Author Topic: Tranamerica Trail starting late April  (Read 2102 times)

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Offline bensc321

Tranamerica Trail starting late April
« on: February 22, 2021, 11:51:35 am »
Hello,

I've really enjoyed reading the posts in this forum. My wife and I are hoping to bike the Transamerica Trail E-W beginning in Yorktown on April 19. From what I've read on past posts, this will be on the colder side, but doable, with possibly a few alternate routes needed. Oftentimes, posters discuss the winter of the specific year for estimating spring closures and temperatures.

I'm wondering if people here have advice about estimating the weather for a 2021 Spring start date. Are there specific websites or locations that we should check? What's the scuttlebutt on an earlier departure this spring? For an older post on this topic, it seemed like people estimated a low of 30s and temps getting as high as 100 for our time frame. Does that seem right?

Thanks a million,
Ben

Offline John Nettles

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Re: Tranamerica Trail starting late April
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2021, 12:07:23 pm »
Welcome to the ACA Forums! 

The answer if it is too early depends a lot on how quick you ride.  If you ride 35 miles overall average a day, you should be fine.  If you ride 75 miles, you will probably be stopped by snow or have to do major detours. 

I personally would not want to hit the mountain passes before June 15th.  The will probably be open (with walls of snow on each side and little to no shoulder) but everyone is different.  The bigger issue is will campgrounds be open in the mountains  or will they still be snowed in requiring extensive use of hotels.

Another issue is you will probably be in prime time in Kansas and Missouri for severe weather (multi-inch hail and tornadic activity).  Just pay close attention to what the locals say and skies.  The weather service will scare the heck out of you even though the closest tornado is 30 miles a way and heading away.  Keep an eye on your phone's weather radar.  If severe weather is forecast for the evening, consider a hotel.  Severe in this part of the country is much more intense than other parts it seems.

I assume there is a time crunch so that is why you are starting early.

Tailwinds, John

Offline hikerjer

Re: Tranamerica Trail starting late April
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2021, 12:58:12 pm »
I woulndn't want to hit the  Rocky Mountain passes before early July.  Everything John said is spot on. Get caught in a midwest thunder/hail storm, much less a toranado, just once,  and you'll really appreciate what he says.
« Last Edit: February 22, 2021, 01:41:09 pm by hikerjer »

Offline jamawani

Re: Tranamerica Trail starting late April
« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2021, 01:34:44 pm »
Hi Ben -

I'm guessing you may be from South Carolina - which is a bit warmer than Wyoming.
If you leave on April 19 and take a full 3 months for the trip, you'll hit Wyo by about June 19.
The last half of June is the best time for wildflowers, but you can still get snow.
I have skied on fresh snow in June, probably every other year.
Granted, it's in the mountains and you can always wait it out a few days.
But it may be an unpleasant surprise covering your tent one morning, too.
Not to mention that Colorado will be even earlier and at higher elevation.

Closer to the east cost, there's western Virginia and blackberry winter.
Law chile, surely you've heard about blackberry winter in the South.

Marlene VerPlanck singing a lovely rendition -
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-lQ_F2s7XU

What happened in 2009 doesn't predict what will happen this year.
However, what has happened for 100 years is a pretty good clue.
So historical climate averages do have value - but they are just that - averages.
Western Virginia may have lovely, warm weather during the first week of May.
In Wytheville, NOAA averages for early May are highs of 70F and lows of 39F.
Averages. You could have highs in the 80s or lows below freezing.
The average last spring forst for Wytheville is May 13.

So, I guess what I'm getting at is that April 19 seems pretty darn early.
Are you mostly camping? Mostly staying in motels?
How fast do you anticipate doing the entire route?
I wouldn't want to get to Pueblo, Colorado before June 15.
Would want to hit western Virginia after May 15.
BTW - May is the rainiest month in the southern Appalachians.
It really sux to ride in 50F drizzle all day.

Most folks in Philly or St. Louis or Dallas have no idea about western weather.
Not only can it snow well into June, but it takes a long time for winter snow to melt out.
That's why a lot of facilities in Yellowstone don't open until mid-to-late June.
30 years ago I lived in Jackson, Wyo - and it snowed on July 4th.
I still have this vivid picture of 200 people in shorts and t-shirts shivering in McDonalds.

One more thing - -
The peak date for storms in the Great Plains is May 31/June 1.
And they can be doozies if you ask Dorothy.
The brutal heat in the Plains doesn't usually hit until late June or early July.

I think a May 1 date would be far better.
It's the earliest I would choose to go.
And I've biked X-USA 7 times.

Pic - Sonora Pass, California, Memorial Day, Average snowfall year
The pass had just opened a few days before
« Last Edit: February 22, 2021, 01:45:14 pm by jamawani »

Offline bensc321

Re: Tranamerica Trail starting late April
« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2021, 01:48:11 pm »
@jamawani

This is really helpful information! I've lived in VA my whole life, so I'm getting the sense that I'm really out of my depth for weather further West. I think our goal was to finish in about 2 months, but that'd put us in Pueblo far before 6/15. Our goal was also to camp primarily. I'm getting the sense from this thread that we should see if we can reschedule to warmer summer months.

Thanks!

Offline John Nelson

Re: Tranamerica Trail starting late April
« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2021, 01:50:10 pm »
If April 19 is the date that works best for you, then go for it! Yes, you may get cold occasionally, but it probably won’t kill you, at least as long as you don’t do anything stupid. If May 10 would work as well, then you would probably not get as cold that way. As previously stated, what happens when you get farther west will depend on your mileage.

Don’t get to Yellowstone before it opens.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Tranamerica Trail starting late April
« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2021, 02:14:51 pm »
I think our goal was to finish in about 2 months, but that'd put us in Pueblo far before 6/15. Our goal was also to camp primarily. I'm getting the sense from this thread that we should see if we can reschedule to warmer summer months.

First, two months would be a daily average of 75 miles.  That may be possible if you're lightly loaded, in good shape, and perhaps on the young side.  For many of us, riding that far every day for weeks on end would be a stretch.  What's your training/conditioning plan?

Second, the first two weeks of May seems to be the traditional start time for westbound cyclists from Yorktown, in large part because it works out so well -- on average.  Starting a couple weeks earlier than that might work well for you, especially on a somewhat more relaxed schedule.  (It would have meant missing 5 days in a row of 100F afternoons in Kansas if I'd taken that option!)  Of course, it might also mean frost in the Appalachians.

Lastly, SW Virginia tends to be cooler than many other parts of the state.  For example, I left college (less than 10 miles from the TransAmerica route) in late March my senior year wearing my winter boots, because I'd needed them for months to navigate frozen sidewalks.  Imagine my surprise in the piedmont, when I walked into an interview in boots -- it was warm and sunny over there!  Now, if your imagination can stretch that far, extrapolate from 5,000' maximum altitude in Virginia to 10,000 feet in Colorado, and nearly that high in Wyoming.

Offline hikerjer

Re: Tranamerica Trail starting late April
« Reply #7 on: February 22, 2021, 02:17:40 pm »
"if your imagination can stretch that far, extrapolate from 5,000' maximum altitude in Virginia to 10,000 feet in Colorado, and nearly that high in Wyoming."  -- and then there is the wind.

Offline jamawani

Re: Tranamerica Trail starting late April
« Reply #8 on: February 22, 2021, 02:27:33 pm »
Howdy again, Ben -

Vah-gin-yah?
Well, I used to live in Nawf Care-linah - went to Chapel Hill.
(But that probably doesn't help much in your neck of the woods.)
Moved to Wyoming 30 years ago and never regretted it.

The TA is 4200 miles - 60 days would mean 70 miles per day with no leeway.
I have alwasy though 12 weeks too much, 10 weeks about right.
(Unless y'all are riding a tandem which is faster on the flats.)

There may be Kansas days where you will come close to or nick 100.
But you may want to hike a few days in the Tetons - -
Or take an extra day to soak in Jerry Johnson Hot Springs.
Not to mention bad weather, bad headwinds, or a bad tummy.
It's not a bad idea to do half days in Kansas before the afternoon storms brew.

Depending on what you  think your speed might be -
I might use Pueblo, Colorado as the fulcrum point.
It's just before you hit the Rockies going west.
June 15th would be a good early target date.
Then work back from there.

It's about 2200 miles from Yorktown to Pueblo.
I have found 400 miles per week to be a crisp clip.
Not as fast as speedsters, but faster than most.
So, six weeks before hand would but you in early May.
Not to mention that I prefer starting on a weekday - maybe May 3?
(Double check whether Virginia state parks are open that early / Covid.)

You still might have some crisp weather in the Appalachians.
You shouldn't have brutal heat in the Plains - but storms, yes.
And the Rockies will be chilly, but covered in flowers.
Not to mention that you will hit Oregon before the fire season picks up.

Happy trails! - - Jama

Pic - Wyoming wildflowers - late June