Saturday, October 25, 2014

2015 Bike Trip: The Washington Parks Mega-circle!

Ok, after an epic amount of research and planning, I've decided on the bike trip for summer 2015.  We will be organizing the group ride to mainly follow the Adventure Cycling Washington Parks Route.  (You, the chorus: Horray! Fun! Yay!)

The Route: This route is a giant 980 mile circle around Seattle.  The plan is to start from Seattle, taking the ferry from downtown to Bremerton, then going south to Elma.  From there, we will go around the outside of the Olympic Peninsula (ocean and rainforests in this section) clockwise, then north to Sedro-Wooley.  Now that we are a week in and feeling strong, we go East over Washington Pass (a ride that the famous Alan Jenn described as "the hardest thing I've done in my life").  Then south through some dry hills and along the Columbia River, back around East, right past Mt. Ranier and into Bremerton where we catch a ferry back to Seattle.  The route will include biking along coastal areas, rainforests, mountain passes, and arid hills.  It is a really impressive route: see picture links below.  Despite never being more than 200 miles from Seattle, most of the route is through pretty remote areas: low traffic, big on nature.

There are some seriously cool areas to bike though.  For pictures of the route, see pics in these two bike trip blogs, which combined cover the whole route:

Why this route: I looked at many (many!) options and concluded this best suits the needs of the group.  It includes varied, impressive, and remote landscapes, my first criteria.  It is logistically easy to get to/from - unlike other point-to-point trips, people can book a round trip transport through a single large airport (SeaTac). In a related way, it makes it easy for people to do shorter portions of the trip with us, as you can just head back towards the city whenever you are running out of time (there are good "exit ramps" back to the city at various points on the circle).  The circle route makes falling behind as a group less of a concern.  I had originally planned that this trip would have a support vehicle, but I'm not sure it is needed on this route. Also, if we do get a rental car, it is thousands of dollars cheaper as a round trip rental from SeaTac than a point to point rental.

Logistics: Getting to/from Seattle is pretty straightforward.  Obviously flights are relatively cheap for everyone, but taking a bike may be a hassle.  Abby, R, and I will almost certainly take the train - it is actually cheaper for us to get little sleeper cabins on a train (and have our bikes transported for free) than to take a bike with us on a plane.  Plus, the views from the train will be pretty great.  However, the train takes two days each way. We invite others to join us if that isn't a problem.
  I know some people are very time constrained, and don't mind the cost of transport but can't throw down several weeks of vacation.  The longest version of the route is 980 miles.  At 60 miles per day, this is 16 days, plus a day or so on each end to get organized makes 18 days (2.5 weeks).  I suspect that we will go slightly faster than this, even fully loaded (this is slower than the DC to Pittsburgh trip or either of our previous cross-country trips), but 60 mpd is a reasonable rate for planning purposes.  
  R and I have spare time, so we will probably book ourselves ~18 days between start and end. However, there are good connections from the city to the route in several directions: to the Southwest (our starting vector), the Northwest (about 6 days in), the East (about 11 days in), and the South (about 14 days in).  Thus, those with tighter timelines could decide which portions of the trip to join and plan flights/meetup points accordingly.  Furthermore, we don't need to worry about making it to the end if we fall behind schedule - we just head into the city whenever we run out of time.  On the other hand, if we end up ahead of schedule, we can add some loops/side trips into the schedule (the San Juan islands, Loup Loup Pass, or even just a tour around Seattle).

Scheduling: Apart from the question of a support vehicle (which can be decided later), the only major decision remaining is when to do the trip.  Late summer (July or August) is the best time.  This gives all of us time to get lots of biking in during the first half of summer, and the few mountain passes will be safely clear of snow (and probably reasonably warm to boot).  I want to fix the dates soon to allow everyone time to book travel before prices start to rise.

1 comment:

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After reading your blog, I have concluded that you have had an amazing and adventorous tour on Bike. However, it must be tiredy as there is no support on bike. But Yes, adventorous trips are always thrilling and memorable also.