Author Topic: Transam East to West 2012 Advice Sought  (Read 2530 times)

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Offline kenwil

Transam East to West 2012 Advice Sought
« on: December 02, 2011, 01:23:40 pm »
I've been here before asking about the Transam route, when best to go etc. so thanks for your responses on that particular tack. Now I'm planning to actually do it East to West and was thinking of starting early next April. From what I can gather the weather would be OK then in the east and would mean any chances of snow bound passes in the west would have passed. Does this seem a good plan ?
Another question...I'd fly into Richmond from the UK and would plan to actually start the journey from there (time is at a bit of a premium as my daughter is expecting twins in July!) Can anyone recommend a good bike shop in Richmond to reassemble and check out my bike after its journey through the airline system and also a reasonable place to stay nearby.

I've ordered the book on the trail and will be booking the flight soon, any advice, suggestions etc. will be much appreciated.

Thanks

Offline John Nettles

Re: TransAm East to West 2012 Advice Sought
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2011, 02:14:29 pm »
Depending on how fast you ride there is a very good chance you will in the middle of tornado season in Kansas and Missouri.  While you stand a pretty good chance of missing a tornado, they are usually accompanied by severe storms with major hail (1-1.5" is common) and tremendous rain/lightening.

I am not saying don't do it, but be educated and prepared.  Learn how to read the weather clouds, ask the locals, and bring a small AM radio.  A weather radio is nice but it can be a pain by warning you of everything.  With an AM radio, the broadcasts are much more specific, i.e "A tornado is down 16 miles SSE of Girard, KS and heading NE at 28mph.  The storm will hit the following towns:  McCune 4:24pm, Beulah 4:47pm,...."  They are pretty accurate but they do gt excited at times.

One great weather sign is that if the birds are flying/singing it is OK even if it looks bad.  If cows are flying, it is not good weather outside ;).  Serious about the birds though.

If a storm is on the way, take shelter.  Do not be embarrassed to ask at a farm house.  The people are very friendly in this part of the country, especially to the British and Australians (we love the accent!).  While you can miss a tornado by as little as a 1/10 of a mile and be fine, hail is much harder to miss.

Wishing you an enjoyable trip and that the twins are not early!
Happy trails and may the wind be at your back!
John

Offline John Nelson

Re: Transam East to West 2012 Advice Sought
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2011, 02:46:06 pm »
How long do you plan to take for the crossing? We need this information to estimate when you will be where. It'd also be useful to know whether you plan to use motels or campgrounds.

The earlier you start, the greater the risk of cold weather. In an average year, you'll be cold at times but okay. But there's always a chance you'll have to wait out some snow a day or two in the high country. And you may get to McKenzie Pass in Oregon before it opens, but Santiam Pass is available as an alternative if that happens.

An April start will require you to bring more cold-weather gear than a May start would.

Also, the earlier you start, the greater the risk of campgrounds that haven't opened yet. Not a problem of course if you don't plan to camp.

Nobody can predict the weather that far out, so it's all a probabilities game. We all have constraints we have to live with, so we can't always pick the time with the lowest risk.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Transam East to West 2012 Advice Sought
« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2011, 03:11:19 pm »
Just guessing at the OP's capabilities here; if you can do an AC map a week, starting the first of April would put you into Kansas at the beginning of May, and the Colorado highlands about the third week in May.  Probably doable, weather wise; check back the middle of March to see what the snow pack is like.

Bad weather is always a possibility (including July).  I think the worst / most likely would be late snow or an ice storm in the Appalachians.  The good news is that probably won't cost you more than a day or two until it melts.  You can probably send extra, warmer clothing back home when you hit Kansas.  Yeah, international postage rates suck, but you don't have to carry all that weight all the time.  (It might be ideal to have reliable friends in the States who can collect and consolidate multiple packages for trans-shipping overseas.)

One final question, would Norfolk be a better airport to fly into than Richmond?  Neither has international flights (that I know of), and all the airports I know of with flights into Richmond also have flights into Norfolk.

Offline CMajernik

Re: Transam East to West 2012 Advice Sought
« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2011, 04:00:29 pm »
Contact the Richmond bike shops listed on the map; if they can't do it ask if they can recommend another bike shop. Or google "Richmond, VA bike shops" and find one close to the airport. You could also ask the bike shop if there is a hotel nearby.
Carla Majernik
Routes and Mapping Program Director

Adventure Cycling Association
Inspiring people of all ages to travel by bicycle.
800/755-2453, 406/721-1776 x218, 406/721-8754 fax
www.adventurecycling.org

Follow Routes & Mapping on Twitter: @acaroutes

Offline staehpj1

Re: TransAm East to West 2012 Advice Sought
« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2011, 07:23:38 pm »
Depending on how fast you ride there is a very good chance you will in the middle of tornado season in Kansas and Missouri.  While you stand a pretty good chance of missing a tornado, they are usually accompanied by severe storms with major hail (1-1.5" is common) and tremendous rain/lightening.
True, but to put that into perspective a bit...  Lots of folks live in Kansas their whole lives and never see a tornado, so I wouldn't get too worried about it.  It is something to keep in mind, but I wouldn't make it a major deciding factor.

Offline John Nettles

Re: TransAm East to West 2012 Advice Sought
« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2011, 11:49:08 pm »
I would say those people live in Kansas City, haven't lived there a long time, and/or can't see more than a block or two away due to development.

If you have lived in the Kansas countryside then there is a very high probability you will have seen and or been near one.  Kansas averages 55 tornadoes a year according to NOAA.  I am guessing about 25% of them are accompanied by hail with anything larger than pea-sized easily going thru a tent.  Golf ball size hail can shatter car windows and dent the heck out of cars.  Imagine what it can do to your body if caught out in it.

Pete, you have ridden the TransAm and know how wide open the Kansas countryside is and how you can see for miles in each direction so I think you may be a bit mistaken if you think most life-long Kansans have not seen a tornado at least once.  Heck, I have seen or been too close to one 4 times and I am in my late 40s.

However, as I said before it is not the tornadoes but the hail.  I live in this area and know what it can do.  It is not the gentle "severe" weather of the east coast (yes, I have lived there for 3 years and went thru some "storms".

I totally agree it is not a major factor but it is a factor nonetheless as there is a pretty good chance of being in a storm.  I also said before, I am not saying do not go.  Just be prepared for severe weather, know the signs, and be prepared to get to durable shelter if needed.  I am not trying to scare anyone, but make sure they know what they are getting into.  Think of this as the equivalent of knowing how to cook/store food in bear country.
« Last Edit: December 02, 2011, 11:51:26 pm by John Nettles »
Happy trails and may the wind be at your back!
John

Offline staehpj1

Re: Transam East to West 2012 Advice Sought
« Reply #7 on: December 03, 2011, 11:44:21 am »
John, I agree with most of that.  I just don't think the risk rises to a level that it should weigh heavily in a decision of when or whether to tour there.

Having been out in pea sized hail a number of times (twice when on tour and a few other times), I do doubt the claim about "anything larger than pea-sized easily going thru a tent".  The following thread reports more what I would expect:
http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=47369

Personally I think lightning is a much greater risk.  Death by hail is exceedingly rare.  Death by lightning is comparatively quite common (75-150 per year in the US).  I try not to let that worry me although being caught out on top of a mesa with lightning all around and no cover or even a ditch available was pretty scary.

Offline kenwil

Re: Transam East to West 2012 Advice Sought
« Reply #8 on: December 03, 2011, 11:55:33 am »
Blimey ! Obviously a naive question ! You don't have to worry about things like massive hailstones and tornados in good ole Blighty or even in mainland Europe....I did the West Coast Seattle to Mexico route in 2008 in 34 days and it didn't rain the whole time...albeit it was in September.
So if I reckon on doing it in say 70 days (?) starting in early April a) I'll be cold b) I might get struck down by hail c) I may get sucked into a tornado or flattened by flying cows and  d) the way may be blocked by snow. Well other than that it all sounds kushty.
Thanks for the advice everyone. I'm still tempted to go ahead, after all if it was easy it wouldn't be worth doing...I am assuming that the jouney repays all these 'risks', from what I can gather from here the route looks amazing...
P.S. Just seen the new posting re lightning, thanks staehpj1, I'll just add that to the list....isn't one insulated from lightning on a bike ?? 

Offline staehpj1

Re: Transam East to West 2012 Advice Sought
« Reply #9 on: December 03, 2011, 12:59:52 pm »
I am assuming that the jouney repays all these 'risks', from what I can gather from here the route looks amazing...

Yes, the route is well worth any of the risks.  I have never heard of a cyclist on the Trans America dying from hail, lightning, or flying cows.  On our Trans America we only had a few days with rain and were only cold a few times.  We did get hailed on twice and frightened by lightning once, but it wasn't too bad.  The biggest discomfort was the heat and going early and East to West should minimize that.  When it comes right down to it traffic is the biggest risk and you can manage that risk for the most part.   I think you will have a wonderful time.  The TA is a great route.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Transam East to West 2012 Advice Sought
« Reply #10 on: December 03, 2011, 05:09:24 pm »
I'm still tempted to go ahead, after all if it was easy it wouldn't be worth doing...I am assuming that the jouney repays all these 'risks', from what I can gather from here the route looks amazing...
P.S. Just seen the new posting re lightning, thanks staehpj1, I'll just add that to the list....isn't one insulated from lightning on a bike ?? 

Insulated on a bike?  Not really; a few thousand volts will go right through the tire.  You need a Faraday cage (like a metal car body) to isolate/insulate yourself from lightning.

Most of the weather problems can be addressed by asking, "Do you have enough sense to come in out of the rain?"  (Not me! ;)  If it's just a shower, you can keep riding.  When weather gets really threatening, if it turns black in the middle of the day, it's a good time to take shelter.  A library, diner, or convenience store will probably have someone watching the weather, and if they encourage you to head for the basement, cooler, etc., you might want to follow their advice.

Absolutely, a TransAm trip is worth the risks.  I'd expect no more than 3-4 days of really nasty weather, worst case, and you can spend that time meeting the locals.  The rest of the time, to quote Dr. Seuss, "Oh, the things that you'll see, the things that you'll do!"

Offline John Nelson

Re: Transam East to West 2012 Advice Sought
« Reply #11 on: December 03, 2011, 06:21:39 pm »
a few thousand volts will go right through the tire
More like a few billion volts.

At any rate, there are no significant dangers on the TransAm. It's a blast.

Offline John Nettles

Re: TransAm East to West 2012 Advice Sought
« Reply #12 on: December 04, 2011, 03:25:32 pm »
I can say for sure pea-sized hail does indeed penetrate a tent fly as my BA Seedhouse 2 fly had six holes in it after my son left the tent up in the backyard after a "camp out".  Granted they were small holes (I patched with Tear Aid) but it did occur.  I have the older non-silconized nylon Seedhouse and I noticed that your link shows many sil-nylon tents so maybe they are stronger.  You know about gear better than I do so maybe you know.  Anyway,  am just giving an opinion based on my personal experience, not something I have heard.

As I have said before, go on the trip, just be prepared and know the signs, i.e. a greenish sky is much worse than a black cloud, and be sure to have a great time.

BTW, I really do hope you know the flying cows was a joke  ;D.
Happy trails and may the wind be at your back!
John

Offline staehpj1

Re: TransAm East to West 2012 Advice Sought
« Reply #13 on: December 04, 2011, 05:30:31 pm »
I can say for sure pea-sized hail does indeed penetrate a tent fly as my BA Seedhouse 2 fly had six holes in it after my son left the tent up in the backyard after a "camp out".  Granted they were small holes (I patched with Tear Aid) but it did occur.  I have the older non-silconized nylon Seedhouse and I noticed that your link shows many sil-nylon tents so maybe they are stronger.  You know about gear better than I do so maybe you know.  Anyway,  am just giving an opinion based on my personal experience, not something I have heard.

As I have said before, go on the trip, just be prepared and know the signs, i.e. a greenish sky is much worse than a black cloud, and be sure to have a great time.

BTW, I really do hope you know the flying cows was a joke  ;D.

John,
Sorry for being a bit argumentative.  My intention was just to temper your warning a bit lest it be taken as a reason not to do the route.  Then I went and brought up another danger (which I also don't let worry me).  Sometimes I can be a dope :)  No offense intended.
Pete