Author Topic: Icelandic couple bikepacking across America in 2017  (Read 3297 times)

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Offline SaemiVald

Icelandic couple bikepacking across America in 2017
« on: May 17, 2016, 06:11:21 pm »
Hi all,
My wife and I are planning a TransAmerica tour in 2017. I recently found this forum and have found the information extremely useful. I would like to ask a few questions but before here is a bit of background and overview of our plans.

Age: 41
Cycling experience: Biked since we were kids but fell in love with the sport early 2015 when we bought ourselves new bikes. Cycled 1800 miles (3000 km) in 2015 and in the first 4 months of 2016 we have biked 1400 miles (3000 km) and. During weekends we try to go for rides of 50 miles (80 km) or more. Our longest ride this year was 100 miles (165 km). Average speeds on our longer rides are 13-16 mph. We have limited experience biking with camping equipment even though we are experienced in camping (without bikes). Limited experience cycling in warm climate.
Bikes: Cube Agree full-carbon road bikes with 25mm tires with 50-34 chainrings and 11-32 cassettes.
Touring arrangement / equipment: Planning on traveling using a mix of a self-contained ultralight setup and credit card touring setup. Instead of panniers or a trailer we will use Revelate Designs Viscacha Seat Bag (14 L capacity), framebags, cockpit bags and handlebar bags. We will be carrying a tent and sleeping bags in addition to all the necessary clothes but limited cooking equipment.
Dates: Depends on which way we go, E-W or W-E. Our most practical time of the year would be in the spring rather than fall but we will make anything work.
Other info: Already ordered the ACA TransAm maps.

Following are some questions which I would love some input on (sorry if these have already been answered in the forum):
  • Is it true that the prevailing surface winds are west-to-east?
  • How steep are the steepest hills?
  • If we follow the ACA TransAmerica Trail, what will be the greatest distance between “pit stops” for food and water?
  • If we follow the ACA TransAmerica Trail, what will be the greatest distance between hotels, hostels, etc?
  • Is it possible to do the tour without a tent and only rely on buying lodging?
  • What kind of temperature can we expect in the mountain passes during the night?
  • Are there any animals to be wary of?
  • What is the earliest time in the year to go eastbound, westbound?
  • What are some of the pros and cons to going east-to-west and west-to-east (see my thoughts below)?

East-to-west
  • Save the best for last - Path of the development of the country
  • Possible to start the tour earlier in the year (closer to summer solstice)
  • Morning sun in the back instead of in your eyes
  • Getting stronger as you go to prepare for the Rockies

West-to-east
  • Favorable prevailing winds?

Thanks!
« Last Edit: May 17, 2016, 08:26:42 pm by SaemiVald »

Online jamawani

Re: Icelandic couple bikepacking across America in 2017
« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2016, 08:06:34 pm »
You left out an important element - - when do you plan on doing this?

The E-W or W-E argument has been going on since the Middle Ages.
In general, it doesn't matter - what matters is when.

Generally speaking, a May or early June departure will work better from the east - better weather earlier in the East.
Not only can the West have snow into June - but the accumulated snow from the winter has to melt.

You want to avoid the horrible heat and humidity of Kentucky and Virginia in July and August, if possible.
By September the East is more tolerable, so if you are starting later - such as July or August, then leave from the West.

It is very hard to avoid the killer heat in Kansas since it is in the middle of the country in the middle of summer.
I doubt that you have had any experience with this kind of heat unless you have been in Australia or Africa.
Ride early - at sunrise, drink plenty of fluids, quit at noon.  Or ride further north.

I see that you have already ordered the TransAm maps - and you will encounter the most other riders on that route.
I've ridden cross-USA a half dozen times plus lots of other long tours - not convinced the TransAm is the best -
But it is the grand daddy.

For example:
The TransAm has you riding through a zillion miles of flat agribusiness farms in west Kansas / eastern Colorado.
https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/page/pic/?o=tS&pic_id=690969&size=large&v=4
The Sandhills of Nebraska have never been plowed and retain much of their immense, natural expanse - like an ocean.

Pic - Loup River in central Nebraska

Offline SaemiVald

Re: Icelandic couple bikepacking across America in 2017
« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2016, 08:30:36 pm »
Hi jamawani
Thanks for your reply. Regarding the time of year I have added the following to my initial post for other's reference: 'Depends on which way we go, E-W or W-E. Our most practical time of the year would be in the spring rather than fall but we will make anything work.'

You mention that the TransAm trail isn't the best option. Which route would you recommend instead?

Online jamawani

Re: Icelandic couple bikepacking across America in 2017
« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2016, 08:52:36 pm »
BTW - Have you looked at the website - Crazyguyonabike?
It is THE BEST resource for bicycle touring - with lots of journals from people who have done it.
Plus a forum for questions.

https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/

One of mine:
https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?o=tS&doc_id=1168&v=sM

<<<>>>

When you say spring or fall, I am not sure.
Some people do off-season rides - but the summer months work best for temperatures as well as length of daylight.
400 miles per week is 66 miles per day. (Don't you just hate miles? - 110 km) With one day off or two half days.
You need to plan in time off - for fun, hiking, bad weather, repairs, problems with the pipes, etc.
That said - it will take no more than 11 weeks to do the TransAm for most people.

And early May start from the east will get you to the Pacific by mid July - which is probably as early as you want to do it.
And early June start from the east will get you to the Pacific by mid August - which is probably the best timing E-W.
An early June start from the west can have some tricky weather in the Rockies - nothing too bad, just chilly and wet.
A late June / early July start from the west is probably the best time for the Rockies, but it will be hot in the Plains.

There are some excellent temperature and precipitation maps at the Oregon State Prism website.
http://www.prism.oregonstate.edu/normals/

What is it that you really want to see in America? Towns and cities, landscapes, national parks, kitsch?
Do you want to camp most of the time or will you be doing more lodging? Do you like wild camping rather than developed?
Are you willing to do some dirt roads? 25 mm tires are pretty narrow - plus you are only doing double chain rings, right?
I tour on a low-geared, loaded down mountain bike - so our styles may be quite different. But I can go anywhere.

The TransAm is a well-cycled route - but that has its drawbacks as well as advantages.
People along the route have seen so many cyclists that it is nothing new. But they are also pretty welcoming.
You can see a fresher America off the beaten track - more tolerant further north, less so in the Deep South.

There are places in Ohio where you can see the brick pavement of the Lincoln Highway - the first transcontinental road.
There are places in Wyoming where you can see the wagon ruts of the Oregon Trail - where came long before the Lincoln Highway.

It all depends what you want.
You did say 2017, right? So you have lots of time and flexibility.

Best - J