Author Topic: why is trans-america trail 4200 miles? we're looking for shorter...  (Read 4523 times)

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Offline tj78_

My friend and I are considering a cross the US- West To East- ride starting in Portland, OR and ending in Outer Banks, NC. We had considered starting in San Diego, but are concerned about the desert crossings. We are interested in the Trans-america trail but are looking for something shorter/faster. We like that the route is established and has a lot of information available, but find that a more direct route from Portland to OBX is more like 2500-3000 miles ( google directions w/ walking) compared to the Trans-america trail’s 4200+ miles. We wonder if this is just due to the choice of roads and detours for sightseeing or if it is to avoid obstacles like particularly unsupported areas or difficult passes. We are not as concerned about the sightseeing so much as the ultimate goal of crossing the country and we have a limited amount of time (approximately 6-7 weeks). Can you provide any advice? Our endpoint of Outer Banks is pretty firm. Our start point of Portland is preferred but may be flexible.


Offline staehpj1

Re: why is trans-america trail 4200 miles? we're looking for shorter...
« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2009, 08:31:44 am »
Maybe the folks who maintain the route will have a better answer, but my impression is that the length of the TA has nothing to do with "avoiding obstacles like particularly unsupported areas or difficult passes".  It seems if anything to avoid large towns and keep you in the boonies most of the time.  It also seemed at times to intentionally do more climbing than absolutely necessary.  That said, I found it to be a great route.

Seven weeks is tight but still doable and you could cut mileage in a number of places along the way.

I really liked the TA, but if you want a shorter more direct route you can always:
  • Plan your own route.
  • Do the Southern Tier.
  • Follow one of the fast crossing routes used by races (like RAAM) or tour companies who specialize in fast crossings

Personally I think you are missing out if you focus on too much on "the ultimate goal of crossing the country" at the expense of seeing the sights and meeting the people, but different strokes.

Another option might be to do half of the TA this year and half next.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2009, 08:39:04 am by staehpj1 »

Offline aggie

Re: why is trans-america trail 4200 miles? we're looking for shorter...
« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2009, 10:53:33 am »
There is no need to be concerned about the Southern Tier's desert crossing unless you plan to go in mid-summer.  It is a good route and it's deserts are not what most people expect of a desert.

Offline litespeed

Re: why is trans-america trail 4200 miles? we're looking for shorter...
« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2009, 11:24:22 am »
The TA routes do ramble a lot. Mainly, I think, it's to avoid bad stretches of road. I know that you can get in real trouble on shoulderless, narrow,heavily trafficked two lane roads in certain states. Virginia, South Carolina, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama come to mind. The TA route really noodles all over the place in Louisiana.

I have gone up the east coast a number of times. Bicycling from my home in Florida to my brother's place just north of NYC I usually take 1400+ miles. Driving there on the interstates would be about 1150 miles. The TA route is 1850 miles.

I have crossed the country a number of times and covered about 3000+ miles each time. I have rarely gotten in trouble by just winging it in the west and upper midwest although highways hemmed in by rivers and mountains can be a bit dicey if there is heavy traffic. US191 from West Yellowstone to Bozeman comes to mind.

States with a lot of ranching and farming generally have wide shoulders for the farm machinery. Ditto for amish and mennonite country.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2009, 11:44:02 am by litespeed »

Offline tonythomson

Re: why is trans-america trail 4200 miles? we're looking for shorter...
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2009, 12:02:59 pm »
If time is a problem then think again about the Southern Tier, from the other side of Kent take the 190 straight across Texas, and beyond , great road cuts off a fair few miles and hills.  The deserts are not a problem on the ST as a little bit of planning and extra water will see you safely through, the distance between places is never that big.  I planned to wave down an RV if ever I ran out of water but never needed to and only occasionally did I have to haul a full gallon with me and then didn't really need that much but gave me confidence having it along.

PS if you ride the 190 in Texas look out for Red Chilli burger bar in the middle of no where best burgers en route.  Gets a bit hairy around Austin but by making up the route I by passed this on some unmade back roads.
Just starting to record my trips

Offline tj78_

Re: why is trans-america trail 4200 miles? we're looking for shorter...
« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2009, 07:22:15 pm »
Thanks for all the replys! this is very encouraging. Its not that we dont want the sightseeing but jsut that we need to balance that with the time we have. its better to have moderate sighseeing and have the trip be possible than to not do the trip and have to wait till i retire in 40 years..... i have a unique sircumstance that may allow me a leave of absence.

southern route- unfortunatly we cant leave till mid may so im assuming this is not the best idea... the plan would be to finish by the middle to end of july so we can join the extended family for our annual vacation in outerbanks, NC

looks like i may start to play around with routing my own way from portland and connect the dots of places i know people and areas i want to visit!