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How safe is the TransAmerica Trail?

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How safe is the TransAmerica Trail?

Old 03-12-08, 10:10 AM
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How safe is the TransAmerica Trail?

I'm planning on making a solo trip along the TransAm this summer, but my family is worried that it wouldn't be safe for me (a 21 year old male) to travel alone.

Are their safety concerns legitimate?
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Old 03-12-08, 10:23 AM
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I can't imagine a safer 4000+ mile tour anywhere. All the towns, their residents, churches, Police, parks, etc. are used to all the cyclists and go out of their way to help them.
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Old 03-12-08, 10:29 AM
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Three of us did this route last Summer and we were treated with kindness and generosity everywhere we went. I consider it quite safe. You will probably have the opportunity to ride and/or camp with others that you meet along the way if you want to.

Life comes with no guarantees, but I don't see this as a high risk trip for a young man (or woman for that matter).

Edit:
I should have also said that we met and talked to lots of other riders on the trip and I think they pretty universally felt the same way. What specific danger are they worried about?
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Old 03-12-08, 10:49 AM
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Go with someone just in case. Do you really want to be alone for that long?
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Old 03-12-08, 11:10 AM
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I'm planning on making a solo trip along the TransAm this summer, but my family is worried that it wouldn't be safe for me (a 21 year old male) to travel alone.

Are their safety concerns legitimate?


I don't know. Are you a danger to society when you're on your own?

I've never ridden the TransAm, but I suspect it's about as safe for cyclists as any route can be. The TransAm often passes through small towns that allow touring cyclists to camp in the city park where you are more likely to be accosted by the friendly neighborhood mutt than by individuals with nefarious intent.

It never fails. Whenever I take a tour (the vast majority being solo), noncycling family and friends always remark about how unsafe it is out there for someone traveling alone. Based on my experience, I don't believe that to be the case. I generally just acknowledge their concerns and offer that it's possible for a person to reduce any risks. While one is never 100% safe from being a crime victim, one can reduce the risks by traveling smart and avoiding risky situations. (Don't go into a windowless dive with a parking lot full of Harley Hogs on halfpriced beer night while wearing tight bike shorts and a dayglo pink jersey). Listen to your inner voice and observe others behavior for any hint of a threat. Most, if not all, people you meet along the way will either be ambivalent or more interested in you and your trip than in doing you harm.
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Old 03-12-08, 12:26 PM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1
What specific danger are they worried about?
I've heard everything: crazy people at campgrounds, bears, getting run off the road.

Originally Posted by ryansexton
Do you really want to be alone for that long?
It's not that I want to be alone, but more so that I don't have any friends crazy enough to go with me. I'm not quite sure how comfortable I am placing an ad for a riding partner, so it looks like I'm stuck solo.

Originally Posted by PurpleK
Don't go into a windowless dive with a parking lot full of Harley Hogs on halfpriced beer night while wearing tight bike shorts and a dayglo pink jersey.
Sounds like you know from experience!
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Old 03-12-08, 12:35 PM
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Maybe you could travel with this guy??

https://www.bikeforums.net/touring/396765-cross-country-touring-machete.html

you might be safer since he is planning on bringing a machete.........................

or better yet, bring your guitar and do some performing along the way??? you are Stevie "Guitar" Miller aren't you?
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Old 03-12-08, 12:37 PM
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I was going to ask a similar question last week, but refrained. The only thing that worries me is getting beaned by a bottle from some passing bone head or someone running me off the road deliberately. Anyone ever run into that sort of thing? Just curious as I am sure there are places where cyclists may have worn out their welcome, if it existed to start with.
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Old 03-12-08, 12:48 PM
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Dude, you'll be fine. You're old enough to start having adventures if you want them... It sounds like your family is somewhat timid, so it would be nice to do what you can to make them feel better.

If you aren't worried, you will have a great time; if you are worried, spend less time listening to your family's concerns, and more time daydreaming about youth, freedom, and the open road.
Scientific fact: you are invincible at age 18, but it wears off by 25. Use that time wisely to create memories that will make you think 'what was I thinking!' by the time you are a father.

I would be more worried about being alone for the length, but it will hopefully spur you on to meet people in the places you visit. I have found that people everywhere are a generally good, kind, and generous sort. Knowing this fact has made it much easier to trust fortune in an otherwise uncontrollable world.

carpe diem
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Old 03-12-08, 01:20 PM
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Originally Posted by SteveMiller
I've heard everything: crazy people at campgrounds, bears, getting run off the road.
I was usually the craziest person at the camground. We had no problems with bears nor did any of the other cyclists we met. Traffic is worse at home than it was on the TA in my case.

As far as people throwing bottles or whatever we ran into nothing like that. Lots of people waved at us and gave a thumbs up or a rock on. A very few times someone gave us the finger and once someone suggested we get off the road. Overall people were friendly and the roads were safe.

You will meet people along the way and can probably find someone to ride with at least part of the way if you want.
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Old 03-12-08, 01:43 PM
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Originally Posted by SteveMiller
I've heard everything: crazy people at campgrounds, bears, getting run off the road.All I can say is that I did the transam with some add-ons to get to San francisco, solo and had no problems with any of these issues, in the areas where there are bears, the campgrounds provide bear boxes to store your food in.



It's not that I want to be alone, but more so that I don't have any friends crazy enough to go with me. I'm not quite sure how comfortable I am placing an ad for a riding partner, so it looks like I'm stuck solo.
I was the same way, but you won't have to cycle alone if you don't want to, lots of other people on that same route every year that you can hook up with.



Sounds like you know from experience!
..
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Old 03-12-08, 01:58 PM
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Originally Posted by SteveMiller
I'm planning on making a solo trip along the TransAm this summer, but my family is worried that it wouldn't be safe for me (a 21 year old male) to travel alone.

Are their safety concerns legitimate?
It depends.

On many things.

Including you.

Your ideas, psychology, habits, awareness, choices, and so on.

*******
Most people do tend to blow the dangers out of proportion. This way of thinking is fed by media and other people, including family.

If you are reasonably cautious and intelligent about things, it's a reasonably safe route. However, if you do stupid things (including when you are riding among motor vehicles), and put yourself into dangerous situations, you can get in trouble.

The way of thinking that puts safety and danger solely 'out there' is seriously flawed, though. A lot of it is inside, and depends on what you do and how you handle things.

*******
A big turning point comes for many people when they just get out there. Somehow most of the paranoid thoughts and imaginations tend to evaporate in the sun, and some healthy real-world connectedness and awareness takes over.

There is some happy immersion in nature and reality.
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Old 03-12-08, 02:04 PM
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Hi SteveMiller,

Welcome to the forum! Let me share with you how my "solo" cross-country trip turned out two years ago. I started in California using a very modified Western Express route. Near Fallon, Nevada I met up with 3 bike tourists from San Jose who were on their way to Denver. We rode across Nevada together and parted when I left the WE route near Utah to visit Zion NP. Several days later, not far from Bryce Canyon NP, I met up with a couple from the Netherlands who had been biking for two years, beginning at Terra del Fuego, South America, in route to Alaska. We began cycling together and later that day met up with John, a physical ed teacher from New Jersey. The four of us cycled together for the next 10 days through Utah and part of Colorado. In Pueblo, CO I met a couple from Quebec who were very happy to have an English speaker with them. We biked thru eastern CO, Kaaaaaansas, Missouri, and parted when they headed north from Carbondale, IL. In Kentucky I met Tim from Nevada and Dan from Oregon. We leap-frogged thru Kentucky running into each other several times along the way. In southwest Virginia I ran into Ryan and we did the leap-frog thing for several days. And, of course I met scores of cyclists that were going west. We'd always stop for a few minutes and greet each other and share the latest news of happening along the route.

So Steve, chances are, your solo tour won't be solo for long (if you choose), and you'll meet the greatest people along the way.

Use good sense and have an incredible summer!

All the best,

Ted
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Old 03-12-08, 03:27 PM
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Check out the https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/ site for more stories on cross country touring then you can imagine, Very few reports of anything bad happening.
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Old 03-12-08, 10:01 PM
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My family (who have all read this) recommend you read the book "Hey Mom, Can I ride my bike across America?"

https://www.amazon.com/Hey-Ride-Bike-.../dp/0962570761
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Old 03-13-08, 05:58 AM
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Originally Posted by positron
Scientific fact: you are invincible at age 18, but it wears off by 25.
Awww crap! I just turned 25.. So it's over?



I would suggest reading as many journals of TransAm's on crazyguyonabike.com as you can, this will give you some ideas of what it will be like and you'll be able to better explain it to your family. Jamie Compos did the TransAmerica solo and has a really good journal on it at https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/jamie and https://www.jamiecompos.com
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Old 03-13-08, 09:38 AM
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Steve,
I am also in the same boat, a young guy (22) about to do a solo TransAm in April. I want the freedom of being by myself and meeting people along the way, and I didn't really want to post an ad for a partner. My other problem is that I have a specific window for my ride, and a place to be right in the middle. My family and friends are supportive, though, because they know how prepared I am. Definitively pour over these forums and the links that people have posted above. They help a lot.

That being said, if you are going to be on the TransAm this summer I will likely cross your path, or we can plan to cross paths. I'm leaving Pittsburgh in early April, heading to DC and then going east-west on the TransAm/Western Express. Shoot me an email, we'll do lunch...or perhaps ride together for a while.

CharlieBikesUSA.gmail.com
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Old 03-13-08, 12:22 PM
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Every tour that I have taken over many years generated fearful responses from family friends and co-workers. Somehow they believe that the world near or far is a fearful place waiting to destroy any visitor.

My normal response to them then and now is -Turn off your TV and its daily injection of fear mongering. TV distills all of the worst events around the world in your living room because such stuff attracts our eyes to sell to advertisers. If it bleeds it leads the news! Fear has always been a useful tool to control people- to keep them from doing anything new or unusual.

After bike touring in the US, Canada, Mexico, South America and Europe for over 30 years I am amazingly enough still alive to talk about it here. People that I have met on tour have been kind, generous and helpful to me considering how I look after a few days or months on the trail. I meet more unfriendly people when I am back home than on tour.

Have a great trip!
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Old 03-13-08, 12:42 PM
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Steve,
Good question. We all hear it from non cyclists when we discuss cross country touring. I don't think that you will have any problems. There is always the possibility that you will get run over by a truck, but that could happen when you are riding around your home territory. I am also convinced that the truck drivers are the most considerate drivers on the road. They will give you as much room as possible based on the conditions.

After two crossings I have only had one incident when youngsters driving by let fly with some beer cans. It was a weekend, a holiday, they had been partying, and they drove on. I have had the same experience when jogging around my home territory. As others have said, meeting people along the way will be a big part of the experience. Those you meet when you are following an established routing will have seen other cyclists and have some understanding about your ride. If you are not following an established route the people you meet will be interested to find out what you are doing. You just need to have a positive, friendly attitude and those you meet will be the same way.

I do think that camping in bear country (around Yellowstone for example) requires that you use proper precautions like not putting any food in your tent. You would take the same precautions even if you weren't on a bicycle.

You could get lost but if you just keep heading toward the sunset you will make it to the west coast. This may sound simplistic but that is about how easy it is to find your way. Once in awhile you might get confused about a particular portion of the route, but it will all work out just fine.

If your parents see that you have invested time in planning and preparing for the trip they will be much more assured of your safety. Have a good tour.
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Old 03-13-08, 12:57 PM
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Originally Posted by lighthorse
You could get lost but if you just keep heading toward the sunset you will make it to the west coast. This may sound simplistic but that is about how easy it is to find your way. Once in awhile you might get confused about a particular portion of the route, but it will all work out just fine.
Good advice but let me add:
Since you said you are on the TA, I will mention that AC maps and turn by turn directions are very good and easy to follow. There are changes so make sure and print out the latest addenda from the AC site before the trip and check your printouts each time you change maps.

Don't be afraid to improvise in places where it seems to make sense for one reason or another.

Hopefully your family will trust your judgment and be supportive.
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Old 03-13-08, 07:09 PM
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Originally Posted by arctos
Every tour that I have taken over many years generated fearful responses from family friends and co-workers. Somehow they believe that the world near or far is a fearful place waiting to destroy any visitor.

My normal response to them then and now is -Turn off your TV and its daily injection of fear mongering. TV distills all of the worst events around the world in your living room because such stuff attracts our eyes to sell to advertisers. If it bleeds it leads the news! Fear has always been a useful tool to control people- to keep them from doing anything new or unusual.

After bike touring in the US, Canada, Mexico, South America and Europe for over 30 years I am amazingly enough still alive to talk about it here. People that I have met on tour have been kind, generous and helpful to me considering how I look after a few days or months on the trail. I meet more unfriendly people when I am back home than on tour.

Have a great trip!
+1 great post
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Old 03-14-08, 12:41 AM
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Your family sounds a lot like my family when I was your age. Many parents have similar reactions when their children, now young adults, set out on adventures.

I had a lot of travel adventures during my 20s, and if my experiences count for anything, I call say that you will be amazed by the many, many kind and generous people you will meet wherever you go. But during a long trip, you will probably meet a few odd people. The first group make any trip a pleasure. The second group... well, life is full of surprises! While on the road, you may encounter, for example, sociopath drivers who take delight in freaking out cyclists, dogs that consider you prey, and con artists who want to take advantage of you. I have been swerved at, chased by out-of-control farm dogs, and robbed. Fortunately, members of the second group are not common, but it is good to exercise caution. Follow basic safety rules, like don't ride at night, always wear a helmet, make yourself as visible as possible while riding (e.g., wear a reflective vest at all times), stay away from rough neighbourhoods, etc.

Now I am a parent. Let me give you the inside scoop: We parents tend to be worry warts. We can't help it because we care so much about our children's well-being, want the best for them, and want to keep them far from harm's path. But when my son makes up his mind to travel -- he is only 12, but in the blink of an eye he will be your age -- I can tell you that he will be able to put my mind at ease -- at least a little! -- if I see he is acting responsibly. There are many he could do this, and there are many ways that you could, too:

1. Tell your family all the ways you are going to play it safe.

2. Assure them that you will call often.

3. Give them your itinerary so they have a good sense of where you will be, and when. If you have friends or family members you will be visiting en route, so much the better.

When I was 22, I was on the road for the first time. I was having a blast, meeting incredible people, and seeing beauty wherever I went. In a youth hostel in the Canadian Rockies I met a traveller from Holland who succinctly summed up his philosophy of travel this way: "Trust everybody, but be careful!" It was great advice, and still is.
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Old 03-14-08, 07:35 AM
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Good advice all, and thanks Steve, for starting this thread because (as you read before) it is helping me too! The biggest thing that put my friends and family at ease was actually buying the TransAm maps. Even if they never look at the maps themselves, it is easy to see the relief on people's faces when I tell them that I have actual bike maps for my route.

"After all, these maps are specifically designed for a cyclist, with everything that I need to know including lodging, supermarkets, bike shops, emergency phone numbers, and directions that take me across the safest roads/trails. It's not like I am just gonna get on my bike and ride, this route is known by touring cyclists all over the globe!"

That's usually how it goes when I'm talking to a concerned friend. Aside from the peace of mind they provide, the maps do look extremely helpful. AND...I also like knowing that I am taking a well-traveled route for my first long distance tour. Hey, they provide me peace of mind, too!

Safe riding!
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Old 03-14-08, 08:23 AM
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Originally Posted by cptpitt22
Good advice all, and thanks Steve, for starting this thread because (as you read before) it is helping me too! The biggest thing that put my friends and family at ease was actually buying the TransAm maps. Even if they never look at the maps themselves, it is easy to see the relief on people's faces when I tell them that I have actual bike maps for my route.

"After all, these maps are specifically designed for a cyclist, with everything that I need to know including lodging, supermarkets, bike shops, emergency phone numbers, and directions that take me across the safest roads/trails. It's not like I am just gonna get on my bike and ride, this route is known by touring cyclists all over the globe!"

That's usually how it goes when I'm talking to a concerned friend. Aside from the peace of mind they provide, the maps do look extremely helpful. AND...I also like knowing that I am taking a well-traveled route for my first long distance tour. Hey, they provide me peace of mind, too!

Safe riding!
Good post. Good advice.

In addition to putting the family at ease, the well traveled route thing is a big plus for meeting other riders, which is great for sharing route info and camaraderie. Also people (often even non-cyclists) will recognize the route's name when you mention it.

Your impression that they are helpful will be born out in practice when you actually use them this Summer. You have a great trip ahead of you.

Just a note:
Do print out the latest addenda from the AC site before leaving and read the appropriate entries each time you change maps. Things do change and this will keep you pretty up to date on the info.
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Old 03-14-08, 05:06 PM
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Originally Posted by acantor
Your family sounds a lot like my family when I was your age. Many parents have similar reactions when their children, now young adults, set out on adventures.
There are too many fearful parents out there. I have a 19-yr old still at home and a 22-yr old now on his own. I'd be very happy, and unconcerned, if my younger son announced he was going to bike across the country by himself via almost any route through rural America. My older boy is on his own, adventuresome, and gainfully employed following four years of college. I'm more of a "jumpmaster" than "helicopter" parent. I'd look forward to reading my kid's missives on crazyguy and wouldn't expect any phone calls home. So Steve, at 22 get out there and have fun!
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