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Transam East to West Depature in April - weather and other considerations

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Transam East to West Depature in April - weather and other considerations

Old 10-25-10, 02:44 AM
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Sholto
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Transam East to West Depature in April - weather and other considerations

Hi

I'm an Australian planing a 2011 TransAm Yorktown to Astoria.

From what I see on the Crazyguyonabike journals the great majority of riders leave Yorktown in May. I want to leave either early or mid-April to target getting to Yellowstone in mid-June (fewer toursists) and a finish in Oregon in mid-July (work commitments back home). This includes a Washington DC to Yorktown leg, a return to Portland, and plenty of extra time to look around esp in the West as I've not been to US before. Total is about 15 weeks depending on how I fiddle the daily average km

What can I expect early in the trip in regards to weather in Virginia, especially the Appalachians? The weather stats don't tell me anything about fog on the Blue Ridge Parkway for instance.

I've got good wet/cold riding gear from a trip in Scotland. I'll be camping but that gear is for milder Australian conditions. I can afford to go for the roof over the head option where it is available in poor weather.

Thanks
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Old 10-25-10, 06:01 AM
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15 weeks is a lot more than most folks allow so you should have plenty of time to really see the areas you pass through and can probably sit out the worst of the weather if necessary. I would expect that you will get some rain in April, but that is a crap shoot and could be anything from very nice to quite wet.

You probably will not see any snow in the Appalachians, but fog is always possible or likely especially for the short section on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

It is a wonderful route and I expect that you will have a great time.
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Old 10-25-10, 09:18 AM
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You can probably expect weather in the mid sixties (Fahrenheit) in the eastern mountains in April, seventies at sea level in VA. As far as rain, I'd expect some, though, as staepj1 mentions above, it's really a crap shoot. Your Scotland rain-gear should do you fine. If it started raining, I started looking for a place to hang out.

I found myself doing the flea-bag hotel thing on occasions of heavy rain or out west when I really wanted a good shower, to get out of the heat and a bit of comfort or maybe a day or two's break in someplace I found agreeable. I found the eastern mountains much more difficult than the western ones—for a variety of reasons.

It's a great ride. Stray from the maps a few times just for chits an' grins and prepare for a fun three and a half months.

Last edited by foamy; 10-25-10 at 09:24 AM.
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Old 10-25-10, 10:14 AM
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Originally Posted by foamy View Post
I found the eastern mountains much more difficult than the western ones—for a variety of reasons.
Couldn't agree more. I went out west for my first Triple Bypass century in the Rockies in 2006 expecting to blown away by how hard it was. Once I adapted to the altitude (I was out for a week before the century) I found the riding to be more pleasant and, frankly, easier than the mountains in North Georgia. Mountains which rise no higher than 4900 feet. I think it was because the grades are often steeper and more relentless.
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Old 10-25-10, 11:48 AM
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I think an April departure will be fine. I started my Transam from Kentucky on May 15th and if doing it again would have left earlier. Be prepared for the short (relatively short compared to the Rockies) steep hill in the beginning and later in the Ozarks. The mountains out west are a breeze compared to those.
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Old 10-25-10, 12:40 PM
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One note about Yellowstone in mid-June. It can get very cold at night. I was rode through in late June. Had frost both nights.

And while I believe it's rare, check out Alexandria, VA in early April of this year:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NANPAJieMGY
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Old 10-25-10, 01:49 PM
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Thanks all

No surprises then, other than what mother nature cooks up. Some snow would make for great photo's anyway!
I was worrying that I'd missed some obvious factor or phenonemon as so many riders leave latter.
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Old 10-25-10, 02:08 PM
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I'm planning to take the East-West Transamerican trail about the same time. I will be riding my Slipstream and pulling a trailer. My target for departure is 5/1. I will be leaving from Silver Spring, MD (on the northern DC border and heading southwest to intercept the TA trail in western VA. I will ride the TA until I get to Idaho at which point I plan on heading due west to Seattle, WA instead of dropping back down into Oregon.

I lived in Montana for 8 years so I know the weather patterns in the Rockies enough to prepare for some possible cold nights.

Maybe we'll run into each other along the way.
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Old 10-25-10, 02:31 PM
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Scrapser, I'll be on a red LHT with bright yellow Ortliebs all round. If I do the Mammoth Cave Loop you may well catch up to me around there.
One of the down sides to my leaving early is fewer other riders on the route early on, it's nice to catch with fellow cyclists once in a while esp in new territiry.
Maybe I'll wear out the dogs in KY and those following will have free passage?
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Old 10-25-10, 08:05 PM
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My Slipstream is blue and the trailer will be a Quik Pak with a black bottom and yellow cover. This will be my first ever tour on a bike (fulfilling a life-long dream of riding a bike across the US). I have driven across the country as far as Missoula, Montana 6 times so I know the terrain to some extent although my car trips were always further north under the Great Lakes and through South Dakota. I've flown to Wichita, KS and that area really does look like a checkerboard from on high and flat as a pancake. The Great Plains are just that but it can get kind of boring (the state tree for South Dakota is the telephone pole if you get my drift).

I will be doing my best to to make the whole trip in 60 days or less (including rest days) but don't know how well I will succeed. I have to get back to work as soon as the trip is over. So yes, I may catch you at some point. If you've never seen the Northwest you are in for a treat. It's funny, I've always wanted to go to Australia to see the outback and northern territories (I own a couple of genuine didgeridoos...that's as close as I've gotten so far). To be honest, I don't know jack about Australia but something about that part of the world speaks to me.
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Old 10-29-10, 07:39 AM
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I am from Wyoming.
Many years ago I lived in North Carolina.
I started a few east-west tours there - in early May.

The earlier you start your tour - the more likely you will have:

1. Cold and wet weather in the Appalachians.
(Mountain people call it "Blackberry Winter".)
In lower elevations it is cool - higher up, downright cold.

2. Stormy weather in the Great Plains.
(Think "Dorothy" in a certain classic movie.)
The Great Plains rain cycle peaks in late May.
It will be a bit cooler, but you will likely encounter more intense storms.
(The webmaster at Crazyguy encountered record bad conditions a few years back.)

3. Snow in the Rockies. You WILL encounter snow in May.
From your time frame, you will be hitting the Rockies in mid May.
Many camping facilities in the high country do not open until after Memorial Day. (May 30)
National Forest and National Park campgrounds often do not open until mid to late June.

For example - in Yellowstone Lewis Lake opened on 6/16 and Grant Village on 6/21.
Check out this snow data NOAA website for snows of May 24-25:
http://www.nohrsc.noaa.gov/nsa/index...s=e&incr=+%2B+

This past spring was extremely cold and wet in the Northern Rockies.
Hard freezes until mid June in the low country. My guess is 15F or-10C in the high country.
You is from Brisbane - which is warm, even by Australian standards.
(Granted, it's not Alice Springs.)

<<<>>>

Late spring in the Rockies is not to be trifled with.
And most people unfamiliar with the Rockies are really unaware.
It takes months for the winter's snowpack to melt.
You can get real blizzards up until then end of May - snow thru June.

You can do a trip with your time frame -
But you should be prepared for delays and plan for lodging when necessary.
Not to mention that you will miss wildflower season.

May 16, 2010 - Up to two feet of fresh snow in the Bighorns
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Old 10-29-10, 11:05 AM
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I plan on leaving May 1st. I doubt I will be hitting the Rockies in May but more like sometime in the first half of June. I will be prepared for cold (since I have lived in Montana and know how the seasons are a bit different at higher elevations/lattitudes. I am concerned about weather on the Great Plains and really want to avoid twisters and/or a lot of windy days. The weather has really been messed up over the past few years so to some extent I see it as a roll of the dice. The best thing I can do is simply be prepared for whatever comes my way. I will not bring cold weather clothing to start out but could certainly buy whatever I need along the way if and when it looks like it will be necessary. I do plan on a Hilliberg tent and Marmot sleeping bag rated on the cold side.
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Old 10-31-10, 12:26 AM
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jamawani, thanks for the detailed reply.
I was less concerned about the Rockies as by the time I got to them i expected to have adjusted to local conditions, or to at least understand the weather better. But you've given me some things to think about, I had estimated I'll be in Pueblo about 27 May, but then of cousre Hoosier Pass wont be long after that.
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Old 11-02-10, 09:56 AM
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Sholto, I live in Virginia, and travel the Blue Ridge and Alleghany a lot (not on the bike, though I cycle lots). The rule of thumb for planting, here in central Virginia, is to not put plants in the ground until after May 1. That's a "Frost Date", so probably, historically, there isn't frost after that date. It can be quite cold until May, though there are interspersed hot days. The variety of temperatures will definitely be conducive to fog on the mountains. West of here, in the Alleghanies, and the Blue Ridge Mountains, the frost dates are even later, which is why many people start later.
Personally, I'm leaving Virginia for points north, on 4/1, so I'm not worrying about the fog, the weather, but rather just gearing up for a cold journey along the Canadian border.
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Old 11-02-10, 10:07 AM
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on the north west coast we have had to re name a month we called June-uary,
by August we start to have something resembling a summer, sort-of.
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