Author Topic: West to East US crossing beginning in May  (Read 438 times)

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Offline cosjp

West to East US crossing beginning in May
« on: January 02, 2023, 07:57:22 pm »
Hi,

I have been contemplating a West to East crossing for a while now and since I'm going to be on the West coast pacing a half marathon in May I figured it might be a good opportunity. I'm looking at launching around May 8th and I want to finish in Virginia Beach (where I moved from before moving to Colorado Springs.)

I'm contemplating a higher route - starting in Oregon ideally I'd stay high enough where I can pass through Minnesota/Wisconsin (places I've never been) and then making my way Southeast from that point. Main driver here is just because I think there will be more natural beauty this route and it'll generally be cooler. I am open to suggestions though. I'll actually be in California for the half marathon but I also know that if I choose Cali I'm bound to more mid to southern routes (unless I add a bunch of miles.)

I am thinking I can handle 100ish miles a day give or take, I'd probably mostly rely on hotels/motels for lodging and establishments for eating (this one isn't as important I can always survive off pb&j or sandwiches or something) and in an ideal world I'm near breweries 90+% of the trip (I'd actually like to theme the ride around that.) I know the further East I go the easier that'll get.

My main concern would be launching in May the conditions I may encounter getting over the Rockies. I know living here in Colorado May can go either way. But I'm also looking for any other advice or route information (aside from the ones published by the ACA as I can following some of that but I'll have to deviate a bit to get down to Virginia Beach.) Pokes holes in my plan please!

If the equipment situation matters, I plan to pack fairly light but I have a Felt Broam 30 I'll be outfitting with front and rear racks, Ortlieb panniers and then a few bottle carriers.

Appreciate any advice as I begin planning!
« Last Edit: January 02, 2023, 08:01:47 pm by cosjp »

Offline John Nettles

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Re: West to East US crossing beginning in May
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2023, 08:35:21 pm »
Welcome to the ACA's forums!

I would say that your plan is a bit ambitious as to the timing.  My guess is that if you ride the Northern Tier west of the Rockies, some or all of the major passes may still be snowed in, especially since you are cranking out 100 mile days.  If Colorado can be iffy on the weather, think about what Idaho and Wyoming will be like in May.  Once you get east of the Rockies, you are good to go (but cool perhaps). Also, the Going-to-the-Sun Road will most likely still be closed. 

However, if you are riding the TransAm to Missoula then connecting to the Northern Tier route via a section of the Lewis & Clark route, it "probably" is doable.  Worst case is you have a day or two holed up in a hotel and wait out a late season snow storm.  If you choose to do the TransAm to Yellowstone then switch to the Peaks, Parks, and Prairie route, you definitely may have some issues in Yellowstone and in the Big Horn Mountains west of Buffalo, WY.

How much time do you have?  Have you considered riding the Pacific Coast up to the route of your choice then heading east.  This would give you one to two more weeks for things to thaw out some. If you do this, please note that you will most likely have headwinds everyday along the coast (at least until Oregon).  I did the S>N ride in my early 20s and it was doable but I definitely had a harder time than those coasting with the wind southbound.
Another thing to consider is that due to the early season, don't be surprise if hotels are not open until Memorial Day weekend so you definitely want to plan your stops 3-4 days in advance (call them) in case you have to take some shorter days or plan a longer one.

Finally, you will definitely want to take some decent rain gear that WILL keep you dry.  Being wet and cold is not a good combination. 

Whatever route you choose, I would encourage you to check out WeatherSpark.com and review the historical climate data for the route(s) you are considering.  Remember these are averages so the temps can easily be off by 10*.

Have a great ride (and run, but we won't talk about "runners"  ;) ).  Tailwinds, John

Offline cosjp

Re: West to East US crossing beginning in May
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2023, 08:51:16 pm »
Welcome to the ACA's forums!

I would say that your plan is a bit ambitious as to the timing.  My guess is that if you ride the Northern Tier west of the Rockies, some or all of the major passes may still be snowed in, especially since you are cranking out 100 mile days.  If Colorado can be iffy on the weather, think about what Idaho and Wyoming will be like in May.  Once you get east of the Rockies, you are good to go (but cool perhaps). Also, the Going-to-the-Sun Road will most likely still be closed. 

However, if you are riding the TransAm to Missoula then connecting to the Northern Tier route via a section of the Lewis & Clark route, it "probably" is doable.  Worst case is you have a day or two holed up in a hotel and wait out a late season snow storm.  If you choose to do the TransAm to Yellowstone then switch to the Peaks, Parks, and Prairie route, you definitely may have some issues in Yellowstone and in the Big Horn Mountains west of Buffalo, WY.

How much time do you have?  Have you considered riding the Pacific Coast up to the route of your choice then heading east.  This would give you one to two more weeks for things to thaw out some. If you do this, please note that you will most likely have headwinds everyday along the coast (at least until Oregon).  I did the S>N ride in my early 20s and it was doable but I definitely had a harder time than those coasting with the wind southbound.
Another thing to consider is that due to the early season, don't be surprise if hotels are not open until Memorial Day weekend so you definitely want to plan your stops 3-4 days in advance (call them) in case you have to take some shorter days or plan a longer one.

Finally, you will definitely want to take some decent rain gear that WILL keep you dry.  Being wet and cold is not a good combination. 

Whatever route you choose, I would encourage you to check out WeatherSpark.com and review the historical climate data for the route(s) you are considering.  Remember these are averages so the temps can easily be off by 10*.

Have a great ride (and run, but we won't talk about "runners"  ;) ).  Tailwinds, John

Thank you for the excellent thoughts, John! Looking at the map, I could easily be convinced to stay above Yellowstone and you're not the first to tell me it's would be problematic. Interesting about the lodging and Memorial Day - can you perhaps expand a bit on where I may run into the most problems with that? Or is that only on a route that would go through Yellowstone?

The time probably isn't quite as much of an issue as it would be the extra expense due to the time. But that isn't necessarily a dealbreaker. I'm keeping all options on the table. I'd consider a more middle of the country route if I had to - it's just not the ideal scenario because I absolutely loathe the thought of biking through Kansas! I hate driving through it lol.

I will definitely make sure I have gear for keeping waterproof. If a day should arrive where it looks like it would be a washout I'd probably opt just to not go but I know there will be plenty of times being potentially caught out in storms and such. I had that experience in New Mexico last year where a storm hit while we were going up a pass and I've never been so cold in my life!

Thank you again!

Offline John Nettles

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Re: West to East US crossing beginning in May
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2023, 09:16:35 pm »
Looking at the map, I could easily be convinced to stay above Yellowstone and you're not the first to tell me it's would be problematic. Interesting about the lodging and Memorial Day - can you perhaps expand a bit on where I may run into the most problems with that? Or is that only on a route that would go through Yellowstone?

The time probably isn't quite as much of an issue as it would be the extra expense due to the time. But that isn't necessarily a dealbreaker. I'm keeping all options on the table. I'd consider a more middle of the country route if I had to - it's just not the ideal scenario because I absolutely loathe the thought of biking through Kansas! I hate driving through it lol.
It is mainly west of the Rockies since not as many tourists are out there that time of year.  Hopefully, one of the Wyoming locals will chime in on this thread as he is more knowledgeable about the weather & tourist openings than I. The big thing is to plan/confirm a few days in advance.  Since you are only staying indoors, you are more limited though not much because a lot of campgrounds are definitely closed before mid-May.  The issue is if nothing is open say 4 days ahead and you have to re-route.  That is OK if you know about it but would royally suck if you just rode 100 miles and found out you have to ride another 50 with only 2 hours of daylight left.

Riding across Kansas is much better than driving across.  Eastern Colorado can be trying  ;) .  But if you do not like Kansas, you may not like eastern Montana/North Dakota.  South Dakota only has a few days (may 1.5 in your case) of "Kansas" sameness.

Tailwinds, John

Offline cosjp

Re: West to East US crossing beginning in May
« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2023, 09:41:58 pm »
Looking at the map, I could easily be convinced to stay above Yellowstone and you're not the first to tell me it's would be problematic. Interesting about the lodging and Memorial Day - can you perhaps expand a bit on where I may run into the most problems with that? Or is that only on a route that would go through Yellowstone?

The time probably isn't quite as much of an issue as it would be the extra expense due to the time. But that isn't necessarily a dealbreaker. I'm keeping all options on the table. I'd consider a more middle of the country route if I had to - it's just not the ideal scenario because I absolutely loathe the thought of biking through Kansas! I hate driving through it lol.
It is mainly west of the Rockies since not as many tourists are out there that time of year.  Hopefully, one of the Wyoming locals will chime in on this thread as he is more knowledgeable about the weather & tourist openings than I. The big thing is to plan/confirm a few days in advance.  Since you are only staying indoors, you are more limited though not much because a lot of campgrounds are definitely closed before mid-May.  The issue is if nothing is open say 4 days ahead and you have to re-route.  That is OK if you know about it but would royally suck if you just rode 100 miles and found out you have to ride another 50 with only 2 hours of daylight left.

Riding across Kansas is much better than driving across.  Eastern Colorado can be trying  ;) .  But if you do not like Kansas, you may not like eastern Montana/North Dakota.  South Dakota only has a few days (may 1.5 in your case) of "Kansas" sameness.

Tailwinds, John

Ya that's a good call. I distinctly remember driving western South Dakota and eastern Wyoming last year after visiting Rushmore saying to myself multiple times I don't understand how people live out there! So maybe I need to consider I'm going to be dealing with that no matter which way I go.

Offline John Nettles

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Re: West to East US crossing beginning in May
« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2023, 12:52:59 am »
Ya that's a good call. I distinctly remember driving western South Dakota and eastern Wyoming last year after visiting Rushmore saying to myself multiple times I don't understand how people live out there! So maybe I need to consider I'm going to be dealing with that no matter which way I go.
Perhaps do the ride with an exploring mind as to what you will discover (that is what I LOVE about traveling, what you discover).  I rode from Amarillo back to home in Tulsa a few years ago and honestly thought it would be boring but a riding buddy wanted me to go along.  I was very pleasantly surprised at the subtle beauty of the area. Again, driving the route sort of IS boring but at a bike's speed, you see a lot more detail which, to me, makes it much more interesting. 

Of course, it will be hard to cross the country without finding a stretch that any rider finds boring.  After all, 3,500+ miles is a pretty big distance to cover without being bored at some point.

Offline John Nelson

Re: West to East US crossing beginning in May
« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2023, 02:23:34 am »
I think that the risks, and there are many, have been laid out well here. Changing the timing would improve your odds considerably. But hey, if this is the hand that you are dealt, and a different timeframe isn’t feasible, why not give it a try. It’s not the end of the world if you are cold, wet, delayed, or forced to abandon. Just make sure that you bring the right gear so that you are safe, and don’t take unreasonable  chances. You certainly won’t be the first to start a west-to-east crossing in early May.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2023, 02:25:11 am by John Nelson »

Offline jamawani

Re: West to East US crossing beginning in May
« Reply #7 on: January 03, 2023, 11:29:54 am »
Some people who live in Wyoming are grateful they live nowhere else.
Far away from the traffic and crime and high rents and smog.
Then again, each to their own.

I can tell you one thing, the cycling is sweet - both road & trail.

Offline cosjp

Re: West to East US crossing beginning in May
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2023, 01:04:18 am »
Some people who live in Wyoming are grateful they live nowhere else.
Far away from the traffic and crime and high rents and smog.
Then again, each to their own.

I can tell you one thing, the cycling is sweet - both road & trail.

Just to be clear - I wasn't referring to Wyoming as a whole! Just the extreme eastern section coming from South Dakota. I would tell you the exact same thing about Eastern Colorado (the state I live). It is incredibly desolate and I've driven through many of towns that don't even have a functioning gas station. Certainly - to each their own.

Offline cosjp

Re: West to East US crossing beginning in May
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2023, 01:05:07 am »
I think that the risks, and there are many, have been laid out well here. Changing the timing would improve your odds considerably. But hey, if this is the hand that you are dealt, and a different timeframe isn’t feasible, why not give it a try. It’s not the end of the world if you are cold, wet, delayed, or forced to abandon. Just make sure that you bring the right gear so that you are safe, and don’t take unreasonable  chances. You certainly won’t be the first to start a west-to-east crossing in early May.

Thank you!

Offline cosjp

Re: West to East US crossing beginning in May
« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2023, 01:07:15 am »
Ya that's a good call. I distinctly remember driving western South Dakota and eastern Wyoming last year after visiting Rushmore saying to myself multiple times I don't understand how people live out there! So maybe I need to consider I'm going to be dealing with that no matter which way I go.
Perhaps do the ride with an exploring mind as to what you will discover (that is what I LOVE about traveling, what you discover).  I rode from Amarillo back to home in Tulsa a few years ago and honestly thought it would be boring but a riding buddy wanted me to go along.  I was very pleasantly surprised at the subtle beauty of the area. Again, driving the route sort of IS boring but at a bike's speed, you see a lot more detail which, to me, makes it much more interesting. 

Of course, it will be hard to cross the country without finding a stretch that any rider finds boring.  After all, 3,500+ miles is a pretty big distance to cover without being bored at some point.

For sure. I'm confident every state state has some undesirable stretch. I do enjoy seeing new things. It's one reason I love Marathoning - you get to see places in unique ways. Appreciate the advice!