Author Topic: Atlantic Coast Route  (Read 1974 times)

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Offline sprocketman

Atlantic Coast Route
« on: November 30, 2010, 04:37:26 pm »
Hi everyone,

I did the Atlantic Coast route from Norristown, Pennsylvania to St Augustine, Fl. back in July. I had such a great time I am now planning a trip this July from Norristown, Pa. to Maine and possibly Canada. Has anyone done this half of the AC route? What are the road conditions like? Hills? Highlights? Blackflies? Any information would be helpful.

If anyone is doing the southern half of the Atlantic Coast route send me a message, I would be glad to help. I highly recommend it.

The last trip did solo. This time, I would like to put together a group of 3 or 4. If you are interested, send me some contact info.

Offline indyfabz

Re: Atlantic Coast Route
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2010, 09:28:11 am »
I did this section a long time ago ('99) but regularly ride on some of the PA and NJ portions so I can offer some detailed insight.

Norristown to New hope has some hills, but it's not particularly arduous.  Anything really steep is short.  There will be heavy traffic in places if you ride this section during a weekday.  I strongly recommend doing it Sat. or Sun. and the earlier the better.

New Hope to Delaware Water Gap, PA is mostly flat to gently up hill as you go upstream along the Delaware River.  There is one rather large hill above Milford, NJ and other smaller ones.  There is also a long slog up SR 611 heading to Delaware Water Gap as you climb above the river.  You should not encounter too much traffic in most areas.  Phillipsburg might be one exception.  Some of the road surfaces between Riegelsville, NJ and Phillipsburg, NJ may be chipped up a little.  There is an option to ride a trail from Lambertville, NJ to around Milford.  It's pleasant and easily rideable.  I have done sections of it riding a road bike on 23c tires.  I strongly recommend taking the trail at least as far north as Stockton, NJ as there is no shoulder on this stretch of SR NJ and it's windy in places.  North of the north end of Stockton, SR 29 widens and has a wide shoulder until it ends in Frenchtown, NJ.

About 8 miles north of Lambertville you will pass Bull's Island Recreation Area.  It's a fabulous place to camp.  Ask for site 66 or 67 close to the river.  Depending on the time of year, the place can be booked on the weekends (weekdays are mostly empty, except maybe during the time around Lambertville’s Shad Fest, and if you want to make a weekend reservation you must pay for two days unless you call Saturday morning and there is space available.  If you are concerned, start off from Norristown on a Sunday and spend Sunday night there.  The store in Stockton, NJ (in the old train station next to the trail) recently expanded their grocery selection.  They also have some prepared foods and make sandwiches.  Great wine and beer store in Stockton, too, just don’t let the park rangers catch you.

Worthington State Forest, across the river from Delaware Water Gap, PA, is another nice place to camp.  (Skip Shady Acres in Portland, PA).  Just note that the bear population in the Delaware Water Gap Nat’l Recreation Area has taken off over the years.  The ride through the Gap is beautiful, but you will encounter some hills.  North from Port Jervis, the road is a gentle up hill until you start a relatively short climb up to Otisville.

I don’t want to offer anymore detail since it’s been a while since I have been farther north, but I will says that I remember MA and CT being fairly hilly in places and that the U.S. 1 portions in ME were not that pleasant.  Lots of noisy traffic.

Offline pptouring

Re: Atlantic Coast Route
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2010, 10:08:13 am »
Hey sprocketman,

My wife and I were thinking about taking a Greyhound from Orlando up to Maine and riding back down for our next trip. How long did your trip take and did you camp or hotel it?

ron

Offline habanero

Re: Atlantic Coast Route
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2010, 05:33:47 pm »
I may be doing this route south to north next spring from Key West to Maine.  Was the wind a factor in your trip?  I'm thinking the prevailing wind is from the SE and SW. 

Offline JayH

Re: Atlantic Coast Route
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2010, 06:21:16 pm »
I have done the new paltz to ME section sometime in the 2000 timeframe.  Riding from Rhinebeck towards Millerton is fairly hilly.  Now, I think the Atlantic coast uses the walkway over the hudson but it used to be the north walkway on the Mid Hudson.   I remember one decent hill in central CT, pass some reservoir but not bad and NW CT is pretty..   Rt 1 near Wells and Wells beach is busy in summer tourist season and we left the official route I think in Kennebunkport when we were headed to Augusta to a friend's Aunt.   

There are some private and public campsites along the route though NH (short) and the options in Wells/Wells Beach/Kittery were not many and the one campsite we saw in Wells was horrid, it looked like wall to wall tents and we chose to stay in a motel.  But that is because it is somewhat of a resort town,

Jay

Offline sprocketman

Re: Atlantic Coast Route
« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2010, 10:05:22 pm »
Hey Indyfabz,

Thanks for taking the time to write such a detailed response. I will print it out and certainly use it as a reference.

Offline sprocketman

Re: Atlantic Coast Route
« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2010, 10:56:24 pm »
Hi  Ron,

 I highly recommend the route. The trip took me 24 days and lasted 1473 miles. I am 44 years old and at the beginning, wasn't sure if my body would hold up. However, by the end, 70 miles a day was nothing (best day was 101 miles) and I felt like I was 20 years younger. I have done some crazy things in my life, but this one by far tops them all. I e-mailed photos to the guys at the office and they printed them out and posted them on the wall. They are still there and I look at them every day.

For the first 12 days I stayed in a hotel only three times. I love to camp. Don't look for campsites though, they are far between and often off the route. I mostly camped out on church property and volunteer fire houses. The best thing about volunteer fire houses is the usually have  hose in the back - free shower! Other times I camped in cornfields or on the side of the road. Never had a problem. As I ventured farther south though, I stayed in hotels more because of the heat. I left on June 19, 2010 and rode right into the June-July heatwave. I had at least 5 days over 100 degrees and many in the high 90's (sometimes I even rode at night, until 11:00 PM). Even at night, the tent can get hot and muggy inside. By the end, camping and hotels were 50 / 50. Don't plan on hotels too often. In some parts of the south they are scarce and often booked. Take it as it comes. Live the adventure.

The road conditions are excellent 95% of the time and in many sections traffic is light to almost non existent (some busy sections though). Very often I would see fewer than 50 cars an hour, sometimes fewer than 10. Be prepared for hills in PA and Maryland. D.C and south is fairly flat. Pack food. Restaurants and grocery stores are scarce - especially in North Carolina and Virginia. Pack freaking food.

Big tip. Get the adventure cycling maps and blow up the text 250% then laminate them. Then, put them on the handlebars in a map holder. Priceless. Stopping to read the micro-point font on the ACA maps is annoying. If you put a light on your seatpost facing forward, at night the map illuminates like the dashboard of a car. Use red to preserve night vision.

In summary, most of the southern section of the ACR is rural with the exception of some areas like DC (one of the nicest bike paths I have ever seen). I like rural and the lack of traffic is a plus. There are few rivers or ponds to jump in (that are clean). People are very friendly. If you stop to verify directions, plan on a 20 minute conversation.

Let me know how it turns out. E-mail me at kobesh4@optonline.net. I will give you my cell number if you have any questions.

Eric

 


Offline sprocketman

Re: Atlantic Coast Route
« Reply #7 on: December 01, 2010, 11:04:45 pm »
Hi Habanero,

I mostly had a SW breeze, 6-10 MPH especially in Georgia and South Carolina. I usually kicks up from noon to four. I don't remember any occasions with breeze above 15 MPH. Some sections of the route go near the ocean. I did not take those options, but breeze will certainly be stronger there. Good luck.  also, in Florida, Georgia and S. Carolina, look for late afternoon pop-up thunderstorms.

Eric

Offline sprocketman

Re: Atlantic Coast Route
« Reply #8 on: December 01, 2010, 11:06:57 pm »
Thanks for the response Jay. I know those resort towns can get busy. I like to stay away.

Eric

Offline pptouring

Re: Atlantic Coast Route
« Reply #9 on: December 02, 2010, 06:19:57 pm »
hello Eric,

Thanks for responding! You gave us some great tips/ideas on camping that we haven't thought about. We like the idea of the fire departments and churches; especially since we read in another thread that camping was far and few in between, like you mentioned too. We are seriously considering this trip next spring/early summer, so we might be dropping you a line for some more info. Again, thank you for responding and we will be in touch.

ron & petra

Offline raybo

Re: Atlantic Coast Route
« Reply #10 on: December 03, 2010, 08:44:51 am »
In May 2010, I rode the Atlantic Coast Route from Charleston, SC to Lambertville, NJ (journal here).  In September, 2010, I rode from the Pocono Mountains in PA to Bar Harbor, ME and then back down to Boston, mostly on the ACA route (journal here).

What I remember most is that the first part was flat and the second part had virtually no flat parts.  So, from Norristown, PA to Maine, expect lots of up and down.  On many days in Maine, where there are no flat roads, I'd stay in my small ring most of the time.  I'd grind up an incline and then coast down all day.

In the New England section, I mostly stayed with couchsurfing hosts or motels.  I rode by towns with couchsurfing hosts most every day.  I was hosted close to half of the nights I was on tour.  I carried camping gear, but only camped once, in Acadia National Park.  Motels were more expensive in New England then in the Carolinas, but there are many more couchsurfing.org and warmshowers.org hosts (If you aren't a member, join both of these sites).

There weren't any black flies and the mosquitoes were not a problem, at least in September.  The trees were beautiful!

By the way, plan to spend a couple days in Acadia National Park.  It is worth it.

Ray
Visit the on-line bike touring archive at www.biketouringtips.com

Offline pptouring

Re: Atlantic Coast Route
« Reply #11 on: December 03, 2010, 03:51:34 pm »
Thanks RayBo. Checking out your sites.

Offline sprocketman

Re: Atlantic Coast Route
« Reply #12 on: December 03, 2010, 07:30:16 pm »
Thanks Raybo,

I checked out your site. It reminds me of what a great time I had. Some of the pics look really familiar. Thanks for the info. I guess I will be doing some heavy hill training come the spring.

Eric