Author Topic: TransAmerica bike tour- travel East or West?  (Read 5817 times)

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Offline mzimmerm

TransAmerica bike tour- travel East or West?
« on: July 04, 2015, 05:59:05 pm »
I am planning a TransAmerica Self-supported bike tour with my wife in 2016. Which direction is optimal and why? We will do the middle of the country Adventure Cycling Route- I believe Astoria and Virginia Beach?!

Offline staehpj1

Re: TransAmerica bike tour- travel East or West?
« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2015, 08:26:19 am »
I am planning a TransAmerica Self-supported bike tour with my wife in 2016. Which direction is optimal and why? We will do the middle of the country Adventure Cycling Route- I believe Astoria and Virginia Beach?!

There are quite a few possible factors to consider, but to me the most important are weather and which end is closest to home.

Wrt weather and direction of travel, basically if you go early in the season start in the east and avoid the heat and humidity there and the snow in the Rockies.  If you go later in the season starting in the west works well.

If you live near one end or the other, my preference is to fly to the far coast to start.  It is easy to know when you will start a tour, but knowing when you will finish is another matter.  That makes it easier to plan air travel for the start.  Also it is nice to have friends and family to meet at the end.

People often mention wind as a factor and suggest riding W-E because of the supposed prevailing westerlies.  That would make sense if you were traveling at 30,000' of altitude.  I wouldn't choose direction of travel for the TA based on the winds, but if I did I'd go east to west.  In the middle of the country the Trans America angles southeast and the surface winds in the Great Plains tend to be out of the SE in summer.


Offline mzimmerm

Re: TransAmerica bike tour- travel East or West?
« Reply #2 on: July 05, 2015, 10:09:49 am »
Extremely helpful response. I do believe that several of the organized supported TransAmerica tours including Adventure Cycling.....travel East to West. Makes sense to follow their maps and their direction as often as possible. We live in Texas, so really doesn't matter where we start as it relates to Family or Friends. And looks like you are right on with the wind factor. Another factor we thought of...which might seem trivial....is the sun in your eyes EVERY morning for 4 months if you are heading East.
I'm thinking we do East to West.
Thanks again so much for a perfect response. Very very helpful!

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: TransAmerica bike tour- travel East or West?
« Reply #3 on: July 05, 2015, 05:49:23 pm »
You note having the sun in your eyes, and because of that I was really happy to ride west when we hit Kansas.  The heat was oppressive (near or above 100F every day), which is slightly unusual, but the best way for me to beat it was to ride early.  Passing traffic did not have the glare of the rising sun as we rode west.

Of course, some folks prefer to ride late into the dusk.  For them, it would be logical to ride east.

Offline SlowAndSlower

Re: TransAmerica bike tour- travel East or West?
« Reply #4 on: July 05, 2015, 06:45:56 pm »
IMHO West to East will be easier if you are low on conditioning. East to West has more steeper climbs early on.

But I believe you will hook up and share the experience with more riders going east-west. This is from reading several journals and my experience as well.

Offline staehpj1

Re: TransAmerica bike tour- travel East or West?
« Reply #5 on: July 05, 2015, 09:07:34 pm »
IMHO West to East will be easier if you are low on conditioning. East to West has more steeper climbs early on.
I found that to be true.  In fact I found the Appalachians to be the hardest part and the climbs out of the river valleys in the Ozarks were a challenge as well.

But I believe you will hook up and share the experience with more riders going east-west. This is from reading several journals and my experience as well.
I didn't notice that, but I have only done it W-E.  Not sure why that would be the case.  I am curious, care to elaborate?

Offline SlowAndSlower

Re: TransAmerica bike tour- travel East or West?
« Reply #6 on: July 05, 2015, 11:08:55 pm »
@staehpj1
I can only surmise myself as why that may be the case, if indeed it is.
 
First there is typically one start point on the east, Yorktown, whereas on the west you have Florence, Newport, and Astoria. It seems the majority starting in the east start around the first couple weeks in May and their first three or four overnights center around Willis Church, Ashland RV campground and then Mineral. So there are these opportunities to connect early on.

For the first 10-11 days going west it tests your endurance, especially Afton and on, causing short days and rests days for many. This generates opportunities to play leap frog and frequent meet ups. Plus everyone seems to shoot for the known hospitality stopovers like Troutdale, The Place, Rosedale, Outlook, and Hindman for example.

I have followed maybe 8-10 CGOAB TA journals for 2015. However there are not that many west to east journals in the mix this year so I have limited data there. I'm only looking at 2015 to sort out an itinerary for myself for a possible 2016 run at the TA again.


Offline mucknort

Re: TransAmerica bike tour- travel East or West?
« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2015, 03:15:52 pm »
For me, the choice is largely psychological. Though I live in the East now, I grew up in the West, so I chose to ride toward my original "home". I also wanted to finish the trip with the grandeur of the Western Mtns, not polish them off at the beginning. To each, their own.

Offline John Nelson

Re: TransAmerica bike tour- travel East or West?
« Reply #8 on: July 24, 2015, 11:38:24 pm »
There are 606 TransAm journals on CGOAB, 315 east to west and 254 west to east. Yes, I know that doesn't add up. I guess not everyone specified direction.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2015, 11:41:25 pm by John Nelson »

Offline bobbys beard

Re: TransAmerica bike tour- travel East or West?
« Reply #9 on: July 26, 2015, 07:27:02 am »
But I believe you will hook up and share the experience with more riders going east-west. This is from reading several journals and my experience as well.
I didn't notice that, but I have only done it W-E.  Not sure why that would be the case.  I am curious, care to elaborate?
[/quote]

If you're riding in the opposite direction to the majority, you will meet more riders. When I biked the West coast S to N pretty much everyone was headed the other way, so I got to chat with many riders and when I stayed at camps, there were always fresh faces. A lot of riders were complaining that they kept meeting the same people.

Offline BikeFreak

Re: TransAmerica bike tour- travel East or West?
« Reply #10 on: July 26, 2015, 08:15:46 am »
My comments from riding East to West:

1. Like shown on the wind maps, I had the most fierceful winds in Kansas. Extremely strong cross winds from the south. I remember the locals said 40 to 60 mph winds. It was a warm wind from the South so it was cold but mentally a problem. I remember that you had to lean sideways into the wind which means towards the cars when going west. Then, when the wind rapidly would lower, you would almost "fall" towards the middle of the road where the cars were passing by. Quite dangerous.

2. I found the Ozarks worse than the Appalchians. In the Appalachians I would have maybe 3 large hills/mountains a day but in the Ozarks I would have 20-30 extremely steep but short hills. Mentally it was unforgiving.

3. Before departure I thought that I would meet a lot of fellow cross country cyclists. It was a disappointing experience for me. I admit that I bike 125 mi/day but I only met about 15 groups or individuals. I even met the Adventure Cycling group in Eastern Colorado :-). Then again, out of the 15 I guess that 50% dont like to talk a lot and are somewhat loners. They like to stay alone in their tent and prepare their meals in solitude. But maybe they are just exhausted and need to relax - I dont really know. When I reach a private campground I always ask the owner if there are other cyclists and if I can have my tent spot next to them :-). I definitely did not feel that the transam route was some sort of cross country bicycle highway - it was rather a lonely experience :-).

Lucas

Offline staehpj1

Re: TransAmerica bike tour- travel East or West?
« Reply #11 on: July 26, 2015, 09:15:24 am »
2. I found the Ozarks worse than the Appalchians. In the Appalachians I would have maybe 3 large hills/mountains a day but in the Ozarks I would have 20-30 extremely steep but short hills. Mentally it was unforgiving.
I wonder if direction of travel made a big difference on that.  I was going the opposite way, but while I found climbing out of river valley after river valley challenging I found the Appalachians much harder.

Then again one of my companions thought the Ozarks were harder.  She hated short frequent climbs though and settled into the long ones comfortably.  Basically she did the worst on rolling hills and did great on long steady climbs.  It probably made matters worse for her that the other two of us in the group loved rolling hills.

3. Before departure I thought that I would meet a lot of fellow cross country cyclists. It was a disappointing experience for me. I admit that I bike 125 mi/day but I only met about 15 groups or individuals. I even met the Adventure Cycling group in Eastern Colorado :-). Then again, out of the 15 I guess that 50% dont like to talk a lot and are somewhat loners. They like to stay alone in their tent and prepare their meals in solitude. But maybe they are just exhausted and need to relax - I dont really know. When I reach a private campground I always ask the owner if there are other cyclists and if I can have my tent spot next to them :-).

We met a number of folks and crossed paths paths with them again and again.  There were not large numbers of them, but we became pretty good friends with some of them.  I guess with the mileage you were doing you typically never saw the same people twice.  We didn't stay in private campgrounds much, preferring to stay in small town picnic areas, with hosts, at churches, or in national/state forests/parks.  We got a fair number of invites to stay in people's homes.  All that may have been a factor as well.

Of course there were three of us so we never had the opportunity to be lonely.  If anything we probably wished for more solitude at times.

Still even when I rode alone on routes where there were no there cyclists I always managed to meet local folks who wanted to talk and to hear about my trip.  So I never recall being very lonely on any of my tours.  I tend to eat lunch or breakfast in diners fairly often and sit at the communal table or counter when I can.  I find that I only need to be fairly open to meeting people and it will happen without making a big effort.

I definitely did not feel that the transam route was some sort of cross country bicycle highway - it was rather a lonely experience :-).
Yeah, it always baffles me when folks talk about how they don't want to ride a route like the TA because it is like some crowded bike highway.

Offline BikeFreak

Re: TransAmerica bike tour- travel East or West?
« Reply #12 on: July 26, 2015, 10:23:23 am »
I need to correct myself: I find it VERY easy to talk to locals ... a bit too easy. I have also experienced invitations etc. My previous comment about loneliness was targeted towards other cyclists.

I found it amazing, while traveling the ACA trans am route that I met quite a few cyclists ... out of the 15 above ... that were traveling somewhere but had no ACA maps and had never heard about the adventure cycling association :-)

Lucas

Offline Dreux

Re: TransAmerica bike tour- travel East or West?
« Reply #13 on: August 04, 2015, 11:58:10 am »
I just completed the w to e route. Met tons of cyclist in both directions. As for direction, it really doesn't matter. Like someone mentioned earlier, I liked the idea of pedaling toward home. Living on the east coast. Being familiar with the eastern part of the ride, the northwest was very exciting for me. I think the buildup to the northwest would have been nice heading west. If you are undecided, flip a coin.

Dreux