Author Topic: East to West TransAm to Southern Tier  (Read 4038 times)

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Offline ohlukeson

East to West TransAm to Southern Tier
« on: February 01, 2012, 11:18:30 am »
Hello all,

I've tried to research copiously on the forums for this and have found some really helpful stuff but still have some questions.

Two friends and I are planning to leave September 1 on our cross country bike trip. We would like to travel east to west along the TransAm and then connecting to the Southern Tier. I would greatly appreciate anyone's feedback as to the best connecting route.
Our chief concern is the weather turning as we are starting later in the year and the winds in and around Kansas. We are planning to be self-contained in our travel for the most part. We plan on staying on the ACA map routes for the most part but are willing to take alternate routes when necessary.

Any feedback would be really helpful, thanks!

Offline staehpj1

Re: East to West TransAm to Southern Tier
« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2012, 11:49:59 am »
What kind of daily mileage are you thinking of?

I haven't done these connectors, but maybe...  If you need to head south early, then Great Rivers or Underground Railroad would work.  If later might work Western Express or WE and Grand Canyon Connector combo could work.

Personally I'd probably look into going W-E if going then.  You would probably be able to do the whole Western Express TA combo that way.   If you could go a couple weeks earlier and make good time you could probably do the whole TA, probably starting in Florence.  That would be my preference if it was me.  I am not sure if the TA starting in the West on Sept 1 is doable or not.

Offline valygrl

Re: East to West TransAm to Southern Tier
« Reply #2 on: February 01, 2012, 08:59:11 pm »
ARe you talking about doing the whole TA to OR and then back on the ST?

I think if you start 9/1 in the east, you are going to be running into snow in the CO rockies and serious snow/bad weather past there in Yellowstone and west of there.

You *Might* be able to make it all the way on the Western Express, but late October in the Sierra is hit or miss, and the days will be short & getting shorter, which will make high miles/day challenging.

Or, are you talking about going part way, then hanging a south before you hit the Pacific?

Either way, not sure what to tell you other than I think it's a bit on the late side for a TA that includes the Rockies, unless you are very very fast.

Offline ohlukeson

Re: East to West TransAm to Southern Tier
« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2012, 09:53:20 pm »
We are planning to start out on the TransAm and hook south to the Southern Tier. We are trying to figure out when and where would be best to do this based on the weather. Ideally we'd like to hook south on the Grand Canyon connector but we can do so earlier. Thanks for the feedback!

Offline valygrl

Re: East to West TransAm to Southern Tier
« Reply #4 on: February 02, 2012, 11:56:52 am »
Gotcha, that makes sense.  GC Connector is high, and quite far west.

Personally, if you can stomach the plane fare (not too bad, esp. if you can use Southwest or Frontier) I would start in San Francisco (Western Express) or San Diego (Southern Tier) and just go all the way across, but that's my bias towards riding in the west.   But if you like riding in the southeast, your plan makes sense, and you'll probably just have to wait and do what the weather tells you on the spot, rather than planning it.  Every year is different.

Offline John Nelson

Re: East to West TransAm to Southern Tier
« Reply #5 on: February 02, 2012, 02:45:09 pm »
As Valygrl says, play it by ear. Have several options planned out. If the weather over the Rockies looks bad when you get to Pueblo, then you can start angling south from there. Otherwise, you can ride through the Rockies to Dolores and check again. If it looks bad in the high country of Utah, then start south there. Otherwise, you can stay on the Western Express until you connect up with the Grand Canyon Connector. But you don't want to risk being up at Cedar Breaks in a snowstorm.

Offline siden420

Re: East to West TransAm to Southern Tier
« Reply #6 on: February 19, 2012, 01:36:08 pm »
I did this trip from Yorktown to San Diego in the summer of 2008.  Starting late in the year is a better idea than doing it in July and August when I went, so you're good there.  I too connected to the Southern Tier.  I took the TransAm from Yorktown to Owensboro, KY but then went off-route thru Sebree, Marion and Grand Rivers to hook back into the Trace and the Great Rivers Route.  One memorable road that I used was SR 295: beware of ticks!  Anyways, I took Great Rivers into the Underground Railroad Route, at Waverly, TN.  From there, I mostly went with UGRR, but did not use the UGRR between Waveryly and Parsons in Tennessee.   Instead, I took 70 West into 644/691 South and traded steep, poor condition two lane roads with no shoulders for well graded, perfect condition, four lane roads with a bike lane practically the entire way.  And it saved 11 miles to boot.  The next day I went off-route to Pickwick Landing which had the best motel of my entire trip, a Hampton Inn.  I then hooked up with the Great Rivers route at Tishomingo, MS and did almost all of the Mississippi mileage on-route on the Natchez Trace.  I promise you it will be some of the best mileage of your trip.  Instead of riding the Great Rivers route to its linkup point with the Southern Tier at St. Francisville, LA I was looking to 'cut the corner', meaning to go diagonally northeast to southwest as opposed to going due south, then due west.  My 'intel' told me that the roads I selected to make this savings of 135 miles were fine.  The idea was to link up to the Southern Tier in Deridder, LA by taking US 84 West across the Mississippi River (make the exception and use eastbound side; wider shoulder and safer), go thru Alexandria and then use SR28 and US171 to get to Deridder.  Once on the Southern Tier, I stayed on route almost entirely until Mountain Home, about 20 miles west of Kerrville where I used I-10 most of the way to El Paso for several reasons: I was told to avoid the Mexican border which can be violent, I-10 is in superior condition to the ST roads in this stretch, traffic is fairly light on I-10, there is good cellphone service on the Interstate in case of emergency, there are more motels to pick from and you are actually safer, protected in the breakdown lane by a rumble strip.  I chose a more direct route to San Diego by going off the ST in Glendale, AZ via 59th Street south to Buckeye Rd. into SR85 to Gila Bend.  Just make sure you have plenty of water once you get on SR85.  There's nothing in those 30 miles but Lewis Prison and no intersecting roads.  From Gila Bend, I took I-8 into Yuma.  Riding the Interstate is legal, by the way, in Texas and Arizona.  It is not legal in all sections in California and just west of the AZ border on I-8 is not one of them.  Unfortunately to connect back to the Southern Tier in El Centro, CA I had no choice but to ride the Evan Hewes Highway, one of the worst maintained roads out there!  The piece around Plaster City and Ocatillo has to be experienced to be believed.  There were tall plants growing in the road in some places!  Perhaps it has been resurfaced since I was there.  One can only hope.  This should give you a few options.  Good luck!
« Last Edit: February 20, 2012, 02:40:28 pm by siden420 »

Offline John Nelson

Re: East to West TransAm to Southern Tier
« Reply #7 on: February 19, 2012, 02:10:22 pm »
It's interesting to see how different people have different criteria in what makes a good route. While I agree with siden420 on all the advantages of riding on the Interstate (safe, wide shoulders, good cell service, good access to services, good pavement, less distance, less hilly), I nevertheless find it miserable. It has none of the charm and tranquility that motivates me to be out there riding in the first place.