Author Topic: Transamerica - East-to-West: How late in the season to go?  (Read 5923 times)

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Offline wa61105

Transamerica - East-to-West: How late in the season to go?
« on: February 13, 2016, 01:19:35 pm »
Looking at doing the TA coat-to-coast starting in N. Carolina and Ending up in Seattle, Wa.  Plan to merge onto the Trans-America route for most of the ride, and average 70-80 miles/day (total 4400 miles).
How late in  the season can I leave, or better yet, by when should I plan to be in Missoula to ride the rest to the Pacific coast?  I prefer not to be riding in winter type weather (snow/sleet), although I know you can never rule out snow in the Rockies in September.. 
Thanks for any advise on the topic!

Offline John Nelson

Re: Transamerica - East-to-West: How late in the season to go?
« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2016, 01:34:05 pm »
The later you go, the greater the risk. There's no cutoff. Risk can be mitigated with time, money and gear. Time allows you to wait out bad weather. Money allows you to hole up in motels. Extra gear gives you a wider range of riding conditions. Various web sites can give you weather averages and extremes, so you can quantify risks and make tradeoffs.

Sorry for the vague answer, but this isn't a cut and dry issue. Only you can judge how advantageous the later start is for you vs. the increased risks vs. when the trip becomes more misery than fun.

Good luck!
« Last Edit: February 13, 2016, 01:36:01 pm by John Nelson »

Offline wa61105

Re: Transamerica - East-to-West: How late in the season to go?
« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2016, 03:21:53 pm »
Thanks.  I guess I'll be looking up some historical weather for places along the way.. I tried to do some searches of travel blogs on "Crazyguyonabike" but couldn't find much on the topic or experiences.  Most seem to do this in the middle of summer.  I was hoping to avoid some of the holiday travelers (in the four wheel and plus category)..  Besides, that time frame doesn't work for me logistically.

Offline jamawani

Re: Transamerica - East-to-West: How late in the season to go?
« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2016, 03:33:53 pm »
My first X-USA trip was from Astoria to the Outer Banks back in 1987.
Started on Sept 1 and finished on Nov 10.
But I was going in the other direction.
And I did a far more direct route than 4400 miles.

An autumn trip is quite nice northwest to southeast - a booger the other way around.
By late October, the days are getting pretty short and temps are iffy - even in the east.

Can you do it the other way?
Leaving from the San Juan Islands in early August - you can take the WA State Ferries.
Have beautiful late summer / early fall in the West
Then take the NC State Ferry out to the Outer Banks to finish.

Offline wa61105

Re: Transamerica - East-to-West: How late in the season to go?
« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2016, 03:48:27 pm »
That is an option, although I have "Go West young man!..." on my brain.  Seeing that I am no longer young, and don't look forward to freezing in a sleeping bag, I should reconsider or wait another year to do it in the summer..  Thanks for the advise and different perspective!

Offline jamawani

Re: Transamerica - East-to-West: How late in the season to go?
« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2016, 04:15:52 pm »
Do it now - - as Patrick Stewart said in Star Trek TNG - -

https://youtu.be/VvOYMgk2_HE



The Tetons in September

Offline wa61105

Re: Transamerica - East-to-West: How late in the season to go?
« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2016, 05:23:26 pm »
Beautiful!!  Thanks for sharing..

Offline Norsman

Re: Transamerica - East-to-West: How late in the season to go?
« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2016, 04:53:51 am »
You probably do not want to be going through Missoula any later than mid to late September. That is likely to allow you to get through the last of the western mountains without excessive danger of snow. The main problem with that timeline is the time of year you would be traveling through the parts to the EAST of Missoula. It would mean riding through Missouri, Kansas and eastern Colorado in the middle of summer. Not my idea of fun.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2016, 02:06:48 pm by Norsman »

Offline staehpj1

Re: Transamerica - East-to-West: How late in the season to go?
« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2016, 09:08:39 am »
Personally the later you go the more I'd lean toward going W-E.

Offline wa61105

Re: Transamerica - East-to-West: How late in the season to go?
« Reply #9 on: February 14, 2016, 09:43:43 am »
Yes, the more I think about it, starting in Seattle and going East makes more sense. I love the Fall and the colors/light should be great to take good pictures, like jamawani's above... Thanks again for all your insight!!

Offline johnlemk

Re: Transamerica - East-to-West: How late in the season to go?
« Reply #10 on: February 14, 2016, 10:37:49 pm »
My wife and I rode "The Big Ride" from Seattle to Washington DC in 2011, a benefit ride for the American Lung Association. We left Seattle June 18, and the organizers told us we would be in danger of snow until we got past Helena, Montana. No snow happened, but the coldest was the day we left Sand Point, ID at 36 degrees.

indyfabz

  • Guest
Re: Transamerica - East-to-West: How late in the season to go?
« Reply #11 on: February 15, 2016, 11:35:04 am »
If you are going to E-W starting in Seattle, one option is to ride the PC route north to the Mt. Vernon area, then do the Northern Tier to Whitefish/Columbia Falls, MT then the Great Parks North to Missoula to pick up the TransAm. If you have the time, from Whitefish you could head to Glacier National Park and ride up and down the west side of Going to the Sun and then head back to Whitefish. That would add about 3 days. I did this all way back when during a tour from Seattle to Cortez, CO. Having done the Northern Tier from Bay View to Glacier twice and much of the TransAm in OR as part of Cycle Oregon, I much prefer the latter. Central and eastern OR can be crispy critter hot during the summer with little shade. It was that way when I crossed the state during my first Cycle Oregon. It was close to 100 during the day off in Sisters, OR and in the 90s the day we rode into Sisters from the east. That was during the second week of September, mind you. Immediately east of the Cascades on the Northern Tier (Winthrop, Twisp, Omack and Okanogan) can also be hot, but then you get back into the mountains, and generally I think it's cooler. Experienced a few snow flurries crossing Sherman Pass from Republic, WA to Colville, WA, during the first week of June.

Offline jamawani

Re: Transamerica - East-to-West: How late in the season to go?
« Reply #12 on: February 15, 2016, 12:38:18 pm »
Indy is right about the Northern Tier - but -
It can be a bear of a start for a relatively inexperienced tourer.
By the third day you are doing big climbs - up to Rainy Pass -
And, to add insult to injury, a steep drop and then up Washington Pass.
Plus there are four more passes before you reach Idaho.
It's a beautiful route, but lotza climbing right out of the gate.

I done all the legal crossings of the Cascades in Washington -
(Plus one that was - maybe - illegal. Hiked/Portaged my bike, didn't ride.)
I have a posting over at Crazyguy on the Washington passes.

https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?o=tS&doc_id=13664&v=1M

Chinook Pass on Hwy 410 is, by far, the most beautiful and has the least traffic.
From the summit at Tipsoo Lake you have wildflowers and a stunning view of Mt. Rainier.
The pass doesn't open until Memorial Day and is snowed in until July 4th.
(I did did June with snowbanks and fog.) But in early August it is heavenly.


NPS Photo

There are two ways to hit Chinook Pass from the west -
1) Using Hwy 410 thru Enumclaw or 2) US 12 / Hwy 123 thru Morton
East of the pass are the magnificent American and Naches valleys with riverside camping.

As for the other passes:
Stevens Pass / US 2 - Moderately heavy traffic with little to no shoulders at times; worst choice.
Snoqualmie Pass - Can use I-90 (Why?) or unpaved John Wayne Trail and old service roads; tricky but doable.
White Pass / US 12 - Moderately low traffic, good shoulders, nice east side - but why not Chinook if you are this close?
Columbia Gorge / Hwy 14 - Moderately busy, shoulders variable, some remote stretches.

<<<>>>

Not sure if you want to start on the actual Pacific Ocean or just on salt water. (Different strokes)
As I said earlier, the San Juan Islands are really sweet as a starting point.
You can take a pricey catamaran ferry from Seattle and back.
Or you can take an airport shuttle straight to the Wash. State Ferry docks in Anacortes.

Or you can take a shuttle out to Aberdeen and start at the Westport Lighthouse.
There are a number of routes from the coast to Chinook or White Pass.
ACA has a good portion as part of their "Washington Parks" loop -
https://www.adventurecycling.org/routes-and-maps/adventure-cycling-route-network/washington-parks/
But a route with less traffic and climbing is via Raymond, Chehalis, and Morton.

If interested - send me a private message and I'll offer you any specifics I know.

Best - J

PS - The Prism climate site at Oregon State Uni. has excellent temp/precip maps of the U.S. by month.

http://www.prism.oregonstate.edu/normals/

Offline wa61105

Re: Transamerica - East-to-West: How late in the season to go?
« Reply #13 on: February 16, 2016, 01:47:36 pm »
Thanks for those additional tips.  Sounds like staying in Washington and heading east across the Cascades is the way to go if I plan to leave around August.  No, I don't especially need to start right on the Pacific, since my end point is right on the "Innerbanks" of North Carolina (town of Oriental) where our home is.  It might not be a "pure" TransAmerica route, but for me close enough...

I will probably reach out to you again once I get closer to the event.  My wife and I are planning to do a 7-week bike tour in Europe starting in May, I should hopefully still be in reasonable biking shape later that summer to tackle those passes..

Offline wa61105

Re: Transamerica - East-to-West: How late in the season to go?
« Reply #14 on: February 19, 2016, 09:28:22 am »
Thanks for sharing those websites.  I hear a lot of good things about Slovenia and we would like to do that in the future. 

Yes, we are really looking forward to our Europe trip this spring.  We did one in 2014 which we really enjoyed (http://linda-walt-europe2014.blogspot.com/2014). Pretty flat compared to Slovenia.  This year we will tackle more hills through Germany, Switzerland, and the eastern part of France. This will be another self-routed, guided, and supported trip.  Using OpenCycle Maps to pick our routes is a lot fun and adds an element of adventure.  The food and drink along the way will spoil you for good!
« Last Edit: February 19, 2016, 09:31:15 am by wa61105 »