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Portland to Seattle worth the ride?

Old 09-20-18, 09:53 PM
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Portland to Seattle worth the ride?

One of the possible tours on my list next year is to ride through Mt hood then down the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Highway (it is supposed to be open by next summer). But that trip is awfully short to travel such a long distance away.

So I was trying to figure a way to extend the tour but also make it interesting. I wanted to take the train back home out of Seattle. I was going to take the Cascades from Portland to Seattle. Then I got to thinking. Why not just ride there?

My question. Is it a good ride? In other words I really don't want a lot of boring farmlands or even urban sprawl. Will it be an interesting ride? What about traffic in that corridor? Hpw bad is it? And I know I need to do some research but what about lodging for a credit card tour? How hard will lodging be to find?

And while I am at it, what about Mt Hood? Are the roads reasonably safe to ride? I understand that Rainer can be a bit dangerous.
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Old 09-21-18, 09:49 AM
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StP, rather than PtS?

Seattle to Portland , is an annual organized ride, in June,
with a do it over 2 days, or knock it out in one, option

https://www.cascade.org/rides-major-...laska-airlines
https://www.seattlepi.com/seattlenew...and-132387.php
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seattl...icycle_Classic





....
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Old 09-21-18, 11:48 AM
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Did you enjoy your riding south from Portland in the Willamette Valley? From my recollection: the more direct routes between Portland and Seattle are more wooded (some farms but not huge) a bit more urban at least between Tacoma & Seattle. I live in Portland between 2009 and 2012 and in that time, I cycled between the two cities at least once per year - so in total 4 or 5 times. It was a fairly straightforward ride and I pushed things slightly to make it in two days but then also stay overnight inside. I tended to ride the other direction since I lived in Portland - but there wasn't a strong reason to ride one direction or the other.

So my sense overall:
- A reasonable ride, not spectacular in my "top 10" type list, but also not horrible urban/high traffic all the way or boring.
- Several lodging alternatives along the way.
- Also reasonable as a backup plan. If for some reason your Mt Hood parts of the trip take longer than expected, no big deal. If the weather is awkward, no big deal. In either of these cases you end up taking the train from Portland to Seattle. If not, you cycle it.
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Old 09-21-18, 12:55 PM
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If you ended up using transport from one city to the other, I’d think a bus might be easier. It’ll be cheap and you wouldn’t have to disassemble/box the bike. In general I’ve found busses to be a great, hassle free resource on the west coast. ...and in general, really. You can usually get one for cheap and just stick the bike in the cargo area underneath.

Last edited by 3speed; 09-21-18 at 12:59 PM.
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Old 09-21-18, 02:43 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob
Seattle to Portland , is an annual organized ride, in June,
with a do it over 2 days, or knock it out in one, option

https://www.cascade.org/rides-major-...laska-airlines
https://www.seattlepi.com/seattlenew...and-132387.php
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seattl...icycle_Classic





....
Thanks! Just got off the phone with my buddy that moved to Seattle (actually Lac) a few years ago. I thought he would be able to shed some light on the area. He is a non bike rider, does not really know that area between Portland and Seattle but he did tell me about the ride. I was meaning to look it up but thanks for the links.
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Old 09-21-18, 02:47 PM
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Originally Posted by mev
Did you enjoy your riding south from Portland in the Willamette Valley? From my recollection: the more direct routes between Portland and Seattle are more wooded (some farms but not huge) a bit more urban at least between Tacoma & Seattle. I live in Portland between 2009 and 2012 and in that time, I cycled between the two cities at least once per year - so in total 4 or 5 times. It was a fairly straightforward ride and I pushed things slightly to make it in two days but then also stay overnight inside. I tended to ride the other direction since I lived in Portland - but there wasn't a strong reason to ride one direction or the other.

So my sense overall:
- A reasonable ride, not spectacular in my "top 10" type list, but also not horrible urban/high traffic all the way or boring.
- Several lodging alternatives along the way.
- Also reasonable as a backup plan. If for some reason your Mt Hood parts of the trip take longer than expected, no big deal. If the weather is awkward, no big deal. In either of these cases you end up taking the train from Portland to Seattle. If not, you cycle it.
Thanks. The ride was OK. What made it nice was the number of Warmshowers hosts I got to stay. The riding itself was mixed. Lots of pretty spots along the way. and the little towns were nice to see. Salem is really nice.

Another reason for the trip would be to visit my buddy in Lacy. There then would be a side trip to Rainer. Maybe take my bicycle but probably not.
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Old 09-21-18, 02:53 PM
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I don't know if I would have the time but would it be a mistake to head for the coast and come back east? Or would I have too much issue with wind?

Is it worth it to head for the coast? A quick street level review of some of the roads, it does not look like I see much of the coast anyway.
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Old 09-21-18, 04:28 PM
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Originally Posted by 3speed
If you ended up using transport from one city to the other, I’d think a bus might be easier. It’ll be cheap and you wouldn’t have to disassemble/box the bike. In general I’ve found busses to be a great, hassle free resource on the west coast. ...and in general, really. You can usually get one for cheap and just stick the bike in the cargo area underneath.
Very true. I took BoltBus from Seattle to Portland with my bike, then back to Seattle. This was several years ago. Couldn't have been easier. Very cheap and many buses each day. I loaded and unloaded my bike myself. There was plenty of space for bikes, and I didn't have to do anything to the bike except put it in the baggage compartment. One of my friends in Seattle took it up to Vancouver, BC with his bike, after he learned about it from me. BoltBus also operates buses in the DC-NY-Boston corridor.
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Old 09-21-18, 05:58 PM
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Originally Posted by axolotl
Very true. I took BoltBus from Seattle to Portland with my bike, then back to Seattle. This was several years ago. Couldn't have been easier. Very cheap and many buses each day. I loaded and unloaded my bike myself. There was plenty of space for bikes, and I didn't have to do anything to the bike except put it in the baggage compartment. One of my friends in Seattle took it up to Vancouver, BC with his bike, after he learned about it from me. BoltBus also operates buses in the DC-NY-Boston corridor.
Good to know there is a bail out plan. Thanks. Can the bus be caught at most of the cities? Amtrak has only like 2 places to catch the train. One of them is not that far from Portland and the other is almost in Seattle.
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Old 09-21-18, 08:08 PM
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Originally Posted by 3speed
If you ended up using transport from one city to the other, I’d think a bus might be easier. It’ll be cheap and you wouldn’t have to disassemble/box the bike. In general I’ve found busses to be a great, hassle free resource on the west coast. ...and in general, really. You can usually get one for cheap and just stick the bike in the cargo area underneath.
You no longer need to box the bike on the Cascade from Portland to Seattle.
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Old 09-22-18, 09:49 AM
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It's the longer run Coast Starlight train. LA to Vancouver BC that was needing boxes.
Cascade starts in Eugene, as its southernmost point.. so just north from there.
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Old 09-22-18, 11:24 AM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob
It's the longer run Coast Starlight train. LA to Vancouver BC that was needing boxes.
Cascade starts in Eugene, as its southernmost point.. so just north from there.
You don't need to box on the Starlight either.
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Old 09-22-18, 07:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Doug64
You no longer need to box the bike on the Cascade from Portland to Seattle.
Thanks. Good to know it’s an oltion if I ever need it. Honestly, though, the bus is just so cheap, easy, and hassle free all along the west coast, with most routes having frequent runs per day, that I couldn’t imagine going through the comparable hassle of Amtrak. Not Amtrak is a huge hassle IF it goes the way it should... It’s just that the bus is even easier. On top of that, I’ve personally experienced and heard so many terrible experiences with Amtrak that they’re my Last resort for transportation these days. I like to think I’ve just had exeptionally bad luck with them.

Out of three trips, I’ve yet to be within four hours of scheduled arrival time, I ended up having to stay an extra day in a town and pay a weeks parking due to their website information once(they basically said “sucks to be you. F off.”), I got stuck on the tracks for 10 hours on a broken down train once and they wouldn’t even open the food car because we were “almost to our destination”(there were strangers sharing snacks from their purses with hungry crying children around them because there was no food and we were in the middle of a snowy field), and in those situations they had the worst possible “customer service” I could imagine. I wouldn’t have imagined it until dealing with them. They set a new bar I didn’t know existed... The employees on the train stuck outside of Chicago were truely, honest to god, hostile toward the passengers, while they all sat in the first car eating, drinking coffee, and hanging out. It was insane. I would think I was exaggerating and not really belive how crazy it was had I not experienced it myself. When we finally got to Chicago there was a huge line of us at the service counter looking for explainations/compensation/whatever. They basically told us each as we stepped forward that “It wasn’t Amtrak’s fault, suck it, and get out of the way of their service counter. Next.” Have you looked around online and seen the crazy complaint stories about them? That said, I would Think a short trip like Portland to Seattle would go OK. Maybe... /rant

Sorry to go way off topic. I’ll just go over there now and look at another thread...
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Old 09-23-18, 12:38 PM
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Given the comments on Amtrak, I'll just make a few additional notes of my experience with Amtrak Cascades:

1. In my experience (mostly 2009-2012), Amtrak Cascades was pretty reliable and on time. About the only issue I recall was once when the tracks got blocked by a landslide (I wasn't on the particular trains affected, but since I was traveling a few days later I paid attention). There were (and still are) four trains per day scheduled between Portland and Seattle.
2. For the longer-haul routes, my estimate is ~20% of my trips were significantly late - where I define late as 2+ hours, etc. I have a few war stories, though they are not the most common occurrence.
3. This year I've taken Amtrak three times, with the following outcomes:
a. May - Austin to El Paso, on time.
b. July - Minot to Chicago + Chicago to Austin. The train from Minot was six hours delayed at both departure and arrival. I had an overnight in Chicago scheduled so rather than late afternoon I arrive late evening. Train to Austin fell behind ~1 hour underway but arrived on time to Austin.
c. August - Austin to Texarkana (on time) and Little Rock to Austin (on time).
That experience of one train segment falling behind six hours and four others on time or close to on time in 2018 is consistent with my more general recollection over more years and the Amtrak Cascades overall was better than that average (other than that landslide that affected trains a few days before mine, I can recall arriving a few hours late into Vancouver BC once and otherwise pretty close to on time over many trips.

Based on that, I give myself some extra margin, particularly on long-haul routes and towards the end of those routes (in case delays accumulate), but also find Amtrak to be a flexible alternative.
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