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Advice sought - Baltimore to NYC

Old 07-30-12, 07:59 AM
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Chrysanthememe
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Advice sought - Baltimore to NYC

Hi everyone,

First time posting so bear with me. I'm planning an east-coast bike tour from DC to NYC. I've found a couple helpful routes on Bikely for the DC-to-Baltimore leg, both of which recommend mostly the same roads, so I'm feeling confident about that stretch.

I'm feeling less confident about my route north of Baltimore. My inclination is to take Route 40 north from Baltimore, as the main criticism of this route seems to be that it is boring and ugly, and that you need to hitch a ride across the bridge at Havre de Grace. Neither of those things bothers me very much, and I'm not really doing this for sightseeing purposes (or, rather, I find blighted exurban landscapes to be quite interesting indeed, so that is sightseeing enough for me). So, Route 40 sounds more appealing to me than Route 1 or some of the alternatives that look like they would take me through more backcountry but would force me to contend with hills. Hills are the thing I'm most concerned about. I bike 20-25 miles a day in and around Chicago but not at all used to biking up hills as it's extremely flat here.

I guess my question is: is Route 40 safe for biking? I've found some blog posts written by people who've done it, and clearly enough people have done it that Biller's Bikes in Havre de Grace used to offer a "ferry" service across the bridge, but when I look at Google Street View I get a little nervous that the cars and trucks on Route 40 might be going extremely fast, and that even with what looks to be a pretty wide shoulder it might be a little dicey. So, of course what I really want is just for some confirmation that it is not a crazy/insane thing to do to take Route 40 north of Baltimore.

A little about me: i am new to the long-distance cycling game, as my only previous long trip was biking ~90 miles from Chicago to Milwaukee, last August. I biked 68 miles the first day and that was a mistake as my legs weren't ready for it (I was in similar shape then as i am now, biking 20-25 miles a day). I'm planning to take this extremely slowly and bike no more than 40 miles a day, using the afternoons to hang out and read, walk around a bit. (Although i think the first day, DC to Baltimore, is a bit more than 40 miles.) It should be fun, but I'm just feeling a bit nervous about picking a safe route for biking.

So, there's my novel. Any thoughts/advice will be greatly appreciated. Hope it's okay to jump into the forum like this; I've been scanning through the bikeforum archives and reading other posts so I hope I'm not violating any sort of code of etiquette. Thanks in advance!

-Alex
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Old 07-30-12, 08:38 AM
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Simple answer: Pick up the ACA maps.
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Old 07-30-12, 10:11 PM
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Bacc is right on however the ACA will take you the loooong and scenic way.

Route 40: less hill than other routes, however you are crossing the susquehanna valley- a very hilly area (start training). Billers bikes does still offer bike shuttle across the Rt40/Hatem bridge and this is the only way to cross it. Bikes are NOT allowed on the bridge (rt.1/Conowingo dam is the next closest crossing north of HdG). Rt. 40 south of HdG does have a lot of 60mph traffic, but you are safely on a wide shoulder. By the time you get to Essex that shoulder disappears. Even though the state of MD calls it a bike route, it is a death trap south of Martin State Hwy. Move over to Eastern ave.
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Old 08-01-12, 06:10 AM
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There is a series of routes on Bikely tagged "interstate cycling system" and "northbound"/"southbound" that seems to have good ideas for running up and down the east coast. I've ridden a few sections in NJ and can vouch for the high quality of the roads across the entire ride. The section of interest to you (for the first part of the ride) runs from Towson to the Conowingo Dam.
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Old 08-01-12, 12:14 PM
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First note that I heard Biller's Bikes is no longer doing the bridge transport service but even so it would not hurt to contact them and ask. At least it might make a good place to hang out asking for a ride.

I've done all of 40 east of 695 and it's not bad at all. I think there is one or two short spots where you have to take the lane but a short wait for a gap in traffic is all that is needed, no big deal. And if you don't like hills the route is hilly (though less so then the alternatives.) So be prepared to take you time.

A pic in route along 40:
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Old 08-02-12, 11:35 AM
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Originally Posted by greaterbrown View Post
Bacc is right on however the ACA will take you the loooong and scenic way.
+2. Note that places to stay may not be spread out evenly over your planned 40 miles/day max limit.

If by "Route 1" you mean U.S. 1, you do not want to take that through the Philadelphia area, and in some cases you cannot as it is a limited access highway that would likely turn you into road kill. It's also not really rideable in many places in NJ.

By Route 40, do you mean U.S. 40? If so, that doesn't do you a whole lot of good later on since in crosses into NJ and ends in Atlantic City, which takes you in the wrong direction. Also, you would have to get a ride over the Delaware River as the bridge that carries U.S. 40 is not accessible by bike.

Be aware that the only way you can actually bike into NYC from NJ is via the George Washington Bridge, which would require you to go way north. You are probably better off taking a train (NJT or PATCO) or ferry into Manhattan.

I assume you are planning to stay indoors. If not, that raises another set of issues.
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Old 08-04-12, 07:47 PM
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Thanks for the replies!

I bought the ACA maps but decided not to take that route as it's so circuitous and hilly. I took U.S. 40 north from Baltimore--was great, I was surprised how safe I felt with that wide shoulder. It did disappear for a while around Essex and I felt a little uncomfortable, but it was also like 7am so there wasn't that much traffic. Still a little scary; Eastern Ave may have been the smarter call.

In Havre de Grace right now. It is true that Biller's (which is awesome) no longer offers rides across the Susquehanna. There is a bus but only on weekdays; apparently it is common for cyclists to hitch a ride across. Interesting.

I'm going to stick with U.S. 40 into Delaware, and then switch to the East Coast Greenway to continue through Wilmington and into Philadelphia.

After two days of riding, the trip has been great so far. This pace is about right for someone with my experience; these hills are really hard for me and I can't imagine what the routes further inland are like. Biking in a flat city is zero preparation. My hat's off to those of you who deal with this all the time.

Will update again with further developments. A little nervous about this Susquehanna situation, but feeling good about everything else. Wilmington tomorrow, then onto Philly. Oh, and yes my plan is to ferry into New York, rather than head so far north to cross the bridge.
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Old 08-05-12, 09:56 AM
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Well done! And happy adventuring on the remainder. I'd love to see the final report.
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Old 08-05-12, 02:55 PM
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I've ridden from Trenton to Wilmington and Trenton to NYC.
You can camp out at Occupy Delaware in Wilmington. Take Route 13 all the way to Philly. Cross the Ben Franklin Bridge, then take route 130 all the way to New Brunswick NJ. Then take route 27 to Newark. Take the PATH from Newark to Manhattan.
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Old 08-06-12, 10:29 AM
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What he said...

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Old 08-11-12, 11:12 AM
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Trip update:

Got up early in Havre de Grace, waited by the entrance to the bridge and eventually hitched a ride with a guy driving a van. He was waiting for Home Depot to open and was happy for something to do. I was not murdered.

I biked US-40 all the way to where it meets up with US-13, at which point I jogged over just a short distance through a residential area until meeting up with the "East Coast Greenway" route that Walter at Biller's Bikes had recommended. I took the ECG into Wilmington. My plan was to stop in Wilmington for the night as that was 35 miles or so, in keeping with my daily mileage ambition. But, I was so full of energy that I pressed on, to see how close I could get to Philly before getting to tired. Turned out, I made it the whole way! A grand total of 72 miles for the day, a new record for me. I felt really jazzed. The East Coast Greenway route between New Castle, DE and Philadelphia worked excellently.

Spent a few days in Philadelphia and then continued on the ECG through New Jersey. The ECG takes you along this canal trail for half of Jersey. It's scenic I guess but I find it kind of boring and honestly missed the excitement of US-40.

Spent two days going through New Jersey. i followed the ECG's advice and took the PATH train from Newark to "Exchange Place," where upon I got on the ferry into Manhattan. It's breathtaking to approach New York on boat from this angle. Very cool. And I got dumped off the ferry like 50 yards from my brother's office. Ha!

Spending a week in New York now. When I resume the trek on Friday I'll have girlfriend in tow, which will be safer I suppose to have two people on bikes rather than just one. Her tires aren't good for crushed gravel or dirt so we'll be sticking to paved roads. We may stay on the ECG (for however much of it is paved). However, for the first leg, I also see a route on Bikely that just takes US-1 all the way from the Bronx to New Haven. Has anyone taken this? Google Street view makes it look not ideal for cycling: two lanes in each direction with perhaps somewhat high-speed traffic, no shoulder. I'm inclined to trust the ECG routes that seem to do a better job of finding safe/sane paths. But US-1 is tempting as it's such a straight shot.

Here's the Bikely route I'm considering, if anyone wants to weigh in: https://www.bikely.com/maps/bike-path...-York-City1537
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Old 08-11-12, 04:35 PM
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Chrysanthememe--Congrats on making it to NYC. I'm doing the reverse trek from Redding, CT to Washington, DC but will be going through Jersey all the way to Cape May, taking the ferry, then crossing the Delmarva. No Rt 40 for me thank you very much. Regarding Rte 1, don't even think about it. Very busy, often turns into 4 lane strip mall hell. Heed the advice of the ECG if you want to take the coastal route.

There is, however, an alternative that is more scenic and less traveled. The bad news is that there are far more hills as a result. I see that you're headed to Boston. You should consider the route taken by Tim Johnson's Ride on Washington which started from Boston. The link to the routes is: https://rideonwashington.org/route-and-schedule/ Look at March 17 for the two part route between NYC and Hartford and March 16 for the route from Hartford to Boston. Adjust as needed to make sure your distances are right. PM me if you need a place for the night, I'm in Redding, CT and it's about 70 miles from southern Manhattan to my house. My wife, daughters and I will be around next weekend and would be happy to host you and your friend. See this route for the directions.

John

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Old 08-12-12, 10:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Chrysanthememe View Post
Trip update:

...
But, I was so full of energy that I pressed on, to see how close I could get to Philly before getting to tired. Turned out, I made it the whole way! A grand total of 72 miles for the day, a new record for me. I felt really jazzed. The East Coast Greenway route between New Castle, DE and Philadelphia worked excellently.

Spent a few days in Philadelphia and then continued on the ECG through New Jersey. The ECG takes you along this canal trail for half of Jersey. It's scenic I guess but I find it kind of boring and honestly missed the excitement of US-40.
...
Congrats on the 72 miles. It's Always exhilarating when you make a new milestone.

I didn't care much for the canal trail either, mostly because something with tank treads went through there before I did. Man is that's awful ridding.
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Old 08-13-12, 08:14 AM
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QueueCT, thanks for the advice regarding Rte 1. I think I'll go with the East Coast Greenway then, as it's served me well so far. Thank you for the generous offer of a place to stay in Redding! I expect we'll try to stay on the coast through New Haven, at least in part because I think both of us are interested in spending an evening there and having some pizza.

Human Car, the "treaded" canal route in NJ sounds rough, my sympathies.

This whole experience has been very cool so far. Makes me feel like I may be itching for a lot of similar trips in the future.
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Old 08-18-12, 07:00 AM
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After a week hanging out in NYC at my brother's place, my girlfriend has arrived and yesterday we biked north up 1st Avenue through Manhattan and into the Bronx, which was very cool, eventually meeting up with the East Coast Greenway route and taking it into Stamford, where we're now stuck with some inclement weather.

Heading to New Haven tomorrow, then north toward Hartford.

From Hartford to Boston we're planning on doing this: https://www.bikely.com/maps/bike-path...-York-City1537

Unless anyone has any thoughts? I understand the hills in northeastern Connecticut will be killer, but that there are going to be hills no matter what. I'm more concerned about whether the traffic on US-6/44 will be too dangerous. I had a great time on US-40 north from Baltimore, but there was that huge wide shoulder, which I don't think is the case here.
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Old 08-18-12, 07:36 AM
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Update: now that we're spending the day in rainy Stamford, we're holed up with the hotel computers and reassessing the route entirely, now considering patching together a route that follows the coast (as I've been doing since DC) and winding up through Providence...
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