Author Topic: Which Route to Take  (Read 1776 times)

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Offline bitterm

Which Route to Take
« on: April 11, 2012, 10:57:47 am »
I'm planning on riding across the U.S. from west to east.  Which Adventure Cycling route will provide the easiest climbing through the mountains?  I plan on doing this on a recumbent.  Thanks in advance for your input.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Which Route to Take
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2012, 11:54:03 am »
The least amount of mountainous riding would be the Southern Tier.    That said the few passes on the ST are not especially easier than those on the Trans America.  You do miss the mountains in the east which surprisingly were harder than those in the west on the TA, due to the fact that, while shorter, the climbs were steeper in the east.

Not having ridden it, I can't speak about how the Northern Tier compares, but I suspect that it is similar to the TA.  Similarly I can't speak first hand on the L&C, but again would expect it to be more like the TA than the ST.

I am guessing the WE is more like the ST, but again have no firsthand experience.

OK so with that out of the way...  I would suggest that you not pick a route on the criteria of which route "will provide the easiest climbing through the mountains".  Having done the TA which does spend a great deal of time in the Rockies and the ST which is theoretically easier, I would suggest that the TA is not really any harder.  I would also suggest that it is more scenic, more varied in scenery, and gives a better sampling of what the US is all about.

Personally I found the scenery for much of the ST uninspiring, the wildlife less varied and less frequently encountered, and the brown dead vegetation and lack of water kind of depressing.  The great folks I met and the good food helped make up for that, but still...  Given a choice I'd do the TA again way before I'd do the ST again.  The exception would be if for some reason I wanted to go in the winter, in that case the ST wins out.

Offline litespeed

Re: Which Route to Take
« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2012, 04:43:15 pm »
As a general rule the further south you cross the country the less climbing you will have. If you really want to avoid climbing you can follow interstates 8 and 10 (ride the shoulders, frontage roads and parallel roads) across CA, AZ, NM and TX then go along the Gulf coast. In New Mexico the continental divide on I-10 is just a sign on a flat stretch of highway. This route is also about the least scenic way to cross the country.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2012, 06:41:08 pm by litespeed »

Offline adventurepdx

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Re: Which Route to Take
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2012, 04:57:10 pm »
In New Mexico the continental divide on I-8 is just a sign on a flat stretch of highway.

I think you must be referring to I-10, as I-8's eastern teminus is at I-10 between Phoenix and Tucson.

Offline litespeed

Re: Which Route to Take
« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2012, 06:42:06 pm »
Right. I corrected it.

Offline indyfabz

Re: Which Route to Take
« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2012, 08:51:26 am »
The Northern Tier has fewer mountain passes than the Trans Am, and they are generally lower in altitude. Logan Pass in Glacier N.P. is the "cima coppi." Around 6,700'. The passes in WA are all below 6,000. Two are in the 5,500' range while the other two are, IIRC, in the low 4000s. After Waterton Village in AB, you won't have another mountain to speak of until the Adirondacks in NY.  VT and NH have some climbs, but only two serious ones that I remember--Middlebury Gap and the climb over Kangamagus Highway.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Which Route to Take
« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2012, 06:59:31 pm »
The Northern Tier has fewer mountain passes than the Trans Am, and they are generally lower in altitude.

Perhaps true on the number of passes.  On the other hand, the NT eastbound starts with the Washington passes almost immediately -- you better be in shape when you start, there's no time to ride into shape.  In central Washington you hit four passes in four day's riding, compared to three (two smaller) in two days on the TA in Mondata.  In addition, the climbs aren't much different; 3,000-4,000' for the NT passes, roughly 4,000' for most days' climbs on the TA.

Offline indyfabz

Re: Which Route to Take
« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2012, 10:35:21 am »
The Northern Tier has fewer mountain passes than the Trans Am, and they are generally lower in altitude.

In addition, the climbs aren't much different; 3,000-4,000' for the NT passes

My map is showing showing nothing over 3,000' other than the Cascades, with Loup Loup being in the 2,500 or so range from Twisp. And after you are done with Sherman, Logan is the only true pass remaining, although Chief Mtn. Highway is no piece of cake. Plenty more on the TA.

Offline commuter

Re: Which Route to Take
« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2012, 06:42:49 pm »
I remember the first mountain pass I crossed. I was anxious and excited wondering what it would be like. I found that riding up a switchbacked mountain pass was the most thrilling part of my ride. I also think that a head wind on the plains is harder than any mountain pass I have crossed. So if your concern is difficulty, I think you should direct your attention to the plains and not the mountain passes