Bicycle Travel > Connecting ACA Routes

Linking NYC/Chicago to Bicycle Route 66


Adventure Seeker:
Hi Experienced Touring Cyclists,
I live close to Boston. Am a Vegan endurance triathlete. Have not completed a multi-day ride beyond 3 consecutive days. Planning to buy/use ACA maps to ride from NYC to Chicago and link to Bicycle Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica (my son lives in L.A.). Bike and gear still to be chosen.
NYC to Chicago - ACA's departure recommendation is Mid Spring to Mid Fall.
Bicycle Route 66 -  ACA's departure recommendation is Mid April  OR   Mid August.
Seems to me I should leave NYC end of July to meet ACA's recommendation for a Mid August start on Bicycle Route 66.
Have any of you completed this route East to West like I'm planning?
If so, would appreciate any advice regarding departure timing, traffic issues, camping or motels, weather, ACA's bike navigator app, your navigational tools, basically anything you wished you had known b4 your trip.
I'm super excited to be in the planning stages.

John Nettles:

First, Welcome to the ACA Forums!  However, be forewarned that touring can be a very addictive hobby.

Second, you might consider renaming your user id so your email is not displayed.  Spam bots can harvest it and then you will see more junk mail.  People can still email you if you list your email under your profile.

Now on to your question.  A mid-August departure from Chicago is fine.  In order to determine when you should leave NYC, I would suggest you first do a few multi-day (3-4 day) loaded as if you were on the "real" tour to determine YOUR average miles per day you are comfortable doing.  Knock off about 10% for rest days, weather or mechanical delays, etc. to determine your overall average miles per day.  Riding a touring bike is not the same as racing.  I have done both.  Touring miles are a lot less because you are carrying a lot more weight and the bike itself probably weighs more.  Do not assume that since you can do 75 miles on a racing bike that you can do 75 miles easily on a touring bike.  As a reference, I would say the "average" people tend to tour is about 55 miles per day with the ranging being from 50-60 overall.  Sure you have people who average 30 and others who average 110+.  Those are the outliers. 

Once you know your overall average per day, do the math and determine how many days you will take to get from NYC to Chicago.  Since the Chicago-NYC route has a couple of options, I won't go into them all.  Say your overall average turns out to be 50 miles per day and the route you choose is 1,100 miles.  It would take approximately 22 days +/- a day or two to ride from NYC to Chicago.  So if you wanted to leave Chicago on August 15, you would need to leave NYC approximately July 25 or so.  Obviously, if you have higher overall miles per day, the leave date can be later and vice versa.

As far as the other info, check out the journals over at Cycle Blaze or CrazyGuyonaBike.  A word of caution, try not to plan too much.  Knowing exactly what is ahead can really ruin the sense of discovery which is what makes touring so great.  If you are fairly in shape, know who to do basic bike maintenance like change a flat, and have realistic daily mileage goals, you will be fine.  The ACA maps are fantastic.  When used in conjunction with the app or a GPS, you should be fine. 

Tailwinds, John

Having contributed to the development of the PA portion of NYC to CHI (the northern part, not the PHL option, although I am familiar with much of that as well)....

Expect more summer traffic and crowds at campgrounds in August. That's just the nature of the beast.  People getting in vacations before Labor Day.  Reservations at state parks like Hickory Run (large campground) and Raymond B. Winter (decent, small place just east of a splendid Amish valley you will pass through) would be advisable, at least on weekends.  Worthington State Forest in NJ (highly recommended stop) will be tough to get a reservation for (probably impossible on weekends in August), although it supposedly has a no turn-away policy for people arriving by foot, bike or boat.  Was just there a couple of weeks ago during a tour and totally spaced on asking if that is still in place.  (You should call ahead and let them know you are coming.)

A couple of other places I stayed that were decent were the campground just south of U.S. 322 in Shippenville and Woodland Campground, a couple of miles off route north on PA 970 from U.S. 322 in Woodland. Gio's BBQ in Woodland has good food.  The climb up U.S. 322 from Clearfield heading west is a legit climb. Trucks heading east have to stop and test their brakes at the top of the hill before descending to Clearfield.

The campground in Rupert is dated and somewhat expensive for what it is, but there are not many options available, and it's close to Bloomsburg, where there is an excellent bike shop (the Dutch Wheelmen) if you need it and a large grocery store.

Weather-wise, while it should be cooler than the southern part of the state, there are no promises. Earlier this year (July, I believe it was), I did an overnight to Hickory Run State Park, which is directly on the route.  Heat index with the incredible humidity the first day was about 101 degrees.  Weather like that can result in heavy thunderstorms in the late afternoon/early evening, which happened that day.

John Nelson:
I started R66 in mid-August in Chicago and it worked out well. Any earlier and it may be too hot in the Mojave Desert. Of course it will still be hot in the Mojave, but with careful water planning, you’ll survive it, and I dare say enjoy it.

Adventure Seeker:
So appreciate all the input especially about realistic mileage expectations and campground advice. I've made a spreadsheet to help me catalogue/sift through information as I find it easy to forget nuggets of useful advice/recommendations. Again thanks for all insights!


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