« on: March 01, 2010, 04:23:41 pm »
We're hoping to do most of a loop starting in Pittsburgh PA in July (not this year), across western Canada to Vancouver or thereabouts, and then turn south. Herein lies the question. The last part of the route, which can finish in December, is some combination of Southern Tier and Atlantic Coast. We'd like to connect via Kansas, which means either Transam or Western Express to Transam to Great Rivers or some alternate. We should have no trouble getting across the Rockies on the western leg before the weather turns. What's our approximate deadline for heading East, and are we better off riding further south (to the Western Express), or will the time it takes to ride south make up for the gain in later arrival of winter?
The ACA notes on the TransAm say "This route can be ridden from May through September." I would assume that means that the high altitude portions are best avoided after September 30, but once you're past (where, Pueblo?) you should be able to go into October, and then at some point we're heading south off the TransAm, well before hitting the eastern mountains.
Similarly the notes on the Western Express say "This route can be ridden from mid-May through October, depending on weather. " Where would we have to be past by the end of October? And with the more rugged terrain, would it be slower? And just how long does it take to get from the western terminus of the TransAm to the western terminus of the Western Express? If it takes a month, but buys us a month we might as well go for the TransAm (we're on a tandem, so the steeper routing is not a plus).
I just noticed another option, which is to take the Northern Tier to Whitefish, drop down to Missoula on the Great Parks North, and then proceed on the Transam. This would presumably get us back across the mountains sooner. Better? Worse choice?
We're not afraid of cold, even tiny amounts of snow, but any significant accumulation, or big wet flakes that stick to the sunglasses are just plain dangerous.