Author Topic: A Few Questions About the TransAm  (Read 12529 times)

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Offline dunedigger

A Few Questions About the TransAm
« on: February 26, 2009, 05:31:43 pm »
Hey, I'm planning on doing the TransAmerica Trail, part of the Pacific Coast until it intersects with the Western Express headin' back home to NC. Not sure when I will do this, all depends on whether or not I continue with college this fall, anyway. May 2010 or May 2011.

Ok, my question is . . . I am planning on bringing a dog with me because other than the dog, I will be traveling solo. More than one reason for bringing the dog; companionship, protection, entertainment, etc. I don't plan on bringing a trailer, and the dog is going to be far too big to put into a handlebar bag or on the back of my rack. But I am a responsible pet owner, so I plan on going the dog's pace. I have asthma so I won't be able to put in many miles a day anyway.

Is this a really bad idea? I know all the extra weight I will be carrying. The main thing I'm worried about is other dogs we might meet, the 'loose' farm dogs and such. Has anybody ever had any experience with this? I'm also worried about if my dog gets hurt, how often to you run into a town with a vet's office? I know first aid but . . .

Also, how hard is it to condition on the go? I will be training for this somewhat but for the most part we both will be hitting the road without much bike touring experience.

Thanks for the info, I'll be on later to check the answers.


Has anyone ever tried slowing down when the random 'loose' dogs turn up? Because everything I read says that you shouldn't speed up or try and out run a dog that starts to chase you. I was always told to stop and hold my ground. Has anyone ever tried this? Also, I ask way too many questions but . . . how likely am I to run into tornadoes, out in the mid-west or other flat places? I'm a mountain/coastal girl, very used to hurricanes/thunderstorms/blizzards, but tornadoes scare the life out of me. Thanks a lot.

I don't have the dog yet, I'm still deciding whether or not to bring one and researching breeds with amazing stamina that can handle temperature extremes . . . so far the Rhodesian Ridgeback looks the best bet. Lots of 'em in shelters where I am too. Most likely be adopting an adult dog and training it to walk/jog next to me on a

*edit 2*
This is a very long term trip. I plan on 3-5+ months for the first bit, taking a couple months break in Portland or thereabouts, and then heading home on another 3-5+ month trip.

*edit 3*
Oh my, well . . . the whole reason I didn't want a trailer is because I am afraid I won't be able to handle my bike while pulling something, and I don't want to pay $300+ if it turns out I can't handle the load. Advice? Is there anyway I can . . . test ride a trailer? Thanks.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2009, 01:30:01 am by dunedigger »

Offline staehpj1

Re: A Few Questions About the TransAm
« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2009, 06:20:38 pm »
I have my doubts about this for a lot of reasons, but...

I would expect problems in Kentucky and Missouri.  We were chased by dogs multiple times a day in both those states.  I would have to guess we were chased by at least 30-40 dogs and probably more, sometimes 2-4 of them at a time.

I know that day after day we had 100F heat on our TA.  Most dogs do not do well running in 100F heat.  I have a dog that runs with me and I wouldn't make very good time trying to cross the country at her pace and daily mileage in hot weather.

Personally I wouldn't expect my dog to go faster or farther than I would on foot.  A lot does depend on the breed and age of your dog though.  If I were going to take my dog I would either let her ride in a trailer on the flats and downhills and get up the climbs under her own power or I would skip the bike and walk/run carrying my stuff in a baby jogger.

As far as how often there are vets offices...  There won't even be towns closer that 40 miles apart fairly often and once I think they were 80 miles apart.  Some of these towns had a population of less than 50 people.  You may well be several days to a week's ride from a vet at the pace I would be willing to push my dog.  And if she was sick or injured it would be ugly.

You will have difficulties in some places where dogs will not be allowed.  I am pretty sure you won't be able to take fido into any national parks and maybe some state parks.  You can probably work around this one, but it may be a hassle at times.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2009, 06:23:13 pm by staehpj1 »

Offline dunedigger

Re: A Few Questions About the TransAm
« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2009, 09:39:56 pm »
Yes, well, walking was my original plan but I thought that slow bike ride would be better, slow as in my dog could comfortably walk beside me. I am not planning to make this trip in a couple months, I know its gonna take a long time. One more question? When should I aim at hitting the Rockies? What months? I want to try and avoid major snows as I will be stealth camping for the most part. I read they can last until as far as June, but when do they start back up? Just wondering. I'm still in the planning stages here. Thanks in advance.

Also, I am an experienced backpacker. So, yea.

Offline Westinghouse

Re: A Few Questions About the TransAm
« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2009, 09:47:06 pm »
Of course, you can try it if you want to. My general advice is to scrap taking a dog on a long bicycling our. Your dog could be run over by a car or truck. Dogs can cover some distance, but I doubt they can run all that far day after day for several weeks. I certainly would not want to take a dog with me. I like dogs. On a transcontinental bicycling tour you will want to put in some good miles, in spite of what you may think. The dog would be more and more of an encumbrance to you. Of course, like many other things, I suppose it CAN be done. But who would really want to. Not me.

Offline valygrl

Re: A Few Questions About the TransAm
« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2009, 10:31:04 pm »
Seems like an absolutely horrible idea.  Poor dog, running all day on pavement, with cars whizzing by, in peril for its life.

And, you're going to have to carry dog food, water for the dog, what about it's feet - booties?  What about chasing other dogs and other animals?  What if it runs away?  What if it runs in front of you and crashes you?  What about stealth camping - nothing stealthy about a barking dog. 

I think it would be irresponsible to expect your dog to run the whole way.  You should have a way to carry it, for when it's tired or if it's injured or sick.  I've met a few people towing a trailer wtih a dog, or with tiny dogs.  That seems marginally reasonable, but the one I met with a big dog was an exceptionally strong young man, and his dog rode in the trailer most of the time, except when he was climbing. 

The way you refer to "the dog..."  is this a dog you already have, or are you planning to get one? 

Sounds like a really bad idea.  Sorry.  I usually don't write this harshly, but for the sake of the (your?) dog, I'm not mincing words.

In terms of the rockies crossing, you're OK from June to mid September, the closer you are to the ends of that period, the more likely you might get some real snow storms.   You could go a little before/after, but be prepared to wait a bit if the weather is bad.

Good luck, I don't mean to discourage you from riding your tour, I just would encourage you to find a way that is safe and enjoyable for you and your dog.

Offline BC

Re: A Few Questions About the TransAm
« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2009, 10:37:39 pm »
My girlfriend and I both talked about this for a bit, and neither one of us would be enthusiastic about bringing a dog along on a TA tour. Sandie has hiked the Appalachian Trail, and commented that, from what she saw, it was tough for any dog to do more than 20 miles a day, day after day. Realistically, you'd want to be doing more than 20 miles a day, I would think. There are the concerns already mentioned - lack of vets, possible car/dog accidents, potential issues with local dogs - as well as a few others: the need for plenty of fresh water, pad care after so many miles on pavement (especially hot pavement), the obvious dangers in the occasional high-traffic areas, etc. I'm probably one of the biggest dog-lovers you'd meet, and I'll look for any possibility to take my old pal along on ski jaunts, snowshoe trips, hikes and backpacking trips, but I left him in the care of a trusted friend when I took off pedalling across the country. I hope to do another cross-country ride, and I'll make the same arrangements for him. If he was small enough to be trailered (I know it's been done), I can sorta see it might work. But, one on wheels and the other on foot? I'd think long and hard before launching off with that plan in mind. I guess I'd be more inclined to take the dog on a long distance hike, rather than a long bike tour

Offline dunedigger

Re: A Few Questions About the TransAm
« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2009, 10:39:10 pm »
Hmm, well, like I said, it would be at walking pace. I thought about its pads, I will be making some sort or wrap for them. As for the cars hitting my dog, it won't be walking on the inside, I will be biking nearer towards the yellow line, basic pet walking stuff. I'm just as likely to be hit correct? I understand the dangers and appreciate the criticism. Thanks, don't worry about sounding harsh. I might forgo the bike altogether and just hoof it. Do many people hike this trail? It sounds a lot easier than hiking the Appalachian trail, which I live on xD

Offline Westinghouse

Re: A Few Questions About the TransAm
« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2009, 07:18:43 am »

Here is a detailed answer about dogs. I wrote it on another thread for a person planning a transcon on a recumbent.
As for dogs on tour, I have had many experiences with them. Some cyclists might carry pepper spray, which I have done but never used. I saw another advise carrying a water pistol containing a mixture of water and ammonia; this I have never done. The fact is that dogs can be an occasional annoyance or hassle or whatever, but by and large they are not a real danger unless one comes charging at you from out of nowhere, startling you, and causing you to involuntarily swerve out into traffic. It happens.

There is something about the movement of cycling that sets dogs off into a headstrong frenzy of barking and chasing. I mean, you come along, and there is some dog in a yard. It has been lolloing around all day perhaps. It catches sight of you going by on your bike, and it immediately goes nuts. It starts barking, snarling, yelping, and growling, and chasing you at high speed and going for your heels with all its might. I have seen dogs go absolutely bananas at the sight of me cycling, even if I was two hundred feet away from them. I have seen them come charging out at me, stopped only by a fence around thge property. They would follow all along the fence line to the end, and then go ape trying to jump over the fence or tunnel under it.  This kind of reaction comes from dogs of all sizes from the largest dogs to even those little Mexican Chihuahuas. That is no kidding. I wa cycling through some town. Somebody was carrying one of those little Mexican dogs. It saw me. It went crazy trying to jump from its owners arms and chase along.

I have worked out a manner of dealing with dogs. In spite of all the noise and chases not one dog has ever actually bitten me.  However, they do seem to be fond of going for the feet, and some have come close to biting. First, slow down a bit, look at the dog and yell out a loud, sharp report, and when I say loud and sharp that is what is meant; something like you might expect to hear from a marine corps drill sargent. You might have to yell a number of times. The yelling will bring some dogs to a halt. Some will stop temporarily and continue, and slow down or halt every time you yell. Just yell out hut or ha loud, sharp, and clear. If that does not dissuade the cur from pursuing his pleasure or whatever it is he gets out of the chase, come to a dead stop and give him the yell. He will stop. He may turn around and take off. He may tarry a while and snip and growl. He may come close, but my experience is the actual attack will not happen. I have cycled 34,000 miles through 19 countries, and six or more times across the USA, so I know of what I speak.

I have always ridden an upright touring bike, therefore, having a dog running along and chasing at my heels is a different matter from riding a recumbent with the animal more nearly at the vital parts such as torso, head, and throat. My general advice is this. If you are concerned, do what I have told you, and carry a water pistol with water and ammonia in it, if legal to do so, or a very good pepper spray, not one of those little key chain things, but a canister with a real fog or large volume spray that comes out, but do not use it as a first response. If you yell and stop and yell, the dog will stop his pursuit. In other words, do not run and it will not chase. Often, as you are stopped at the roadside waiting for the animal to lose interest, its owner will come out and call it back, and it trots on home. If you stop and it stops and loses interest, it might head back to its territory on its own, but if you take off it will turn around and continue chasing. Dogs, for the most part, are a temporary nuisance, but not a real serious danger. However, I am sure cyclists have been actually attacked, and perhaps even injured.

When stopped, the hound may come close, but will not actually sink its teeth into your hide. If it is particularly vicious or mean, give him a whif of the pepper spray or whatever, but I have never found that to be necessary. If you get off the bike and walk a ways, which you would not or might not be able to do, it could lose interest; get back on and cycle away, and it will pick up where it left off, or just go home.

Try not to let a dog catch you by surprise in close quarters. That happened to me once, and I tipped over injuring my ankle. It was at night on a quiet, placid road. A very large dog came charging aggressively from out of the bushes near the side of the road. All of a sudden I heard this very loud barking and snarling, and saw a blur out of the corner of my eye. In an attempt to stop, dismount immediately, and get the bike beteen myself and the attacking dog, I forgot my feet were strapped into the pedals, and tried to get off on the right of the bike, I fell over and twisted my ankle. Well, at least I fell over away from the dog and not toward it. After all that the dog just stood there looking at me, and turned around and left. It was one of the larger breeds of dog, and I am sure it would not have harmed me, but it caught me completely unexpected, and I reacted unthinking with a start. There was no time to think through what to do. The subconscious mind told me I was under attack and needed to respond, and I did.

You might have dog problems in some areas at times, and no dog problems whatsoever in other places. In 1984 in winter along highway 90 in Florida free ranging dogs were all over the place, and I might add, were often seen dead along the roadside after having been slammed by motor vehicles. In 2007 I cycled 90, and ther was not the first problem with the first dog; very different from 1984. In countrified areas dog owners may be more disposed to letting their dogs roam free. Some may be fenced in, but have some little tunnel dug out under the fence in some bush-covered corner. They actually seem to be smart enough to try and cover or hide their tunnels. Anyway, that is about all I can tell you. If you go into Eastern Europe, you may find canines of a very different stripe; very different from the friendly domesticated kind we are used to in the USA. For some of those dogs I encountered in eastern Europe, nothing short of a 12 guage shotgun would save you. 

Offline staehpj1

Re: A Few Questions About the TransAm
« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2009, 07:26:22 am »
Since you don't even have the dog yet, I'd advise doing the trip and then getting a dog after.  A dog will be a hassle on a trip of that nature.  You don't need it for protection.  For company make it a point to meet the local folks.  You will be likely to find tons of chances to chat with them.  Also if you camp in hiker biker sites, city parks, and churches you will probably be able to camp with other cyclists if you want.

That said as far as walking the TA...  I don't know of anyone, but we met a guy who ran a shorter route across the US.  He was on the TA part of the way but his route was maybe 1200 miles shorter.  His site is at:  Check out his Oregon to Virginia trip.

I also would advise that you will not need to stealth camp most of the time.  Why stealth camp in places where you are welcome to camp in plain sight?  It is a personal choice, but when bike touring I prefer to camp in city parks or sleep in churches rather than hiding in the woods.  You get to meet more people that way, and the extra human contact is nice.  I think we paid to camp less than half the time on the TA and never needed to stealth camp or knock on doors to get permission.  On the TA the trails have been blazed in that respect.  Places that will let you camp are mostly known.  Churches that will let you sleep there are known, etc.  Some places will feed you either breakfast of dinner.  It is a nice experience.

Where there aren't free places to stay there are often cheap camp sites for cyclists.

Offline dunedigger

Re: A Few Questions About the TransAm
« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2009, 11:48:36 am »
Thanks for the information everybody, everything is being taken into consideration.

Offline dubovsmj

Re: A Few Questions About the TransAm
« Reply #10 on: February 27, 2009, 03:38:49 pm »
that runner guy is incredible...when i biked the TA i "biked" into him halfway up togwettoo pass (sp?) climb and on way to dubois.  incredible guy...looks like he's still busy...running

as far as dog topic....i'll assume you've equipped yourself with knowledge and know how of being a vet incase something happens? esp in remote places...

...if you do end up bringing dog maybe you should do the american discovery trail that way you are off busy roads more or less and still crossing the country.

pick up "walk across america" if you wanna read about peter jenkins dog he started his journey with. 

Offline dunedigger

Re: A Few Questions About the TransAm
« Reply #11 on: February 27, 2009, 03:55:46 pm »
Ah, I remember the American Discovery Trail, that is the first one I actually heard about, but then I stumbled across the ACA trails.

I'll be sure to check out that book as well, thanks.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2009, 03:59:08 pm by dunedigger »

Offline staehpj1

Re: A Few Questions About the TransAm
« Reply #12 on: February 27, 2009, 05:04:17 pm »
that runner guy is incredible...when i biked the TA i "biked" into him halfway up togwettoo pass (sp?) climb and on way to dubois.  incredible guy...looks like he's still busy...running 
I wonder if we met?  I am assuming you met Bjorn in 2007.  I was traveling with two recent college grads (my daughter and a friend) at the time.  We were East bound and met Bjorn in Dayville Oregon June 19th.  We were in Dubois July 11th.  If you think we might have met look at our journal to see if you recognize us.  It is at:

If you met us you may know us as Erica, Lauren, and Pete or maybe as "Two Grads and a Dad".

Offline dubovsmj

Re: A Few Questions About the TransAm
« Reply #13 on: February 28, 2009, 06:58:20 am »
yeh yeh..2007..i had just graduated college and was heading eastbound back home to virginia with time constraint of starting job in august.
i'm not sure i recall meeting ya'll on the i recall there weren't too, too many folks heading eastbound that i ran into, esp compared to the amount heading westbound....i had biked from grant village, wy (in yellowstone) to dubois, wy on july i must have passed you folks somewhere along the way between oregon and there but you all might have been resting out of plain sight? or other way around.  once in colororado i took detour off TA and went through rocky mtn national park down to boulder and then hooked up with route again....i dont' really recognize ya'll from blog pics...nice blog though!!
here's my blog if care to skim through

Offline dubovsmj

Re: A Few Questions About the TransAm
« Reply #14 on: February 28, 2009, 07:42:07 am »
staehpj1 (sp?)
ok...i figured it out by comparing our two blogs.
on july 7th ya'll were caught in a storm near earthquake lake area....i was caught in same storm but in town called cameron and ended up sleeping behind the post office there seeing it got extremely windy not too, too far behind ya'll. next day i had biked and then ended day at grant village in yellowstone park.  you folks camped somewhere else in yellowstone and looks like took a more extensive tour of the park, which i regret not doing...and the rest they say, is history.