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Loop from San Diego to Glacier NP

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Loop from San Diego to Glacier NP

Old 04-01-09, 09:14 AM
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Loop from San Diego to Glacier NP

I need your advice as to which way to go. Clockwise up the coast and over the Cascades to (eventually) Fernie and on into Waterman OR counterclockwise through the California desert to the Grand Canyon, Zion, Mesa Verde, north through Breckinridge, Yellowstone, and (eventually) Waterman.

I have only from mid April to mid July. Mostly camping, 70 to 80 miles per day, 5500 miles total.

Advantages Clockwise / Disadvantages Counterclockwise
- Lower chance versus higher chance of ice in mountain passes
- Can leave earlier within time frame and have a more leisurely trip versus possibly running out of days and having to bail early

Disadvantages Clockwise / Advantages Counterclockwise
- Headwinds versus tailwinds going up versus down the coast
- Riding on the side of the road away from versus on the same side as the most optimal scenery
- The heat of summer versus a profusion of wild flowers through southern Utah, Arizona, and the California desert

Of course, its not the number of factors either way but their import. And its also a matter of personal preference. But I would sure like to hear your opinions. Am I not considering anything that I should?
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Old 04-01-09, 10:15 AM
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i did counterclockwise in 2006. i would guess either way is good.
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Old 04-01-09, 10:24 AM
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My gut feel is you need to go counterclockwise, or you're going to be in the mountains too early. North rim of grand canyon and zion are both high altitude.

Without more detail on the route, it's hard to say. I would lay out the route, and put some date estimates on it for both options. You don't want to be in the rockies until June - check with the NPS about when roads open in Yellowstone (?Memorial Day?), and if you are going to ride Going to the Sun road in Glacier, I think it didn't open until July last year.

Oh yeah, you forgot to invite me. What a great tour idea.
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Old 04-01-09, 10:47 AM
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Counterclockwise.

More favorable winds
Less heat in the desert
Nicer weather down the coast

I think either way you're going to be in some mountains during possible freezing temps, either the Cascades or the Rockies, so I'd definitely go counterclockwise.
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Old 04-01-09, 11:05 AM
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Waterman?
Do you mean Waterton NP in Alberta?

I'm not sure how you get 5500 miles with the loop you propose.
I've biked from San Fran to Santa Fe then up to Alaska four times -
And I think I never topped 4500 miles - granted, one way.
I'm guessing that the loop you suggest is max - 4500 miles.
I just get a feel for the trip that is about 10 weeks.
So Cal/Grand Can/Mesa Verde/Yellowstone/Waterton = 5 weeks
Waterton/Fernie/Puget Sound/Astoria/San Fran/LA = 5 weeks

Not only are the prevailing winds on the Pacific coast northwesterly,
The winter/spring rains don't end further north until late May.
In the southwest the prevailing winds are southwesterly - and often strong.
Plus the monsoon rains kick in in late June and July.
And in the Rockies the prevailing winds are southerly.
(But you can and will get snow in May - even June.)

So that means a clockwise route will likely have headwinds for 3/4 of the trip -
While a counterclockwise route will only have them for 1/4.
A clockwise trip may likely have lousy weather in the Pac NW and the SW -
While a counterclockwise trip risk bad weather only in the Rockies.

You can't beat the wind - trying to will beat you.
You can't escape the bad weather in the NW or the heat in the SW.
But you can modify your trip in the Rockies to lower elevations.
Plus a mountain bike gives you more options - esp. in iffy weather.

You need to check each National Park website for camping info and opening dates.
Dispersed camping is usually O.K. on National Forest and BLM land, but NOT in NPs.
Most Yellowstone roads are open by mid-May - but Wyoming has been dumped on this month.
More than a foot this week. I wouldn't count on roads or campgrounds opening on time.
Going to the Sun Road in Glacier won't be open regardless which way you ride.

I have a journal that has significant sections similar to the counterclockwise route.
https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?...c_id=1168&v=sJ
I think you could pull off Colorado if you stick to Cortez-Grand Jct-Dinosaur -
Maybe - just maybe - with an option to do Durango to Ridgway if the weather is warm enough.

Best - J
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Old 04-01-09, 04:58 PM
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Yes, Waterton, not Waterman. Miles check out at 5478 using ACA maps (ST to GCC to to WE to GPN to NT to PC). Valygirl, do you mean clockwise? If Rockies are out until June, then it would have to be clockwise. If Road to the Sun doesn't open until July, then it would be a one way trip to be back in SD by mid July. Valygirl, consider yourself invited.

(Gentle) rain doesn't scare me, but ice and (severe) headwinds do. Comments are very helpful. Any other opinions?

Steve
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Old 04-01-09, 05:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Cyclesafe
Yes, Waterton, not Waterman. Miles check out at 5478 using ACA maps (ST to GCC to to WE to GPN to NT to PC). Valygirl, do you mean clockwise? If Rockies are out until June, then it would have to be clockwise. If Road to the Sun doesn't open until July, then it would be a one way trip to be back in SD by mid July. Valygirl, consider yourself invited.

(Gentle) rain doesn't scare me, but ice and (severe) headwinds do. Comments are very helpful. Any other opinions?

Steve
yes, I meant clockwise. Don't let me read the map, you'll end up in Panama or something.
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Old 04-02-09, 12:11 AM
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My brother and I are gearing up for a ride along part of the counter clockwise route from San Diego to Southern Utah about 900 miles next spring (we've both got our bikes and are building them and ourselves up for it). I've been mapping the route, and I think that counterclockwise is going to give you the best weather for the time of year you're considering.
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