Transamerica - Favorite and Least Favorite Stretches
I've biked cross-country a bunch of times. Never have managed to do the entire Transamerica on any particular trip, although in all my trips I've nearly covered it all. Seems there's always somebody to see or someone I'm riding with that means a zig thru southern Kansas or a zag up to Spokane. Anyway - I was wondering what other people thought about various stretches of the Transam route. There are some really nice sections - and some not-so-nice sections as well.
Here are a few of my picks:
OR - John Day Valley
ID - Lochsa River
MT - Big Hole around Wisdom
WY - Togwatee Pass
CO - North Park around Walden
KS - Anywhere in west Kansas
MO - The hospitality and openness of people
IL - Cave in Rock and the ferry
KY - Between the Ohio River and Green River
VA - Between Damascus and Troutdale
Least Favorite -
OR - The traffic on US 101, but the views were great.
ID - White Bird Summit
MT - Getting into and out of Missoula
WY - The wind
CO - The traffic and narrow shoulders around Breck/Frisco
KS - Can't think of any
MO - The HILLS!! I thought it was going to be flat the 1st time thru!
IL - Narrow Mississippi River Bridge - scary.
KY - Coal trucks and traffic in E. Ky.
VA - Big A Mountain
Okay - so some of these aren't actually stretches of road. Whatever.
And I know that wind and weather can have a huge influence on what one person thinks is a great road and another thinks is horrible. Still, I'll bet there is some general agreement.
Anybody else have ideas on this?
CO Rte 9 south of Breck can be bad. People commute from Fairplay to work in Breckenridge now, so that road gets more traffic than it was meant to take. Get there at the right time of day and year, though, and it's still one of my favorite places to ride. CDOT has plans to rebuild this road in 2006. You can avoid the traffic by taking US 285 from Fairplay over Red Hill Pass to Como, then taking the Boreas Pass Road (well graded dirt) over, you guessed it, Boreas Pass into Breckenridge. More miles, more climbing, but much more scenic and a much more bicycle friendly route.
Originally Posted by jamawani
Breckenridge to Frisco (and onward past Silverthorne) is all bike path, I recall a British cyclist complaining to me that there were "too many bike paths to choose from".
From Silverthorne north CO 9 gets really dangerous, you can avoid some of the bad parts by taking Ute Pass Road (County Road 15) over, that's right, Ute Pass where it becomes County Road 3 in Grand County. This is a really well graded dirt road that will take you north to US 40, it connects with US 40 between Granby & Kremmling. Once again, CDOT has rebuilt a lot of this road, there are plans to upgrade more in 2006.
Both of these detours add time and mileage and put you on long stretches of well graded dirt road. They also are much safer and pleasant to cycle on, and much more scenic than CO 9 through Summit COunty.
Colorado has grown tremendously since the original TransAm route was mapped in the 1970s. I really think that Adventure Cycling should re-evaluate the TransAm route and consider re-routing it in places like Colorado, where traffic levels today are many times what they were in 1976, when the TransAm route was first laid out.
It's good to read that I am not the only cyclist to enjoy the state of Kansas. So many TransAm riders seem to disparage that particular stretch...too hot, too windy, too boring, too hot...
I enjoyed crossing the state during my TransAm ride. The terrain, while not quite postcard pretty, had both a starkness and subtlety that appealed to me. Much of Wyoming, Idaho and eastern Oregon could also be considered among my favorite sections.
Kentucky was a bit of a shock. I was expecting thoroughbreds and Cadillac convertibles...instead I found stray dogs, beer cans, potholes and broken-down washing machines. The locals weren't a problem, really, but I remember a slight sense of unease when passing thru there.
I don't know what the answer is for a good route in the high country of Colorado. The population has probably quadrupled since 1976 and the traffic increased 10x. US 24 from Leadville over Tennessee Pass is nice. The climb up Red Cliff is on a narrow road and the switchbacks are tight. There's a new bike trail along the Eagle River above and below Avon. Then Hwy 131 and Hwy 134 are both quite nice and connect you back to the Trans-Am north of Kremmling. Still, there are not many options given how busy Denver's back yard has gotten.
Here's a traffic volume map of Colorado I developed from state 2004 data. If anybody want a full-sized copy they can e-mail me.
As for Kentucky, it is always a shock for those who haven't seen Appalachia before. It was for Robert Kennedy 40 years ago. It still is today. I remember seeing old refrigerators and sofas dumped in Elkhorn Creek. Why? Well, American culture creates a lot of garbage - even in Appalachia. City folks just cart the stuff to the curb and forget about it. There's no garbage pick-up in a lot of Appalachia and so people just dump things wherever. No excuse, though.
I recently did Western Express meeting with Transam....
My favorite bits
Nevada (Highway 50) - enjoyed the wide open spaces and solitude of the desert
Western Colorado and the Rockies - stunning scenery and very refreshing after the heat and dryness of the Utah
Kentucky - I loved the countryside and the Appalachian foothills - lots of interstign things (and people) to look at. I was expecting it to be horrible after everything I had heard, so it was such a pleasant surprise
Least favorite bits
Eastern Colorado - dead boring. Just dirt, dust and dead towns
Kansas - had strong headwinds the whole way across, with the same scenery and identical towns for days, and hated the long flat sections into the wind. Might have enjoyed it otherwise.
Eastern Virginia - I deviated from the ACA route to go to DC and picked some bad roads - very busy with no shoulder and had some near misses
Utah - the scenery was stunning, but by the end I was geeting tired of the endless going up and down steep canyons in the extreme heat (and having to carry water for the whole day)
Mad bike riding scientist
I've always wondered about the TransAmerica route in eastern Colorado. From the state line to Eads to Ordway to Boone is probably one of the least populated and flattest stretches of road in the state! There are only 2 less populated stretches that I can think of - CO Hwy 71 north out of Ordway to Limon (no services for 71 miles) and US 350 from Trinidad to La Junta. But at least with the other highways there are some views of mountains and Canyons!
Originally Posted by dreamy
If the route dropped south to US 50 in Kansas, you could ride through at least some towns that still have life. The water would still be bad but at least you might have a chance of getting food! And you might find some entertainment.
Last edited by cyccommute; 11-28-05 at 08:39 AM.
OR - Western Oregon was all great. McKenzie Pass was awesome.
ID - White Bird Hill a nice challenge on a hundred degree day!. The Lochsa River was very pretty and a nice ride.
WY - Togwatee Pass the rest area at the top is awesome.
CO - Western Colorado was great. Hoosier Pass was great.
KS - The people were great.
VA - Blue Ridge Parkway
Least Favorite -
MT - Biting insects were horrible around Big Hole.
WY - The wind. The road construction various places was a big hassle.
KS - Mind numbingly boring roads.
MO - The HILLS!!
VA - Tough climbs! I like the type of climbs out West much better.
Forgot to mention...
It seemed like AC went out of the way to take us up some unpleasant hills in places where there was no advantage and a much better alternative. Mostly the route seemed well thought out though, but I didn't necessarily know what other options there might have been so my impression may be off.