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  1. #1
    Hooked on Touring
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    TransAm, Northern Tier Endpoints & Western Express Endpoints

    Are there any other folks out there who are not exactly thrilled with some of the endpoints on Adventure Cycling's cross-country routes? Yorktown, Virginia is great - full of history and stuff - but it ain't on the Atlantic. Same goes for Anacortes, Washington. By comparison, the TransAm gives you a couple of days riding along the Pacific in Oregon while the Northern Tier gives you a couple of days on the Atlantic in Maine. The Western Express, likewise, justs dumps you on San Fran Bay - and if you are starting east you get into the Sierras awfully fast.

    I've done 6 cross-country trips and really prefer to have a few days on both coasts. At the start, it sets my mood and sense of adventure. At the end, it underscores my sense of completion. On the Trans Am route it would be difficult to connect directly from Yorktown thru Norfolk metro area and all, but if you headed east from Lake Anna you could miss all the congestion of Richmond, take the ferries to Tangier Island and Crisfield, and end up at Assateague National Seashore. On the Northern Tier, you could head out to the San Juan Islands (still not the Pacific Coast) or you could head south on Whidbey Island, cross over to Port Townsend, and head all the way out to Neah Bay. Shi Shi Beach is just beautiful and the Makah Museum is world-class. And on the Western Express, you can cut over to Napa Valley from Winters, then follow the Russian River to the coast, and ride down to Golden Gate Bridge.

    Is there anyone else who would prefer more ocean?
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  2. #2
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    On hindsight I get what you're saying, but at the time I just remember basking in the sweet salt air. I grew up 15 miles from the beach and I ended up missing it after a while. Along Superior I usually found a lakeside camp because it was amazing how it felt like the ocean---minus the smell of salt. But it did have the seagulls, and I got an emotional bump by the infinity of the water. Plus Grand Marais had the the "World's Greatest Donut Shop."!

    Maine was definitely more claustrophobic (and lake-like) because of the close proximity of the islands--it had a small water feel--especially in comparison to what I'm used to. Virtually no surf, though I tried in a few places.

    I haven't used the AC maps, but I've thought about trying them recently to see if they are actually better routes. Do they have a lot of useful information or...

    John

  3. #3
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    I like the idea of starting and ending at some significant landmark. When I did my crossing I started at Golden Gate Bridge and ended on the setps of the Lincoln Memorial in DC. At the start though I was pretty keen to start making progress and get going in the direction of my destination - I think I would have found it a bit frustrating to spend the first few days not "getting anywhere"
    Then again at the start I was new to torig so was following the ACA maps to the letter - by the end I was only using them as a rough guide and had the confidence to deviate from the suggested route

  4. #4
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    An interesting question.

    I can't speak for the other routes, but Northern Tier starts in Anacortes WA. That's a great jumping off place for the San Juan Islands. And it has a shuttle from Sea-Tac. So, it was a convienent place to start my tour. Bar Harbor ME is a great tourist place, and biking is great on the carriage roads. Plus, Nova Scotia is a ferry ride away. So, that's got it's attributes also.

    I guess it all comes down to what you expect out of a tour.

  5. #5
    My tank takes chocolate. FlowerBlossom's Avatar
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    Interesting question, yes.

    Technically speaking, Anacortes is on Puget Sound, but, it IS Pacific Ocean water that fills the ditch. There are gorgous locations for beach walking, views, views, views. Deception Pass, Whidbey Island, wonderful! I know I'm on the coast/at the ocean when I'm in Anacortes and area. Try swimming...you'll be convinced it's Pacific Ocean very quickly. On the other hand, it's difficult to not see land from Anacortes... if a water-only horizon is what you are looking (edit) for.

    Technically, though, as you mentioned, you do need a ferry (which isn't a bike) to get there, unless you cycle all the way down the Puget Sound, back up Hood Canel, then over to the coast. Perhaps this is why they chose to stop in Anacortes?

    You could ride to San Fran instead, but, then that wouldn't be northern tier, it would be middle tier (or something like that). Ride the northern tier, take a left somewhere before you hit the Cascades, ride south, don't forget to stop at Crater Lake, and then theh wine country, before heading into San Fran area. That would make a nice ride.
    Feminism is the profound notion that women are human beings.

  6. #6
    Older I get, Better I was velonomad's Avatar
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    When the Transam route was Bikecentennial the official start IIRC was Yorktown Va. Being the 200th anniversary of the US ,Yorktown was pretty significant historically that year.

    Before the transam route came along in 1976 I read about several cross country bike trips that were done on US 50 from San Francisco to Ocean City Maryland. 2 were books, One book was about a young college student and the other book was about a woman and her son.On my second cross country trip I rode US 50 all the way except between Baker NV and Pueblo CO.I thought it was a more interesting route than the Transam route

  7. #7
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    I started the Lewis and Clark at Seaside, that was a pretty good starting point - Seaside was right on the ocean. Astoria is not so very definitive, being a bit inland from the actual ocean, and on that big river, which feels kind of indefinite... not quite an endpoint.

    I ended on my own route in Seabright, NJ. I rode through town perpendicular to the ocean and just crossed the boardwalk and stopped at the ocean. I liked how abrupt it was, gave me a very definitive feeling of being "there". Of course, it helped that I just sat on the beach and contemplated my done-ness, until a very good friend from long ago came and scooped me up and took me home with him. I think turning one way or the other and riding the coast for a day or two would be anticlimactic.

    The whole ferry-across option for the WE seems contrived. You should ride to the ocean, not take other transportation.

    Don't get me wrong, I looove riding the coast. There's something about the simplicity of the route - keep the ocean on your shoulder. But for an XC, I kind of like the abruptness of the definite end.
    ...

  8. #8
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    I hope I don't hijack your thread but as a newbie hoping to get up to speed on bike touring ISTM the TransAmerica has high stature among serious cyclists: what are the merits of the route?

    Are there other, 'better', routes? Any as popular? Please forgive my cluelessness and TIA.

  9. #9
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    Reprobate

    If, like me when I rode across the US, you are a novice tourer the ACA Transamerica route can be excellent as you are following a well worn route and it takes a lot of the hassle out of touring - knowing where to go, where to stay, find shops, camping etc. It is all mapped out for you. You also meet heaps of other cycle tourists en route doing the same thing.

    This can all be a good or bad thing, depending on you.

  10. #10
    Hooked on Touring
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    I agree with Dreamy.
    If you haven't toured much - the TransAm is a good start.
    If you are a woman touring solo - it's probably far safer.
    But with a handle like "Reprobate" I doubt you are female.

    Personally, I think there are some better options close to the TransAm.
    1. Richmond has grown tremendously in 30 years and Yorktown isn't on the ocean. I'd start in Ocean City Maryland (Actually, Assateague Island), cross over Chesapeake Bay via Tangier Island, and connect up at Lake Anna - as I mentioned above.
    2. I've never understood why the TransAm didn't use more of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
    3. Big A Mountain is a real pain - and there can be moderate+ traffic - Eastern Kentucky is also tough. I think a route using the Virginia Creeper Trail and thru parts of East Tennessee would be better, but is far too complicated for a newbie.
    4. The Katy Trail in Missouri is far easier and nicer than the zillion killer hills of the TransAm further south. Here's a journal from a woman who opted for the Katy. http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?..._id=1555&v=1el
    5. Even more than Richmond, the Rocky Mtn playground for Denver has really gotten crazy since 1976. Also, unlike Wyoming, Colorado doesn't believe in shoulders on its roads most of the time. Highway 9 south of Breck and north of Frisco can be tricky - often with pretty heavy traffic.
    6. Very few people on the TransAm take the trouble to ride down to Jenny Lake in Grand Teton N.P. - there's a store and cafe at Moose and a hiker/biker campground right on Jenny Lake. Likewise, the TransAm shorts you on Yellowstone - take the larger loop from West Thumb via Lake, Canyon, and Norris. You miss Old Faithful, but it is swamped with tourists. The geysers at Norris are great, too especially in the early morning and evening - plus you see far more wildlife on in Hayden Valley, Yellowstone Lake, and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

    But, all in all, the TransAm is THE cross-country ride. You will meet lots of other riders and you will likely bump into folks going your way that you may wish to join up with.

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