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Brit hoping to cycle San Diego to Corpus Christi ('TransAm')

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Brit hoping to cycle San Diego to Corpus Christi ('TransAm')

Old 05-18-23, 04:45 AM
  #51  
sj8070
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Hi guys- appreciate your comments but I dont see why you cant do a bit of both... OK i've not cycled the US before, but I've driven plenty of times, and you'd never say you've 'done a city' having stayed there for 1 or 2 nights, it cant still be great fun to get a flavour of it and meet some people...

But bringing it back to the cycling... do you guys think both routes are doable? Weather wise similar?
Looking now like I will have 45 days total to do it... so it *shouldnt* be a rush...
On the headwind point, I've trie dto do some more research here but not had a lot of luck
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Old 05-18-23, 06:45 AM
  #52  
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Have you done any touring yet? If you have and have found you like visiting major cities ignore the following.

I have found it best to mostly avoid bigger cities and enjoy the small towns and only hit a real city when necsssary. Smaller cities are more suitable than big ones for touring through IME. I have ridden in big cities and have started and finished tours in them, but generally avoid the other than that. You seem to want to go way out of your way to visit big cities. That is a foreign concept to me. I tend to do the exact opposite and think most touring rider do.
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Old 05-18-23, 06:45 AM
  #53  
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I think both routes are possible. I do see some differences:
1. The route where you head across to Harper's Ferry looks like it is going to have a bunch more steep climbing early when crossing PA from north to south. I would work out more detailed plans on that particular crossing. I would also expect it to be slightly more humid coming across the Atlantic seaboard than more inland.
2. The route that goes across to Ohio should have less steep climbing earlier and perhaps some more between Nashville and Atlanta.

I would be tempted to make a tail portion of either ride on the Natchez Trace. You'll be full summer heat humidity then. My biased experience suggests somewhat better road shoulders in northern US than southern and western US states than eastern. Not sure it is completely true but times I've gone off route in MS/AL/LA seem to be cases where I encountered roads without as many shoulders (perhaps no need to plow snow to the side?). Again, might just be the routes I've picked but I've been particularly careful in that area.

Here is the way I think about *average humidity* include the dew point. From the link above, following is a map of average dew points in the US during July:
- I think of everything over 60F as being "humid", over 65 as being "muggy" and over 70 as being oppressive. So you'll end up a chunk of your trip in that red region.




As a comparison point, here is the average dew points in July for London:
- The humid (over 60F dew point is only about 10% of the time) and there are essentially no muggy or oppressive regions. So most of your trip in both orange and red regions will be on *average* more humid than the occasional 10% days in London.



- If I pick a spot in Europe with a higher dewpoint, then randomly pick Barcelona:
- Barcelona starts out about 1/3 of the time as muggy and ends up a little over half. So this is similar to your red regions.


So if you told someone you were planning a summer cycling holiday in 2nd half of July around Barcelona (and staying along humid coast), then that would be similar to what you are planning. I think it is possible. I don't think it is as dangerous in the way I think the SW desert areas are in the US during the summer. I also think it won't necessarily be the most comfortable time of year to ride. If you want to pick a different city for comparison than London/Barcelona, both these came as screen shots from weatherspark.com

Last edited by mev; 05-18-23 at 06:49 AM.
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Old 05-18-23, 07:36 AM
  #54  
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Originally Posted by sj8070
hi guys- thanks again for the comments
Sorry to view the routes you just need to add: maps dot google dot com then a '/' as the prefix
Yep I cant post links..

The idea behind some of the detours is to soak in as much culture as possible along the way, and I've tried to pick cities and towns ive heard great things about, or have a really unique feel
i'm sure i've made some more blunders...
Like maybe the climb at the beginning of 1) - Buffalo to Harpers Ferry - is just too big at 800m max but total elevation c.3000m over ~8days...
Just make 3 gratuitous posts. We have a wolf, coyote, and lyon who do 30 each per day.

I would not worry about weather or wind on either of those routes. You are inland and west of the Appalachian mountains. It will be humid but with that calm, stagnant air is fast. LOL
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Old 05-18-23, 12:18 PM
  #55  
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Originally Posted by pdlamb
So you're saying this is like an American who signs up for a 10 day guided bus tour knowing if they're lucky they'll get two hours in the Louvre, an hour in Versailles, drive by the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, and come home saying they've seen Europe?
No.
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Old 05-18-23, 03:06 PM
  #56  
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In mid-summer, the heat & humidity are likely to be pretty miserable on most of both routes, but not life-threatening. Since you want to spend time in some cities, the first route would be my choice. Washington, Charleston, & Savannah, are all more interesting IMO to visit than the cities you'd pass through on your 2nd route. However, instead of trying to cross central Pennsylvania which would involve a large amount of repeated climbing and descending, I would head southwest from Buffalo and then go south to Pittsburgh, which I also found to be a surprisingly nice city to visit. Going through Western Pennsylvania would avoid the more difficult climbs that you'd encounter in central Pennsylvania. There's a partially-completed trail which could help you get to Pittsburgh. I've only biked on the Allegheny River Trail portion, which is a very nice paved trail. You need a light for the tunnels.

https://www.eriepittsburghtrail.org/

From Pittsburgh you can take the very nice GAP (Great Allegheny Passage) Trail (unpaved but good crushed stone surface) which conveniently connects to the C&O Canal towpath in Cumberland, Maryland. The canal towpath is unpaved and can be muddy, but that's less of a problem in the summer when it dries quickly. I believe that the surface has been improved in some portions. Also, the Western Maryland rail-trail is paved and adjacent to the canal for 28 miles. The canal towpath takes you all the way to the center of Washington, DC.

I'm not sure that either Raleigh or Charlotte are worth going out of the way for. I think that a route going through small and mid-sized towns in North Carolina would be more enjoyable.
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Old 05-18-23, 03:36 PM
  #57  
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For the cost to ship the bike and for the shipping container and issues with having one city for the start and another city for the end of the trip it would be better to buy a used bike. I would take the seat off your current bike so you can use it on the bike you buy. Same might go for the pedals.

Most of the trip would be in very hot desert country and not the most scenic. Also prevailing winds are from the northwest so better to start in San Diego and then head east. There are hundreds of miles where there will be no bike shop so you need to be 100% self sufficient. Far better to go with a group tour that will arrange for lodging and meals and have a sag van and a mechanic as part of the package.
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Old 05-22-23, 02:30 AM
  #58  
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Originally Posted by sj8070
Haha ok - some pretty unanimous feedback here.
If people are suggesting the idea is a 'troll' then it must really be idiotic.
The plan had always been to get a hotel rather than camp, and to cycle early in the morning, to avoid the worst of the heat. But agreed, if anything goes wrong and/or you can't make one of hte 90mile stretches, you get into trouble quickly...

SO

In order to try and avoid the pacific west coast route (which I've both driven and motorbiked, so holds less 'novelty' appeal for me) - i've come up with two other North South routes armed with Google Maps...

Both Toronto to New Orleans -- and for sure now we will have a big problem with humidity on the last bit, but perhaps we can set off early again...
Are both/either doable? Any thoughts??!
Preparing for another onslought of sensible comments!
Why not start in New Orleans? Then you are getting the New Orleans area humidity 45 days earlier in the season.

https://weatherspark.com/y/11799/Ave...tes-Year-Round
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Old 05-22-23, 06:36 AM
  #59  
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Originally Posted by irc
Why not start in New Orleans? Then you are getting the New Orleans area humidity 45 days earlier in the season.

https://weatherspark.com/y/11799/Ave...tes-Year-Round
Great idea. Plus you should have more tailwinds and lots of time to burn off the beignets
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Old 05-22-23, 06:39 AM
  #60  
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Originally Posted by irc
Why not start in New Orleans? Then you are getting the New Orleans area humidity 45 days earlier in the season.

https://weatherspark.com/y/11799/Ave...tes-Year-Round
I went to Jazz Fest many years ago. Thatís in March, IIRC. One day was pretty darn humid. I remember thinking that I will never go to there during summer.
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Old 05-22-23, 07:16 AM
  #61  
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At 2 pm today, New Orleans forecast is 83F and 54% humidity. Pretty pleasant. New Orleans temp data shows mid June mornings to be low 70's with highs in the high 80's whereas in August, you are looking at high 70's for lows and mid 90's for highs and greater chance of afternoon weather.

100% good idea to start in New Orleans and travel Northeasterly with the prevailing SW wind at your tail.
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Old 05-22-23, 07:24 AM
  #62  
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Originally Posted by Calsun
For the cost to ship the bike and for the shipping container and issues with having one city for the start and another city for the end of the trip it would be better to buy a used bike. I would take the seat off your current bike so you can use it on the bike you buy. Same might go for the pedals.
Going used in a strange city in a foreign country when on a limited time schedule might be a bit iffy. Possibly if buying from a trusted source it could work. Shipping might run something like $500 each way from the UK to a US city if boxing and shipping with bikeflights or similar, so yes buying a bike isn't out of the question, even a new bike maybe. OTOH there is a lot to be said for riding a bike you are used to.

Edited to add a few thoughts:
I have not dealt with them, but The Pro's Closet buys and sells bikes so they might be a way to get and dispose of a bike at the end of a our. I don't think they deal with touring bikes, but if you would consider a gravel or cyclocross bike they could maybe be an answer. It might work out cheaper than shipping a bike. Buying a new bike in the $800-1600 or so range and possibly selling it at the end might be an option. Worst case you could donate it at the end if you didn't have a buyer for it.

All tnat said I'd try to choose an airline that was fairly bike friendly in their baggage policy when it came to bikes and just fly with my bike as long as I could get by with a somewhat reasonable baggage and flight cost.

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Old 05-24-23, 05:47 PM
  #63  
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British Airways charge £65 each way for a bike UK to USA. Why have to waste time sourcing a bike and getting it dialled in when you can just take your own?

Even if you mechanical skills aren't up to packing and reassembling a bike it's still cheaper to pay a bike shop than buy a decent bike and have the hassle of selling it to recoup some of the cash.
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Old 07-11-23, 12:50 PM
  #64  
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Hi again everyone...
Been a few months since my OP and i admit its a little cringe to read back some of the early qus...
Down the rabbit hole of preparing for this tour now and I have a bike & lots of lovely kit.. All the gear...
Trek Domane SL6 - bought this early on post bike-fit to start training... tho I wouldnt go carbon if i went again...
But it means i've been able to get a several 60 mile days in, and lots of 30+
Being unemployed has its perks

Now I turn back to this thread and all of its wise advice for some further thoughts on fittings and a last look at the route (which I've added lots of days to, it was looking way too tough before!)
I have a Tailfin aeropack and thinking of going for the two 5L panniers as the main storage space (since it will be the AMEX Trail... hotels only...)
Also - anyone have a framepack they really recommend?

And onto the route... here's a googlesheet of each proposed stage... the time / climb..
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets...R8TV5H6RDFWxU/
Anything look totally out of whack?
What do people think of the route in general?
Lets remember I'm not trying to go North to South as fast as possible... plenty of rest days and time in the afternoons to (hopefully) see some places/things/people

I think i'll do a new thread closer to d-date (likely 18/19 July - need to book that flight to Toronto)..
But if anyone fancies joining for a ride and is on that route, let me know!
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Old 07-11-23, 01:54 PM
  #65  
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Overall looks more reasonable than earlier. One suggestion I might have when making reservations is to add a few buffer days in your flights for unforeseen contingency. You at least have some rest days but I might throw in something at the end.

What sorts of things might that contingency cover?
-- Air quality. Eastern US have been impacted by fires in Canada leading to very poor air. Depends on the winds but your start from Toronto and ride down to Pennsylvania had bad days earlier this year.
-- Hurricane and torrential rain. You don't spend too much time close to the US Atlantic coast or gulf coast but hurricane season tends to peak towards start of September.

Both situations I suspect are possibilities but my guess less than 50/50 odds. If they do impact, then often a day or two delay can help a lot. So I wouldn't not do the trip - but would have some mechanism for covering when you have a fixed date to fly back, either some extra days (to spend in New Orleans at the end of not used) or some way of adjusting the finish.
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Old 07-11-23, 02:03 PM
  #66  
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i'll take more reasonable!
yes plenty of contingency in there... no fixed end date
I have two mates joining me for a week or so along the route - one in pittsburgh, one in charleston... So its only those dates that I need to be at a fixed place / time
Worst case I'll be swallowing my pride and taxiing! -- but i hope to have enough fat in the shcedule that it doesnt come to it

Re-union with the Mrs at the end in Nola.. few drinks.. then perhaps get an airbnb & chill somewhere rural.. Driving at that point!
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Old 07-13-23, 04:07 PM
  #67  
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Well, the new route looks better, than the SD to Galveston route, but it can still get incredibly hot in the South in August and early September, perhaps not deadly hot like the Southwest, but still hot and humid.
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Old 07-13-23, 04:57 PM
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Enjoy your ride and now that you have your post minimum feel free to post a few pictures and thoughts on your trip.
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Old 07-13-23, 11:39 PM
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Originally Posted by sj8070
And onto the route... here's a googlesheet of each proposed stage... the time / climb..
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets...R8TV5H6RDFWxU/
Anything look totally out of whack?
What do people think of the route in general?
Lets remember I'm not trying to go North to South as fast as possible... plenty of rest days and time in the afternoons to (hopefully) see some places/things/people
one thing to note, the ride up over the mountains is gonna be tough. you'll have some hard steep climbing to get over the ridge.
take that into account when estimating your daily mileage and average speed.

you're taking a more easterly route through virginia (hitting about 10 miles from my parents place), and missing out on the blue ridge parkway.

as you do that, remember county roads are typically narrow single-lane and twisty with no shoulders. lots of tight bends, heavily wooded, with no sightline. add to that coal and pulpwood trucks and it can get scary.

if were me, i'd ride the blue ridge parkway. you're not camping so will have to find rooms along the way, few if any would be up on the parkway. you'd have to ride downhill to the nearest town for that, with a climb back up in the morning. but with minimal baggage, that would be doable.
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Old 07-14-23, 01:43 AM
  #70  
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Originally Posted by saddlesores
one thing to note, the ride up over the mountains is gonna be tough. you'll have some hard steep climbing to get over the ridge.
take that into account when estimating your daily mileage and average speed.

you're taking a more easterly route through virginia (hitting about 10 miles from my parents place), and missing out on the blue ridge parkway.

as you do that, remember county roads are typically narrow single-lane and twisty with no shoulders. lots of tight bends, heavily wooded, with no sightline. add to that coal and pulpwood trucks and it can get scary.

if were me, i'd ride the blue ridge parkway. you're not camping so will have to find rooms along the way, few if any would be up on the parkway. you'd have to ride downhill to the nearest town for that, with a climb back up in the morning. but with minimal baggage, that would be doable.
Thanks for this - awesome post.
Yeah this is the segment of the trip i've spent the most time second guessing - and prob need to look at it still
As you say- some the bits that I can street view do look a bit gnarly - single lane, steep, sharp bends..
The climbing itself i'm reasonably OK with - but yeah I'd rather be on a bigger road

Can I just check you were looking at the google sheet rather than the google maps?
I couldnt fit the morgantown/roanoke legs into the waypoints as it was too many for Google (10 max) so it has me coming over much more easterly than I will go

I guess the qu is how would you / all the regulars on here get from pittsburgh to durham?
It looked to me that morgantown -> Roanoke had the better roads & places to stay

(Have cut off Atlanta and beyond in this version - including the stops i have in the spreadsheet...)
G Maps
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Old 07-14-23, 12:42 PM
  #71  
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The actual google map which comes up, as opposed to the sheet, does not show you going through Morgantown, West Virginia, which is a good thing IMO, It shows you taking the GAP Trail to Cumberland, and then the C&O Canal towpath as far as Paw Paw. That is a great way to have nice scenery, no traffic, and avoid many mountains. Going via Morgantown would be brutal. Then it has you leaving the canal and going toward Front Royal, Virginia area. That day will be difficult but doable. Probably the most climbing of the entire trip. Since you're not camping, I would not take the Blue Ridge Parkway. You would have far too much climbing and descending every day, both on the parkway as well as to leave the parkway to seek a room every night. I would ride in the piedmont of Virginia west of where the google map is showing, but east of the Blue Ridge. I've done more driving there than biking, but there were some lovely country roads with low traffic levels. I recall the country roads going toward Barboursville and then on to Charlottesville were nice, and Charlottesville is a nice town to visit. Avoid route 29 at all costs.

Years ago a friend & I toured and camped down Skyline Drive (The portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway which is in Shenandoah Nat. Park), and biked back north via the Shenanndoah valley to Front Royal. The Shenandoah valley was surprisingly awful by bike. Lots of traffic and not at all flat. The traffic is a lot worse now. Unless there is a decent parallel road to route 340 (I don't think there is), I would not ride in the Shenandoah valley.

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Old 07-16-23, 02:06 AM
  #72  
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Thank you for this - you'd avoid Morgantown->Roanoke just because of the climibing or the type of road?
I guess I'm most concerned to avoid very narrow or single lane roads, as I can imagine cars won't be leaving much space... would be time to put the UK flag back in the bag...
You recommend actually seeking out these country roads, if quiet enough (obviously hard to tell only armed with google maps...)
And route 29 into charlottesville to avoid... is this because its high traffic and limited shoulder?
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Old 07-16-23, 05:48 AM
  #73  
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I think that Morgantown-Roanoke would be brutal. Look at the topography of West Virginia. Constant long climbs and quick descents. Rinse and repeat. Most cyclists say that crossing the Appalachian mountains is more difficult than crossing the Rocky Mountains. I found that to be true myself.

The country roads in Virginia are typically far superior to the country roads in West Virginia. (Each U.S. state is different in terms of road quality, as you will find out.) What saddlesores wrote, "remember county roads are typically narrow single-lane and twisty with no shoulders. lots of tight bends, heavily wooded, with no sightline. add to that coal and pulpwood trucks and it can get scary." is far more likely to be true in West Virginia than in Virginia, especially in the piedmont area of Virginia. You can see for yourself on google maps that the roads in the piedmont area are pretty direct, especially compared to roads in mountainous West Virginia.

Route 29 in Virginia is an extremely busy, often 4-lane high speed road. I think it has a shoulder, however. It becomes very urban/suburban as you approach Charlottesville, with lots of shopping centers and traffic lights. I find it unpleasant in a car.
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Old 07-16-23, 02:02 PM
  #74  
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Its allot to read...did you start? If so where are you?
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Old 07-16-23, 04:57 PM
  #75  
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The weather has been screwy this year. I'm not into touring but when riding a new area I check ride list for any local areas to see what they do.

https://www.nws.noaa.gov/sitemap.php
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