Author Topic: Wind-->TransAmerica  (Read 10192 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Doug

« on: January 17, 2008, 07:11:41 pm »
Hi Everybody, new to the forum here and planning to do the Transamerica route come mid-april.

I live right outside D.C., and with this being my first tour (and my plans still not cemented down at this point) I'd been planning on starting out in yorktown and going west. I've heard that it'd be easier to do the route west to east because of "less head winds". I know the prevailing weather pattern in the U.S. blows west to east, but is there any truth to this?
Will I have more/a better tail wind going west to east?

See you on the road

Offline staehpj1

« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2008, 08:18:33 am »
Last year we found the opposite to be true.  We had a mix of headwinds and tailwinds most places and it was the luck of the draw, but across Eastern Colorado and Kansas the wind was out of the southeast and benefited the westbound rider.  I am told that this is quite typical.  The effects of wind can be minimized in most cases by starting and finishing as early as possible in Eastern Colorado and Kansas.  This helps to beat the heat too.

There are a lot of other factors besides the wind though.

The Appalachians are the toughest part of the trip and we didn't want to start with them.

The sun is going to be in your eyes either in the morning or in the evening if you ride early or late.  This is worth considering.

We liked the idea of having air travel and shipping of bikes out of the way first.

We liked the idea of it being hard to bail on the trip and flying out west made it tougher to bail out.

We originally wanted to have the west to look forward to and were concerned that there wouldn't be much that was new to look forward to in the east.  That didn't prove to be as big of a deal as I expected.  We actually found the east more beautiful and interesting than I imagined.

We didn't think about it ahead of time, but it was really nice to have family and friends following us the last day and we had a nice picnic with them in Yorktown.  I still get choked up when I think about the welcome we got.

Oh and your starting time... It is probably OK (if a bit more likely to be wet) for an east to west, but too early if you decide to start in the west.  In that case I wouldn't start any earlier than June.

You can find more info on our journal at:

There are lots of other folks TransAmerica journals there as well.  It is both educational and entertaining to read them.

Feel free to contact me directly if you have questions that I can assist with.  I don't claim to be an expert, but do still have the trip fairly fresh in my mind.

pete dot staehling at gmail dot com

This message was edited by staehpj1 on 1-18-08 @ 4:25 AM

Offline mehall

« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2008, 11:38:11 am »
I am heading west on the transam about the same time- looking for an early april departure.

I chose east to west because of a couple factors:

1. It snows in the Rockies until June. I figure the later I hit them the better.

2. I want to look forward to the beauty of the west.

3. I want to get the mountains of Virginia out of the way first.

Hope to see you out there.


Offline staehpj1

« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2008, 01:27:19 pm »
Yes either way can make sense.  I think that E-W is harder though.  It definitely requires better conditioning at the start than W-E due to the steep climbs in the Appalachians.  I can see lots of good reasons to go either way, but if looking for the easiest way I recommend E-W.

A couple other things that I didn't mention in my first post...

1. My impression was that in the west the climbs generally were a bit easier on a W-E route than E-W.  This had to do with the way the climbs were spread out and their relative steepness.  It is only based on my impressions as we rode and looked at the maps, but it was pretty often that we looked at the contours and said we were glad were weren't going the other way.  Look at the AC maps and decide for yourself though.

2. The altitude is easier to adjust too going W-E.  We were at 5000' for a while, then at 7000' for a good while before we topped out at 11,500'.  Going E-W you will climb up to Hoosier pass (11,500') with less time to adjust.

If you are set on an April departure, don't even consider W-E though.

Offline ceilago

« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2008, 11:05:36 am »
exactly my qq,   i heard really it all is a wash anyway with over that
distance it's all an average in the end.   i'm going trans from dc to seattle
this june and was wondering about rain/ weather in the north  and

any showers to prepare for... tornadoes?

Offline ceilago

« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2008, 11:10:09 am »
?   mountains in virginia?

i'm from the west coast and when i think mountians i think of the
northern cali coast route    101 near san louis obisbo and the mayb the

i always heard people say they are "hills" in the east....?

Offline windrath

« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2008, 02:04:37 pm »
Hi Doug -

Once you get into the mid-west plain states you are more likely to encounter nw, sw, or se winds, so you are going to be bucking side winds alot of the way.  

While it is true that the jet stream and higher level winds are mostly west to east, the way Low and High pressure zones rotate along, the winds are generally not directly from the west or the east.  You will encounter more nw winds and sw winds - which, for you, will amount to headwinds with the added destabilizing effect of sideways shere.

The best way to minimize the effects of wind are to ride early in the morning or later in the evening (not a good choice for obvious reasons).

Good Luck...

Offline staehpj1

« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2008, 02:20:51 pm »
> mountains in virginia?

Everything we saw on the TransAmerica in the Cascades and Rockies was easy compared to the tougher climbs in Missouri and Virginia.  The highest we got in the East was probably only about 4000 feet or so, but the grades are much steeper.

Offline litespeed

« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2008, 10:11:35 am »
I'll heartily second that. One of the toughest days cycling I've done was US58 in SW Virginia. The lady who ran the campground near Galax could scarcely believe I had come in from the west on a bicycle. Endless brutal, short, steep climbs and descents. I prefer a long, 6-8 mile climb out west anytime.

Other tough cycling areas in the east are the Finger Lakes region of New York state and northern New Hampshire and Vermont.

Offline njdaniel

« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2008, 07:18:16 pm »
I actually found the appalachians easier than the
Rockies.  Yes, the grades are more spread out in the West, but in the East there is often the opportunity with the ups and downs to get momentum to make it up the grades a bit easier.

Offline staehpj1

« Reply #10 on: February 11, 2008, 08:55:04 am »
> I actually found the appalachians easier than the
Rockies.  Yes, the grades are more spread out in the West, but in the East there is often the opportunity with the ups and downs to get momentum to make it up the grades a bit easier.

Interesting, that is so counter to my experience that I have a hard time imagining it.  What route did you do and in which direction?  Every rider is different so I don't doubt you, but I have a hard time imagining that for some one on the TA (we went W-E, so I can only guess about how it would be E-W).

I can't imagine that momentum could have much to do with it in places like the climb from Vesuvius to the Blue Ridge parkway or on any climb measured in miles.  In many places where there are rolling hills yes, but on longer climbs I don't see it.

I guess there were really only a few really hard days in the Appalachians as opposed to a steady grind for a much longer time in the West.

Offline Heerda

« Reply #11 on: March 05, 2008, 12:38:15 pm »
We planned to start in Astoria on mai, 21. As I understand this topic it is a little (to) early. So I thing we make a slow start. We finish this year in Denver. We planned to continue from Denver in mai 2009. Thinking we do the hot plains in Kansas when the heat is tolerable.

Offline DU

« Reply #12 on: March 05, 2008, 07:45:38 pm »
I wouldn't use the wind to determine which direction to ride the transam. I rode the transam E-W in 2006, in Kansas I had 1 1/2 days of terrible headwinds and the rest of the time they were out of the SE. When I  left Pueblo I had NW winds for several days when the prevailing wind was ESE. It has more to do with how lucky your timing is than anything else.

As to the mountains, in the west I could usually find a gear and climb slow but comfortably. I'm not saying that I wasn't glad to get to the top, it was just very doable. In the east I was always searching for that lower gear that wasn't there. I ride a 24-34 and still wanted lower gears.

My decision on which direction to go was alot like Mehalls with the addition of not wanting to deal with the humidity of Illinois, Kentucky and Virginia in July. That being said, it was very hot in Idaho and eastern Oregon when I was there. So much for all my planning-- but at least it wasn't humid :) You'll have a great time no matter which direction you go.