Author Topic: Northern Tier - East to West vs. West to East  (Read 7584 times)

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Offline MaryK

Northern Tier - East to West vs. West to East
« on: May 11, 2007, 12:53:08 pm »
My husband and I have long been planning a Northern Tier trip starting in May 2007.  We're now in our second delay, the first because of the late opening in the Cascades and the second after I crashed last week and fractured my wrist.  The cast comes off in 3 weeks and we're still hoping to get a trip in.  If we delay much longer, it won't happen this year because of late summer obligations.

Here's the question: We've always planned a west to east trip.  Should we reverse direction?

I have read and heard a lot about the merits of west to east, most having to do with prevailing winds and the mental boost of riding towards home (we live just outside of Boston).

My big concern about west to east is hitting the Cascades on day 3 with a death grip on my brakes and an arm that won't get much exercise for a month.  

If we do east to west, we'll be able to ease into the ride and give my wrist a chance to remember what it's like to sit on the handle bars for 8 hours.  Plus (as my brother in law pointed out), you can always phone home if you get to Vermont and realize that you're just not going to make it.


Logistically, we have a friend in Seattle who will help us get started, so we would just need a plane ticket and we'll take the bikes on the plane with us.  If we start from Boston, we pack our panniers and go.

Help!  I'm open to any and all opinions.

  -Mary



Offline bishop

Northern Tier - East to West vs. West to East
« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2007, 02:52:18 pm »
Mary:

So very sorry to hear of your wreck.  I'm glad you are OK otherwise.  I was looking forward to meeting the two of you.  It does sound more practical to start from the East.  With a fresh injury you'd be able to bail out if it became too much.  Then I could meet you somewhere in Minn.!!  Hard decision, not sure how I'd handle it.  Whatever you choose remember, the route will ALWAYS be there.  Don't rush an adventure.

Bill


Offline ptaylor

Northern Tier - East to West vs. West to East
« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2007, 06:40:39 pm »
Yuk. What a downer Mary. I think you should do a more conservative trip this year, and save the Northern Tier ( West to East) for next year. Here's why, in my opinion.

  • You have an obligation at the end of the 2007 summer. I presume it's important. Don't rush yourself to meet this important event.
  • I would not due East to West. I met a few of those E-W folks (while I was doing W-E). They were all solo young males, with a goal different from mine.
  • Going through the Cascades, braking is not an issue, unless you need to keep your speed very low due to darkness or fog. (Or if you want to limit your speed to 30 MPH +/- on the descents).
  • Your wrist may 'heal' in three weeks...but how long till it is fully rehabilitated?



Paul
Paul

Offline rabbitoh

Northern Tier - East to West vs. West to East
« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2007, 10:38:28 pm »
Mary, I'm sorry to hear about your wrist. Hopefully it's on the mend.

I'm the Aussie who responded to your previous post, and perhaps am responsible for putting the idea of an East to West crossing into your thinking.

My own personal rationale for an East to West crossing was primarily because I do the bulk of my cycling, either when I am touring or cycling for relaxation, early in the day. By early, I mean as the sun is coming up. For that reason, I chose to head west, so that I would not be riding, and glaring into a rising sun. That would also mean that motorists, approaching me from behind, would also not be glaring into a rising sun.

A second consideration for me, was that psychologically, I set the crossing of the Rockies and the Cascades as a target, something to aim for. I did not want to be climbing the Cascades in only the 2nd or 3rd day of my tour. I was also expecting that my fitness level by the time I reached the mountains, would be fairly high (and it was).

I was concerned about head winds, but took the gamble anyway. And I did have a few days of soul destroying head winds, but also a number of days of tailwinds. In fact, the most common complaint I heard from cyclists with whom I spoke, heading east, was that they were severely disgruntled at the fact that the winds were not behaving as they had been hoping. In other words, they were telling me that the whole reason that they had decided to cycle east, was the expectation of tailwinds and they'd been disappointed. But, as any cyclist knows only too well, winds can be fluky. And maybe it was just that particular year.

Just one point about you wrist to remember, is that climbing also puts a certain amount of stress on the wrist; not just braking when descending.

Importantly, cylce touring is all about setting your own agenda. I've just set out what were my own reasons for heading west. I guess in a way I also was cycling in a homeward direction.

Good riding

Good Cycling
Dennis Schluter
Good Cycling
Dennis

Offline MaryK

Northern Tier - East to West vs. West to East
« Reply #4 on: June 02, 2007, 11:01:30 am »
Hi Dennis,

I wanted to let you know that I seriously considered your comments, and it has helped to salvage my trip for this year.  The cast is off my wrist and I've gotten the ok from the doctor to do the ride.  We leave on June 6 and have changed the route so that we're riding east to west. I've talked to others who've done the route in this direction and all seem to agree that, yes, the wind blows.  We also won't be hitting the Cascades on day three.  Finally, if I find that I'm in total distress and can't ride, it'll be easier to get home if I'm in VT or NY rather than Washington or Idaho.

Did I mention that we leave on June 6?  Yes, that's in 4 days.  I can't wait.

  -Mary


Offline bishop

Northern Tier - East to West vs. West to East
« Reply #5 on: June 02, 2007, 05:03:11 pm »
Hi Mary:  Bill (Bishop) here from near the Idaho line!!  One week in and it's been great.  These hills in Wa. are VERY LONG and it'll be nice for you to hit them when you're in better shape.  My website is bikeformima.com if you want to follow along.  Wishing you well and hope our paths cross this summer.

Bill


Offline rabbitoh

Northern Tier - East to West vs. West to East
« Reply #6 on: June 03, 2007, 07:16:45 pm »
Mary,

I'd like to wish you and your husband a wonderful and safe trip. The memories will stay with you forever.

Best regards
Dennis

Good Cycling
Dennis Schluter
Good Cycling
Dennis