Adventure Cycling Association Forum

Bicycle Travel => General Discussion => Topic started by: fixedbydoc on April 07, 2021, 09:29:35 pm

 
Title: TransAm Bike Route Questions 2021
Post by: fixedbydoc on April 07, 2021, 09:29:35 pm
I am hoping someone can answer a few questions for me about the TransAm bike route. I'm a disabled Veteran with Parkinson's disease and have a medical appointment June 10th so I cannot leave until June 11th at earliest. In 2017 I backpacked the Appalachian trail from GA to ME in 5.5 months. In 2018 I biked Route 66 from Santa Monica CA to St. Louis MO then hoped on 40 and made my way to the GAP & C&O trails to DC. In 2019 I biked across Upper Michigan and hiked across as well. 2020 was filled with short trips all over the place. So I have experience in long distance biking and hiking but have a few questions about this route...

1. I plan on doing 70-80 mile days except through the mountains where I'm hoping to get 60 miles per day. Is there ample stores, gas stations, etc. along the TransAm route to get food and drinks regularly? Or should I carry 2 or so days worth in case?

2. Is it better to go East Bound or West Bound? I went East Bound on Route 66 and had strong headwinds the entire time it seemed, but the TransAm is further north so assuming different winds.

3. Are there plenty of hostels, campgrounds, or stealth camping options along this route?

4. I'm riding my ICE Adventure recumbent trike. Is there room on this route for a trike?

5. This might sound unimportant but is there decent cellular service along this route? I blog my trips on my own website as often as possible.

I would appreciate any tips, tricks, and advice anyone has for me on the TransAm Bike Route. I already purchased the route maps and GPX downloads for this trip.

Thanks in advance for your time and answers. Feel free to email me if you want about the trip. Also If anyone wants to ride with me that would be awesome.
Title: Re: TransAm Bike Route Questions 2021
Post by: John Nettles on April 07, 2021, 09:50:59 pm
First, welcome to the ACA Forums!

Based on your experience, you will be fine.  The TA is a lot like BR66 (if you used their maps).  Just different scenery and topography.  Most the answers can be seen by reviewing the maps.  But overall, yes, there is ample food & drink but you should always carry 1 can of beans or something as an emergency, especially if you do not plan to cook your own food.

It is a coin toss as to which direction is better. 

It mostly boils down to personal preference with the exception that in Wyoming, the wind definitely blows from the NW in the summer.  Other places it varies too much for consistence though I guess there is a slight advantage if you rode W>E.  However, factor in the time of day you ride as if you are eastbound and an early riser, you will have the sun in your face a lot and cars may not see you as easily also due to also having the sun in their face.  Same if you leave camp late.  However, the later you leave in the year the more you should leave from the west coast due to weather issues.

See the maps for lodging.  It is pretty accurate.

The trike should be fine.  Read some journals over at CrazyGuyonaBike.com (you can filter on trikes) then you can read some first hand experiences.  However, definitely avoid the forums there as they can get fairly toxic after a while.

Cellular can be spotty or great.  I "think" Verizon has the best coverage in rural areas.  That said, there may be places where you have very slow data speeds for a day or two.  You can always pop into a local library and use the internet there typically.

Biggest tip is to not have a set date to finish or return home by if possible as it can really suck to have to end the trip 300 miles short or have to really long days the last 3 weeks and miss a bunch of stuff because of the deadline.  Also, while you mileage is certainly doable, the VAST majority of riders average around 55 miles per day overall (including rest days).  When you go faster, you miss out on meeting locals, seeing the sights, etc. since you are always on the go.  Also, you did not mention rest /sightseeing/weather delay days but I would assume you have at least 1 per 10 days minimum planned. I usually shoot for 1 every 8 days. 

Tailwinds, John
Title: Re: TransAm Bike Route Questions 2021
Post by: staehpj1 on April 08, 2021, 08:33:46 am
An early season start favors E-W and a later season start favors W-E.  I think McKenzie Pass is likely to be open by the time you get there, but you should check.  I think they say it should open June 21 for cars this year, but it usually opens to bikes a couple weeks earlier.  Check the odot site at https://www.oregon.gov/odot/Regions/Pages/McKenzie-Highway.aspx  Worst case you can take Santiam Pass but it would be a shame to miss McKenzie Pass.

In general, services are readily available with a few longer stretches that warrant keeping a bit of extra food.  Using the ACA maps will keep you appraised of when you need to carry a bit more food or water or when you need to do a longer or shorter day to hit the right stops for upcoming days.  Make sure to get the addendums to the ACA maps since they are probably in these pandemic times.

There may be more gaps in services now than I am aware of if business closed during the pandemic.  I am told that last year soda fountains were closed and places were disinclined to fill your water bottles .  Also restrooms were more likely to be closed in some places so places to fill bottles were harder to come by and folks needed to buy much more bottled water.

It is a great route and you have the experience to enjoy it.  Any issues caused by changes caused by closings due to the pandemic are a bit hard to prepare for, but should be something you can adjust for as you go.

I think it is likely that there will be more people out doing the TA this year, but not as many as pre-pandemic yet.
Title: Re: TransAm Bike Route Questions 2021
Post by: fixedbydoc on April 08, 2021, 10:37:38 am
Thank you John Nettles. I am retired so I have plenty of time and no set end date. Also Thank you staehpj1. I am strongly considering a W-E ride because I live in Upper Peninsula of Michigan so every mile from the west brings me closer to home. I am considering starting in Idaho due to all the civil unrest etc. going on in Oregon. I have backpacked the Cascade mountains on the PCT through Oregon and Washington so wont be missing out to much.

I did think of 2 more questions though.

1. Are there any permits or passes along the way that I would need to get prior to trip or on the way?

2. Anyone know the average cost for biking this trail? I was hoping to camp as much as possible using official campgrounds the most or stealth camping when possible. Hotels as a last resort or to get out of storms.
Title: Re: TransAm Bike Route Questions 2021
Post by: staehpj1 on April 08, 2021, 11:11:00 am
1. Are there any permits or passes along the way that I would need to get prior to trip or on the way?
No, nothing that I can think of unless you have some interesting side trip or activity in mind.

Quote
2. Anyone know the average cost for biking this trail? I was hoping to camp as much as possible using official campgrounds the most or stealth camping when possible. Hotels as a last resort or to get out of storms.
It can vary widely, but it is possible to do the TA very inexpensively if you want to.  We stayed for free the majority of the time and for cheap pretty much the rest of the time and I am pretty sure I spent less than $5 a day on lodging without trying all that hard and without the need for stealth.  A few people have done it without paying any camping or lodging fees at all.  What you choose to spend on food will vary widely so it is hard to say what that will be, but it doesn't have to be much. 

I think a lot of folks manage to go the full coast to coast route in 10 weeks or so on $1k total on the road expenses.  I think $10-15 per day isn't an unusual daily expenditure level.  Expanding the range to $5-20 per day includes the super frugal and also allow a bit more cushion.  Obviously, if you get rooms often, splurge on lots of expensive meals, and drink lots of alcohol you can run up a much higher tab.

I am not sure if the pandemic might impact the cost.  I am told that last year folks had to buy a lot of bottled water and that can add up.  Not sure if there may be any other unforeseen issues.
Title: Re: TransAm Bike Route Questions 2021
Post by: fixedbydoc on April 08, 2021, 11:46:04 am
That's good to hear staehpj1.
 
My CA to DC ride was about $3000 but spent several nights in hotels and had to rent a car at one point to cross Native Americans Reservations because nowhere I looked said we needed permits when we actually did. But I managed. I have set aside $3000 for this trip to. I'm not afraid to knock on doors to ask for water and never had a bad experience doing so. I am counting on 10-12 weeks. I don't drink alcohol, smoke, or party so there's a savings.
Title: Re: TransAm Bike Route Questions 2021
Post by: John Nettles on April 08, 2021, 12:10:44 pm
The only "pass" I can think of is for Yellowstone and Tetons National Parks but that is more of an entrance fee.  Costs can vary widely but if you did $3k on the last coast to coast, it may be the same or just a tad more since camping and food costs have gone up a lot lately. Still, not bad for a 3 month trip.  I personally spend more but I eat out quite a bit and I enjoy food and a hotel about 1 in 5 nights.

Tailwinds, John


Title: Re: TransAm Bike Route Questions 2021
Post by: Pat Lamb on April 08, 2021, 02:13:35 pm
John and Pete answered most of your questions, but I'll expand on a few.

Cell service is almost always available in towns.  It's between towns, especially in the mountains, that it may be lacking.  I was surprised by how consistent coverage in Kansas was, but one of the people there explained that wives had to be able to call their husbands when dinner was ready.  ;)

Food will be available daily.  There are a few stretches where you'll want to make sure you're carrying a full day's supply of water, which is heavier.

Your daily distance may expand and contract, depending on the distance between towns. 

It may take a bit more ingenuity or persistance to find good camping places in the east.  The AC maps generally note some places where you can camp, as you'll have found from your R66 ride.

Title: Re: TransAm Bike Route Questions 2021
Post by: fixedbydoc on April 08, 2021, 03:45:06 pm
Thanks for the help everyone. I think I am going to rent a car and drive out to Idaho and start from there heading east.

Pat Lamb, you said, " There are a few stretches where you'll want to make sure you're carrying a full day's supply of water, which is heavier."
Could you tell me what stretches those are?
Title: Re: TransAm Bike Route Questions 2021
Post by: John Nettles on April 08, 2021, 04:03:34 pm
I honestly would not worry about Oregon.  Yes, I probably would avoid certain PARTS of Portland, but the Portland violence seems to just in that area.  The route passes mainly through rural areas which tend to be fairly conservative so I would not hesitate at all from starting on the coast and riding across Oregon or Washington.

Tailwinds, John
Title: Re: TransAm Bike Route Questions 2021
Post by: fixedbydoc on April 08, 2021, 05:13:09 pm
I honestly would not worry about Oregon.  Yes, I probably would avoid certain PARTS of Portland, but the Portland violence seems to just in that area.  The route passes mainly through rural areas which tend to be fairly conservative so I would not hesitate at all from starting on the coast and riding across Oregon or Washington.

Tailwinds, John

I guess I will see how Portland is going come time for me to start. Still have a couple months.
Title: Re: TransAm Bike Route Questions 2021
Post by: staehpj1 on April 08, 2021, 05:26:02 pm
Even starting on the coast the ride itself doesn't need to go anywhere near Portland, especially if you opt for the Florence starting point, but you have to get there.  I think you could probably fly in to Eugene.
Title: Re: TransAm Bike Route Questions 2021
Post by: fixedbydoc on April 08, 2021, 05:42:31 pm
Even starting on the coast the ride itself doesn't need to go anywhere near Portland, especially if you opt for the Florence starting point, but you have to get there.  I think you could probably fly in to Eugene.

Flying would be great but I am told by my friend who is in charge of the airport here in my county that masks are mandatory in order to fly. Though I am medically exempt, he said I might run into problems getting a flight. So I intend to use a rental car. Maybe that will change by July.

Title: Re: TransAm Bike Route Questions 2021
Post by: Pat Lamb on April 08, 2021, 05:57:30 pm
Pat Lamb, you said, " There are a few stretches where you'll want to make sure you're carrying a full day's supply of water, which is heavier."
Could you tell me what stretches those are?

Check your maps.  Those stretches will have a note like "No services next 63 miles."  A collapsible 2 liter bladder weighs next to nothing and take up the same amount of space, or you can buy bottled water or a coke and re-use the bottles as needed.  IIRC there was one in Kentucky, one in Kansas, a long stretch in Colorado and one in Wyoming -- although when you see a diner or store in Colorado or Wyoming, you will want to stop!  :)
Title: Re: TransAm Bike Route Questions 2021
Post by: staehpj1 on April 08, 2021, 06:19:24 pm
Even starting on the coast the ride itself doesn't need to go anywhere near Portland, especially if you opt for the Florence starting point, but you have to get there.  I think you could probably fly in to Eugene.

Flying would be great but I am told by my friend who is in charge of the airport here in my county that masks are mandatory in order to fly. Though I am medically exempt, he said I might run into problems getting a flight. So I intend to use a rental car. Maybe that will change by July.
I said that out of force of habit without thinking.  I am not flying yet myself and do not know when I will again.  You could rent a car to Florence.  FWIW, I have almost always had problems getting a one way rental when walking up to a rental desk.  Either they didn't have cars they'd let go or there was a big one way drop off fee.  Booking online from an aggregator pretty much eliminates that.  Also I have found that sometimes it helps to book airport to airport even when not flying.
Title: Re: TransAm Bike Route Questions 2021
Post by: fixedbydoc on April 08, 2021, 06:42:59 pm
Even starting on the coast the ride itself doesn't need to go anywhere near Portland, especially if you opt for the Florence starting point, but you have to get there.  I think you could probably fly in to Eugene.

Flying would be great but I am told by my friend who is in charge of the airport here in my county that masks are mandatory in order to fly. Though I am medically exempt, he said I might run into problems getting a flight. So I intend to use a rental car. Maybe that will change by July.
I said that out of force of habit without thinking.  I am not flying yet myself and do not know when I will again.  You could rent a car to Florence.  FWIW, I have almost always had problems getting a one way rental when walking up to a rental desk.  Either they didn't have cars they'd let go or there was a big one way drop off fee.  Booking online from an aggregator pretty much eliminates that.  Also I have found that sometimes it helps to book airport to airport even when not flying.

My airport is within walking distance of my home. So that would be easy to book airport to airport. I just took a look at the adventure cycling map for Oregon and see that it shows the Florence alternative route. I could always get a small Uhal  and drive it out there. Would give me a place to sleep rest areas :) along the drive.
Title: Re: TransAm Bike Route Questions 2021
Post by: HikeBikeCook on April 09, 2021, 08:40:35 am
I have good luck with Budget and Enterprise for 1 way rentals. Enterprise will also pick you up or drop you off.
Title: Re: TransAm Bike Route Questions 2021
Post by: John Nettles on April 09, 2021, 09:18:59 am
I could always get a small Uhal  and drive it out there. Would give me a place to sleep rest areas :) along the drive.


Do NOT get a U-Haul for anything other than short distances.  The MPG is around 10 and the cost is much more than a minivan.  There is a Hertz in Corvallis, OR.  Also, even though you live next to an airport, a lot of times, airports have very high taxes so be sure to also check the local non-airport locations for pickup also.  The same goes for nearby cities.  Can save you some big money at times. I live in Tulsa and sometimes will drive 30 minutes away to a suburb and get a 40% discount compared to the closest one.
Title: Re: TransAm Bike Route Questions 2021
Post by: staehpj1 on April 09, 2021, 09:30:13 am
I could always get a small Uhal  and drive it out there. Would give me a place to sleep rest areas :) along the drive.


Do NOT get a U-Haul for anything other than short distances.  The MPG is around 10 and the cost is much more than a minivan.  There is a Hertz in Corvallis, OR.  Also, even though you live next to an airport, a lot of times, airports have very high taxes so be sure to also check the local non-airport locations for pickup also.  The same goes for nearby cities.  Can save you some big money at times. I live in Tulsa and sometimes will drive 30 minutes away to a suburb and get a 40% discount compared to the closest one.
Compare prices, but, yeah when I shopped prices in recent years uhaul was never a good deal for long distances for any of the things I priced them for.  That said I never priced them for small trailers.  You would have issues with pulling a trailer with a rental car that was from some other vender. any way though  That almost certainly would violate the rental car company's policy.

BTW, some folks like to use Amtrak.  I always liked the idea of Amtrak until I actually looked at the schedule and prices.  It never really worked out for me, but might be worth checking out.
Title: Re: TransAm Bike Route Questions 2021
Post by: John Nettles on April 09, 2021, 09:49:00 am
Pete, I think he was talking about a U-Haul van, not a trailer.
Title: Re: TransAm Bike Route Questions 2021
Post by: staehpj1 on April 09, 2021, 10:33:57 am
Pete, I think he was talking about a U-Haul van, not a trailer.
Yes, I got that.  My experiences with price comparisons were all for vans and various sized trucks from vans on up.  I meant the trailer mention as an aside and may have been off track with that, but figured it was worth ruling it out for use with a rental car.

In any case everything uhaul that I priced for my move or for a bike tour was crazy expensive.
Title: Re: TransAm Bike Route Questions 2021
Post by: fixedbydoc on April 09, 2021, 12:05:56 pm
All of you have been helpful thank you. I like the idea of enterprise coming to me to pick up. Seeing I wont know where anything is and would like to go straight to trail and let the rental people pick the van up. My recumbent trike folds up so should fit in the trunk of a sedan but haven't tried that yet.
(https://fixedbydoc.files.wordpress.com/2020/07/99127627_233399454751122_4900627649753251840_n.jpg)
Title: Re: TransAm Bike Route Questions 2021
Post by: HikeBikeCook on April 09, 2021, 12:09:14 pm
I have looked at the ICE Trikes in the past, really nice but pricey. How did it do on the C&O? I have seen trikes on the GAP but never on the C&O.
Title: Re: TransAm Bike Route Questions 2021
Post by: fixedbydoc on April 09, 2021, 12:26:11 pm
I have looked at the ICE Trikes in the past, really nice but pricey. How did it do on the C&O? I have seen trikes on the GAP but never on the C&O.

I road my Giant Sedona bike on the C&O canal and GAP. I don't think the trike would be very good on the C&O. Way to narrow and muddy in many sections.
This is what I road on my Route66 ride, GAP, & C&O Canal...
(https://fixedbydoc.files.wordpress.com/2018/07/dscf6082.jpg?w=1024)

The VA hospital here has a recreation for physical therapy program. They buy gear/equipment etc. for the disabled Veterans like myself to get them back out there but you have to prove you will use it. They purchased my trike with a bunch of accessories to help me ride. I purchased the bags and GPS, bike computer etc. for it. All gear and trike together around $9,000. The VA also does all the repairs and maintenance on it for as long as I own it. I just have to take it to one of their vendors.
Title: Re: TransAm Bike Route Questions 2021
Post by: HikeBikeCook on April 09, 2021, 01:11:21 pm
Thank you for your service. It is nice to hear that our government actually does something constructive from time to time. That is the type of investment I appreciate my tax dollars being spent on - giving back to the people who have given so much for this country.
Title: Re: TransAm Bike Route Questions 2021
Post by: fixedbydoc on April 09, 2021, 01:16:16 pm
Thank you for your service. It is nice to hear that our government actually does something constructive from time to time. That is the type of investment I appreciate my tax dollars being spent on - giving back to the people who have given so much for this country.

Thanks. I asked the VA if there were any other Vets that would want to go with me. Waiting for a response.