Author Topic: 3-4 month USA 2024  (Read 9284 times)

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Offline RealRedHair

3-4 month USA 2024
« on: August 06, 2023, 09:45:10 am »

After 1 month trips to Spain this year and Scotland last year I (56 from Holland -Europe) want to go for a longer trip in 2024. Plan is to go to USA and bicycle for around 3-4 month. Back in 1995 I went already the Cascade track from Seattle to LA. Now I like to explore more East to West. Montana seems great (especially after the Montana Story movie). Maybe parts of or combination of the Lewis & Clark Bicycle; TransAmerica; Northern Tier and Parks, Peaks, and Prairies looks great also.

My question is on planning. I like to start early next year in order to avoid the heat in the summer. So then it seems logic to start in the East and travel to the West towards the mountains with lower temperatures. But I read that the wind is quit strong from West to East. What are your advices when to start and where? Start in April or is that to early? Is the wind a major concern or do not care too much?


Offline ray b

Re: 3-4 month USA 2024
« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2023, 12:34:39 pm »
Sounds like fun.

The winds are variable enough, that the difference E-W vs. W-E is not that great - unless you're trying to set records.

Depends also on where you want to start and finish, how fast you are, how much you prefer cool over hot weather, and how much you enjoy big cities or pavement. There's an unlimited amount of riding, but if you define these variables, a few options will seem obvious.

As I like riding 10-15 deg C, relatively slowly (with lots of stops for coffee and general stores), like about 50% gravel/dirt roads, and have already done the big city museums..., I'd say April start for Trans-AM and pick up the Great Divide somewhere past Hoosier Pass (Breckenridge, CO). (Or an August start to do in reverse.)

If you prefer pavement and want to fly into DC and fly out of San Francisco, you can do a D.C. to San Franciso route (Trans-AM/Western Express. Going W to E, you could start at the end of July and do pretty well for weather if you come out of the Rockies by early or mid-September.

In any case, I'm sure you'll have a number of suggestions here to choose from.

“A good man always knows his limitations.”

Offline RealRedHair

Re: 3-4 month USA 2024
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2023, 03:49:02 pm »
Thanks for your reply. Nice that the wind direction is not important. Then I go from East to West in the spring. In the mountains I go maybe 50 miles a day and on flat more. In spring nature is more green and the sun not that strong. But higher temperature is no problem. This April there was an heat-wave in Spain. I do not like cities that much; more rural/agricultural areas or nature. I have a touring bike with fat tires so gravel is no problem. Maybe 50% or so. Use tent, Warmshower hosts or cheap motels/hostels. Really like to see at least also Montana; Rockies less important since I already did the Cascades route. But missing Yellow Stone and Great Divide is also a pity.

Offline HobbesOnTour

Re: 3-4 month USA 2024
« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2023, 03:52:59 pm »
Presuming you are a European citizen you will need a Visa to stay beyond 90 days in the US and environs. The standard ESTA exemption is only 90 days and can't be reset by crossing into either Canada or México.
Something to consider in your planning.

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: 3-4 month USA 2024
« Reply #4 on: August 07, 2023, 09:58:48 am »
Many people start the Trans Am route in the east in May. These days, early May is certainly not out of the realm of possibility.  That would get you through the Midwest before the worst of the heat and humidity.

Where in Spain did you ride.  Twenty-three years ago, I spent 7 weeks touring Andalucia.  Flew to Sevilla in mid-March and finished at the end of April to beat the heat.

Offline kd_ca

Re: 3-4 month USA 2024
« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2023, 03:18:42 pm »
Consider adding the Western Express to your choices.  It might have more elevation gain and be a little more formidable than the other choices you have listed, but is worth it, IMO.

Offline BillBekay

Re: 3-4 month USA 2024
« Reply #6 on: August 08, 2023, 04:10:56 pm »
Now I like to explore more East to West.

Maybe you like cycling the Great American Rail-Trail

Offline RealRedHair

Re: 3-4 month USA 2024
« Reply #7 on: August 09, 2023, 07:37:41 am »
Thanks for all reactions and suggestions. Yes I will need a B-2 Visa voor 6 month. There are so many options to ride; hard to decide which one to choose. Somehow I like to see Montana. Great American Rail Trail has quit some trail gaps it seems. Why you suggest this trail? So I think I will start mid April and then 3-4 month. Now I will ask my work for a sabbatical.

PS See screenshot Polarsteps on my trip in Spain this year.

Offline Figaro

Re: 3-4 month USA 2024
« Reply #8 on: August 09, 2023, 11:18:04 am »
I did the TransAm in 2018 East to West and started at the end of May. Here is a page with my day-by-day blog post of that trip that may give you some intel on that route.

Last year I did the US portion of the Great Divide Mountain Bike route. Haven't done anything this year, but am in the beginning stages of planning a trip next year. I've been thinking about repeating the TransAm...I really enjoyed that trip. What I didn't enjoy was the traffic in some spots, especially in the Eastern part of the US. I have just noticed a adventure cycling tour they are calling the TransAm Express Westward. That has my attention because it utilizes some nice bike trails in the east. I'm not interested in the supported tour, but could see myself following that route. It seems adventure cycling doesn't sell a set of maps specifically for that trip, but I think it would be pretty easy to piece them together from the maps on the site. At the moment I'm leaning toward doing that next year and starting late May again. If you're interested in maybe talking and doing some coordinating, let me know. You can reach out to me using the contact info on the site. As you will see on the blog post, I started the TransAm with two others who I met here and we sort of loosely rode together during a significant portion of the trip. I'm up for doing that again...looks like your daily mileage is in my range. I'll be 64 next year and plan on similar pace as my 2018 trip as long as my health holds out. As an aside, I did Lands End to John O'Groats in the UK back in 92....was a great trip. Would like to do another tour around Scotland some day before I hang up my bike shoes.


Offline DonKahn1

Re: 3-4 month USA 2024
« Reply #9 on: August 16, 2023, 10:14:00 am »
I just finished a cross country from east to west, Washington DC to Pacific Ocean on the Olympic Peninsula.  I used parts of the eastern express, and transam to Missoula, and then across Washington state to the Olympic Peninsula.  I left Washington DC on May 2, which was a good time, and didn't really have any hot weather across the great plains.  Regarding the winds, I definitely  had more tail winds than head winds (probably 2 to 1) even though I was going east to west - maybe I was lucky.  Another thing about going east to west is that you hit the exciting parts in the west at the end of your trip!

Offline RealRedHair

Re: 3-4 month USA 2024
« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2023, 05:03:11 pm »
My work agreed on a leave next year so my planning goes in a next phase. I'm now thinking about:

Start Washington DC
Option 1. Atlantic Coast trail South to Richmond
Option 2. Atlantic Coast trail North, Chicago to New York City Philadelphia Alternate,
Chicago to New York City Route to Indianapolis, Eastern Express Connector, Bicycle Route 66 to Springfield
TransAm trail to Pueblo
TransAm or switch to Great Divide Mountain Bike Route up North
Optional lope Eaast to Montana with Lewis and Clark Trail
West with Northern Tier to Vancouver/Seatle

Think start in end April/start May and then 3 month. Still have to calculate number of miles/km.

What do you advise me?

Offline jamawani

Re: 3-4 month USA 2024
« Reply #11 on: September 14, 2023, 10:33:30 pm »
Hallo Rood -

I used to have red hair, but it disappeared.
As you may know, the U.S. has more hills than the Netherlands - even Limburg.  ;-)

You know, there is no such thing as perfect timing.
Even the best planning for weather is likely to encounter significant unexpected events.
In the Pacific Northwest in 2021 there was record heat in June.
In 2022 - when I rode - there was record cold.

As for wind, I have ridden X-USA many times.
There is, perhaps, only a small benefit from riding west to east.
There are specific areas where westerlies are strong - mostly in the West.

Besides temperatures, there are two other important factors - precipitation and fire.
The Great Plains get almost half of their precipitation in May and June.
Plus, it often comes in big storms - just ask Dorothy. (Of The Wizard of Oz)
August in the Northern Rockies and Cascades often involves significant fire risk.
In 1988, I had to do a huge detour around the Yellowstone fires.
Right now, Hwy 20 / the Northern Tier is closed in Washington state.

Geography -
The Rockies run diagonally from northwest to southeast.
The Appalachians run diagonally from southwest to northeast.
So the further north you plan to ride, the more prairie and plains you have to cross.
And, trust me, straight roads that go on for hundreds of miles with no hills or trees get old.

As for the Great American Rail Trail - - it really doesn't exist.
It's just a big promotion for the Rails to Trails organization.
Virtually nothing in Wyoming and most of Montana, the Cowboy Trail in Nebraska is sand.
And the chance of them getting a rail trail through Yellowstone is zero.
Some of the separate trails are nice, but I really wish they wouldn't do this.


I can't imagine it taking more than 3 months to ride across the U.S. - even going kinda slow.
My last X-USA in 2016 - when I turned 60 - took just over 2 months.
I say that because getting a 90-day ESTA is easy, a 6-month visa is more difficult.

I don't know how much time you want to have visiting cities on the east and west coasts.
Also, do you want to ride from ocean shore to ocean shore? I usually do.
It does require extra planning and, always, extra time.

One of the finest rides in the East is the C&O / GAP Trails from Washington, DC to Pittsburgh.
No cars, free camping, historic sites, gorgeous scenery - hard to believe it is in the East.
But you don't want to do it much before May 15 - - too wet and muddy.

And - skipping all the way to Montana - Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park is the best.
Which would steer you out towards Washington state and/or Oregon.

My guess is that 1 month for the East, 1 month for the Plains, and 1 month for the West would be plenty.
Or - 1 week east coast, 3 weeks East, 3 weeks Plains, 4 weeks West, 1 week west coast + 6 days to spare.

Anyhoo -
Let me know if I can help.
You will certainly enjoy your trip.

Tot ziens - Jama

Offline BillBekay

Re: 3-4 month USA 2024
« Reply #12 on: September 15, 2023, 04:32:53 am »
Regarding the Great American Rail-Trail: to me, the section between Washington DC and Valenine NE seems to be quite bikeable. I looked at several places with Streetview and saw (with some interruptions) developed bike paths / trails. For the western half of Nebraska and all of Wyoming and parts of Montana, you will indeed have to figure something out for yourself. In Idaho and Washington, again, I see nice bike paths / trails. You might want to read Mathieu van Rijswick's crazyguyonabike post, he rode much of the Great American Rail-Trail last year. This year he is riding the remaining portion.
« Last Edit: September 15, 2023, 04:57:37 am by BillBekay »

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: 3-4 month USA 2024
« Reply #13 on: September 15, 2023, 08:55:39 am »
First comment: Switching from roads (say, Kentucky or Ohio to Colorado) to the Great Divide means you're either overbiked (mountain bike with twice the drag) on the roads, or underbiked on the Great Divide (hope you brought good walking shoes).  Although if you start out on the C&O in April, that might be a good thing.

Second comment: I'd strongly suggest planning on indoor housing in larger cities (hotels/motels or BnB) to secure your gear while you hit the clubs or whatever you want to see.  Budget accordingly; it floors me how much prices have gone up.

Next, airlines are easier in Seattle than most other places in the northwest.  You'd have to go to San Francisco or Salt Lake City to match overseas terminals without small town connections.

Your route choices seem to parallel much of the TransAm.  Are you trying to stay off that route, and if so, why?

Lastly, I'd suggest a couple days' layover in Yellowstone, if you hit it, and a day to see Glacier.  You won't really get to see it like you would in a week, but it's worth the time to scratch just a bit deeper, IMHO.

Offline staehpj1

Re: 3-4 month USA 2024
« Reply #14 on: September 15, 2023, 09:23:26 am »
First comment: Switching from roads (say, Kentucky or Ohio to Colorado) to the Great Divide means you're either overbiked (mountain bike with twice the drag) on the roads, or underbiked on the Great Divide (hope you brought good walking shoes).  Although if you start out on the C&O in April, that might be a good thing.
Swapping tires or even wheels could manage that fairly well, but switching bikes wouldn't be out of the question.  Having one shipped to you and another shipped home would be doable.  I could see a gravel or even mountain bike managing it all pretty well especially with a tire or wheel swap, but even without a gravel bike could straight up be okay.

OTOH, I was surprised how little I minded full knobbies on the road when I did a mixed surface tour and ran tires with lots of low small knobs.  In that case it was 26"X2.1" Kenda Slant Six tires.