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Route advice: AZ to Portland

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Route advice: AZ to Portland

Old 08-14-19, 06:59 PM
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barolfe
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Route advice: AZ to Portland

I'm planning my first tour, and I decided to make it a trip from AZ to Portland (I'm moving back up there). This will be happening in a few weeks time, when hopefully the weather will be nice.

I've roughly planned a route based off of a similar trip I found on crazyguyonabike, but it still needs some work. A lot of these roads don't have any sort of shoulder for hundreds of miles, which might just be something I need to accept. Additionally, I'll probably need to do a fair amount of secret camping.

Here's the route (I'm not allowed to post a link, but maybe it'll be acceptable to copy and paste):
strava.com/routes/20927523

Any opinions or suggestions are very welcome!
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Old 08-14-19, 10:29 PM
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See the Adventure Cycling routes. They are well researched.

https://www.adventurecycling.org/rou...e-network-map/
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Old 08-15-19, 05:30 AM
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I hope you've started some in-depth water source planning. Desert crossings can be challenging/dangerous in summer. Consider night riding.

I know a little about the AZ portion. Some of it is on reservation land, where secret, or "stealth" as we call it, camping is not allowed or advised. You may be able to get permission if you ask. It's certainly feasible on US BLM and FS land which abounds along your route. There are huge fenced ranch tracts where you might have problems camping.

The lower elevations north of Flagstaff where you cross the Colorado and Little Colorado may be unbearably hot this month. The same may be true in parts of Utah, Nevada, and CA at the lower elevations.

I also know a little about the OR portion. If you haven't been to Crater Lake, take this opportunity to modify the route and see it. Though the McKenzie Pass crossing of the Cascades is a good one, too. It's hard to go wrong in Oregon, with some of the best bike touring in the US.
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Old 08-15-19, 07:24 AM
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A few general comments:
1. It looks like the parts between Eureka, NV and Klamath Falls, OR are similar to what I've done going the other direction in May 2013 (Epilogue | A bicycle ride across Africa). In general these were US highways with not too much shoulders but also not too much traffic. The combination works for me, though I do like having a mirror to just keep an eye out. Some moderate-sized gaps where one need to plan water/stops but also can be done. It looks like you might not be too far from Burning Man roughly the time it typically happens (you'll probably somewhat later).

2. Temperatures are a concern, though looks like a reasonable portion of your route is 4000ft+ which is going to help. I would plan on getting some early starts to avoid too much mid-day heat.

3. One caution I have on your UT section (Cedar City UT to Baker NV) is whether there are enough towns/water stops along the way. I don't know either way, but I would definitely check that carefully. Similarly the early parts after Klamath Falls, though I suspect this is OK.

4. Klamath Falls is an Amtrak station with baggage service on Coast Starlight. You don't need to plan, but if unforeseen things happen, this is at least a nice bailout option.
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Old 08-15-19, 08:21 AM
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Originally Posted by mev View Post
3. One caution I have on your UT section (Cedar City UT to Baker NV) is whether there are enough towns/water stops along the way. I don't know either way, but I would definitely check that carefully.
Poked around Google Maps. UT-21 west of Milford looks completely deserted until Baker.
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Old 08-15-19, 04:51 PM
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I was going to write to ask which part of Arizona you are located, but then it does not matter because no matter where you are the desert that you need to get across this time of year is realistically too hot. I would highly recommend that you wait much more than a few weeks, realistically speaking more like a few months before the temperatures drop significantly. As I see it, you have two basic choices; A) you could Hitch hike out to the coast anywhere from San Diego to Santa Barbara and ride the coast to Oregon, or.... B) Hitch hike to Ridgecrest and take the 395 heading north and do the Sierra Cascades. Another way to go besides hitch hiking, is to find someone on Craigslist/ ride share that is going in your desired direction.
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Old 08-15-19, 05:54 PM
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If you decide on the Sierra Cascade route, I do not recommend riding the central valley up the 49, even though it's not the desert, it's plenty hot, also I believe most people tour up the 120 through Yosemite. The problem is ( I have done it before) it is at least 70 miles (all climbing) to get to Tualommee (Rats- I forget how to spell it) Meadows. you could stay on the 49 to the 20 which takes you to Truckee, (not so bad) and then continue north. What you are trying to do is the: " Escape The Arizona Heat Tour" If you were to post on the Crazy Guy website. Yuk Yuk Yuk. Good Luck.
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Old 08-15-19, 07:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Brian25 View Post
I would highly recommend that you wait much more than a few weeks, realistically speaking more like a few months before the temperatures drop significantly.
I'll make a counterpoint as more than a few months makes it more likely to show up in Oregon in November or later, at which point likely hood of having wet conditions approaching Western Oregon significantly increases. From the maps, it looks like the OP is leaving from mid-Arizona which is already cooler than lower areas near Phoenix and Tucson.

You can view average high temperatures using the NOAA maps here https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/climateatlas/ From this, it suggests that St George Utah is a reasonable proxy for one of the warmer parts of the trip. Looking at St George climate average here https://weatherspark.com/m/2380/9/Av...-United-States suggests St George starts September with high temperatures averaging 97F with 90th percentile in the low 100s- and ends September with high temperatures of 87F and 90th percentile in upper 90s. St George at start of September seems foolhardy to me. St George around end of September seems more doable, particularly if one looks for places to cool off along the way and/or avoid hottest times of the day and takes sufficient water.

So I think waiting a few weeks makes some sense. I also think it makes some sense on the early (hot) parts of the route to try plotting things out to find some places where ideally you can end the day at mid-day indoors with AC - and also get out on the road early at sunrise to take advantage or relatively cooler temperatures.

I also think waiting a lot longer than that, starts to run into problems later in the cooler parts of the route, where as you get closer to the coast the likelihood of cold/wet conditions increases if you end up arriving too late...

So waiting a few weeks is probably good. On the other side of the equation is looking at weather averages in Portland: https://weatherspark.com/m/757/10/Av...-United-States where the probability of precipitation goes from ~25% at start of October to to finish October around 48%.

Also for what it is worth, following is a climate comparison between Ridgecrest and St George - so they aren't actually that different in their temperature profiles - https://weatherspark.com/compare/y/1...d-Saint-George

Last edited by mev; 08-15-19 at 07:33 PM.
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Old 08-16-19, 06:57 AM
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Touring Arizona's cow butt hole

Originally Posted by barolfe View Post
I'm planning my first tour, and I decided to make it a trip from AZ to Portland (I'm moving back up there). This will be happening in a few weeks time, when hopefully the weather will be nice.

I've roughly planned a route based off of a similar trip I found on crazyguyonabike, but it still needs some work. A lot of these roads don't have any sort of shoulder for hundreds of miles, which might just be something I need to accept. Additionally, I'll probably need to do a fair amount of secret camping.

Here's the route (I'm not allowed to post a link, but maybe it'll be acceptable to copy and paste):
strava.com/routes/20927523

Any opinions or suggestions are very welcome!
I do not know if you are aware of it but Arizona has some of the nations largest cow feed lots. Because of the size of those lots, there is the smell that goes with it. I know largely from experience just driving by them at 60- 70 mph. The smell gave me a sore throat. I just cannot imagine how bad that would be on a bike. Not something positive that you would want to experience on a first bike tour, trust me.
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Old 08-16-19, 08:13 AM
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Originally Posted by mev View Post
I'll make a counterpoint as more than a few months makes it more likely to show up in Oregon in November or later, at which point likely hood of having wet conditions approaching Western Oregon significantly increases.
+1. I've crossed McKenzie Pass twice. Once in each direction. Mid September during Cycle Oregon. Both mornings it was quite chilly. The second time it was also wet on the west side. And Crater Lake in November? Good luck with that one. The north entrance and the rim road close with the first big snow, or on 10/1, whichever comes first.
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Old 08-17-19, 10:15 PM
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Wow, thanks for all the feedback so far! It's all been greatly appreciated.

To clarify a few points about the route and timing, I picked September because of the NOAA climate data. If I wait until October, I could be facing some very cold temperatures and possibly early snow on the route, and I consider that a lot more dangerous than the warm temperatures. Plus, it would require me to pack warmer clothing, and a warmer sleeping bag, which will add to my carrying load. This is also why I have the route starting above 5,000-feet, and the vast majority of it is close-to or above 5,000 feet until the final stretch through Eugene to Portland.

However, I have been doing daily rides here in the valley (geared-out) to prepare, and those riding conditions have all been above 100 degrees. It's tolerable until about noon, and then it's hard to stay hydrated.

As a few have noted, I have some pretty big gaps in Utah and Nevada without any places to get food or water, so I might re-route, or at least go through and mark all those locations, and make sure I am carrying extra supplies for those bits.

It seems like there are some WarmShower hosts along the route, but they are very few and far between. I really don't mind camping, I just worry that I won't be able to find good unexposed locations for much of N. AZ and Utah, and there is probably a lot of cattle land with barbed wire. I know the route across Nevada is part of one of the ACA's routes, so I hope to find some bike friendly camping opportunities there.
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