Author Topic: Western Express versus TransAmerica  (Read 2706 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline stevey

Re: Western Express versus TransAmerica
« Reply #15 on: August 12, 2022, 12:39:33 pm »
OP, it looks like you're getting good advice. I've never done TA west of Pueblo.
My two cents on the WE:
We took the WE last summer (2021), SF to Pueblo, joining TA there to Va. We did the Nevada-Utah portion in June, riding through two major heat waves (one made national news) and an unusually-strong-wind wave.
We were a fully loaded unsupported tandem team, ages 64 and 63. It was our first tour of over 3 weeks.
We did just fine, despite 90-110F temps (32-43C) and some 25 mph headwinds. It was probably the favorite leg of our trip. Utah, in particular, is stunning, but we also loved the long stretches of high desert in Nevada.
A few revisions to what people have said above:
-We met quite a few cyclists west of Pueblo.
-The longest stretch without services was 84 miles from Baker, Nev, to Milford, Utah.
-The distance between towns/services in Nevada was 50 to 80 miles.
-Highway 50 in Nevada is high desert, hot, but not as hot as our mental image from southern Nev.
-There is enough traffic on the route that we didn't feel we'd be stranded. Drivers were constantly stopping to offer us water or aid.
-Yes, it is about 125 miles from Hanksville to Blanding, but:
     -Hite Outpost, 52 mi from Hanksville, was very much open last year, with a convenience story, camping, nice bathrooms, outdoor showers. It appears they're closed temporarily https://tinyurl.com/yahv65cn while they look for a new concessioner, but I'd think they'd be open by next year.
     -If the next leg is too long and you're camping, there's Natural Bridges, and a BLM campground in Comb Wash (not on ACA maps) 60 miles from Hite. No water, but I just want out to the highway and held up a bottle and in 20 minutes had 2 gallons and a bag of ice from drivers who stopped.
-There are free or cheap camping options, mostly city parks, in every town or crossroads west of Cedar City, except in Ely. In Milford, Austin and Eureka, that included use of the town pool.

We were prepared, having toured in 100+ temps before, and we did adjust our routine to the heat:
-Start each day with 4 gallons of water (for 2 people).
-Leave camp by 4:30 a.m. to beat the heat, ride when traffic is low, enjoy the sunrise. We could ride many hours before the heat started to set in. From Hite Outpost, we took off at 3 a.m. (and yes, we have lots of flashy lights).
-We drank water constantly and let perspiration be our natural air conditioning: While riding, it never felt as hot as the temperature reading, but we really had to chug water regularly.

Frankly, we found the Ozarks and Appalachians more taxing. That's just us, though, and the TA west of Pueblo sounds fantastic!

Offline LouisB

Re: Western Express versus TransAmerica
« Reply #16 on: August 12, 2022, 02:23:23 pm »
Food for thought, thanks for the detailed information Stevey.

I'll be doing the TA this time, but I have no doubt that I'll keep questioning if I've made the right choice, particularly after reading your comments about the WE. Maybe another day. :)

Offline LouisB

Re: Western Express versus TransAmerica
« Reply #17 on: August 12, 2022, 02:24:11 pm »
The TA it is Ray!

Offline Buddy_Hall

Re: Western Express versus TransAmerica
« Reply #18 on: August 19, 2022, 12:14:58 pm »
Others have given you good advice, but I have relevant experience so I'm going to chime in as well.  I rode the TA in 2015 (www.cycleblaze.com/journals/buddy/ ) and the WE in 2017 (www.cycleblaze.com/journals/heartattack/ ).  Like you, the TA was my first long distance self-supported tour.   I rode the WE starting the last week of July thru August, so my timing was about the same as yours will be.  So let's just get right to it;

Ride the TA in it's entirety east to west.  It will be a great experience and you will be able to relate to the many others who have traveled to the U.S. for this adventure.  The WE is a challenging route - it's also a great experience but you can find yourself in serious trouble if you aren't really prepared for it.  Believe me, the TA will be challenging enough.  My journals have some advice for others in the epilogs, especially so in the TA journal, and I think you may benefit from looking at it.  If I were you and contemplating the TA, I would probably read the entire journal to get a feel for the experience.  I envy you, this will be a great experience - but be prepared for it.  Best of luck,

Buddy Hall

Offline LouisB

Re: Western Express versus TransAmerica
« Reply #19 on: August 19, 2022, 12:46:14 pm »
Thanks for the advice Buddy.

I will be well prepared, and will no doubt post on these forums again asking for additional advice prior to my adventure next year.  These forums are a fantastic source of knowledge and information!

As it stands, I will almost certainly ride the TA from the east coast to Missoula, at which point I may ask for some recommendations on the most scenic route to Seattle. :)


Offline Buddy_Hall

Re: Western Express versus TransAmerica
« Reply #20 on: August 30, 2022, 03:08:01 pm »
LouiseB said "As it stands, I will almost certainly ride the TA from the east coast to Missoula, at which point I may ask for some recommendations on the most scenic route to Seattle. "

One thing you could consider; from Missoula, proceed to the Northern Tier route and ride it to it's completion at Anacortes, WA.  I don't have a recommendation for the best way to proceed from Missoula, but if you wanted some spectacular scenery, you could work out a route north towards St. Mary's and then ride up to Logan Pass. This puts you on the Northern Tier route just in time to enjoy Going-to-the-Sun road.  Then you get to enjoy the mountain passes through Washington state - the climbing is no more difficult than the climbing you would have already encountered in the Rockies, and it's much easier than what you would have experienced in the Appalachians.   

When you reach Anacortes, it's easy to get to the Seattle airport.  The Belaire Shuttle (it's actually a full-size bus) will pick you up in Anacortes and take you to the airport for a low cost.  If you want to ship your bike home from Anacortes, there are 2 bike shops that will pack it for you and help with those arrangements.   Leave at least a day if you can to enjoy Anacortes before departing for home.

Offline LouisB

Re: Western Express versus TransAmerica
« Reply #21 on: August 31, 2022, 12:00:07 pm »
Thanks for the suggestions Buddy.

I was thinking about heading North from Missoula to Glacier National Park, and then joining the Northern Tier. A few other posters recommended this and it does look spectacular, although I'm not embarrassed to admit that as an unknowing Brit, the thought of bears wandering around my tent was slightly concerning!   :)

Offline John Nettles

  • World Traveler
  • *****
  • Posts: 1676
  • I ride for smiles, not miles.
Re: Western Express versus TransAmerica
« Reply #22 on: August 31, 2022, 12:06:43 pm »
.... the thought of bears wandering around my tent was slightly concerning!   :)
You should be fine so long as you have not eaten in your tent.  That is the #1 No No when camping around bears.  DO NOT EAT IN YOUR TENT.  Don't even cook near it.  You should prep food/cook/eat at least 100' feet away or more.  And use the food lockers that are typically in the campgrounds that are in bear areas. 

That said, you will most likely not even see a bear. Sort of like a tornado.  They scare people a lot who have never even seen one.  Course, if a bear or tornado is bearing down on you (no pun intended), then it may be time to change the underwear  ;) .

Offline LouisB

Re: Western Express versus TransAmerica
« Reply #23 on: August 31, 2022, 12:16:06 pm »
Haha, noted, thank you John. About the underwear and eating away from my tent!

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Western Express versus TransAmerica
« Reply #24 on: August 31, 2022, 02:55:28 pm »
Didn't see any bears in Glacier, but when we were walking from the campground over to the shuttle stop at Apgar, a wolf was chasing a deer.  (Didn't know my daughter could walk that fast in flip-flops!)

A dozen years later, I'm still trying to figure out how to go back there and take my wife to see Glacier.  It's that beautiful.

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: Western Express versus TransAmerica
« Reply #25 on: September 01, 2022, 03:50:57 pm »
Thanks for the suggestions Buddy.

I was thinking about heading North from Missoula to Glacier National Park, and then joining the Northern Tier. A few other posters recommended this and it does look spectacular, although I'm not embarrassed to admit that as an unknowing Brit, the thought of bears wandering around my tent was slightly concerning!   :)
The Great Parks North Route will take you from Missoula up to Glacier N.P.  On two separate occasions I have ridden to the park from Whitefish via Columbia Falls, set up camp for a couple of days and ridden up the west slope of Going to the Sun to Loga Pass and then back down the same day.  Nice to do the climb without all your gear.

Missoula to the park can be done in 3 days, with nights in the Seeley Lake area and in Bigfork (great hiker/biker sites at Wayfarers State Park in Bigfork) before reaching the park on day 3.  Seeley Lake to Big Fork is a 70+ mile day, but it's not killer hill-wise, and there are a couple of opportunities split it into two days.

Offline LouisB

Re: Western Express versus TransAmerica
« Reply #26 on: September 02, 2022, 03:23:13 pm »
Thank you all.

These forums are incredibly helpful and you've all helped to answer every question I've had thus far.

Looks like the route is now sorted, albeit still another 8 months away from being cycled! It's the TA to Missoula and then the GPN to Glacier, at which point I'll look to join the Northern Tier towards Anacortes, WA.

Thanks again.

Offline jamawani

Re: Western Express versus TransAmerica
« Reply #27 on: September 02, 2022, 05:28:43 pm »
Louis -

Glacier NP is simply the best.
There are a number of routes from Yellowstone to Glacier.
May I suggest an east side route - just east of the Front Range.
This basicaly follows US 89.

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/40636993

If Missoula is a "must" then it won't work.
But it is hundreds of miles shorter, much less traffic, and amazing scenery.
I've lived in Wyoming since 1990 - taught college in Montana.
I've cycled nearly every paved road in western Montana - and a lot of dirt roads, too.

Two additional advanrages of the US 89 route are -
1) You will be positioned for an east-to-west ride on Going to the Sun Road in Glacier.
Leaving early in th morning, you hav the sun behind you illuminating the peaks.
2) You have time to visit Many Glacier and, perhaps, do some hiking, too.
The hiking is simply incredible.

I've had the misfortune of riding and hiking Glacier a dozen or more times.

BTW - Both Yellowstone and Glacier have hiker/biker campsites - inexpensive and reserved for hikers and cyclists.

If you are interested, I'll give you more info.  - - Jama


Offline John Nettles

  • World Traveler
  • *****
  • Posts: 1676
  • I ride for smiles, not miles.
Re: Western Express versus TransAmerica
« Reply #28 on: September 02, 2022, 10:35:19 pm »
Lovely route as usual but is the Gardiner entrance even open?  I thought part of the reason northern Yellowstone NP was closed this summer is the highway between Gardiner and Yellowstone got washed out this early summer and that it would be a year or more before at the earliest it was rebuilt. So would you even be able to get to Gardiner?

If that is correct, you would have to either take US-191 from West Yellowstone to Bozeman then MT-86 to Wilsall before connecting to your route or miss Yellowstone entirely by breaking off in Lander and head north to Laurel before heading west on I-90 (or its service roads when available) to east of Livingston before connecting to your route. 

Am I missing something? 

Tailwinds, John
« Last Edit: September 02, 2022, 10:38:30 pm by John Nettles »

Offline jamawani

Re: Western Express versus TransAmerica
« Reply #29 on: September 02, 2022, 11:15:58 pm »
The North and Northeast Yellowstone entrances remain closed to auto traffic
but have been open to bike/ped traffic since mid July.
Through biking is not possible at present as the park works to pave the Old Gardiner Road.
It will be finished before winter. Temp access to Cooke City in the winter is also essential.

https://www.kbzk.com/news/montana-news/temporary-paved-road-will-be-in-place-at-north-entrance-to-yellowstone-national-park-before-winter

So, barring another flood event, biking out the north entrance will be an option next summer.