Author Topic: Newbie Q, can this be done: SF -DC frm Apr -min climbing, no deserts/camping :)  (Read 3396 times)

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Offline SFGary

Hi All

A new older, member here and am probably asking an impossible question but: I am planning an SF to Washington DC ride for a cause starting early April. I am a bit on the, OK a lot on the heavier side (don't ask) and am not sure I can do major climbs like in the Sierras and the Rockies (have driven in both areas in Fall/Winter so it worries me) because of the extra weight, average knees and a hip injury from an old rowing accident.

I would also like to avoid or minimize Desert riding if possible. The cold, fog and the rain don't bother me. To compensate for these limitations I am willing to do extra mileage. I just ordered the Transam from Pueblo to Yorktown maps from ACA but with all the accumulated knowledge and experience in this impressive forum I thought I would also ask here if I can get from SF to Pueblo by avoiding the mountain ranges and the desert. Part B of the question is that can I do it without any camping? i.e. staying overnight in motels all the way? I am reading through Suzanne Stack's blog who is doing the same type of a ride,, but she and her husband started from Astoria, OR...

Any help would be greatly appreciated or I foresee a lot of pushing a loaded bike uphill. Thanks in advance


Offline John Nelson

Pretty tough set of constraints.

Avoiding mountains will by no means avoid hills. The TransAm from Virginia to Missouri can be pretty darn hilly.

I might suggest taking the Lewis & Clark to the Northern Tier and continuing to the east coast on the NT. That might be as close as you can come to meeting your goals.

Offline litespeed

The easiest way to avoid climbing would be to swing way south, cross the country along its southern rim then go up the east coast. This would be longer but would have no appreciable climbing. The continental divide in southern New Mexico is simply a sign on a flat, level stretch of highway.

This would also allow you to motel it all the way. It would be hot in the summer though.

You might be understimating your climbing ability. I have always dreaded big climbs but invariably made them with no trouble despite weighing over 200 pounds, being elderly (now 71) and not packing light at all. And don't forget the great downhills off the passes. I remember coasting virtually all the way from Monarch Pass, CO to Salida - over 20 miles.

Offline SFGary

Thanks for the quick reply John and litespeed. I suppose litespeed answered the internal question I had about whether I underestimate myself about climbing. Its a fear of the unknown. The Southern Tier is probably not an option because of the heat and the SF - Northern Tier - E Coast would probably be a bit much for me.

Q to both of you: So if I use the std route of the Western Express joining up with the TA in Pueblo, what would the weather be like in the Rockies in mid to late April/early May? Would it be snowing and can you ride in the mountains during that time? and how many days does it take to cross, typically? Thanks in advance

Offline John Nelson

You can probably cross the Rockies on the Western Express route in late April. But if it's snowing, you don't want to be up on the passes. So having a few spare days to wait out a storm is advised. But the Western Express will not meet your goal of avoiding desert riding, and crossing Carson Pass in the Sierra Nevada may not be possible in early April, and you may also encounter some difficulty in the higher elevations of Utah (e.g., Cedar Breaks). The ACA advises not starting the WE until mid-May.

Offline SFGary

Thanks for the reply, John and thanks much for your patience, this is all new to me. If the passes in the Sierras, Cedar Breaks and the Rockies are snowed in in mid-late April and Early May is there way to get around them? You suggested going north to Lewis and Clark and the NT and litespeed suggested the southern route. Since I have to get to DC by June 10th or so I am willing to hitch a ride/Amtrak etc around these impediments.

Having said this, is there a way or have you heard of a way to rejoin the TA at  Pueblo, CO via these alternates:

SF, CA - Bend, OR - Missoula, MT - Pueblo, CO (Approx 2100 mi)

or SF, CA -  Phoenix, AZ - Pueblo, CO (Approx 1600 mi)

Sorry for these amateur questions, there may not be a straighforward bike route using the cities I cited. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Offline John Nelson

I suggested north because you said you didn't want desert riding. No deserts and no mountains is a tough pair of requirements. Yes, you can start by riding up the coast and then going across. But then there's the question of whether you can get to DC by June 10 this way. Why don't you just fly to Pueblo and start there? That will skip most of the desert, the mountains, and the snow/cold.

Your problem is overly constrained. You'll have to decide which of your desires you want to compromise on.

Offline BikeFreak

Please have a close look at this map:

When you say you don't like deserts, is it because of the heat? If yes, it will not be hot in April. If you leave early april and arrive June 10th you will have total of 70 riding days. I suggest:

1. Going south to the Mexican border
2. Pick up the Southern Tier all the way to New Roads, Louisiana.
3. Pick up the Great Rivers route going north and
4. Join Transam in Cave in Rock, Kentucky

SF-Border: Approx 630 mi
Border-New Roads: 2200 mi
New Roads-Cave Rock: 750 mi
Cave Rock-DC: 1150 mi
Total= 4730


Offline SFGary

John, I am removing the constraints one by one :) except that I have to be in DC around the 10th ~. If I use part of the Western Express, I'll go to the Sierra foothills and then get over by renting a pick up truck/Amtrak/flying and do the same in the Cedar Breaks/ Rockies. Strange way of doing it but my time of proposed departure is not compatible with using the Western Express route. I might consider the Northern route or with Lucas/Bikefreak's (thanks for the info, Lucas) recommendation do a southerly route and join up with the TA in Kentucky.

I am still curious if anyone has done a non-ACA route from SF to Pueblo using a southerly route to avoid the closed passes etc. Should I continue in this post or ask it separately?

Offline Jambi

you can continue on highway 50 through utah and miss out a big section of mileage for the WE maps, you miss some pretty nice scenery but it means you could start later in SF.