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Old 11-01-10, 05:07 PM   #1
scrapser
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Best Route from MD/DC Area to TransAM Trail?

Can anyone tell me what the best roads would be to take from MD/DC (Silver Spring) down to the TransAM trail? Judging from a map I think I would aim for Christiansburg which is southwest of DC about 300 miles total. I was planning on leaving May 1st but may delay till May 15th to give time for things to warm up a bit in the Rockies by the time I get there (mid-June).
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Old 11-01-10, 06:37 PM   #2
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I reversed this route on a trip. For your direction: Take the rail trail (W&OD?) from Alexandria to Purcellville. Then back roads to Front Royal. Then Skyline Drive/Blue Ridge Parkway to where it joins the route.
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Old 11-01-10, 07:24 PM   #3
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I reversed this route on a trip. For your direction: Take the rail trail (W&OD?) from Alexandria to Purcellville. Then back roads to Front Royal. Then Skyline Drive/Blue Ridge Parkway to where it joins the route.

That would be my suggestion too.
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Old 11-01-10, 09:05 PM   #4
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I took the atlantic coast route from new jersey, through baltimore and DC to meet up with the transam. getting into baltimore and leaving dc was pretty bad with traffic (although baltimore to dc was a nice ride) but I think there is an alternate ride on the maps to avoid the cities. After that the ride down virginia to meet the transam trail was nice.
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Old 11-01-10, 10:56 PM   #5
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I took the atlantic coast route from new jersey, through baltimore and DC to meet up with the transam. getting into baltimore and leaving dc was pretty bad with traffic (although baltimore to dc was a nice ride) but I think there is an alternate ride on the maps to avoid the cities. After that the ride down virginia to meet the transam trail was nice.
I did this too - when I left for my TransAmerica ride back in 1998 from NYC, I took Adventure Cycling's Atlantic Coast route down to Virginia and then hooked up with their TransAmerica maps. You can buy just the sections you need, and their maps are well worth the money (make sure to get the errata so you're up to date with the changes). This works very well, I think.

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Old 11-02-10, 08:21 AM   #6
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Hmmm...I looked at a map and see the suggested route starts on the Virginia side of the Potomac. I'm trying to avoid the DC urban sprawl as much as possible. I live in Silver Spring. MD which is right at the northern tip of DC. Alexandria is southeast of me so it would be sort of a dog leg route to go there. And the suggested route is pretty much east to west whereas I need to head southwest.

I was thinking of heading due west to White's Ferry (just west of Poolesville, MD) to get across the Potomac into Virginia then heading south and passing just west of Manassas, southwest to Charlottesville, then continuing on to Roanoke and finally Christiansburg. All of this would be secondary roads and generally a south, southwest heading once I crossed the Potomac.

To ride the Blue Ridge Parkway I would need to head due west and then go south which seems like a much longer distance (plus a bit of hill climbing I'm assuming). I welcome and appreciate your suggestions. I was hoping some had been through the area I just described and could give me some pointers.

I will be getting the TransAM maps about a month before I leave so they will be as up to date as possible.

I will have a similar situation when I get to Idaho as I will be leaving the Transamerica Trail to head due west to Seattle, WA instead of dropping back down into Oregon. So at both ends of this trip I will be cutting my own path I suppose.
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Old 11-02-10, 09:24 AM   #7
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If you live in Silver Spring I'm surprised you aren't aware of all the great bike routes/trails in the DC area. Check out the excellent "Bike Washington" site at http://bikewashington.org/trails/index.htm for maps, descriptions, etc.

In short: the Capital Crescent or Rock Creek trails will get you within striking distance of the W&OD. Both drop you in/near Georgetown. From there, go across the bridge and take the short Custis trail over to where it connects with the W&OD. You could also hop on the C&O, take it to White's Ferry, cross the Potomac on the ferry, ride up to Leesburg, and then catch the W&OD there (although that's probably a bit longer, it's prettier for the most part because you are on the towpath).
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Old 11-02-10, 10:48 AM   #8
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If you live in Silver Spring I'm surprised you aren't aware of all the great bike routes/trails in the DC area. Check out the excellent "Bike Washington" site at http://bikewashington.org/trails/index.htm for maps, descriptions, etc.

In short: the Capital Crescent or Rock Creek trails will get you within striking distance of the W&OD. Both drop you in/near Georgetown. From there, go across the bridge and take the short Custis trail over to where it connects with the W&OD. You could also hop on the C&O, take it to White's Ferry, cross the Potomac on the ferry, ride up to Leesburg, and then catch the W&OD there (although that's probably a bit longer, it's prettier for the most part because you are on the towpath).
Thanks for the feedback. I have not ridden many of the bike trails in DC mainly because I tend to ride the roads in my immediate vicinity (mainly west or northwest of Silver Spring out towards western Maryland). For me Rock Creek park is too congested with people in the summer (joggers, roller-bladers, baby carriages, dogs on leashes...it just gets old after a while). I know about the C&O but would rather stay off gravel trails to save my tires for the long haul (I will also be pulling a trailer). Riding on the roads around here can be scary but as you get further out it settles down to something akin to normal traffic levels. I will be leaving early on a weekend day so the commuters should not be an issue.
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Old 11-02-10, 12:13 PM   #9
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[QUOTE=scrapser;11718777]I will be getting the TransAM maps about a month before I leave so they will be as up to date as possible.QUOTE]

Not necessarily. They don't print the maps every year. They do a run and then print another when they are just about sold out. Depending on printing date, some sections could be years old and thus not reflect the closing of a bike shop or campground that happened this past summer. If they don't include the latest addenda with your set, you can print them for free from the website. Also, check AC's forum. There is a section for route detours that pop up from time to time, especially during construction season:

http://www.adventurecycling.org/foru...php?board=15.0
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Old 11-02-10, 12:28 PM   #10
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[QUOTE=indyfabz;11720210]
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I will be getting the TransAM maps about a month before I leave so they will be as up to date as possible.QUOTE]

Not necessarily. They don't print the maps every year. They do a run and then print another when they are just about sold out. Depending on printing date, some sections could be years old and thus not reflect the closing of a bike shop or campground that happened this past summer. If they don't include the latest addenda with your set, you can print them for free from the website. Also, check AC's forum. There is a section for route detours that pop up from time to time, especially during construction season:

http://www.adventurecycling.org/foru...php?board=15.0
Wow...thanks for that tidbit of news. Very important.
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Old 11-02-10, 12:34 PM   #11
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I will have a similar situation when I get to Idaho as I will be leaving the Transamerica Trail to head due west to Seattle, WA instead of dropping back down into Oregon. So at both ends of this trip I will be cutting my own path I suppose.
BTW...If you have the time and don't want to have to blaze your own trail, you could take AC's Great Parks route from Missoula up to Whitefish, get on the Northern Tier there, take that to just east of Anacortes and then take the Pacific Coast route down towards Seattle. Conservatively, it's about 18 days not including any rest days you may want, but you might be able to shorten it by a few days. If you have even more time, when you get to Whitefish, you could hop over to Glacier National Park and ride up the west side of Going to the Sun Road to Logan Pass and then back down and then head back to Whitefish. GTS is an amazing ride. Adds 2-3 more days.
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Old 11-02-10, 01:41 PM   #12
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BTW...If you have the time and don't want to have to blaze your own trail, you could take AC's Great Parks route from Missoula up to Whitefish, get on the Northern Tier there, take that to just east of Anacortes and then take the Pacific Coast route down towards Seattle. Conservatively, it's about 18 days not including any rest days you may want, but you might be able to shorten it by a few days. If you have even more time, when you get to Whitefish, you could hop over to Glacier National Park and ride up the west side of Going to the Sun Road to Logan Pass and then back down and then head back to Whitefish. GTS is an amazing ride. Adds 2-3 more days.
Thanks again...I will look hard at those suggestions. I lived in Great Falls, MT for 8 years and traveled around the state a few times but never made it up north much (only to Havre once). I'm on a tight schedule for the entire trip (60 days) due to work so I will have to make the time...literally.
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Old 11-03-10, 07:57 AM   #13
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Thanks for the feedback. I have not ridden many of the bike trails in DC mainly because I tend to ride the roads in my immediate vicinity (mainly west or northwest of Silver Spring out towards western Maryland). For me Rock Creek park is too congested with people in the summer (joggers, roller-bladers, baby carriages, dogs on leashes...it just gets old after a while). I know about the C&O but would rather stay off gravel trails to save my tires for the long haul (I will also be pulling a trailer). Riding on the roads around here can be scary but as you get further out it settles down to something akin to normal traffic levels. I will be leaving early on a weekend day so the commuters should not be an issue.

I dunno.. you're talking about a couple of hours out of a long trip. If you're that averse to people maybe?

Capital Crescent to Georgetown - across the Key Bridge at Rosslyn, pick up the Custis trail to the W&OD was all dedicated bike pavement the last time I rode it.
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Old 11-03-10, 10:46 AM   #14
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The Capital Cresent has a few miles of crushed stone so I would want to avoid that but I see the Custis Trail is paved and would hook me up with the W&OD. All I would need to do is tolerate the Rock Creek Park Trail which may not be bad early in the morning. It would get me to the Key Bridge to cross the Potomac and pick up the Custis trail. The W&OD would get me up to Leesburg which is more or less where I would end up using White's Ferry after riding through the Poolesville, MD area. The two routes appear to be about the same in terms of distance now that I can plot them on a map.

Once I reach Leesburg I think following 15 south would be best (or a good road that parallels it).
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Old 11-03-10, 12:25 PM   #15
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The Capital Crescent seemed like a nice trail, from my recollection (I'm from Philly, so am not intimately familiar with it, but have ridden it). You are riding across the country and you are worried about "a few miles of crushed stone"? ;-)

I liked the Crescent trail a lot more than Rock Creek, personally.

As I and CCrew said, seems like the most direct route is the Crescent trail to Georgetown, Key Bridge to Custis trail (which is generally not up to the standards of the other trails in the region, just so you know... was lots of fun when we rode it on a tandem with front/rear panniers pulling our son in a Burley trailer!), and then onto W&OD.

Rt. 15 can be busy, but shouldn't be quite as bad on a weekend.
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Old 11-03-10, 12:41 PM   #16
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The Capital Crescent seemed like a nice trail, from my recollection (I'm from Philly, so am not intimately familiar with it, but have ridden it). You are riding across the country and you are worried about "a few miles of crushed stone"? ;-)

I liked the Crescent trail a lot more than Rock Creek, personally.

As I and CCrew said, seems like the most direct route is the Crescent trail to Georgetown, Key Bridge to Custis trail (which is generally not up to the standards of the other trails in the region, just so you know... was lots of fun when we rode it on a tandem with front/rear panniers pulling our son in a Burley trailer!), and then onto W&OD.

Rt. 15 can be busy, but shouldn't be quite as bad on a weekend.
I have never ridden on crushed stone; hence my reluctance. Simply put I'm trying to avoid anything that is hard on the tires. I realize I cannot avoid these situations over such a long trip but if I know about one in advance then it makes sense to go around it. Perhaps it's just my inexperience with gravel or maybe I'm paranoid. Thanks for the feedback on Rt. 15...that makes me feel better already.
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Old 11-03-10, 03:37 PM   #17
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.

Once I reach Leesburg I think following 15 south would be best (or a good road that parallels it).
Personally I'd run the W&OD to Purcellville, jump off on Business 7 to Round Hill, left on the Rt 7 Bypass westbound then to the top of the mountain left on Blue Ridge Road. Run that to Route 50, take a left, to the bottom of the hill Rt 17 on the right. Run that to Rt 55 turn right toward Front Royal and pick up the Skyline Drive. Run that to the Blue Ridge Parkway at Afton and keep getting on.

And 15 can be a death road - high speed traffic and no shoulders for most of the run south out of Leesburg..

The Custis trail isn't bad - just an older trail and narrow in spots. They've patched most of the bad spots in the last few months - I ride it daily.

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Old 11-03-10, 06:33 PM   #18
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Personally I'd run the W&OD to Purcellville, jump off on Business 7 to Round Hill, left on the Rt 7 Bypass westbound then to the top of the mountain left on Blue Ridge Road. Run that to Route 50, take a left, to the bottom of the hill Rt 17 on the right. Run that to Rt 55 turn right toward Front Royal and pick up the Skyline Drive. Run that to the Blue Ridge Parkway at Afton and keep getting on.

And 15 can be a death road - high speed traffic and no shoulders for most of the run south out of Leesburg..

The Custis trail isn't bad - just an older trail and narrow in spots. They've patched most of the bad spots in the last few months - I ride it daily.
Thanks. I just ran through the directions on a map. Not bad. My bike is 8 feet long and with a trailer even longer. Obviously I want to avoid risky roads which is one of the reasons I was looking at getting out of the congestion of the DC metro area as quickly as I could. My thinking was that heading out towards Poolesville would get me "out there" with a bit of a trade off on the roads leaving the Silver Spring area. They don't have a lot of shoulders to offer but figured the traffic would be light as I got into the countryside.

The route you suggest accomplishes this by using the W&OD and then hopping over to the Skyline Drive/Blue Ridge Parkway via some side roads by the looks of things. Once I get to Afton I'm on the TransAM trail.

Now I just need to do something similar at the other end in Washington State. Time will be a factor. It has been suggested above I link up with the Northern Tier in Montana. I'd love to do that but only if I have the time. I miss Montana...lived there as a kid and again in my twenties. Fly fishing for trout is a fisherman's dream.
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Old 11-04-10, 06:37 AM   #19
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Yeah, the route I gave you is decent road with good shoulders for the most part. You have about a mile of the Rt7 bypass that's sketchy for shoulder but when you hit the base of the mountain it's wide and just repaved about a month ago. Just try to dodge that stretch at afternoon rush hour and you're good.

Blue Ridge Road is a bit disconcerting BTW. When you get to the part with the razor wire and cameras, not a good choice for a place to stop. That's Mt Weather - which is a city inside the mountain...where they take Govt when they're in "an undisclosed location" . Doesn't show up on Google Earth either

http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/fa...mt_weather.htm
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Old 11-04-10, 09:32 AM   #20
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I was in a similar situation when I was in Montana heading towards Seattle (was late September and winter was coming) and although if you have time going up to the great parks route would be awesome (lived in glacier NP for a summer and riding the going to the sun road is what got me into biking), but what we did was take RT 2 all the way across washington. Not a great shoulder through the cascades, especially on the west side if I remember correctly but you are going fast downhill then so easy enough to just take the lane. Not as scenic as Rt 20 and busier but still got some great views and saw some great stuff - Columbia river gorge, the scablands, Leavenworth is a cheesy but fun German town, Steven's pass is beautiful. More details on my journal - crazyguyonabike.com/chutes41
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Old 11-05-10, 12:07 PM   #21
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Chiming in late, but check the "pedalers" google group (unofficial PPTC list) for some recent discussions on using 55 and other routes to get out to Front Royal.

To echo CC, stretches of 15 can be quite hazardous (Point of Rocks south in particular), but from the turnoff to White's Ferry into Leesburg is fine. Assuming you have a paved route to White's Ferry, you're fine that way or into G'town and out via Custis and W&OD. I'd go via WF, just to avoid the climbing out from Arlington.

A neighbor rode the Trans-Am last summer Yorktown-to-OR. (My wife's been giving me the "don't even think about it" look since!) While she did several shakedown tours before, I think her husband drove her to Yorktown, however.
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