Author Topic: Trans Am planning  (Read 2091 times)

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Offline mattdwyerva

Trans Am planning
« on: August 02, 2022, 09:05:05 pm »
Planning a 2024 trip, 65+ couple, one ebike, westbound. Perhaps 300 miles/week, riding 6 days a week, and likely 2-3 one week breaks at times.  Maybe leave May 1 or so

Thinking C&O/Gap from our house near DC, bypass PGH, and take Eastern Express out to the TransAm via the Katy Trail.  Then, Trans Am up into the Rockies and over to Missoula.  Then Going to the Sun and Great Parks North to loop briefly onto Canada, and pick up Northern Tier to Anacortes.

Mostly hotels to get ebike charged up each day. 

Any concerns from experienced transam veterans?  I have experience on shorter tours (under 1000 miles), and think I know what I'm doing, which is usually when I get in trouble :)

Offline John Nettles

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Re: Trans Am planning
« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2022, 10:04:02 pm »
If you have experience with ~1000 mile trips with the setup described above, you will be fine.  You are just basically doing 3-4 of those trips back to back. Even if some experience with some of the setup above, you most likely will be fine.

Only thing that might get you is the eBike and the charging.  While you can charge at a variety of places (city parks, restaurants, etc.) during the day, you might encounter a handful of days with no possibility of recharging.  You can still ride those days, just know they will be tougher.  If you want to go off route in those areas so you have more services, put up a request for routes here and we will see if we can help.

Have a great trip!  Tailwinds, John

Offline John Nelson

Re: Trans Am planning
« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2022, 12:32:33 am »
Book your accommodations in Yellowstone and Glacier a year in advance.

Offline mattdwyerva

Re: Trans Am planning
« Reply #3 on: August 03, 2022, 06:36:20 am »
No, I did not have my wife or her ebike on those tours - sorry if I implied otherwise.  Our speeds are different, which is why we like the ebike for her.  Vado SL is relatively light (32 lbs, say 35 with supplemental battery ) for an ebike, so more rideable when dead than some models perhaps. Charging time is 3-4 hours to 100%, although you get a good boost within 2 hours.   

Restrictions on some paths as well, perhaps, even though my wife is not who they were thinking about when they wrote those laws I imagine.  And even well meaning park rangers get confused about the laws (I recently discussed this with a Virginia one, and in their defense the laws are new and written in a confusing style). 

I understand hotels and such are not guaranteed to exist or have occupancy, especially out west or in Canada, where they get farther apart.   I did not realize the hotels Parks get full a year in advance, that's interesting and makes some sense, especially for popular ones.   

Are park hiker/biker campgrounds similarly booked up?  I've been thinking I may be stuck carrying a tent and light sleeping bags, just in case, at least north and west of Pueblo.

Offline mattdwyerva

Re: Trans Am planning
« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2022, 06:46:06 am »
Huh, when I check for hotels in GNP for August 6-7 of this year, I see availability.  Is this year unique?

Offline John Nettles

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Re: Trans Am planning
« Reply #5 on: August 03, 2022, 10:28:47 am »
You can always just ship a tent and sleeping bags ahead of you to where you think you might need them.  USPS General Delivery will hold for 30 days I think (verify with the specific location) or you could send to a WarmShowers host, a bike shop, or even a church in the area perhaps. 

As far as Yellowstone, due to the major floods that shut off the northern loop of Yellowstone, my guess is that a lot of people cancelled their Yellowstone trip so this is an atypical year.  That said, I have been to Yellowstone and gotten same day hotel lodging due to cancellations but I certainly would count on it.  I basically called about every hour beginning the day before I arrived to check. Lo and behold, I did get a small cabin. 

As far as the Hiker Biker sites, they almost certainly will have availability.

I am very surprise a supplemental battery is only 3 pounds.  I would have guessed more like 10-15 pounds.  Regardless, my touring bike is probably 35+ pounds unloaded with all the racks, pumps, etc. on it so your wife's bike is indeed light for an eBike.

Tailwinds, John

Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: Trans Am planning
« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2022, 10:46:58 am »
I put together a group to ride a modified TransAM using the Eastern Express route this summer. Although I decided to abandon the trip for various reasons I have stayed in touch with the group and assisted in route changes, etc. I was also in touch with another couple doing the Eastern Express. Everyone I have spoken with has said that the Eastern Express is a very lonely route.

I usually tour with my wife so loneliness is not as big a factor. However, not seeing other cyclists on your route for weeks at a time can be discouraging. After all, long tours become more of a mental challenge once your body becomes accustom to the mileage. I think a lot of the Eastern Express users also travel East to West, which reduces your chances of running into riders if you are traveling at a similar pace.

There are plenty of riders on the C&O and GAP. Our route left the GAP in West Newton and followed PA Bike Route S to Wheeling to bypass Pittsburgh. Once leaving the GAP expect to see no other riders for many days or weeks. One couple I was in contact with used the TransAM Connector to rejoin the traditional TransAM route just to encounter other riders.
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Offline staehpj1

Re: Trans Am planning
« Reply #7 on: August 03, 2022, 10:52:09 am »
Will you have issues with the ebike being treated as bike wrt hiker biker sites, access to some bike trails, and so on?  I don't know, but there may be possible issues with it being treated as a motorized vehicle in some places for some purposes.  Just something to have on your radar.  It may be a non issue, but better to not get caught off guard.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Trans Am planning
« Reply #8 on: August 03, 2022, 10:56:12 am »
I put together a group to ride a modified TransAM using the Eastern Express route this summer. Although I decided to abandon the trip for various reasons I have stayed in touch with the group and assisted in route changes, etc. I was also in touch with another couple doing the Eastern Express. Everyone I have spoken with has said that the Eastern Express is a very lonely route.

I usually tour with my wife so loneliness is not as big a factor. However, not seeing other cyclists on your route for weeks at a time can be discouraging. After all, long tours become more of a mental challenge once your body becomes accustom to the mileage. I think a lot of the Eastern Express users also travel East to West, which reduces your chances of running into riders if you are traveling at a similar pace.

There are plenty of riders on the C&O and GAP. Our route left the GAP in West Newton and followed PA Bike Route S to Wheeling to bypass Pittsburgh. Once leaving the GAP expect to see no other riders for many days or weeks. One couple I was in contact with used the TransAM Connector to rejoin the traditional TransAM route just to encounter other riders.

Yeah, even when riding in a group of three on the TA, meeting other riders was a highlight of many of our days and folks we met are still remembered fondly 15 years later.

Offline mattdwyerva

Re: Trans Am planning
« Reply #9 on: August 03, 2022, 11:22:34 am »
Understood.  We're not riding the entire Eastern Express, but more than half of it I think. EE has some very good user reviews, but I enjoy the other riders too.  We are warmshowers hosts because the people are fun

Agreed, it is important to know the ebike rules.  One Virgina ranger tried to tell me you could not ride one on a road (cars only??), but I was able to explain the words did not say that (NOT ok on paths in VA State Parks, but ok on Roads). 

Vado SL is a well thought out ebike, and an extender battery is under 4 lbs I think.  I can weigh it if curious. 

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: Trans Am planning
« Reply #10 on: August 03, 2022, 01:28:58 pm »
Huh, when I check for hotels in GNP for August 6-7 of this year, I see availability.  Is this year unique?
I am looking at the booking site right now for 8/15-8/17.  Many Glacier has 1 room left at $565.

Lake McDonald Lodge is sold out.  There is a smattering of rooms left this month.  September is nearly booked solid.

The inns at Apgar and Rising Sun are also sold out for the above dates.

Apgar has a room this Friday.  The rest of August and all of September are sold out.

Rising Sun has a few August dates available and only 3 for September.

I would not count on just showing up and being able to find a room in the park.  I would also secure reservations at Waterton Village in AB if your plan includes visiting that. Same for the Towne Campsite there.  It's quite popular.  Tend to think it does not have hiker/biker sites.

Places like Yellowstone and Glacier will usually find sites for hikers/bikers because they don't want them stealth camping due to the dangers involved.

« Last Edit: August 03, 2022, 01:30:46 pm by BikeliciousBabe »

Offline mattdwyerva

Re: Trans Am planning
« Reply #11 on: August 03, 2022, 04:00:06 pm »
Good advice, thanks.  I will have to make early reservations there.  Same for Breckenridge?

Are bear canisters used in Glacier and Yellowstone if camping?  Or do they provide lockers?

Also, since I'm an engineer, I weighed the Vado SL extender (supplemental battery)  - 2# 6 oz.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/AJVTJ7YpATm7C6g48 if curious

Offline staehpj1

Re: Trans Am planning
« Reply #12 on: August 03, 2022, 04:45:12 pm »
I am looking at the booking site right now for 8/15-8/17.  Many Glacier has 1 room left at $565.

Wow that is pretty steep.  I tend to think of bike touring as an inexpensive way to travel.  I guess that isn't always the case.  I think we averaged something like $4-5 per night for camping on our TA, but that was quite a few years ago.

Are bear canisters used in Glacier and Yellowstone if camping?  Or do they provide lockers?

Lockers at Yellowstone and I think Glacier, but I haven't been to Glacier so someone correct me on that if I am wrong.

Offline mattdwyerva

Re: Trans Am planning
« Reply #13 on: August 03, 2022, 06:19:59 pm »
I still see places for end of the month for less, but camping is certainly far nicer on the wallet. 
https://www.glaciernationalparklodges.com/lodging/village-inn-at-apgar/ $150 for August 20.

But many days have zero availability, so looks like far longer than one month notice is needed for lower rates in prime locations. 

NPS also says campgrounds require reservations, but if I understand comments here, people think that NPS will try pretty hard to accommodate hiker/bikers??

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: Trans Am planning
« Reply #14 on: August 04, 2022, 08:30:57 am »
There are bear lockers in both Yellowstone and Glacier.  Good campground hosts will make sure you use them.  The guy who was (and maybe still is) the host at Sprague Creek in Glacier (I have stayed there several times) occasionally walked the grounds during meal times to make sure people were following the rules.  The first time I stayed there was way back in '99.  Two women pulled up to a site and placed a picnic basket on the table.  One went to use the phone and the other the restroom.  A ranger just so happened to come patrolling through the campground while they were gone.  She was not happy.  Ending up writing them a warning citation.  I also got a reminder from the host while camping at Apgar in '00.

The issue of reservations came up recently on another forum.  IIRC, you cannot reserve a hiker/biker site.  Extremely doubtful you would need to at Sprague Creek as the infield where hikers/bikers camp is quite large.  I once camped there with about 15 other people.  Still plenty of room.