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Messages - staehpj1

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Routes / Aussie riding the USA
« on: March 10, 2008, 06:15:04 am »
The Pacific Coast is beautiful!  It is a wonderful place to ride.  Do you have all of August thru all of October?  If so that is probably way more time than you need to do the Pacific Coast route.  You can probably add lots of extra time by doing some side trips inland.  You could spend extra time in the San Juan Islands, the Williamette Valley, and maybe go up into the Cascades to name a few options if you have extra time.

If you have 10-12 weeks you could also consider a coast to coast trip.  You would get to see more varied terrain and towns, but would also have to travel across more monotonous areas too.  It would give you a picture of the whole country rather than just the coast though.

Routes / West to East Coast
« on: February 27, 2008, 07:21:55 am »
We started on June 11th 2007 from a day north of Florence on the coast.  Most years at that time McKenzie Pass is likely to but, may or may not be open.  If not Santiam Pass will be.  I would recommend either when we started or a bit later.

The history of opening and closing of McKenzie Pass is online at:
Be aware that they usually are open to pedestrians and bicycles a couple weeks before they open to cars.  That is a great time to ride it if you are lucky enough to get there then.

If you can be flexible with your start you can time it based on this years conditions by monitoring the ODOT web site for openings.

This message was edited by staehpj1 on 2-27-08 @ 5:23 AM

Routes / Anacortes, WA to Sanfrancisco, CA
« on: February 26, 2008, 06:29:55 am »
I would want lower gearing if it was me.

Routes / Mckenzie Pass (oregon, Transamerica route)
« on: February 07, 2008, 10:14:38 am »
Can you say a bit more...  Specifically what don't you think is true?

The historical record of openings and closings is at:
But that lists the dates for cars, bikes are apparently different.

I would have guessed that they wouldn't plow McKenzie pass through the winter.  Is that true or no?

Routes / Mckenzie Pass (oregon, Transamerica route)
« on: February 03, 2008, 06:45:31 am »
I haven't done Santiam Pass, but based on comparing notes with others who did, I would recommend doing McKenzie if it is open.  It is a nice ride the view is great. and seeing the lava field was cool.  It is a big climb but it is very do-able.  Two of our group had almost no miles under their belts before this trip.  One wasn't a cyclist and started riding only a few weeks before the trip.  Their longest training ride was 31 miles.  They made it fine.

Routes / Mckenzie Pass (oregon, Transamerica route)
« on: February 02, 2008, 04:53:28 pm »
the historical info on the openings is at:
but remember that they open it to bikes before they open it to cars.  The ideal time to do it IMO is when there are no cars on the top part.

Routes / Mckenzie Pass (oregon, Transamerica route)
« on: February 02, 2008, 04:50:17 pm »
Last year we started June 11th and it had been open for weeks to bicycles.  That particular year it never opened to cars since there was road work that was to be done.

Actually it officially closed for the road work the day before we rode it, but there were lots of bikes and the work had not started yet.  I think that it is often open by early June and sometimes early May.

I would keep in touch with the ODOT website as the trip approaches to see what the deal is.  I am not sure if the work was finished last year, but I am sure ODOT will have that posted on their site.

Realize though that you can use Santiam Pass if McKenzie pass is closed.  Still I wouldn't start before early June.

Routes / Is April 15 to early to start the TA?
« on: January 29, 2008, 06:16:58 pm »
It might be a bit early.  You could be OK, but you might find cold and snow in the higher altitudes.  You are also more likely to have rain in the east.  You will miss the heat and humidity in the east though.

I wouldn't be too surprised if you got to Hoosier Pass a little faster than that either.  I think we took 33 days for that section (going the opposite direction).

I would be inclined to go a bit later if it was me.  Is that an option or is the start date hard to change for some reason?

Oh, one other thing.  Expect the Appalachians to be tough.  They were far and away the hardest part of the trip.  I say this so that you won't be thinking that the Rockies will be harder and obsessing over that.

Whenever you go, have a good time.  It is a great route.

Routes / Northern Tier Route Length - Days Wise
« on: January 29, 2008, 06:38:08 am »
A comment on days off...
We found it preferable to take a short day once in a while rather than full days off unless the full day off was required for some activity we wanted to do.  For example we took a day off to go whitewater rafting.  The short days may be 30 miles and stop to swim, read, or generally loaf around all afternoon.  You do need to allow some extra time either way though.

Another thing to consider is that towns and other places to stop are limited.  On the TA there were times when you had no choice but to take a short day unless you wanted to do a ridiculously long one.  I assume that will also often be the case on the NT as well.

Routes / Northern Tier Route Length - Days Wise
« on: January 28, 2008, 10:48:54 am »
The following is my experience and is based on being self supported.  If they will be sagged it will help some.  Will your riders be carrying their gear?  Will they have to do their own cooking and shopping?

It wouldn't be a reasonable pace for me, especially self supported.  That is 95.5 miles per day.  Certainly possible, but do you really want to ride pretty much a century a day?  I don't and I doubt that many do.  It would seem to prevent spending any time seeing the country as you go.  side hikes, time off to go rafting, rest days; any of that kind of stuff would seem to be minimized or completely eliminated.

We met some folks who thought they would maintain a pace like that on the TA, they fairly quickly decided that it wasn't reasonable.  They were self supported, but I think they would have come to the same conclusion if they weren't.

We did the TA (a similar distance) in 73 days and didn't feel like we were loafing.  We did start a bit slow and trained as we rode, but still I think that our mileage was reasonable.

If the NT is similar in difficulty to the TA...
I would see 8 weeks (56 days) as pushing very hard and 12 weeks (84 days) as taking it somewhat easy.  Longer isn't out of the question though.

Bottom line why make it a grueling ordeal?  It should be fun; it won't be for the average rider if done in 45 days.

This message was edited by staehpj1 on 1-28-08 @ 8:51 AM

Routes / Start Dates: PC trail & Transamerica
« on: January 22, 2008, 07:05:37 am »
That is a little early for the TransAmerica.  McKenzie Pass may still be closed.  AC says it usually opens in July, but last year it was open in May I think. If it is closed you can take the Santiam Pass alternate.  They were working on McKenzie last Summer,check to see if it is open again before assuming.

It varies from year to year, but you are likely to have some cold weather and maybe snow at the higher elevations.  Snow is always a slim possibility even in July at high altitudes, but pretty likely in May.

We started June 11th on the TA last year and thought that it was probably the earliest that we would count on.

If it was me I would go a bit later than you are planning.  I guess if you can be flexible with your starting date you could see what kind of year it looked like it was shaping up to be and adjust the start as needed.

Routes / Wind-->TransAmerica
« on: February 11, 2008, 06:55:04 am »
> I actually found the appalachians easier than the
Rockies.  Yes, the grades are more spread out in the West, but in the East there is often the opportunity with the ups and downs to get momentum to make it up the grades a bit easier.

Interesting, that is so counter to my experience that I have a hard time imagining it.  What route did you do and in which direction?  Every rider is different so I don't doubt you, but I have a hard time imagining that for some one on the TA (we went W-E, so I can only guess about how it would be E-W).

I can't imagine that momentum could have much to do with it in places like the climb from Vesuvius to the Blue Ridge parkway or on any climb measured in miles.  In many places where there are rolling hills yes, but on longer climbs I don't see it.

I guess there were really only a few really hard days in the Appalachians as opposed to a steady grind for a much longer time in the West.

Routes / Wind-->TransAmerica
« on: February 07, 2008, 12:20:51 pm »
> mountains in virginia?

Everything we saw on the TransAmerica in the Cascades and Rockies was easy compared to the tougher climbs in Missouri and Virginia.  The highest we got in the East was probably only about 4000 feet or so, but the grades are much steeper.

Routes / Wind-->TransAmerica
« on: January 18, 2008, 11:27:19 am »
Yes either way can make sense.  I think that E-W is harder though.  It definitely requires better conditioning at the start than W-E due to the steep climbs in the Appalachians.  I can see lots of good reasons to go either way, but if looking for the easiest way I recommend E-W.

A couple other things that I didn't mention in my first post...

1. My impression was that in the west the climbs generally were a bit easier on a W-E route than E-W.  This had to do with the way the climbs were spread out and their relative steepness.  It is only based on my impressions as we rode and looked at the maps, but it was pretty often that we looked at the contours and said we were glad were weren't going the other way.  Look at the AC maps and decide for yourself though.

2. The altitude is easier to adjust too going W-E.  We were at 5000' for a while, then at 7000' for a good while before we topped out at 11,500'.  Going E-W you will climb up to Hoosier pass (11,500') with less time to adjust.

If you are set on an April departure, don't even consider W-E though.

Routes / Wind-->TransAmerica
« on: January 18, 2008, 06:18:33 am »
Last year we found the opposite to be true.  We had a mix of headwinds and tailwinds most places and it was the luck of the draw, but across Eastern Colorado and Kansas the wind was out of the southeast and benefited the westbound rider.  I am told that this is quite typical.  The effects of wind can be minimized in most cases by starting and finishing as early as possible in Eastern Colorado and Kansas.  This helps to beat the heat too.

There are a lot of other factors besides the wind though.

The Appalachians are the toughest part of the trip and we didn't want to start with them.

The sun is going to be in your eyes either in the morning or in the evening if you ride early or late.  This is worth considering.

We liked the idea of having air travel and shipping of bikes out of the way first.

We liked the idea of it being hard to bail on the trip and flying out west made it tougher to bail out.

We originally wanted to have the west to look forward to and were concerned that there wouldn't be much that was new to look forward to in the east.  That didn't prove to be as big of a deal as I expected.  We actually found the east more beautiful and interesting than I imagined.

We didn't think about it ahead of time, but it was really nice to have family and friends following us the last day and we had a nice picnic with them in Yorktown.  I still get choked up when I think about the welcome we got.

Oh and your starting time... It is probably OK (if a bit more likely to be wet) for an east to west, but too early if you decide to start in the west.  In that case I wouldn't start any earlier than June.

You can find more info on our journal at:

There are lots of other folks TransAmerica journals there as well.  It is both educational and entertaining to read them.

Feel free to contact me directly if you have questions that I can assist with.  I don't claim to be an expert, but do still have the trip fairly fresh in my mind.

pete dot staehling at gmail dot com

This message was edited by staehpj1 on 1-18-08 @ 4:25 AM

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