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Suggestions for US tour, no mountains?

Old 05-25-13, 03:28 AM
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Suggestions for US tour, no mountains?

So, I did NYC -> Montreal two years ago, and loved it save for all the climbing. I live in Florida and can't really travel out of state for any sort of consistent climbing work - all the spinning classes, workouts and hill work I did did nothing to prepare me for the Adirondacks.

I'm getting the long bike tour itch again, but want nothing to do with mountains! Unfortunately, googling variations of 'no mountain bike tour' gives me...mountain biking bike tours. Googling 'bike tours' gives me a lot of guided tours and maps, but I've learned from experience that a route might look like it's the perfect distance and bikeability and turn out to be dull, difficult and dangerous, so I thought I'd ask people who've done this before. I know I could do the Midwest, the South, parts of California, and parts of the Southwest, but those are really large areas, so I'm looking for advice from people who may have taken a similar tour.

I'm looking for something in the 500-800 mile range, flat to rolling hills is fine, I could even do a climbing day. It's usually three of us riding unsupported and credit card touring, I don't think I want a tour package. We like the towns and scenery - I loved riding through upstate New York and Vermont on our last trip!

So...what's your favorite non-climbing tour? The one with good roads and nice scenery? Anywhere in the US?
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Old 05-25-13, 04:45 AM
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On long tours it can be managed by picking a route that is flatter in the beginning, or just taking it easier for the first 10 days to two weeks. You mentioned "long" bike tour and then 500-800 miles so you may not be doing a long enough tour to manage that. If you do a longer tour than 500-800 miles you would have a better chance to start somewhere that you could work into the climbing as you go.

Nice routes for for touring without climbing are hard to come by. In my experience climbing is almost a given where there is nice scenery. That said you could go to somewhere like the eastern shore of Maryland where it is pancake flat. You could try Kansas City to Santa Fe and have rolling hills and one easy-ish mountain pass closer to the end with 14,000' peaks in view. Or you could put up with bigger and more frequent hills but no mountains and ride the Pacific Coast in Oregon. If you are OK with flat boring riding with really nice people in small towns Kansas (or Nebraska) comes to mind. The Gulf coast on the AC Southern Tier Route is flat and reasonably pretty.

The fact that you are credit card touring should help. It should be easy to keep the load to 10 pounds or less and that should allow for more climbing. Also taking it easy should allow a bit more hills to be done and even walking some bigger hills isn't the end of the world.
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Old 05-25-13, 07:03 AM
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Does it have to be in the US, I could offer you a few suggestions in Canada.
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Old 05-25-13, 08:42 AM
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I have always wanted to ride along the Gulf Coast from the Galveston, TX area to New Orleans, LA. For more miles you could start in Corpus Christi.
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Old 05-25-13, 09:03 AM
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A loop around Louisiana could be interesting.
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Old 05-25-13, 10:44 AM
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I enjoyed a couple trips to the Netherlands, you can ride easily away from the AMS airport
on the same paths the locals use to commute to their jobs there.



San Francisco's Fisherman's wharf ferry to Vallejo, then north up the Napa River
to the wine country, then back down again and across the north bay
to pick up the Marin bay Shore Bike paths leading to a Golden Gate Bridge crossing ,
is a loop I've done a few times..

Conn - Berryessa-Pope valley Road to Middle town in Lake county another route , a bit of climbing but done over the many miles ,
puts you Up on the north side of Mt St Helena, and its a quick downhill back to Calistoga
north end of the Napa River Valley.

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Old 05-25-13, 12:29 PM
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The Great Allegheny Passage / C&O Trail is well over 300 miles and is not more than 3% at any point.

There is also the Katy trail in Missouri. A bit shorter but just as flat if not more flat but you could have an issue with wind.

A little more hilly is the Selkirk Loop north of Spokane. There depending on how you go, are maybe 2 hills on the route that are steep. One is east of New Denver BC but the really steep part can't be more than a mile. Hills are typical western US hills. Long but not very steep. The hill from Kaslo to New Denver for example is 28 miles of climbing but you almost don't notice it till you get ner the fore mentioned New Denver.
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Old 05-25-13, 04:15 PM
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Jacksonville to Virginia Beach along the coast and outer banks looks like it would be nice.
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Old 05-26-13, 12:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Machka
Does it have to be in the US, I could offer you a few suggestions in Canada.
Canada is fine! Just trying to keep airfare + bike transport lowish.
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Old 05-26-13, 12:34 PM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1
On long tours it can be managed by picking a route that is flatter in the beginning, or just taking it easier for the first 10 days to two weeks. You mentioned "long" bike tour and then 500-800 miles so you may not be doing a long enough tour to manage that. If you do a longer tour than 500-800 miles you would have a better chance to start somewhere that you could work into the climbing as you go.

Nice routes for for touring without climbing are hard to come by. In my experience climbing is almost a given where there is nice scenery. That said you could go to somewhere like the eastern shore of Maryland where it is pancake flat. You could try Kansas City to Santa Fe and have rolling hills and one easy-ish mountain pass closer to the end with 14,000' peaks in view. Or you could put up with bigger and more frequent hills but no mountains and ride the Pacific Coast in Oregon. If you are OK with flat boring riding with really nice people in small towns Kansas (or Nebraska) comes to mind. The Gulf coast on the AC Southern Tier Route is flat and reasonably pretty.

The fact that you are credit card touring should help. It should be easy to keep the load to 10 pounds or less and that should allow for more climbing. Also taking it easy should allow a bit more hills to be done and even walking some bigger hills isn't the end of the world.
The issue I had with the last trip was a) I only had a week and b) we started with some pretty significant climbs, for us, right off the bat. Day one, hour 2 - Giant Mountain. Climbing all day. Then day 3 we ended up in the Adirondacks the last half of the day, which just killed me. There was not one mostly flat day until we ended up in Quebec, and that was all bumpy chipseal! I have no way to train that sort of climbing, so a climbing-heavy tour just isn't fun. I've been checking out some midwest/SW routes, actually.
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Old 05-26-13, 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by bikebuddha
Jacksonville to Virginia Beach along the coast and outer banks looks like it would be nice.
I've ridden in that area, I'm mostly afraid about cycling-friendly roads there. But I'll be in NC in a few weeks, so I'll take a look around then! My mother lives in Jacksinville, NC.
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Old 05-26-13, 01:27 PM
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Canada? eastern Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba and Ontario , were all leveled off
pretty well by various Ice Ages..

you also could fly to Minneapolis-St Paul MN, and follow the Mississippi River, down-stream, to NOLA.
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Old 05-26-13, 01:56 PM
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Natchez Trace?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natchez_Trace
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Old 05-26-13, 05:18 PM
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Ft. Lauderdale to some place north, along ACA routes. The florida part is fun, outer banks are great, and if you stop soon after NC you encounter *no* hills, and quite a bit of tailwinds going north.
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Old 05-26-13, 05:50 PM
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Circling Lake Ontario is pretty flat with the exception of the Niagara River. Be sure to check bike policys for domestic and international flights to determine where to start.
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Old 05-26-13, 05:59 PM
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Originally Posted by spinnaker
The Great Allegheny Passage / C&O Trail is well over 300 miles and is not more than 3% at any point.

There is also the Katy trail in Missouri. A bit shorter but just as flat if not more flat but you could have an issue with wind.

A little more hilly is the Selkirk Loop north of Spokane. There depending on how you go, are maybe 2 hills on the route that are steep. One is east of New Denver BC but the really steep part can't be more than a mile. Hills are typical western US hills. Long but not very steep. The hill from Kaslo to New Denver for example is 28 miles of climbing but you almost don't notice it till you get ner the fore mentioned New Denver.
True. I rode a part of it today, from Connellsvile to Ohio Pyle and back, and as I was riding I realized that the very first time I rode it, I rode the entire trail and then the C&O to Washington DC from Pittsburgh. It was a great ride, and I did it during Hurricane Irene. It is a nice ride and there are things to bee seen along the way if you get off the trail and make some side trips. I stopped at the Antietam battlefield one day. It is a nice trip.
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Old 05-26-13, 06:36 PM
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The Erie Canal is flat, it goes about 400 miles from Buffalo to Albany, mostly on a trail. You could go out and back to get 800 miles if you wanted. It sounds like you don't want a tour, but if you check out theCycling the Erie Canal Bike Tour website (https://www.ptny.org/canaltour/index.shtml) you can find some good information.
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Old 05-26-13, 09:34 PM
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Originally Posted by mm718
Nope.

The best bet for no hill (or only little hills) is a railtrail tour. The C&O would fit the bill as would the Katy Trail in Missouri. There are several trails in Wisconsin and Nebraska that can work as well. You could link several rails to trails rides to make a longer tour but you might have to climb to get the links to work.
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Old 05-26-13, 11:40 PM
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Th
e best bet for no hill (or only little hills) is a railtrail tour. The C&O would fit the bill as would the Katy Trail in Missouri. There are several trails in Wisconsin and Nebraska that can work as well. You could link several rails to trails rides to make a longer tour but you might have to climb to get the links to work.
+1 Good advice.

Michigan has over 1400 miles of rails-to-trails. While we used a lot of trails on a 900+ mile ride around Michigan, we still gained a total of 30,000 feet for the trip.

FWIW--The U.S. Rockies are a piece of cake compared to the Adirondacks. I think you picked some of the toughest climbs for your 1st tour!
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Old 05-27-13, 06:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Chimera21
Canada is fine! Just trying to keep airfare + bike transport lowish.
Well ...

Rowan and I did a tour in August 2011, which took us from the ferry across from Vancouver to Vancouver Island, and up to Nanaimo. We did it as a credit card tour and travelled fairly light. That's a little over 100 km if you go directly, but I'd recommend going from Saanich across on the little ferry to Mill Bay ... and then following the coast as much as possible. I'm not fond of hills either, but that route wasn't bad.

You could extend that tour by going a bit further north.

You could also include some mainland cycling as well. I know BC is generally considered to be quite mountainous, but the lower mainland can be very flat. You could do a loop or out and back to Hope. I'd recommend staying on the smaller roads south of the TransCanada as long as you can. You'll have to join the TransCanada a little way out of Chilliwack on the way to Hope, but it's not bad ... good, wide shoulders. Coming back from Hope, stay on the north side of the TransCanada, and stop in at Harrison Hotsprings. I would recommend staying north of the TransCanada to Mission, then cross over to the southern roads again. I'd also recommend doing the Hope to Harrison to Mission part of the route in the middle of the week, and preferably on the shoulder season (i.e. now or after mid-August). That road from Harrison to Mission can be a bit busy.

So, if you did a loop from Vancouver Airport across to Vancouver Island, visit Victoria, cycle up to Nanaimo, take the ferry back to Vancouver, then do a loop out to Hope and back, that would be approx. 500 km depending on how much extra exploration you do.

You could do the same sort of route, with a slightly different starting point, if you flew into Abbotsford Airport with WestJet.

And the scenery all along the way would be gorgeous!! Bring your camera!!


Vancouver Island Photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/machka-...421118/detail/

And some from the Lower Mainland BC area (and a few in the Canadian Rockies ... the Hwy 11 photos) ... keep flipping through the pages: https://www.flickr.com/photos/machka-...550755/detail/

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Old 05-27-13, 06:19 AM
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So that's BC above ... now for Alberta ...

Most people ride the Icefield Parkway, and I suspect you could probably handle it. There are lots of climbs but they aren't as steep as they are in the Eastern US.


However, I'll suggest a route that not too many cyclists do. I've ridden parts of this route many times on events, or solo centuries, or shorter ride. And it's nice, in a different way from the lower mainland BC and Vancouver Island.

The Cowboy Trail: https://www.thecowboytrail.com/

The Cowboy Trail runs in the foothills, within sight of the Rocky Mountains and extends 700 km from west of Edmonton to southwest of Calgary. It's fairly remote in places with small towns along the way, but the road is good, and it's quiet. It does contain rolling hills, but nothing like what you would have experienced in the Eastern US.
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Old 05-27-13, 06:25 AM
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Well 1 idea for a tour I have wanted to do for a while now is a "Dust Bowl" tour, through parts of north Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, riding through all the town and former towns that suffered through the Dust Bowl years of the late 20's and 30's. From what I know of these parts of the U.S. they are fairly flat.
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Old 05-27-13, 07:49 AM
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Chimera21, Running the Gulf Coast from Texas to Florida will almost guarantee no climbing, except for crossing the Mississippi River. Many interesting sights and a couple of neat bridges.

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Old 05-27-13, 08:07 AM
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Another option for Alberta would be a variation on the Cowboy Trail mentioned above, and the obvious ... the Icefield Parkway. This route would include some climbing, and I can think of one long climb, in particular, on the Icefield Parkway, but nothing with the steepness and intensity of Eastern US.

You'd fly into Calgary, make your way out to Cochrane, then cycle north on Hwy 22 (Cowboy Trail) to Rocky Mountain House on Hwy 11. Hang a left and cycle Hwy 11 out to Saskatchewan River Crossing on the Icefield Parkway through some spectacular scenery and on a beautiful road.

Hang a left at Saskatchewan River Crossing and cycle to Banff, and then left again back to Calgary.

That's about 650 km.

You'd want to go either now or between mid-August and mid-September to be able to get accommodation and to be there when there is less traffic.


Rowan's and my first tour together was most of that. And at one time or another, I've cycled all of it.
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