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Portland to Portland Route?

Old 10-24-16, 03:58 PM
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Portland to Portland Route?

Hi Cyclist,

Next summer, my girlfriend and I want to cycle from Portland Oregon to Portland Maine. We want to ride one of the adventure cycling routes but we can't decide which route is best and, other than looking at the US route map, we don't know very much about the different routes. We are wondering if those on this forum can provide some input.

To provide a little background we will be loaded touring and will camp mostly with a hotel stay probably once a week. We really like low traffic roads. We like small towns. We are not seeking climbs but don't really object if the route has climbing either. We'll probably start end of May or early June.

Any advice on what route we should take?

Thanks, Scott
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Old 10-24-16, 04:53 PM
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Hi Scott -

I'm figuring you are a lot younger than I am and that your maps are of the electronic variety and not the paper kind. Actually, one advantage of the retro maps is that you can unfold them and see the big picture. First of the whole US of A - then of each state you plan to ride thru. Not the same as a phone screen - although having a quick look on your phone is great when you are at an unfamiliar junction. (Be aware that service can be sketchy in remote locales, though.)

I've biked cross-country 7 times, now, including just last summer. First trip back East in a long time. Glad I did it, but I'll stick with the West, thank you. Plan for riding to be a little tougher in the East - more traffic, fewer camping options, and pricier.

On my first and third trips, I started out at Astoria. No sure if you want to go ocean-to-ocean, You probably know already that Early June can be lovely in the Cascades or the last big, chilly storm.

If you were to take the Lewis & Clark route from Astoria/Portland to Missoula, that would be a fairly moderate start. You follow the north bank of the Columbia, then continue into Idaho over Lolo Pass.
From Missoula, I would head up to Glacier National Park rather than take the TransAm towards Yellowstone. Going to the Sun Road in Glacier is one of the finest rides on the planet.

From Glacier, you can take mostly US 89 south to Yellowstone - a low-traffic road with great views and places to camp. (You could take the Northern Tier route across the Great Plains, but you have 87 zillion miles of prairie.)

From Cody, east of Yellowstone, there are three possibilities - US 14, US 16, or US 20. US 20 has the least climbing and takes you straight into Nebraska. US 14 and US 16 both go over the Bighorn Mountains. A good deal of climbing, but in late June the mountain meadows are covered in a carpet of wildflowers of every color - knee deep. Plus, if you do the Bighorn route, you can then hit Devils Tower and the Black Hills in South Dakota. More miles, but way more scenic.

US 20 across northern Nebraska is sweet. Unlike the mind-numbing flats of west Kansas, the Sandhill region of northern Nebraska is gently rolling. And because it is sandy, much of the land has never been plowed. You have the natural grasslands stretching out to the horizon. Plus great little towns - nearly all with free camping.

That gets you halfway across if you are interested.

Pic - Bighorns in June
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Old 10-24-16, 05:28 PM
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Will this help?

Portland to Portland (Oregon & Maine, that is)


Oregon coast to Colorado then Michigan/Ontario/NY finishing in Portland, Maine

3,923 miles (6,313 km) over 62 days from June 8, 2011 to August 8, 2011

https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?doc_id=8839

Cheers
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Old 10-24-16, 05:36 PM
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I just had my first experience with using ACA's Northern Tier maps. I can't comment on any parts of the route except Havre, MT to Walker, MN. But if you want recent info on that portion let me know.

I will say I was at first shocked by the price of the ACA maps but then pleasantly surprised by how user friendly and helpful they are clueing one into the myriad sleeping/camping and food procuring options. Being directed to one single free legit camping spot pays for the map so it ended up being worth the price.

Last edited by hilltowner; 10-24-16 at 05:40 PM.
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Old 10-24-16, 05:51 PM
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Originally Posted by skD1am0nd
Hi Cyclist,

Next summer, my girlfriend and I want to cycle from Portland Oregon to Portland Maine. We want to ride one of the adventure cycling routes but we can't decide which route is best and, other than looking at the US route map, we don't know very much about the different routes. We are wondering if those on this forum can provide some input.

To provide a little background we will be loaded touring and will camp mostly with a hotel stay probably once a week. We really like low traffic roads. We like small towns. We are not seeking climbs but don't really object if the route has climbing either. We'll probably start end of May or early June.

Any advice on what route we should take?

Thanks, Scott
This 64 year old finished a X-cntry in 41 days, Portland to Boston. Not a camping tour, his wife played SAG and they hotelled it. With a slight variation once you hit Mass., you might find his route interesting. His posts were on the 50+ forum. If I recall US Rt. 20 was the intent but he detoured a lot to avoid traffic, bad road, etc...

https://www.bikeforums.net/fifty-plus...djustment.html
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Old 10-27-16, 11:40 AM
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Thanks for the input. I'm somewhat surprised by your suggestions of riding on numbered highways. I usually find these too high of traffic level but I'll look at these as an option if they are really better than AdvCycling routes.
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Old 10-27-16, 12:33 PM
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Originally Posted by skD1am0nd
Thanks for the input. I'm somewhat surprised by your suggestions of riding on numbered highways. I usually find these too high of traffic level but I'll look at these as an option if they are really better than AdvCycling routes.
ACA's routes often use U.S. Highways and numbered state highways. In one instance, the Trans Am route uses about 13 miles of I-80 in WY because there is no paved alternative. The Northern Tier uses I-94 in ND for a stretch or two. I was just on part of the TA in Montana back in June. Climbing some 14+ miles up to Lost Trail Pass from Sula on U.S. 93 one weekday morning I got passed by fewer than 10 vehicles.




Note that it's not always vehicle traffic you need to be mindful of. MT 43 just east of Wise River, MT:
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Old 10-27-16, 12:39 PM
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Last summer someone posted here about doing that very thing, then.

You could look it up , Here.
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Old 10-27-16, 01:50 PM
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Thanks for info on numbered HWYs (and cute cow shot). I guess it has been a while since I rode on an adventure cycling route.

I realize that I could go to CrazyGuyOnABike and read a bunch of blogs to get a better feel for the various AdvCycling routes but I suspect all the blogs will be pretty positive about whatever route they took. Are there any generalization or genaral comparisons which can be made? For example I'm thinking of things like:
  • The original TransAmerica route is well established and is the best option
  • AdvCycling didn't quite get it down with the original route but the later ones are better thought out
  • Lewis and Clark trail has few camping options, better plan on staying in hotels if you choose this.
  • Northern route is great but be prepared for high winds
  • Maps are really out of date on Southern Tour.
  • Bicycle Route 66 has great historic sights but roads are poor quality.

I'm making up all of the above (please to not reply on those specific made up comments). But I wanted to give an idea I'm looking for in general guidance.

Thanks, Scott
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Old 10-27-16, 02:17 PM
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Originally Posted by skD1am0nd
  • AdvCycling didn't quite get it down with the original route but the later ones are better thought out
  • Lewis and Clark trail has few camping options, better plan on staying in hotels if you choose this.
  • Northern route is great but be prepared for high winds

The original TA route--the one taken back in '76--has changed since then.


Some of the L&C route options use some of the TA route. I have looked at maps for part of it and the camping options did not seem that limited. A friend of mine did much of it recently and didn't seem to have any problems finding camping.


I did entire Northern Tier 17 years ago. High winds were not any more prevalent than on other routes of theirs.
You are going to have high winds some days no matter what route you take, and they will hit you from all directions. That's just the nature of the beast.
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Old 10-27-16, 02:29 PM
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As noted in my post, the bullet points were just made up to give an idea of the kind of info I am looking for. I wasn't really looking for response on those specific points. Are there other generalizations which can be made about the various route options?
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Old 12-03-16, 10:46 PM
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Hi,

I did a Portland OR to Portland ME trip in 2001, I did a mix of ACA routes and looking at freebie state road maps (they existed way back then). I flew into LA then on to Portland and flew out of Boston ( I actually finished cycling in Gloucester then caught the train to Boston)

Links below from Bikely on my actual route,I had a list of places that I wanted to see:

Yellowstone
The Tetons
Custer Battlefield
MT Rushmore
Niagara Falls


XC USA 2001 PT 1 at Bikely.com

XC USA 2001 PT 2 at Bikely.com

XC USA 2001 PT 3 at Bikely.com

XC USA 2001 PT 4 at Bikely.com
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Old 12-04-16, 12:54 AM
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Originally Posted by skD1am0nd
Thanks for the input. I'm somewhat surprised by your suggestions of riding on numbered highways. I usually find these too high of traffic level but I'll look at these as an option if they are really better than AdvCycling routes.
I realize that I could go to CrazyGuyOnABike and read a bunch of blogs to get a better feel for the various AdvCycling routes but I suspect all the blogs will be pretty positive about whatever route they took.
As noted in my post, the bullet points were just made up to give an idea of the kind of info I am looking for. I wasn't really looking for response on those specific points.
I get the distinct feeling that your ears are plugged.
I have 100,000 miles touring experience - others posting here have almost as much.
You are a newbie - and I suspect you have little touring experience - you haven't offered any info.
Indyfabz and others do know their stuff.

In response to quote #1 - Actually there are thousands of miles of "numbered" highways with little to no traffic - especially in the West and the Great Plains. Often they are state highways, but sometimes they are US routes, too. There's something called AADT - average annual daily traffic. You can find these counts online - often in map format. The ACA Western Express in Nevada routes you via US 50 which is called the "Loneliest Road" with an AADT of 550 in 2015. But it isn't, just south of US 50 is US 6 - with an AADT of 250 in 2015. By comparison, the relatively lightly traveled Hwy 14 in Washington north of the Columbia River has an AADT of 2500 east of Maryhill.

In response to quote #2 - Actually you would do well to read a few of the journals on Crazyguy. They vary considerably - some are poetic, some are lists of towns and miles, but most provide valuable information on what works and what doesn't. The writers often point out little known camping options and difficult stretches of highway. BTW - It is next to impossible to put together a cross-country route without a few short stretches of tough road. Yeah, we all want Swedish saunas at the top of every pass, but it doesn't work out that way.

In response to #3 - Then why did you ask? I understand that you meant to solicit general opinions, but your example is misleading and you seem to have done little homework about the ACA and other designated route options that already exist.

<<<>>>

Here's some advice - that and .99 will get you a cup o' java at the Stop & Go.

Regardless of the route you take - if you go - you will encounter widely different worldviews.
You will also be riding mostly through counties that voted red - many of which are struggling economically.
For example - I have ridden with folks who complain out loud about small town grocery prices.
They know nothing about the difficulty in even keeping a grocery open in these towns.
And, I hasten to add that while cyclists have the luxury to take the summer off and ride thru these towns,
the residents of these "quaint" burgs often drive 50 miles for a so-so job just to keep things going.

You can just see the sights and skip the listening - but the trip will be so much more rewarding if you do both.
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Old 12-04-16, 12:58 AM
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Originally Posted by skD1am0nd
Hi Cyclist,

Next summer, my girlfriend and I want to cycle from Portland Oregon to Portland Maine. We want to ride one of the adventure cycling routes but we can't decide which route is best and, other than looking at the US route map, we don't know very much about the different routes. We are wondering if those on this forum can provide some input.

To provide a little background we will be loaded touring and will camp mostly with a hotel stay probably once a week. We really like low traffic roads. We like small towns. We are not seeking climbs but don't really object if the route has climbing either. We'll probably start end of May or early June.

Any advice on what route we should take?

Thanks, Scott
Hey Scott,

I biked Portland to Portland this summer. You'll find a link to my route below. I left Portland, Oregon on May 1 and arrived into Portland, Maine on August 5. Rode 71 of those days. 5,177 total miles.

My ride was done for charity so I was zigzagging around talking at hospitals along the way. You'll still get a good feel for my basic route though.

Good luck,

Ty

https://secure.travellerspoint.com/member_map.cfm?user=Ty0604#/tripid/893835
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Old 12-06-16, 09:24 PM
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I seem to be misunderstood. Particularly by jamawani. I don't want this to be a flame war so let me try and, diplomatically, clarify what I'm asking.

I don't think I'm a newbie to cycle touring (6 tours with over 4,000 miles total) but let me explain by analogy to something I'm more familiar with these days - backpacking. If you want to do a long distance hike in the US then there are three primary choices: Appalachian Trail (AT), Continental Divide Trail (CDT) and Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Each of these trails has their own "flavor". The flavors/characteristics of these trails are debated at great length by the backpacking community. An example would be that the PCT has higher mountain passes than the AT but the PCT is graded for horses so the AT climbs are often more difficult. I will not bore you with more examples but there are lots of websites discussing this at length (e.g. Pondering the Triple Crown). I found it great fun to read these as I tried to decide which long trail I wanted to take on.

I suspect the ACA routes have their own flavor as well. In addition to this post, I did give AC a call and spoke with a nice guy in their map department. He said he gets asked this question all the time. He commented that Transam stays in the Rockies longer than the other trails, commented that Lewis and Clark had some of the most deserted roads, talked about RVs and traffic in National parks, and had positive comments about exploring Michigan Upper Peninsula. Good advice.

I do appreciate everyone's input and I apologize to indyfabz for being abrupt. I'll read some more journals on Crazy Guy but I've also got to think this topic is of interest to lots of people. Suppose I rephrase the question. What is your favorite cross country bike route and why?

Thanks! Scott
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Old 12-07-16, 06:58 AM
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Why are you posting under two different user names?
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Old 12-07-16, 10:44 AM
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I hadn't been on the site for a couple of years and lost my login/password so I created a new one. Then a few weeks later I found t he info for my original login.
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