Author Topic: On the Northern Tier - From Washinton heading east....  (Read 4435 times)

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Offline Rep

On the Northern Tier - From Washinton heading east....
« on: January 11, 2011, 10:15:49 pm »
I am beginning to plan my tour beginning in Silverdale, WA heading back to Wisconsin riding a section of the Washington Parks, then the Northern Tier.  I am trying to get a handle on the time it will take.  I have some basic and preliminary questions and if you could assist me it would be greatly appreciated.

In General, how long does it take an average tourist to travel from the coast to Cut Bank, MT?  Are we talking three weeks, two weeks? 


Bicycling, Brewing & Backgammon...What a life.

FredHiltz

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Re: On the Northern Tier - From Washinton heading east....
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2011, 05:53:57 am »
Are you an average tourist? Given this question, I'd guess you are just discovering this great way to travel.

A better way to plan is to find how many miles per day you are comfortable riding a loaded bike in big mountains. Then subtract five miles used for side trips to buy food, and maybe more if you want to see the sights as you go. That's the planning distance between campgrounds or other lodging.

Then how many days would you add for sightseeing and bad weather? Do you like to push on through a rainy day or take a day off?

Most people starting out will probably ride 35 - 40 miles per day the first few days, then increase to 50 - 60 in the mountains by the third week. These are averages; be ready for a few longer days on the NT. The ACA maps point these out.

Read more journals than you ever want at http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/.

Fred

indyfabz

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Re: On the Northern Tier - From Washinton heading east....
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2011, 02:44:50 pm »
Not sure where the Washington Parks route goes, but this was my itinerary starting from Seattle and taking a ferry to pick up the Pacific Coast Rote to the Northern Tier. I don’t think many people would consider this a moderate pace.  Certainly not aggressive.  I was with a group, so we had to accommodate all abilities.

Kitsap State Park (I think that was the name)
Fort Worden State Park at Pt. Townsend
Bayview State Park
Howard Miller Steelhead Park in Rockport
Colonial Creek Campground on Rte. 20 a little east of Newhalem
Winthrop
Day off in Winthrop
Tonakset
Republic
Colville
Ione
Sandpoint, ID
Day off in Sandpoint
Junction of Rtes. 200 and 56 in MT
Libby
Rexford
Whitefish
Sprague Creek in Glacier National Park
Day off waiting for the pass to open
St. Mary KOA
Waterton Village, AB
McGrath, AB
Cut Bank, MT

We had originally planned to take a day off in Waterton village but got delayed in Glacier, so we skipped it.  Send me a private message if you would like the rest of the itinerary or other info.

Offline johnsondasw

Re: On the Northern Tier - From Washinton heading east....
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2011, 12:07:53 am »
I've done most parts of the route described by indyfabz, and my pace was about the same.  This is a great route--no bad days in there at all. Challenging, but great scenery and roads.
May the wind be at your back!

Offline commuter

Re: On the Northern Tier - From Washinton heading east....
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2011, 09:16:30 pm »
I am planning on doing part of this route this summer. I live in St. Paul and usually plan on some kind of a loop trip. I like starting and ending my trip from home. I plan on riding out on the NT to the intersection of the Great Parks Route, heading south to the Lewis & Clark,looping back to Williston,ND and returning home on the NT. I'm planning on four weeks for this trip. I've been out that way several times before and met a lot of travelers. The most ambitious duo I met, told me that they had traveled from Anacortes to Minot,ND in two weeks. Remember it's your tour so go at the pace that is fun for you. If you run out of time you can easily grab the Empire Builder (AmTrac) along the route. You can only board in certain towns with your bike so do some research before you leave.
Steve

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Re: On the Northern Tier - From Washinton heading east....
« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2011, 10:20:43 am »
Great ideas and thanks for them folks.

Fred - This would be my fifth time out.  I am a 61 year old former smoker, free for almost four years.  I can spend many hours in the saddle.  I plod at 12 MPH and can easily average 60 - 70 miles a day.  I have completed one century fully loaded, but that is the limit.  I would do centuries on the plains if needed, but no longer need to meet that goal in life.  Been there.

It is the slogging upwards in the mountains I have no experience with and would like to get a handle on that.  Your suggested 35 miles increasing to 60 is useful.  I will be in touring shape at the start.

commuter - I am about 60 miles east of you in west central Wisconsin.  Like you, there are no mountains near here for me to test my long climbing style.  (BTW- My daughter attends Hamline University in St. Paul.)  Your idea of jumping on the train is great.  I will be under some sort of timeline and already know that 3 to 3 and a half weeks for the total trip, out, a night or two with my brother, the ride and the return transport is allotted time.

indyfabz & johnsondasw - Your comments lead me to believe that the ACA maps suggested by Fred would round out many of my questions relating to overnights and supplies etc.  From there, figuring out when I could jump an Amtrak home should allow me to flesh out a trip itinerary.
Bicycling, Brewing & Backgammon...What a life.

Offline knolltop

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Re: On the Northern Tier - From Washinton heading east....
« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2011, 09:25:04 pm »
There's no mtns in westcentral WI, but training on all those hills in your neighborhood will stand ya in good stead on your trip!

Horribly Hilly Hundred was truly THE toughest 1-day ride ever!!!   ;)

Best of luck on your trip!
+-+ Michael +-+

indyfabz

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Re: On the Northern Tier - From Washinton heading east....
« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2011, 02:08:01 pm »
indyfabz & johnsondasw - Your comments lead me to believe that the ACA maps suggested by Fred would round out many of my questions relating to overnights and supplies etc.  From there, figuring out when I could jump an Amtrak home should allow me to flesh out a trip itinerary.

Yep.  The maps show everything, including camping locations, grocery stores and motels.  When you look at the maps, you will see that in WA it can be difficult to combine days shown on my itinerary.  For example, to get from Winthrop to Republic instead of stopping in Tonasket would require a very long day with two passes.  Same would be true if you stayed in Tonasket and tried to skip Republic.

The NT often follows the route of Amtrak's Empire Builder, especially east of Cut Bank.  Go to Amtrak's web site, select stations and search by state.  You will get a list of all stations in that state.  Click on a station name to see if there is checked baggage service.  The station must offer checked baggage service in order for you to be able to take your bike with you.  East of Cut Bank, MT, Shelby and Havre have checked baggage service.  I would also call ahead to make sure they have a bike box on hand.

If you find yourself pressed for time, at least try to make it into Glacier N.P. and ride the west side of Going to the Sun and maybe make the hike to the lake from Avalanche Campground.  You could then double back to Whitefish for the train.