Author Topic: Newbie Route question  (Read 2846 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline easy

Newbie Route question
« on: January 15, 2011, 09:42:38 am »
Have been riding to work, when weather permitted, for years. Retirement this summer hopefully. Want to ride Northern Tier west from Illinois. Before I buy the maps, Does this route consist of mostly state highways, county roads, hopefully not 4 lanes? I justwant to stay out of traffic as much as possible, I know that it can't be avoided entirely but I like secondary roads and cruising farm country. Will be camping and self contained as much as possible. Lewis Clark Trail also a possibility. I'm new to Touring and would welcome advice.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Newbie Route question
« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2011, 10:54:00 am »
ACA route planners do a pretty good job of picking suitable roads in my opinion.  They usually are a mix of all of the road types you mention.  BTW, 4 lane roads aren't always that bad and are often easier to deal with because they are likely to have rideable shoulders.  Not sure about the NT, but both the TA and the SC each had a short section on the interstate as well.  They weren't the highlight of the trip, but they were pretty safe with a very wide shoulder.

If you are especially traffic squeamish, there may be some sections that you don't care fore, but overall it should be do-able.

All that is based on my experience on the TransAmerica and southern part of the Sierra Cascades route.  I have not done the NT.


  • Guest
Re: Newbie Route question
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2011, 02:40:49 pm »
It will run the gamut from country roads to state highways to U.S. highways.  And as noted, some wider roads, including interstates, can be safe.  In some cases, the small country rodes can pose their own problems.  For example, when I did the NT, a woman in Indiana warned us about yahoos running stop signs at intersections in the backroads that cut through cornfields.  Two years ago I did the section of the NT from Glacier N.P. to Eureka, MT.  There was heavy traffic in Columbia Falls, but very little on most of the parts of U.S. 93 that we rode except leaving Whitefish and entering Eureka, and the part of 93 that we were on had enough shoulder to get by.

One tip is to not take "shortcuts."  You may see a more direct route than the one show on the AC map.  One probable reason for the less direct route is potential traffic on the more direct route.  For example, heading west out of Sandpoint, ID, you could take U.S. 2 instead of following the official route that crosses the lake and meanders along the other side of the river before eventually getting to the same place, but you might get squashed by a logging truck trying to do so.

In sum, t's completely doable even with the areas of moderate to heavy traffic.  And at some point you will want to spend omse time in more populated areas.  Meeting the locals is part of the experience.

Offline commuter

Re: Newbie Route question
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2011, 10:43:30 pm »
I have ridden most of the Lewis & Clark trail as well the Northeren Tier. My advice to a newbie is to bike the NT first. The reason is that the route is well traveled by many bike tourists and the towns are so regular that there is really no issue as far as water, food, rest stops etc. The other riders could come in handy if you have some type of unforseen issue. On the other hand the L&C is not as popular of a route so the chances of getting help from another cyclotourist are lessened. The towns are not as readily available as they are on the NT. There are a couple of stretches with water supply issues so it makes the planning a little tougher. Both routes have fantastic scenery so it's a win win situation no matter what your choice. FYI, part of the L&C is on the NT. Just thought I'd mention that. I'm sure that you are concerned with traffic issues so with that in mind I can only say that the traffic and shoulder width issues are acceptable. The folks at AC have done an excellent job in planning these routes and you will reap the benefits no matter which route you choose.
Have a Great Tour

Offline easy

Re: Newbie Route question
« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2011, 09:08:29 pm »
Thanks for the reply's, I have ordered the NT route maps. Now to start gearing up for the trip. Most of my camping stuff fits on my motorcycle so I'll need to gear down somewhat. I'll buy what I think I'll need and then decide if I need a Trailer. My wife and I have Easy Racer's recumbents. I'm thinking about a fairing, any pros and cons on that?