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  1. #1
    Senior Member bobframe's Avatar
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    When to start TransAm Trail?

    I am considering a (east to west) TransAm ride in 2015 and would depart from home in north Georgia. Although I am in the very early planning stages, the question of "when" I would do this is open. I'd love some help with this.

    Here's my big issue:

    I want to minimize riding in an "uncomfortable" level of heat , which to me, is 85F+. Reason: I can physically handle cool/cold a lot better than warm/hot/humid/buggy. Reading about people sweating in sleeping bags gives me the heebie geebies. However, I understand that western mountain passes have to clear before they can be ridden. So if I leave too early the passes won't be open and if I leave too late the heat hammers...gotta time this thing.

    And here's my plan:

    I am thinking that an early April start will let me get through the south and midwest before the real dog days set in. I'm thinking that this would put me close to the Rockies by mid-June, which I think would present a fairly low risk of snow in the high elevations. An April start (from north Georgia) would immediately put me in the Appalachians if I headed north, so instead I think I'd head west to Mississippi and pick up the ACA's Great Rivers South trail northbound 'til I intersected the Transam Trail. This way I'd stay out of the Appalachians, thereby missing some brutal climbs (a good thing for this Clydesdale) and some potentially very cold temps.

    Now I understand that weather happens in some unpredictable ways, but has anyone timed a ride like this? If so, what was your experience? Any regrets? Anyone see an obvious flaw in this?

    Many thanks,

    Bob
    Last edited by bobframe; 06-05-14 at 02:28 PM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Cyclebum's Avatar
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    Sounds to me like you've nailed it down 'bout as good as possible. Only down side I see is spring rains.
    The bicycle is one of the great inventions of mankind. Delights children, challenges young men to feats of daring, and turns old men into boys again.--Me

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    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    It depends on your pace. We went the other direction, but for the section between Yorktown VA and Pueblo CO I think we took 30 days (out of 73 days coast to coast). I think that worked out to a 60 MPD average for the whole trip. I think your start would put you in the mountains too soon unless you went much slower than we did. Assuming the ACA Trans America route and an early April start, I think you would be too early unless averaging 30 or 40 miles per day. I think I'd take 2100 miles and divide by your expected MPD. Then leave that number of days before you want to hit Pueblo. You will be in the mountains more or less from there on. I suspect that for most people early April will be at least a couple weeks too early and likely expose you to more rain in the east and some cold or even snow in the Rockies.

  4. #4
    Senior Member bobframe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclebum View Post
    Sounds to me like you've nailed it down 'bout as good as possible. Only down side I see is spring rains.
    True about the rain. Now I do not fear plain old rain ...but some of your more festive "spring storms" could throw a wrench into the works. The potential for violent weather in the south/midwest in April/May is actually pretty high. But I think you usually have some advance warning of those things and that's why God made motels. My theory anyway.

  5. #5
    Senior Member bobframe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
    It depends on your pace. We went the other direction, but for the section between Yorktown VA and Pueblo CO I think we took 30 days (out of 73 days coast to coast). I think that worked out to a 60 MPD average for the whole trip. I think your start would put you in the mountains too soon unless you went much slower than we did. Assuming the ACA Trans America route and an early April start, I think you would be too early unless averaging 30 or 40 miles per day. I think I'd take 2100 miles and divide by your expected MPD. Then leave that number of days before you want to hit Pueblo. You will be in the mountains more or less from there on. I suspect that for most people early April will be at least a couple weeks too early and likely expose you to more rain in the east and some cold or even snow in the Rockies.
    Good points. I will do a goggle map from home (Toccoa, GA) to Pueblo, CO and work the math.

    Math/map work done.

    OK, rough distance from home to Pueblo, CO is 1660. Assuming a 50 MPD average, that is 33 days of riding plus 4 rest days=37 days elapsed. So, what is the earliest that one could expect to begin the climb from Pueblo? I understand that snow can come at almost anytime in the mountains, but what's a reasonable, if a bit early, time to begin crossing?

    FWIW, Pueblo would be about the halfway point for me.
    Last edited by bobframe; 06-05-14 at 02:51 PM.

  6. #6
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Your numbers don't seem right. I assume that means that by Trans Am you don't mean "The" Trans America route? If that is the case it may affect your choices. It would be more like 4200+ miles (we took the shorter option at Florence OR and it was 4244 miles for us) total and more like 2100 from Pueblo to Florence.

    Maybe someone else with more experience with riding East to West will pipe up, but if it was me, I'd probably figure on getting to Pueblo no sooner than June 1st. Hopefully if I am wrong someone else will give better advice.

    Another option that would avoid the heat would be to go W-E in the Fall. It would have the advantage of allowing you to get air travel out of the way up front. I consider that a big plus. Oh yeah and the Southern Tier either direction in winter. I wasn't thrilled by the scenery on that one, but the food and people were great.

  7. #7
    Senior Member bobframe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
    Your numbers don't seem right.
    I'm sure you are right. Although, I don't plan to do the TransAm from the ATlantic...I'd start in Toccoa, GA and go west/north, so maybe that explains some of the diff.

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    Night in Yellowstone will likely be pretty cold in late May. I was there in late June and awoke to frost on the ground. Forecast low for tonight at Old Faithful is 32F. May and early June can be cool and wet in some of the parts of MT you will riding through, and you could have snow at higher elevations. Forecast low for tonight in Wisdom, which is at 6,000', is 32F. Although I must say that it's not looking too bad this spring. I am heading to Missoula in two weeks for some riding and have been monitoring the weather. But when I was there in '11 the folks at ACA told us it had been cold, wet and dreary most days until we arrived in late June.

    Also note that you are not going to be totally out of the heat once you get out west. Eastern and central OR can get crispy critter hot in July and August. In fact, the average daily high for John Day, OR in July and Augst is 88F, and shade is hard to come by. But it's a dry heat. When I was in Sisters in early September of '02 it was at least 90F both days. The nice thing though is that it usually cools off nicely as the evening approaches. Get an early start and take a break mid day if you need to and you should be fine.

  9. #9
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobframe View Post
    I'm sure you are right. Although, I don't plan to do the TransAm from the ATlantic...I'd start in Toccoa, GA and go west/north, so maybe that explains some of the diff.
    I think your mileage from Toccoa to Pueblo is probably about right. From Pueblo to the coast I think you are quite low.

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    Accoridng ACA's web site, Pueblo to Astoria is 2052 miles:

    TransAmerica Trail | Adventure Cycling Route Network | Adventure Cycling Association
    "I've wanted you to succeed, but watching you find excuse after excuse after excuse and then laugh it off as the loveable, quirky, chubby guy is getting old."--Ill.Clyde

  11. #11
    Senior Member bobframe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
    I think your mileage from Toccoa to Pueblo is probably about right. From Pueblo to the coast I think you are quite low.
    You are correct. Not a trivial miscalculation on my part. Of course this plan is still in the very early "what if" stages...but I appreciate the correction.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobframe View Post
    An April start (from north Georgia) would immediately put me in the Appalachians if I headed north, so instead I think I'd head west to Mississippi and pick up the ACA's Great Rivers South trail northbound 'til I intersected the Transam Trail. This way I'd stay out of the Appalachians, thereby missing some brutal climbs (a good thing for this Clydesdale) and some potentially very cold temps.
    Uhhhhhhhhhh..............golly Bob, the highest point in the Appalachians is what, somewhere in the range of 4000 ft.? How "brutal" can the climbs be? Check out some of the passes in the Rockies and the Sierra Nevada, they are in the "HO-CHEE-MAMA" range!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Louis Le Tour View Post
    Uhhhhhhhhhh..............golly Bob, the highest point in the Appalachians is what, somewhere in the range of 4000 ft.? How "brutal" can the climbs be?
    Only 50% off, and obviously someone who's never seen some of our older, more scenic Appalachian roads. Probably doesn't know how to pronounce "Appalachian" either.

  14. #14
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Louis Le Tour View Post
    Uhhhhhhhhhh..............golly Bob, the highest point in the Appalachians is what, somewhere in the range of 4000 ft.? How "brutal" can the climbs be?
    You probably wouldn't say that if you had ridden the Trans America. Having ridden the TA I can say that I found the climbs in the Appalachians to be substantially harder than anything in the Rockies or Cascades on the TA. They may not be that high or that long, but they are crazy steep and one after another. The climbs in the west on the TA were long, but well graded.

    I started in the west so I was road hardened by the time I got to the Appalachians and still found them harder. My companions agreed.

    There are super tough climbs in the west, I know we found the Sierras on the SC extremely hard, but on the TA the Appalachians and the Ozarks were harder than the climbs earlier in the ride in the west were.

    That is my take on it any way. YMMV though.
    Last edited by staehpj1; 06-06-14 at 04:49 PM.

  15. #15
    Senior Member bobframe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Louis Le Tour View Post
    Uhhhhhhhhhh..............golly Bob, the highest point in the Appalachians is what, somewhere in the range of 4000 ft.? How "brutal" can the climbs be? Check out some of the passes in the Rockies and the Sierra Nevada, they are in the "HO-CHEE-MAMA" range!
    I'm sure this was said in jest...I have ridden both Rockies and App's and the "length vs. grade" argument holds true. Crossing the Appalachian Mountains is no trivial undertaking. OTOH, the Trans American Route appears to "wallow" in the Rockies as opposed to simply crossing them and being done with it, as a more civilized route might do...

    This has been an eye opener for me.

  16. #16
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobframe View Post
    I'm sure this was said in jest...I have ridden both Rockies and App's and the "length vs. grade" argument holds true. Crossing the Appalachian Mountains is no trivial undertaking. OTOH, the Trans American Route appears to "wallow" in the Rockies as opposed to simply crossing them and being done with it, as a more civilized route might do...
    Yeah I think we crossed the continental divide something like 9 times in the west on the TA. The roads there are well graded though and quite "civilized".

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    Quote Originally Posted by bobframe View Post
    OTOH, the Trans American Route appears to "wallow" in the Rockies as opposed to simply crossing them and being done with it, as a more civilized route might do...
    Hmm, I don't know. The Western Express is more of a straight shot, but you deal with the whole "basin and range" geography of Utah and Nevada, and you miss the Tetons! (Oh, and Yellowstone.) Seriously, heading west, coming over Togwotee Pass and seeing the Tetons spread out - that was enough to make up for all the continental divide crossings in Wyoming (and most of those were pretty easy, like the Great Basin entrance and exit).

  18. #18
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Just boxed up 2 cyclist's bikes , saturday, for return shipping,

    traveling separately, they had both started from Virginia ..

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Louis Le Tour View Post
    Uhhhhhhhhhh..............golly Bob, the highest point in the Appalachians is what, somewhere in the range of 4000 ft.? How "brutal" can the climbs be? Check out some of the passes in the Rockies and the Sierra Nevada, they are in the "HO-CHEE-MAMA" range!
    More and more I am believing that you live under a bridge. Either that or you have no idea what you are talking about, as a few others have suggested. My money is on the former. So which is it?

  20. #20
    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Louis Le Tour View Post
    Uhhhhhhhhhh..............golly Bob, the highest point in the Appalachians is what, somewhere in the range of 4000 ft.? How "brutal" can the climbs be? Check out some of the passes in the Rockies and the Sierra Nevada, they are in the "HO-CHEE-MAMA" range!
    If you actually do the Trans Am, you will find out.

    On our cross country ride we did not have to walk up any hill until we hit the east coast. We had 4 short, very steep hills in quick succession; the 4th one was the killer.
    Last edited by Doug64; 06-09-14 at 06:59 PM.

  21. #21
    Hooked on Touring
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    Big A Mountain in western Virginia is shorthand for "Big Ass" Mountain - -
    Anyone who has climbed it on the TransAm knows what a killer it is.

    <<<>>>

    About your route and timing -

    First, start on the coast - you'll be glad you did.

    Second, six weeks should do you from coastal GA/SC to Pueblo.
    So, I wouldn't leave any earlier than late April.

    Third, the peak of storm season in the Great Plains is late May/early June.
    It is always wise when cycling in Kansas to remember Dorothy's travails.

    Fourth, we had some nice snow and cold this weekend in the Bighorn Mountains.
    I lived in Jackson when it snowed on the 4th of July - a few inches, not flurries.
    June can be fickle in the Rockies - often there is a late cold rain/warm snow system.
    Some park and forest facilities do not open until mid/late June.

    <<<>>>

    Starting about April 23rd -
    One week to Chattanooga, one more week to Cave-in-Rock,
    one week to Pittsburg, KS, two weeks across Kansas and eastern Colorado.

    That gets you to Pueblo at the end of May WITH an Atlantic coast start.
    You might even want to wait until May 1st to start.

    <<<>>>

    If you haven't done much touring, I'd do the TA rather then the WX for sure.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
    If you actually do the Trans Am, you will find out.
    I find it funny that a self-admitted touring "noob" who, as far as I can tell, has yet to ride one loaded mile, is commenting on the diffculty of climbing anything.

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