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USA touring suggestions wanted

Old 01-28-20, 09:09 PM
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gregmacc
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USA touring suggestions wanted

My wife and I have 6 weeks from the beginning of June to spend pannier touring in the USA.
Our preference is for quiet routes and the path less travelled. Highways, busy roads and big cities are definitely not our thing. We have enjoyed trips using canal paths and C roads in Europe and rail-trails in Australia. We are looking for similar experiences in the USA.
Our bikes are Rohloff equipped Thorn Ravens and we carry full camping and cooking kit. Out of the way unsealed roads are not a problem and we often choose them over shorter sealed alternatives.
We realize that it will be heading into peak holiday time for locals so will be happy to avoid the big tourist traps. The weather will also be a serious consideration so we'll need to stay away from the warmer southern and central states. Maybe the north west or the Northern Lakes?
Our prefered daily riding distance is 50-60 km (35 miles). We like to be self sufficient so access to supply points for water and groceries every few days would be handy. Of course we don't mind dining out and occasional take-away meals. Bricks and mortar accommodation is also not out of the question every now and then.
A fly in fly out loop trip would be preferable as we would like to leave our soft bike bags somewhere close to the beginning and retrieve them on the return leg. Alternatively we could carry them with us or mail them forward if possible/necessary.
We are also not averse to linking several areas by rail, bus or ferry.
Any suggestions or tips would be happily considered.
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Old 01-28-20, 09:51 PM
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How important a factor is the amount of climbing?

How much heat can you take?
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Old 01-28-20, 10:16 PM
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fly and/or amtrak to denver or alburquerque or salt lake.

oodles of quiet roads, and free camping on blm land, once you're out of the cities.

buy a set of gazetters showing public lands and dirt/ranch roads off amazon for planning.

you can do a loop from any of those three, or go point-to-point.
book a hotel at your endpoint, contact them and arrange to mail your bags for them to hold.

there's also the lonely highway, route 50, from salt lake to reno.

check crazyguyonabike for trip reports.
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Old 01-28-20, 11:11 PM
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You could start in Washington, DC, ride 335 miles off-road to Pittsburgh on the C&O/GAP trails, catch the train to Chicago, and ride around the Great Lakes in Wisconsin/Michigan, then return on the same train to DC. Get a sleeper car on the train, because itís a long trip. The train will carry your bikes fully assembled with reservations.
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Old 01-28-20, 11:28 PM
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Starting early June through mid July, I would definitely look at the most northern 1/3 of the US. What Alan spoke about, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, or maybe the Northeast as in Maine and Vermont, etc., all great places to tour at that time of year. Best of luck and let us know what you decide.
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Old 01-29-20, 01:05 AM
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The Pacific Coast isn't a bad ride. Start up north in Port Angeles and then head south through Olympic National Park. Yeah it's peak season but you can easily get away from the hordes on a bike. That'll get some of your gravel riding done. There is some nice country inland as well, like up the Columbia River and over past Mt Hood. Some of the forest roads are awesome, as is riding through redwoods. The hiker-biker campsites in State Parks are pretty good too, $5 per person and no need to book.
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Old 01-29-20, 05:58 AM
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Second vote for the Pacific Coast.
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Old 01-29-20, 07:57 AM
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Originally Posted by andrewclaus View Post
Second vote for the Pacific Coast.
although I did it eons ago, going from their clear mention of not liking busy roads, the PC ride certainly has some busy sections that you have to be on the ball. Perhaps I'm overstating it, but they did give the impression that this wouldnt be their cup of tea. Also, the distances they prefer may be a problem, as I seem to remember that campgrounds tended to be farther apart, and back in the day, we tended to do 80-100kms generally between campgrounds.

greg--because you mentioned european bike trail systems specifically, (Ive ridden on one of the Eurovelo routes with my wife) Im taking our experience, and specifically my wifes preference to quiet , no cars bike systems like that, I would not take my wife down the Pacific Coast trip. Now of course only you two know what to decide, so perhaps read up on the PC trip, its a wonderful trip and doing Oregon and California is really cool, the coast trip is neat because the look of the land changes and its really beautiful going along the coast etc. There are some healthy climbing sections, and lots of little setep ups and downs, so it is by no means flat, not at all.

greg, also be aware that other than the mentioned rail trails (which I have never done btw being in Montreal, far away from these) there are generally less bike friendly trails like in Europe.
Good luck with getting ideas, and chime in with your thoughts responding to our suggestions.
Hearing back from you is very important to get better ideas and to hopefully give proper suggestions and heads up on stuff.
Where are you from btw?
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Old 01-29-20, 10:53 AM
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post
You could start in Washington, DC, ride 335 miles off-road to Pittsburgh on the C&O/GAP trails, catch the train to Chicago, and ride around the Great Lakes in Wisconsin/Michigan, then return on the same train to DC. Get a sleeper car on the train, because itís a long trip. The train will carry your bikes fully assembled with reservations.
Definitely C&O/GAP fits their requirements. I did it in mid June and the weather was fine. I met a guy in the late summer on the Erie Canal trail who was riding west to Buffalo and then doing a long, on-road stretch to get to Pittsburgh to take the GAP/C&O down to DC. Sounded like a fun trip, but it seems like the Pittsburgh to Buffalo stretch is about 200 miles of road.

Another option, along the lines of what Alan has said, is to catch the Capital Limited from Pittsburgh to Cleveland and take the Ohio to Erie trail down to Cincinnati. Camping at 35 mile intervals on the Ohio to Erie might be a challenge. Also I've ridden from the Ohio to Erie trail to the GAP using a combination of streets and trails.

If you start in DC and ride to Cincinnati (or the reverse), there is a train that goes between the two cities and takes bikes, but it is also a long ride.
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Old 01-29-20, 12:01 PM
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You could also get off the Capitol Limited train before Chicago if you plan to head north into Michigan. Maybe South Bend, IN, where you could meet their former mayor perhaps.

https://m.amtrak.com/h5/r/www.amtrak...n?unroute=true
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Old 01-29-20, 01:21 PM
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A trip that is roughly a bit over a thousand miles on quiet roads for June and beginning of July somewhere in USA where the weather does not get too hot could be lots of places. But, most cycle routes of that length will include some busier roads.

When I did Pacific Coast from Astoria to San Fransisco, my GPS track said 863 miles. Starting in Portland OR instead of Astoria would push the mileage up a bit. But some of that route was on busier roads, so not sure if you would like that. When I did that I wrote up my observations at this post, but that trip was six years ago and this forum has changed software a few times, some of my photos at that site disappeared:
Southt to North Pacific Coast Highway Concerns

Adventure Cycling puts on trips (I know you are not interested in a guided trip) and they also sell maps for routes that they have researched.
https://www.adventurecycling.org/rou...route-network/ .

You also could look at their trips, and try to replicate one of their trips on your own if one of their trips sounded interesting. Some of their organized trips deviate from the maps that they sell, it would depend on which trip. It sounds like you have experience so you could certainly deviate from one of their routes.

Do not rule out parts of Canada. I did a five week trip in Canadian Maritimes last summer at about the same time. It was wetter than I wished, but it was enjoyable. There were a few busy roads, but I mostly stayed on quiet roads. I flew to Halifax Nova Scotia, did a loop out of there.

Side note on your bikes - Rohloff hubs in USA are extremely rare. You might want to bring a spare internal gear cable in case you needed to change cables on one of your bikes. And you are very unlikely to find a bike mechanic in USA that knows what a Rohoff hub is. But the internal gear cable is the only Rohloff specific part that I can think of that you should carry, other than the standard spares like tubes, brake pads, etc.

Have a great time.
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Old 01-29-20, 01:37 PM
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where are you flying in from? If from Europe and if this is your first USA rodeo then head for the Arizona/Utah/Colorado sandstone routes. This is something special for an Euro based visitor.
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Old 01-29-20, 01:50 PM
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Iíd consider starting/ending in Burlington VT. You can go around the lake and head west into the Adirondacks or north into Canada and the St Lawrence valley or east into Maine and maybe circle down to Acadia, though that area gets pretty busy in the summertime.
checkout the adventure cycling green mountain loop for ideas. Also the Missisquoi Valley rail trail and other rail trails in the area.
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Old 01-29-20, 06:52 PM
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Consider the Alaskan Panhandle? Fly in to Seattle, train to Bellingham and take the Alaska Marine Highway north. Or just fly to Ketchikan and take the ferries on from there. Prince Edward Island is supposed to be quite nice.

No bike lights needed in June! Just mozzie and bear sprays and a bear barrel for your food and toiletries. Lots of campgrounds up there too.

Thereís scenery, First Nation culture, quiet roads and friendly locals. The cruise ship tourists donít venture far from their docks so donít be put off by that factor.
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Old 01-29-20, 06:56 PM
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Originally Posted by stevepusser View Post
How important a factor is the amount of climbing?

How much heat can you take?
If there is a good reason to climb we'll do it ... that is, if the scenery going up is particularly pleasant, or there is something worthwhile seeing/doing at the end of the climb, or it's just a good idea considering the alternative might be boring/lengthy/dangerous. Otherwise we would rather avoid it ... our rigs are built for trans continental expeditioning (heavy as sin) ... not that we often use them for that, but outback Australia is a tough place for bicycle touring and we get out there every now and then.
So the Rockies are not on our shortlist.
Heat? ... Again, if necessary ... otherwise, nope.
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Old 01-29-20, 07:03 PM
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Originally Posted by saddlesores View Post
fly and/or amtrak to denver or alburquerque or salt lake.

oodles of quiet roads, and free camping on blm land, once you're out of the cities.

buy a set of gazetters showing public lands and dirt/ranch roads off amazon for planning.

you can do a loop from any of those three, or go point-to-point.
book a hotel at your endpoint, contact them and arrange to mail your bags for them to hold.

there's also the lonely highway, route 50, from salt lake to reno.

check crazyguyonabike for trip reports.
... thanks for the info saddlesores ... there is a lot to consider in a concise response like yours and I'll get to it ASAP ... yes, we are frequent visitors/contributors to CGOAB ...
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Old 01-29-20, 07:13 PM
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post
You could start in Washington, DC, ride 335 miles off-road to Pittsburgh on the C&O/GAP trails, catch the train to Chicago, and ride around the Great Lakes in Wisconsin/Michigan, then return on the same train to DC. Get a sleeper car on the train, because itís a long trip. The train will carry your bikes fully assembled with reservations.
... thanks Alan ... sounds wonderful ... and we would love to see D.C. and Chicago ...
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Old 01-29-20, 07:17 PM
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Originally Posted by gregmacc View Post
If there is a good reason to climb we'll do it ... that is, if the scenery going up is particularly pleasant, or there is something worthwhile seeing/doing at the end of the climb, or it's just a good idea considering the alternative might be boring/lengthy/dangerous. Otherwise we would rather avoid it ... our rigs are built for trans continental expeditioning (heavy as sin) ... not that we often use them for that, but outback Australia is a tough place for bicycle touring and we get out there every now and then.
So the Rockies are not on our shortlist.
Heat? ... Again, if necessary ... otherwise, nope.
greg, the summer before I did the pacific coast, I had ridden a whole bunch of the Pyrenees in france, and you know what , the short climbs on the west coast ride were harder than (steeper) than the longer climbs throughout the pyrenees, but reasonable gradients.
and here I had been thinnking, "coast" cant be hilly....but nope...
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Old 01-29-20, 07:19 PM
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Originally Posted by robow View Post
Starting early June through mid July, I would definitely look at the most northern 1/3 of the US. What Alan spoke about, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, or maybe the Northeast as in Maine and Vermont, etc., all great places to tour at that time of year. Best of luck and let us know what you decide.
... yes robow, there are many places farther south that we are interested in but we've gotta' be realistic about the weather (heat) at that time of year ... and it will not be our last trip to the U.S.A.
... will definitely get back with adventure stories ...
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Old 01-29-20, 07:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Trevtassie View Post
The Pacific Coast isn't a bad ride. Start up north in Port Angeles and then head south through Olympic National Park. Yeah it's peak season but you can easily get away from the hordes on a bike. That'll get some of your gravel riding done. There is some nice country inland as well, like up the Columbia River and over past Mt Hood. Some of the forest roads are awesome, as is riding through redwoods. The hiker-biker campsites in State Parks are pretty good too, $5 per person and no need to book.
... thanks for responding Trev ... I'm almost starting to smell the redwoods already
... hmmmm, Mt Hood. Maybe we could hire some lightweight roadies and go climbing
... what part of Tassie are you from?
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Old 01-29-20, 08:16 PM
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Sounds like your requirements would synch with ACA's Northern Tier very nicely. Amtrak has two lines: Lake Shore Limited and Empire Builder that parallel the N.T. allowing you to enter and leave it at various points. Look at the route online and see what 1K mi. section seems to fit your interests the most. Each section has elevations stats, either east or westbound. The beauty of the ACA routes are that they are designed to get you off of the most traveled roads. They give you all the info you need for camping, food, repair, etc.

Have fun, whatever route you choose.
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Old 01-29-20, 08:26 PM
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
although I did it eons ago, going from their clear mention of not liking busy roads, the PC ride certainly has some busy sections that you have to be on the ball. Perhaps I'm overstating it, but they did give the impression that this wouldnt be their cup of tea. Also, the distances they prefer may be a problem, as I seem to remember that campgrounds tended to be farther apart, and back in the day, we tended to do 80-100kms generally between campgrounds.

greg--because you mentioned european bike trail systems specifically, (Ive ridden on one of the Eurovelo routes with my wife) Im taking our experience, and specifically my wifes preference to quiet , no cars bike systems like that, I would not take my wife down the Pacific Coast trip. Now of course only you two know what to decide, so perhaps read up on the PC trip, its a wonderful trip and doing Oregon and California is really cool, the coast trip is neat because the look of the land changes and its really beautiful going along the coast etc. There are some healthy climbing sections, and lots of little setep ups and downs, so it is by no means flat, not at all.

greg, also be aware that other than the mentioned rail trails (which I have never done btw being in Montreal, far away from these) there are generally less bike friendly trails like in Europe.
Good luck with getting ideas, and chime in with your thoughts responding to our suggestions.
Hearing back from you is very important to get better ideas and to hopefully give proper suggestions and heads up on stuff.
Where are you from btw?
... thanks djb ... caveats noted ...
Like I've mentioned in previous replies, if there is a good reason to step out of our comfort zone we will. We are both in our sixties and although we still enjoy a challenge our preferences have drifted towards smelling the roses rather than heroic, epic slog-fests. Although given the right circumstances on the right bikes ...
We really enjoy Europe but yes, the canal/river paths are really quite "soft" as far as bicycle touring goes ... in a good way though ... so much to see and do along the way. They do have their negatives ... a post for another day perhaps.
Admittedly my quoted prefered daily distance (35 miles) is pretty conservative ... but we are quite happy to do double that if we feel the need. It's just that we like to stop frequently ... taking photos ... talking to locals ... meeting fellow bikers etc. - Of course 15 miles is plenty if an unmissable overnight experience presents itself ... or we just need an easy day.
We live in Australia ... on the southern coast. Nothing but ocean between us and Antarctica to the south. Some fabulously remote arid lands to the north which we have toured on the Thorns ... we've posted supply caches to small outposts up there and have no problems being self sufficient with food and water for several days. So we are resourceful if required ... just looking for a generally softer experience this time 'round ... which I think you have picked-up on.

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Old 01-29-20, 08:38 PM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by Rob_E View Post
Definitely C&O/GAP fits their requirements. I did it in mid June and the weather was fine. I met a guy in the late summer on the Erie Canal trail who was riding west to Buffalo and then doing a long, on-road stretch to get to Pittsburgh to take the GAP/C&O down to DC. Sounded like a fun trip, but it seems like the Pittsburgh to Buffalo stretch is about 200 miles of road.

Another option, along the lines of what Alan has said, is to catch the Capital Limited from Pittsburgh to Cleveland and take the Ohio to Erie trail down to Cincinnati. Camping at 35 mile intervals on the Ohio to Erie might be a challenge. Also I've ridden from the Ohio to Erie trail to the GAP using a combination of streets and trails.

If you start in DC and ride to Cincinnati (or the reverse), there is a train that goes between the two cities and takes bikes, but it is also a long ride.
... thanks for the response Rob ... the Great Lakes are an obvious drawcard for us ... close to the top of the list really. We could certainly push the daily distances out somewhat if required and I presume that as long as we carried adequate supplies, overnight/stealthy camping could bridge the gaps between supply points/accomodation if necessary ... please let me know if you think otherwise.
Realistically it would take us at least 4 days to cover 200 miles of bitumen ... and that's a fair chunk of our available touring time ... so unless entirely necessary ... maybe not.
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Old 01-29-20, 08:59 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post
You could also get off the Capitol Limited train before Chicago if you plan to head north into Michigan. Maybe South Bend, IN, where you could meet their former mayor perhaps.

https://m.amtrak.com/h5/r/www.amtrak...n?unroute=true
Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
A trip that is roughly a bit over a thousand miles on quiet roads for June and beginning of July somewhere in USA where the weather does not get too hot could be lots of places. But, most cycle routes of that length will include some busier roads.

When I did Pacific Coast from Astoria to San Fransisco, my GPS track said 863 miles. Starting in Portland OR instead of Astoria would push the mileage up a bit. But some of that route was on busier roads, so not sure if you would like that. When I did that I wrote up my observations at this post, but that trip was six years ago and this forum has changed software a few times, some of my photos at that site disappeared:
Southt to North Pacific Coast Highway Concerns

Adventure Cycling puts on trips (I know you are not interested in a guided trip) and they also sell maps for routes that they have researched.
https://www.adventurecycling.org/rou...route-network/ .

You also could look at their trips, and try to replicate one of their trips on your own if one of their trips sounded interesting. Some of their organized trips deviate from the maps that they sell, it would depend on which trip. It sounds like you have experience so you could certainly deviate from one of their routes.

Do not rule out parts of Canada. I did a five week trip in Canadian Maritimes last summer at about the same time. It was wetter than I wished, but it was enjoyable. There were a few busy roads, but I mostly stayed on quiet roads. I flew to Halifax Nova Scotia, did a loop out of there.

Side note on your bikes - Rohloff hubs in USA are extremely rare. You might want to bring a spare internal gear cable in case you needed to change cables on one of your bikes. And you are very unlikely to find a bike mechanic in USA that knows what a Rohoff hub is. But the internal gear cable is the only Rohloff specific part that I can think of that you should carry, other than the standard spares like tubes, brake pads, etc.

Have a great time.
yep ... Canada is definitely a consideration ... just have no idea of the possibilities.
We are getting the message about the likelihood of at least some degree of busy road exposure ... and thanks for underlining that reality.
Always carry a spare Rohloff gear cable ... even in Germany ...
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Old 01-29-20, 09:04 PM
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Originally Posted by PedalingWalrus View Post
where are you flying in from? If from Europe and if this is your first USA rodeo then head for the Arizona/Utah/Colorado sandstone routes. This is something special for an Euro based visitor.
Thanks Walrus ... It will be our first USU rodeo ... We live in Australia so most likely leaving from Sydney.
We were thinking maybe a little farther north ... Arizona and Utah could be pretty warm that time of year right?
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