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When to go?

Old 06-21-12, 05:54 PM
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When to go?

I am riding from Mt Vernon Illinois to Seattle next spring/summer. How early is it thawed enough to get through the mountains? Is there a advantage going west to east?
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Old 06-21-12, 08:16 PM
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Directionally, it's a toss up.

For me, west to east has been best. Yeah, you do got the sun in your eyes in the morning, but I am a strong believer, from experience, that winds out of the west tend to be stronger than winds out of the east. And more prevalent.

East to west saves the best for last in the opinion of most, and no morning sun in your eyes. And by the time you hit the long climbs, you'll be fully conditioned.

If you leave Illinois in early May, you'll be ok in the mountains. Hang onto you cold weather gear tho.
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Old 06-22-12, 06:25 AM
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Depends on the route & how much snow we get next winter. If you are going through GLacer National Park, Going to the Sun road is closed seasonally, and if it's a big snow year it could still be closed in June. Yellowstone has road closures as well, not sure if they would affect your route, but I wouldn't want to be there before mid-June either. Some of the passes out west close for winter as well, but I don't know the timing on those. If you are trying to go really early, you'll need to investigate campground opening dates too, if that's relevant.
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Old 06-22-12, 08:06 AM
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Have done Seattle to Anacortes then east on ACA's Northern Tier route through the northern WA mountains. The first lynchpin is the North Cascades Highway between Nehalem and Mazama. When it opens depends on how much winter snow they have gotten and any resultant road damage from event like avalanches. This site will show you historic opening dates:

https://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Traffic/Pass...urehistory.htm

Personally, I liked crossing at the end of May. There was almost no traffic and the campground were mostly empty. Once school gets out, the tourist traffic picks up. Plus, the scenery was very dramatic, with snow covering the mountains and plowed up on the sides of the road.




Got rained then snowed on the first time. Second time was pleasant. Also, east of Washington pass it can be very hot during the height of summer. We baked between Winthrop and Tonasket, and that was early June. A few years ago I met a couple of people who went east to west over the Cascades in July. They said they roasted on the climb. In early june, Loup Loup and Waucunda Passes should not be a problem. There were some light flurries when I crossed Sherman Pass, but nothing to worry about.

As mentioned, the next issue is Logan Pass on Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park, which is a must-ride in my opinion. Opening dates vary. I checked the park's site last weekend and it was not open. Checked again a few days ago and it now is. IIRC, last year it did not open until mid-July. My first time up (in '99) it opened on June 16th. When I arrived at the park the following year on June 16th it had already been open for some time. Was there again in '09. The road did not fully open until around June 25th. To be safe, I would not count on it being open until at least the middle of June unless snowpack is lighter than normal. If you get there and it's closed but is expected to open in a few days, I would wait. It's that cool of a ride.

As for wind, while it can vary, I would hate to ever have to ride into some of the tailwinds we had crossing wide open Montana heading east from Cut Bank.

Another consideration is where you live. I loved riding home from Seattle to my front door in Philly. No need to bother with getting the bike and yourself back home. If you are worried about conditioning, if you start in Seattle you can take a couple of days to get onto the Northern Tier route. Then you have another 2 or so days before the climb over the Cascades.
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Old 06-25-12, 06:51 AM
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Thanks. Another advantage of east to west is safety. The early morning drivers can see you better going west without the sun in there eyes. I should be done riding before the sun gets low enough in the west to cause low visability for the westbound drivers. I heard that many more bike/car accidents happen eastbound.
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Old 06-25-12, 07:11 AM
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Thanks. Looks like I won't know until spring when I'll be able to get through.
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Old 06-25-12, 07:21 AM
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Originally Posted by toolguy
Thanks. Another advantage of east to west is safety. The early morning drivers can see you better going west without the sun in there eyes. I should be done riding before the sun gets low enough in the west to cause low visability for the westbound drivers. I heard that many more bike/car accidents happen eastbound.
If you take a more northerly route, you will probably be riding after the sun has risen far enough above the horizon to cause much trouble unless you start out very early. (It might surprise you how early it gets light and how late it stays light on the northern tier. A few years ago in Glacier National Park a few days after the solstice we could still see light fron the sun behind the mountains and 11 p.m. The next morning we started up GTS at 6 a.m. and had plenty of light even though the road was completely in the trees and the sky was covered with dark clouds. Also, west of the rockies the mountains and hills usually make glare not an issue. It wasn't that much of a problem crossing rhe plains of MT and ND because the sun would rise far enough in the northeast that we were rarely, if ever, riding straight into the sun.
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Old 06-25-12, 07:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Cyclebum
Directionally, it's a toss up.

For me, west to east has been best. Yeah, you do got the sun in your eyes in the morning, but I am a strong believer, from experience, that winds out of the west tend to be stronger than winds out of the east. And more prevalent.

East to west saves the best for last in the opinion of most, and no morning sun in your eyes. And by the time you hit the long climbs, you'll be fully conditioned.

If you leave Illinois in early May, you'll be ok in the mountains. Hang onto you cold weather gear tho.
Thanks. How cold does it get in the mountains in June?
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Old 06-25-12, 07:34 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz
Have done Seattle to Anacortes then east on ACA's Northern Tier route through the northern WA mountains. The first lynchpin is the North Cascades Highway between Nehalem and Mazama. When it opens depends on how much winter snow they have gotten and any resultant road damage from event like avalanches. This site will show you historic opening dates:

https://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Traffic/Pass...urehistory.htm

Personally, I liked crossing at the end of May. There was almost no traffic and the campground were mostly empty. Once school gets out, the tourist traffic picks up. Plus, the scenery was very dramatic, with snow covering the mountains and plowed up on the sides of the road.




Got rained then snowed on the first time. Second time was pleasant. Also, east of Washington pass it can be very hot during the height of summer. We baked between Winthrop and Tonasket, and that was early June. A few years ago I met a couple of people who went east to west over the Cascades in July. They said they roasted on the climb. In early june, Loup Loup and Waucunda Passes should not be a problem. There were some light flurries when I crossed Sherman Pass, but nothing to worry about.

As mentioned, the next issue is Logan Pass on Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park, which is a must-ride in my opinion. Opening dates vary. I checked the park's site last weekend and it was not open. Checked again a few days ago and it now is. IIRC, last year it did not open until mid-July. My first time up (in '99) it opened on June 16th. When I arrived at the park the following year on June 16th it had already been open for some time. Was there again in '09. The road did not fully open until around June 25th. To be safe, I would not count on it being open until at least the middle of June unless snowpack is lighter than normal. If you get there and it's closed but is expected to open in a few days, I would wait. It's that cool of a ride.

As for wind, while it can vary, I would hate to ever have to ride into some of the tailwinds we had crossing wide open Montana heading east from Cut Bank.

Another consideration is where you live. I loved riding home from Seattle to my front door in Philly. No need to bother with getting the bike and yourself back home. If you are worried about conditioning, if you start in Seattle you can take a couple of days to get onto the Northern Tier route. Then you have another 2 or so days before the climb over the Cascades.
Thanks? I have a lot to figure out.
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Old 06-25-12, 07:39 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz
If you take a more northerly route, you will probably be riding after the sun has risen far enough above the horizon to cause much trouble unless you start out very early. (It might surprise you how early it gets light and how late it stays light on the northern tier. A few years ago in Glacier National Park a few days after the solstice we could still see light fron the sun behind the mountains and 11 p.m. The next morning we started up GTS at 6 a.m. and had plenty of light even though the road was completely in the trees and the sky was covered with dark clouds. Also, west of the rockies the mountains and hills usually make glare not an issue. It wasn't that much of a problem crossing rhe plains of MT and ND because the sun would rise far enough in the northeast that we were rarely, if ever, riding straight into the sun.
Thanks. That's very helpful. I would prefer to ride more with the wind and end up a home at the end.
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