Author Topic: Banff to San Francisco  (Read 9078 times)

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Offline syndrome

Banff to San Francisco
« on: October 16, 2011, 07:33:16 pm »
I'm planning a trip from Banff to San Francisco beginning in April. Using the Great Parks North trail, Lewis & Clark and finally the Pacific Coast I've mapped the entire trip so it comes to approximately 2263.5 miles( 3621.6 kilometres for those of us who reside in Canada). What my questioin is, how long would this take, I am confident that by the time April comes I will be able to maintain a speed of 25 km/hr for the duration of the usual cycling day. I have never done a cycling trip and am very excited to do it. Another question I've been trying to answer is, of course, the financial one. Putting all the necessary supplies I will buy prior to leaving aside, how expensive would this cost me?

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Banff to San Francisco
« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2011, 08:52:53 pm »
First question is always, are you planning to camp and cook, or eat in restaurants and sleep in motels or B&Bs?

If you're going to camp, I'd suggest you plan on reducing your projected speed by at least a third.  I think most loaded tourists average 10-12 mph; I can do that unless there's a lot of climbing.  There are some people who can ride all day, sunrise to sunset, at that speed.  For me, 30 miles a day is good at the start, with some climbing, increasing to 60-70 miles a day after a month or so.  (Unless there's a lot of climbing that day!)  I'd say 50 miles a day is a good average for planning.

Costs are all over the place.  Some people claim to get by on $5 a day; I'll spend that much on snacks and drinks most days.  The sky is the limit on the high end -- it's easy to blow through $150 a day or more if you're moteling it and eating at fancy restaurants.  Some days, though, it's worth it for a hot shower, a roof over your head, and a great hot meal - maybe with a super local micro-brew.

Sounds like a great trip.  Let us know how you do!

Offline adventurepdx

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Re: Banff to San Francisco
« Reply #2 on: October 16, 2011, 09:20:15 pm »
Banff to SF would be a lot of fun. I've done portions of what you describe.

However, how committed are you to starting in April? And how prepared are you for dealing with winter riding?
Banff and the Rockies are still going to be snowy and cool. Heading west from there you will will probably hit more snowy passes that early that early in the season (like Lolo). Not to mention that Going-To-The-Sun Road in Glacier Park (Montana) will most likely be still closed for the season. (This year it didn't even open until Mid-July!)

Once you get to the lower elevations on the Lewis and Clark heading towards towards the coast, things will be warmer. But spring comes late to the high country.

Offline valygrl

Re: Banff to San Francisco
« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2011, 12:22:30 am »
To reiterate:

April is insane.  June is the very earliest that would be reasonable. 

If you are carrying camping gear, 25 kph is extremely fast - are you a racer?  If not, plan on 9-12 mph.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Banff to San Francisco
« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2011, 10:04:08 am »
Are you 25 years old, or 55 years old? Makes a difference (for most people).

Offline syndrome

Re: Banff to San Francisco
« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2011, 10:58:39 am »
Okay, so I now realize that my earlier speed projectioin was a little high, I completely forgot about the weight. I am planning to go atleast 80 kilometres a day increasing to 100 as the trip progresses. In reference to the Glacier Park, there is another route from Baynes Lake, west of the Park which I could take as it could be closed. I am 18 years old, and for the most part I will eat at a cheap restaraunt then sleep in my tent, but every now and then I will cook for myself.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Banff to San Francisco
« Reply #6 on: October 17, 2011, 11:24:26 am »
Old folks like me always underestimate what you young folks are able to physically do and endure, and your high risk tolerance. Your plan sounds fine except for perhaps the starting date. Even then if you have extra time to wait out / route around bad weather, sufficient cold weather gear and a tolerance for discomfort, you'll be fine.

indyfabz

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Re: Banff to San Francisco
« Reply #7 on: October 17, 2011, 04:10:12 pm »
Okay, so I now realize that my earlier speed projectioin was a little high, I completely forgot about the weight. I am planning to go atleast 80 kilometres a day increasing to 100 as the trip progresses. In reference to the Glacier Park, there is another route from Baynes Lake, west of the Park which I could take as it could be closed.

Are you talking about coming down PR 93, crossing at Roosville and heading south through Eureka to Whitefish?  If so, you will probably hit cold/wet weather if you start your trip in April. I have ridden the stretch between Eureka and Whitefish three times. The first two times ('99, '00, north to south) were cool and wet in the second week of June.  In '09 (south to north) I got rain and it was still a bit on the chilly side in the third week of June. Circled through Canada--Sparwood, Pincher Creek and Waterton Village. Except for Eureka to Sparwood, which was nice, we had rain at some point the other days. Picher Creek to Waterton was downright wintry, with snow falling on the mountains. Again, this was in the third week of June.  And Logan Pass in Glacier was still closed when we got to St. Mary.

I would definitely start later if at all possible.

Offline DaveB

Re: Banff to San Francisco
« Reply #8 on: October 17, 2011, 07:31:14 pm »
Can I ask where you live?   Apparently you aren't at all familiar witrh the weather in Canada and the Northern US in early spring.  I don't care how young or tough you are, you aren't riding a snowmobile and that's what it may take for part of your route that time of year. 

Offline syndrome

Re: Banff to San Francisco
« Reply #9 on: October 17, 2011, 07:58:05 pm »
I live in Winnipeg and have had plenty of outdoor experience with weather ranging from dry and hot to rain for 16 days straight with high winds. I realize that most of the beginning in Canada and northern US will be wet, snowy and cold but I've planned for that.

Offline adventurepdx

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Re: Banff to San Francisco
« Reply #10 on: October 18, 2011, 11:07:59 pm »
syndrome, as for the camping, will you be staying in regular campgrounds or stealth camping? I'm figuring that a lot of the campgrounds in the high country will be closed in April. And have you done winter (snow) camping/tenting before?

Offline jamawani

Re: Banff to San Francisco
« Reply #11 on: October 20, 2011, 08:44:19 am »
Ditto to Valygrl - insane and unrealistic.
Not to be mean, but April is no time to be out in the Canadian & Northern Rockies -
Unless you are prepared for brutal winter conditions.

For the route you suggested - a 60-mile day is moderate, 80 is good, 100 is serious.

Offline jamawani

Re: Banff to San Francisco
« Reply #12 on: October 20, 2011, 09:03:47 am »
PS -
April is really ideal in the American Southwest.
Have you thought about STARTING in San Francisco -
Riding down the coast and into the deserts - which are blooming then -
Then heading north in the valley regions of the Rockies?

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Banff to San Francisco
« Reply #13 on: October 20, 2011, 10:13:25 am »
I wonder if we need to back off some of the vehement “No ways!” this discussion has engendered.  While I think there are some valid points being raised against a late winter trip, should this not be, “I wouldn’t do it!”?

To do the trip on the OP’s schedule would certainly require some changes from the way most of us “fair-weather” tourists do business.  It would require additional weight for warmer gear, perhaps in wheels and tires.  It would require more schedule flexibility, to wait out winter storms and snow plows.  It would require additional routing considerations, such as avoiding Highway 20 over Washington Pass and its 13 avalanche zones.

In short, it would be a different kind of touring from what most of us are used to.  It would be more like Iditabike for the first part of the trip than Crazyguyonabike.

Now, I think, and many of you will agree with me, people who ride Iditabike are crazy.

But when I bike to work, on fair days as well as foul, and even more when I talk about riding a century (metric or English), and especially when I talk about long bike tours (around the summer), most people think I’m crazy, too.

I’m reminded of an Appalachian Trail through-hiker I met several years ago, who finished her medical training and started hiking.  In the winter.  She and her husband used snowshoes in the Smokies to get through 6’ snow drifts.  Now, this is precisely why nobody hikes the AT in the winter.  But they did it.

Now I don’t bike commute when there’s snow or ice on the ground.  But some people do so routinely, and they discuss how they do it on sites like icebike.  So, after getting by “I wouldn’t because of [fill in the blank],” how could a crazy winter biker tourist actually ride such a trip?  What adaptations would be needed, how could they improve their chances of surviving and even enjoying the trip?  What resources can we point such crazy people to that will let them plan for such a trip, train and equip themselves, and maybe even do it?

In short, do we want to provide information and advice to let someone plan their bike trip, rather than try to reach a consensus among ourselves how someone else should do it?

Offline valygrl

Re: Banff to San Francisco
« Reply #14 on: October 20, 2011, 03:35:00 pm »
I really like the spirit in which your comment was intended, pdlamb.    I and I can see where the word "insane" sounds harsh.

However:

You have to look at the whole picture.  The original post is from someone who has never done a bike trip before, doesn't have the gear, has an expectation of a pace that is unrealistic for most of us.

The kind of person who can have a successful, safe and enjoyable trip in those weather conditions probably doesn't have to ask how long that will take or how much it will cost, because they have experience enough to already know.

I think it's useful to provide realistic expectations, and not always "look on the bright side."  Not because I think it can't be done by anyone, but because this person doesn't have the experience to know what is realistic him/herself.  If s/he wants to go for it, fine, but there's no reason to sugarcoat the fact that this trip is ill-timed, and not really that appropriate for a beginner.

I'm not saying "no way it can't be done" but why not let the person know what to expect?  I mean, if s/he just puts the start date out 6 weeks, there will still be plenty of challenge (including weather challenges!) but can be a beautiful enjoyable safe experience.  The original timing is a bad-weather guarantee, probably more of an endurance test than an enjoyable vacation, and has the potential for being actually dangerous.

Jamawani's idea to turn it upside down resonates with me -  if that's the available time frame, optimize the route around it.