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riding across the middle of the Rural US and not trying the local biscuits and gravy, or riding through Maine without eating lobster would be a huge shame IMO.
+1. I had my first taste of chicken fried steak with biscuits and gravy half way through a century day from WA to ID. Near the end of the trip, we splurged for lobster in Camden, ME. A few years ago I could not spend a night in Butte without trying Pork Chop John's double poork chop sandwich, which made an infamous cameo appearence in the film "Ride the Divide." A huckleberry milk shake in western MT is a must in my book. I know money can be tight, but it is nice to sample some of the local fare.
Going to the Sun Road is one of the finest rides in the world.
Yes, it involves climbing, but the road was engineered with a constant 8% grade on purpose.
Way easier than the climb to Rainy Pass.
And yes, there are time limitations for cyclists - along Lake MacDonald and on the ascent.
It's 21 miles from the lodge to the pass - 10 miles gentle and 11 climbing.
You could make it in 3 hours at a steady pace, 3 1/2 hours banana breaks, 4 hours easy.
Not to mention that the uphill climb has jaw-dropping, right-on-the-edge views.
It does mean leaving early - or you can hike up to Avalanche Lake - and ride up after 4.
It doesn't get dark until 10 in late June.
Or you can have the shuttle drive take you panniers up to Logan Pass
or even across if you lodge on the east side, as well.
Then you can zoom up with less weight.
(The driver can leave your bags in bear boxes on top if you are comfortable with that.)
You'll be missing the numero uno section if you skip Going to the Sun.
I plan on spending a week in Colorado at my pals apartment. Then taking off to San Francisco from there. I'm not entirely sure what I'm up against during November and where exactly I'll be while enroute. I'm still working on that and have been reviewing the map a lot.
If Amtrak has a freight service then that is news to me.
In your opinion, what kind of daily mileage can be expected when crossing through Washington and those first set of mountains?? I'm really intimidated by the idea of tackling huge hill climbs right from the beginning.
I'll defer to the other posters who've done it west-east (we rode west) on the approach to the first passes. From there on, figure a pass a day until you get to the Columbia River.
I found out west that I usually ended up riding from one town to the next. It could be done differently, especially if you're willing to load up on food and water -- again, YMMV.