Author Topic: Trans Am: west to east or east to west?  (Read 12199 times)

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Offline Dan_E_Boye

Trans Am: west to east or east to west?
« on: May 03, 2005, 03:13:24 am »
I'm planning on doing the Trans Am in 2006.  I was thinking of going west to east since I live in Eugene, OR.  A friend of mine suggested starting in Yorktown and heading west.  He said one good reason is that by the time I would get to the Rockies I will have spent more time on the bike and be in better shape for the climbs. He also said it saves the best stuff for the second half.  Finally he said that I would be heading home when I start out.  I think his idea has merit.  

The drawbacks I think of are the prevailing west to east winds.  I also like the idea of being able to maybe send home some gear that I expect I will need in the Rockies but not beyond.

Any thoughts from those who have done it?  Anyone done both ways?  


Offline alh

Trans Am: west to east or east to west?
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2005, 03:49:22 am »
I did the TransAm route westbound. I thought the hardest hills were in the east; short, but very steep. The Ozarks of Missouri were hard, also; 2 days of steep rollers that never ended.

The wind was not really bad. We had one day of very strong headwinds, and 4-5 days bad enough to remember. One day we had the best tailwind I can remember..

Early in the season passes in the west can be closed by snow. It is also good to get off  the east coast before the hot, humid summer sets in.

Have a good trip, Al.

Offline Jackalope

Trans Am: west to east or east to west?
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2005, 05:27:50 am »
I did west to east, which worked well cause you have a while to get in shape for the long climbs of the rockies before you get to the really steep stuff in the east.  Depends on what kind of rider you are.  I like the thought of cycling back home though, so it might be better for you to head west.  In any case, I don't know if winds are a major consideration, though prevailing winds I thought blew west to east.  who knows.. Text

Offline wanderingwheel

Trans Am: west to east or east to west?
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2005, 09:21:33 pm »
The prevailing wind that you mention is the jet stream at 30,000 ft.  This has little correlation to the winds that you will experience on the ground.  The prevailing ground winds in the plains actually come out of the Gulf of Mexico and fan across the plains.  Therefore, you will most likely have to endure crosswinds regardless of which direction you travel.

The window for getting through the Rockies in relatively "good" weather is much smaller than any other section of the route (assuming you don't mind the mid-summer heat and humidity east of the Rockies).  If you are riding liesurely this could give your trip a bit of unwanted urgency as you approach and enter the Rockies from the east.  Starting from the west you won't have to worry about the early season storms and you can loaf your way across the rest of the country (but those late season storms could get you all the same).

If you plan on riding into shape during the first week of your tour, I think starting from the west is easier beacuse you really are only climbing one hill a day and the gradients are much more reasonable than the Appalachains and the Ozarks.  Given, it does take all day to climb that hill...  Starting from the east, you will be on the Blue Ridge Parkway and riding the roller coaster hills in no time.


Offline Peaks

Trans Am: west to east or east to west?
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2005, 09:32:17 pm »
No matter which way you go, it seems that there is always a headwind.  


  • Guest
Trans Am: west to east or east to west?
« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2005, 11:53:20 pm »
I followed the TransAm westbound. For me it was a no-brainer as I had never before crossed the Mississippi any mode of transport. Each day was a brand new experience. Starting at the Pacific coast would have felt somewhat anticlimactic.

I agree with others who find the eastern mountains more difficult.

Either way, you'll have a blast.


Offline vanick

Trans Am: west to east or east to west?
« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2005, 04:56:06 pm »
For me, aside from the wind and other factors, it seems best to start far away and head home.  I live in Virginia near the cookie lady; on July 15 I'm flying with BOB to Eugene.  Then I'm going to make my way to Florence somehow (any suggestions?--nobody seems to want to do a one-way car rental from the Eugene airport to Florence).  I'm shipping my bike to a local bike shop in Florence beforehand.  Once I get it all together & jump in the Pacific a time or two, I'll head home on the bike.

There are plenty of folks going the other way, judging by the number of touring cyclists going through Charlottesville over the past few weeks.


Offline Dan_E_Boye

Trans Am: west to east or east to west?
« Reply #7 on: May 20, 2005, 05:58:57 pm »
Vanick, I just did a search on Greyhound and there is a bus from Eugene to Florence.  It's only about a 60 mile ride.  You will have to find a way from the airport to downtown.  The airport is about 5 miles outside of town.  I think there are shuttles.  

One other suggestion I would make to anyone coming from Florence to Eugene is not to take Highway 126 from Florence to Eugene.  There is a lot of traffic and not much shoulder.  About 20 miles south of Florence there is a back road called Smith River Road that goes to Eugene.  It starts in a town called Gardiner.  It's a little town just before Reedsport.  The people at the bike shop in Florence will probably know about it.  It's shown on the Lane County bike map.  The maps cost $2 I believe.  I've only driven it in a car once.  I'm still fairly new to the area and I haven't ridden it myself but it has been recommended to me by more than one cyclist.  I do know there is a nice place where there are some small waterfalls and it would be a nice place for a break.  There are no food stops between the coast and Eugene if you go that way so bring something to eat.

Another option is to take 126 from Florence as far as Mapleton.  There is a hippy-dippy little store there that has really good pie and other things to eat.  From there you go north on 36 and go through Triangle Lake.  There's not much in the way of shoulder but there is not too much traffic.  This option is also on the Lane County bike map.  

This message was edited by Dan_E_Boye on 5-20-05 @ 4:47 PM

Offline sunfisher

Trans Am: west to east or east to west?
« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2005, 12:23:26 am »
My opinion:
Leave from the area closest to home.
+ The sense of adventure is heightened with each new thing you see
+ Should you hit an emotional low point  9/10 through, if you are a
long way from home it's very hard to rationalize that "I can ride these
last 400 miles anytime."  ... And odds are it'll look better within 24
+ the probability of the bike suffering a debilitating failure, or of losing
baggage in transit is essentially zero if you leave from home.  It's
nonzero if you leave from the other coast.

Offline vanick

Trans Am: west to east or east to west?
« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2005, 12:02:23 pm »
Thanks Danny for the suggestions.  I'd been planning on heading south from Florence to spend a day or two in the dunes.  I've actually driven that route your talking about, from Eugene over to Reedsport.  Used to go to the coast a lot when I lived in Eugene.  You're right, it's a better cycling route than 126.

As for getting from the airport to Florence, I found an outfit called Omni Shuttle that will run me out there for $80.....seems a little steep, I'll check with the bus people.


Offline cycletourist

Trans Am: west to east or east to west?
« Reply #10 on: June 09, 2005, 03:51:30 am »
I rode the TransAm east to west in 2000 for the same reasons others
have mentioned: heading home, saving the grandeur of the Rockies
and the west for last, getting stronger as you go, etc. Winds were rarely
a problem (some awesome tailwinds, though!), and the weather overall
was great. Which leads to another good reason to go east to west:
when you start in the east, you're starting in the humidity and heat. As
you head west, it gets drier, and ultimately, as you hit the mountains,
My flight to Virginia from Oregon, where I live, was not without
problems...the airline baggage handlers in Newark, where I changed
planes, tried to feed my boxed bike through the chute to the
carousel...the box jammed and caused a hold-up for almost an hour.
Fortunately, the bike was okay, but there were more than a few people
shooting me the evil eye!
I'm very glad I did it from east to west. I'd highly recommend it - but
then, everyone's trip is going to be different. And the merits of leaving
right from your own front door, or close to it, are obvious and many.
Have a blast, whichever way you ride!