Adventure Cycling Association Forum

Bicycle Travel => Connecting ACA Routes => Topic started by: mattdwyerva on August 02, 2022, 09:05:05 pm

 
Title: Trans Am planning
Post by: mattdwyerva on August 02, 2022, 09:05:05 pm
Planning a 2024 trip, 65+ couple, one ebike, westbound. Perhaps 300 miles/week, riding 6 days a week, and likely 2-3 one week breaks at times.  Maybe leave May 1 or so

Thinking C&O/Gap from our house near DC, bypass PGH, and take Eastern Express out to the TransAm via the Katy Trail.  Then, Trans Am up into the Rockies and over to Missoula.  Then Going to the Sun and Great Parks North to loop briefly onto Canada, and pick up Northern Tier to Anacortes.

Mostly hotels to get ebike charged up each day. 

Any concerns from experienced transam veterans?  I have experience on shorter tours (under 1000 miles), and think I know what I'm doing, which is usually when I get in trouble :)
Title: Re: Trans Am planning
Post by: John Nettles on August 02, 2022, 10:04:02 pm
If you have experience with ~1000 mile trips with the setup described above, you will be fine.  You are just basically doing 3-4 of those trips back to back. Even if some experience with some of the setup above, you most likely will be fine.

Only thing that might get you is the eBike and the charging.  While you can charge at a variety of places (city parks, restaurants, etc.) during the day, you might encounter a handful of days with no possibility of recharging.  You can still ride those days, just know they will be tougher.  If you want to go off route in those areas so you have more services, put up a request for routes here and we will see if we can help.

Have a great trip!  Tailwinds, John
Title: Re: Trans Am planning
Post by: John Nelson on August 03, 2022, 12:32:33 am
Book your accommodations in Yellowstone and Glacier a year in advance.
Title: Re: Trans Am planning
Post by: mattdwyerva on August 03, 2022, 06:36:20 am
No, I did not have my wife or her ebike on those tours - sorry if I implied otherwise.  Our speeds are different, which is why we like the ebike for her.  Vado SL is relatively light (32 lbs, say 35 with supplemental battery ) for an ebike, so more rideable when dead than some models perhaps. Charging time is 3-4 hours to 100%, although you get a good boost within 2 hours.   

Restrictions on some paths as well, perhaps, even though my wife is not who they were thinking about when they wrote those laws I imagine.  And even well meaning park rangers get confused about the laws (I recently discussed this with a Virginia one, and in their defense the laws are new and written in a confusing style). 

I understand hotels and such are not guaranteed to exist or have occupancy, especially out west or in Canada, where they get farther apart.   I did not realize the hotels Parks get full a year in advance, that's interesting and makes some sense, especially for popular ones.   

Are park hiker/biker campgrounds similarly booked up?  I've been thinking I may be stuck carrying a tent and light sleeping bags, just in case, at least north and west of Pueblo.
Title: Re: Trans Am planning
Post by: mattdwyerva on August 03, 2022, 06:46:06 am
Huh, when I check for hotels in GNP for August 6-7 of this year, I see availability.  Is this year unique?
Title: Re: Trans Am planning
Post by: John Nettles on August 03, 2022, 10:28:47 am
You can always just ship a tent and sleeping bags ahead of you to where you think you might need them.  USPS General Delivery will hold for 30 days I think (verify with the specific location) or you could send to a WarmShowers host, a bike shop, or even a church in the area perhaps. 

As far as Yellowstone, due to the major floods that shut off the northern loop of Yellowstone, my guess is that a lot of people cancelled their Yellowstone trip so this is an atypical year.  That said, I have been to Yellowstone and gotten same day hotel lodging due to cancellations but I certainly would count on it.  I basically called about every hour beginning the day before I arrived to check. Lo and behold, I did get a small cabin. 

As far as the Hiker Biker sites, they almost certainly will have availability.

I am very surprise a supplemental battery is only 3 pounds.  I would have guessed more like 10-15 pounds.  Regardless, my touring bike is probably 35+ pounds unloaded with all the racks, pumps, etc. on it so your wife's bike is indeed light for an eBike.

Tailwinds, John
Title: Re: Trans Am planning
Post by: HikeBikeCook on August 03, 2022, 10:46:58 am
I put together a group to ride a modified TransAM using the Eastern Express route this summer. Although I decided to abandon the trip for various reasons I have stayed in touch with the group and assisted in route changes, etc. I was also in touch with another couple doing the Eastern Express. Everyone I have spoken with has said that the Eastern Express is a very lonely route.

I usually tour with my wife so loneliness is not as big a factor. However, not seeing other cyclists on your route for weeks at a time can be discouraging. After all, long tours become more of a mental challenge once your body becomes accustom to the mileage. I think a lot of the Eastern Express users also travel East to West, which reduces your chances of running into riders if you are traveling at a similar pace.

There are plenty of riders on the C&O and GAP. Our route left the GAP in West Newton and followed PA Bike Route S to Wheeling to bypass Pittsburgh. Once leaving the GAP expect to see no other riders for many days or weeks. One couple I was in contact with used the TransAM Connector to rejoin the traditional TransAM route just to encounter other riders.
Title: Re: Trans Am planning
Post by: staehpj1 on August 03, 2022, 10:52:09 am
Will you have issues with the ebike being treated as bike wrt hiker biker sites, access to some bike trails, and so on?  I don't know, but there may be possible issues with it being treated as a motorized vehicle in some places for some purposes.  Just something to have on your radar.  It may be a non issue, but better to not get caught off guard.
Title: Re: Trans Am planning
Post by: staehpj1 on August 03, 2022, 10:56:12 am
I put together a group to ride a modified TransAM using the Eastern Express route this summer. Although I decided to abandon the trip for various reasons I have stayed in touch with the group and assisted in route changes, etc. I was also in touch with another couple doing the Eastern Express. Everyone I have spoken with has said that the Eastern Express is a very lonely route.

I usually tour with my wife so loneliness is not as big a factor. However, not seeing other cyclists on your route for weeks at a time can be discouraging. After all, long tours become more of a mental challenge once your body becomes accustom to the mileage. I think a lot of the Eastern Express users also travel East to West, which reduces your chances of running into riders if you are traveling at a similar pace.

There are plenty of riders on the C&O and GAP. Our route left the GAP in West Newton and followed PA Bike Route S to Wheeling to bypass Pittsburgh. Once leaving the GAP expect to see no other riders for many days or weeks. One couple I was in contact with used the TransAM Connector to rejoin the traditional TransAM route just to encounter other riders.

Yeah, even when riding in a group of three on the TA, meeting other riders was a highlight of many of our days and folks we met are still remembered fondly 15 years later.
Title: Re: Trans Am planning
Post by: mattdwyerva on August 03, 2022, 11:22:34 am
Understood.  We're not riding the entire Eastern Express, but more than half of it I think. EE has some very good user reviews, but I enjoy the other riders too.  We are warmshowers hosts because the people are fun

Agreed, it is important to know the ebike rules.  One Virgina ranger tried to tell me you could not ride one on a road (cars only??), but I was able to explain the words did not say that (NOT ok on paths in VA State Parks, but ok on Roads). 

Vado SL is a well thought out ebike, and an extender battery is under 4 lbs I think.  I can weigh it if curious. 
Title: Re: Trans Am planning
Post by: BikeliciousBabe on August 03, 2022, 01:28:58 pm
Huh, when I check for hotels in GNP for August 6-7 of this year, I see availability.  Is this year unique?
I am looking at the booking site right now for 8/15-8/17.  Many Glacier has 1 room left at $565.

Lake McDonald Lodge is sold out.  There is a smattering of rooms left this month.  September is nearly booked solid.

The inns at Apgar and Rising Sun are also sold out for the above dates.

Apgar has a room this Friday.  The rest of August and all of September are sold out.

Rising Sun has a few August dates available and only 3 for September.

I would not count on just showing up and being able to find a room in the park.  I would also secure reservations at Waterton Village in AB if your plan includes visiting that. Same for the Towne Campsite there.  It's quite popular.  Tend to think it does not have hiker/biker sites.

Places like Yellowstone and Glacier will usually find sites for hikers/bikers because they don't want them stealth camping due to the dangers involved.

Title: Re: Trans Am planning
Post by: mattdwyerva on August 03, 2022, 04:00:06 pm
Good advice, thanks.  I will have to make early reservations there.  Same for Breckenridge?

Are bear canisters used in Glacier and Yellowstone if camping?  Or do they provide lockers?

Also, since I'm an engineer, I weighed the Vado SL extender (supplemental battery)  - 2# 6 oz.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/AJVTJ7YpATm7C6g48 if curious
Title: Re: Trans Am planning
Post by: staehpj1 on August 03, 2022, 04:45:12 pm
I am looking at the booking site right now for 8/15-8/17.  Many Glacier has 1 room left at $565.

Wow that is pretty steep.  I tend to think of bike touring as an inexpensive way to travel.  I guess that isn't always the case.  I think we averaged something like $4-5 per night for camping on our TA, but that was quite a few years ago.

Are bear canisters used in Glacier and Yellowstone if camping?  Or do they provide lockers?

Lockers at Yellowstone and I think Glacier, but I haven't been to Glacier so someone correct me on that if I am wrong.
Title: Re: Trans Am planning
Post by: mattdwyerva on August 03, 2022, 06:19:59 pm
I still see places for end of the month for less, but camping is certainly far nicer on the wallet. 
https://www.glaciernationalparklodges.com/lodging/village-inn-at-apgar/ $150 for August 20.

But many days have zero availability, so looks like far longer than one month notice is needed for lower rates in prime locations. 

NPS also says campgrounds require reservations, but if I understand comments here, people think that NPS will try pretty hard to accommodate hiker/bikers??
Title: Re: Trans Am planning
Post by: BikeliciousBabe on August 04, 2022, 08:30:57 am
There are bear lockers in both Yellowstone and Glacier.  Good campground hosts will make sure you use them.  The guy who was (and maybe still is) the host at Sprague Creek in Glacier (I have stayed there several times) occasionally walked the grounds during meal times to make sure people were following the rules.  The first time I stayed there was way back in '99.  Two women pulled up to a site and placed a picnic basket on the table.  One went to use the phone and the other the restroom.  A ranger just so happened to come patrolling through the campground while they were gone.  She was not happy.  Ending up writing them a warning citation.  I also got a reminder from the host while camping at Apgar in '00.

The issue of reservations came up recently on another forum.  IIRC, you cannot reserve a hiker/biker site.  Extremely doubtful you would need to at Sprague Creek as the infield where hikers/bikers camp is quite large.  I once camped there with about 15 other people.  Still plenty of room.
Title: Re: Trans Am planning
Post by: mattdwyerva on August 04, 2022, 08:46:27 am
Thanks, good to know. 

I ran into grizzly mom and cub decades ago in Jasper AB, without injury or food loss, but I do NOT wish to repeat that experience.   
Title: Re: Trans Am planning
Post by: staehpj1 on August 04, 2022, 09:00:35 am
FWIW, I Have ridden the Trans America and a bunch of other long tours and rarely if ever made a reservation for a room or camping.  Off the top of my head I don't recall any.  I have called ahead the same day and maybe someone I was riding with may have made a reservation a day ahead at some point, but usually I don't even know where I will stop that far ahead.

There have been a couple places where I rode around the camp and found someone willing to share a site because the sites were all taken.  In the cases where that was the case a reservation wasn't an option (they didn't take them) and we didn't make it in time before the camp was filled.  The next camp was out of riding range.  A few times a Ranger or host has let me stay somewhere that wasn't officially a campsite (usually in a state park, never a national park other than hiker biker sites)

Something has always worked out.  Only very rarely have I ever had to resort to stealth (I have wild camped in plain sight).   When I have stealth camped it was never in a NP and generally on wooded private land.  I have dispersed camped on NF land some.
Title: Re: Trans Am planning
Post by: mattdwyerva on August 04, 2022, 09:06:45 am
Good to know.  What makes me nervous about reservations is the dreaded "schedule" that accompanies them.  As I age, physical unreliability increases. 
Title: Re: Trans Am planning
Post by: staehpj1 on August 04, 2022, 09:25:47 am
Good to know.  What makes me nervous about reservations is the dreaded "schedule" that accompanies them.  As I age, physical unreliability increases.
A flexible schedule is a must for me.  I like to be able to choose how far to ride based on how I feel on a given day.  Some days I may not know if it will be a short day or a crazy long day until the end of the day.  I may take a break mid day and decide whether to continue after hanging out a while.  I may have multiple decision points like that during the day.

Sometimes you will need to do a bit of looking ahead a couple days at times where services are sparce for an upcoming gap.  Sometimes you may need to do a 30 or 90 mile day to set up for an up coming stretch without services when what you want is a 60 mile day.  In those cases you may need to commit to a particular mileage for a day.

Good luck and have a great trip.
Title: Re: Trans Am planning
Post by: John Nelson on August 04, 2022, 07:42:24 pm
Isn't this thread about riding across the country on an e-bike? I don't have an e-bike, so I don't really know what it takes to recharge them. Can you do it in a campground? Do you have to recharge every day, or are there ways to go multiple days without recharging?
Title: Re: Trans Am planning
Post by: mattdwyerva on August 04, 2022, 08:56:38 pm
The intent was to summarize my plans for a cross country trip with my wife  (one ebike, one regular bike) and get some advice from experienced Trans Am and similar riders.  The ebike is an issue, the route is an issue, where we stay is an issue, etc.

But since you asked about e-bikes...
Most e-bikes need to be charged after long rides, but there are many variables.  Range listed by mfrs assumes pretty flat, and no extra weight in my experience.  Most campgrounds are not set up for charging e-bikes, only RV's I think.  Then again, standard outlets are not uncommon at stores or cafes, so we might get by camping at times.  Or we may have to scale back plans, or overload the non e-biker (me) at times.  Some e-bikes are very heavy but my wife's is remarkably light so she can ride it unpowered - slowly. 

Many people don't like e-bikes, but it lets my wife ride at the same speed as me which is great fun for us. It does complicate planning a bike trip.
Title: Re: Trans Am planning
Post by: John Nelson on August 04, 2022, 10:43:57 pm
Thanks for the additional explanation.

I suspect that the e-bike is the most significant factor in your planning and will be the center of your planning effort. Note that most of the country is hilly, especially on a cross-country trip. Only 10 to 20 percent of your trip is likely to be relatively flat.

Most campgrounds have a 120-volt electrical outlet around somewhere, but it may not be convenient to your campsite, or there may be restrictions on your using it. It's good that your wife can ride the bike unpowered, but can she do it for 50 miles in hilly terrain? Can you carry a spare battery to get you out of problem spots?

If you use ACA maps (and even if you don't, but with a bit more effort), you can do your research for possible overnight spots, and the likelihood of the availability of electrical outlets there. When in doubt, you can call ahead to check. In problem areas, you can research how you might go off route to access electricity.

Note that there are online journals by people who have previously crossed the country on e-bikes. These journals may show you how others have handled the challenge. I suggest you browse journals at https://ebikes.topicwise.com/ There are more than 50 e-bike journals there.
Title: Re: Trans Am planning
Post by: mattdwyerva on August 05, 2022, 06:32:58 am
I'll check it out, thanks.  We do have portable spare battery (2 perhaps) as mentioned in prior post. If a cafe is used to laptops, they may not object to us charging them.  Of course the cafe must be in a town for that to work, and we would be taking a 2-3 hour break in that case.

Yes, I understand it's "hilly". I have ridden some in the Rockies (eg, climbed Mt Evans, Icefields Parkway, Kootenai) and done countless miles on the Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway near our home, often with my wife, and once with her on an old ebike.  I love riding in mtns.  Not everyone likes it. I've seen people crack up there - angry at the "hill" that never seems to end.  You go around a bend, and it continues upward.  Hard for some to calm down, accept the slow slow pace, and appreciate the beauty of the views at those times.

The Eastern Express is a good way to start building confidence and testing basics, I hope.   Less reason to go thru Afton VA, now that the wonderful trail angel, June Curry, has passed.  I am grateful that we got to know her a bit years ago.

I purchased ACA gpx data for route planning using ridewithgps, and used Frank Moritz data for E Express.  I can't share my map links due to ACA copyright of course.  We may take paper backups.  I once rode from Maine to Virginia using an East Coast map - not enough detail but all they had at the gas station in Maine

I have some test trips planned over the next year with my wife including the Skyline Drive (16 of the first 22 miles are uphill).  I never like brand new gear on tour if I can help it.  Supply chain may force me to break that rule for some things, but the ebike will be tested at least, as will we.  Either of one of us may fail, or life may intervene - I guess we'll see.