Author Topic: West to East coast tandem tour with hotels?  (Read 1250 times)

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Offline Melgar

West to East coast tandem tour with hotels?
« on: November 29, 2022, 06:14:22 pm »
My wife and I are beginning to look into planning a cross country (US) tandem trip from the West Coast to the East Coast. We rode from the Canadian border to our house in Los Angeles this summer (2022) and had a great trip. It was 1,750 miles in total, but we were able to plan the route in a way that allowed us to stay in hotels the entire trip. Our longest day was 80 miles and we rode a few days as little as 35 miles.

Is it possible to plan a route across the US that has hotels & motels spaced closely enough to accomplish this, assuming that we prefer distances of 50-70 miles per day, but can do 100-110 miles if there's no other option as long as it's not also a ton of climbing.

Looking at the ACA routes, I can see that they have several cross-country routes available, but it's not clear to me that they include stops where there will be motels/hotels or just camping options.

Thanks for any help you can offer...

Michael

Offline John Nettles

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Re: West to East coast tandem tour with hotels?
« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2022, 06:49:43 pm »
First, welcome to the ACA Forums!

It is possible to do indoor only accommodations the entire way on almost all the routes BUT you need to plan carefully AND be willing to go substantially off route in order to do it. 
For instance, the TransAm route (a fantastic route) has a 125 mile stretch with 3600' of climbing from Lander, WY, to Rawlins, WY.  It can be done if you start real early on a late June day (long daylight) if the wind is favorable (it "usually" is in that direction).

However, if you leave the TA route in Jackson, WY, and head south toward Rock City and then take Interstate 80 (legal and the traffic volume is relatively low and you have a full shoulder) to Rawlins, the longest stretch without a hotel is from Pinedale to Rock City (102 miles with 1316' of climbing).  The big drawback is that riding on I-80 is not overly enjoyable.  Again, legal but blah.

My point is you can do it if you are willing to do some work arounds.  Wishing you a wonderful journey!

Tailwinds, John

Offline Melgar

Re: West to East coast tandem tour with hotels?
« Reply #2 on: November 29, 2022, 07:03:18 pm »
Thanks! That is very helpful.

Avoiding the I-80 if it means we'd need to ride the portion you described as a 125 mile stretch with 3600' of climbing from Lander, WY, to Rawlins, WY might be worth it. We could definitely do that in a day as long as it was followed by some easier days. The 3,600' of elevation gain will definitely be challenging for us, but spread out over 125 miles makes it sound like it's probably not too much sustained steep climbing.

Thanks again,

Michael

Offline John Nelson

Re: West to East coast tandem tour with hotels?
« Reply #3 on: November 29, 2022, 07:07:39 pm »
You will need to book your accommodations in Yellowstone National Park way, way, way in advance. Like now.

Offline Melgar

Re: West to East coast tandem tour with hotels?
« Reply #4 on: November 29, 2022, 07:11:17 pm »
You will need to book your accommodations in Yellowstone National Park way, way, way in advance. Like now.

Do you think this is true even if we're passing through there during non-peak season, probably late Sept or early Oct? Or is it mainly a problem during the summer?

Thanks,
Michael

Offline John Nettles

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Re: West to East coast tandem tour with hotels?
« Reply #5 on: November 29, 2022, 07:21:13 pm »
Thanks! That is very helpful.

Avoiding the I-80 if it means we'd need to ride the portion you described as a 125 mile stretch with 3600' of climbing from Lander, WY, to Rawlins, WY might be worth it. We could definitely do that in a day as long as it was followed by some easier days. The 3,600' of elevation gain will definitely be challenging for us, but spread out over 125 miles makes it sound like it's probably not too much sustained steep climbing.

Thanks again,

Michael
I see you are riding in late September.  You should definitely consider the length of daylight.  On October 1st, Landers only has 11 hours 45 minutes of daylight.  July 1st has 15 hours 17 minutes.  Can you average (including stops) 11 miles an hour?  That means if you have just 1 hour of non-riding (pretty unlikely) your required average jumps to 11.6mph.  Sure it is doable if conditions favor you but what if you have a mechanical or a headwind?  Not trying to dissuade you; just want to ensure you are truly capable of doing it.

Totally agree about booking your West Yellowstone thru Jackson accommodations way in advance.  Which is another pain as you have to keep a schedule. You probably will be able to get a room but it might be one of the $450/night rooms.

Offline John Nettles

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Re: West to East coast tandem tour with hotels?
« Reply #6 on: November 29, 2022, 07:40:04 pm »
Another option is to take the Parks, Peaks, and Prairie Route east of Yellowstone to Chamberlain, ND, where you join the Lewis & Clark Route south to warmer climates.  It has more accommodations IF you ride Interstate 90 for 19 miles. I rode it a couple of summers ago and it was actually surprisingly pleasant with little traffic.

BTW, the stretch between Rock Springs and Rawlins is not entirely on I-80, around 80 miles as the rest is on service roads.  Also, you could break off east of Wamsutter, WY, and head south to US-40 then east to the TransAm.  This would give you 57 miles on I-80.  Finally, you could do a really convoluted route that would miss the interstate entirely but you would need to head as far south as Rifle, CO, before heading east on the bike route that parallels I-70 (an official state bike route).  However, you would most likely get some rain/snow as September is "mud month" in the high Rockies in Colorado.  You would still have that 102 mile stretch into Rock Springs though. 

Offline jamawani

Re: West to East coast tandem tour with hotels?
« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2022, 09:32:55 pm »
Michael -

I don't think riding in Wyoming in late Sept./ early Oct. is a good idea.
It could be glorious weather, it could be snowing with a wind chill of 15F.
Not to mentiont that Yellowstone is booked all the time.
In fact, what used to be shoulder season is often worse since there are fewer places open.
Sept. used to be the month for Wyomingites in Yellowstone, now it remains mobbed.

Everything depends on when you are planning to do the trip and how long you are planning to be out.
Some tandem couples do 100 miles a day and a direct crossing in a month. Doesn't sound like y'all.
If you average 60 miles per day with a day off per week ot 2 half-days then you can do about 360 miles per week.
A fairly direct crossing is 3600 miles or 10 weeks. The TransAm is 4200+, so about 12 weeks.
(That's using traditional  multiplication and division.)

An autumn trip is lovely, but the days really get shourt towards the end.
And you can't start too early going west-to-east because the Cascades and Rockies are still snowy.
July & August on the TransAm in Kansas, Missouri, and Kentucky can be brutal.

You can do a motel trip - just requires more planning. Esp. in the West.
But the past 20 years have also seen small town motels off the interstate disappear.
And who wants to ride a service road alongside the interstate all the way, eh?

I helped develop the Parks, Peaks & Prairie route. And have done routing for some time.
You may need to combine routes and/or develop sections on your own.
Not sure where you want to start and to end up.
A spring ride is more often diagonal southwest to northeast.
A fall ride diagonal northwest to southeast.
Staying in the Northern Plains and Great Lakes makes sense in summer.

There are a number of options starting on the Wash/Oregon coast to Glacier N.P.
Then riding down just east of the Front Range to Wyoming and east on the PPP.
Going to the Sun Road in Glacier is magical - but it opens fairly late.
Usually no later than July 4th, but often in late June.
But it's best not to start an E-W trip in the Northwest before June 1, anyhoo.

Northwest > Northern Plains > Great Lakes > East Coast
Should permit you to have motel access all the way.

Offline Melgar

Re: West to East coast tandem tour with hotels?
« Reply #8 on: December 01, 2022, 08:30:09 pm »

Everything depends on when you are planning to do the trip and how long you are planning to be out.
Some tandem couples do 100 miles a day and a direct crossing in a month. Doesn't sound like y'all.
If you average 60 miles per day with a day off per week ot 2 half-days then you can do about 360 miles per week.
A fairly direct crossing is 3600 miles or 10 weeks. The TransAm is 4200+, so about 12 weeks.
(That's using traditional  multiplication and division.)

This is about the pacing we'd like to use. We can make 100 miles in a day, but we prefer to take it easy and average about 60. We rode BC, Canada to Los Angeles this past summer, 1750 miles in 35 days with 2 days off the bike.

I helped develop the Parks, Peaks & Prairie route. And have done routing for some time.
You may need to combine routes and/or develop sections on your own.
Not sure where you want to start and to end up.
A spring ride is more often diagonal southwest to northeast.
A fall ride diagonal northwest to southeast.
Staying in the Northern Plains and Great Lakes makes sense in summer.

We live in Los Angeles, so starting there would be the easiest, but we're pretty flexible and can really start anywhere along the West Coast. In terms of timing, we're retired and can begin the trip at any time of the year. We were roughly thinking about taking 3 months to complete the ride, but again, due to our being retired, this is pretty flexible.

Our destination is also pretty flexible. When we get to the East Coast we plan to visit family in both NYC and Maine but we'll be using a car for that.

A perfect day for us is about 50-60 miles with up to about 4K of climbing. If necessary, we can handle close to double that, though not every day.

Our main preferences for the ride though are:

1) As much as possible, we'd like to avoid busy, high speed, high traffic roads that lack good shoulders. Scenery is important, but we'd choose a day with safer feeling roads over better scenery almost every time.

2) As Southern Californians, we're pretty averse to cold and wet weather. We'd much prefer a 95 deg day to a 45 deg day.

3) Hotels/motels/AirBnB are a must. At the end of the day we want a hot shower and a decent bed to sleep in. Camping is not an option, except if an emergency or some disaster occurred. We do not plan to bring any sleeping equipment.

Northwest > Northern Plains > Great Lakes > East Coast
Should permit you to have motel access all the way.

I'll start looking at this route and see how it looks. Do you know which ACA routes I should get to string this route together?

Thanks so much for all the incredibly useful information. It is much appreciated.

Michael
« Last Edit: December 01, 2022, 08:42:39 pm by Melgar »

Offline Melgar

Re: West to East coast tandem tour with hotels?
« Reply #9 on: December 01, 2022, 08:35:02 pm »
Totally agree about booking your West Yellowstone thru Jackson accommodations way in advance.  Which is another pain as you have to keep a schedule. You probably will be able to get a room but it might be one of the $450/night rooms.

Avoiding having to have an exact day when we'd be at a location that's more than a few days into the trip is a challenge, as is a room that might cost upwards of $450. I think we'd prefer a route that avoids the need to plan that far in advance as well as avoids spending that much for a single night. We could do it if we had to, but it will eat into our budget in a huge way that we'd really like to avoid.

Offline John Nettles

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Re: West to East coast tandem tour with hotels?
« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2022, 09:27:23 pm »
I would suggest you call the Yellowstone Lodges and see what they say about last minute availability.  I am more concerned about cool temps and wet weather in the Yellowstone area than I am availability. 

Is there a reason you are riding in September/October?  Is it the only time you can take off or is it to avoid crowds.  If the latter, the crowds are only noticable in very popular areas such as Yellowstone.  Otherwise, not much of an issue and if going in the summer, the services will be open but they may start to close around Labor Day.  Also, September/October start to limit you due to weather.  Checkout WeatherSpark.com and see if you can accept the average temps (+/- 10*) for the areas you want to ride through.  For instance, if you start October 1st from the west coast, you will need to rule out pretty much everything except the Southern Tier due to temps and/or precipitation.  If you finish October 1st, then that allows a lot more options. 

If you look at https://www.adventurecycling.org/routes-and-maps/adventure-cycling-route-network/interactive-network-map/ you can then click on the "Logistics" tab of each route to get an idea of the suggested time to ride.  Yes, you can usually ride most routes as long as a road is open but that does not mean it is pleasurable. 

Offline Melgar

Re: West to East coast tandem tour with hotels?
« Reply #11 on: December 01, 2022, 11:33:51 pm »
Is there a reason you are riding in September/October?  Is it the only time you can take off or is it to avoid crowds. 

Our start time is completely open. I was just selecting a time to try to avoid the crowd issues in Yellowstone, but there is no reason we need start then.

For instance, if you start October 1st from the west coast, you will need to rule out pretty much everything except the Southern Tier due to temps and/or precipitation.  If you finish October 1st, then that allows a lot more options. 

The Southern Tier seems like a difficult route for a couple reasons. The riding itself seems comparatively easy, but the roads (at least in the western half seem very barren, very dull, and very sparse between towns where we'll find hotels.


If you look at https://www.adventurecycling.org/routes-and-maps/adventure-cycling-route-network/interactive-network-map/ you can then click on the "Logistics" tab of each route to get an idea of the suggested time to ride.  Yes, you can usually ride most routes as long as a road is open but that does not mean it is pleasurable.

Thanks. I'll give this a look and see if I can figure out the route and the best time to get underway.

Michael

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: West to East coast tandem tour with hotels?
« Reply #12 on: December 02, 2022, 09:12:24 am »
We met a couple on a tandem in Montana in late July on the Northern Tier who were doing a tightly choreographed ride eastbound.  By that, I mean they had reservations for every night of their ride, which was all pre-planned before they left home.  Of course they were younger than you are, but they were doing longer days than you're planning. 

Back to the Yellowstone lodging issue.  You can often get a cancellation.  On the Trans Am, you can be a bit flexible, and either take a room at Old Faithful or Grant Village/West Thumb.  (Or both, if you want to stay longer in the park!)  I'd suggest you figure out distances and availability about a week out, about the time you hit Missoula.  Pick your date(s), and start calling when you hit civilization and when you're leaving cell coverage, and call the Yellowstone lodging people asking if they have a cancellation the day you want a room or the day after.  You can probably find a room in West Yellowstone for two nights if you want to take a zero day, and if that's the way your schedule works out, you can hop a bus and tour the park with all the other tourists.

BTW, the rooms at Grant Village are less expensive than rooms at Old Faithful and Yellowstone Lake (if you're thinking about the Peaks, Parks, and Prairie route), and often easier to get than those hotspots' rooms.

Offline Melgar

Re: West to East coast tandem tour with hotels?
« Reply #13 on: December 02, 2022, 12:18:55 pm »
Thanks to all for the very helpful suggestions.

I have plotted a very basic route possibility and am interested to hear if anyone has any thoughts on the feasibility of the route. Based on possible heat issues in the western part of the ride I was thinking that a late April/early May departure date might make sense. As we get farther east, we'll be in the heat of summer, but we'll have long enough days that we can do shorter days in distance but spend more time, as needed, riding in the earlier or later part of the day, but still during daylight.

Start at Santa Monica Pier (Route 66 terminus)

Take Bicycle Route 66 to Marshfield, MO
Take TransAm Route to Doswell, VA
Take Atlantic Coast Route to Bridgeport, PA
Take Chicago to NYC Philadelphia Alternate to Brooklyn, NY

Finish in Brooklyn, NY

As I mentioned previously, our ride priorities are:

1) As much as possible, we'd like to avoid busy, high speed, high traffic roads that lack good shoulders. Scenery is important, but we'd choose a day with safer feeling roads over better scenery almost every time.

2) As Southern Californians, we're pretty averse to cold and wet weather. We'd much prefer a 95 deg day to a 45 deg day.

3) Hotels/motels/AirBnB are a must. At the end of the day we want a hot shower and a decent bed to sleep in. Camping is not an option, except if an emergency or some disaster occurred. We do not plan to bring any sleeping equipment.

Thanks again for all your advice thus far...

Michael

Offline jamawani

Re: West to East coast tandem tour with hotels?
« Reply #14 on: December 02, 2022, 04:19:50 pm »
Michael -

I don't know about y'all, but I am an ocean-to-ocean person when I ride cross-country.
Not Columbia River to Hudson River or Puget Sound or Chesapeake Bay.
The sun setting in the Pacific waves and the sun rising over the Atlantic waves.
I also like a nice, empty beach - which ain't to easy to find these days.

About super-early hotel reservation - that are a pain.
Like you said, it really is hard to know exactly where you will be on July 26th.
And as I said earline, there realy is no longer any "off" season in Yellowstone.
Which leaves a couple of options - cycling in January in Montana -
or choosing more out-of-the-way places where you are more likely to find lodging.

Which is possible.
Do you have your passports?
Do you want 100% US of A or would you opt for some Ontario between Michigan and New York state?
Summer touring is just so much nicer in the Northern Tier - plus more & better Mom & Pop motels.
(You have heard about the aircraft carrier they built for the mosquitoes and black flies in Minnesota?)

I live in Wyoming and taught in Montana - I worked for years in the tourist industry in the Yellowstone/Teton region.
Unless you are willing to camp it will be booked-out, expensive, and crowded.
If you really want to do Yellowstone - or, better, Glacier - you might consider short term rental?
Or mail ahead - pick up your stuff for a few days then mail back.

Lots of options out there.
My email is jamawani(at)gmail(dot) com.

Best - J