Author Topic: Weather Extremes  (Read 6760 times)

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Offline askmeaboutmybeard

Weather Extremes
« on: February 04, 2012, 10:16:08 am »
As we continue to plan for our TransAm trip this summer I was curious as to what sort of weather extremes to expect. We will be leaving in late May and will be concluding our ride in early August. 
What sort of clothes should we pack?

Thanks in advance.
"A father and son bike ride across America" - http://www.askmeaboutmybeard.com

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Weather Extremes
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2012, 02:01:26 pm »
If you can deal with 110F heat, rain, hail, and frost and sub-freezing weather, you should have everything covered.  :)

Go for layers and multi-functional clothes.  For example, if you get a "technical tee" made of a synthetic fiber instead of cotton, you can wear it in casual, off-bike situations in Kansas, or as a base layer in Montana.  Rain jacket is also a wind jacket, and you can wear it for an extra layer when it's cold in camp.  Tights keep you warm while pedaling, but if you dry them when you stop, they turn into a base layer under pants or shorts for cool evenings.

I don't remember which way you're riding.  If you're coming from the west, you can probably mail some cold-weather gear home around Pueblo.  Coming from the east, you might want to get someone to mail you some gear around Pueblo, so you don't have to carry it as far.  Then again, aside from warm gloves, you might be grateful for the clothes when you ride through cool rain in the Ozarks and Appalachians.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Weather Extremes
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2012, 03:34:05 pm »
Makes a difference whether you're leaving from the West or East.

If you're leaving from the West (not my recommendation), be prepared for wet, cold weather for the first part of your trip.

If you're leaving from the East, you should have pretty good weather.

The coldest temperatures you're likely to experience are around freezing, unless you camp in the high country, which you can mostly avoid with some planning. I agree with all of Patrick's comments: multiple light to medium layers with a lightweight rain/wind jacket. To avoid overpacking, choose clothing such that if you put on everything you brought simultaneously, you'll be comfortable riding at a temperature around freezing, and in a 40F rain.

Offline askmeaboutmybeard

Re: Weather Extremes
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2012, 06:57:11 pm »
Thanks for the replies. We are going East to West...Never occurred to me to have someone mail items. Funny you mentioned Pueblo, Co. I have family there (not Pueblo but Colo.) that plan to join me for the Colorado leg of the ride. Is the reason you prefer East to West because of the temps during the different times of the year in specific regions? We are planning 9-10 weeks starting late May.

Thanks again!
"A father and son bike ride across America" - http://www.askmeaboutmybeard.com

Offline John Nelson

Re: Weather Extremes
« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2012, 07:42:24 pm »
The best time to start the TA in the East is in the first half of May. The best time to start in the West is around mid-June. Any earlier start in the West and you're likely to have cold, wet weather through Colorado. The issue is that the West is generally higher elevation, and thus typically colder (and possibly snowier) than the East in the early season.

Starting in late May in the East will be fine, weather-wise. I prefer starting a bit earlier as you'll get more average daylight (by centering the trip around the summer solstice). Starting in late May in the East will likely get you to Yellowstone after July 4 (unless you're fast), and thus the tourist traffic will be heavier. It might also be a bit hotter in the Midwest, but temperatures in any given year are not very predictable so you may be fine.

Offline askmeaboutmybeard

Re: Weather Extremes
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2012, 01:23:49 pm »
The more people I talk to and "chat" with online the more confused I am on which direction to go. Seems there are good and bad to both.
From a logistics point of view it would be easier to start from the West coast because I am in Idaho and it would be easy to begin from Oregon or Washington.

What to do  :-\
"A father and son bike ride across America" - http://www.askmeaboutmybeard.com

Offline jrswenberger

Re: Weather Extremes
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2012, 01:54:34 pm »
The more people I talk to and "chat" with online the more confused I am on which direction to go. Seems there are good and bad to both.
From a logistics point of view it would be easier to start from the West coast because I am in Idaho and it would be easy to begin from Oregon or Washington.

What to do  :-\

I think you've just answered the question...
ACA Life Member 368

indyfabz

  • Guest
Re: Weather Extremes
« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2012, 04:06:46 pm »
Assuming you are talking about AC's Trans Am, you could get some really hot and humid weather in KY and VA in late July/early August. MO might be hot and humid as well. If you are not used to high humidity, you might find it very draining, especially if you sweat profusely like I do.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Weather Extremes
« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2012, 08:59:13 am »
The others hit it pretty much on the head.

The postal service is a great way to adjust what you are carrying.  It helps if there is someone at home that can mail stuff to you via general delivery.

Offline VeloVeg

Re: Weather Extremes
« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2012, 05:35:31 pm »
A couple of thoughts when travelling the TA from mid-May to September. You're going to have a great journey whether you go eastbound or westbound. There are many opinions, but, from my own experience, I choose west to east when I can. It's about the wind. I'd rather climb mountain passes all day than ride into a stiff headwind for hours at a time. My experience has been that the most favorable wind has been from the west (or sometimes SW or sometimes NW, but usually from a westerly direction). When a storm front is coming through, then everything reverses and the wind will attempt to blow you back to where you came from. Just my take on the famous "which direction should I ride" debate.

The possibility for temperature extremes exist all along the TA. East and mid-west have heat and terrible humidity. The west can have extreme heat even in June, but no humidity. The western mountain passes can sometimes be cold and even a little snowy. An example of extremes: when riding through Colorado in 2006 it was 98F degrees in Gunnison (slightly off the TA) on June 25. The next day I would climb Cottonwood Pass (12,126') and ran into sleet, snow squalls, high winds, and temps in the high 20s. What a difference a day makes. I've run into the same extremes in the Sierra Mts. and California's central valley in May and June. This means having clothes for both extremes.

The heat and humidity in the middle of the nation from late June through August can be unbearable, and the nights usually don't cool off like they do in the west. Some nights in Kansas, Missouri, Illinois can be very uncomfortable when camping. Actually, it can be that way from eastern CO all the way east. Rain can be a real blessing.

Like others have mentioned, the good news when travelling eastbound--you can send your cold weather gear home at Pueblo.

Many safe journeys,

Ted

Offline askmeaboutmybeard

Re: Weather Extremes
« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2012, 10:06:57 pm »
Thanks!
I think my biggest concern would be the heat/humidity...especially for my son.  I don't know what the conditions are in the VA area in late May but I have to think it would be better to ride that area at that time than in late July/Early August. Having said that...East to West may be the better option. For what it's worth, both my son and I are redheads and can get sunburned just looking at a photo of the sun  :o

"A father and son bike ride across America" - http://www.askmeaboutmybeard.com

Offline staehpj1

Re: Weather Extremes
« Reply #11 on: February 09, 2012, 09:51:34 am »
A couple of thoughts when travelling the TA from mid-May to September. You're going to have a great journey whether you go eastbound or westbound. There are many opinions, but, from my own experience, I choose west to east when I can. It's about the wind. I'd rather climb mountain passes all day than ride into a stiff headwind for hours at a time. My experience has been that the most favorable wind has been from the west (or sometimes SW or sometimes NW, but usually from a westerly direction). When a storm front is coming through, then everything reverses and the wind will attempt to blow you back to where you came from. Just my take on the famous "which direction should I ride" debate.
Depends on the route, but for the Trans America I think the winds favor E-W in Summer.  The TA tends to go SE From Missoula MT to Eastern Colorado and the winds tend to come out of the SE there.   The effect is still there across Kansas, but the wind tends to be less head on there.   That said I wouldn't let it be the deciding factor.

See what I mean in the pictures below:


When we were on the TA the winds were very close to what these maps would predict.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2012, 09:54:10 am by staehpj1 »

Offline VeloVeg

Re: Weather Extremes
« Reply #12 on: February 09, 2012, 02:03:38 pm »
Hi Pete. That's a great map. It's strange how "science" (the map) sometimes declares one thing, and yet, sometimes our own experiences (anecdotal evidence) tells us something else. In '06, when heading eastbound from Pueblo on the TA, we had favorable winds from the SW from eastern CO, KS, and MO. We were often able to effortlessly ride at 18-20 mph and more, while quite often the poor folks we met who were heading west were struggling and exhausted. We very seldom experience headwinds in the middle of the country. However, when afternoon storms would blow up, the winds would reverse direction.

Then again, in 2009, while riding a modified TA from south of Denver up to Montana my friend Paul and I often faced headwinds, especially from Rawlins, WY to the Tetons. (That's a predominantly NW heading.) To be fair, this was mid to late August and the wind mostly seemed to be coming from the west, but shifted a lot, always feeling like a headwind. Wyoming was/is amazing, regardless of direction traveled.

I will say that that first glimpse of the Tetons when descending the west side of Togwotee Pass was awe-inspiring and a special treat for west-bounders. Unfortunately, there was enough of a westerly wind that kept us from experiencing what should have been a nice downhill into the national park. Stunning nonetheless.

Of course, there are occasional days into the wind no matter which direction one travels. The main thing is, just get out there and do it--one stroke of the pedals at a time.

Just my experiences on the road,

Ted

indyfabz

  • Guest
Re: Weather Extremes
« Reply #13 on: February 09, 2012, 02:17:25 pm »
I will say that that first glimpse of the Tetons when descending the west side of Togwotee Pass was awe-inspiring and a special treat for west-bounders. Unfortunately, there was enough of a westerly wind that kept us from experiencing what should have been a nice downhill into the national park. Stunning nonetheless.

While riding W-E I camped at the joint Adventure Cylcing/U.S.F.S. cyclist-only campground located off the road about 4 or so miles up the climb from whatever that town is at the base. It offers an unobstructed view of the range. Amazing. Lot's of wildflowers, too.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Weather Extremes
« Reply #14 on: February 09, 2012, 02:34:20 pm »
It's strange how "science" (the map) sometimes declares one thing, and yet, sometimes our own experiences (anecdotal evidence) tells us something else.
A lot of it is the luck of the draw.  Even on the Pacific Coast where by just about all reports NW winds are very predictable and very strong.  When I toured the coast I didn't have all that much wind at all and when I did it seemed as likely to be out of the south as not.  Maybe it was because I got on the road real early and was in camp early afternoon most days and maybe it was an aberration, but...  there it was.

I'd still favor N-S on the Pacific Coast, but on the TA I'd count wind after a bunch of other factors.