Author Topic: Transamerica - West to East Start Date  (Read 842 times)

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Offline KatCyclesAmerica2022

Transamerica - West to East Start Date
« on: July 08, 2021, 02:02:52 am »
Hi all—I'm looking at doing the transam next year. It will be my first cross-country touring trip. I don't know if I'm missing it somewhere, but I can't for the life of me find a straight answer to the question: When is the best time to start when heading west to east? I'm budgeting 3 months to complete it, combo of campgrounds/free camping/motels.

Ideally, I'd love to start late June or early July. Is that too late? Could I go any later? Anyone have a range they'd recommend? Thanks!

Kat

Offline staehpj1

Re: Transamerica - West to East Start Date
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2021, 06:08:32 am »
No not too late.

It varies with year, but it is nice to hit it when McKenzie Pass is open to bikes but still closed to cars.  The year we went we started June 11th.  Some years that can be too early for McKenzie, but that year it was perfect, open to bikes, still closed to cars.  This year it opened to cars June 21.  It typically opens to bikes a couple weeks earlier than to cars.

In the spring start checking snow pack conditions and modify plans if necessary and possible.

Santiam Pass is open all year but missing McKenzie would be a shame in my opinion.

Some ODOT info:
https://www.oregon.gov/odot/regions/pages/mckenzie-highway.aspx

McKenzie historic open and close dates:
https://www.oregon.gov/odot/Regions/Documents/Region4/McKenzieHighwayDateChart.pdf
« Last Edit: July 08, 2021, 07:11:23 am by staehpj1 »

Offline jamawani

Re: Transamerica - West to East Start Date
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2021, 06:41:55 am »
The "ideal" start date for west-to-east is about a month or six weeks later than east-to-west. That is primarily because warm weather arrives later in the Cascades and Northern Rockies than in the East. Also, the western end of the TransAm is further north than the eastern end.

That said, a late June / early July start is pretty good. If you are planning on 3 months, that would put you in Yorktown in late Sept. / early Oct. I wouldn't want to go much past early Oct. - not so much for temperatures in Virginia, but because the days get much shorter by then and your riding time is limited.

No matter how you slice the apple, you are likely to run into hot weather in the Great Plains. But with a July 1 start, it will be mid August when you get to Pueblo. And, hopefully, the worst of the heat will be over. Your worst heat may be in eastern Oregon and Hell's Canyon. And you may get a few chilly nights in the Appalachians.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Transamerica - West to East Start Date
« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2021, 07:26:13 am »
No matter how you slice the apple, you are likely to run into hot weather in the Great Plains. But with a July 1 start, it will be mid August when you get to Pueblo. And, hopefully, the worst of the heat will be over. Your worst heat may be in eastern Oregon and Hell's Canyon. And you may get a few chilly nights in the Appalachians.
Yeah, the heat...  Often the bane of my existence on tours.

It might also be chilly on top of some of the passes at night in the west, but I almost always wind up finding the heat the bigger problem on my tours.  I have avoided major new snow on the passes on my tours.  I have often had some frost or even pretty cold nights, but almost always wind up with some really hot weather.  It seems like when ever I go there will be record highs unless I go on a winter tour in the south.  On the TA we really roasted a lot of the way with a June 11 start.  I think it was an exceptionally hot year though since the heat seemed to be the headline in the papers everywhere we went, but expect some hot weather no matter when you start.

Much of the cold can be avoided by not camping at the higher elevations.  The heat, the best you can do is to knock out a lot of your miles at the crack of dawn and take it easier or even rest in the hotter hours.

Offline John Nettles

Re: Transamerica - West to East Start Date
« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2021, 09:43:21 am »
.... but I can't for the life of me find a straight answer to the question: When is the best time to start when heading west to east?


The "best time" can be a highly personal decision.  For instance, Pete prefers cooler temps, I prefer warmer temps over colder temps, others prefer prevailing winds, less crowds, and I know one person who tries to ride when the colors (spring or fall) are at their peak.  Anyway, the description on the website for each ACA route has a "Logistics" tab (usually under the picture) which gives the time you can reasonably ride the route. 

See https://www.adventurecycling.org/routes-and-maps/adventure-cycling-route-network/transamerica-trail/ for the logistics tab.

That said, if you are looking into climate data, I highly recommend WeatherSpark.com for its comprehensive database.

Tailwinds, John

Offline staehpj1

Re: Transamerica - West to East Start Date
« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2021, 09:59:01 am »
others prefer prevailing winds
On that note don't buy into the prevailing westerlies trap.  Surface winds for the TA in summer tend to be out of the SE in the Great Plains and the TA tends to go SE there.  That said I wouldn't plan on choosing trip direction based on prevailing winds for the TA, or other coast to coast route for that matter.  It just isn't a big enough factor.  Other routes yes, the Pacific coast comes to mind.

Quote
That said, if you are looking into climate data, I highly recommend WeatherSpark.com for its comprehensive database.
Yes great resource.

BTW. on direction of travel...  I always like to get air travel out of the way up front if I live near one end of the trip.  It is easier to plan when you will start than when you will finish a long trip.  Not having to bet there for a certain date is nice.  Flexible timetables and flexible budgets are a joy.

Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: Transamerica - West to East Start Date
« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2021, 12:57:09 pm »
Agree on wind direction. Currently following 2 riders on the ACA Van Supported TransAm planning for our 2022 TransAm. The general reports indicate SE winds and or tailwinds going East to West.

As a matter of fact, most of the material I have read seems to indicate that East to West has more friendly wind currents at Ground Level.
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Offline John Nettles

Re: Transamerica - West to East Start Date
« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2021, 01:48:39 pm »
Agreed that wind direction can be route specific but not all routes have a dominant wind direction.  That said, from my experience, I have found more noticeable winds out west and they tend to generally follow the historical data. 

Of course, every location can have counter-prevailing winds, especially wind a storm front moves through. For instance, in the south central plains, the wind is more "southerly" such as south to southwest spring through fall.  However, when a rain front moves through then it will probably be anywhere south. 

But my overriding point was what is "best" for one person may not be best for another.

Tailwinds, John



Offline KatCyclesAmerica2022

Re: Transamerica - West to East Start Date
« Reply #8 on: July 08, 2021, 03:40:01 pm »
Great info, thanks all!

I'm riding west to east just for the convenience of starting near my hometown, Portland, OR. A friend has offered to ride with me and another friend has offered to be a support car for crossing Oregon—which will also be nice to ease myself into it befor ebreaking off solo/going unsupported. Long story short, I'm not looking too much into winds.

That's a good point though for McKenzie Pass. I'll probably try to time it around then and be flexible to leave mid-June. Appreciate all the knowledge and tips

Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: Transamerica - West to East Start Date
« Reply #9 on: July 08, 2021, 03:46:21 pm »
We are also starting on "home turf" riding East to West. Riding the first 350 miles on trial we already know let's us ease into it. Riding with friends to start is also a great motivation and hopefully there will be other people along the route that you will begin to meet. Eventually, if you are riding at a popular start time, you will find a small cluster around you and get to know their names and may even find a riding buddy for a day or two or even a week or two.
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Offline staehpj1

Re: Transamerica - West to East Start Date
« Reply #10 on: July 08, 2021, 04:43:30 pm »
I found that I liked the opposite.  Starting far from home makes for definite commitment, gets air travel out of the way, and allowed friends to meet and ride with us at the end of the ride.

Personal preference though.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Transamerica - West to East Start Date
« Reply #11 on: July 08, 2021, 06:55:06 pm »
I also prefer to start at the far end. If you are going to pack and ship your bike, it’s easier to do so with the resources at home than trying to put this together in a strange city.

Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: Transamerica - West to East Start Date
« Reply #12 on: July 09, 2021, 01:11:32 pm »
I am planning on riding with my wife who does not really love road riding compared to trail riding, Since we are using the Eastern Express we will start on around 350 miles of rail trail. That is the primary reason we are starting in the East near home. Plus the logistics are just easier.

When I through hiked the AT I finished the last 500 miles on trail I had hiked extensively and pretty much knew what to expect. While to did take a little adventure out of it I was able to put in long miles during those final weeks. Partly from being in great shape at the end of my hike, partly from being on home turf, and finally after 5 1/2 months getting home to family was high on my list.
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: Transamerica - West to East Start Date
« Reply #13 on: July 12, 2021, 10:17:40 am »
I found that I liked the opposite.  Starting far from home makes for definite commitment, gets air travel out of the way, and allowed friends to meet and ride with us at the end of the ride.

+1. My first tour was ACA's unsupported Northern Tier starting in Seattle. Took the train out from the east coast, finished in Bar Harbor then rode home to Philly solo. During that leg I stopped at Yale to visit a friend who had ridden across the country that summer and later spent a weekend at another friend's house near Valley Forge before reaching the city. I literally rolled my bike up the front lawn to the door of my mom's house, dug the key deep out of the bottom of a pannier compartment and let myself in. A few days later I did a two-day charity ride to the ocean in NJ and back. Carried all my gear down on the first day. Had it driven back the second day.