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Best low-stress tour routes?

Old 06-24-18, 09:24 AM
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erbfarm
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Best low-stress tour routes?

Hi Everyone,

I just got back from doing a week on the Pacific Coast HIghway down the coast of Oregon and while the scenery was breathtaking near the ocean, the volume of logging trucks, enormous RV's, and high speed traffic took away most of the joy of being on a bike. So 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? I rode the GAP a few years ago which was decent. How about the Route Verte in Canada? I'd really like to plan another tour but really want to avoid spending 8 hours a day listening to highway noise and staring at potential bike hazards on the shoulder of the road. Thanks so much!

Maria
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Old 06-24-18, 09:40 AM
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Before I opened this thread, I was going to suggest the Pacific Coast Highway route, specifically the Oregon section.

So I am going to suggest looking at something I haven't tried, yet: The Great Divide mountain bike trail.
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Old 06-24-18, 09:45 AM
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The Katy trail is recommended by many.
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Old 06-24-18, 10:06 AM
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I liked visiting the NL , Bike paths right out if the Airport , afternoon landing ,
short ride to Zandvoort , for the canpground, then a car free route North or south from there..

route right on the banks of the Danube river , paved,
from say Passau to Vienna is quite nice, too .. popular..

Rhine river levee top road , gravel , heading north of Basel was Quiet..




...

Last edited by fietsbob; 06-24-18 at 10:46 AM.
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Old 06-24-18, 10:30 AM
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Route Verte was a great ride. Cape Breton, Nova Scotia has a couple of hills so not sure it will be flat enough. The Outer Banks of NC. North Sea from Edinburgh to Copenhagen was safe but mostly views of the ****. Check out the Russian River Valley in CA. Ride around Lake Michigan or organize your own route in northern, MI.
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Old 06-24-18, 11:02 AM
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Iceland.

But only if you pick a route off of Highway 1 which is also called the Ring Road. The secondary roads between nowhere and another nowhere are lightly traveled as long as you are far from tourist attractions.

Campgrounds are plentyful and reasonably priced. Instead of renting a site, you pay per person (like hiker biker sites on the Pacific Coast that you just did) and bikers and hikers co-mingle in the camps with the motorized travelers. While there were a lot of tourists from USA, I only met two couples that were biking from USA. Virtually everyone I met in the campgrounds that were bike touring were from Europe, either the UK or continental Europe.

I tried to start out each morning around 7am, but usually was not rolling until 7:30. But traffic usualy did not really appear in numbers until after about 9:30, so a few hours of peace was pretty great.

The downside is the nearly complete lack of shoulders to ride on, you were in the traffic lane almost all the time. I had the tires and bike that could handle rough gravel roads, I wanted to see the interior which involved bad roads. But I saw many people that were staying on the paved roads for all their bike tour. There is a lot of traffic near Reykjavik, but once you get a few days away from there it thins out nicely.

A second downside would be the lack of grocery stores. When I did Pacific Coast, we saw a Safeway almost every other day. But Iceland, you would be carrying more food with you, places to re-provision are farther apart. And if you have a bike breakdown, the local bike shop might be in Reykjavik. I have no idea how far apart (in days of travel) the grocery stores are in the west fjords area, you would have to research that.

Being from Portland, you would quickly adapt to the weather which would be quite similar to what you just experienced on the coast.

I was there for almost a month, I think I was on Highway 1 only three of those days. I met quite a few cyclists in a campground at the Snæfellsnes peninsula that planned to take a ferry to the west fjords area to cycle along that coast. But I was more interested in inland sights than deserted coasts so the west fjords did not attract me. I suspect that west fjords might be a good place to go if you want to avoid seeing a lot of traffic.

If you go, plan on at least a couple weeks. A month would be better, that way you can travel at a pace you like without having to obsess about getting back to Reykjavik in time for your flight. The downside as I mentioned is the lack of shoulders, so if you are not comfortable in the traffic lane, you might not enjoy it much.

I was there from mid June to mid July. The early part of the trip clearly had less tourists than the later part, thus it would be best to go early enough to avoid too many other tourists but late enough so that you do not get snowed on.










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Old 06-24-18, 11:21 AM
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Just a N.B., Oregon's Portland is Not on the Coast, it's a 2 hour drive inland, and so a bit different , weatherwise ..
inland behind the coast range.. Ships sail up the Columbia river for a full day to get there .

50% of the states population does live there.. vising the coast to get away from it, is popular,
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Old 06-24-18, 11:59 AM
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Iceland would not be my idea of low stress with the wind, windchills, one lane bridges, no shoulders (even with top speed limit of 90 km/h), etc.

Last edited by BikeLite; 06-24-18 at 12:07 PM.
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Old 06-24-18, 12:48 PM
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UK. Sustrans national cycle routes.

There's many of them all over the country.
They are signposted.
They try to avoid all heavy traffic, and the routes I did were very very quiet and pretty.
Lots of pubs. Never too far from food. Train network to jump on if you want. Low stress for sure.


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Old 06-24-18, 01:20 PM
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Originally Posted by BikeLite View Post
Iceland would not be my idea of low stress with the wind, windchills, one lane bridges, no shoulders (even with top speed limit of 90 km/h), etc.
I would agree with this. We drove the circle road and camped. I would strongly recommend Iceland as a place to visit. But, beware, if you are going to bike and low stress is the goal, it would not be one of my top pics.
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Old 06-24-18, 01:35 PM
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City route between Brussels and Amsterdam. LF2, IIRC. I'd say a 65-35 split between segregated cycling infrastructure and low usage rural roads, very flat, villages with amenities every few miles, cheap accommodation for cycle tourists.

Really anywhere in the Netherlands or Flanders, for that mattee.

Originally Posted by BikeLite View Post
Iceland would not be my idea of low stress with the wind, windchills, one lane bridges, no shoulders (even with top speed limit of 90 km/h), etc.
Literally had to pedal down some hills, the wind was so strong. Glad I went, but definitely not low stress. No shoulders and one lane bridges were never an issue tho, most parts except the high tourist areas were low traffic.
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Old 06-24-18, 03:03 PM
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Originally Posted by erbfarm View Post
Hi Everyone,

I just got back from doing a week on the Pacific Coast HIghway down the coast of Oregon and while the scenery was breathtaking near the ocean, the volume of logging trucks, enormous RV's, and high speed traffic took away most of the joy of being on a bike. So 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?...
When my wife and I actively toured in the 1970s-80s we chose destinations because of proximity and/or interest, accepting whatever traffic occurred. Extended exclusive bike trails back then seemed non-existent, and we always rode road bikes, avoiding gravel.

We toured in Michigan and southeastern Ontario, a cross country trip, New England and the Maritime Providences, and the Delmarva Peninsula. I would say the most traffic-light routes were West of the Mississippi, Northern Michigan and Ontario, Vermont and New Hampshire (we only rode the coast of Maine), Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, and the Delmarva Peninsula.

From what I recall it seems the last three destinations were the most serene.

Last edited by Jim from Boston; 06-24-18 at 03:09 PM.
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Old 06-24-18, 05:42 PM
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South Korea, Taiwan...

Taiwan's east coast, or South Korea which has a continous trail from the northwest coast starting at Incheon, near the airport, all the way down to Busan on the southeast coast. From Busan you can hop on a ferry to Japan, or fly to Jeju island or to Taiwan. The aiports have bike packing services.

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Old 06-24-18, 06:46 PM
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It doesn't get much lower stress than the Great Allegheny Passage. Get on the bike path in Pittsburgh and you don't touch a road till you hit Cumberland. Assuming the trail is fully open Rare these days with all of the flooding) you can go all the way to DC with no roads.

I also recommend the Selkirk Loop north of Spokane. Very little traffic but there are lots of logging trucks. Trucks going north, trucks going south. One I could never figure out.

I can give a report next week but I picked the Willamette Valley to get my touring legs back. Seems low stress. Oregon has a number of low traffic designated bikeways.
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Old 06-24-18, 06:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Abu Mahendra View Post
Taiwan's east coast, or South Korea which has a continous trail from the northwest coast starting at Incheon, near the airport, all the way down to Busan on the southeast coast. From Busan you can hop on a ferry to Japan, or fly to Jeju island or to Taiwan. The aiports have bike packing services.

What are the trail conditions? Are there enough services along the way so you don't need top camp? Any problems with English being spoken?
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Old 06-24-18, 06:55 PM
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Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
What are the trail conditions? Are there enough services along the way so you don't need top camp? Any problems with English being spoken?
Trail conditions: 99% is smooth surface. Dedicated bike lane or shoulder even on main roads. Supremely safe, no hassles or hustles. Toilets, convenience stores, hotels to overnight are all within relati easy reach. Love motels are everywhere. Some of them are actually quite plush, and very quiet. I never camped once always ended up in a love motel outside of Seoul. At around 5pm i started looking for a hotel, and was never left without a bed and roof for the night.

English outside of Seoul is tough. Google Translate, body gestures and pointing at menu pictures will get you through. I did, with zero Korean language knowledge.

South Korea is a clean, orderly place, adeveloped, well-sorted first-world country. Korean food can be sublime. People are generally friendly, and helpful. I came away impressed.

Taiwan's good too, and a little less expensive than Korea.

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Old 06-24-18, 07:08 PM
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Lack of English could be a stress factor.

OK I have to ask what is a "Love" motel.
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Old 06-24-18, 08:03 PM
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Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
Lack of English could be a stress factor.

OK I have to ask what is a "Love" motel.
Only if you are unaccustomed to it. It can be stressful to those who have lived exclusively in one language, one culture, one country. I actually enjoy going places I've never been to, where i know not the language, or anyone. If you are accustomed to a limited range of flavors and bland food, Korean spice will stress you out too.

Love motel is a discreet place where couples surreptitiously engage in amorous trysts. For the touring cyclist, they are good because they are quiet so you can sleep undisturbed, and they come with all toiletries down to toothpaste, hair gel, etc. No need to carry your own, thereby saving weight.

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Old 06-24-18, 08:37 PM
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Originally Posted by debade View Post
I would agree with this. We drove the circle road and camped. I would strongly recommend Iceland as a place to visit. But, beware, if you are going to bike and low stress is the goal, it would not be one of my top pics.
My first sentence was pick a route off of highway 1.

But you drove highway 1. If I had driven highway 1, I would agree that it is not a low stress place.
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Old 06-25-18, 03:19 AM
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In Europe, any of the main river routes are about as stress free as you can get, specifically the Rhine or Danube routes (Passau to Vienna), although they can be very busy, especially at weekends. Navigation is never an issue.
Also the Velodyssey route from Northern France to Spain, half inland, half along the coast.
Alpe Adria Radweg from Salzburg, Austria to Grado, Italy. (But be warned, wandering around Italy away from cycle paths can be..... interesting on a bike! )
Or Northern Spain. Regular roads, some bike paths, but very respectful traffic. Absolutely no stress at all!
Anywhere in the Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg). Bike paths everywhere, respectful traffic on the roads.
Denmark, very cycle friendly.
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Old 06-25-18, 03:26 AM
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death valley national park. a little hot currently. try the first two weeks of november tho.
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Old 06-25-18, 04:31 AM
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The Velodyssey route along the west coast of France.

Do the bit out to Bordeaux and back too ... paved cycling path all the way.

https://www.velodyssey.com/
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Old 06-25-18, 06:06 AM
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Has anyone tried cyclotouring in Cuba? There can't be too many cars, and those that are there are sixty years old. There may be restrictions , from the US, not Cuba.
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Old 06-25-18, 06:31 AM
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Originally Posted by erbfarm View Post
I just got back from doing a week on the Pacific Coast HIghway down the coast of Oregon and while the scenery was breathtaking near the ocean, the volume of logging trucks, enormous RV's, and high speed traffic took away most of the joy of being on a bike. So 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? I rode the GAP a few years ago which was decent. How about the Route Verte in Canada? I'd really like to plan another tour but really want to avoid spending 8 hours a day listening to highway noise and staring at potential bike hazards on the shoulder of the road. Thanks so much!
I too would have said that the Oregon Coast. To me it would be the prototypical low stress tour. Since that wasn't to your liking the choices get harder to find.

The Gap/C&O is all off road as is the Katy, but are suitable for less than full on mtbs. They aren't my cup of tea, but they may suit you.

Are you interested in actually going into the backcountry on trails? If so maybe the Idaho Hot Springs Route, but that is mountain biking. The GDMBR might be another option.

I crossed Kansas a couple times and it was easy to find roads that were pretty devoid of traffic. I am pretty traffic tolerant so I mostly rode on US highways (roads withe the US designation, not interstates), but there is a grid of nearly empty roads. I suspect that the rest of the Great Plains are like that as well.

There were sections on my ST ride that I rode in the SW where I saw one or two cars all day. Those were mostly where I opted to go off route from the ACA ST though.

Bottom line... There are lots of options, but most will require that you do your own homework since they aren't mapped routes.

Oh, one other thing... When you go can make a big difference, both time of year and time of day matter. I find that since I like to ride early in the morning, sometimes before daylight, I typically have less traffic in touristy areas. Also on the Pacific Coast going after Labor Day and before Memorial Day means WAY less RVs and other vacationers.
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Old 06-25-18, 07:10 AM
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Search ACA's web site. There is a blog post about combining two sections of their Northern Tier route into a loop that you can start in Fargo, ND or Minneapolis. There are actually two options. At least one of them has a good amount of trail mileage
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