Author Topic: Northern Tier or better idea?  (Read 9281 times)

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Offline paulsinbc

Northern Tier or better idea?
« on: July 23, 2015, 11:41:33 am »
Hello,
First time posting here and looking for a little advice.  I live in Vancouver BC and I have three weeks off this summer and exploring my options.  I have already ridden from Seattle to the MT/ND border and have the opportunity to get a ride to where I left off 6 years ago and continue east on the Northern Tier so that I can eventually make it across the US.  I can probably cover 1200 miles during those 3 weeks. 

I would like to tick off riding across the US but also open to other options like riding south along the Pacific Coast but I have heard the traffic can be pretty bad during the summer which doesn't appeal to me.  I have toured pretty extensively in BC so want to spend my time in the US. 

Leaning towards continuing east on the NT but I don't get 3 weeks off very often so just want to make sure I use my time wisely.   Head south or go east or???

Thanks,
Paul





Offline John Nelson

Re: Northern Tier or better idea?
« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2015, 03:36:52 pm »
Well, North Dakota isn't the most exciting place to ride. But if you want to tick off coast-to-coast, I suppose you better continue where you left off. Once you get to Minnesota, the riding will get better.

Having done both the Northern Tier and the Pacific Coast, I would rate the Pacific Coast much more highly. Is there more traffic in Los Angeles than in Gackle, ND? Yes. Is the scenery better on the Pacific Coast? Yes. You can't get to Los Angeles in three weeks anyway.

In three weeks, you can probably get from Vancouver to San Francisco. Fly home from San Francisco. There won't be any traffic problems on that route and it's logistically pretty simple for you. That's what I'd recommend. You've already done the best part of the Northern Tier anyway.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Northern Tier or better idea?
« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2015, 05:11:49 pm »
It's a personal call, but to me the notion of riding coast to coast would be greatly diminished if you break it down into a bunch of chunks.  If I wasn't doing it all in one go or maybe two, I'd be way more inclined to cherry pick a bit location-wise and just pick nice places to ride.

Again, a personal call, but I really liked the Pacific Coast a lot, especially Oregon and Northern California.  Enough so that I will do it again, probably more than once.  I was less crazy about Washington myself, but riding out of your home town would be nice.  I'd definitely choose the Pacific Coast over the section of the NT that you are considering unless going coast to coast is a really big deal for you even if done in a bunch of chunks.

I have not done the NT myself, since when I wanted to go coast to coast I chose the TA over the NT and later the ST (in the winter).

indyfabz

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Re: Northern Tier or better idea?
« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2015, 12:07:07 pm »
Well, North Dakota isn't the most exciting place to ride. But if you want to tick off coast-to-coast, I suppose you better continue where you left off. Once you get to Minnesota, the riding will get better.

Heh. Yeah. ND can be quaint in many ways, but it's definitely not exciting unless you consider something like visiting the birthplace of Lawrence Welk exciting. MN was definitely more interesting.

OP: I believe that the NT route has changed since you last did it six year ago due to the danger posed by oil-related traffic. It now enters ND south of where it used to. If you want to continue on, maybe go all the way to the Davenport, IA area. That looks to be about 1,200 miles from the western border of ND.

Offline paulsinbc

Re: Northern Tier or better idea?
« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2015, 12:19:27 pm »
I would have liked to add a US cross country trip to my resume but I did ride across Canada many years ago and I have never seen the California Coast so you both have convinced me going south makes more sense.  I used to live in Seattle and have biked plenty in WA so I will take the train to Portland or maybe even further south and leave from there.  I should be able to make it to Santa Barbara easy within my time frame.  It's been a long time since I have had sand between my toes.

I have never used ACA maps but going to order some now.  There doesn't appear to be a lot of route options but I am more interested in the information they will provide as far as camping.

Thanks for taking the time to respond. 

Offline Nyimbo

Re: Northern Tier or better idea?
« Reply #5 on: July 24, 2015, 01:36:42 pm »
You can't go much further south on Amtrak and stay on the coast.  Once you hit Eugene the train heads over the cascades and comes out on the other side for a stop in Klamath Falls.  From Eugene you could head over to the coast and start south at Florence. 

I would guess its easier to get transportation from Portland to Astoria than from Eugene to Florence unless you are riding the bicycle from the train to the coast and then it wouldn't matter either way.

Nyimbo


Offline paulsinbc

Re: Northern Tier or better idea?
« Reply #6 on: July 24, 2015, 01:54:28 pm »
I will be riding from the train station.  I booked Portland and probably riding towards Lincoln City but need to investigate the best route to the coast.  I know I will miss out on Canon Beach and all that but more interested in getting as far south as I can in what time that I have. 

Offline BikeFreak

Re: Northern Tier or better idea?
« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2015, 01:56:18 pm »
Maybe you should consider doing the Sierra Cascades route instead of the Pacific Coast route? When I did the Pacific Coast in 2000 it was not a weather-wise joy until I reached Santa Barbara and got rid of the misty fog.

Lucas

Offline staehpj1

Re: Northern Tier or better idea?
« Reply #8 on: July 24, 2015, 03:01:43 pm »
Maybe you should consider doing the Sierra Cascades route instead of the Pacific Coast route? When I did the Pacific Coast in 2000 it was not a weather-wise joy until I reached Santa Barbara and got rid of the misty fog.

Not sure about the northern half of the the Sierra Cascades, but I'd take the weather on the coast over the summer heat in the Sierras and the Mojave.  It can be brutal.  The SC is a very difficult route and if you have brutally hot weather it is even more so.  I'd say, expect to really suffer on the southern half of the SC in Summer.

Offline paulsinbc

Re: Northern Tier or better idea?
« Reply #9 on: July 24, 2015, 03:50:53 pm »
I considered the SC as well as the Oregon Outback http://www.oregonbikepacking.com/portfolio-posts/hardman-portfolio/ but yes it is a very hot time to be in those parts of Oregon and California.   So the train has been booked to Portland which gives me a lot of options but at this time I plan on heading to the coast and hoping for some dry weather.   Now just need to find an interesting way to get to the coast from Portland. 


Offline adventurepdx

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Re: Northern Tier or better idea?
« Reply #10 on: July 24, 2015, 07:07:45 pm »
Now just need to find an interesting way to get to the coast from Portland.

As for getting to the Oregon Coast from Portland, here's a pertinent link to an old forum post that contains other pertinent links to other older forum posts:
http://www.adventurecycling.org/forums/index.php?topic=9240.msg46341#msg46341

I do recommend taking the 202/47/Banks-Vernonia trail from Portland to the coast. It is very rural and very quiet in terms of traffic and people. It drops you off in Astoria, the northernmost point on US 101 on the Oregon Coast.
Links to maps:
http://www.portlandonline.com/transportation/index.cfm?&a=316549&c=36638

I've never taken 30 the full way from Astoria to Portland, just the portion from Portland-Rainier and Clatskanie-Wesport, so I've missed the worst parts of US 30. But even that little bit makes me prefer the 202/47/Banks-Vernonia routing.

There aren't many services, but there's just enough. Make sure you're stocked when leaving Astoria, as there isn't another full service grocery until Vernonia, about 70 miles down the road. Only a couple of country markets with short hours in between.

The route from Astoria to Hillsboro (Portland westside suburb) is 100 miles. You can break it into two days by camping at Big Eddy County Park which is about 60 miles in. Few, if any, lodging options are found on this route so if you are doing a credit card tour you should be prepared to do the 100 miles in a straight shot. Possible, but there are two small passes to contend with on the route.

There are also two bus options from Portland to the coast: The NW Point bus to Seaside/Astoria, or the Wave to Tillamook. Both run twice daily.
http://www.northwest-point.com/
http://www.tillamookbus.com/schedules.htm

Offline paulsinbc

Re: Northern Tier or better idea?
« Reply #11 on: July 25, 2015, 01:08:41 pm »
Thanks for the info and the links.  I saw the same route to the coast but thinking of taking this one http://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/301633 from Hillsboro to Beaver.   I could be talked into heading to Astoria but again I would like to go as far south as I can in the limited time that I have. 

I thought about taking transportation to the coast but I think it would be too much of a hassle with all of my bags etc... plus it looks like it's a good ride anyway.  No idea what Hillsboro is like and hoping there are reasonable motels or B and Bs in the area.   

Wish I could figure out how to insert a hyperlink on this site. 

Offline adventurepdx

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Re: Northern Tier or better idea?
« Reply #12 on: July 26, 2015, 12:24:38 am »
Thanks for the info and the links.  I saw the same route to the coast but thinking of taking this one http://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/301633 from Hillsboro to Beaver.   I could be talked into heading to Astoria but again I would like to go as far south as I can in the limited time that I have...No idea what Hillsboro is like and hoping there are reasonable motels or B and Bs in the area.

That route is a good route, but do note a few things about it: There is about 2 miles of gravel, which I find fine, but for some people any unpaved is a deal-breaker. And while it is the quietest route to the coast it has the highest climb (2,000 feet) and is the steepest, with a good five miles at 8-10% grade.

Hillsboro is pretty suburban. There are some motels around, don't know about B and Bs. But why not stay in Portland and then take the light rail out to Hillsboro? It's just about an hour ride from downtown Portland.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Northern Tier or better idea?
« Reply #13 on: July 26, 2015, 09:24:02 am »
On our TA we flew in late, stayed in a Portland motel, then rode back to the airport, rented a car, spent the day driving and seeing the area (Multnomah Falls, etc.).  We then drove to Beverly Beach St Park, stayed in a Yurt, and dropped off the rental car in Newport.  The motel, rental car, and yurt wound up being reasonable since three of us split the cost.

I am sure there are lots of other good options though.

Offline paulsinbc

Re: Northern Tier or better idea?
« Reply #14 on: July 26, 2015, 12:44:59 pm »
I like touring on gravel so that's more appealing than anything but 5 miles of 10% grade sounds tough for the first day of a tour but alas, still better than a good day at work. 

"But why not stay in Portland and then take the light rail out to Hillsboro? It's just about an hour ride from downtown Portland." 
Are you saying it takes an hour on light rail to Hillsborro?  How easy is it to put a loaded touring bike on the train?