fraser Valley border crossings and travel up through Whistler and then over to Lillooet. Your other great riding possibilities are riding up the Fraser Canyon or up through Manning Park. Once taking anyone of these options, there is a myriad of different routes to choose depending on your time as you make your way over to the Oriville border crossing and then west back home.

  12. #12
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    The East Coast kind of sucks. Source: Living there my entire life.

    Now, the mountains out here are a different story - totally beautiful. If you piece together a route along the Appalachians, including the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive, you'd probably have a blast.

    However, it is insanely humid out here in late summer (though this past summer was mild) and you have to be ready to sweat and suffer...like, really suffer. The humidity will ruin you.

  13. #13
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    Having been born and raised in the Ohio and currently living in New Hampshire...having just finished a 35 day roundtrip bike trip to the midwest(St. Louis), yesterday...I can say a little here. Make up your route. Don't follow any of the suggested routes that everyone else follows. What do YOU want to see, not what does everyone else want to see. What do YOU like, not what does everyone else like. Make up your own route based on what YOU want not what everyone else wants.

    I designed my own route from start to finish. It was actually a 3 stage ride. My family still lives in Ohio and the original intent of the trip was to ride back and see them...I don't own a car anymore and I hadn't seen my family since 2004. I knew the only way I was ever going to get back to see them again was going to be by bicycle. So I designed up a route last summer that I was planning on taking. Hurrican Irene came along and stopped me dead in tracks. I couldn't get west out of New England. I had to delay the trip until this year. By this year I was taking a look at several different possible routes. In the last week or so I came up with a whole new possible route for getting back and ended up taking that route.

    Back in the spring I thought up the crazy idea of extending the trip on to the Mississippi River and ending up riding roundtrip from the Atlantic to the MS by the time it was all said and done. I figured I would end up going out to Quad Cities area as my point along the MS. On a very unplanned car trip, helping out some hang glding friends, I ended up going to TX for the end of July. Coming back I thought why not take the bike trip to St Louis instead. Whenever I think of the MS I think of the Gateway Arch and not anything else. That immediately changed my target for the OH-MS-OH leg of the trip.

    While visiting family and attending the World Hot Air Balloon Championships in Battle Creek, MI I made up my route for the OH-St Louis-NH ride. I figured once I left my moms place I would ride to St Louis and then make the beeline straight for NH. Little did I know Mother Nature had better plans for me.

    I left for St Louis having already changed my plans to make it roundtrip back to OH to sit out Hurricane Isaac. Can you say my plans were constantly in a state of change. Nothing like they would in the last few days of the trip but nonetheless they were already starting to change.

    I got back to Ohio and made up one route for the trip back but I still didn't like it so I changed it again so it would catch and follow the the toughest stretch of the RAAM course(Athens, OH-Hancock, MD). I had a whole new route set up to get me back to NH pretty much dry.

    First day out went smooth, right on target, the second day I got up in traffic in Columbus, OH and that set me back and started the whole changing process. I stuck with the planned route through Hancock, MD and then everything started changing. I decided to try to make up some time and go flat instead of sticking to the hills and went in Hagerstown, MD which was almost a mistake. Thank God I was using a backpack and not rack and panniers or I would have fallen even further behind.

    After pretty much a day off(only rode 24 miles to get to a hotel) thanks to the stomach flu I ended up doing a major route change. I was trying to get home ahead of the next storm front that was moving in. I had had a dry trip thus far. I only had one evening where I got caught on the bike drenched and that was under warm conditions, fortunately. Pretty much everyday I was changing the route thereafter trying to find the shortest distance and least climbing possible to get me home as fast as possible.

    I spent 4 nights in hotels. One after getting drenched, I wasn't about to set up the tent in the pouring rain when I was going to be in town that night and I didn't know where any potential stealth campsite might be. Two other nights I played it safe and went for a hotel room because I knew my camping gear would take me down to 50 degrees but I wasn't sure if I would sleep or not if it got any colder than that. I didn't have a sleep bag on me. The forecast was calling for lows in the mid 40s or even colder. I bailed for the hotel to play it safe. The other night was the night after I came down with the stomach flu. I got the stomach flu on Thursday evening last week around 10:15PM. I spent the night two doors down from McDonalds, stealth camped beside a Sheetz gas station in Shippensburg, PA. I was expecting a visit from the cops. I wasn't surprised when they came. I wanted a little safety thanks to the flu. I knew the gas station was open 24 hours and I was sleeping on that montra. I was originally planning to spend the night in the ballpark on the east side town but when the stomach went wild I bailed and went for safety. Friday I rode up toe Carlisle, PA and grabbed a hotel for the night. Those 4 hotels room were around $239 total.

    Total on trip I spent was $501 over 2828 miles and 26 days on the bike, three of the on bike days were rides around my old stomping grounds in Ohio.

    I stealth the whole way anywhere from trail crossing, trails, churches, truck stops, gravel yards, ballparks, cemetaries, to behind Walmart, heck the last night of the trip I stealth camped 5 feet outside the rear door of the Shermin-Williams store.

    Learn to use Google Earth. I use it for everything, from route planning to finding stealth campsites. For route planning...is this stretch of highway the maps show as limited access...is it really limited access. Zoom into street view and see if their are any signs that indicate bike are prohibited. I use it to find stealth campsite. Look for areas like parks/ballparks or cemetaries, etc that have no houses nearby. The easiest way to go out and not have the cops bother you is for no one to know where you are camping at. If they don't see you go into the cemetary or ballpark than they aren't likely to call the cops on you and you won't get paid a visit by the police. I look for spot that don't have houses nearby. They can even be found in town/cities. Typically I was always sticking to smaller towns(even up to 10,000 population) and avoiding going for the metro areas. Other than the night I was expecting to be paid a visit(Shippensburg) I never got woke up over night by the police or anyone else. Not once.

    I didn't carry a stove with me. I always bought what I eat along the way each and every day. I ended up towards the end always eating out and buying less in the grocery store. I could have easily cut the cost of the trip by $50-100 if I would have carried a stove with me. I would have had to change some of my campsite toward the end of the trip. I was getting very bold a brazen on my camp sites toward the end. I would not have been able to cook at all the last night out given where I was camped out at.

    Like I said in the beginning, a cheap trip is very feasible. The key is design YOUR trip not someone elses. I have a friend of mine that went on a crazy bike challenge to hit the highest possible road in each of the 50 states. He's got them all except HI. I decided to have some fun and go for state capitols. Then I ran into the fluke early on and started going for including all the Springfield's. That help to make up my route for me. I wouldn't change the concept in future. I would make/take MY trip...not someone elses.

  14. #14
    Hooked on Touring
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    Having been born in France and raised in Puerto Rico and current living out West - -
    I must agree.

  15. #15
    Senior Member rekmeyata's Avatar
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    There is one really good map source for Maine to Florida; see: http://www.adventurecycling.org/rout...anticcoast.cfm These maps have detailed infor about campsites, Bike Shops etc along the route.

    This is an overview of the routes that Adventure Cycling has, hover your mouse pointer over any blue line and the name of the route will appear then you can reference that to a map. These routes will get you from Canada border to the Mexico border, but anything beyond the US borders will require something else. See: http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...-Advice-Please


    Also Google Maps now has a button you can hit after you enter your route info that looks like a small bicycle and it will route you to known bike paths, lanes, bike friendly roads as much as possible. Not sure if this will work for Mexico or Canada, I haven't tried it but I know it works for the UK so it must work for other countries.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by rekmeyata View Post
    Also Google Maps now has a button you can hit after you enter your route info that looks like a small bicycle and it will route you to known bike paths, lanes, bike friendly roads as much as possible. Not sure if this will work for Mexico or Canada, I haven't tried it but I know it works for the UK so it must work for other countries.
    This can be hit or miss. One issue I have with it is that it sometimes routes you out of the way in order to put you on bike trails when there are perfectly fine road options available. Also, it doesn't always recognize unpaved roads. (Maybe it never does.) As an experiment, I once entered two Montana towns on ACA's Trans Am route and asked for bike directions. What I got back was a route that was very different from the ACA route, which was totally on-road. The route went through some remote places and used a lot of unpaved roads. Some people don't like that and/or are not set up for that. Also, it totally ignored the issue of food and water. Nothing wrong with remote as long as you understand what you are getting into.

  17. #17
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    I liked touring other peoples Countries.. Ireland, Scotland, Netherlands ,Belgium

    Rhein valley in Germany.. , Danube in Austria

    Czech Republic .. tour theme : have a beer with the locals

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