Author Topic: Southern Tier / Grand Canyon Connector / Trans-Am  (Read 1164 times)

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Offline Falconetti

Southern Tier / Grand Canyon Connector / Trans-Am
« on: August 12, 2013, 10:52:31 am »
Hi All
I'm looking for some advice about a ride across the US I'm thinking of doing next year.    I would like to ride the Southern Tier section from San Diego to Wickenburg then pick up the Grand Canyon Connector and finally hook up with the Trans-Amto Yorktown VA.    My concern is that if I leave San Diego early in the spring then the ST is very enjoyable but the Grand Canyon Connector would be too cold with roads possibly closed for snow.    Leave it too late and the ST is murderously hot but the Grand Canyon route is open and rideable.  I've looked at average temperatures for towns along the route and it looks to me that there is a very narrow window for this route to be possible.    I am thinking of setting off last week in March or first week in April.    Would that work ?    Is there a more sensible timing ?   

Would really appreciate any advice

F

Offline rabbitoh

Re: Southern Tier / Grand Canyon Connector / Trans-Am
« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2013, 12:22:15 am »
Falconetti,

I rode the Grand Canyon connector out of Wickenberg last year, but I was at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon on 11th May. This was deliberately planned (I had ridden the ST from St Augustine) so that I could also visit the North Rim. The road into the North Rim doesn't open any earlier than 15th May, and only then if weather permits.

Even if you started your ride the first week of April, you would be at the South Rim in under two weeks, so a visit to the North Rim would be out of the question which, in my opinion, would be a pity.

I had no issues with the weather but it was a whole month later than your intended ride.

Riding up to the South Rim is something you will never forget.

Regards
Good Cycling
Dennis

Offline Falconetti

Re: Southern Tier / Grand Canyon Connector / Trans-Am
« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2013, 04:00:56 am »
Thanks Dennis.    i appreciate your thoughts.    I know that the North Rim access is probably not possible (which is a shame) but I have to wrap the whole ride up and be back in the UK by late June so an April start is as late as I dare leave it.   I don't want to ride the Trans-Am sections feeling like I'm in a race against time.    I will look again at the average temp charts for the area and do some detailed route planning to try and get a sense just how far into April I could start and still make Yorktown by late June.

Regards
F

Offline BikeFreak

Re: Southern Tier / Grand Canyon Connector / Trans-Am
« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2013, 11:27:02 am »
I did the Transam + western Express from Washington DC to just before Panguitch, UT and then the Grand Canyon Connector going South to Phoenix. 13 Years ago I attempted the Southern Tier from San Diego to Phoenix. Both rides were done in the summer. I finished in Pheonix in July and it was blistering hot - but I cope very good with heat.

But in detail:

It will only be hot at low elevations!

Description for summer time: As you leave San Diego it will be nice and comfortable. When you drop into the Imperial Valley on I8 just before El Centro it becomes blistering hot and will stay that way all the way to approx 20 mi N of Wickenburg (Congress, AZ). Here you will have long climb up, and for every foot it becomes cooler. Then it stays cool all the way to the intersection HWY 160 and HWY 89. At this point the route slowly descends down to the Colorado river and it becomes hotter and hotter. At the bottom the route rises again and finally at Jacob Lake it is cool again. It will stay cool till you reach the Western Express route.

Then, on the Western Express there is a blistering hot section between Hanksville, UT and Blanding, UT.

PS: I have a hard time understanding why the Grand Canyon connector should be closed in spring time. I would have more concerns on the Rockies following in Utah in Colorado.

Lucas

Offline Glamis Sand Dunes support

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Re: Southern Tier / Grand Canyon Connector / Trans-Am
« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2013, 04:29:58 pm »
   "I would like to ride the Southern Tier section from San Diego to Wickenburg"
This is about a 4 or 5 day ride.
Three of these days will have warm to hot day time temperatures on Highway 78 through El Centro, Palo Verde, Blythe, Quartzite to Wickenburg. Between 75 to 95 degrees day time temps.
 Late March and early April can be warm but not as extreme as in May. You will have cool mornings and evenings and nights. Very cool nights at high elevations outside San Diego near Alpine.

"My concern is that if I leave San Diego early in the spring then the ST is very enjoyable but the Grand Canyon Connector would be too cold with roads possibly closed for snow.    Leave it too late and the ST is murderously hot"  You may have a few hot days in April but always cool between dawn and late morning. Winds can pick up after 11:00 am. So best to ride from 6 am to noon.

"I am thinking of setting off last week in March or first week in April. Would that work ?    Is there a more sensible timing ?"   
What do you want to see or do in the Grand Canyon? It is a huge park with lots of variety on the rims or down in by hiking or mule. Choose the location and activities in the Grand Canyon according to the weather is a good plan.
North rim is high elevation alpine and pines - cold in the spring.
Southern rim is much lower altitude.
Stash your bike at an inn and take a tour down into the canyon for the day.

I am a ST host near Glamis Sand Dune.   Glamis.support  Be happy to answer any questions or give references for places to stay from El Centro to Quartzite.


Offline jamawani

Re: Southern Tier / Grand Canyon Connector / Trans-Am
« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2013, 06:27:33 pm »
Couple of questions?

Have you considered east-to-west?
What's your touring style - miles per day?
Camping mostly - motels only?

For an average rider, 10 weeks is ample time.
So if you left on April 1, you would finish by June 10 with time to spare.
Have you considered other possibilities?
It sounds like you plan to stick to established routings - is that essential?
ACA will be publishing its "Route 66" maps soon.
Your time frame and plans make using parts of this route advisable.

Get out your map and trace a line from Barstow, Calif, to Williams, Ariz.
(Basically following I-40 - but then look for old Highway 66 nearby.)
It's a historic highway with lots of kitsch - not quite as hot at first.
But you do have a long stretch thru the Mojave Desert and will need to plan.

The ACA Route 66 maps will start in L.A. and take you over Cajon Pass.
If you prefer, there is an easier grade with far less traffic out of Ventura.
It follows the Santa Clara River via Santa Clarita and Palmdale to the Antelope Valley.
BTW - early April is the best time to see the wild poppies at the Antelope Valley Preserve.

Might I also suggest connecting the Grand Canyon Connector to the Western Express
Via Monument Valley - i.e. from Cameron to Kayenta to Bluff.
Monument Valley is fabulous to bike thru - the stuff of Hollywood images of the West.

By then it should be late April, if you stop to smell the poppies and visit the canyons.
It won't be a cake walk to get across Colorado, but you can use flexibility and do it.
Or - - you can stay lower via northern New Mexico and hit World Heritage sites like Taos.

I've biked 100,000 miles - mostly in the West - be glad to be of assistance.
My advice would be to make your choices for your tour, first -
Then see how closely established routes fit into your needs and preferences.

Most of the Intermountain West roads are easily bikeable -
Moderate traffic, often with shoulders.  Clearly near Vegas or Denver it's different.
Services, esp. so early in the season, may be few and far between - esp. in the mountains.
So you will need to use care in planning - but west-to-east is certainly doable.

The Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive might make a nice finale in the East in early June.

Best - J

Offline Falconetti

Re: Southern Tier / Grand Canyon Connector / Trans-Am
« Reply #6 on: August 23, 2013, 06:51:04 am »
All
I appreciate the thoughtful comments Jamawani.    I am planning on camping and using hotels where I need to.   I will be riding about 70 miles per day average.    I thought about the route 66 option and maybe even going off the ACA path but for a first time Trans-Am, I think it safer to stick with well documented and connected ACA routes.   My options are pretty open in every regard except timing.    I must start in late March / early April and I must be back in the UK in mid-June.

Given the timing and a few other factors I'm coming round to a route which Rabbitoh proposed which follows the Southern Tier from Florida to the Grand Canyon Connector then the Western Express to San Francisco.    Seems to be guaranteed good weather in the early stages, a big goal of the Grand Canyon and some pretty tough riding later on.   Also good flight connections either end with direct flights back to the UK.   This is currently my favored option but i will investigate Route 66 and see if it fits better or if it offers some advantage.

Thanks for your help

F

Offline Falconetti

Re: Southern Tier / Grand Canyon Connector / Trans-Am
« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2013, 12:19:50 pm »
Well it finally looks like my Trans-Am adventure is going to happen in 2014.    Just some work details to sort out and I'm good to go....or at least I can start planning for real    I will be on the road in mid-March.   

Current route plan is to ride the ST to Wickenburg then the GCC to join up with the Western Express and finish in San Francisco.    Lack of available detail about the Route 66 option means I am more comfortable with this choice.    As far as I can tell the classic Trans-Am route would be too cold to ride in March so I have opted for the ST.

Thanks to all for their input.
F