Author Topic: TransAm Stats?  (Read 2110 times)

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Offline EGHama

TransAm Stats?
« on: March 02, 2022, 04:42:31 pm »
Anyone have recent stats on how many cyclist going West to East vs. East to West, or what the percentage breakdown is for direction of travel?  Second, is there a "touring season" for the TransAm, and if so, when does it start?  I know many factors play into this including snow pack and when passes open, but generally when do cyclist launch?  Is there such a thing as a "bubble" moving from town to town, and if so, when best to avoid it?  First query, so be kind.  Thanks.

Offline jamawani

Re: TransAm Stats?
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2022, 05:12:52 pm »
I've started X-USA trips as early as early May and as late as early September.
Most have been mid-latitude, but only a few have been mostly TransAm.

In general, the climate patterns of the East and West imply different starting dates.
Most peope start early in the East to escape the worst of summer heat, hitting the Rockies later.
Most people start later in the West because the Rockies stay colder longer, but W-E allows for autumn trips.

Ballpark departure windows -

For a 12-week tour:
E-W Main season - May & June
E-W Shoulder seasons - last half of April & July
W-E Main Season - June & July
W-E Shoulder seasons - last half of May & August

For 11-week or 10-week lengths, adjust accordingly.
Earliest start dates should be delayed; Last start dates can be extended.

Early start dates in the East may encounter blackberry winter and even snow in the Rockies.
Early start dates in the West will almost certainly encounter snow and limited open facilities.
Late start dates in the East run the risk of early snows in the Rockies.
Late start dates in the West should be o.k. with temperatures in the East, but with very short days.

No matter how you slice it, you usually have to deal with high temperatures in the Great Plains.
Secret - Start before sunrise, use a flasher, quit by noon and go swimming at the town pool.

Pic - June 14th snow in Montana

« Last Edit: March 02, 2022, 05:14:58 pm by jamawani »

Offline John Nettles

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Re: TransAm Stats?
« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2022, 06:04:57 pm »
There is no official database unfortunately.  According to a quick search over at CrazyGuyonaBike there are currently 425 E>W journals and 336 W>E journals.  Since this is self-reported, this is by no means scientific.  CycleBlaze does not have a way to sort or filter based on the route. 

Hope you have a great tour! 

Tailwinds, John

Offline EGHama

Re: TransAm Stats?
« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2022, 11:53:23 pm »
Thanks Jamawani and John for your replies.  I looked everywhere for these stats and thought my search skills were lacking.  The ballpark departure windows info is especially helpful in planning my own launch.  Hope to see some of you on the road.

Offline John Nelson

Re: TransAm Stats?
« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2022, 12:22:30 am »
How would anybody know? Even map sales aren’t indicative. The ACA sells maps to people who never go, and sometimes one set of maps guides a whole group, maps are resold, and maps are bidirectional.

As far as timing, I say that May 10 is the best date to leave Yorktown, and June 10 is the best date to leave Astoria. As far as direction, I say that westbound is better.

Offline staehpj1

Re: TransAm Stats?
« Reply #5 on: March 03, 2022, 07:59:40 am »
How would anybody know? Even map sales aren’t indicative. The ACA sells maps to people who never go, and sometimes one set of maps guides a whole group, maps are resold, and maps are bidirectional.

As far as timing, I say that May 10 is the best date to leave Yorktown, and June 10 is the best date to leave Astoria. As far as direction, I say that westbound is better.
I'd be curious what criteria that is based on.  We chose W-E and thought it best for our situstion and needs at the time.

A few factors that might affect which way is "best" based on my experience:
  • Start date.  If you have a preferred start date it will impact your preferred direction of travel.
  • If you live near one coast or the other it will be a factor.  I find it convenient to ride toward home.  I like to get air travel out of the way at the start.  I figure you know when you will start, but knowing exactly when you finish is harder.  A flexible schedule (and budget) are a joy.  Also it commits you to the ride.
  • Riding the direction of US history may appeal to some.  This was the one that we abandoned in favor of other factors.
  • I found it nice to get into new exciting terrain in the beginning and ride more familiar country as getting home was closer.
  • It was really nice to have friends and family greet us at the end.
BTW, forget prevailing westerlies as an advantage for W-E if you were considering that.  I think there may be a bit of an advantage for E-W wind wise, but wouldn't let it sway me much.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2022, 08:03:11 am by staehpj1 »

Offline jamawani

Re: TransAm Stats?
« Reply #6 on: March 03, 2022, 08:27:27 am »
Staehpj1 -

I have taught U.S. history at a number of colleges and universities over the past 30 years.
For the past 10+ years I begin the course on the Pacific coast with the Haida/Tlingit creation story,
"Raven Steals the Sun".

- It all depends on your perspective. - History unfolds in all directions.

Of course, the Haida nation live mostly in Haida Gwaii which is in modern-day Canada.
But it is a story shared by the Alaskan Tlingit. And the story long predates any U.S. / Canada border.


Offline John Nettles

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Re: TransAm Stats?
« Reply #7 on: March 03, 2022, 09:05:17 am »
Other considerations in when to leave and what direction are your personal temperature choice.  Do you HATE cold or hot weather?  If cold, you may have to a start a little later.  Of hot weather, you have to try to time it to avoid eastern Oregon and Kansas/Missouri during the hot parts of the year.  Check the temps, winds, etc. over at WeatherSpark.com as they have wonderful climate data along the route. 

Another consideration may be if you prefer to ride into the sun or have it at your back.  I personally strongly dislike riding into the sun and am an early rider.  Therefore, I tend to prefer E>W if wind is not an issue.  If you are an early rider, when you ride eastbound, cars behind you may not see you as easily in early mornings due to being blinded by the sun.  If you ride westbound, you may have less skin cancer (a major issue with me). However, the reverse is true if you depart camp late and ride until evening.

Other issue may be if you want to attend certain areas at certain times.  If you really want to be in Jackson for the annual fireworks show (which seems to get cancelled due to fire danger more often than not), that may dictate your starting time.

Finally, how many overall miles per day you average factors in to several areas, i.e. temps, road closures, etc.

Tailwinds, John
EDIT: Changed words for clarity
« Last Edit: March 03, 2022, 10:14:48 am by John Nettles »

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: TransAm Stats?
« Reply #8 on: March 03, 2022, 09:54:12 am »
Another consideration may be if you prefer to ride into the sun or have it at your back.  I personally strongly dislike riding into the sun and am an early rider.  Therefore, I tend to prefer W>E if wind is not an issue.  If you are an early rider, when you ride into the sun, cars behind you may not see you as easily in early mornings due to being blinded by the sun.  If you ride away from the sun, you may have less skin cancer (a major issue with me). However, the reverse is true if you depart camp late and ride until evening.

Typo there?  Riding away from the sun in the morning, don't you mean east to west?

Offline John Nettles

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Re: TransAm Stats?
« Reply #9 on: March 03, 2022, 10:14:05 am »
Another consideration may be if you prefer to ride into the sun or have it at your back.  I personally strongly dislike riding into the sun and am an early rider.  Therefore, I tend to prefer W>E if wind is not an issue.  If you are an early rider, when you ride into the sun, cars behind you may not see you as easily in early mornings due to being blinded by the sun.  If you ride away from the sun, you may have less skin cancer (a major issue with me). However, the reverse is true if you depart camp late and ride until evening.

Typo there?  Riding away from the sun in the morning, don't you mean east to west?
Updated.

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: TransAm Stats?
« Reply #10 on: March 03, 2022, 10:27:09 am »
I find it convenient to ride toward home.  I like to get air travel out of the way at the start.  I figure you know when you will start, but knowing exactly when you finish is harder.

+1.  My US crossing was from the west coast o my front door in Philly after returning from the NJ coast.  I had taken the train to the start in Seattle because I had the time.  I think it would have sucked to have had to deal with train or plain home from the west.  I simply rolled my bike up the front law, dug my house key out of a safe place deep inside a pannier and unlocked the front door.

Offline Nyimbo

Re: TransAm Stats?
« Reply #11 on: March 03, 2022, 01:42:16 pm »
I think that this is a very helpful post and concisely answers a fundamentally important question for many if not most planning their first cross country on the TA.  I found this E-W and W-E information out a few years back after many days of reading and searching.  It seems like an edited copy of this made into a sticky FAQ at the top of the list would be helpful to many first time readers on the forum.


The title would need to be changed as someone would not know the contents from the title.   
1. Jamawani's detailed reply is quite helpful. 
2. John's quick and simple May 10th and June 10th reply is a great starting point for a starting point
3. and the thoughts from Pete about how to process direction adds much to this response and   
should be edited into one post for all to see.




Whether or not stickies or FAQs are done on the forum let me just say you all are great and helpful forum members.  Well done! 
Keith

Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: TransAm Stats?
« Reply #12 on: March 03, 2022, 04:08:40 pm »
We have just had to make the same decision for our planned TransAm this spring using the Eastern Express Route (which ACA is in the process of taking over.)

We have 2 folks from the West Coast and 4 from the East Coast. We decided on an East to West ride for a few reasons.

1) The East Coast folks can all drive to the starting point greatly reducing stress on getting equipment there safely. The West Coast folks are already worried about their gear getting there in one piece. Once I get to the West Coast, I am far less concerned if my bike makes it back home in one piece. This was the biggest concern I think.

2) We wanted a May start and that pretty much decided the East Coast weather wise for us.

3) We plan to ride early in the day and wanted the sun at our backs for safety - drivers can see us and we can see the road better as well.

4) Ground Wind for the most part is more favorable for an East to West journey, according to all the weather research and data I could find. Although the major air flow at aircraft level is very much West to East, summer ground winds across the country tend to blow from the Southeast towards the Northwest. There are of course exceptions - we are planning on a Seattle finish and will surely encounter headwinds in Eastern Washington in the afternoons - another reason to ride early in the day.

5) Reading Journals - while this is hardly scientific and EVERYONE at SOMEPOINT mentions a HEADWIND - it appears not only did more people travel East to West but more West to East Travelers bitched about the wind more often than west bounders.

6) Finally, the ACA runs a van-supported ride along the same route, starting about the same time, and they also go East to West and they are the experts. :)
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Offline staehpj1

Re: TransAm Stats?
« Reply #13 on: March 03, 2022, 05:31:10 pm »
1) The East Coast folks can all drive to the starting point greatly reducing stress on getting equipment there safely. The West Coast folks are already worried about their gear getting there in one piece. Once I get to the West Coast, I am far less concerned if my bike makes it back home in one piece. This was the biggest concern I think.
Really?  I usually fly with my bike and ride out of the airport.  It never worried me much.  If it did, I would ship my bike to a bike shop ahead of time early enough to be sure to get word back that it arrived and was in good shape.  Dealing with a bike shop always seemed like extra hassle to me though so I don't generally do it at the start preferring to usually just fly with the bike.

Since you guys are a mixed group from both coasts you could pretty easily ship the west coast bikes to the home addresses of the east coast guys.  I did something like that once and my buddy checked out that everything arrived fine before the trip.

Oh and for what it is worth...  I am usually ready to be shed of the bike at the end of the tour so if it is a long way from home I do use a bike shop to pack and ship it home for me rather than deal with packing and schlepping it around in a strange town.  I has usually cost about $100 for packing and shipping (the shop always seemed to get a way better deal on shipping than I ever did), but I think the most was $125 total.  It has been a few years so prices may be a little higher now, but probably not all that much.

Offline canalligators

Re: TransAm Stats?
« Reply #14 on: March 03, 2022, 10:07:03 pm »
My choice of E-W was dictated by wanting to go with a group, and the westbound self-supported AC tour was reasonably priced.