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First post, just wanted to say hi and tell you a little about my upcoming tour

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First post, just wanted to say hi and tell you a little about my upcoming tour

Old 06-08-12, 10:48 AM
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SoundsGood
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First post, just wanted to say hi and tell you a little about my upcoming tour

Hello BF Touring!

I just signed up to this forum to help me prepare for my first big solo tour I am currently planning. I am hoping to get some advice on my routes, places to visit along the journey, and the best time of the year to be on the road. I have already read a bunch of sticky threads and found so much good info, I lust for more. I love forums for this reason, and can't wait to hear back from ya'll.

Here's a little bit about myself. I live in Austin, Tx. I've been riding for a long time, but never done a tour before. I was a pedicabber here for a few years back in the early 2000's. I've ridden all types of bikes, but these days I mostly commute on my CrossCheck with a rear rack and panniers. I have done a bunch of S24O with a group of friends, usually around 60 miles each way to a campsite. I'm not concerned with riding long distances, a big tour is something that I have been wanting to do for a long time. I love to camp, and have spent many hours in the outdoors.

Here is my current tour plans. I plan on riding from the PNW to Denver, CO. I am not sure yet what direction I will ride, if it will be a one way ride or a big loop starting and ending in Denver. I do not know when the best time to ride through this area is, so I have not yet set a date for my tour. I am still planning the route, but here is what I have so far.

The Pacific Coast route from BC south to Eureka, CA. Then cut over into the Sierra Nevadas and down to Lake Tahoe. From there my route goes East along the Western Express route, with a few trips off the path into the nearby parks. Once entering SW Colorado I will head towards Denver.

I just found out about the Colorado Trail, and it sounds like a great way to get off the roads and enjoy some great divide scenery through Colorado. I do not know if this trail is typically ridden one-way. So I don't know if I should start in Denver and head southwest on the Colorado Trail, then continuing my route across Utah and Nevada and then along the Pacific Coast backwards(north) to the PNW. If I do the route this way, then I might try and plan a continuing route from the PNW back to Denver, perhaps along the Great Divide ACA route. My other option would be to start in Denver and head north along the Great Divide route towards the PNW, then south on the Pacific Coast and East back to Denver along the Western Express and ending on the Colorado Trail back into Denver. A third option would be to take a train from Denver to Seattle and ride down the coast and back to Denver.

I would like information for others who have done these routes before. My concerns are what direction to ride, when to ride, stay on paved roads or plan for some off-road trail rides. If trails are in my route, then I need to build a bike that is off road capable(considering a Surly Troll). If my route is on paved roads the whole time, I might try and use my CrossCheck.

Thanks for taking the time to read this first post. Help me out, let me know how I should seek info on my tour from this forum. I have my rough draft route on Google Maps, should I post a link to it so others can look at it and give me advice?

-SoundsGood
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Old 06-08-12, 06:07 PM
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https://goo.gl/maps/91dB
Here is my current planned route. I'm not concerned with the Pacific Coast section, but could use any advice on the Nevada Utah Colorado sections. Thanks!
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Old 06-08-12, 06:22 PM
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Doug64
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FWIW--I would recommend riding any part of the Pacific Coast Route going from North to South.
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Old 06-08-12, 09:03 PM
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I've done the Mt Shasta to Tahoe segment several times, and can make some suggestions as to where to camp and such, depending on how far you want to ride each day. I'd also suggest getting off Hwy 89 just east of McCloud and taking the parallel road along the McCloud river as far as as Cattle Camp, as it's much more scenic with less traffic. And look for State parks along this segment, most have hike 'n' bike sites.
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Old 06-08-12, 09:26 PM
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that should be quite and adventure!

all i can say if you plan the pass through the Sierras or the Rocky's in the fall, winter or spring, pack warmly, but as long as it's summer, you should be good.

and that route through Colorado should be quite challenging. vertically speaking. there are easier ways (through Durango, Pagosa Springs, Del Norte, Salida, Canon City, Colorado Springs), but not as dramatic.

looking forward to an update.
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Old 06-08-12, 11:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
FWIW--I would recommend riding any part of the Pacific Coast Route going from North to South.
Thank you Doug64. I am aware this is the recommended direction. Can you tell me why that is and what is the best time to travel South on this route?

Originally Posted by stevepusser View Post
I've done the Mt Shasta to Tahoe segment several times, and can make some suggestions as to where to camp and such, depending on how far you want to ride each day. I'd also suggest getting off Hwy 89 just east of McCloud and taking the parallel road along the McCloud river as far as as Cattle Camp, as it's much more scenic with less traffic. And look for State parks along this segment, most have hike 'n' bike sites.
Thank you stevepusser. I wil take any suggestions you can offer. I don't know how far I will be riding each day just yet, I am unsure as to how rolling the terrain is through that section. I think I should be able to do an average distance no problem. In fact if you tell me where the campsites are, I can use your suggestions as my planned daily rides.

I looked closely at my map for this parallel road East of McCloud but am having a hard time finding it. Is it North or South of 89? I also can not find Cattle Camp on Google Maps. Can you point me in the right direction?

Any advice on dealing with bears in this area besides not bringing food into the camp area and hanging food?

Originally Posted by hueyhoolihan View Post
that should be quite and adventure!

all i can say if you plan the pass through the Sierras or the Rocky's in the fall, winter or spring, pack warmly, but as long as it's summer, you should be good.

and that route through Colorado should be quite challenging. vertically speaking. there are easier ways (through Durango, Pagosa Springs, Del Norte, Salida, Canon City, Colorado Springs), but not as dramatic.

looking forward to an update.
Thanks hueyh. I am still researching when the best time is to do this route or what the average temps are at different times of the year. I was planning on buying a 20*F bag along with an insulated pad. I'm from Austin, Tx so I don't own much cold weather gear. If you know of any good bike tour cold weather gear send me some suggestions please.
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Old 06-09-12, 01:01 AM
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Sounds like a great tour. I'm from the UK, and I've always wanted t see the Sierra Nevadas. The idea of cycling them sounds wonderful. I have nothing to add really other than welcome aboard and I hope it all goes well. I'm sure it will be a blast. Have a paddle in Lake Tahoe for me. All the best. Phil.
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Old 06-09-12, 06:54 AM
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You have picked a fantastic portion of the country to tour in, and your route *in general* sounds great.

It's a difficult route to optimize for weather, however, as PNW, Denver and Sierra you want to be in warm/dry parts of the year and Nevada/Utah you want to be spring/fall.

I would recommend you take the Western Express out of the picture and make your loop (or partial-loop) be further north.

You can piece together a great route with Denver - Great Parks North - Icefields Parkway - across BC - down the pacific Coast (I did this as my first tour, started July 4th in WInter Park CO and had great weather). It would look something like this: https://goo.gl/maps/Gu6r (that's a rough overview, I didn't get all the exact roads in there).

Or if you don't want to go all the way to Jasper, you can hang a left at Missoula and use the Lewis and Clark or TransAm to get to the coast.

This general route is good to start early June-end of August.

If you do use your general route, you've optimized Colorado for flat, busy, dangerous and boring roads. (not a hard route, though). Here's an alternative (one of many) that is nicer. https://goo.gl/maps/JL8i Highway 285 carries too much traffic near Denver, is open and exposed and windy, and has one part (leaving Buena Vista) that is narrow twisty, and has no shoulder and bad visibility. In the route I show, the part near I-70 is actually on frontage roads & bike paths, you don't have to ride the freeway. Pretty much anywhere in central mountain CO is good EXCEPT hwy 285 (and of course, 70 and 25). Hwy 50 is OK but there are nicer options.
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Old 06-09-12, 08:07 AM
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There are two reasons cited for travelling north to south on the Pacific Coast route. One is that the prevailing winds are from north to south. I've done the coast twice and my experience bore this out. The other reason is that you get better views of the ocean from the west side of the road. I suppose this is true at times, but I don't think it's that big of a deal. However, if the road is on the edge of a hill or mountain (as this route often is) the uphill side will be on the east. Often that means rock walls or dirt banks that go right to the roadway, with no shoulder and little bailout room if you need it. There are plenty of spots like this in California - not so many in Oregon, if I recall correctly. I think the winds are the biggest factor for me.

I grew up in the Seattle area and know that it can rain up there anytime - and often for extended periods - a week or two. I'd say it rains a little more on the coast than in the Puget Sound region. The months that are most likely rain free are July and August. September has a good chance of being dry also. But plan for rain. There's a good chance you'll get some. If not, happy days!
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Old 06-09-12, 01:17 PM
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Originally Posted by SoundsGood View Post
Thanks hueyh. I am still researching when the best time is to do this route or what the average temps are at different times of the year. I was planning on buying a 20*F bag along with an insulated pad. I'm from Austin, Tx so I don't own much cold weather gear. If you know of any good bike tour cold weather gear send me some suggestions please.
i like GoreTex. in addition to it's waterproofing qualities, i like how it insulates. i can get a another 20 degrees out of a bivy or an unlined parka shell. mittens shells too. and rain pants.
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Old 06-09-12, 01:52 PM
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I looked closely at my map for this parallel road East of McCloud but am having a hard time finding it. Is it North or South of 89? I also can not find Cattle Camp on Google Maps. Can you point me in the right direction?
It's a right turn a few miles past McCloud, well-signed, to Fowler's Campground, south of 89. The river road runs maybe 6 miles before rejoining 89, but features 3 waterfalls and some nice swimming holes. Cattle Camp was a USFS campground just before the reunion with 89, but it may be closed now.

Burney Falls State Park, right on 89 after it makes its big bend to the south, has a small grocery store and HB sites at 3000'. From there it's basically uphill 40 miles to Manzanita Lake in Lassen Park, (store, showers), but I also like the Summit Lake campgound maybe 16 miles further at 6600'. No store or showers, but the lake is a great swimming hole, and it's closer to the Lassen summit if you plan to lock your bike and hike to the top of the peak the next morning. From the road summit at 8512', it's a great descent to 5000', then a series of interconnected fault valleys lead you to Lake Almanor. There's usually a tailwind along this part, and just a couple gradual climbs. There's USFS campgrounds at the Lake, or if you're cheap like me, cook and clean up at the picnic grounds near the boat ramp, then find a stealth camp north of the ramp somewhere along the paved lake bike trail. (more later, I gotta run. About bears, I've spent maybe 10 weeks on tours in the Sierra bear country, but never encountered a single one. I did follow basic rules about not leaving food about or having open food in the tent, though. Many of the campgrounds have secure metal "bear boxes" for food storage at each site, too.)
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Old 06-12-12, 10:42 AM
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Originally Posted by valygrl View Post
If you do use your general route, you've optimized Colorado for flat, busy, dangerous and boring roads. (not a hard route, though). Here's an alternative (one of many) that is nicer. https://goo.gl/maps/JL8i Highway 285 carries too much traffic near Denver, is open and exposed and windy, and has one part (leaving Buena Vista) that is narrow twisty, and has no shoulder and bad visibility. In the route I show, the part near I-70 is actually on frontage roads & bike paths, you don't have to ride the freeway. Pretty much anywhere in central mountain CO is good EXCEPT hwy 285 (and of course, 70 and 25). Hwy 50 is OK but there are nicer options.
Thanks for the reply valygrl. About my route through Colorado, I think it was based off a few Bikely routes I found and the Bicycle Colorado map I ordered. Your route sounds much better and takes me past all my favorite ski spots, thanks for the map. Is this a basic guideline or is this the exact route you would recommend back into Denver?
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Old 06-12-12, 06:08 PM
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Sure SoundsGood. That's a pretty-much exact route. If you don't mind riding some dirt (rideable on road touring bike) I would modify it from Gunnison go north towards Crested Butte but turn off at Altamont and take Taylor Canyon / Cottonwood Pass to Buena Vista. Nicer than Monarch Pass, a lot less cars, and you avoid the boring 285 section.

I hear there is a better way between Durango and Bayfield than Hwy 160, that would be very worth finding out about, as that section is pretty busy.

I added that loop south of Idaho Springs, which is a big climb & descent up Sqaw/Juniper Pass - because it's cool - but you can certainly take some pretty-nice frontage roads on the north side of I70 to avoid about 4000' of climbing.

There are lots of other ways to get across CO if there are particular places you want to check out. This one is fairly direct and takes you through some nice places where you'll feel like you are in the mountains. If you have extra time, there are more indirect routes with even more mountains
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Old 06-12-12, 08:23 PM
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Hi. I met a girl touring solo in Peru, last January .She new nearly nothing about bike maintenance ,even had her front rack mounted upside down and backwards and her ortliebs were bouncing all over the place even fell off a few times .I met her when she was 6 months into her journey .She told me that when she was ready to camp there was no end to people offering her room and board to ensure her safety ,so different from a solo guys experience .I can dig up her email if you like and give to you .We spent a few days cycling together until I had to swing east for the mountains and she stayed on the coast
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