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Old 02-23-14, 05:16 PM   #1
davidsave
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Cycling from Chicago to NYC, advice?

A friend and I are looking to ride from Chicago to NYC, we'll take any advice you have. Now I'm gonna take a second and explain our situation, our budget's pretty limited, we have around roughly 20 days to do it(bike there, take the train back) and we're fairly new to long distance cycling and such. We will be doing this in the summer and are looking for a budget bike we can carry all of our things on. We will be carrying quite a few things because we're going to avoid staying in motels and such and just camping out during the night.
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Old 02-23-14, 05:27 PM   #2
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Moved from Road to Touring.
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Old 02-23-14, 06:10 PM   #3
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Consider doing the Old Lincoln Highway and Pennsylvania Bike Route V -

Strip maps are available that you can download and also print off -
(Doesn't hurt to have a backup print copy in case you have no connectivity.)

Rail trails to Michigan City
County Roads and Hwy 104 to La Porte and Plymouth

Indiana - Plymouth to Ft Wayne
http://www.lincolnhighwayoh.com/v1/1928_indiana_lh.html

Ohio - Indiana Line to Wooster
http://www.lincolnhighwayoh.com/guide/stripmapmenu.html

Penna - New Castle to Delaware Water Gap
ftp://ftp.dot.state.pa.us/public/pdf...state_mapV.pdf
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Old 02-23-14, 08:46 PM   #4
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Just remember that Pennsylvania is endless and boring. I've done route 80 too many times in recent years and it is just torture in a car. Also, be aware that there isn't much along the route, whether the interstate or the back roads that the bike route uses. Even less I would think along the back roads.

And good luck across New Jersey. It isn't the most bike friendly place. I can't recommend any particular routes.
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Old 02-23-14, 10:42 PM   #5
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I would tend north a bit. Choose whether to pass north (Canada) or south (Ohio, PA, NY) of Lake Erie. Enter very bike friendly western NY. Decide on flat (Erie Canal Towpath) or hilly (anything to the south of that.) Turn right when you hit the Hudson River and follow the river valley south to NYC. Check out www.roberts-1.com for routes in the valley. Cross into the city on the George Washington Bridge.

Last edited by kaos joe; 02-23-14 at 10:44 PM. Reason: puntuation
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Old 02-24-14, 12:04 AM   #6
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We rode US Highway 20 from Newport, Oregon to Boston, Mass. This took us through Chicago to the bike path along Lake Michigan. From there we followed it along the lake to Gary, Indiana where we picked up highway 20 again, and ultimately through Albany, NY. It was a good ride, and it should be easy to figure out a route from Albany or even a little further east to NYC. Depending on your route, it is only about 150-200 miles from Albany to NYC.

Check out our blog at: http://ddlivestrong.blogspot.com/200...1_archive.html . Look at September, 2007 for an idea of what the route we took looked like.
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Old 02-24-14, 12:11 AM   #7
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Based on your experience and timeframe I'd suggest crossing New York with the Erie Canal to avoid the Appalachian Mountains.

I can't offer much help in getting from Lake Michigan to Lake Erie.

http://www.great-lakes.net/tourism/circletour/michigan/
http://www.great-lakes.net/tourism/circletour/erie/
http://ptny.org/guidebook/erieguide.shtml
http://ptny.org/guidebook/hudsonguide.shtml
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Old 02-24-14, 01:34 AM   #8
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I ventured into Canada via Port Huron MI and re-entered the US at Watertown, NY. Then across upper NY state.

Canadians are the best. I was never refused camping privledges when I asked.

It seems like you should have no problem doing this in 20 days.

Last edited by boomhauer; 02-24-14 at 01:38 AM.
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Old 02-24-14, 03:19 AM   #9
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Hey guys -
He said that they aren't going to have much moolah. And Canadian customs like to ask lots of questions about how well-funded you are. Not to mention needing a passport now - which costs money, too. There's no need to go that far north. Northern Penna is very nice - the stretch east of State College is lovely. Check out some journals at Crazyguyonabike - do a search for routes in Penna - or put in a few town names.
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Old 02-24-14, 10:17 AM   #10
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I ventured into Canada via Port Huron MI and re-entered the US at Watertown, NY. Then across upper NY state.

Canadians are the best. I was never refused camping privledges when I asked.

It seems like you should have no problem doing this in 20 days.
IME, canadians are tops as far as touring is concerned. this is good advice.
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Old 02-24-14, 12:49 PM   #11
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If you've never done touring before, I suggest you start building up your legs and lungs now! 50-60 miles/day is very doable day after day. Of course you can ride farther if you want to, but I'd bet that after a few 100-mile days, your daily pace would drop to 50-60. Especially if you are carrying camping gear. Whatever bike you use had better be up to the task as well. Get used to the saddle now!

The northern part of Indiana is pretty flat, as is western Ohio to the Toledo area, then follow the south shore of Lake Erie to Buffalo and the west end of the Erie Canal, follow canal to Albany, then follow the Hudson River south to NYC. That route is flat, but it takes you quite a bit out of the way, and it is right around 1000 miles. You'd have to average 50 mi/day, every day.

Option 2 is to take US6 all the way from the Chicago area, across northern Indiana, northern Ohio and northern PA to NYC. ~880 miles Moderate hills through PA, otherwise flat.

Option 3 is to follow Lake Erie shore to Cleveland, then take the Cuyahoga River/Ohio canal towpath to Akron, across to Youngstown, following the Mahoning River to the Ohio River, take Ohio River to Pittsburgh, then the GAP and C&O trails to DC, then up the coast to NYC - but that is a lot of traffic going up the coast. But then again, you could hop the train up to NYC if time gets short. Chicago to DC by that route is ~840, plus another 240 from DC-NYC. again mostly following rivers and railroad beds, so it is also relatively flat.

I hate urban riding, but you can get across Cleveland in a day. It gets hilly if you try to go south of the Lake Erie shore, so stop to the west and you should be able to get all the way through (70 miles) in a day.

I took the US 6 route 35 years ago when I went from Cleveland to Madison WI and back. I took US6, switched over to US 30 just south of Gary, US30 to the Fox River/Rt 31 up to US 14 then on up to Madison. That was 470-ish miles each way in six days. I slept in culverts and under bridges. I was a bike riding fool back then, riding 400-500 miles in an average week. I was in shape. Today it'd probably take me twice as long!
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Old 02-24-14, 12:57 PM   #12
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The Eire canal is a beautiful ride, as is the southern coast of Lake Ontario...
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Old 02-24-14, 01:37 PM   #13
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Just remember that Pennsylvania is endless and boring. I've done route 80 too many times in recent years and it is just torture in a car. Also, be aware that there isn't much along the route, whether the interstate or the back roads that the bike route uses. Even less I would think along the back roads.
Pfft. I will likely be doing Youngstown to Philly this year. Riding to Franklin, PA on Day 1, then taking the beautiful Allegheny River Trail to Emlenton to pick up Route V to the Catawissa area then heading south through Centralia and eventually Lancaster County and French Creek before reaching home. Having ridden across PA 3 times, I wouldn't call places like Raymond Winter, Bald Eagle and the wonderful Amish Valley east of State College boring. In preparation for my trip, I have already located some ten campgrounds along Route V between Emlenton and Catawissa and at least two others south from there towards home, including the lovely French Creek State Park.

OP: Note that if you want to actually ride into Manhattan from the west, you are limited to the George Washington Bridge. Otherwise, you are have to take one form of public transit or another. (E.g., ferry from Hoboken, NJ.) Due to development and population density, that part of the world can very complicated to navigate through by bike. New York State has some official bike routes that you can fnd on line, but I cannot vouch for them.

One issue with U.S. 6 is that, from what some friends have told me, truck traffic from the explosion of gas mining has made that route unpleasant in some parts of PA.

Have you looked at Adventure Cycling Association's maps. Its Northern Tier route passes near Streator, IL and goes through Erie, PA. While that doesn't get you all the way there, it's a start. You could hook up with PA Bike Route Y outside of Erie, but that takes you along the U.S. 6 corridor. IIRC, one of the NY bike routes into Manhattan passes through Middletown, NY, which is not that far from Port Jervis, NY, which is easily accessible from the end of PA Bike Route Y.

Maybe D.C. would be a better ending point. As noted, you could get yourself to Pittsburgh and then ride completely car-free to D.C. on the GAP and C&O Canal Path. Amtrak's Capitol Limited from D.C. will take you right back to Chicago. Budget-wise the GAP and C&0 have a good amount of free or very cheap camping.
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Old 02-24-14, 01:38 PM   #14
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Just about any route you take is going to be close to 1000 miles and doing it in 20 days is going to be tough. That's 50 miles/day average. That is providing you don't have any rain-delay days, mechanical breakdowns or physical/mental recovery days. A good loaded touring pace is slower than you think - 10-12mph. Figure four-to-six hours in the saddle. You'll need to take breaks, stop for meals, fill water bottles, shop for food, do laundry. Sure, you can go faster, or ride longer, but will you want to get back on the bike the next day, day after day? You don't want to make your time in the saddle unbearable. Take your time. Enjoy the scenery - even if it is just cornfield after cornfield all the way along US 6 from Chicago to Cleveland.
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Old 02-24-14, 11:34 PM   #15
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Just about any route you take is going to be close to 1000 miles and doing it in 20 days is going to be tough. That's 50 miles/day average. That is providing you don't have any rain-delay days, mechanical breakdowns or physical/mental recovery days. A good loaded touring pace is slower than you think - 10-12mph. Figure four-to-six hours in the saddle. You'll need to take breaks, stop for meals, fill water bottles, shop for food, do laundry. Sure, you can go faster, or ride longer, but will you want to get back on the bike the next day, day after day? You don't want to make your time in the saddle unbearable. Take your time. Enjoy the scenery - even if it is just cornfield after cornfield all the way along US 6 from Chicago to Cleveland.

Think again. I made it from Kansas City to Boston in 19 days without really trying. Granted I was 27 yrs old and did 70-80 miles per day but it was quite flat. I also zig zagged across ontario for a bit.
I see no problem with someone going from Chicago to NYC in 20 days.
50 miles per day on a flat ride? What do they do for the other 6-8 hrs of daylight? hang out in front of 7-11?
Previous poster was correct. You need a passport to go to Canada these days. Not a minimal sum.
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Old 02-25-14, 07:08 AM   #16
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50 miles/day isn't so much, but it depends on how much you're carrying. If you are staying in hotels/motels and don't need sleeping gear it is pretty easy at a steady pace. If you are carrying everything like the OP, it is a little harder as that stuff adds a lot of weight, but it is still doable.

But here's some different advice: If you only have 20 days, and you won't have much time in NYC anyway, "Go West Young Man".
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Old 02-25-14, 07:51 AM   #17
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The OP has not done any loaded touring, and that's what this trip is supposed to be. Another factor is that he doesn't even have the bike yet. No 'saddle time' and no distance conditioning. That's why I think that 50-60 miles/day is going to be about all he can stand, day after day.
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