Author Topic: Advice sought for New York to San Francisco route starting early April 2018  (Read 1412 times)

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Offline swinhoea

Hello Everyone!

First post here so apologies up front for any errors - I am English so thought I would get my first "Sorry" in early :-). 

Anyhow, I would appreciate some advice on my potential trip, please as follows:

1. When in the USA, I will try to raise money for a USA-based charity that works for either children or people with learning disabilities. When I finish my USA trip, I plan to cycle Land's End to John O'Groats in UK ~ 900 miles and will raise money for Children in Need (www.bbcchildreninneed.co.uk) or Mencap (www.mencap.org.uk), so similar charities in the USA would be? Also any ideas for raising money as I travel?
2. Any suggested route places / options that I must not miss between NY and SF please?
3. Any views on what weather conditions I should prepare for given route and time of year please?
4. I plan to avoid Missouri given the "dog attack" problems I have read about in various blogs and forums. Am I being overly concerned and should I just "man up"?
5. Any other good ideas?

Regards, Harry

Online John Nelson

I would not alter my route just because of dogs. It's true that they are worse in some places than others, but it's a manageable problem.

What's your take on big cities? Do you want to avoid them or see them? Cycling is much better if you avoid them, but they do have things to offer.
« Last Edit: December 02, 2017, 10:21:21 am by John Nelson »

Offline swinhoea

I like cities and would not mind visiting a couple or so. I am planning on Warmshowering for some of the time as well, so cities might offer more options.
I will be joined by my Wife for the start and end phases. She will be with me for about 10 days each time and will follow me from NYC to Washington DC and then from Yosemite to SF all being well. Other than that I do not know much about any of the possible cities just yet but will research shortly. Thanks for responding.
Any good suggestions and ideas always welcome.

Offline jamawani

You offer very little info about yourself or experience.

1. How long to you plan for the entire trip?
2. What kind of daily mileage do you expect?
3. You mentioned cities/warmshowers - otherwise camping, motels?

Early April is early - especially in the Allegheny Mountains - cold & wet.
Many state and federal park facilities may not open before May 1.

May is the stormiest and wettest month in the Great Plains.
Be prepared for inclement weather - and shelter, if necessary.

June is still early in the Rocky Mountains - not if you are a Brit - but I know.
I have skied on fresh, deep snow well into June. Also, the winter's snows have not melted.

Check out the opening dates for Tioga Pass on the east side of Yosemite -
https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/tiogaopen.htm
In dry years it is usually in early to mid May, but in snowy years it is well into June.

Finally, if you are hoping to fund part of your trip by charity appeal - think again.
People are deluged with charity requests and if they think it is a subsidy, it will not fly.

<<<>>>

No need to go thru Missouri or Kentucky - dogs or no dogs.

From DC to Pittsburgh you can take the C&O and GAP Trails - or nearby roads if too wet.
https://www.nps.gov/choh/index.htm
https://gaptrail.org/

From Pittsburgh to Chicago you can follow the historic Old Lincoln Highway - 1928 route.
http://www.lincolnhighwayoh.com/guide/preface.html
http://www.lincolnhighwayoh.com/v1/1928_indiana_lh.html

From Chicago west you can cut across Iowa - again, via historic routes.

Highway 92 is a scenic route across Nebraska - cutting south to Ogalalla.
http://dot.nebraska.gov/media/7032/bicycle-map-side-2.pdf

Highway 14 & US 40 combine for a good corssing of Colorado without too great an elevation.
(Fort Collins is a good base before you head west - allowing you to wait out any poor weather.)
https://ridewithgps.com/routes/6863226

Utah can be traversed by a combination of US 40, US 191, and US 6 - bike trail system thru Provo.
https://ridewithgps.com/routes/6863901

To access Yosemite, it is best to cross Nevada on US 6 - very remote. Ely & Tonopah are great.

You will have a murderous downhill all the way from Tioga to Yosemite Valley.
To avoid a monster climb out - take Hwy 140 to Mariposa.

Photo - US 6 in central Nevada in June

Offline RussSeaton

From Chicago west you can cut across Iowa - again, via historic routes.

Highway 92 is a scenic route across Nebraska - cutting south to Ogalalla.
http://dot.nebraska.gov/media/7032/bicycle-map-side-2.pdf

Hwy 92 in Iowa is a busy road with lots of high speed traffic.  Not suitable for bicycling.  Maybe somehow Hwy 92 becomes a peaceful nice road to ride in Nebraska to the west.  I doubt it though.  I know several bicyclists who have ridden Hwy 92 across Iowa.  They did not like it but took it because it was the most direct route between the Mississippi and Missouri rivers.  Unless you are trying to sprint across Iowa as fast as possible, stay off it.  As for Hwy 92 in Nebraska, I'm doubtful its pleasant to ride.

For crossing Iowa you want to stick with county roads.  Not main major state highways.  Stay off the state highways and stay on the county roads.

Early April in the northeast USA can and will be cool/cold and wet.  You will be in the Midwest in May.  It can be fine and dandy in the afternoon.  But cool in the morning.  And wet.  I'd suggest you postpone your start by one to two months.

Offline jamawani

Have you ridden Hwy 92 in Nebraska? I have, numerous times.
Did you bother to look at the Nebraska bike map - or the Nebraska traffic map?
http://dot.nebraska.gov/media/2510/2014-statewide-traffic-flow-map.pdf

300 or 400 miles distance can make a big difference in traffic - even on the same highway.
Between Arthur and Stapleton, Hwy 92 has 100-300 vehicles per day - insanely low traffic.
As you get into eastern Neb., traffic increases, but there are shoulders.
Hwy 92 in western Iowa has moderate to moderate+ traffic - heavier in eastern Iowa.
Hwy 92 east of Greenfield has an AADT of only 1500 - east of Oskaloosa it's 4000+.
And Iowa has the fewest shoulders of any Midwestern state - making riding tougher.

Of course, near Omaha traffic is heavy - but the OP mentioned he is interested in cities.
As far as cities go, Omaha is one of the easier one - plus there's the bike/ped bridge over the Missouri.
(West of Lincoln, Nebraska has very few paved county roads.)

One of the problems with county roads in Iowa is that they are for county traffic patterns -
Thus, it is tough to find through routes consisting of county roads.
Also, county roads have very little grading and Iowa - esp. southern Iowa is one hill after another.

Here's the Iowa bike map (poor color choices for traffic levels) -
https://iowadot.gov/maps/msp/pdf/bikemap.pdf

<<<>>>

As for dogs - yes, Missouri has 'em.
I've ridden across Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, & Louisiana - multiple times.
Minnesota and Iowa have few dog issues, the Southern states do.
It must be a cultural thing - but there really is a noticeable difference.








Offline swinhoea

Thanks for replies so far.

You offer very little info about yourself or experience.
I will be 55 when I start but I am fairly fit for my age. I have cycled for over 20 years and have done a number of multi-day tours in groups and solo e.g. France twice top to bottom (group and solo) including serious climbing in Alps (Galibier, Bonnette), La Marmotte about 8 times, weekly cycle around 60-100 miles. Camping is new to me but managed 5 days trip in UK so far with a few more planned before hitting the USA.

1. How long to you plan for the entire trip?
I will take the full 90 days that I'm allowed with the USA-UK visa waiver program. Also this is max the Wife will allow :-)
2. What kind of daily mileage do you expect?
Given I will be fully loaded I expect 70 miles max for easy days, maybe 50 for harder days. The start and end periods will be more holiday with my Wife, with the middle bits full-on touring.
3. You mentioned cities/warmshowers - otherwise camping, motels?
Yes otherwise camping as main option.

Finally, if you are hoping to fund part of your trip by charity appeal - think again.
Very good comment, as I really disagree with the idea that other people should pay for my holiday and then the charity gets what's left. All the money I raise will be given to the charities.
I'm also planning to write a short book, based upon asking people I meet about their lives, experiences etc - hopefully nothing contentious just trying to highlight how people in the USA and UK are these days i.e. nothing about religion, politics. The book will try to see how well the George Bernard Shaw quote stands today, namely  “England and America are two countries separated by the same language!".  As above I will fund the production costs with all proceeds raised going to charity.

I will review leaving date as flights not yet booked.

Again thanks for the help and advice. Any thoughts on suitable USA charities, please?


indyfabz

  • Guest
Have you looked at ACA's route options? Sounds like you are set on NYC to D.C. Look at the eastern end of ACA's NYC to Chicago route. It intersects with its Atlantic Coast route and that will take you to D.C. FYI...NYC is a pain to ride out of. There is only one bridge to NJ that you can bike over. It's way up north in Manhattan. If your wife will have a car consider starting in less congested part of NY or NJ. The ACA Atlantic Coast route down past the Philadelphia suburbs and through the rest of PA is nice. If you want to take a rest day in Philly and see the historical stuff, you can get into town virtually all on bike paths. There is an HI Hostel in a large park area that is within riding distance of the major historical attractions and, of course, the Rocky statue.  ::)

Offline jamawani

Is your wife going to rent a car for the first and last weeks?
If so, that allows for more options.

BTW - I lived and biked in Manhattan and the East in my youth.
It is not for the faint-of-heart. Especially in city traffic.

Do you want to bike ocean wave to ocean wave or just a close approximation?
Many of the Adventure Cycling routes start on rivers or bays near the ocean.
In the case of the ACA Atlantic Coast route, you start in Summit, NJ - 20 miles west of NYC.
(That elicits a "Huh?" from me but not from everybody.)

Another route - the East Coast Greenway follows the Delaware & Raritan Canal towpath.
It's a dirt/gravel path - lovely in summer, but a mud hole in spring.

Spring temperatures are moderate near the coast - cooling rapidly as you move inland.
(And southwest of Philly, the ACA routes goes well inland.)
On possibility is to stay pretty close to the Jersey Shore and take the Cape Map Ferry across Delaware Bay.
The Delmarva Peninsula has lots of quiet backroads (and chicken farms).
Crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge is usually a problem because it is closed to cyclists.
Cyclists have to beg a ride - but if you already have a car then you are sweet.

There are two possible ferry options out of Manhattan - both passenger only.
The Staten Island Ferry is classic New York.
You could rent a car on Staten Island - which would be required on the Outerbridge Crossing to Perth Amboy.
Or you could take the high-speed ferry to Highlands, NJ and enjoy Sandy Hook National Seashore.
(Which really and truly is sandy and lapped by Atlantic Ocean waves.)
Car rentals should be available in the Highlands area, too. Check Enterprise.

You could ride a number of beach strips - having to go back and forth to the mainland.
Although April won't be too busy, the Jersey Shore is pretty solidly developed.
Plus the prevailing spring wind is southwesterly.

I'd do a more inland route on lightly traveled county roads - veering back to the coast for the first night.
Then down to Cape May and enjoy the ocean either there or Cape Henlopen, Delaware.
(You would miss Philadelphia by following the Jersey Shore.)

The Delmarva Peninsula has some great, quiet backroads.
Consider taking in one of more of the colonial towns such as St. Michaels.
St. Mikes is a bit of a detour south of the bridge, but worth it.
If you really wanted to treat your wife - spend a night on Smith Island.
True Chesapeake fisherfolk culture. It would be the highlight of your east coast ride.

PS - Both ferries from Manhattan pass by the Statue of Liberty.





Offline jwrushman

Sandy Hook is quite lovely without the crowds!

indyfabz

  • Guest
Re: Advice sought for New York to San Francisco route starting early April 2018
« Reply #10 on: December 04, 2017, 08:13:32 am »
Plenty of other ferry routes across the Hudson these days, although not all services runs on weekends:

http://www.nywaterway.com/UserFiles/Files/Hudson%20River%20Peak%20Ferry%20Map.pdf

http://www.nywaterway.com/Commuters.aspx

New Jersey Transit also has several rail lines that could get you clear of the congestion. The most scenic but most roundabout way would be to take the Port Jervis, NY train to the end of the line and head south on ACA's Atlantic Coast route. (You could take the ferry from Manhattan to Hoboken and get the Port Jervis train there or take a train from Penn Station in Manhattan and change at Seacaucus Jct.) Very scenic ride through the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and a New Jersey state forest with a great spot to camp along the way. Let me know if you want details. Have ridden through there numerous times.

Offline jamawani

Re: Advice sought for New York to San Francisco route starting early April 2018
« Reply #11 on: December 04, 2017, 12:51:27 pm »
Here is a possible route via the Delmarva Peninsula.
Of course, you could head due west from Lewes to the Bay Bridge,
but then you would miss all the special things that this area has to offer.

Once you cross the Delaware Bay, you leave the North and enter the South.
There is an immediate different feel as soon as you get out of touristy Lewes.
The little back roads will have almost zero traffic - even the highway be light.
(Your nose will tell you occasionally that mega chicken farms serve the big cities.)

In the South, there used to be country stores every 5 or 10 miles at intersections.
One gas pump, essential groceries, and plenty of Coca-Colas - with a bench out front.
They are mostly gone - there is one just west of Millsboro called "That Place" - classic.

Millsboro, Snow Hill, and Pocomoke City are the major service points in between.
The route will take a day and a half - with camping or lodging at Lewes and Pocomoke CIty.
Pocomoke River State Park has magnificent coastal swamp forests - a feel for early America.

It will be tricky to arrange a crossing of the Chesapeake Bay via Smith Island but worth it.
Especially with your wife driving - the Smith Island ferries are passenger/bike only.
Also, the ferry to Point Lookout doesn't start up until late May - you would need to charter
BUT - if you can rent a car from Highlands, New Jersey to Pocomoke -
(Enterprise will usually work out a drop-off - even 10 or 12 miles.)
Then you could both boar out to Smith Island and over to Point Lookout.

Your wife could arrange another Enterprise car from Lexington Park.
But, who wants to drive - esp. park - in New York City or Washington, DC?
The bike route up from Point Lookout is sweet - crossing over to Alexandria, VA -
with a lovely bike trail into DC at the Lincoln Memorial.

It's been quite a few years since I lived in New York or biked the Chesapeake -
There was actually better ferry service 25 years ago - same in Britain, probably.
But if you are interested, Smith Island will make your East Coast leg magical.

Best - J

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/26572433


Offline Loader

Quote
4. I plan to avoid Missouri given the "dog attack" problems I have read about in various blogs and forums

A long time ego, in the 19th century, Englishmen who loved to ride a bicycle, invented a wonderful and powerful tool against the dogs attackers -the "Bulldog" revolver.

Have you tried?

PS  If you're in Port Jervis, call me, I'm just living there.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2018, 12:33:35 am by Loader »
God created the universe, and man created the wheel.

God invented our legs for us, we came up with pedals for our feet.

So the bike was born.

Offline Loader

Quote
1. When in the USA, I will try to raise money for a USA-based charity that works for either children or people with learning disabilities.

You reminded me of one amazing woman who crossed the country from West to East on a bicycle with a little trailer, which I met several years ago in Prospect Park in Brooklyn.

She is a professional cyclist who earns money on the road through the country and gives "health lessons" in schools in small towns.

Apparently, she pre-guessed with the schools authority and on arrival conducts a lecture and a bike tour with students and teachers of schools.

I think that if you contact schools on your way, they will gladly go to your meeting in the sense of collecting money for unfortunate children in Africa or sick with a nervous fever of Australian kangaroos.

Sorry for my American. ;)
God created the universe, and man created the wheel.

God invented our legs for us, we came up with pedals for our feet.

So the bike was born.