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What weather to be ready for crossing the northern US in summer

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What weather to be ready for crossing the northern US in summer

Old 04-05-10, 10:02 AM
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AlanKHG
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What weather to be ready for crossing the northern US in summer

I'm planning my cross-country trip from May to August, mostly across the northern US (route thoughts here: https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/p..._id=141315&v=A ), and am wondering what's the worst weather I need to prepare for. My operating assumption at present is that the weather will be by-and-large like what I knew growing up in Wisconsin, which is to say hot days and warm-to-cool evenings. Should I expect there to be any days where I actually need a sleeping bag, as opposed to something simple like a sewn-together blanket? Should I bring a wool sweater or such? A pair of pants?
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Old 04-05-10, 02:39 PM
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I live in Tucson, AZ. I have gone on rides in the middle of the summer where I had 100+ degree heat and freezing rain in the same day. That's life when you ride in the mountains. If your route is going to take you through any mountainous regions (and it looks to me like you will), be prepared for anything in terms of weather.
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Old 04-05-10, 03:15 PM
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valygrl
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My view would be you're going to need a decent tent and a sleeping bag in the Rockies (Yellowstone) - and just about any sleeping bag is going to be lighter and take up less space in your panniers.
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Old 04-05-10, 05:23 PM
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Looking at your schedule, you'll be hitting the mountains late June/early July. The blanket might be enough, but I'd mail ahead some cold weather clothing to supplement the blanket. You should have rain gear already to use as a wind break.

I'd want at least a pair of running pants, the wool sweater, a watch cap, and gloves. I'd also carry some plastic bags to put over my cycling shoes in case of cold rain. When out of danger, I'd pack it all up and mail home.

Check the local weather when you get to the mountains to see if even more is needed. Buy it at a box store. No need to haul a bunch of clothes around you won't be using but maybe a week or two.

Last edited by Cyclebum; 04-05-10 at 05:28 PM.
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Old 04-05-10, 05:58 PM
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Originally Posted by valygrl View Post
My view would be you're going to need a decent tent and a sleeping bag in the Rockies (Yellowstone) - and just about any sleeping bag is going to be lighter and take up less space in your panniers.
+1
Check some other CGOA journals for trips thru Yellowstone. Night time temps in late June can easily drop below 32F, and there are frequently thunderstorms in the mountains in the late afternoons. In addition to a tent and bag, a pair leg warmers would be nice. Personally, I'd bring a pair of pants in any case ... I hate going into a 7/11 in some small town looking like Peter Pan.
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Old 04-05-10, 08:56 PM
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I would have thought "northern US" would mean the Lake states, Dakota's and Montana?
If you do ride north be prepared for wind. Lots of wind. And big heavy T-storms.
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Old 04-06-10, 09:22 AM
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I just got back from a short tour in Southwest Utah. It got down to freezing at Zion. I was cold. I have a synthetic bag (Sierra Designs witih 3D insulation) that used to be good in cold weather but no more. You can get cold weather in the mountains in summer. I got snowed on in Jackson, Wyoming in July. I'd suggest a good sleeping bag, and some cold weather clothing. I wish I'd brought my long underwear to Zion. My warmest thing was a fleece vest. I also brought a tank top. (I actually wore it on a warm afternoon in Snow Canyon.) On balance I would have been better off leaving the tank top home and bringing a fleece with sleeves.
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Old 04-06-10, 12:17 PM
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Ditto on the Yellowstone thing. I was there in late June and it was sub-40 at night. Outside of Telluride in late July I camped in a cold, wet rain. Was probably around 45 degrees. In the western mountains it's possible to get any type of weather at any time.

For off-bike wear, consider a pair long pants with zip-off legs. The synthetic type are light, durable and stain-resistant. If there is a good risk of cold temps., I also carry a set of polypro long underwear.
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Old 04-06-10, 06:40 PM
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Are you asking for the worst possible or for what is to be expected? Nights can realistically get down into the 40s and days into the upper 80s and maybe the 90s. It's not common, but I've seen 35 to 40 degree temperature swings in less than an hour when a front comes through.
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Old 04-08-10, 09:25 AM
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The bottom line: you will be traveling through mountains, and in mountainous regions, you have to be prepared for all kinds of weather.

I like the previous suggestions that you mail yourself extra clothing that you are unlikely to need before you arrive in the mountains. Post Restante (General Delivery) is a great invention. Use it!

When packing for a bicycle tour, even when I will not be in mountainous regions, I take a few items of clothing that, in a pinch, can be layered for warmth, e.g., a long sleeved T-shirt + a thin fleece jacket + a rain jacket. Although I don't need the extra warmth every single trip, there have been times I am glad I packed for cold weather.
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Old 04-08-10, 08:14 PM
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Good to know, thanks y'all.

And thanks for telling me about "post restante"-- never realized that existed, and it sounds quite useful.
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Old 04-09-10, 10:35 AM
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I just re-read your original post. I'd like to add a couple of thoughts. You can get really cold weather in the mountains at any time during the year - cold enough to really need a good, warm sleeping bag. I'd consider that a necessity. You might be able to get by with a lighter, warmer-weather bag if you have something warm to wear in it - long underwear, sweats, etc. In Zion last week I was wearing tights and two polypro long underwear shirts inside my bag and it wasn't enough.

From May to August it's also quite possible to encounter long stretches where the temperatures exceed 100 degrees during the day. Personally, I do fine riding in hot weather as long as I have plenty of water. Having plenty of water is key. There are places where the ability to fill up water bottles are few and far between. I think I'd carry a Camelbak if I were you. You can carry a ton of water if need be. You can also fill one up with ice, add water, and have cold water for hours. In hot weather that's a luxury! And remember, just because you have 3 water bottles and a Camelbak doesn't mean you have to carry them full. If I know there will be places to fill up, I usually only fill two water bottles (with only one I feel like I'm stopping too often to refill, or I find myself drinking less, which isn't good.)
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Old 04-09-10, 10:59 AM
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General Delivery.

The post office will hold for at least 2 weeks for pickup. When I use this service, I write expected date range to pick up on the box and have someone mail it about 10 days ahead.

Your name, General Delivery, city, state, zip.
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Old 04-09-10, 11:01 AM
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My experience was... anything from 28F to 110F.. So plan accordingly.
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Old 04-10-10, 05:32 PM
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Always a good idea to check the record LOW and record HIGH temps for the area you are going to be at and be prepared for that, plus rain and wind. But the key to not get hypothermia is NOT TO GET WET. You are much more likely to get hypothermia in 50 degree weather in a rain storm than at 25 degree weather and clear conditions. So always have a plan to make sure you can slip into dry clothes. Cheers.
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Old 04-11-10, 09:40 AM
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amzingly, no one has mentioned being prepared for tornados throughout the plains regions
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Old 04-11-10, 06:53 PM
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I'm Wisconsin born-and-raised so I know the drill for tornadoes and thunderstorms.

Sounds like really big swings are mainly a worry in mountains, though, and in the plains things should be by-and-large what I'm used to.

So for the plains, a light jacket, sweater, long pants, and a sleeping bag, and for the mountains a bit more warm clothing waiting?
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Old 04-12-10, 07:36 PM
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Originally Posted by AlanKHG View Post
So for the plains, a light jacket, sweater, long pants, and a sleeping bag, and for the mountains a bit more warm clothing waiting?
I think everyone tends to have a different comfort level for cold/hot temperatures, so you will need to figure what's best for you. I'm like a polar bear in winter (thrive in it), but unfortunately I'm also like a polar bear in summer (can't handle the heat). A good start is to make sure you bring clothing that allows you to get fully waterproof and windproof. It's been my experience that waterproof shoes get soaked through after about 1 to 2 hours of downpoor. Instead I wear Croc shoes that drain the water with water proof socks over wool socks. I wear rain pants over long johns, and a rain jacket over a down vest and long sleeve shirt. The jacket is sized to allow the hood to cover a bike helmet. I use winter gloves lined with a thin layer of wool, and a light balaclava to keep my head warm and dry. Everything I carry is light weight, so it is no big deal to bring it everytime. Notice the only coverage I have over my arms and legs is long johns covered by a shell. That has always been good enough for me in the coldest temperatures. Keep in mind that your body is producing a lot of heat while you are riding, so it isn't necessary to pack on too many layers. I carry this along with my hot weather clothing on every tour. Weather can change suddenly, so it's nice to always have it when I need it.
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