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Best low-stress tour routes?

Old 06-25-18, 09:51 AM
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Originally Posted by erbfarm
...I'm hunting for a route that is mostly back roads, off road, gently rolling, and quiet in general. Is there any place like that in the US? How about in the world? ...
how long a tour? both in terms of mileage and weeks.
how far are you willing to travel outside the us?
can you handle foreign foods/languages?
hotels required, or can you camp?
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Old 06-25-18, 11:30 AM
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There are probably a million miles of the kind of touring you are seeking in the US. Look at the Adventure Cycle maps. They are designed to be on quiet roads and avoid population centers. Sometimes, they go too far out of their way to avoid population centers.

Or look in your own backyard. From Portland, you can travel quiet roads to Astoria or you can go east to The Dalles on the Columbia Highway. Don't let that name fool you as it is nice and quiet and only parallels an interstate.

Or look at any one of the tours in my signature line below. Since 2011, I've let Google be my daily guide. Set it to "avoid highways" as well as routing for bicycles and it finds some pretty good routes. Yes, it makes mistakes but don't follow it slavishly and use a bit of common sense. If it tells you to go off into the mountains while you see a perfectly good route in front of you that follows a river and is relatively easy, follow the river.

One of my surprising favorite tours was in Arkansas. The roads were incredibly good, the people were mostly friendly and the route wasn't all that hard. But, for the most part, everywhere I've ridden has been mostly quiet and low traffic. Google really does do a good job.
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Old 06-25-18, 12:09 PM
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Lots of New England will fit the bill, lots of dirt roads and bikepaths everywhere. Rolling hills? Some bigger ones are around too. Try some bikepacking sites too.
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Old 06-26-18, 02:57 PM
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Thanks everyone for these great responses. I'm from New England and that's where I originally started bike touring so I compare everything to the quiet backroads and rolling terrain of Vermont. Plus, New England is small enough and easy enough to navigate that you can avoid major highways and still have enough side routes to use. I live on the west coast now and things are different out here. I just don't think riding on the shoulder of a major highway is fun, though it does appeal to some others. I also like to come into small towns every 20 miles or so. I love to camp so having ample options to do that along the way is something I look for too. I like being able to stay out for a week or two on a tour. Based on the responses, I think I'd like to check out Spain, Germany, and Denmark as future options though that certainly puts a much higher price on a tour. This past week down the Oregon coast averaged about $25 a day in spending (campground fees $7-$8, $10 per day for food (salmon nearly every night at camp), and a few dollars for random expenses mostly on stuff I forgot to bring). Would be nice to find a few more budget options, ha!
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Old 06-26-18, 10:00 PM
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Originally Posted by erbfarm
.. I like being able to stay out for a week or two on a tour......averaged about $25 a day in spending......Would be nice to find a few more budget options, ha!
if you can snag a cheap flight to asialand you'll be able to maintain that budget. excluding the cost of flight and visas, touring in this part of the world staying in hotels o guesthouses typically runs $20-25/day. camping is possible (i don't) which would lower your daily costs by maybe half.

consider thailand, cambodia, laos, myanmar, vietnam, malaysia, singapore, china.

some areas have few english speakers, some have none. lonely planet phrase books, smartyphone aps will be sufficient.
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Old 06-26-18, 10:37 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute
There are probably a million miles of the kind of touring you are seeking in the US. Look at the Adventure Cycle maps. They are designed to be on quiet roads and avoid population centers. Sometimes, they go too far out of their way to avoid population centers.


Or look in your own backyard. From Portland, you can travel quiet roads to Astoria or you can go east to The Dalles on the Columbia Highway. Don't let that name fool you as it is nice and quiet and only parallels an interstate.


Or look at any one of the tours in my signature line below. Since 2011, I've let Google be my daily guide. Set it to "avoid highways" as well as routing for bicycles and it finds some pretty good routes. Yes, it makes mistakes but don't follow it slavishly and use a bit of common sense. If it tells you to go off into the mountains while you see a perfectly good route in front of you that follows a river and is relatively easy, follow the river.


One of my surprising favorite tours was in Arkansas. The roads were incredibly good, the people were mostly friendly and the route wasn't all that hard. But, for the most part, everywhere I've ridden has been mostly quiet and low traffic. Google really does do a good job.

I have to side with Stuart. There are plenty of low traffic stress free roads right in your own backyard if you plan carefully. Check out the east side of the Cascades if you don't mind heat and climbs. Maybe the Cascades Lakes highway or the Wallowas would be more enjoyable? Look at prior years Cycle Oregon routes. I can suggest some routes that wander through the Cacades if you're interested.


Check out the paved bike path that runs from Idaho to Montana. I think it's called the Trail Coeur De Alenes. It's pretty nice.

Last edited by mtnbud; 06-26-18 at 10:43 PM.
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Old 06-27-18, 03:23 PM
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When the salmonberry trail gets built, that will surely be my cup of tea. It will go from Portland to the coast using rail trails and logging roads etc. I'm going to check out the Olympic Discovery Trail in Washington state this September. It's 130 miles, half of it is off road. I guess I just really wish the whole Pacific Coast route was more bike friendly. It's so accessible (I can take the bus from Portland easily and start touring in about 90 minutes) and there are so many great camping spots along the way plus you just can't beat the breathtaking scenery when you're at the beach. But the route is busy with cars, trucks, and RV's at high speeds. There's nothing about that scenario that says "bike friendly" to me. Wish we could throw down some green paint, some sharrows, and maybe even some plastic barriers to at least signal to drivers that there are other road users out there. I wish cars weren't winning this battle
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Old 06-29-18, 07:15 AM
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There are *tons* of routes in the Midwest, particularly the Upper Midwest, that have trails, low volume roads, rolling country (if you like). They will fit the bill easily.

Riding in Wisconsin, you have lots of trails to choose from, if that's your cup of tea -- for example, you could go from near Winona, MN all the way to the Baraboo, WI are exclusively on trails, that's 100 miles, and it's pretty country. Tons of well maintained. very low traffic back roads. And excellent bicycling maps.

The same is true of Minnesota and Illinois. Some of the roads in rural Illinois are like your own private driveway! The route from the Twin Cities to Duluth is either paved bike trail, or a wide shouldered secondary highway.

PM me for more details.
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Old 06-29-18, 09:25 AM
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There's an extremely nice rail-trail in Quebec called "Le P'tit Train du Nord". It's 144 miles (232 km) long, and goes from a northern suburb of Montreal north thru the Laurentian mountains to a small town called Mont-Laurier. There are shuttle services which will take you and your bike from one end of the trail to the other. Part of the trail is now paved. When I rode on it, the entire trail had a good crushed stone surface.
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Old 06-29-18, 12:26 PM
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I'm planning a weekender tour along the north shore of Lake Ontario to Kingston, Ontario.

The Waterfront Trail at least from Toronto is all secondary roads and paths east along the lake. A nice provincial park is located on the route too. I will be staying there.
There is a Great Lakes Waterfront Trail website and mapbook that I find extremely useful for planning.
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Old 06-29-18, 01:31 PM
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I'm planning a weekender tour along the north shore of Lake Ontario to Kingston, Ontario.

The Waterfront Trail at least from Toronto is all secondary roads and paths east along the lake. A nice provincial park is located on the route too. I will be staying there.
I've done the route from Toronto to Kingston and area a few times, and agree that it's possible to avoid heavily trafficked roads, at least most of the way. I'm not sure it qualifies as a "low-stress" trip. I got a little nervous cycling past a nuclear waste facility, near Pickering or Darlington, I think, especially when I noticed that somebody had cut holes in the metal fence!

Getting out of Toronto is no picnic. Better to take the Go Train to Scarborough, or even to Oshawa.

It may be possible to do the trip in a weekend, but you'd need to ride quite fast. It took me four days.
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Old 06-30-18, 10:01 AM
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Originally Posted by mtnbud
Check out the paved bike path that runs from Idaho to Montana. I think it's called the Trail Coeur De Alenes. It's pretty nice.
I think the same line (unpaved) continues on into Washington as the Milwaukee trail and Iron Horse trail.
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Old 07-01-18, 10:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Leebo
Lots of New England will fit the bill, lots of dirt roads and bikepaths everywhere. Rolling hills? Some bigger ones are around too. Try some bikepacking sites too.
@Leebo has the right idea. There are loads and loads of roads unburdened of traffic here in New England for sure, however there are some caveats. First of all, many back roads in New England are in horribly poor shape. Paved roads are rutty, cracked, and bumpy - not to mention narrow. Also, its probably been 40 years since any New England state actually had a decent bicycle awareness program - VT being probably the best and most up-to-date. Consequently, there are thousands of drivers who are extremely impatient with cyclists. Again, not so much in VT, so I'd have to recommend Northern VT for best cycling in New England.
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Old 07-02-18, 02:26 PM
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Looks like you have experience with New England ... my suggestion was going to be Adventure Cycling's Green Mountain Loop or the Adirondack Loop. Both fairly similar in length and profile. And, you can easily link the two loops for a longer ride. I'm partial to Vermont but both are great rides.
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Old 07-02-18, 07:03 PM
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I was thinking of this the other day. I watch YouTube touring videos, some of the ACA routes, and other US and Canadian tours and I’m always surprised about how busy the traffic is. I assume the point is they’re rather direct routes from point a to b, with towns that provide services? That’s pretty much the opposite of what I desire.

I live within 45 minutes of Toronto and I’m always riding (not touring) further away from the city, and during times when the roads are not as busy. The rides are very peaceful, with almost no trucks or trailers. I of course know all the side roads. And I love gravel so I look for it. I often combine paved, gravel roads and rail trails in one ride.

I’m planning some 2-4 day tours not far from home, and I’m scouting back roads, rail trails, etc. I’m assuming others prefer these types of routes?
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Old 07-09-18, 01:23 PM
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France and the Eurovelo 6 route is generally well indicated, quiet, on bike paths, trails, shared quiet roads and follows rivers and canals.
speaking French is of course a bonus.
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Old 07-10-18, 12:42 PM
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Eastern Oregon is amazing. Very low traffic until you go over the mountains going back out towards the coast. Same with Washington, though its a little more mountainous and rainy in general.

A fat bike and the SW are a great option for nobody and no cars.

Spain has amazing riding, both on dirt and roads. Probably my favorite place in the world.
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Old 07-11-18, 02:47 AM
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Originally Posted by fantom1
...

Spain has amazing riding, both on dirt and roads. Probably my favorite place in the world.
which areas in Spain in particular? Any thoughts on Portugal?
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Old 07-11-18, 11:10 AM
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If you've already done the GAP you could start where you ended and do the C&O Canal. Goes through some beautiful country and is all on the canal towpath. No vehicular traffic and decent (free) camping along the trail.
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Old 07-11-18, 12:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Abu Mahendra
which areas in Spain in particular? Any thoughts on Portugal?
Unfortunately I never made it to Portugal, but I've heard its very much like Spain, only more inexpensive and with even less people.

As for Spain, pretty much everywhere is amazing, although obviously I haven't been every single place.The reason is that they have an exceptionally large amount of rural roads along with an exceptionally large amount of public use dirt roads (farming roads basically). Even in huge cities like Madrid, just outside you have dirt roads that are in decent enough condition to ride on a touring bike. Plus, every single, little, tiny place has at least a bar with inexpensive food. The cycling culture is also strong and cars are very respectful and courteous.

Honestly as I sit here trying to say which parts were my favorites, I can't. I spent the most time in Mallorca, Madrid, and Cantabria, but everywhere I went was fantastic. On second thought, I probably wouldn't tour in Ibiza and in Pais Vasco you need to choose your route well.. (Ibiza is too crazy with tourists and large parts of Pais Vasco are extremely mountainous and rainy.)

Last edited by fantom1; 07-11-18 at 01:13 PM.
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Old 07-11-18, 01:19 PM
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rather than on the coast 202 , banks vernonia and the rail to trail is nice..

I did an Ireland, Scotland west coast tour 20 years ago. started early St Paddy's day in Co Kerry..

had a pleasant time ..
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Old 07-11-18, 02:12 PM
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Originally Posted by fantom1
Spain has amazing riding, both on dirt and roads. Probably my favorite place in the world.
Back in 2000 I spent 7 weeks touring Andalucía. Only my second tour, so I hadn't gotten into dirt yet. I so want to go back. One big*mistake was hitting the coast where I did. Not great riding. The interior of the territory is where it's at.

I believe STR, who posts here occasionally, lives in the territory and has shared*some beautiful shots from his dirt touring.

BTW...You forgot to mention the food.
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Old 07-11-18, 06:07 PM
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Originally Posted by willibrord
The Katy trail is recommended by many.
I second this. I've ridden the Katy Trail end-to-end the last 8 years. Here's an excellent resource about the Katy Trail:
Katy Trail Missouri Trail Maps, Businesses, Events, Mileage, and more

Here's the group that I ride with. 2019 will be west from Clinton MO to east ending at St. Charles MO. It should be similar to the 2017 ride.
https://mostateparks.com/2017ktride
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Old 07-13-18, 03:11 AM
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I rode DC-Richmond VA on the ACA Route 1 & was amazed how quiet it mostly was despite being close to I-95. Just enough hills to keep things interesting. I wouldn't esp recommend flying cross-US for that ride but an example of how ACA routes can be very pleasant. If I lived in Oregon I'd research BC or Rocky Mountain routes, seems like there must be some fairly quiet routes w/o overly tough climbs?
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