Author Topic: Oregon in late May vs Western Express  (Read 3708 times)

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Offline bglaser496

Oregon in late May vs Western Express
« on: April 04, 2018, 12:13:36 pm »
I assume the answer to this lies somewhere in earlier forums, but I can't find it.  I am trying to decide between starting in Astoria in late May and turning left in California to head east to Colorado vs just starting in Sacramento on the Western Express.  A couple of questions.  Is late May a good time to ride the Oregon coast?  Any suggested routes from Mendocino/ Ft Bragg area to head east and meet the Western Express route?  I want to avoid the more crowded parts of northern CA approaching San Fransisco.  Anyone with experience riding Nevada and Utah in June?  Wicked hot?  Thanks in advance for your advice.

Offline Nyimbo

Re: Oregon in late May vs Western Express
« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2018, 01:46:17 pm »
First I did a few days on the Oregon coast in late May a couple times and it was lovely on both occasions, however you will need more data points than my brief experience.

Regarding Fort Bragg to Western Exp.  I rode from Grass Valley/Nevada City to Fort Bragg on Hwy 20 and found that the Grass Valley to Willits was a fine road.  Nice shoulder most of the way.  Willits to Fort Bragg section is a narrow curvy beautiful road with a lot of traffic heading from 101 over to the coast.  I recommend getting more information on that section especially over the summit. 


At the time this was my first Bicycle tour and without much experience I chose to get a ride over that section.  I'm not sure what I'd do now, I would get more info from someone who knows.


On the other end of Hwy 20 from Nevada City to Interstate 80 it is a road with much traffic and poor shoulders but it is fairly straight and in the tree covered shade most of the way. With a good strong flashing light it might be fine.  There is a state campground called White Cloud about halfway between Nevada City and Interstate 80.  There is a pretty good climb coming out of the bear valley to interstate 80.  I live in the area and have ridden it however I rarely see bicycles on that section of 20.  There is a mountain bike trail that parallels hwy 20 along much of that section.
From Interstate 80 hwy 20 intersection there are no side roads available for several miles east so you will have to ride on the interstate heading up the summit.  I've seen cyclist a couple times there.  I have heard (hearsay info) you need to notify the CHP before going over that section.  From Cisco Grove going east there are old historic highway 40 sections that you can take over the Donner Pass and down the hill to to Donner Lake and Truckee.  [By the way the old highway and the pass and Donner Lake and then hwy 89 passing nearby Squaw Valley and then Lake Tahoe are heavily bicycled.  It is a skiing area in the winter and a cycling destination in the summer.  So if you go that way you will enjoy it.  The view from the Summit to Donner Lake is spectacular. as well as the ride down the mountain]. From Truckee take highway 89 to Lake Tahoe  Once at Lake Tahoe you can go clockwise or anti-clockwise around the lake to finally arrive at highway 50 and that should be close to the western express route.
   
« Last Edit: April 04, 2018, 06:04:00 pm by Nyimbo »

Offline bglaser496

Re: Oregon in late May vs Western Express
« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2018, 02:27:40 pm »
Thanks much or the information.   From Nevada city to Willits, on Hwy 20, is that a quiet country road or is it fairly busy?  Same question for East of Nevada city,  are those fairly busy roads with a shoulder or is it pretty deserted much of the time?   I understand that some sections will be busy like the Hwy 101 parts of the pacific coast route, however I am looking more for Hwy 1 style roads like far north California. 

Offline Nyimbo

Re: Oregon in late May vs Western Express
« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2018, 05:33:40 pm »
Highway 20 in not a major thruway across the state.  Not very many people make a specific journey from Fort Bragg to its end at interstate 80.  However it does serve as a local road for a lot of small and medium size towns across different sections of the state.  Probably the two most busy sections are the ones I mentioned above. 


--Fort Bragg to Willits on the west end of 20 is fairly busy with traffic taking people from highway 101 to the coast and at least a several mile section of it is busy, curvy and no shoulders.


--From Hwy 101 and 20 intersection West of Clear Lake all the way to Nevada City is reasonable and well shouldered (I think all the way.)  Probably less traffic than highway 1.  In between towns it is quiet.



--On the other end of Highway 20 it becomes busy again with people using this route to head to Tahoe and Reno and again with little shoulder.

Another forum member has answered questions about route making and has mentioned a site to look up how busy a road is.  If you can find that reference it will answer you more specifically about traffic levels.
« Last Edit: April 04, 2018, 06:00:03 pm by Nyimbo »

Offline bglaser496

Re: Oregon in late May vs Western Express
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2018, 01:36:52 pm »
Thanks again Nyimbo.  One more question, have you ridden the roads north of 20 east of Yuba City?  Roads like 49 north to 89 and then south to Tahoe?  Can avoid Hwy 89 that way?  Or the tiny roads north of 20 that wind through the Tahoe National Forrest or by Scots Flat Reservoir?  Also, if needed can I contact you for info on the mountain bike trail you mentioned that follows 20 for a while?  I am good with off road riding.

Offline Nyimbo

Re: Oregon in late May vs Western Express
« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2018, 08:34:21 pm »
There are some nice roads up in those mountains but if you are on a cross country tour I don’t recommend it.  It will add some days to the trip and you are only exchanging an “iffy” section for other “iffy” sections then you haven’t solved anything just made it worse  I won’t go into the pro’s an cons of all of those mountainous roads except to say the major N/S road hwy 49 is quite busy and also just as problematic in several places (besides adding to the length of getting across the state. 


Re: highway 20 East of Nevada City - the back road leading to Scotts Flatt is a lovely day ride and if you want to try to navigate a more complex route then it is a very nice detour getting out of town.  There is quite a climb getting out of Nevada City but that is true whichever way you go.  You should read about the Pioneer Trail by googling.  I think it would be too rough a trail for a loaded tour bike - unless you are on bikepacking type setup.  It isn’t a smooth dirt trail but closer to a single track type route with rough “fun” sections.


Lastly: note that if you do end up going across the state on hwy 20 and end up passing through the town of Truckee, don’t make the mistake of taking hwy 267 to Lake Tahoe.  Take hwy 89 which is flat and follows the truckee river to its source at Lake Tahoe.

Offline bbarrettx

Re: Oregon in late May vs Western Express
« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2018, 07:46:34 pm »
Another route you might consider is to cut off the coast in Reedsport, OR and head over to Crater Lake and drop down into NE Cal through Klamath Falls. The climbing might be easier than in CA. If you want more coast riding you can continue south on the coast and still cross east through Klamath Falls. The general conditions on the coast at that time of year are strong northerly tailwinds if the weather is nice but if it's raining it's likely to be the opposite. You could let those conditions guide your planning. I did got stuck up in Crater Lake area in a snowstorm in early June one year and had to hitch a ride with a garbage truck which was my only way to get into the closed park, but that was atypical June weather.

I haven't ridden the Western Express but have toured up in UT in early June and, yeah, it's going to be hot. The lack of shade will get to you and you'll be close to the solstice so it'll mean relentless sun. Lots of snow up there in the Northern Rockies but the TA would probably be a more comfortable route if you're considering it. If you do take Western Express the Crater Lake cutoff might get you out to the desert sooner and might give you marginally cooler days.

Offline bglaser496

Re: Oregon in late May vs Western Express
« Reply #7 on: April 24, 2018, 05:34:00 pm »
Thanks.  Plan, as of today, ACA Oregon Coast South to Ft. Bragg and turn left.  Hwy 20 more or less to Hwy 89 into Lake Tahoe. Looks like only a few miles on Hwy 80 to get over the pass. Meet the Western Express in Carson City and head East.  Starting in Astoria May 15 so Nevada and Utah should not be too hot yet.  Thanks for the input and route suggestions, especially Nyimbo. Too early in the season for the TA and I like the big hills.  I think my legs are stupid because they do what I tell them to do. 

Offline Nyimbo

Re: Oregon in late May vs Western Express
« Reply #8 on: April 24, 2018, 06:21:07 pm »
Good luck, you will enjoy.  Do you have a blog or anything to follow?

Offline bglaser496

Re: Oregon in late May vs Western Express
« Reply #9 on: April 25, 2018, 04:03:18 pm »
Thanks.  I generally do not post much when I am touring.  I'll post some pics on this thread when I return.  I will enjoy your home grounds.