Author Topic: Best route to traverse America  (Read 11778 times)

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Offline tipsy

Best route to traverse America
« on: August 17, 2006, 02:45:05 pm »
I just discovered all this website and all the information about crossing america and i'm excited! i'm from australia so i dont know much local detail, so:
I am leaning towards the transam via the western express, but am considering the possibility of the northern tier if it is considered better. which of these routes is considered the safest? and, if staying in hotels/motels, what prices should i be expecting? I'm hoping to be paying $30-$40 per night. Could bump it up to $50 if necessary. But I don't really want to camp because I'd prefer not to carry the extra weight and avoid using a trailer. But then again if camping was recommended then i'd consider it. is going solo a big deal? because that's what i plan on doing.

Basically I'm open to any suggestions and advice about crossing america.

This message was edited by tipsy on 8-17-06 @ 10:45 AM

Offline RussellSeaton

Best route to traverse America
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2006, 12:08:02 pm »
Whether you choose the TransAmerica route or the Northern Tier route depends on where you want to ride the eastern part of the country.  Northern Tier and you ride the eastern part in the NE part of the country.  TransAm and you ride in the SE part of the country.  I have preferences as most others would too.

The routes to the Mississippii are similar enough that it does not matter which you take.  Northern Tier sends you through the Rockies at Glacier Park.  TransAm sends you through the Rockies in Colorado.  Similar and different.  TransAm Western Express crosses the Sierra Nevada near Reno.  Northern Tier crosses the Sierra Nevada in Washington state.  Similar and different.  Both cross the Great Plains.  One in North Dakota I think.  One in Kansas.  Similar and different.

Cost wise for motels the last third of the TransAm through rural Illinois, Kentucky, Virginia would be cheaper than the last third through the northeast states.  The NE US is a tourist area.

The vast majority of the US is safe to bicycle in.  Parts are maybe less safe than others.  But don't worry about safety in the US or let it be any consideration when deciding which route to ride.  Solo riding is fine.

$30-40 per night average might be tough.  That seems to be the cheapest motels now days.  And not every town you stop in will be cheap.  And ones that should be cheap may not be.  In the NE it will be hard to keep that average.  In the SE it will be easier.  But I would not let a few dollars make the decision on which route you choose.


Offline tipsy

Best route to traverse America
« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2006, 12:57:59 pm »
Thanks a lot for that. I think you covered everything too, which for some strange reason seems to be rare. Well I guess it's time to start weighing up the pros and cons of each of the routes. I really want to order these maps which seem to be highly recommended.

Anyway, I plan on being out there as soon as is recommended for these routes, which i think is may. But if there is any other relevant advice/opinions out there keep them coming. The more the better.


Offline wanderingwheel

Best route to traverse America
« Reply #3 on: August 19, 2006, 03:15:44 pm »
There is a significant difference in distance between the Western Express/TransAm and the Northern Tier.  The Western Express is about 500 miles shorter and for me that would be a major consideration.  I can't imagine one route beign safer than any other.  

The Trans Am is fairly popular so you can expect to see a number of other tourists on the route.  There are rider registers in many stores, motels, and campgrounds along the route that you can use to keep to track of riders ahead of you and get information from riders going the other direction.  During the peak summer window it is easy to join up with other riders if you don't want to ride alone.  I haven't ridden the Northern Tier so I don't know how popular it is or if there is a similar network set up.

Like Russell said, your hotel budget will be difficult to hit.  Near the coasts and any large city, expect to pay upwards of $50 for even the cheapest chain motels.  In the more rural areas it will occasionaly get as low as $25, but will generally stay around $40, maybe a little less.  I too think the Trans Am route will be cheaper per night.

Sean


Offline leftcider

Best route to traverse America
« Reply #4 on: August 24, 2006, 11:32:43 pm »
Even if you are planning on using motels, I'd recommend bringing camping gear with you too.  It can be a very long way in between towns in some parts of the US, and you may find yourself stuck in an area without motels if, for instance, you're having bike problems that delay you.  Having camping gear gives you more flexibility because you are not dependent on towns every night.  If you want to avoid bringing a trailer you can always tie down camping gear to your rear rack.  Also, if your worried about expenses camping is a good way to cut down... you can buy some very lightweight gear with a fraction of the money you'd save.  If your main concern with camping is that you don't want to carry the gear I'd say that you can have adequete camping gear that isn't too bulky.


Offline John Nettles

Best route to traverse America
« Reply #5 on: August 25, 2006, 12:20:58 am »
Hi,
Part of your decision may be based on when you go.  Doing the Western Express in July or August would be hot.  But Missouri (central TransAm) is awfully humid in August also. I have done the regular TransAm and Northern Tier and if you want a little more variety, probably TransAm favored 55/45 (primarily due to scenery).  I soloed (restaurant & camping) both without problems.  If hoteling it & I assume eating out, I would think $40/day would be pretty tough.  Probably closer to $60+/day minimum for restaurant & hotel.

Wishing you a great trip!


Happy trails and may the wind be at your back!

TulsaJohn

Offline tipsy

Best route to traverse America
« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2006, 01:25:16 pm »
thanks for the replies. my main issue with camping is security. it's weird because i have no problems with camping in australia, but being in a foreign country with no local knowledge and by myself, the idea of having a zip as security isn't overly appealing. same goes for my bike as well - i don't particularly wanna leave that outside.

the way i look at it is, although i still want to be fairly frugal, i'm probably only going to ride across america once, so i may as well do it in comfort. i'll consider the advice about still carrying camping gear as a contingency, but i suppose it depends on exactly how far some towns are apart, and how often extremely long distances between towns are encountered. at the moment im liking the western express just because it's easy to fly straight into SF and go straight from there. and the golden gate is as good of a landmark as any to start a trip on.

the only downside is that if i do that, my trip is a full 12 months away. of course yellowstone national park would be good to visit, but if i did the western express the grand canyon is a feasible option. so many decisions.....


Offline RussellSeaton

Best route to traverse America
« Reply #7 on: August 25, 2006, 07:37:53 pm »
"my main issue with camping is security. it's weird because i have no problems with camping in australia, but being in a foreign country with no local knowledge and by myself, the idea of having a zip as security isn't overly appealing. same goes for my bike as well - i don't particularly wanna leave that outside."

I think you are a bit too hung up on security.  I've biked in Europe and the US.  Australia is probably similar.  I've never felt unsafe in any country or part of a country I've biked.  Don't let security make your decision for you.


"the way i look at it is, although i still want to be fairly frugal, i'm probably only going to ride across america once, so i may as well do it in comfort."

I'm not sure frugality or cost is the consideration to use whether you camp or motel.  Each provides a very different way of experiencing the trip.  Adventure Cycling is doing a supported cross country trip this year.  As well as their self contained trips.  The people on both trips will have very different experiences.  Even though both groups of people ride across the country and sleep in a tent each night.  How much gear you carry, whether you camp/motel, changes the entire feeling of the ride.  Make the camp/motel decision on how you want to ride and experiences from past trips.


"but i suppose it depends on exactly how far some towns are apart, and how often extremely long distances between towns are encountered."

Order the Adventure Cycling maps.  TransAm, Western Express, and Northern Tier.  They are cheap.  Get them all and look them over.  You can easily judge how far apart towns are and whether there are motels available.


"of course yellowstone national park would be good to visit, but if i did the western express the grand canyon is a feasible option."

Sometimes its best to avoid the famous tourist spots due to the very heavy traffic.  All of the rented RV drivers will be in Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon when you are there too.


Offline valygrl

Best route to traverse America
« Reply #8 on: August 26, 2006, 03:51:20 am »
I have a couple things to add.  For reference, I have cycled mostly solo across the US on my own route, and also the Great Ocean Road and around Tasmania.

Security in the US is similar to in OZ.  We have more nasty loose dogs here.  Similar amounts of bad drivers.  Similar amounts of rednecks. Personally I don't want to cycle in the southeast (lots more dogs and rednecks), and that would be a factor to consider regarding the TransAm route.  Our RV's are a good (bad, really) twice the size of yours, not kidding.  We have bears and racoons that want to eat your food, but not as many nasty snakes and spiders.

$40 is not a realistic average for hotels.  $50 would be more like it, with $60 and up pretty common.  It is possible to camp in RV parks, national and state parks and other venues that are legal, safe, and have services like water and bathrooms, and often camp hosts.  These cost from $0 (rare) to $25, averaging about $15 per site.  You can sometimes share a site with a new friend.  I always introduced myself to camp hosts so they knew there was a female solo traveller, that made me feel more secure.  A simple cable lock is fine for your bike.  Just keep your true valuables - passport, plane ticket, camera, wallet - in a bag you never leave (I used my handlebar bag).  

Gear is a LOT less expensive here.  If you are planning to purchase panniers or camping gear, I would highly recommend doing it here.  I paid literally 3 times as much for a spare pair of cleats in Hobart as I do here.

The best route to ride across the America might not be "across" america.  My favorite tour so far has been starting in Colorado, riding the rockies north up into canada, back southwest across BC to Vancouver, then down the Pacific Coast.  

Oh one more thing... compared to mainland Australia, we have real hills here - but compared to tassie it's all flat.  ;>

"In America, ride on the right!"

:)
anna


Offline tipsy

Best route to traverse America
« Reply #9 on: August 26, 2006, 01:18:03 pm »
Thanks to everyone for the advice. can someone please elaborate on the dog issue?! i'm just struggling to comprehend it. i mean, we get chased by dogs here, but for some reason i'm picturing rabid ones which look much more savage and are baying for my blood.

the latest development is that i'm planning on going to the usa within the next couple of weeks. just because i can, and i'm sick of waiting for ages and having massive buildups. I just want to do it.

hopefully my maps arrive sooner rather than later, but airmail shouldn't take any longer than 7 working days. actually i might contact them and ask for it to be expedited. i still haven't decided exactly why i'm doing it. but i feel it needs to be done. i plan on doing the western express/transam in 60 days.


Offline tipsy

Best route to traverse America
« Reply #10 on: August 26, 2006, 01:22:17 pm »
also, to anna-i saw another one of your posts, about negative vibes in poorer towns. what kind of behaviour should i expect from these people? i can take all the verbal they care to give me. but what else?

also, mainland australia can be hilly! in the suburbs around my place, there are some RIDICULOUS hills. but once you get out on the open road, i agree, it's as flat as.


Offline leftcider

Best route to traverse America
« Reply #11 on: August 26, 2006, 05:28:03 pm »
"also, to anna-i saw another one of your posts, about negative vibes in poorer towns. what kind of behaviour should i expect from these people? i can take all the verbal they care to give me. but what else?"

I've never had negative reactions from people in towns, and only occasionally from drivers.  In fact, people in the small towns and rural areas are much nicer than in the cities --- they will sometimes offer you food, places to stay, rides, etc., with no expectation of anything in return.  People are curious about you, and if you're a foreigner I'm sure that curiousity will be greater.

I think you may have an overly negative view of the US in terms of the danger of its people.


Offline valygrl

Best route to traverse America
« Reply #12 on: August 27, 2006, 12:12:02 am »
Hmmm, What did i write?  did you take it in context?  from the solo-woman-touring thread maybe?  Am I coming across as a negative person here?  I hope not!

The only bad stuff that happend to me was that I got panhandled twice in south dakota.  And it wasn't really bad, it just made me change my mind about sleeping in the town park, so i got a hotel room that night.   I don't mean to say that folks are generally bad -- actually, they are generally good!  That was one of the coolest things to experience riding in the states.  In the many hundreds of interactions with strangers across the US, I had those 2 bad ones and maybe 5 weird-but-not-really-bad ones.  both bad ones in South Dakota, on the same day.  really, just agressive panhandling that made me feel like there might be a lot of poverty and alcoholism in that town, so it wasn't cool to sleep in the park. nothing really truely bad.  i also got chased by a pair of rotweilers in that same area, and was lucky to be going downhill at the time.  I got chased by dogs in pennsylvania, idaho, south dakota, wyoming, oregon.  never got bitten or knocked over. just scared.  It's not a big deal, i'm just a chicken about dogs.  on my colorado trip, i got chased by a dog about 8 inches tall, it was hilarious.  the dogs here are the same dogs as the ones there - i just didn't get chased there at all.  

that said, i also got invited into a bunch of people's homes to stay the night, got a few nice dinners and lots of company in campsites,  tons of curious friendly people-encounters everywhere.  Lots of offers of help.   people offering me rides in the rain (same as in OZ, by the way).  People here are good!  There a few weirdos here, sames as there, but don't worry, just keep your eyes open.  Mostly you will see beauty, kindness, curiosity, and friendliness.

All I was really trying to say was that the rural USA is remarkably similar to rural Australia, you should come here and ride all over the place, and have a great time.

I wish I could offer you a place to stay on arrival in san francisco, but I don't have my own place.  If you need any information about routes, directions, bike shops, equipment, public transportation in the SF area, whatever, i would be very happy to take a call or email from you and help you as much as possible.  I won't post my email address on the internet in plain text, but look me up on bikeforums.net, I'm VALYGRL there too, and send me a private message or email from there.  it doesn't seem like you can send email to someone from these forums.

By the way, and not to discourage you from coming to the states, you might want to take a look at weather forecasts for the areas near the middle to end of your trip, it could be on the cold and rainy side.  to get seasonal averages, go to weather.com, enter the name of the city you are interested in, and select seasonal averages.  you'll get high/low/rainfall by month.  You might already be running into timing issues with crossing the rockies in Colorado.  

If i had 2 months off starting mid-september (which I might, by the way), i would ride the western express to utah, maybe ride the utah cliffs loop or some other wandering around southern utah deal including the Moab area for sure, then connect (grand canyon connector?) to the southern tier and head WEST, not east.  Southern california is ridable in December, but the gulf states might not be pleasant.  If i have the time off, you might see me out there.  Hope so!!!

Cheers,
Anna


Offline gizm0man

Best route to traverse America
« Reply #13 on: October 14, 2006, 06:07:26 pm »
I'm a recreational cycler.  The country road I live on in upstate New York is on the Nothern tier route  I just found that out a couple of months ago when I stopped a guy riding by.

He gave a link to his journal.  So, if you want to see what the day to day life on the route, go to

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/doug2006


Offline edmilkman

Best route to traverse America
« Reply #14 on: October 18, 2006, 03:53:28 pm »
hi tipsy,
If you decide to carry a sleeping bag just in case you are stuck between motels, you really can do without the tent if you don't mind sleeping under picnic shelters or making friends with a vehicle camper who has room under the awning of his RV at night. You still need a mattress of some sort though. Most state parks have "day use areas" with picnic shelters separate from the overnight camp areas, but as long as you agree to be packed up and gone by 8am, they won't make you stay in the overnight area- do your bathroom & showering in the overnight area, then pedal over to the day use area. In city parks, the place for bike camping IS usually a picnic shelter. In private campgrounds, it's tougher because the only other place to sleep would be the laundry room or game room.  If you pull into a business or home and see the owner, they might let you sleep under the awning or front porch anyway if you look trustworthy. In good, dry weather, sleep anywhere out of sight (we call that stealth camping), there will be little dew if you are under trees.