Let us tell glad stories of the life of kings!
…I mean: let’s daydream about biking places.
1) THE STRICT GO-WEST
Portland, Me -> Ann Arbor, MI along the Northern Tier
Ann Arbor, MI to Minneapolis, MN along the North Lakes trail
Minneapolis, MN to Glendive, MT along the Northern Tier (resumed)
…Glendive is where the trail forks into three different trails.
A) The Northern Tier is the northernmost of them, going through Havre and Kalispell and Sandpoint, ID (about a day’s ride north of Spokane) and then coming to rest in Anacortes, WA.
PRO: Seattle! Get to visit Evan, Tati, Arielle, Stephen, Margaret!
B) The uppermost branch of the Lewis & Clark trail passes through Great Falls and Missoula, traces for days through Clearwater National Forest in Idaho, passes through Walla Walla Washington, then Other Portland and terminating at Astoria.
PRO: Portland! Get to visit my cousins there, maybe see if any Hampsters are hangin’ about. Also, Missoula is where the HQ of the Adventure Cycling 501 is located.
C) The lower branch of the L&C passes through Miles City and Billings and Butte, just a few days’ north of Jelleystone. You can then depart the path a bit to go south through Blackfoot, Mountain Home and Boise, picking up the TransAmerica at Baker City and heading through Eugene, Or to the sea.
PRO: Lots of time in national parks. Get to depart the path well-traveled just a bit. Deposits one halfway to Cali!
Basically the only cons to be found in taking any of these paths is that they deny one the other paths. Not bad, really.
2) THE SAN FRAN BOUNCE
This trip is the same as #1 (whatever it is decided to be), except adds another leg, taking one from Anacortes to San Francisco.
Even then, there are two paths one can take:
A) Anacortes -> Portland (“The Road Well Biked”)
Portland -> Bond, OR along the Sierra-Cascades trail
Bond -> Ashland
Ashland -> Reno
then inland past Lake Tahoe on the Western Express trail, through Sacramento, and coming to rest in San Fransisco
PRO: The Cascades are supposed to be magnificent. Also temperate, and easy on the camper.
B) Seattle -> Astoria along the Pacific Coast trail
either go straight south OR bounce inland to Portland, then back to the coast
south past Coos Bay, OR and Eureka, CA
through the redwoods to Fort Bragg and Mendo and Manchester
arriving in SF just the same
PRO: The sea! The sea!
One might also note a lack of any negative to either route, outside of opportunity cost paid.
3) THE GREAT CIRCLE ROUTE
This is 1 and 2 combined.
On the way in, one goes from Portland, ME to Anacortes, WA, then south to SF. One – I!!! – would come in on the Northern Tier route, take the Pacific Coast trail to SF, then head out to Sac on the way home and follow the Cascades north to Portland, whence I’d turn homeward and head through Missoula and back to the Northern Tier.
PRO: Allows much more variation!
CON: Between Glendive, MT and home, the same route.
OR IS IT?
4) THE THEME: VARIATIONS
Between Glendive, MT and Portland, ME, there are still certain ways one can vary the route. All this while staying along the Adventure Cycling routes, I might add.
A) From Glendive, MT to Fargo, ND, the route will be the same. 500 miles of Big Sky, same as before.
B) Fargo, ND -> ~Little Falls, MN : two different routes to take. One is 175 miles, the other is 250 miles. Still, different things to see!
C) from Little Falls to the Twin Cities: a day’s ride the same, either way
D) at the Twin Cities, things get interesting. Instead of taking the North Lakes again, one could turn south and follow the Northern Tier through Iowa, cutting through Illinois and Indiana to about Toledo, OH. That’s about 1000 miles that’ll be completely different!
E) There are three ways to get from Ann Arbor (Markland! Pop.: MARK!) to Buffalo, NY. One is the Underground Railroad trail (and by going straight from London to Hamilton, one can cut out a 200+mi salient). One is to go south of Lake Erie through Cleveland. The third is to take the Lake Erie Connector through Detroit. Variance!
F) From ~Buffalo, one can also go north of Lake Superior, through Toronto, and catch up with the Northern Tier on the other side.
G) One could also break with the Adventure Cycling thing entirely, and follow the river north to Montreal. Then south along the Adirondack Park loop to the Northern Tier at Ticonderoga, OR loop clockwise on the Green Mountain Loop and pick up the NT near Haverhill.
H) Conversely, one could break with the NT at Rochester, NY; pass through Syracuse, Utica, and Troy (I could see Beyonce!); then either cut through MA via Pittsfield and NoHo (Bangers, Gwellz, Cpt. M!) to Boston (so many many friends!) and north on the Atlantic Coast through Portsmouth and Kbunk to Portland.
Let’s game these out.
1) THE STRICT GO-WEST: About 4200 miles, give or take
2) DOWN TO SF: 800mi
3) BACK TO THE TRANSAMERICA (at Eugene): 800mi
or, BACK TO THE LEWIS & CLARK (at Portland) 1000mi)
4) The NT instead of the LAKES: I think it’s about mileage-neutral
5) LAKE ERIE: 6 of one, 6 of another, 6 of yet another
6) Buffalo, NY to Portland, ME is ~600mi along the NT. To go through Albany and NoHo and Boston would add only about 100mi – a day’s ride.
SO, HERE’S A PROPOSED ROUTE:
1) Portland to Buffalo along the NT (600)
2) Buffalo to Detroit along the Erie Connector (300)
3) around Detroit to Ann Arbor on the Underground Railroad Alternate (~)
4) Ann Arbor -> Cheboygan -> Minneapolis on the North Lakes (1100)
5) Minneapolis to Fargo via Bemidji (300)
6) Fargo to Bismarck via Cross Ranch State Park (350)
7) Glendive to Kalispell (1350)
8) Kalispell to Anacortes (included in above total)
9) Anacortes to Seattle (Twinsies!) (60)
10) Seattle to Astoria (160)
11) Astoria to Mendo (Shira!) (700)
12) Mendo to SF (Shirley! Dana and Rob!) (100)
13) SF to Tahoe (250)
14) Tahoe to Bend (700)
15) Meet up with the L&C in Kamiah (420 to missoula)
16) through Misoula and Great Falls (165)
17) Glendive to Dickinson (800 – overlap)
18) through Bismarck to Fargo (50 non-ov in addition to above)
19) via Fergus Falls to MN (175)
20) the NT to Toledo; perhaps up to Ann Arbor again (1050, 1100 iff AA)
21) the NT to Erie (300)
22) Erie to Binghamton off-the-path (250)
23) Binghamton to Troy off-the-path (140)
24) Pittsfield -> Noho -> Worcester -> Boston (180)
25) Boston -> Portsmouth -> Kennebunk (90)
26 Kbunk -> Start (30)
…the result will be 9670 miles, of which only 800 – about 8% – is repeat.
9670 miles, averaging a century per day, is 96 days. Add 2 days in Ann Arbor, 2 in Seattle, 1 in Oregon, 2 in Mendo, and 2 in SF, and we’ve hit 105 days – IE, only ten days shy of my whole summer.
That would seem an ideal use of my summer months.
That is, of course, assuming I can average 100 miles biked per day. That’s a lot of miles.
In order to complete this route, I will have to bike 85 miles per day. This will give me 1 day to shower and shave before start-of-term.
If I average only 80 miles per day, I’ll be 500 miles short: I’ll make it as far as Albany before having to Amtrak through Springfield, Boston, and Home.
If I average 70 miles per day, I’ll be 1700 miles short: I’ll make it to Minneapolis and then have to catch a plane home.
If I average 65 miles per day – the most I’ve thusfar ever biked in a day – I’ll make it to Billings, MT, and then need to get my plane/train/airship on.
I am absolutely committed to getting to Ann Arbor.
I am pretty damned committed to getting to Seattle. I’d have to *hate* the whole thing in order to want to turn around.
I am rather committed to getting to SF. So many lovely friends to see along the way! But if I’m just plum worn out, I could see taking a powder. No shame in that.
I have no idea if, from there, I’ll want to turn about and do it all again. Maybe I’ll want to take a plane home. I don’t know.
But it would be such a thing, if I did do it!