Author Topic: TransAm done - What next?  (Read 259 times)

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Offline SaemiVald

TransAm done - What next?
« on: February 23, 2021, 05:10:45 am »
Hi all,

My wife and I rode the TransAmerica Trail west-east in 2018 and we are itching to embark on another great adventure. We have been discussing riding the Northern Tier but compared to the TransAm there doesn't seem to be much info on that route in this forum, on YouTube, etc. Is that a less common route or less interesting?
We have discussed the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMTBR) but that is a bit too remote for us as we love encounters with people in small-town America and being able to eat at diners and sleep in proper beds from time to time.

What route would seasoned bikepackers/tourers recommend for us? Northern Tier, Southern Tier, Atlantic Coast, Pacific Coast, something else completely? :)

We documented our journey here: https://icicle-bicycle.com/ and created a video on YouTube: https://youtu.be/AZkfKQ9u7hk

Offline staehpj1

Re: TransAm done - What next?
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2021, 07:05:49 am »
So much is personal preference so it is hard to make recommendations.

An acquaintance who rode all of them, most more than once, said his favorite was the Southern Tier.  I liked the food and the people, but found the scenery mostly underwhelming.  Others liked it better.  For me the biggest reason I'd ride it again is because it is available in the winter (I rode it San Diego to Pensacola in mid Feb to mid Mar).  It was fun to meet and hang out with the endless stream of misfits who were almost all transplants who didn't fit in somewhere else.  Also there was food...  Tex-Mex, Cajun, gulf seafood, good old southern cooking, barbeque and so on.  Still, It was a long grind with brown nothingness day after day way too much of the time for me.

I really enjoyed the Pacific Coast, at least the portion I rode (Seattle to San Luis Obispo).  I'll probably do it again multiple time in my life at least in chunks, especially Oregon and Northern California.  The problem is that there is a very awkward detour due to a mud slide near Big Sur that washed out the road.  These can take a long time to repair and the detours can take you away from the coast for 100+ miles of the most select part of the coast.  They seem to occur somewhere on the California coast every several years

The portion if the Sierra Cascades that I rode (San Diego to Reno) was stunningly beautiful, but also exceedingly difficult.  The climbing was insane.

Maybe it is because I lived there my whole life, but riding the Atlantic coast sounds pretty unappealing to me.  There are sections that sound nice, but a lot of it sounds like it would suck IMO.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2021, 07:59:29 am by staehpj1 »

Online HikeBikeCook

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Re: TransAm done - What next?
« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2021, 07:10:15 am »
Saemi -

Your YouTube videos of you and Monika on the TransAM helped convince my wife to join me on this trip in the near future. A great series and I really appreciate all the effort you put in. The Northern Tier I believe also enters Canada at one point so make sure you check any visa requirements if you go that route.
Long Distance Hiker - AT Thru-hike 2007
Long distance cyclist - multi day tours - TDF tour Alpes 2005
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Offline jwrushman

Re: TransAm done - What next?
« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2021, 07:53:54 am »
The Northern Tier route does go into Canada near Cut Bank, but it can be bypassed easily.

Offline BikePacker

Re: TransAm done - What next?
« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2021, 07:56:11 am »
What route would seasoned bikepackers/tourers recommend for us? Northern Tier, Southern Tier, Atlantic Coast, Pacific Coast, something else completely? :)
Notions for consideration / evaluation / fun contemplation .....
1. Skyline Drive + Blue Ridge Parkway .... Front Royal VA to/from Cherokee NC ... ~ 600 miles [Some documentation: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=skinner+blueridge+parkway&i=stripbooks&ref=nb_sb_noss ]
2. American Discovery Trail Coast to Coast ... https://discoverytrail.org/
3. Go 'diagonally' to/from Key West to Anacortes WA (as u r probably aware - western terminus of Northern Tier : ).

Online John Nettles

Re: TransAm done - What next?
« Reply #5 on: February 23, 2021, 09:10:52 am »
You might just look at a map and think about where you want to go.  For instance, southern Utah is great, northern Idaho and NW Montana, the Pacific Coast, Jasper to Yellowstone, New England in the Fall, Prince Edward Island, NW South Dakota, etc. Do you want rail trails like the GAP or the Katy?  Just piece together a route paying attention to the weather averages.

Since you like to meet the locals, to me, the friendliest people are in Indiana and the north central plains states (KS & north). 


Honestly, there really is no wrong tour.

Tailwinds, John

Offline Westinghouse

Re: TransAm done - What next?
« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2021, 02:58:08 pm »
That is not easy to choose. Pacific coast route, Trans am, southern tier in winter, spring, fall.

Offline jamawani

Re: TransAm done - What next?
« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2021, 04:35:05 pm »
Why not create your own route?

Not sure when you are planning to do this - time of year does matter.
You don't want to do the Northern Tier in January - even in April.
Nor do you want to do the Southern Tier in August.

The Northern Tier is super in the West,
but you have a zillion miles (1.6 Zi. km.) of flatlands in the middle.
If you havent biked Going to the Sun Road in Glacier N.P. - it's worth it.
But east of Glacier it gets tedious - even for someone who likes the Great Plains.

US 89 is a low-traffic route connecting Glacier & Yellowstone - with some nice back roads.
Then you could take the Parks, Peaks & Prairies route east.
The TransAm doesn't begin to show you Yellowstone - this routing does.

East of the Black Hills, I prefer northern Nebraska to South Dakota.
The Sandhills are the last region of the Grea Plains that was not plowed up.
The roads have slight curves and small hills - and the grassland survives.
So much better than the straight roads that go on all day.

Further east -
There are nice bike trails from Preston, Minnesota to LaCrosse, Wisconsin -
Then mostly bike trails across Wisconsin to Milwaukee -
Where you can take the ferry across Lake Michigan.



Offline GrnMtns

Re: TransAm done - What next?
« Reply #8 on: February 24, 2021, 06:26:35 am »
Looking at Northern Tier blogs might show you what it's like and what route you'd prefer.   There were some interesting blogs on crazyguyonabike.com but it seems to have disappeared.  Others can still be found with a search.

Offline SaemiVald

Re: TransAm done - What next?
« Reply #9 on: February 24, 2021, 06:49:46 am »
Saemi -

Your YouTube videos of you and Monika on the TransAM helped convince my wife to join me on this trip in the near future. A great series and I really appreciate all the effort you put in. The Northern Tier I believe also enters Canada at one point so make sure you check any visa requirements if you go that route.

Thanks for the comment. I told my wife about your comment regarding our documentation helping to convince your wife and she was so surprised but also very happy :) I believe this kind of adventure will strengthen an otherwise good relationship but on the other hand it might do harm to a shaky one. Hopefully you will be able to go and enjoy the adventure and your time together.
Feel free to send me questions!

Online John Nettles

Re: TransAm done - What next?
« Reply #10 on: February 24, 2021, 09:40:41 am »
  There were some interesting blogs on crazyguyonabike.com but it seems to have disappeared.
The owner of CGOAB has basically chased away lots of long-time participants (and their journals) with his attitude and/or comments and/or threats.  Shame since the site used to be nice.  Not so much anymore.  My guess is it will eventually die away unfortunately.  If you go there, avoid the toxic forums.
« Last Edit: February 24, 2021, 11:03:19 am by John Nettles »

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: TransAm done - What next?
« Reply #11 on: February 24, 2021, 10:30:28 am »
My first ever tour (BITD) was the Northern Tier. Started in Seattle and made out way to the route east of Anacortes, staying in Kitsap S.P. and Fort Worden S.P. before hitting the route proper and staying at Bay View S.P. That provided a couple of extra warmup days before riding the mountains passes in WA, of which there are basically four in a row. (But they are not as high as the major passes on the TA.) You don't have another mountain until Glacier N.P., and it's a beauty. And as mentioned above, if the Canadian border is still closed it's easy to avoid that section by heading from St. Mary, MT to Cut Bank.

Lots of small town America along the way (There are only 4 large towns in the entire state of ND.  :)) and opportunities for indoor lodging. Once you get further east, things get more populated in certain areas. One option would be to go as far east as Minneapolis for transportation back home. 

Offline TCS

Re: TransAm done - What next?
« Reply #12 on: February 24, 2021, 10:45:38 am »
...his favorite was the Southern Tier.  I liked the food and the people, but found the scenery mostly underwhelming...I rode it San Diego to Pensacola in mid Feb to mid Mar...It was a long grind with brown nothingness day after day way too much of the time for me.

To be fair, the Southern Tier crosses the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts - and you rode it in late winter!  At other times, a Southern Tier rider could catch the North American bird migration - and the Monarch butterfly migration! - fall color, the deserts in bloom, Texas exploding in wildflowers, even the azaleas & wisteria of the South.   :)
"My name is Pither.  I am at present on a cycling tour of the North Cornwall area taking in Bude and..."

Offline TCS

Re: TransAm done - What next?
« Reply #13 on: February 24, 2021, 11:00:48 am »
A buddy who has spent his life touring N. America & operated a cycletouring company for a while gave his top recommendation as the Black Hills and Badlands.  Perhaps (west to east) Northern Tier to Lewis & Clark and pick up the new Parks, Peaks & Prairies in Yellowstone?

Quote
If you haven't biked Going to the Sun Road in Glacier N.P. - it's worth it.

Hmm.  Going to Sun vs. Beartooth Highway?  Opinions?   ;)
"My name is Pither.  I am at present on a cycling tour of the North Cornwall area taking in Bude and..."

Offline TCS

Re: TransAm done - What next?
« Reply #14 on: February 24, 2021, 11:07:09 am »
If motor vehicle-free trails/paths appeal, one can ride the majority of the distance from Washington, D.C. to Lincoln, Nebraska on trails.

"My name is Pither.  I am at present on a cycling tour of the North Cornwall area taking in Bude and..."