From East to West
So I'm moving to California for a bit and wanted to ride my new LHT there. I planned and researched the route last year and it was the Trans American to the Western Express. Now I wanted help on a few things. One, does anyone know a good and safe route to travel from East to West without buying the Adventure Cycling maps. I don't mind spending the extra money for them but If I can save, keep cost down and develop a route that would be ideal since I need to save as much as possible. I also needed help with components for my LHT. I picked up a a black 2013 model from the local shop Bicycle Habitat here in NYC. I needed to get front and rear racks and have been looking into the Tubus, Surly and Topek from REI. Any help with rack or anyone selling please let ne know. Also thinking of getting fenders but not sure as I plan on getting an extra set of tires and have been looking at the Schwalbe Modial tires. The tires I have now are Continental Contacts that came stock with the bike. So if any recommendations on tires to bring for back up over this terrain (Trans Am/ Western Express) that would be great. Water bottle holders, wanted to know which ones you all are running.
I'm going to keep the bike pretty stock for now and change things accordingly as needed. I was looking into solar power as It will come in handy as I'm bringing my camera gear and will be continuing to produce my photography and video work. I saw this one here... https://www.voltaicsystems.com/fuse10w.shtml. I purchase on ebay for a great deal the Ortlieb Back roller classic panniers for the rear and was thinking of getting Bikepacker plus up in the front for easy access in and out the bag. This is all very loose as I am still checking things off my list so I might have left something out.
In terms of the trip, I'll be leaving in late April of 2014. Would this be an alright time to leave for a trip heading from East to west from VA's Trans Am to Western Express? I'm planning for a solo ride but invited a friend who may come, however he won't be staying in California. All help greatly appreciated.
I am also planning a trip from east to west. It looks like I will be going from Colorado Springs to Seattle though. However, I do work in the shop at the Soho REI. Of course you cannot beat tubus in quality, Racktime is great for the money though. I will be using the Thule Pack n' Pedal system on a Spot Rallye.
(though the Nitto "Big Front Rack" is pretty sweet looking as well)
BTW, I think your pannier choice is excellent and I plan on getting the same myself for my summer touring. I'm uncertain about using the Ortlieb Bikepacker Plus for front wheel usage because they seem large to me, but more experienced will probably chime in.
If you do the Western Express you are going to need more than a couple of water bottles. There are some long stretches with no services, and it will be hot. You don't have to get a Camelback, but be prepared to carry extra bottles in your panniers. I thought I would hate a Camelback, but I didn't once I tried one. They also come in handy in camp if you site is not near a water spigot.
The Surly racks (especially the front one) are overbuilt IMO. The front weighs in at over 3 lbs. That's nuts.
For Tubus and Ortileb, check out thetouringstore.com. I would definitely not use Bike Packers up front, especially if you have a low rider rack. In fact, they might even hit the ground if attached to a low rider. Also, the Bike Packers are a bit "floppy," meaning they don't cinch down/compress well unless stuffed to the gills. I would be leery about putting sensitive camera equipment in them. Unless packed tightly, it could bounce around.
The ACA maps can save you money because they show locations of cheap and low cost camping. The prices are not given, but the type of facility is. E.g., city/county park, U.S.F.S., BLM, etc. Municipal and federal campgrounds, as well as state parks, are often less expensive than private campgrounds, which are also noted. Note that you may camp for free on most U.S.F.S. and BLM land.
With the weather we have been having in the east, late April may be a bit early. You would also need to calculate when that would put you in areas that may still have snow.
Thanks much guys. For fenders I was looking at the SKS P45. However, not sure what size to get. Running stock Continental Contender tires now. Whats the best size to get for clearance for these tires and newer ones to come? Anyone run Tubus racks, please shed some light in comparison to the others like OEM Surly, Minoura and others. Also, what pedals are people running. I have Mks GR 10 on my track bike. I have big feet, size 13 so pedals are important. I also have look keo blades I plan to bring with me.
For front rack, look at the Old Man Mountain Sherpa. It's light, sturdy and has a platform, which is quite useful. Tubus is great for a rear rack.
If you're worried about the weight of the maps, try the Sportspacker panniers for the front. You can't put so much stuff in them, so they'll save you much more than the weight of the maps. You can also mail the maps home when you finish with them (or have someone mail them to you, preferably before you need them).
Regarding tires, many people don't bring spares on the TransAm, just a tire boot, and then resupply on the road. If you do bring a spare one is enough. If tire weight and speed are important to you the Schwalbe Supremes are popular--fast for a touring tire with decent flat protection.
Late April is a good time to leave East to West on the TransAm but there's a chance you would miss some of the leaves on the trees in the east. If you leave in the first week or two of May Spring should have sprung and you'll likely encounter more TA riders if that's appealing to you.
I think the AC maps are a good thing but for some first hand expereinces from people who have biked the way you plan visit www.crazyguyonabike.com and search for journals in North America. The pictures and journals are very enlightening.
Hey BGR -
No, you don't need to stick to the TransAm route or buy the maps.
The advantages of the TransAm (less so other ACA routes) are the cyclist services - often cheaper.
The disadvantages are the ho-hum quality of x-usa cyclists in these communities - they see hundreds.
Also, Kentucky and Missouri have mega dogs and sometimes one can encounter intolerance - not often, but.
You indicated that you will be leaving from NYC and, I'm guessing, heading to the Bay area in Calif?
Also, you said you were thinking late April - but how fast to you plan to ride?
If you do a fast past it might only be 6 weeks. Moderate - 8 weeks, Relaxed - 10 weeks.
That makes a difference when you will be in the West by as much as a month.
Here in Wyoming people always laugh about Memorial Day weekend snow.
If you hit the Rockies in early June, you will need to be a little careful -
There might be a late system requiring you to wait a couple of days.
In fact, much of your trip will tend to be on the cool & rainy side.
In the Great Plains, they get half their rain in May & June.
Have you looked at Warmshowers and Couchsurfing? Gives you options.
About the route - why not build your own?
You can get out of Manhattan fast using SeaLink's ferry to Atlantic Highlands, NJ.
You get to see the bridges, Lady Liberty, and the skyline recede in the distance.
Plus if you leave in the morning headed to Jersey, the boat will be pretty empty.
Then you can connect with the Hudson Trail and cross to the Delaware River -
There's hiker/biker camping at Bull's Island near Lambertville
For example - Here is a bike route map of Penna:
Each route has printable map segments - - free.
There are 3 east-west routes "S", "V", and "Y".
Early in the season I would stay to Route S - warmer and more services.
You can take the Old Lincoln Highway in Ohio and Indiana to the Windy City.
Illinois DOT publishes detailed bike maps for free
Iowa and Nebraska have bike maps online:
Hwy 14 & US 40 is a good early-season crossing of the Rockies in Colorado.
You have a great college town, Ft Collins, where you can wait for good weather.
Steamboat Springs, on the west slope, also has lots of bike services.
Colorado Bike Map (Not as good) -
You can combine US 40, US 189, and US 50 - with back road segments across Utah.
Again, you have Provo, college town, for services.
It really starts to get empty when you get to western Utah.
The ride from Delta to the Nevada border is a mind bender.
Always carry adequate water and ride early to avoid headwinds.
Same goes for Nevada about empty and water.
US 50 - also known as the Loneliest Road - is the only game.
You really don't need ACA maps - towns are widely, but adequately, spaced.
By the time you get to Carson City - essential services - you can plan the last segment.
Since US 50 in Nevada is the Western Express - you can connect with other riders.
The WX crosses Carson Pass on Hwy 88 - then down 8000 feet to Sacramento.
There are other options - Hwy 49 thru Gold Country, Donner Pass -
But I suspect you will be ready to get to Baghdad by the Bay.
The ferry ride across San Francisco Bay makes a nice bookend.
Safe trip! - - J
Wow! Thank you so much for taking the time out to help out with this. I would have to print these out to see them on larger scale. It's really difficult on the computer even with the biggest IMac. Anyway, I did manage to check out the PA route and staying on bike route S would be best I'd agree. looked at Route 50 into Nevada as well. At which part does it get lonely lol? How would you go about camping. Just pull off in the road? Tomorrow I have the day off so I plan on drawing out a route. Would you say these routes are safe to ride and away from high traffic areas? I wonder if I can combine route from Adventure Cycling with these.
Thanks BGR -
To answer all your questions in one - - there are no hard-and-fast rules for touring.
That's what makes the touring experience so rewarding - - despite the rain, the headwinds, the stinky clothes.
So, yes, you can combine Adventure Cycling routes with your own as much as you want.
Some folks might ride from Trenton to Reno and call it cross country.
Others might insist that they ride from bay to bay - - either way is fine.
For much of the area - outside of towns - between the Rockies and the Sierras -
Yes, you can camp almost anywhere on public lands - but you have to know public lands.
The rule is BLM (Bureau of Land Management) and USFS (US Forest Service) lands are open.
NPS (National Park Service) and state lands (Colorado State Forest, for ex.) do not permit.
Big towns often have KOAs or other private camping - so they won't let you camp for free.
Small towns, on the other hand, might have camping in their park or will let cyclists do so.
Also, churches are often quite generous - usually the pastor's name/number is on the sign.
With all of these, it's best to arrive early enough - definitely before dark.
State parks in most states (except Oregon, Calif) tend to have fairly expensive camping.
Even if not posted, ask if there is a hiker/biker rate.
Iowa has the best county parks in the Midwest - usually with inexpensive camping & showers.
Then there are fishing access sites and wildlife areas throughout the Midwest.
You would need to go online to find them - and which allow camping.
If camping is permitted - there is usually nothing in the way of developed facilities.
(A small plastic trowel and a few handiwipe packets are useful for such times.)
Here's an example in Nebraska:
Most new touring cyclists are not comfortable with remote camping experiences -
But often these wildlife areas are little paradises tucked away from civilization.
A rule of thumb might be that camping is nearly anywhere in the West,
Pretty easy in the Great Plains, a bit harder east of the Mississippi,
And pretty tough to find in the East.
Hope you are having a good day off with your planning.
It's just two months away, ya know?
I know it's two months away and it's getting really intense. Right now i'm trying to map out things but having a hard time. Was thinking about buying the AC maps due to time constraints. Still not sure and looking and researching best possible routes and places to crash. I feel like lot's of it is improvised based off time and when I made the decision to do this. Still planning and will report back with details of route structure.
Two months is plenty of time - just long enough - but not too far off in the distance.
What is it that you really want out of this trip - and what is your framing?
I tried to look at a few of your posts to see where you might be coming from.
You might not get all you want - but you can get most of it.
Here's what I'm guessing -
You want to ride from NYC to SFO - 1st major tour -
You're about 30, a roadie, can really wail the miles.
Fly-over America is a big blank on the map.
You'll be ready to go - really ready - by the end of April.
And I'm thinking about two months to do it? Maybe less?
Not sure if you're planning on seeing your ex-girlfriend in St. Louis -
Or your bud Miguel in Denver. Have them meet you along the way.
Your timeframe is slightly early - in some ways that suggests the TransAm.
If connecting up with other riders is important - then the TransAm is best.
Most of the time the connection is good - sometimes not.
Riding style and pace can make a difference -
Some people party every night and don't start 'til noon.
Others need to be on the road right after sunrise and done by 2:00.
Some want to visit every Elvis and lawnmower museum.
Others want to get the miles in.
Since you are starting a bit early, you will have some, but not many other riders.
If the rural South is a concern for you - and first 1/3 of the TransAm is in the Upper South,
Then you shouldn't hesitate to route out something else. You will be fine.
There are all sorts of other reasons to choose a route other than the TransAm.
I have ridden cross-country a half dozen times - oodles more trips in the West.
I don't think the TA is the best, but there are many people here who will swear by it.
As a region, I find the South uncomfortable - especially biking thru the rural South.
I say that as someone who has deep Southern roots and half my growing-up there.
Although no region has a monopoly on intolerance and lack of curiosity -
I do find it more prevalent in the South. And the poverty is pretty depressing.
(I've also biked thru East St. Louis, Pine Ridge, and many a dying Plains town.)
East of the Mississippi, I just find it easier biking in the Midwest.
And the TransAm route across Kansas simply sucks. Nebraska is far more scenic.
I say that as someone who did my grad work at KU, too.
Have you looked at journals over at Crazy Guy on a Bike?
I would be glad to help you with route ideas. Specifics.
Feel free to pm me, if you wish - - J
SKS P50 on Surly LHT With Continental Contender tires 28x 1 1/4 I think idk I have to check. Anyone? Also Racks Tubus, Topek, Old Man Mountain Sherpa.
Thanks for sharing some of you experience from the past. It look's like I'm getting the maps from Adventure Cycling and was looking at two routes. Here are the specifics...
I initially thought I needed the maps that would take me from New York City to Yorktown, VA where I can catch the TransAmerican Trail. I would then need the Western Express map that would take me from Pueblo, CO to San Francisco, CA. I believe these where them... http://www.adventurecycling.org/cycl...-transam-east/. However, due to my background I think I might feel a bit more comfortable skipping the deep south and going further north such as this route...
Atlantic Coast, Northern Tier, Green Mountains Loop Great Rivers South, TransAmerican Trail, Great Parks South and finally the Western Express. I would want these as connecting maps and can spot the directly if needed. But I wanted your opinions on these routes of the country being the safest to travel in terms of crime and safety.
This northern route will probably take a while though. My initial route is fine I wonder if I'll be passing through the deep south in some areas. My philosophy in terms of thinking is universal and post modern if you will. So I considered taking a northern route but would like feedback on this. Hope this isn't to vague or awkward.
Also, you don't need the Green Mountains Loop map. That route combines with the Northern Tier for a while. The Northern Tier maps for that area will suffice.
Finally, I would not consider the areas the eastern portion of the Trans Am passes through as the "deep south." Having ridden the entire Northern Tier, not sure how much difference there would be between rural NY, OH, IN and IL and that portion of the Trams Am.
Yea I'm just not to sure about going through the deep south in comparison to the north. However, I am interested in passing through PA and the Delaware Water Gap. Camping sites i'm sure? I can catch the Northern Tier in Erie, PA. I was thinking I can take that then drop down on the TransAm I think in Wyoming, or the Great Divide down correct me if I'm wrong. From there I can just catch the Western Express US50 to San Francisco. Thoughts on this route?
I can agree that they may be a bit overblown. I'm just a bit nervous going solo through certain areas. Not sure how much different the North would be.
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