Author Topic: What's the best cross-country route in the US?  (Read 1639 times)

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Offline Wuwei

What's the best cross-country route in the US?
« on: July 19, 2013, 01:52:39 pm »
Of the several major routes, what is the best in your opinion? I'm thinking in terms of road shoulders, traffic, facilities, scenery, bike friendliness, etc. I had my heart set on the Northern Tier, but am open to other routes as well, especially the TransAmerica. I know some of you have done more than one of these and can make a comparison.


Thanks!
« Last Edit: July 19, 2013, 01:58:19 pm by Wuwei »

Offline John Nelson

Re: What's the best cross-country route in the US?
« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2013, 02:02:00 pm »
Best in terms of road shoulders is the interstate highway system.
Best in terms of minimizing hills and distance is also the interstate highway system.
Best in terms of services is also the interstate highway system.
Best in terms of dogs is also the interstate highway system.

Best in terms of everything else is one of the ACA routes, all of which fall short in all of the criteria above.

Of the ACA cross-country routes in the U.S., you'll find the most support, meet the most people, see great scenery (I stop short of saying "best" because that means something different to each person) on the TransAm. The Northern Tier is much lonelier and has much less support infrastructure. The Southern Tier is too hot for much of the year, and when it's not too hot, the days are too short.

I've ridden both the TransAm and the Northern Tier. You might be interested in my comparison at:

https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/page/?o=1&page_id=299470&v=t

Offline Wuwei

Re: What's the best cross-country route in the US?
« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2013, 02:13:45 pm »
Great info. Thanks John.
« Last Edit: July 19, 2013, 02:16:40 pm by Wuwei »

Offline BikeFreak

Re: What's the best cross-country route in the US?
« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2013, 03:50:17 pm »
I have also done the Northern Tier and the Transam. I agree on most of the comments/observations listed in the crazyguyonabike-link. However, I disagree on a few subjects:

1. There is a big difference in temperature and humidity. The Northern Tier is much more comfortable and not so humid. On the Northern Tier you mostly have cool mornings. On the Transam you often have warm mornings with +70 degF at 6am (east of Pueblo, CO).

2. The New England hills are easier than the Appalachian and Ozark hills.

Lucas

Offline jamawani

Re: What's the best cross-country route in the US?
« Reply #4 on: August 07, 2013, 01:10:27 pm »
Wuwei -

Not sure why you are asking the question - but if you are planning a trip some specifics might help.

When do you plan to do your trip?  West-to-east or east-to-west?
Do you prefer more services or more remoteness?  Usually it's one or the other.
Do you plan to ride with others or hope to meet up with other riders?
What is your touring style - mileage, camping or motels etc.?

I have always opted to create my own routes rather than squeeze myself into a set route.
In my nearly 100,000 miles of touring I've ridden nearly all of the TransAm and much of the Northern Tier.

I am not a big fan of the TransAm -
Kansas is brutal in mid-summer and Kentucky has lots of dogs.
Although there are frequent services, you're just yet another cyclist along the route.

The Northern Tier is much better temperature-wise in summer but has a shorter riding season.
West-to-east it starts out with some really tough climbing and limited services.
Then after Glacier National Park you have 1000 miles of Great Plains riding.

If you do plan to create your own route - you can piece together sections from ACA and others.
I favor riding further north in the summer for two reason - temperatures and bike-friendliness.
The Midwestern states are way more bike tolerant than the South.
Thus, I would lean to some variation of the Northern Tier with a few changes.

1) The Northern Tier sends you north from Iowa to Minnesota than across North Dakota.
Why not head directly west thru South Dakota where you can ride in the Black Hills -
Then head north from Yellowstone to Glacier in the Rocky Mountains?
(That would be the southern and western legs of a box rather than the northern and eastern.)

2) You may want to rethink the Washington section of the Northern Tier - esp. if you are just starting out.
It's really beautiful, but tough if you are new to touring or just a bit out of shape.
There are plenty of other great options in Oregon and Washington.

3) You can always start/end the eastern portion in southern New England or near New York -
Rather than all the way out to Bar Harbor, Maine (which is really touristy and expensive).
But northern New England and the Adirondacks are the best part of the eastern Northern Tier.

Offline robinverner

Re: What's the best cross-country route in the US?
« Reply #5 on: August 19, 2013, 08:51:26 am »
Jamawani,
 Not sure how this post works, but I have a question. We (wife and I) are planning to ride from Santa Fe west in early November. We tried the southern Tier last year but the desert won. Any thought on the route and the temperature.

Offline MrBent

Re: What's the best cross-country route in the US?
« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2013, 03:13:32 pm »
Starting from Sante Fe in early November should be perfect.  It can still be warm by the time you hit the low desert in Phoenix, etc., but in general, you should have quite pleasant riding conditions.  Go do it.

Scott