2. I found the Ozarks worse than the Appalchians. In the Appalachians I would have maybe 3 large hills/mountains a day but in the Ozarks I would have 20-30 extremely steep but short hills. Mentally it was unforgiving.
I wonder if direction of travel made a big difference on that. I was going the opposite way, but while I found climbing out of river valley after river valley challenging I found the Appalachians much harder.
Then again one of my companions thought the Ozarks were harder. She hated short frequent climbs though and settled into the long ones comfortably. Basically she did the worst on rolling hills and did great on long steady climbs. It probably made matters worse for her that the other two of us in the group loved rolling hills.
3. Before departure I thought that I would meet a lot of fellow cross country cyclists. It was a disappointing experience for me. I admit that I bike 125 mi/day but I only met about 15 groups or individuals. I even met the Adventure Cycling group in Eastern Colorado :-). Then again, out of the 15 I guess that 50% dont like to talk a lot and are somewhat loners. They like to stay alone in their tent and prepare their meals in solitude. But maybe they are just exhausted and need to relax - I dont really know. When I reach a private campground I always ask the owner if there are other cyclists and if I can have my tent spot next to them :-).
We met a number of folks and crossed paths paths with them again and again. There were not large numbers of them, but we became pretty good friends with some of them. I guess with the mileage you were doing you typically never saw the same people twice. We didn't stay in private campgrounds much, preferring to stay in small town picnic areas, with hosts, at churches, or in national/state forests/parks. We got a fair number of invites to stay in people's homes. All that may have been a factor as well.
Of course there were three of us so we never had the opportunity to be lonely. If anything we probably wished for more solitude at times.
Still even when I rode alone on routes where there were no there cyclists I always managed to meet local folks who wanted to talk and to hear about my trip. So I never recall being very lonely on any of my tours. I tend to eat lunch or breakfast in diners fairly often and sit at the communal table or counter when I can. I find that I only need to be fairly open to meeting people and it will happen without making a big effort.
I definitely did not feel that the transam route was some sort of cross country bicycle highway - it was rather a lonely experience :-).
Yeah, it always baffles me when folks talk about how they don't want to ride a route like the TA because it is like some crowded bike highway.