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Messages - Buddy_Hall

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1
Routes / Re: Western Express versus TransAmerica
« on: August 30, 2022, 03:08:01 pm »
LouiseB said "As it stands, I will almost certainly ride the TA from the east coast to Missoula, at which point I may ask for some recommendations on the most scenic route to Seattle. "

One thing you could consider; from Missoula, proceed to the Northern Tier route and ride it to it's completion at Anacortes, WA.  I don't have a recommendation for the best way to proceed from Missoula, but if you wanted some spectacular scenery, you could work out a route north towards St. Mary's and then ride up to Logan Pass. This puts you on the Northern Tier route just in time to enjoy Going-to-the-Sun road.  Then you get to enjoy the mountain passes through Washington state - the climbing is no more difficult than the climbing you would have already encountered in the Rockies, and it's much easier than what you would have experienced in the Appalachians.   

When you reach Anacortes, it's easy to get to the Seattle airport.  The Belaire Shuttle (it's actually a full-size bus) will pick you up in Anacortes and take you to the airport for a low cost.  If you want to ship your bike home from Anacortes, there are 2 bike shops that will pack it for you and help with those arrangements.   Leave at least a day if you can to enjoy Anacortes before departing for home.

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Routes / Re: What is Your Favorite Cross Country Route and Why?
« on: August 30, 2022, 02:39:42 pm »
Replying to canalligators - you said; "3. I saw a number of other tourists on the TA, but had few conversations.  That's probably because I was with a group having high daily mileages (which sucked) and I didn't stop to chat."

I leapfrogged an ACA group for a few days in KY, camped at the church in Booneville with them, so I had opportunity to interact with them a bit.  Of the 11 folks in the ACA group, at least 3 of them wished they had undertaken the journey on their own as I did - I know this because they told me so.  Their main complaint was not having the individual freedom to decide where to stay each night, how far to ride that day, etc.  They had signed up for a group tour because they thought that an inexperienced tour leader was necessary for such a long trip - but after a week of travel (and meeting others like me who were riding solo) they realized that they could have done it on their own.   Also, they realized that the fee they paid to be part of the group could have been used to buy some more hotel nights, and that's a big deal.   Group riding is fine for some folks, but it does mean you have to abide by the wishes of the majority. 

Particularly on the Transam, it's easy to meet others and form your own small "group" of folks who are riding about the same distance as you each day.  I commenced the Transam solo and didn't expect to meet many other cyclists.  But I did, and that was a highlight of the trip.  I rode with an English fellow and a young man from Colorado for parts of my trip from VA to CO - I met them along the way in VA - we camped together and split the cost of motels a few times, and I enjoyed the unanticipated camaraderie.   OTOH, I met folks who had started out with a riding partner but split up because they had different paces or goals for the tour.   It sounds like your negative experience can be attributed at least partially to riding with a group that had different goals than you. 

Regarding the "800 extra miles" of the Transam due to it going NW from CO instead of continuing westbound, one can transition to the Western Express route in Pueblo and ride west to San Francisco.  However, I should caution you that the Western Express is not an easy route.  A Transam traveler that I met and rode with a bit in VA and KY did take the Western Express from Pueblo, got himself in serious trouble in the desert and had to call for rescue.  I'm just saying that the option to continue on due westward may be harder than you realize.  The Transam from Pueblo to the end in Oregon is plenty challenging, but it's not as difficult as the Western Express.  The difference in the 2 routes is 400 - 500 miles (depending on how you complete the Transam on the OR coast). 

It isn't necessary to visit Missoula when you ride the Transam.  Doing so adds about 11 miles (22 miles round trip) from Lolo.  I wanted to do so just to visit the ACA headquarters, but one could just avoid the 22 mile there-and-back jaunt to Missoula and continue onward.   Of course, you would miss the free ice cream...

3
Routes / Re: North Dakota State Highway 46 (Northern Tier)
« on: August 19, 2022, 04:35:08 pm »
I rode that stretch last year while doing the Northern Tier E to W.  I agree it's not a good design.  It's not the worst stretch of road I've ever ridden, but it's definitely not the best for cycling.  I have video that includes some commentary about the road here at the end of this day's journal entry; https://www.cycleblaze.com/journals/warriordeath1/day-48-fargo-nd-to-enderlin-nd/ . It sounds like I had better traffic conditions than you experienced - I would recommend anyone riding it to leave very early to get ahead of the traffic. 

4
Routes / Re: St. Mary to Cut Bank Montana Options?
« on: August 19, 2022, 03:20:31 pm »
The Canadian border was closed last year when I rode the Northern Tier, so I needed another route from Cut Bank to St. Mary's.  I just took a more direct highway route and it was fine.  As others have mentioned, there is a climb out of St Mary's you have to negotiate and there may be traffic - but if you did it early it should be tolerable.  You can see my direct route here;  https://www.cycleblaze.com/journals/warriordeath1/day-67-cut-bank-mt-to-st-mary-mt/

5
Routes / Re: Northern Tier Map 3
« on: August 19, 2022, 03:08:47 pm »
I rode the Northern Tier in 2021 going E to W, and I followed the "new" (southern) route.  I was still debating which route to take when I reached Circle, MT, but I met a cyclist there who had ridden the northern route a few years earlier and he had just taken the southern route.  Each time he was on a tandem with one of his daughters on the back.  He said that he would take the southern route "7 days a week."  He indicated that he thought it was a safer and "better" route for him to take with his daughters - his concern was safety.   So I took the currently published ACA route.  I encountered the large construction project mentioned in an earlier post, and was able to bike through it.  My journal has videos each day of the travel, so you may want to use it to see what the actual travel is like on that route (including the construction zone).  I'm sure you will be fine either way.  It's the High Plains, and it's challenging to cycle across however you go.  www.cycleblaze.com/journals/warriordeath1/ Best of luck,

Buddy Hall

6
Routes / Re: What is Your Favorite Cross Country Route and Why?
« on: August 19, 2022, 12:49:27 pm »
I'm not as experienced as many others who have replied, but I have ridden 3 of the ACA routes; the Transam, Northern Tier, and Western Express.  While not a cross-country route in it's own regard, the WE is often combined with the TA to make a cross country route.  Of these options, as others have already said, the Transam is the winner.  Following are a few points of note, in no particular order of importance;

1.) the TA is actually harder than the Northern Tier - there's more overall climbing, and nothing along the Northern Tier really compares with the steep grades found in the Appalachians.
2.) the infrastructure support is much greater on the TA - I recently counted some 21 hostels where you can stay for free or for a small donation.  You get Rock Star treatment at restaurants and other places where they ask you to sign their guest register of cyclists.
3.) you will meet many other cycle tourists on the TA, and often you may find yourself teaming up with others and riding/camping together for a few days.
4.) you will meet cyclists from other countries on the TA
5.) when you ride the TA, you become part of a fraternity of others who have done it - it is challenging enough that you instantly relate to others who have also completed the journey
6.) you will experience small-town America along the TA.  You experience it somewhat on other routes as well, but the TA was designed to avoid the bigger cities as much as possible.  It can be an eye-opener and a bit of a cultural shock, but the people are all very kind. 
7.) as John Nettles said, you experience an ever-changing climate and geography along the TA.  On the Northern Tier, it seems like you are in the High Plains forever - on the TA it's just another ecosystem that you pass through. 

FWIW, IMHO, if you can only ride 1 cross-country route, the TA should be your choice.   I don't think I want to repeat my journeys on the Northern Tier or Western Express (they were good experiences but I see no reason to do them again), but if I live long enough, I will ride the TA again.  I think that says it all.

7
Routes / Re: Western Express versus TransAmerica
« on: August 19, 2022, 12:14:58 pm »
Others have given you good advice, but I have relevant experience so I'm going to chime in as well.  I rode the TA in 2015 (www.cycleblaze.com/journals/buddy/ ) and the WE in 2017 (www.cycleblaze.com/journals/heartattack/ ).  Like you, the TA was my first long distance self-supported tour.   I rode the WE starting the last week of July thru August, so my timing was about the same as yours will be.  So let's just get right to it;

Ride the TA in it's entirety east to west.  It will be a great experience and you will be able to relate to the many others who have traveled to the U.S. for this adventure.  The WE is a challenging route - it's also a great experience but you can find yourself in serious trouble if you aren't really prepared for it.  Believe me, the TA will be challenging enough.  My journals have some advice for others in the epilogs, especially so in the TA journal, and I think you may benefit from looking at it.  If I were you and contemplating the TA, I would probably read the entire journal to get a feel for the experience.  I envy you, this will be a great experience - but be prepared for it.  Best of luck,

Buddy Hall

8
Routes / Re: Brit riding across the US
« on: February 01, 2022, 03:02:16 pm »
I strongly recommend that you consider the Transam route instead of Route 66.  I've ridden the Transam in 2015, and met several Brits along the way.  The Transam will give you a much better experience/adventure.  I haven't ridden Route 66, but I live in Tulsa, OK (a major city along the route) and I have ridden parts of Route 66 in Oklahoma.  Don't misunderstand; the Transam is very challenging, especially the Appalachians in Virginia and Kentucky, and crossing the country will be a test.  I've ridden 3 of the Adventure Cycling routes to date; The Transam (2015), Western Express (2017), and the Northern Tier (2021).  Of these 3 routes, the Transam is the only one that I hope to ride again someday.

You can also find trip journals on the Cycle Blaze site; www.cycleblaze.com , including the journal from my Transam trip.  I'd recommend that you consider the Transam route, that you ride it from east to west, and that you start about the last week in April.  Also, you need to be adequately trained before arriving, because the hardest parts of the entire Transam will occur in the first couple of weeks (if you ride from east to west).  I'd recommend that you plan on meeting your wife in Colorado (Canon City would be a nice place to take a week off the bike and play tourist).  Best of luck,

Buddy Hall

9
Routes / Re: Oldest Self-Supported Cyclist on the Transam ?
« on: December 18, 2020, 11:37:43 am »
Wow - very inspirational story about Thomas Camero!  Though he is supposedly in the race, he is really riding like every other self-supported tourist - enjoying the trip as he goes along.  So he's definitely the front-runner for the oldest self-supported Transam crossing so far.  Thanks for posting,

Buddy Hall

10
Routes / Oldest Self-Supported Cyclist on the Transam ?
« on: December 17, 2020, 08:42:38 pm »
When I rode the Transam in 2015 I was the oldest rider of any I met, and I was only 62 at that time. That's still pretty young, and so I wonder; Who is the oldest rider to complete the Transam on a self-supported tour?  What cyclist do you know over age 60 who has completed a self-supported crossing of the Transam?

The requirement for "self-supported" is an important criterion. Carrying everything on your bike, and not having the security of an instant rescue by a motor vehicle, is a whole different level of adventure than is found in a supported tour. And for purposes of the question, e-bikes don't count; having to rely on your physical strength alone is a different level of adventure than having help from an electric motor.

Looking forward to seeing how many of us older folks have ridden the Transam. FWIW, I am planning another self-supported crossing next year at age 68 - and this time I will be accompanied by another 68 y.o. and a 67 y.o. rider. At least that's the plan now - we had planned on riding it this year, but the virus interfered - so that's how plans go. Best wishes to all,

Buddy Hall

P.S. I posted this on the Crazy Guy site and have since been told about 70 y.o. Jim McTaggart's Transam in 2008.  So that's the age record - for now! 

11
Routes / Re: Start Date for Lewis and Clark West to East
« on: February 26, 2020, 07:12:06 am »
Jamawani;

Thanks for the reply - that's excellent advice!

Buddy Hall

12
Routes / Start Date for Lewis and Clark West to East
« on: February 25, 2020, 11:58:19 pm »
Experienced folks;

I'm contemplating riding the Lewis and Clark from Astoria, OR to the eastern end.  What's a reasonable start date?  Could I start about May 1 or is that too early with regards to snow, road closures, winter weather?  I've ridden the Transam route through OR going West to East, but I had a much later start date.   Or, those of you have ridden it; should I ride it East to West instead?  Thanks for your input to help me plan,

Buddy Hall
www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/BuddyHall (Transam, 2015)
www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/Heart_Attack (Western Express, 2017)

13
Routes / Re: Western Express feedback
« on: January 07, 2020, 03:33:46 pm »
I have ridden the Transam and the Western Express.  I liked them both, but the Transam is special and is THE route across America.  FWIW, I suggest you ride the Transam in it's entirety.  The Western Express is definitely not easy, but neither is the western section of the Transam.  Riding the entire Transam puts you in special company with others that have done it. Really, the best thing I can suggest is for you to read my journals - I have a lot of detail and suggestions in those that would help you make a decision.  Transam; www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/BuddyHall (scroll to the epilogue for advice and stats and such, although if you are serious about this trip you will want to read it all).  Western Express; www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/heart_attack (be sure and read Day 24).

Regarding your gearing, allow me to be blunt; it's too high for touring.  You need lower gears, something at least 22 gear-inches or lower.  You will never have a day of touring where you say "Gee, I wish I had higher gears so I could have went down the mountain even faster" but you may often regret not having lower gears - especially in the Appalachians, though there are some steep climbs in the Ozarks and a couple in Utah on the Western Express.  Best of luck with the tour,

Buddy Hall

14
Routes / Re: 65th birthday cross country trip
« on: September 25, 2019, 07:38:09 am »
I was 62 when I rode the Transam in 2015, and I'll be 67 when I ride it again in 2020.  I really favor going E - W, because you get through the populated areas first and then the west is just more relaxing.  HOWEVER - as others have said, be aware that the Appalachians and the Ozarks really are the steepest grades, and therefore some of the hardest parts.  Starting at about day 3 or 4 you will encounter the Appalachians, and for the next 2 weeks it will be challenging every day.  So do get ready for some steep climbing early on the route.  When you reach Illinois you get a little reprieve (just a few days), then it gets tough again in the Missouri Ozarks.  If you make it to KS you have traversed the hardest parts!  Mind you, the wind in KS is also tough, and there are lots of challenges out west, but the Rockies are gentle as compared to the Appalachians.  I also rode the Surly LHT, and will ride mine again next year when I cross.  See www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/BuddyHall for the adventures of another "mature" fellow.  Best of luck

15
Routes / Re: Bear Spray necessary on TransAm route?
« on: September 25, 2019, 07:23:32 am »
Another vote for not needed.  I rode the Transam in 2015 and never had any worries - however, I mostly stayed indoors and camped only as necessary.  I did see a mom and cubs in the Appalachians, and a large grizzly in Idaho (but he was way off in a valley below me), and others I met saw a bear in Northern Colorado, so it is possible that you may get close. See www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/BuddyHall for a thorough discussion of the trip.

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