Author Topic: Latest date to leave - TransAm East to West (2016)  (Read 2778 times)

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Offline 100th monkey

Latest date to leave - TransAm East to West (2016)
« on: April 22, 2015, 02:23:03 am »
Hi folks

Just doing some initial planning at the moment - for various reasons, I really want to travel East to West and ocean to ocean.  Just wondering if locals could give me any advice on the latest date I could leave the east coast, without baking slowly like an unbasted turkey in Kansas?  I'm Australian so I'm used to heat, but I have a high cold tolerance and I'd rather use my good cold-weather gear as necessary and be travelling in cooler weather where possible.

Many thanks
100th monkey

Offline John Nelson

Re: Latest date to leave - TransAm East to West (2016)
« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2015, 10:56:41 am »
There is what I would consider an ideal timeframe to leave Yorktown on the TransAm (which is the first half of May), but you can really leave anytime, understanding that the farther from the ideal timeframe you leave the greater the chance of weather problems. It isn't like there is some drop-dead date, like leaving on June 8 would be fantastic but leaving on June 9 would be a disaster. Furthermore, it depends on whether you plan to take 4 weeks for the trip or 20 weeks for the trip (how long do you plan to take anyway?).

Personally, I left in early May from Yorktown and did not find the heat to be a problem. If you want to avoid heat, I would suggest you leave earlier than that (April) rather than later. Even though you tolerate cold well, however, you might not tolerate riding through a foot of snow very well. Furthermore, even if you tolerate cold, do you tolerate cold and wet together?

Also, there is heat and there is heat. The temperatures in June might be higher than the temperatures in August in many places, but the humidity in June might be less than the humidity in August, making June more pleasant than August.

Since you ask your question about "latest", I assume that you cannot leave early. If you're not too slow, and you have enough time to wait out a snowstorm or two, I think you could wait as late as August to leave. You may have to skip McKenzie Pass (regrettable), but there is an alternative. Also, if you're planning to camp (are you?), you may find some campgrounds closed after the beginning of September.


  • Guest
Re: Latest date to leave - TransAm East to West (2016)
« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2015, 01:21:12 pm »
Well put by Josh. Personally, I would rather try to stay ahead of the heat and humidity by starting early than wait for a later date in the hope of being "behind" it.

Humidity is also an important factor. With extreme humidity, an 85 degree day can be a lot worse than a 90 degree day with low or no humidity.

When riding a portion of the Trans Am in Montana in late June a few years ago I rant into a few people who had started in the east in early May. They had stayed ahead of the extreme heat in the south and midwest and hit the west after any major threat of lingering snow storms. They would also likely cross eastern and central Oregon before the crispy critter hot days of late July and beyond. (I once did much of the Oregon portion of the Trans Am starting the second week of September as part of an organized event. We had a couple of days east of McKenzie Pass that were downright roasting. The high on the rest day in Sisters was in the mid to upper 90s.) Interestingly, I did the same Montana stretch last year but started a week earlier than the previous time. I encountered only one person riding the Trans Am east to west.

Offline 100th monkey

Re: Latest date to leave - TransAm East to West (2016)
« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2015, 04:36:18 pm »
Thanks very much for your very helpful answers :)  I am planning on camping as much as possible.  Snow is an unknown quantity to me - riding through it seems impossible to me!  I'm very aware that there's safety factors there that I don't know anything about, and as I'll be travelling solo avoiding potentially dangerous snow conditions (possibly that someone who lives there would find routine) would probably be smart for me.  Holing up in a hotel for a day/few days to wait out a snowstorm is definitely ok with me.

Cold and dry is good, cold and wet not so much but if it's for a day or two I think I'd manage ok.  I live in the north at the moment so humidity is something I live with eight months a year and hate with a passion, so if I need to adjust my timing for hot-and-dry rather than hot-and-humid I'll do that if possible.

I'm aiming for later to give me more time to save for the airfare (and also time my time off work to suit my boss)!  That being said, I'll be as flexible as I can to suit the weather and conditions so I enjoy my ride.

Time - I'm thinking about 11-12 weeks?  Is that feasible?  Slower than necessary?  I'll be moderately fit by then but am by no means a speed racer, and I expect I'll be taking the mountain sections quite slowly but with longer days to make up for it in the flat stretches.  I hope to catch the Coast Starlight train from say Portland to Los Angeles at the end, for the experience and also because flights home from LA are exponentially cheaper, but that doesn't need to come out of my cycling time ^

Offline John Nelson

Re: Latest date to leave - TransAm East to West (2016)
« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2015, 05:14:40 am »
11-12 weeks is plenty. 10 is usually enough, and it's rare to take more than 13. Except for Kansas and eastern Colorado, there are no "flat sections."

Weather is unpredictable and vastly different from one year to the next. There are "averages," but no "normal." A lot of luck is involved, more needed at some times of year than others.

You'll have a ball!

Offline 100th monkey

Re: Latest date to leave - TransAm East to West (2016)
« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2015, 05:27:30 am »
Thanks John :)  Maybe I should plan for making up time if I need to on the downhills!  (Kidding, honest). 

Averages are really helpful for me, our climate is so different I really don't have much idea what to expect.  I've just discovered the Washington Parks loops, I figure weather might be even more of a factor there.  Over here cyclones (hurricanes) are the unpredictable factor, so I guess I'm swapping that for potential snowstorms.

Can anyone point me in the direction of a weather service website with reliable seasonal information?  Or as reliable as weather ever is.

This is my Big Adventure, so I hope it's as awesomely fun as you guys make it sound  ;D

Offline shannonpaul

Re: Latest date to leave - TransAm East to West (2016)
« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2015, 01:23:58 pm »
Have you considered riding the Northern Tier instead?  It may save you from some of the oppressive heat on the TransAm since it is a more northern route, although there are no guarantees.  My family and I rode east to west on the Northern Tier last summer (2016) and had very favorable weather conditions most of the way.  We left Bar Harbor, Maine on June 6th.  There were a couple of days in the Midwest that were quite hot and humid, but overall things were not too bad.

Have a great trip - you won't regret it.

"You gotta let it riiiide!"  - Cosmo Kramer