Author Topic: Start Dates?  (Read 5659 times)

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Offline tpejoe

Start Dates?
« on: January 03, 2013, 04:10:33 pm »
If one were to bike from Seattle eastward, realistically, what is the earliest start date in the Spring?

I know I have seen someplace on this website about "the first transcontinental visitor" of the year at the ACA headquarters, but I can't seem to find a good barometer for the start date that would be passable considering snow closing roads.

Thank you,


Online John Nelson

Re: Start Dates?
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2013, 06:01:23 pm »
Road openings vary from year to year, sometimes wildly. The best bet is to get yourself on the Washington DOT email list for the roads you are considering. They'll send you periodic updates. How early you can start depends heavily on which road you want to take.

There's also the question of how early you can start vs. how early you might want to start. People with schedule flexibility will want to wait until mid June for best conditions.

Offline jamawani

Re: Start Dates?
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2013, 11:05:58 pm »
Depends on which route you are taking:
Northern Tier?  US 2?  Via Mount Rainier N.P.?
Also depends on the year.
Some years it's already summer by mid-May.
Other years are cold and rainy until late June.
(Not to mention snow on the ground in campgrounds/forests)

Also, depends on where you is heading.
A mid-spring start usually implies east-to-west.
It warms up earlier in the east and is brutally hot by mid-summer.
If you are heading towards New England - then mid-June - even July 1.
If you are heading towards Georgia - then Aug 15.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Start Dates?
« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2013, 10:41:49 am »
Is this a coast to coast ride?  If so what route?

If going coast to coast on the TA or NT and you want to start early in the season, start in the East if possible.  You will miss the hot and humid weather in the east and the snow in the Rockies and Cascades.

My personal experience with riding east from the Oregon Coast is only on the TA, so I'll comment on that.  If you really want to start in the west then I suggest starting when Mc Kenzie Pass is open.  That will typically mean that it is late enough for the rest of the route to be OK.  The dates McKenzie has opened in the past can be found at:
It is typically open to cyclists a week or so before it opens for cars.  That is a great time to ride the pass.  We managed to ride the W-E starting on June 11th of 2007With that start date we rode just before it opened to cars, but some years the pass is still closed another month after that.

You can avoid McKenzie Pass by riding Santiam Pass, but it would be a shame to miss McKenzie Pass.

Online John Nelson

Re: Start Dates?
« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2013, 11:16:04 am »
Pete, he wants to ride east from Seattle, so my guess is that he's more concerned about Washington passes than Oregon passes. But again, it depends on the route. In 2011, McKenzie didn't open until July 15 (abnormally late) and the North Cascades highway (Washington SR20) opened on May 25. McKenzie has opened as early as March 21 and as late as July 29. SR20 has opened as early as March 10 and as late as June 14, not counting construction delays. So you can see that from year to year, the earliest feasible start date can vary by three or four months.

Leaving early, however, has more considerations than just whether or not the roads are open. Early departures often puts you in for a lot more cold and rain, and sometime snow.

I agree with your recommendations for starting in the East if you need to start early.

Offline tpejoe

Re: Start Dates?
« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2013, 01:59:59 pm »
Thanks for the 4 replies.
This is helpful. I was considering starting in April, so I will probably have to start from further south. Maybe Southern California.

Thanks for the suggestions. I will keep my eye on the Oregon and Washington DOT road opening announcements.


Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Start Dates?
« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2013, 03:57:30 pm »
If you're starting in April, I'd plan to start in the east.  It may still be cold and wet, but the roads will be open (with the possible exception of a late season snowfall).

If you're doing a coast to coast ride from California, you can't count on the Sierra passes being open, so the Western Express is out.  It's going to be darn hot by the time you finish the Southern Tier, with an April start.  If you stick with an Adventure Cycling routing, you're left with a Southern Tier to Grand Canyon Connector to Western Express to TransAm.  Possibly doable, depending on snowpack and seasonal variation in the weather at the higher altitudes of Utah and Colorado.

And while you're not really limited to the AC routes, similar comments would apply to similar routes -- you'll want a diagonal, or at least a partial diagonal route, to get past the mountains and avoid the worst of the heat and cold.  (N.b. -- in 3 months, you're going to be hot and cold anyway, but you don't have to be miserable or endangered!)