Author Topic: TransAm: Florence Alternate in Western OR passable in mid-May?  (Read 728 times)

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Offline LongTallEandM

Can anyone fill me in on likely weather conditions in Mid-May on the Florence Alternate portion of the TransAm?  (This is in western Oregon). We don't want to cycle that far south along the coast before heading east if weather/road conditions aren't conducive to cycling.  Thanks...

Offline staehpj1

Re: TransAm: Florence Alternate in Western OR passable in mid-May?
« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2014, 06:35:58 am »
Can anyone fill me in on likely weather conditions in Mid-May on the Florence Alternate portion of the TransAm?  (This is in western Oregon). We don't want to cycle that far south along the coast before heading east if weather/road conditions aren't conducive to cycling.  Thanks...
I think it would be open and fine for the alternate portion.  It might be wetter than later though.  After you rejoin the main TA you may find McKenzie Pass still closed at that time some years.  It opened May 16 last year, but is sometimes closed into July.  It does open for bikes a bit ahead of when it opens for cars.  If it is closed Santiam pass is generally open, but it would be a shame to miss McKenzie.

Offline adventurepdx

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Re: TransAm: Florence Alternate in Western OR passable in mid-May?
« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2014, 10:34:16 pm »
Can anyone fill me in on likely weather conditions in Mid-May on the Florence Alternate portion of the TransAm?  (This is in western Oregon). We don't want to cycle that far south along the coast before heading east if weather/road conditions aren't conducive to cycling.  Thanks...

Are you talking about the section between Florence and where you hook up with the main TA route in Eugene? If so, I wouldn't worry. While it is common that the Coast Range mountains get snow in the winter, it's nowhere to the level of the Cascades, and for nowhere near as long. I would only see some sort of freak, freak storm that would dump snow onto the Coast Range in Mid-May. However, it can be rainy.

Crossing the Cascades, McKenzie Pass may still be closed then, so you'd probably have to ride Santiam Pass.

Offline staehpj1

Re: TransAm: Florence Alternate in Western OR passable in mid-May?
« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2014, 05:36:18 am »
I saw pictures and the plowing of McKenzie looked like it was going well.  It may be open.  Check before you decide which way to go.  It may be OK to ride even before it is open to cars.

Offline John Nelson

Re: TransAm: Florence Alternate in Western OR passable in mid-May?
« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2014, 11:54:50 am »
Can anyone fill me in on likely weather conditions in Mid-May on the Florence Alternate portion of the TransAm?
May in Eugene averages 2.74" of precipitation (more than June but less than April), and average high/low temperature of 67/44 F. Generally, you have a better chance of good weather in June than in May, but May should be fine if you don't mind a little rain. If you're planning to the whole TransAm, then starting in June will be better. But if May is the window you have, then go for it.

But you asked the question in a peculiar way, asking about the "Florence Alternate portion of the TransAm." Are you really only interested in those 75 miles?

Offline staehpj1

Re: TransAm: Florence Alternate in Western OR passable in mid-May?
« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2014, 12:03:40 pm »
But you asked the question in a peculiar way, asking about the "Florence Alternate portion of the TransAm." Are you really only interested in those 75 miles?

That puzzled me too.  I assumed the OP was continuing on the TA after.  It would seem to be a really odd choice to pick that particular route unless either doing the TA or continuing on on some other route.  If they are indeed planning to just do that section, I'd say they could easily pick a better short tour unless they have some special reason for the choice.

Offline LongTallEandM

Re: TransAm: Florence Alternate in Western OR passable in mid-May?
« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2014, 12:48:17 pm »
Sorry to be unclear and peculiar!  :)   We plan to ride the entire TransAm but instead of leaving the coast near Lincoln City, OR (and then through Corvallis to Eugene), we're hoping to ride south along the OR coast to Florence, THEN head east through Eugene.

I was probably thrown off by the vertical exaggeration on the elevation profile (Triangle Lake/Low Pass area) for the "Florence Alternate" section . Looking more closely at maps and from your replies, it appears that snow-related road closures, if any, would be east of there in the Cascade Range. Right?   

Oh, and mid to late May is our window and we're prepared for rain.

Offline staehpj1

Re: TransAm: Florence Alternate in Western OR passable in mid-May?
« Reply #7 on: April 27, 2014, 04:41:07 pm »
I was probably thrown off by the vertical exaggeration on the elevation profile (Triangle Lake/Low Pass area) for the "Florence Alternate" section . Looking more closely at maps and from your replies, it appears that snow-related road closures, if any, would be east of there in the Cascade Range. Right?
Yes that is correct

You will probably find McKenzie Pass open to cyclists even if it isn't open to cars yet unless there is another big and late snow.  Don't let the signs saying it is closed throw you if it is closed to cars ask if it is plowed.  Worst case you should be fine on the alternate route (Santiam Pass), but take McKenzie if you can.  ODOT usually posts updates on their web page.

I just checked at http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/REGION4/pages/mckenzie_pass_project/mckenzie_pass_project.aspx and it looks like you very likely have the chance to ride the pass without cars.  They say that "For cost-efficiency, crews plow one complete lane to let natural melting make it available for two full lanes of travel".  They are saying it is not going to be open to cars before June 16th, but word seems to be that the plowing is going well so it is very likely to be a nice traffic free ride over the pass.

I don't know how typical our experience was but we hit the top quite late in the day and it was freezing cold with a howling wind.  It might be good to try to hit it a bit earlier in the day than we did.

Oh, and have a great trip.  The Trans America can be a wonderful experience.