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Where to begin my cross country ride - Washington DC to Portland,OR?

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Where to begin my cross country ride - Washington DC to Portland,OR?

Old 01-20-12, 01:55 PM
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Tende
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Where to begin my cross country ride - Washington DC to Portland,OR?

I'm planning a (self supported) cross county ride for this summer (mid May to Mid August) and need advice on selecting my starting point.
I will end up in Portland, Oregon. I need to meet up with my wife (at my parents) in north central Illinois in mid June.
I had thought beginning near Washington DC would be neat, but Im having trouble finding a way to the Atlantic coast. Would New York City be better? I know a lot of people start in Yorktown, but that seems out of the way. I would like to pick a fairly direct route across the county.
Any thoughts?
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Old 01-20-12, 02:28 PM
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Relatively common for people to ship their bike to Astoria,
have it assembled, then fly PDX, or Amtrak, and Bus here and head east..

One thing: Columbia River Gorge at Hood River is a Hot spot for sailboards ,
that is an eastward wind Blowing quite strongly..

ACA has well researched trans continental route maps,
a set of those is going to answer a lot of questions.

ODOT has some free bike maps, I expect many States do as well .

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Old 01-20-12, 02:30 PM
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Have you checked out Adventure Cycling Association? They have an Atlantic Coast route that has a D.C. spur. But going up the coast and turning left at some point would be less direct than heading WNW from D.C. For directness, you'd probably be better off taking the C&O and GAP trails from D.C. to Pittsburgh. You might also want to check out AC's Northern Tier route. Don't know what passes for north central IL, but here is the overview of the section that includes IL:

https://www.adventurecycling.org/rout...?pg=detail&s=8

NYC is a little complicated to get out of. If you want to ride out of Manhattan and head west, you are pretty much stuck with the Geo. Wash. bridge. Other options include trains and ferries from Manhattan, but you might end up in some place that are not so nice to ride in (e.g., Newark or Hoboken, NJ). That area of the world is very congested. NY does have a system of designated bike routes. There is one that goes to Buffalo, which is on AC's Northern Tier route.

Take a look at this map:

https://www.adventurecycling.org/routes/RouteNetwork.pdf

I shows all of AC's routes. I see there is a spur from Pittsburgh that joins the Northern Tier route in Erie. That would be helpful if you were to take the C&O and GAP as mentioned above. If you are not familiar with the maps, they provide a treasure trove of information, including the locations of camgrounds, bike shops, grocery stores and motels. The maps for mountainous areas also include altitude profiles.
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Old 01-21-12, 02:51 AM
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If you fly/train/bus into DC, you can start there or take a regional bus out to Cape Lookout - state park w/ camping.
From DC you can ride the C&O/Allegheny Crossing Trail to Pitt then take the Old Lincoln Highway across Ohio.
(sectional maps available at the Lincoln Highway Ohio Chapter website)
Northern Tier from Monroeville, IN (great cycling town) to Muscatine, IA
From Muscatine you would ahve to head out across Iowa and Nebraska before rejoining the TransAm.
From Jackson, Wyo you can head directly west to Oregon via Idaho Falls, Salmon, and Lowman.
(The Sawtooths are lovely in late summer.)
Westbound in Oregon is better on the TA than the Columbia Gorge because of winds.
(Years ago I could hardly pedal in my granny gear heading west in the Gorge.)
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Old 01-23-12, 10:53 AM
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Portland....
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Old 01-23-12, 11:11 AM
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I'm planning a trip from DC to Seattle beginning in mid-May (May 19). I live in Silver Spring, MD which is on the northern tip of DC. I plan on riding northwest to Ohio to pick up the Northern Tier route using Adventure Cycling maps. My route will take me across the northern part of the country and through Glacier National Park (Road to the Sun). I had originally planned on taking the TransAm route but don't feel comfortable riding through Kentucky and Missouri with so many reports of dogs and news items of crazy people running tourists off the road (or actually running tourists over in one case). Perhaps we will run into each other. I'll be heading out alone but hope and expect to meet fellow tourists along the way.
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Old 01-23-12, 12:17 PM
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Sounds like the question is how to get to the coast from DC so the start can be at the Atlantic Ocean. It's easy to get FROM the coast to DC, a straight shot across the Delmarva, shuttle across the bridge, then Annapolis to DC. As others have said, you can pick up the C&O/GAP from DC to Pittsburgh then make your way to central IL.

Best option to get to the Atlantic is a bus from DC to Dewey Beach. It's $40 at the following website: https://www.dc2ny.com/pages/beaches.aspx

Looks like it runs weekends starting Memorial Day. There are others, I'm sure, just do a search . . .
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Old 01-23-12, 12:19 PM
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Originally Posted by scrapser View Post
I'm planning a trip from DC to Seattle beginning in mid-May (May 19). I live in Silver Spring, MD which is on the northern tip of DC. I plan on riding northwest to Ohio to pick up the Northern Tier route using Adventure Cycling maps.
Definitely check our Monroeville, IN mentioned above. There is a community building where you can stay for free. And Staggers bar, which I understand is still there, was a great place to meet the locals. I'd include a photo from my afternoon there but I am sure it would violate forum rules.

Going to the Sun is a fabulous ride. It will almost certainly be open by the time you get there, assuming you are not burning rubber, although last year opening was delayed until mid-July due to heavy, heavy snowpack.
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Old 01-23-12, 12:25 PM
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Jamawani, I like the gist of your route proposal; it's similar to what ive been looking at (at least the eastern portion). I have heard that the C&O can get muddy (?). Also, I couldnt find Cape Lookout; do you mean Cape Henlopen?
For the western portion Ive been wondering about riding through Iowa to Sioux Falls, and then across South Dakota - may be through the Badlands. Any thoughts?
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Old 01-23-12, 12:29 PM
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Thanks QueueCT, The Dewey Beach shuttle looks good. I have have to adjust my itinerary a bit to bus out on the weekend.
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Old 01-23-12, 12:30 PM
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And yes, Ive heard good things about Monroeville. Especially nice as, the way Im planning my route, I may not be on an Adv Cycling route much.
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Old 01-23-12, 12:43 PM
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and Scrapser, We may pass along the way. You may be going north of me. Are you planning on riding east from DC, and then west?
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Old 01-23-12, 03:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Tende View Post
and Scrapser, We may pass along the way. You may be going north of me. Are you planning on riding east from DC, and then west?
I'm planning on leaving DC and heading northwest immediately although I will not use the C&O Canal (too much mud). I believe it will take me through the southwest corner of PA then into Ohio where I will eventually pick up the Northern Tier route. I don't have the exact route laid out yet in terms of roads. Some have suggested once I get into Illinois to continue westward towards Wyoming but that will take me off the known bike routes. I could drop down into Kansas and pick up the TA trail but I think that will add a lot more miles than if I stay on the Northern Tier and cut across Minnesota, N. Dakota, Montana, etc. I think the climate will be cooler up there as well which is good for riding. I used to live in Montana and have crossed the northern US by car a half dozen times although it's been over 30 years since I was out there last.

I'm leaving May 19 and will have till August 1 to get back home and work (70 days). I have a sister in Seattle which is my destination. I'll dismantle the bike right down to the frame, pack everything up small and ship it UPS while I fly back to DC. Two months out...5 hours back...unreal.
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Old 01-23-12, 05:59 PM
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You might think about Boston and Highway 20 across to Newport, OR. It is the only contiguous road in the US that goes coast to coast. It is a great route, and we only saw 6 other touring cyclists the entire time. If you don't want to go all the way to the coast, you an catch an Amtrak train in Albany, OR (right on the route) that will take you to PDX or Seattle.

Good luck, regardless of the route.
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Old 01-23-12, 09:36 PM
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Sorry -
I should have said "Point Lookout" - 50 miles SE of DC.
It's the southern tip of Maryland on the Chesapeake.

If you want to start on the actual Atlantic, Cape Henlopen is a good choice.
Easiest to get to from Philly airport and Jersey Transit bus, then ferry.
It is tough getting across the Chesapeake bridge.
Maryland DOT could give a sh1t about cyclists.
Or you can take passenger ferries from Crisfield to Smith Island to Point Lookout.

South Dakota is a good choice. Hwy 12 in far northern Nebraska is really nice.
Then Hwy 44 in SD. If you are willing to do hardpack - I'd take the full loop in Badlands.
Remember that SD is really hot in mid summer - esp. the Badlands. Ride at dawn.
Plus the Black Hills are an extra treat in the Great Plains - cool oasis.
In my humble opinion - skip Mt. Rushmore, though.

J
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Old 01-24-12, 11:21 AM
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Wow, excellent advice, all.
I may skip the C&O - unless there's no rain forecast. I remember carrying my loaded touring bike some miles down a muddy road in the middle of Kansas some years ago - it was raining hard (and blowing wind), the road was torn up for rebuilding, and the mud was caked up around my frame. The joys of touring "off route".
I'm liking the idea of the Lincoln Hwy across Ohio.
The Hwy 20 idea sounds interesting - I'll investigate.
And it looks like I have several coastal start options, thanks Jamawani.
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Old 01-24-12, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by jamawani View Post
Sorry -
I should have said "Point Lookout" - 50 miles SE of DC.
It's the southern tip of Maryland on the Chesapeake.

If you want to start on the actual Atlantic, Cape Henlopen is a good choice.
Easiest to get to from Philly airport and Jersey Transit bus, then ferry.
It is tough getting across the Chesapeake bridge.
Maryland DOT could give a sh1t about cyclists.
Or you can take passenger ferries from Crisfield to Smith Island to Point Lookout.

South Dakota is a good choice. Hwy 12 in far northern Nebraska is really nice.
Then Hwy 44 in SD. If you are willing to do hardpack - I'd take the full loop in Badlands.
Remember that SD is really hot in mid summer - esp. the Badlands. Ride at dawn.
Plus the Black Hills are an extra treat in the Great Plains - cool oasis.
In my humble opinion - skip Mt. Rushmore, though.

J
Don't forget Wall Drug, South Dakota (free ice water since the great depression)! It's about 20 miles east of Mt. Rushmore and of international fame. A great place to see stuffed Jackalopes.
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Old 01-25-12, 06:52 AM
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Heed the warnings of the wise on the Columbia River. I chose to ignore and rode it anyway. The wind is bad enough on it's own but the situation is made worse by the large volume of truck traffic and the need to use interstate part of the way.
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Old 01-25-12, 08:17 PM
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Thanks for the warnings. I've driven that road and can't imagine riding it. That, to me, is the biggest challenge about riding in the west - limited routes - which are therefore busy with vehicular traffic.
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Old 01-25-12, 08:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Tende View Post
Wow, excellent advice, all.
I may skip the C&O - unless there's no rain forecast. I remember carrying my loaded touring bike some miles down a muddy road in the middle of Kansas some years ago - it was raining hard (and blowing wind), the road was torn up for rebuilding, and the mud was caked up around my frame. The joys of touring "off route".
I'm liking the idea of the Lincoln Hwy across Ohio.
The Hwy 20 idea sounds interesting - I'll investigate.
And it looks like I have several coastal start options, thanks Jamawani.
While messy both the GAP and the C&O (being the messier of the two) are very passable in the rain. Ask me how I know.

The trail is well worth a look. You will be hard pressed to find such a long trail anywhere on your cross country ride.

I am at the Pittsburgh end of the Trail. Just drop me a PM if you need help through the area or a place to crash.
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Old 01-25-12, 09:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Tende View Post
Wow, excellent advice, all.
I may skip the C&O - unless there's no rain forecast. I remember carrying my loaded touring bike some miles down a muddy road in the middle of Kansas some years ago - it was raining hard (and blowing wind), the road was torn up for rebuilding, and the mud was caked up around my frame. The joys of touring "off route".
I'm liking the idea of the Lincoln Hwy across Ohio.
The Hwy 20 idea sounds interesting - I'll investigate.
And it looks like I have several coastal start options, thanks Jamawani.
I would not recommend riding on Hwy 20 west of Philomath, OR. Heck, the cars drive off that roadway on a fairly regular basis. It has lots of blind curves, speeding motorists, trucks and a less than generous shoulder. There are better ways to the coast. I'm not even sure I would ride the stretch of Hwy 20 from Sisters unless I could carefully choose my day of week and time of day
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Old 01-26-12, 09:33 AM
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Originally Posted by B. Carfree View Post
I'm not even sure I would ride the stretch of Hwy 20 from Sisters unless I could carefully choose my day of week and time of day
+1. 07' Cycle Oregon started in Sisters. The bus from Portland took U.S. 20. It was Saturday late morning. I remember thinking that it would not be fun on a bike.
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Old 01-26-12, 11:04 AM
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+1 for starting at the Atlantic ocean and riding west. A ride starting more than 100 miles inland isn't coast to coast in my book.

You could start anywhere from Cape Henelopen DE to Assateague Island MD and ride across the flat Delmarva. Nice ride if you stay off the main drag. As posted, shuttle across the bay and then on into DC.

Total ride time from anywhere along the coast within the target zone is two days max.

You could even start in Cape May NJ ride the ferry across the Delaware Bay and it's still only a two day ride. Doing this adds another state to your conquest list. And, traveling from the west coast, bike in hand, it will be easier and faster to get to Cape May than any of the Eastern Shore's beach towns.

Fly into Philly or AC. If you fly into Philly there is a train to AC. From AC there is bus service to Cape May, or you could just ride it from either Philly or AC. From Philly it's about 80 miles to Cape May. From AC, it's 35 miles give or take.

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Old 01-26-12, 12:20 PM
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I would ride west to east, so you're not battling prevailing winds the whole way.
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Old 01-26-12, 03:05 PM
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This is just a small piece of info. If you fly into Washington Reagan Airport, you can assemble your bike and ride from the airport on the bike path. Reagan is one of the easiest airports in the country to bicycle in and out of because of the bike path. You take the path to all the way to the beginning of the C&O trail, if you plan to go that way.
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