Author Topic: Help Building a Trip  (Read 235 times)

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Offline dcg1080

Help Building a Trip
« on: April 17, 2017, 04:19:10 pm »
New to the forum. I've been browsing and just may not have found the answer yet, but it's just a little difficult sorting through the forum information. So I'm just looking for advice/information and hoped that I might find some firsthand here.

I am new to bike touring. Only a few short jaunts so far. I'm planning a (very) long tour starting in a month or so (which I hope is not too soon, but feel free to chime in on that). Also, I realize this is very ambitious. I'm not on any real schedule. So I can start out taking my time until I get used to be in the saddle so long. Also will be likely to take stops in a few cities and will have to sprinkle in a few long weekends off (a little back and forth for work).

TL;DR: This entire trip is pretty flexible.

So the general outline of my trip is East to West crossing starting on the Northern Tier, cutting up through Canada (around the VT/NY border), cutting back down to catch the Northern tier in Ohio, across to Rt 66, down RT 66 to the transamerican trail (not sure if I will ride rt 66 all the way to intersect or possible cut off for part of Lewis and Clark trail and then make my own way to the TA somewhere in Kansas), TA out through Colorado, some combination of TA or other trails back up to meet the Northern tier in northern Montana and then take the Northern tier over to the coast. From there if there's time then maybe the PC trail down the coast of Cali, but I can decide all that later.

One thing I would like to avoid as much as possible is busy roads. To see a city I am more than happy just getting near it on the bike and renting a car or a cab to see the sites. So any new routes don't need to get into too much traffic. The main information gap I need filled is how best to cut up through Canada. I would like to see as much as possible (Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto), but no desire to see Detroit. Any advice is helpful. Prettier to ride along Erie or across and down Huron? etc. etc.

Recommendations for RT66 all the way to TA or cut across through Kansas City and catch the TA later? Recommendations for best combo up from the TA to the NT through Montana? Not sure if my road bike would be up for the great divide trail depending on the terrain (32mm front tires and 37mm rear).

Any recommendations of sections of the actual ACA trails I'll be on for which I might prefer an alternate route?

I guess now everyone can feel free (whether I like it or not) to throw out whatever opinions they have even if they aren't all that relative. Bring it on. You never know what might be helpful.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Help Building a Trip
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2017, 05:11:43 pm »
One great way to link the TA and the NT out west is to take the Great Parks North route from Missoula up to Columbia Falls.  It's worth a few days to backtrack to West Glacier and Apgar to see Glacier N.P.   

If you don't want to carry that extra map, just go east on U.S. 12 out of Missoula, pick up MT 200 and go up 83 through Seely Lake and Bigfork.  Beautiful ride, low traffic with a few log trucks.

Offline jwrushman

Re: Help Building a Trip
« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2017, 07:25:21 pm »
When are you planning to go?  I'm doing Albany to Anacortes via Great Lakes and Northern Tier starting June 1.

Offline dcg1080

Re: Help Building a Trip
« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2017, 09:57:13 am »
I'm not entirely sure of my start date yet, but I'm aiming for mid-May. It's going to depend on wrapping a few other things and finish up a state to state move before I can start gathering what gear I don't have and hit the road.

I'm not entirely sure what that will make my dates out west since I am not going to be following a hard schedule or anything, but I figured if I'm flexible enough on timing it shouldn't matter.

Offline dcg1080

Re: Help Building a Trip
« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2017, 10:05:39 am »
One great way to link the TA and the NT out west is to take the Great Parks North route from Missoula up to Columbia Falls.  It's worth a few days to backtrack to West Glacier and Apgar to see Glacier N.P.   

Great tip there. That looks like a better option than trying to do the Divide trail on a road touring bike. I'll probably miss a few views, but Missoula is just as good if not better than Helena.

I'm not much for the paper type, so I'm hoping to just take digital maps. Shouldn't take extra space. Speaking of does anyone have any app recommendations I may not have heard of before? I've got good apps for just maps purposes, but I haven't run across one yet that's real intuitive. I would like to be able to add my own custom route (like the map app on iphone for directions except the directions are custom) and it also includes the ability to track the actual ride with data, etc.

I've seen several options for either or of these (and probably some that do both and I haven't realized yet), but I would really prefer an app that's kind of all inclusive so I never have to worry about switching while riding.

Offline indyfabz

Re: Help Building a Trip
« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2017, 10:51:32 am »
One great way to link the TA and the NT out west is to take the Great Parks North route from Missoula up to Columbia Falls.  It's worth a few days to backtrack to West Glacier and Apgar to see Glacier N.P.   

Great tip there. That looks like a better option than trying to do the Divide trail on a road touring bike. I'll probably miss a few views, but Missoula is just as good if not better than Helena.
Wouldn't to the Divide on 32c/37c.

I will be going back to Glacier N.P. again this June to ride up the west side of Going to the Sun to Logan Pass and back down again. This will be during a loop tour from/to Missoula. Here is the entire route:

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/19192705

The latter miles show the link between Missoula and Glacier, only in the opposite direction you would be going. Much of it is part of ACA's Great Parks North route.

There is camping in/around Seeley Lake and further up MT 83 at Lake Alva. (One of the two campgrounds there has no water. Lake Inzez Campground is also dry.) In Big Fork, Wayfarer's State Park now has hike/biker sites. Note that getting to and from W. Glacier involves some dirt at mile 428/511 on the above map unless you want to brave a shoulderless section of U.S. 2 going towards Hungry Horse. 32c shouldn't be a problem, and it's pretty and quiet back there. The pavement picks up at some point at the easterly end of Belton Stage Rd.

In the park you could set up camp and Sprague Creek Campground or further up the road at Avalanche Campground and then ride up to Logan Pass and back. Sprague Creek is smaller (nice tent pads and bear boxes for hikers/bikers) but it's also close to the road. I like it there because you can walk to Lake McDonald Lodge, which is a must-visit. However, if you stay at Avalanche you have a shorter ride up to the pass and you can catch the free shuttle if you want to go the lodge for dinner and/or a beer down by the lake. Personally, I don't like to be dependent on shuttle schedules.

In Whitefish, on the NT, Whitefish Lake S.P. also has new hiker/biker sites with lots of amenities. Lots of train noise though, so bring ear plugs if you are a light sleeper.

BTW...If you want to take what is supposed to be a very nice detour off the Northern Tier, take a look at the section of the above map between mile 255 and mile 339. (You would, of course, be going in the opposite direction.) From what I have read (including a journal on Crazy Guy), it's supposed to be very nice. You can see the portion between mile 255 and Yaak at mile 297.4 on Street View. There is camping in Yaak itself at what appears to be a lodge/restaurant. There are also a couple of forest service campgrounds with water west of Yaak at mile 292 and 294.5. There is also a store in Yaak, but I don't know how well stocked it is.  Closer to Troy, there is a campground at mile 260.7. Troy has a legitimate grocery store. Really excited about riding this section. The journal entry I read says the climb from Lake Koocanusa up the summit at mile 226 is a tough one. I will be going in the opposite direction. It looks like that way is easier grade-wise.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2017, 11:29:47 am by indyfabz »

Offline jamawani

Re: Help Building a Trip
« Reply #6 on: April 18, 2017, 11:34:38 am »
Have you considered head directly west from the Chicago area across Iowa and Nebraska?

The Sandhills of Nebraska are THE most beautiful way to cross the Great Plains. Plus empty roads.
Because of the sand, they were never plowed - so you have empty, natural grasslands.
Not mile after mile of wheat fields with mind-numbing straight roads.
Basically Hwy 92 from Broken Bow to Ogallala:

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/20406654

You could then swing down into northeast Colorado from Julesburg to Walden and reconnect with the TA.
US 138 and Hwy 14 have very light traffic, High Plains camping near Briggsdale.
Fort Collins is an awesome college town - with all needed services.
Then the Cache la Poudre Canyon will blow your socks off.
Just over Cameron Pass is a canal service road that takes you deep into the backcountry Rockies.

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/20406751

Offline dcg1080

Re: Help Building a Trip
« Reply #7 on: April 19, 2017, 09:43:40 am »
Thanks indyfabz and jamawani for the good information. This will help me flesh out my trip from the TA back to the NT in Montana.

As for the sandhills I've done some googling and they look beautiful to ride, but I'm not sure that I can work them into my trip. I'm trying to avoid Iowa (I've spent too much time traveling through there for work) and they would take me North enough that I'm afraid I would miss out on some of the parts of CO I want to see. I might just have to save them for another trip.

I've also checked out Poudre Canyon and I'm not sure it will be on the route, but I'm definitely going to have to take a side jaunt for that.

I know riding across Missouri and Kansas will not be very enjoyable, but I figured that a couple fairly flat days might be nice before going through the Rockies and if nothing else it might just be a place to make up some time/miles since there's not much else to see. Plus... free corn (if I don't get caught).


Offline jamawani

Re: Help Building a Trip
« Reply #8 on: April 19, 2017, 02:41:14 pm »
Just FYI -

Missouri ain't flat. The goat hills are killer.
My first x-USA trip I was expecting light riding and was rudely awakened.
(Along with some choice language, too)

Offline jcostanz

Re: Help Building a Trip
« Reply #9 on: April 22, 2017, 05:43:46 pm »
A route from Rouses Point (NY/VT/Quebec) border to Montreal is mostly low traffic and easy.  Then Leave Montreal following the bike route along the St Laurence.  This will connect tot he Waterfront trail (both on road and off road)that will take you Toronto right along the waterfront.  At Hamilton you need to decide if you want to head towards Niagara Falls or West.  If you head to Niagara Falls, I would follow the waterfront trail thru Niagara On The Lake and join the Northern Tier route in Queenston and either take the Northern Tier south along Lake Erie or take the Lake Erie Connector along the Northern Shore of Lake Erie and then connect to the Northern Tier with the Pelee Island Ferry mentioned on the Lake Erie Connector.  Avoiding Detroit is mostly required as it hard to cross the border on a bicycle in Detroit.  (it is only with the bus driver discretion on the tunnel crossing in Detriot.)  The options for crossing between Ontario and Michigan in that area are on the Algonac Ferry North of Lake st Clair and the Bluewater ferry (Sombra /Marine city).  It is possible to cross the Bluewater bridge in Sarnia/Port Huron, but requires a ride from the bridge authority at their convenience.

Jeff