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Getting bike to the TransAm on the west coast (couple of questions)

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Getting bike to the TransAm on the west coast (couple of questions)

Old 07-17-21, 02:25 PM
  #1  
apkramer2021
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Getting bike to the TransAm on the west coast (couple of questions)

I'm planning a cross country trip starting around August 16th, going West to East (thanks to the great advice of this community, decided to not do east to west given the riskiness of crossing rockies in late september).

I'm going to buy a new touring bike (planning on Surly Long Haul Trucker) - but need to figure out the best way to get it west, and to get to the trailhead.

A few questions:
  1. On the TransAm trail, I see the official start is Astoria, but there's also a part that juts out to Florence. Do some people start in Florence?
  2. What's the best way to get from a city with an airport (e.g. Portland or Eugene) to Astoria? (I guess I could bike out lol just adds 100 miles to the beginning of the trip so if I could start on the coast would be great)
  3. Do people have thoughts on buying the bike and shipping it to a Portland-based shop and picking it up there, vs. buying it in NYC and shipping cross country with bike flights?
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Old 07-17-21, 04:12 PM
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If you consider Amtrak, about 7 years ago I took Amtrak from Wisconsin to Portland and then took a bus from Portland to Astoria, the bus ticket was bundled with my Amtrak ticket. I do not recall if I had to have my bike in a box for the bus or not, but at that time you had to have a bike in a box on the train. I kept the bike in the box until Astoria and found a cardboard recycle bin behind a pizza place. I knew that I would get to Astoria around sunset, so I had a motel reservation in Astoria well in advance. Amtrak has changed policies since I rode the train to Portland, now you can ride the train without the bike boxed, but I do not know if the box is needed on a bus.

But, I suspect you already have your plane ticket in hand, thus Amtrak is out. If you want to start in Astoria, you could ship your bike to Astoria, take a bus to Astoria. There probably is a bike shop in Astoria that would setup your bike if shipped to them.

I do not know who is considered best for shipping a bike from home to a bike shop, BikeFlights or if there is a competitor that has better rates. Others may comment on that.

You really want to test out your bike, racks, panniers, etc., and make sure that it all plays well together. You are cutting this pretty close for timing. Will you have time to make sure that everything works before you leave home? If you do not have the bike yet, that could be a problem.
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Old 07-17-21, 04:52 PM
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why don't you buy the bike from the place you start? I've done it. It works.
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Old 07-17-21, 05:20 PM
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We flew to Portland and rented a car. We drove around and did some non bike sight seeing before we started our tour. We drove to a bit up the coast from Florence so we could ride a little of the coast. I think there is bus service to Astoria I usually fly with my bike, but shipping it to a bike shop in Florence or Astoria is always an option. Lots of folks do that.
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Old 07-17-21, 07:12 PM
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The long haul trucker is no longer made, and all bikes a re scarce right now. If you want a Disc Trucker you might be able to find one, but you better start looking soon. As bike friendly as Portland is, I would not count on finding one when you arrive in PDX.

You can ride from the airport to the train station, where you can catch the Amtrak bus to Astoria. We have taken the bus to Astoria from Portland and also done the trip in reverse. We usually ride to the train station in Albany, OR and take the train to Portland and continue on the train to our tour start. If we are flying we pack our bikes and figure out how to get them to Portland. When the cost of car rentals was reasonable it as not a problem. I needed to get four bike boxes to Portland Airport, and rented a 4-door full-sized pickup for less than $100 for the day.

Starting in Florence is a bit more of a challenge. There is a train going to Eugene, but getting from there to the coast could be iffy. I'd check on the availability of a rental car that could be returned in the Florence area.

My wife and I have flown or taken the train back from tours landing at PDX or taken the Empire Builder train to Portland.

I think the best option is to take the bus to Astoria from the Amtak station in Portland. Depending on your arrival time by air or ground,you may have to spend the night in Portland to meet the bus schedule.

Good luck!
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Old 07-17-21, 07:52 PM
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Astoria has been the traditional western end point of the TransAm for 45 years.
(Yorktown is the traditional eastern end point.)
The route used to run down the coast all the way to Florence before heading inland to Eugene.
So you could start anywhere from Astoria to Florence is you wanted to.

A word of caution - The Pacific Coast Route ain't flat even though it's the coast.
Lots of big climbs - especially on the Three Capes Loop at Tillamook.

Portland is the closest major city with good air service.
Not sure how much of the bus schedule has been restored post-Covid.
The two easiest places to reach are Astoria and Tillamook.
To Astoria: (via Cannon Beach) x2; (via St. Helens) x3
https://www.oregon-point.com/route-l...oute=northwest
https://www.nworegontransit.org/rout...bia_connector/
To Tillamook: x2
https://www.nworegontransit.org/rout...ok_-_portland/

<<<>>>

You need to spend a little time breaking in a bike -
And bikes are super hard to find right now.
Go online and get one ASAP - and get your touring gear.
It's a totally different animal loaded down.

Given your time frame -
I might fly into PDX and fork out the extra $$$ to check the boxed bike on the plane.
Then take a cab to Union Station and catch a bus to Astoria from Union Station.
There are a couple of nice bike shops in Astoria to help you out with kinks once you arrive.
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Old 07-18-21, 04:28 AM
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Originally Posted by jamawani View Post
Astoria has been the traditional western end point of the TransAm for 45 years..
True it was the Bike Centennial start in 1976, but they have listed Florence as an alternate starting point for quite a while. I don't know how long, but I don't think it was a new option when we used it 14 years ago.
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Old 07-18-21, 06:28 AM
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Back when we cycled the TA, we'd never seen Crater Lake, so we got off Amtrak to Klamath Falls and cycled first to Crater Lake NP. Then we followed the Umpqua River through Roseburg to the coast at Reedsport just south of Florence, and picked up the TA there. It was a memorable few days in beautiful country. A few days later we met a partner who'd started in San Francisco and cycled the coast route to get there. The point is there are many ways to get to Florence if you're not in too much of a hurry.
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Old 07-18-21, 06:29 AM
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Allen, I can't recall your details, but this is very last minute,I hope it works getting a bike.
As others have very rightly stated, riding a loaded bike is a whole different kettle of fish, so being last minute slash impulsive will be physically and mentally hard, so it's completely in your best interests to get a touring bike and gear and start riding it loaded as much as you can, as soon as you can.

again, I have no idea if you've ever toured before, how much you ride etc

another very important point is that a brand new loaded up touring bike is going to loosen up spokes etc etc after a week or two etc of riding, so it's entirely in your and your bikes best interest to get spoke tensions checked after doing a bunch of pre trip loaded riding.
this is pretty basic and will help reduce the chance of mechanical problems into your trip.
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Old 07-18-21, 09:14 AM
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#1 If it could work out, buy it from a Surly dealer in Portland and pick it up there. May not work due to low availability.

#2 box and fly (pro tip: Delta treats boxed bike as standard checked bag).
#3 box and ship to bike shop via bikefilghts.

#4 Amtrak. Slow and similar pricing to flying, but bike may be treated better than on aircraft.

I personally don't see an issue riding to the start, but you can rent an SUV or a van if you have to.
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Old 07-18-21, 10:10 AM
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One more idea:

I mentioned in post number 2 above that I stayed at a motel in Astoria the night I arrived there, I had a reservation in advance because I knew it would be quite late when I arrived there. I checked my GPS data from my trip, I stayed at the Astoria Riverwalk Inn.

If you decide to use Bike Flights or one of their competitors, you might be able to arrange for a motel to accept your bike. Then when you arrive, you can pull it out of the box and assemble.

This of course would mean that you know how to assemble your bike after it was shipped. That works best if you were the one to package it up for shipping. And you certainly would not want to try to put a rack on the bike if that rack has never been installed on that bike before, you being at a motel and suddenly needing a longer bolt or spacer or T20 wrench.

If I was shipping a bike to my starting point, I would be inclined to stay there for a night and put it together myself. But, I built up my touring bikes from parts, I am quite comfortable with that sort of thing. If you are not mechanically inclined or not familiar with your bike that well, a bike shop might be a better option.

On my trip, I bought stove fuel in Portland, (it is against the rules to take stove fuel on Amtrak trains), and then took the bus to Astoria. There was a several hour layover between my arrival on the train and departure on the bus when I was in Portland, so hiked over to REI for fuel. But you might be able to find stove fuel in Astoria, but I do not know where to look. A bike shop should know where.

Regarding camp stoves, if you are bringing a camp stove on the plane, you want to look at this:
https://www.msrgear.com/blog/flying-...camping-stove/

I decided a few years ago that it is too much hassle to carry a liquid fuel camp stove on planes, now I only carry a butane mix type stove on planes.

Good luck and have a great trip.

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Old 07-18-21, 10:46 AM
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When I did my NT I used Bikeflights to ship the bike to Anacortes. This made the flight and the bus trip far less stressful. The bus dropped me off within walking distance of my motel and the bike shop so it was very easy to get organized. I'd recommend you chose a bike shop that is close to transportation and a motel and once you are set up just ride to the trail head, be that 10 or even 100 miles.
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Old 07-18-21, 11:15 AM
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Either buy it from an Astoria bike shop or ship it to them. They will build it up for you. I can tell you schlepping the bike from Portland airport to the bus station in Portland is not fun. Then, you have to drag it to the hotel or build it in the pouring rain in Astoria. I had a 4-5 hour wait in Portland and it was the most disgusting place on the planet. I would pay an Uber from the Airport to Astoria.

I thought this was a good shop in Astoria. There are at least 3-4 really good ones there. This is a big junction point for long distance routes. A cute town. Great coffee shops.

Services ? Bikes and Beyond
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Old 07-18-21, 02:13 PM
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Originally Posted by nun View Post
When I did my NT I used Bikeflights to ship the bike to Anacortes. This made the flight and the bus trip far less stressful. The bus dropped me off within walking distance of my motel and the bike shop so it was very easy to get organized. I'd recommend you chose a bike shop that is close to transportation and a motel and once you are set up just ride to the trail head, be that 10 or even 100 miles.
Iíve done something very similar for my tours out of Missoula. Shipped to REI, which is literally around the block from the KOA. Land, taxi 3 miles from the airport, check into the KOA and walk around the corner to pick up the bike, which is built up and waiting for me. No fuss. No muss.

When I twice started in Seattle and went north to pick up the NT at Mount Vernon I took Amtrak with the bike, stayed at the Seattle HI and rode a couple of days up to the route.

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Old 07-18-21, 03:11 PM
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My first trip across the US, I started in Astoria. For that trip, I flew into Portland, rented a car and dropped it off in Astoria.
I have also cycled both directions between Eugene/Florence and Portland/Astoria. That was part of shorter trips when I lived in Portland some years later.

For what it is worth, if I were buying a brand new bike I wouldn't do what some suggest of ordering a bike and immediately setting off on day one with it fully loaded - for several reasons:
- If the bike shop had hiccups receiving the bike from their distributor, that could put start of my trip in limbo
- If I had any issues with bike fit, say wanted to swap out for a different stem, I would rather sort that out first - rather than have that be the first miles I am riding loaded for the first time
It doesn't have to be a lot of miles - but it would give me a lot more peace of mind to know the bike was fine before I started traveling to my start point.

A slightly different situation I had, but still illustrates the concern:
- In 2001, I decided I wanted to ride one lap around Australia, a trip that would take roughly eight months and ended up being ~12,100 miles because I didn't always go the most direct way. Plan was for me to start with a two month warm up ride across the Southern Tier and then fly to Australia - so departure March 1st from San Jose and May 2nd from Sydney.
- I was excited to have a new custom bike built for the trip and found a builder in Bend, Oregon. Over Memorial Day 2000, I drove to Oregon, from San Jose where I was living and met the builder. Plan was for the bike to be complete by Thanksgiving, which would still give me three months to do some shakedown riding with the bike.
- The builder had delays so Thanksgiving became Christmas and Christmas became January 2001 and then later. As it became closer in time, realized the bike wouldn't be ready to start my March warm up ride - so I started off on my old touring bike instead.
- Late March the builder finally had the bike ready. Now I had a dilemma, should I use the new untried bike to start off in Sydney or should I use the tried and true bike I cycled across the US? In the end, decided to have him ship the new bike to my parents in Colorado and stick with my existing bike.
- In 2002, after finishing the trip and coming back to USA, I got a chance to finally try the custom bike. Almost immediately, the top seat post seemed to tear out of the down tube. Bike builder told me his subcontractor that built the frame must have not followed specifications and to ship the bike back to repair under warranty.

That combination certainly made me happy I hadn't set off on a brand new bike - or even swapped it into use after my warm up ride and before departing for Australia. Purchasing more of a stock bike should reduce the variables of what goes wrong but there can still be small hiccups along the way. I would rather keep those hiccups in advance of the trip and not on days when I am taking vacation and expect to be touring.
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Old 07-18-21, 03:18 PM
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As always, this community delivers!! This is super helpful.

My inclination is that I will try to have one of the LBS's in Astoria order in a Disc Trucker (hoping all works re supply!). And then will take the Amtrak bus from Portland (or Uber depending).

I think the tip to do even a bit of riding on it before setting off is really smart, I'll probably give myself a day in Astoria riding on the new bike before setting off in case there's anything that needs to be adjusted.

Unfortunately given the timing (and travel I'm doing before starting), it won't be possible to do much more riding on it beforehand.

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Old 07-18-21, 05:38 PM
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Originally Posted by apkramer2021 View Post
As always, this community delivers!! This is super helpful.

My inclination is that I will try to have one of the LBS's in Astoria order in a Disc Trucker (hoping all works re supply!). And then will take the Amtrak bus from Portland (or Uber depending).

I think the tip to do even a bit of riding on it before setting off is really smart, I'll probably give myself a day in Astoria riding on the new bike before setting off in case there's anything that needs to be adjusted.

Unfortunately given the timing (and travel I'm doing before starting), it won't be possible to do much more riding on it beforehand.
I explained to the bike shop that I was riding across the US (Mexico to Canada ) and they seemed to take some extra care to making my new bike work. They even picked me up from the airport! I just had to pick out which bike I wanted beforehand on the internet. Never had a problem with machine made wheels or any mechanical problems. Learned about thorns and tire liners pretty quick, though.
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Old 07-18-21, 05:48 PM
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If you are an experienced rider, I would not sweat a new bike too much.

About 40 years ago, I flew to London with my camping gear and panniers hoping to land a Claude Butler but had to settle for a Dawes. I bought it one day and the shop had it ready the next. The sense of adventure setting off to the North on a new set of wheels is exciting, especially when each day you do your route finding. Which village will I shoot for today. I rode that thing all over the UK and then the whole perimeter of France. A good shop mechanic should go thru a new bike and make sure the wheels are good and tight. Your timeline is ridiculously short but.....just do it. Get any niggles fixed before passing Redmond, Oregon. Not as many bike shops after that.
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Old 07-18-21, 07:28 PM
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Originally Posted by apkramer2021 View Post
As always, this community delivers!! This is super helpful.

My inclination is that I will try to have one of the LBS's in Astoria order in a Disc Trucker (hoping all works re supply!). And then will take the Amtrak bus from Portland (or Uber depending).

I think the tip to do even a bit of riding on it before setting off is really smart, I'll probably give myself a day in Astoria riding on the new bike before setting off in case there's anything that needs to be adjusted.

Unfortunately given the timing (and travel I'm doing before starting), it won't be possible to do much more riding on it beforehand.
It is possible that everything will work out great. But, fitting a front rack to a disc brake bike can be a finicky thing. And depending on which bike, rear racks, same thing. If you are picking up the bike from Astoria (it is a big "if" on whether or not the bike shop can find your frame size in stock somewhere), the bike shop probably should suggest the racks based on their experience with fitting racks to the bike.

You are pushing the envelope, there are lots of opportunities for things to go wrong.

What panniers are you fitting to the bike?

Handlebar bag or not?

What pedals do you want to use?

Do you have a saddle that you like?
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Old 07-18-21, 09:46 PM
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I wouldn't want to start a tour on a completely new bike. I'd want to have time to fit my gear and make adjustments to the bike's set up.
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Old 07-18-21, 09:57 PM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post
Either buy it from an Astoria bike shop or ship it to them. They will build it up for you. I can tell you schlepping the bike from Portland airport to the bus station in Portland is not fun. Then, you have to drag it to the hotel or build it in the pouring rain in Astoria. I had a 4-5 hour wait in Portland and it was the most disgusting place on the planet. I would pay an Uber from the Airport to Astoria.

I thought this was a good shop in Astoria. There are at least 3-4 really good ones there. This is a big junction point for long distance routes. A cute town. Great coffee shops.

Services ? Bikes and Beyond
The ride from PDX Airport to the Amtrak station is pretty easy. We have done that ride at least 5 times. We just assemble our bikes at the airport and ride to the station. We had to ship our youngest daughter home from a tour in Europe. She could only ride with us for a month, because she had to be back at work. We packed up her bike and sent her off at the airport in Frankfurt, Germany. She put her bike together at the Portland Airport and rode it home.

Buying a bike at the arrival point, and setting it up with racks, etc is generally not a good idea, even when parts and bikes were available. If you go that route, I believe you would be more successful finding a bike in Portland than Astoria.

If you think Portland is the "most disgusting place on the planet", you have not got around very much

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Old 07-19-21, 04:58 AM
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Originally Posted by nun View Post
I wouldn't want to start a tour on a completely new bike. I'd want to have time to fit my gear and make adjustments to the bike's set up.
I feel the same way, but if I did decide to start out on a new unfamiliar bike. I think if I were the type to have a schedule (I am not), I'd allow some time to get it sorted in case I needed to. I would also allow for possibly lower miles for a few days in the beginning just in case. There may be comfort issues or time spent tweaking setup.

In practice some of the adjustment is the rider adjusting to the bike unless the saddle and setup are very close to what they are used to. I typically set all my bikes up very similarly, which is easier when they are side by side. That is harder to do when a dealer is doing it for you remotely based on measurements. It is also harder to tweak the settings if they get it wrong when you don't have your other bikes as a reference.

You could get a fitting, but I wouldn't want to start a long tour with a brand new changed position on the bike. I have changed my setup on tour, but did it in increments over the tour.

I'd want to at the very least arrive with a set of carefully taken measurements. I'd take a saddle I was used to unless the one on the new bike was one I was used to or I was willing to take short-ish mileage days in the beginning to break myself into a different saddle. I personally am pretty tolerant to most decent saddles so this is less of a big deal for me than for most people, but even I would consider it.

Also there are the possible new bike teething pains. Stay on top of things and watch for loosening spokes and fasteners. Watch adjustments and keeps things generally lubed and adjusted.
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Old 07-19-21, 05:48 AM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
... We had to ship our youngest daughter home from a tour in Europe. She could only ride with us for a month, because she had to be back at work. We packed up her bike and sent her off at the airport in Frankfurt, Germany. She put her bike together at the Portland Airport and rode it home.
...
You sound like a couple with great parenting skills. Congrats.
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Old 07-19-21, 06:24 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
The ride from PDX Airport to the Amtrak station is pretty easy.
Originally Posted by apkramer2021 View Post
On the TransAm trail, I see the official start is Astoria, but there's also a part that juts out to Florence. Do some people start in Florence?
I concluded two westbound TransAm tours in Portland. I had no problem cycling from the downtown hostel (then on Hawthorne Blvd?) to the airport either. In fact two of our ACA groups cycled from Astoria to Portland. Those trips were 22 and 28 years ago. Not sure if traffic conditions have changed.

Subsequent tours we concluded at Florence with folks returning to Eugene for transportation home. I vaguely recall a shuttle service back to Eugene. Some folks cycled.

ACA changed the Pacific destination for their led westbound tours in 2000. That allowed for more layover days during the tour, still completing it in 93 days. It also avoided the potential for fighting headwinds riding up the coast for a conclusion.

The original route heads NW from Eugene through Corvallis and hits the coast near Neskowin. The Florence alternate was added for folks who wanted a longer coastal conclusion or start at Astoria. It also provides a good termination point for west bounders who have had enough and don't need to ride up to Astoria.

Last edited by BobG; 07-19-21 at 04:51 PM.
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Old 07-19-21, 07:03 AM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by BobG View Post
I concluded two westbound TransAm tours in Portland. I had no problem cycling from the downtown hostel (then on Hawthorne Blvd?) to the airport either. In fact two of our ACA groups cycled from Astoria to Portland. Those trips were 22 and 28 years ago. Not sure if traffic conditions have changed.

Subsequent tours we concluded at Florence with folks returning to Eugene for transportation home. I vaguely recall a shuttle service back to Eugene. Some folks cycled.

ACA changed the Pacific destination for their led westbound tours sometime in the early 2000s. That allowed for more layover days during the tour, still completing it in 93 days. It also avoided the potential for fighting headwinds riding up the coast for a conclusion.

The original route heads NW from Eugene through Corvallis and hits the coast near Neskowin. The Florence alternate was added for folks who wanted a longer coastal conclusion or start.
Thank you!!
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