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Topics - whitebirch

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Routes / Cross-US Trail-Based Route - Feedback Please!
« on: April 16, 2015, 10:18:04 pm »
Hi everyone!

First post in a long time! My wife and I have a daughter who is currently 8.  We're looking into a cross-country tour in 2017, when she'll be 10. We did a 3 1/2 month tour of Maine, Atlantic Canada, and Quebec when she was 5 (using a Weehoo) and it went great. Then a 2-week tour in Quebec last summer where she was on her own bike w/ a Follow Me attachment for hills/heat/moods.  We expect in two years she'll still be small enough to use a 20" bike and Follow Me, although there's a chance she would graduate to 24" tires in which case the Follow Me won't fit and she'd be completely on her own.

Now we're dreaming about the Big One, and I'd love any thoughts on our preliminary route.  Some background and context:

-- We take our time.  In 2012 we averaged 25 miles/day, five days a week.  Although that pace would be painfully slow for most, we found it just about right for a 5-year old.  For the 2017 trip we would aim for 30 miles/day, 5 days a week, or 150 miles per week.  I suspect that across the plains we'll do better than this, but in the mountains maybe slower.  This means that for a 3,500-mile crossing, we would need about 23 weeks.  We plan to have 6 months off, so that works out just about right.  We'll have 26 weeks or so from March 1 to the end of August, which includes getting back home to Maine.
-- We're especially slooooow on hills, and we have a history of knee problems.  So although we'll take a hilly route if it's a standout (such as the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia, one of the highlights of our last trip), all else being equal or nearly so, we'll take a flat road over a hilly road.
-- We like trails, so our daughter can ride without as much supervision or caution.  We did Montreal to Quebec City last summer, almost all on trails, and we had a blast.  I know trails can slow us down, and be dispiriting in the rain, and sometimes you miss cool towns or areas and feel like you're in a green tunnel.  So if we're having those experiences we might switch to nearby roads.  But in general I like the idea of working in as many trails as possible.
-- We are heat-averse.  It's not that we like being cold, but we'd rather be a bit cold than bake in a heat wave.
-- We (I) are history buffs, and we're also birdwatchers and all-around naturalists.
-- If we're way behind, or in a long-term rut, we're keeping the option open of hopping on a bus or train to get across the plains.  Basically if our daughter isn't having fun, no one around her will be having fun.  So we won't punish her and ourselves with a forced march approach.

Ok, given those parameters, here's what I've laid out:

-- Start at Cape Henlopen State Park in Delaware around March 1.  Ideally we'd start April 1, but in order to get back in time for school the following year, March 1 it is.  If it's a late winter and the nights are still cold, we'll keep camping to a minimum and try Warmshowers, friends, hotels.  If the days are still cold, then we'll just delay or hole up somewhere and wait it out.

-- Bike to DC.  Only drawback is that we have to take a bike shuttle over the Bay Bridge to Annapolis, but we really want to start at the ocean, not the Chesapeake Bay.  And we want to get to DC to pick up the...

-- C&O and GAP to Pittsburgh.  You all saw this one coming, right?  347 miles of off-road bliss?  I've read that the C&O can be muddy in the spring.  If so we'll consider a work-around.  Could also be cold in the Appalachians in March, but we'd rather be cold for a couple weeks in March than baking in July in the midwest.

-- Pittsburgh to Ohio Amish country, and then pick up the Ohio to Erie Trail (which I think is also the Underground Railroad Trail) to Cincinnati.  About half of this segment would be on trails.

-- Cincinnati to St. Louis across southern Indiana and Illinois.  Southern Indiana sounds pretty neat, although maybe a bit hilly in parts.  Southern Illinois sounds a bit more mundane, but flatter!  Any route suggestions in either state would be much appreciated!  I've done a fair amount of research (state bike maps, other trip journals, etc) and have some ideas, but welcome any thoughts.

-- 170 miles or so of the Katy Trail to New Franklin, MO.  From there, cut NW across Missouri to get to Iowa border at Blanchard, where we pick up the...

-- Wabash Trace Trail into Council Bluffs, Iowa.  63 more miles of trail!

-- Follow L&C up the Missouri to at least Sioux City.  Then either cut across northeast Nebraska to Valentine, or else stay on L&C into part of South Dakota and then drop down onto Route 12 in northern Nebraska.

-- Route 20 across northern Nebraska.  I keep reading all sorts of great things about cycling through Nebraska, and this route seems especially promising for low traffic.  We might have to go all day to get from town to town, but that's ok.

-- Wyoming.  This one's a bit of a puzzle still.  We'd cut through Lusk, Douglas and Casper to Shoshone.  Then I can't decide whether to (a) cut north through the Wind River Canyon and Thermopolis to hit Cody and enter Yellowstone from the east, or (b) pick up the Trans Am to go through Grand Tetons and enter Yellowstone from the south.  Anyone know about the first route?  I tried some searches but can't seem to find many reports of this route, although I read on a car-based site that it's a neat road and it doesn't look too bad on the Wyoming DOT Bike Map.  In any case, hoping to reach Yellowstone in early July, before it's too hot on the plains and the crowds are too thick at the park.

-- From Yellowstone NP, head out through the north and take 89 and other roads to Bozeman, then Helena, then maybe Missoula and eventually on to Mullan, Idaho, to pick up the...

-- Coeur d'Alenes Trail.  71 miles of trail bliss?  Really excited when I found out that this is more or less on our route.

-- Cross the Palouse in eastern Washington State, then get to Ellensburg, where we'd pick up the Iron Horse / John Wayne Frontier Trail for 100 miles or so.  Then combination of roads and trails to our endpoint in Seattle.  If we have time, we'd make it all the way to the Pacific at Olympia National Park. 

Ok, that's quite a bit to read through.  If you're still with me, I'd love any feedback!  Any parts of this route you've done and loved?  Done and regretted?  Anything obvious I'm missing? 

Thanks so much!

Rob

2
Routes / Quebec City to Portland Maine Route Advice
« on: February 04, 2012, 11:43:17 am »
Hi fellow bike tourers!

My wife and I and our five-year-old daughter are planning a 3 ½ month loop trip starting this May.

Here's our route in a nutshell: From our home in Portland, Maine, across Maine, into New Brunswick, ferry to Digby, through Annapolis Valley, over to Halifax, up far north coast pas Halifax (Route 7), onto CBI heading towards Louisbourg, then North Sydney, then ferry to Port Aux Basques, then up to Gros Morne and Northern Peninsula, ferry to Blanc Sablon, and ferries to Rimouski, then biking into Quebec City, and finally dropping down through Eastern Townships and over the mountains and back to Portland.

Fledgling journal here: http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/biketrip2012, with the route shown on the 'Before the Beginning' page.

Here's a bit more about us and our trip: We're planning to take our time, about 25 miles a day, and will be heavy on the sightseeing and getting to know people side of the spectrum, rather than just grinding out miles. We're open to a spirit of adventure, and willing to go out of the way somewhat if there's a particularly scenic or interesting route. We'll be on standard touring bikes (Surly LHT's), with our daughter in a Weehoo (hybrid b/w a trailer and a tag-a-long/trail-a-bike). Dirt roads are not kind to us, although we can handle a mile or two here or there. And we're very slow (and a tad grouchy!) on hills. And we're high on safety - if a road is unsafe, we'll go somewhat far out of the way if there's an alternative.

So here are my questions, if anyone has time to give this some thought:

(1)  Route 27 or Route 201 - I'm definitely thinking Route 27 is the way to go.  It looks like 201 is the major highway into Quebec, and is much busier than 27.  And I like the idea of following the Chain of Ponds and the Arnold Trail.  Everyone agree?  Or are there dissenters?

(2)  Assuming we take Route 27, what is the best way to get from Quebec City (Levis, really) to the Route 27 crossing.  Do we follow the Route Verte along the Chaudiere River?  If so, where should we drop down to Lac Megantic?  Should we go to Saint-Georges and take 204?  Or bushwhack from Saint-Joseph-de-Beauce or Beauceville?  Other ideas?

(3) Once we're in Maine, assuming we're on Route 27, we'll take that to at least Kingfield.  Ultimately, to get back to Portland, we'll be trying to avoid the Route 95 corridor/Augusta metro area and the Lewiston/Auburn metro area.  That puts us in the Belgrade Lakes area, and then the Wayne/Winthrop/Monmouth/Litchfield area.  So...  the question then is whether to stay on 27 (or 42/145/4 - is that better?) to Farmington, and then connect with Route 41 on down to Winthrop.  Or, in Kingfield, do we cut across on 16 to Anson and Norridgewock, and then drop down on 8 to Belgrade, and then to 135 to Litchfield.  Or do you have an even better suggestion for us? 

Thanks so much for any advice you might have!

Rob, Sarah, and Cedar
Portland, Maine

3
Routes / Nova Scotia Route Advice
« on: February 04, 2012, 11:19:27 am »
Hi fellow bike tourers!

My wife and I and our five-year-old daughter are planning a 3 ½ month loop trip starting this May.

Here's our route in a nutshell: From our home in Portland, Maine, across Maine, into New Brunswick, ferry to Digby, through Annapolis Valley, over to Halifax, up far north coast pas Halifax (Route 7), onto CBI heading towards Louisbourg, then North Sydney, then ferry to Port Aux Basques, then up to Gros Morne and Northern Peninsula, ferry to Blanc Sablon, and ferries to Rimouski, then biking into Quebec City, and finally dropping down through Eastern Townships and over the mountains and back to Portland.

Fledgling journal here: http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/biketrip2012, with the route shown on the 'Before the Beginning' page.

Here's a bit more about us and our trip: We're planning to take our time, about 25 miles a day, and will be heavy on the sightseeing and getting to know people side of the spectrum, rather than just grinding out miles. We're open to a spirit of adventure, and willing to go out of the way somewhat if there's a particularly scenic or interesting route. We'll be on standard touring bikes (Surly LHT's), with our daughter in a Weehoo (hybrid b/w a trailer and a tag-a-long/trail-a-bike). Dirt roads are not kind to us, although we can handle a mile or two here or there. And we're very slow (and a tad grouchy!) on hills. And we're high on safety - if a road is unsafe, we'll go somewhat far out of the way if there's an alternative.

So here are my questions, if anyone has time to give this some thought:

(1) From Digby to Annapolis Royal - Does anyone know if there is any way to hop a boat across the gut to Victoria Beach or Port Wade and cycle on the north shore of Annapolis Basin, via Granville Road, so we go by Port Royal? It also looks like going along the south shore, the only way to go is along Route 1, which doesn't look too appealing. I was thinking we might just ask around at the docks when we arrive on the ferry, and see if anyone would take us across in their lobster boat for a few bucks. But if folks tell me that Route 1 isn't so bad, then maybe we'll just take that.

(2) Grand Pre to Halifax - I'm hoping that 101 bears most of the traffic, and Route 1 isn't too bad in this stretch. Is that fairly accurate? We really want to see Kentville, Wolfeville, and Grand Pre, and don't want to do much backtracking, so we'll take Route 1 if we have to. Also, I've already done the South Shore, so cutting across on 12 and approaching Halifax from Chester isn't all that appealing.

(3) Halifax to Canso Causeway - We are pretty much planning to follow Route 207 and then 7 along the Eastern Shore, and then cutting across from Larry's River to Lundy to Guysborough, and on from there along 344 to the causeway. Is that the obvious way to go, or does anyone have other suggestions?

(4) Canso Causeway to Louisbourg - In part because of the aforementioned issues with hills, and in part because one of us has been there before, we're not planning on cycling the Cabot Trail. I know, I know, this is blasphemy! We'll save it for another time, we promise! So with that admission out of the way, the question is which is the best route from Canso to Louisbourg? Our instinct is to take Route 4 along the east side of Bras d'Or Lake and then getting to Louisbourg by either (1) taking Morley Road from East Bay to Marion Bridge, then Hillside Road to 22, or (2) Route 4 all the way to 22. Or would folks recommend 327 instead of Route 4? Route 4 is much more direct, and it looks scenic on the map, but is 327 some sort of hidden gem?

(5) Louisbourg to North Sydney - The most direct route looks to be 22 to Churchill Drive (in Sydney) to 4 to 305. Winding around through Mira and Glace Bay and New Waterford looks interesting, but quite a bit more distance. Unless folks highly recommend this, we'll probably do the former.

Thanks so much for any advice you might have!

Rob, Sarah, and Cedar
Portland, Maine

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