Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Touring
Reload this Page >

Route for First Tour through the US West

Notices
Touring Have a dream to ride a bike across your state, across the country, or around the world? Self-contained or fully supported? Trade ideas, adventures, and more in our bicycle touring forum.

Route for First Tour through the US West

Old 12-27-15, 03:09 AM
  #1  
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
RedandBlack's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Chicagoland
Posts: 133

Bikes: '14 Surly LHT

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Route for First Tour through the US West

First and foremost, I would like to thank everyone for their input on my previous posts regarding route options (https://www.bikeforums.net/touring/10...l#post18403918 , https://www.bikeforums.net/touring/10...l#post17878186 ). If it wasn't for you I would have either died on a mountain pass or be pissed off and unprepared in Europe.

Second, some background info. For this trip, my first tour, I am allotting myself 6 months. I don't have a lot of saddle time and am a bit out of shape, but I'm stubborn and have a background in tough sports (wrestling, Muay Thai, MMA, etc...) so I figure I'll be averaging 50 miles a day with 5 days a week in the saddle. I hope to have enough flexibility to take a week off here and there in order to explore some national parks and visit friends. I would like a reasonable balance between nature and culture. I have a 2014 26" LHT with a fully loaded setup (handlebar bag, front and rear panniers with a drybag on the rear rack). I plan to wild/stealth camp most of the time with some campgrounds and Warmshowers along the way. I will be setting off on May 1st, 2016 from Flagstaff, AZ and will be using ACA routes/maps to take out some of the guess work, but I'm open to detours/route suggestions.

Here is a map for reference. I basically put together a grand wish list of cities and parks West of the Mississippi and some of the major routes in the region. I, do not plan on visiting/riding all of them. https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?m...wo&usp=sharing

My general plan is to to an Amtrak from Chicago to Flagstaff, AZ. I'll take the Grand Canyon Connector North to the Western Express, take that East to the Great Divide, take that North to the Northern Tier, take that West to the Sierra Cascade, and then take that South with my ending point being Sequoia. I figure that the higher elevation will save me from the extreme heat of the Arizona/Utah deserts. Also, going South to North on the GD during this time frame will give the Northern passes time to clear while saving me from the heat of the south (https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/...page_id=310078 ) while going N to S on the SC later in the season will mean more warmth in the mountains and less heat further South. Plus, arriving in Yosemite and Sequoia in Oct will be late enough to cut down on some of the tourist crowds but early enough for Tiaga pass to still be open.

So... Thoughts? Is this a reasonable plan/route? Am I overlooking anything in regards to weather, passes, or time frames? Are there any cities or parks near this route that I missed on my map that and you would recommend? Any detours?

Before you state the obvious... Yes, I know I picked two of the hardest routes for my first tour. Like I said, I'm young with athletic potential, have a high pain tolerance, the main parks I want to see are on these routes, and I want to experience the most out of the country before going overseas. Yes, I know a fully loaded LHT is not the best suited bike for the GD. I fully understand that I'll be pushing it often, have bolts rattle loose, have lots of flats, and will at least once challenge God to show himself so I can kick his ass in a fit of frustration. Also, I always have the option to switch over to the Trans America for part of it if the GD is too rough. Thanks again in advance.

Last edited by RedandBlack; 12-27-15 at 03:52 AM.
RedandBlack is offline  
Old 12-27-15, 05:08 AM
  #2  
fks
Shoot Your Car
 
fks's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Land Down Under
Posts: 127

Bikes: too many

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
Liked 3 Times in 1 Post
My 2 Cents worth,

Make sure that your bike fits you and get all the components serviced prior to departure.

Check that all your camping gear works and you know how to use it with your eyes closed, practise putting up your tent/ sleeping arrangements in the dark/ low light.

Go for a weekend shakeout trip ( after the bike service) and make any adjustments required with bike and gear before you go on your big trip.

My 2015 Trip
fks is offline  
Old 12-27-15, 07:21 AM
  #3  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Tucson, AZ and SE Asia
Posts: 947

Bikes: Spec Roubaix Expert, Cannondale CAAD12, Jamis Quest ELite, Jamis Dragon Pro, Waterford ST-22

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
Liked 8 Times in 6 Posts
Actually, that's a heck of a nice route. I really like it myself, haha. Picks up a lot of the best parts of those individual ACA routes. Not much I would change actually, except to probably do it a bit more slowly, as I'm older than you.. Good job. Do come back and ride the Pacific Coast sometime though.
mtnroads is offline  
Old 12-27-15, 11:23 AM
  #4  
Hooked on Touring
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Wyoming
Posts: 2,862
Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 350 Post(s)
Liked 144 Times in 94 Posts
I have ridden nearly all of what you propose.
I believe that you are moderately early in the Rockies -
And you may be slightly too late in the Cascades.

I've ridden across the Southwest and up the Rockies to Alaska a half dozen times -
https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/...c_id=1168&v=sM

I've had to hack my way across avalanche chutes in late June -
Probably a stupid thing to do solo, since there was a raging river below.
And you are talking about the GDMBR - not pavement.
Most of the higher elevation USFS roads in Colorado and Wyoming are snowed in until June.
And even in June, you will have big mud and snowpack.

There are two issues in the fall in the Cascades - fires and early snow.
Since this is expected to be a record El Nino year, fire may not be too bad.
But then, wet years tend to have earlier major snowstorms.
These can occur any time after Labor Day in the Northwest -
And certainly by October in the High Sierras.

April really is lovely in many parts of California, esp. in a wet year.
And by October, the falls in Yosemite are dry - or just a trickle.

I would suggest dialing your entire circle clockwise 2 hours.
Start and end in California - probably San Francisco.
Ride down the coast a few days - then ride into the Coast Ranges at their loveliest.
From there cut across the Central Valley and into the Sierra foothills, awash in green.
Then to Yosemite when it is mind-boggling and the falls roar.

From there you can work your way down the western Sierras and cross over into Nevada.
You can hit the southern Utah parks and Grand Canyon early in the season -
And hit the Rockies in mid June. It still will be tricky, but not impossible.

Frankly, I think you will have plenty of time to finish the loop by late Sept -
Then have time to do something like Route 66 in October to Santa Fe.
But an April state for your current route would be too early.

Best - J
jamawani is offline  
Old 12-27-15, 10:04 PM
  #5  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 94
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
^ I'd agree with all the above. Also, don't fixate on N-S for temperature expectations, as latitude means far less than altitude in the west. For instance, Flagstaff where you are starting will be cooler in the summer and snowier in the winter than say, Boise.
DCycle is offline  
Old 12-28-15, 02:34 AM
  #6  
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
RedandBlack's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Chicagoland
Posts: 133

Bikes: '14 Surly LHT

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by fks
My 2 Cents worth,

Make sure that your bike fits you and get all the components serviced prior to departure.

Check that all your camping gear works and you know how to use it with your eyes closed, practise putting up your tent/ sleeping arrangements in the dark/ low light.

Go for a weekend shakeout trip ( after the bike service) and make any adjustments required with bike and gear before you go on your big trip.

My 2015 Trip
I completely agree with you. I like your suggestion of practicing in low light. What would you suggest for servicing other than a general tune up. I heard "trueing" the wheels (whatever the **** that means) will help prevent broken spokes and I'm thinking of applying a rust inhibitor to the inside of my frame (Steel LHT). Anything else? Also, nice blog.
RedandBlack is offline  
Old 12-28-15, 03:38 AM
  #7  
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
RedandBlack's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Chicagoland
Posts: 133

Bikes: '14 Surly LHT

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by jamawani
I have ridden nearly all of what you propose.
I believe that you are moderately early in the Rockies -
And you may be slightly too late in the Cascades.

I've ridden across the Southwest and up the Rockies to Alaska a half dozen times -
https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/...c_id=1168&v=sM

I've had to hack my way across avalanche chutes in late June -
Probably a stupid thing to do solo, since there was a raging river below.
And you are talking about the GDMBR - not pavement.
Most of the higher elevation USFS roads in Colorado and Wyoming are snowed in until June.
And even in June, you will have big mud and snowpack.

There are two issues in the fall in the Cascades - fires and early snow.
Since this is expected to be a record El Nino year, fire may not be too bad.
But then, wet years tend to have earlier major snowstorms.
These can occur any time after Labor Day in the Northwest -
And certainly by October in the High Sierras.

April really is lovely in many parts of California, esp. in a wet year.
And by October, the falls in Yosemite are dry - or just a trickle.

I would suggest dialing your entire circle clockwise 2 hours.
Start and end in California - probably San Francisco.
Ride down the coast a few days - then ride into the Coast Ranges at their loveliest.
From there cut across the Central Valley and into the Sierra foothills, awash in green.
Then to Yosemite when it is mind-boggling and the falls roar.

From there you can work your way down the western Sierras and cross over into Nevada.
You can hit the southern Utah parks and Grand Canyon early in the season -
And hit the Rockies in mid June. It still will be tricky, but not impossible.

Frankly, I think you will have plenty of time to finish the loop by late Sept -
Then have time to do something like Route 66 in October to Santa Fe.
But an April state for your current route would be too early.

Best - J
First things first, I noticed at the bottom of your post you said "an April start". I'm actually starting in early May. Just making sure we're on the same page.

Is the major issue here that I'm trying to do the GD and the SC in one season? Is this something that could be solved be leaving 15 days later or would that just compound the problem of being a little too late to start the SC? In your opinion, what would be the earliest I could start the GD in Colorado and the latest to start the SC? Sorry for all the questions... but here's a couple more. Is there something about the GD that makes it more difficult weather-wise during this time period than other routes that follow the same general path? Maybe I could do some combo of Great Parks/Trans America/Lewis and Clark in order to bypass some of the more questionable areas in Colorado.

I guess the problem I'm running into is that all of the SC sounds amazing and the Northern portions of the Rockies have some of the best wilderness. However, it seems that both recommend going N to S around the same time making doing both at their respective ideal times nearly impossible. I've been trying to come up with some solution that will allow me to see as much of my bucket list as possible in a six month period.
RedandBlack is offline  
Old 12-28-15, 03:49 AM
  #8  
fks
Shoot Your Car
 
fks's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Land Down Under
Posts: 127

Bikes: too many

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
Liked 3 Times in 1 Post
I get my bike serviced at a shop that does a lot of commuter and touring bikes, they check over the whole bike, I let them know of my tour and they did a great job on both our bikes.
Try to find a good LBS that knows what you are planning to do and pay particular attention to your wheels, ie wheels are true and spoke tension is correct .

On my 2001 XC USA tour (Portland OR to Portland ME) the only issue I had was broken spokes, I had to get my wheels rebuilt in Conway NH.

Last edited by fks; 12-28-15 at 03:56 AM.
fks is offline  
Old 12-28-15, 08:20 PM
  #9  
Hooked on Touring
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Wyoming
Posts: 2,862
Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 350 Post(s)
Liked 144 Times in 94 Posts
First - the date - I backed up from October, not seeing the May 1. Still May 1 is early.
There's an excellent website of Western U.S. climate - NOAA Climate Summaries | Western Regional Climate Center
If you look at records - there was a cold snap with highs in the low 40s and a few inches of snow in late May in 2011.
There is almost always a cold snap in May in the interior West - in Wyoming it can be Memorial Day or later.
I was paid by the Census Bureau to ski into summer homes in the Bighorns in June 2010 to confirm any residents.
Warmer/drier years tend only to have a quick snap, but colder/wetter years can have pretty brutal Mays.
And this is supposed to be an El Nino year - esp. in the Southwest.

About south to north on the GDMBR - I actually think it is the better direction for a June/July full GD trip.
In Montana, there can easily be late snows and snowpack has not had a chance to melt out.
In contrast in New Mex, June is at the end of the dry season, by August the rainy season turns caliche to cement.
But the challenge for south to north in in the Colorado mountains if you hit them too early.
A week or two often means the difference between a doable, but brutal ride and a really wonderful one.

I've ridden the Rockies from New Mexico into Canada more than a half dozen times.
The GDMBR has some wonderful and some not-so-wonderful sections.
Also, 250 miles per week is really on the low side for someone your age and strength.
I was doing 350-400 and I'm an old geezer. Plus I was hiking into wildernesses.

Have you considered zigging southeasterly towards Taos before heading north?
There are some incredible ancient Puebloan sites - esp. Chaco Canyon - remote.
Hit Chama or Taos and then turn north??

Anyhoo, that's my 5c.
Best - J
jamawani is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Thread Starter
Forum
Replies
Last Post
RedandBlack
Touring
26
12-27-15 03:31 AM
jbphilly
Touring
33
12-08-14 06:19 AM
NateCav
Touring
8
12-10-11 07:33 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service -

Copyright © 2024 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.