Author Topic: TransAm trail - how fit  (Read 6022 times)

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Offline johnhenry

TransAm trail - how fit
« on: April 30, 2016, 10:55:27 am »
Hello fellow and aspiring adventure cyclists!

Planning to complete the TransAm cycle trail this summer from July-Sept.
Based in UK and have had issues with injury in lead up so far.

Trying to gauge the 'level of fitness' required i.e. is it realistic to complete.

25 year old male with a reasonable cycling fitness. (But again what is 'reasonable'?)

Understand it's very general.
Just looking to get some ideas as there's nothing really only regarding the nature and extent of training cyclists complete prior to the TransAm (or have not yet found any).

Any feedback is helpful.

Cheers, john

Offline RussSeaton

Re: TransAm trail - how fit
« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2016, 12:29:17 pm »
I have never ridden the TransAm route.  But I have ridden all over Europe.  Did that when I was about 22-23.  And a few times since.  I had about 10 miles of training when I started.  I had ridden the prior 10 years off and on so knew how to ride a bike.  But I just got on the bike and started riding from Rome.  Took about a month to get to the Dolomites mountains in northern Italy.  If you started on the east coast, it might take a month before you got to real mountains.  Just hills before then.  Anyway, tours are not climbing straight up Alpe d'Huez all day long.  There are lots of regular miles too.  A majority of the miles are just regular riding.  Then some hard miles and some easy miles.  And you can just ride 50 miles a day for the first month then maybe ride 80 miles a day at the end so it averages out to about 65 miles a day in total.  That is a good average.  You don't need to be in very good shape to start a cross country bike ride.  As long as you are not extremely out of shape, you will be fine.  One month of continuous riding will get you in peak physical shape.  Bicycling is not really an extremely demanding activity.  If your town has a bike path, go watch the people riding on it.  You will see 5 year olds and 85 year olds riding bicycles.

Offline John Nelson

Re: TransAm trail - how fit
« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2016, 02:45:31 pm »
The only difference being in shape makes is how long it takes you.

Offline johnhenry

Re: TransAm trail - how fit
« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2016, 04:00:44 pm »
Has to take < 90 days otherwise i'm swimming!

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: TransAm trail - how fit
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2016, 04:10:16 pm »
I'm not sure how RussSeaton defines "real mountains," but he's asking for lots of cussing with his prediction of one month before hitting such a thing starting from the east coast.  If you think of sustained grades of three miles or more averaging more than 6%, you'll hit Afton Mountain within two weeks, probably one week.  Things flatten out around Berea, KY, until you hit Missouri.  Low gears (20 gear inches) are your friend.

Back to the question.  If the OP considers himself to have "reasonable cycling fitness," saddle time will be the hardest hurdle.  Lots of people go on their first tour figuring on averaging 15-20 mph, and most people come off that first tour having averaged 10 mph.  50 miles per day average will get you across the country within three months, but that takes 5 hours of riding a day.  So start now, get out and go for long rides as often as you can.

I'd also suggest reversing the direction of the ride because of the weather and the season.  The first half of the trip headed west, expect temperatures in July and August to exceed 90 degrees F almost every day, and you'll probably top 100F for a week or two, with enough humidity that you'll be soaked in sweat.  If you start out west, you'll hit higher altitudes, and cooler and drier weather, a lot faster.  If you decide to stay with the westbound direction, try to ride at dawn for cooler (and less windy) weather.

Offline johnhenry

Re: TransAm trail - how fit
« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2016, 04:18:08 pm »
For reference - it's West to East.

Offline RussSeaton

Re: TransAm trail - how fit
« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2016, 06:20:43 pm »
I'm not sure how RussSeaton defines "real mountains,"

I don't consider a climb a mountain unless its 6-7-8 miles of climbing up.  Constant or varied grade.  Switchbacks too.  1-2-3 miles and its still a hill.  Maybe a loooong hill, but not a mountain.  The 4-5 mile length I guess you could put in either category depending on how vigorous you were that day.  I also think of mountains as having a pass at the top.  Usually a named pass.  Hills usually don't have pass names and elevation signs at the summit.

Long ago I rode from Canon City, Colorado up to the Royal Gorge bridge.  Its several miles of climbing to get up to the pass on Hwy 50.  And by the Royal Gorge bridge.  I did not consider that a mountain pass.  Even though it was several miles of climbing.  And several miles of descending on the other side.  Not sure if that climb is officially part of the Rocky Mountains or not.  But I did not consider it a mountain pass.  Just a climb.  If you get to the top in less than a half hour, its not a mountain.

Offline RussSeaton

Re: TransAm trail - how fit
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2016, 06:26:41 pm »
The only difference being in shape makes is how long it takes you.

Yes, but not much difference in time.  An in shape rider will put in big miles the first month.  An out of shape rider will put in small miles the first month.  Maybe 30 miles per day difference for the first couple weeks.  After a month both riders are in equal tip top fit shape and can ride the same mileage.  So in the first month the fit rider gains an extra 5-600 miles on the out of shape rider.  It takes an extra week for the out of shape rider to finish.  An extra week over an entire summer.  Not much difference.  13 weeks instead of 12 weeks.

Offline mbattisti

Re: TransAm trail - how fit
« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2016, 07:09:30 pm »
I agree with pat, saddle time is the key. And finding the right one.

Offline staehpj1

Re: TransAm trail - how fit
« Reply #9 on: May 01, 2016, 07:25:22 am »
If you are in good general health, 10 days to 2 weeks in you will be doing fine and will have begun to hit yours stride.  Just take it a little easy in the beginning.  My approach is to never ride enough so you need rest days.

Offline johnhenry

Re: TransAm trail - how fit
« Reply #10 on: May 01, 2016, 07:48:24 am »
Thank you for the heartening responses!
Feeling better.

If you have more to add please do.

Offline John Nelson

Re: TransAm trail - how fit
« Reply #11 on: May 01, 2016, 02:16:35 pm »
A fit cyclist can comfortably do it in 10 weeks. A reasonably-fit cyclist should have no trouble doing it in 13. You'll be fine.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: TransAm trail - how fit
« Reply #12 on: May 01, 2016, 02:42:20 pm »
I'm not sure how RussSeaton defines "real mountains,"

I don't consider a climb a mountain unless its 6-7-8 miles of climbing up.  Constant or varied grade.  Switchbacks too.  1-2-3 miles and its still a hill.  Maybe a loooong hill, but not a mountain.  The 4-5 mile length I guess you could put in either category depending on how vigorous you were that day.  I also think of mountains as having a pass at the top.  Usually a named pass.  Hills usually don't have pass names and elevation signs at the summit.

All of this is OBE since OP is riding west to east, but...

This incredibly restrictive definition of a "mountain" should probably be adapted for local variances.  In the southern Appalachians, we call them "gaps" instead of "passes."  Further north, the same thing may be a "notch."

Even so, the climb from the Clinch River up to Hayters Gap in Clinch Mountain, two weeks from the east coast, fits Russ' restrictive definition.  Except maybe for the sign; I don't remember one.  But then again, there wasn't a sign when I rode across Togwotee Pass (second highest pass on the TransAm).  Do people riding east get to count it as a mountain after 15 miles of climbing if there's no sign?

Personally, I thought the mountains in western Virginia, eastern Kentucky, and central Missouri (Ozarks) were the toughest on the TransAm.  By comparison, the passes in Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana were easy grades.  Yes, they were long, but the grades were much easier.  Fortunately, the OP will be ready for the tough stuff by the time he gets there coming east.

Correction: west bound (going north) you cross the North Fork of the Holston before climbing Clinch Mtn.  The Clinch River is north of Clinch Mtn.  Still a good climb, but not as steep eastbound.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2016, 10:29:35 am by Pat Lamb »

Offline staehpj1

Re: TransAm trail - how fit
« Reply #13 on: May 01, 2016, 03:10:55 pm »
Personally, I thought the mountains in western Virginia, eastern Kentucky, and central Missouri (Ozarks) were the toughest on the TransAm.  By comparison, the passes in Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana were easy grades.  Yes, they were long, but the grades were much easier. 
That was my observation as well.

indyfabz

  • Guest
Re: TransAm trail - how fit
« Reply #14 on: May 02, 2016, 07:35:55 am »
When I did the Northern Tier we went off route a bit for camping and ended up doing Brandon Gap in Vermont instead of Middleburry Gap. It was the one climb of the entire trip I thought I might have to walk.