Author Topic: East to West  (Read 13929 times)

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Offline Whitiwafer

East to West
« on: March 02, 2009, 06:44:09 am »
Hello, I'm fairly new to the world of biking but I've started to entertain the idea of going cross country next summer. I've been reading what I can find online and it looks as if most people bike from West to East because of the prevailing winds. I live in New York and was hoping I could start at home but it looks like that would be a little more difficult. My question is, if I wanted to start in the West and head towards home how would I go about getting my bike and all my gear to the starting point? I can't imagine what kind of fees I'd have to pay to bring my bike on a plane. Would it be easier to just ride E-W rather than worrying about getting myself and my bike to the other side of the country?

Offline Westinghouse

Re: East to West
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2009, 08:04:10 am »
The conventional opinions used to be that west to east was the way to keep the majority of the wind behind you. I have done east to west in the southern tier of states close to the route mapped out by ACA. I have kept detailed records of wind directions. Here with me now I have such details from a thirty day tour from east coastal FL to El Paso, TX. The fact is there might not be any real advantage going W to E where wind is the matter. In TX you can run up against strong sustained winds blowing W to E, and you can also go all the way across the country and not encounter such winds at all. What winds hit you is a matter of chance, being in a certain place at a certain time. Going E to W you can get plenty of side winds, many of which are relatively mild and not of much concern. You can also get some strong following winds, or winds out of the SE that will help you along just fine. If you start from the southeastern US, don't worry about it. There is no way the wind is going to beat you down. Another thing. It's cycling. You are out there in the wind. Deal with it. If it gets really windy, and your expended efforts are far greater than your forward progress justifies, just  take it easy. Find a restaurant. Kick back. Have a coffee or a meal. Read a newspaper. It's the wind. We cannot buy it off or coax it away. It is all a part of bicycle touring. In my opinion, going east to west is just fine, and I am not speaking for the northern tier of states.

Offline DU

Re: East to West
« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2009, 09:21:30 am »
You are going to have to get your bike and yourself to one coast or the other no matter which direction you choose. You can ship your bike to a bike shop or a hotel. The wind shouldn't be that much of an issue, so go with whatever you want to do. Check out some journals and forums on crazyguyonabike to see what other people have done.

Here is a very good journal about 3 guys riding e-w from N.Y.

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?o=3Tzut&doc_id=1890&v=1Bq


Offline Whitiwafer

Re: East to West
« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2009, 03:59:23 pm »
Thank you both. I guess I was just a bit concerned that most of the trips I saw were all going W-E. I am going to have to learn to be patient when riding into the wind no matter what, I just wondered if it might be worse one way than the other.

Offline MrBent

Re: East to West
« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2009, 12:32:40 am »
Riding to home is nice because when you're done, you're done.  All the hassle of shipping, flying, etc. is a long lost memory by the time the ride is over.  Others will have different opinions, I'm sure.  It's no big deal to find a bike shop that will take your bike and hold it until you arrive.  UPS or FedEx can handle the shipping.  If you're not up to packing it yourself, a local bike shop will handle easily.  Cross country shipping isn't free, but it should be about what it would cost to bring it on a plane, and probably safer and more sure to arrive.  Do insure for maximum value.  I, however, carried my panniers as checked luggage, so I took that risk.  Oh, well.  Worked out great for me.

I rode east to west with very few days of direct headwinds.  I  started on the Northern Tier and eventually picked up the Trans America route in Kansas, which had the worst winds and most soul-cracking riding of the tour as a result of punishing side winds and relentless flat bunch of nothing for hundreds of miles.  Definitely the crux of my tour.  That said, I'm glad I did it.  Every tour will have these sections that really test you emotionally and physically.  That's a big reason to do something like this, IMHO.  Go with whatever catches you fancy.

But whatever you do, GO.

Cheers,

Scott

Offline Westinghouse

Re: East to West
« Reply #5 on: March 03, 2009, 06:56:20 am »
You very well might avoid unknown quantities of winds starting from one coast as opposed to another. My idea is there is no real set formula for avoiding head and crosswinds most are able to agree upon so far as I have been able to see. It is largely a matter of chance unless you are on the pacific coast where wind is much more persistent and predictable. Going E to W or vice versa, sidewinds are going to get you no matter what unless you can find a way to conveniently go north or south during blows and maintain your preferred route within acceptable limits. I have heard stories about the winds in Kansas and Nebraska. I was talking to one guy who abandoned his entire cross country cycling tour because he became so frustrated beating against winds in that region. Some people might prefer going from the familiar to the new by starting at home. Some may prefer to get all the logistics over with at the beginning by traveling to some destination and cycling back home. I have done it both ways. There is definitely something to be said for traveling to your destination and cycling back, also depending on your chosen mode of transportation.

On the east coast in summer and thereabouts perhaps S to N would be a better bet. Beginning around November or October fronts start moving north to south. With a good strong following wind you can knock out eighty miles like a walk in the park. But when it comes to E-W, W-E I have yet to see any settled definitive evidence showing one direction better than the other for taking advantage of wind directions.

Offline staehpj1

Re: East to West
« Reply #6 on: March 03, 2009, 07:56:42 am »
Hello, I'm fairly new to the world of biking but I've started to entertain the idea of going cross country next summer. I've been reading what I can find online and it looks as if most people bike from West to East because of the prevailing winds. I live in New York and was hoping I could start at home but it looks like that would be a little more difficult. My question is, if I wanted to start in the West and head towards home how would I go about getting my bike and all my gear to the starting point? I can't imagine what kind of fees I'd have to pay to bring my bike on a plane. Would it be easier to just ride E-W rather than worrying about getting myself and my bike to the other side of the country?

East to West has a slight edge on prevailing surface winds for the TA. not sure about the NT or ST.  Summer winds in Kansas and eastern Colorado tend to be out of the SE and the TA goes kind of into them.  That said prevailing winds should not be the main factor in your decision.
http://home.comcast.net/~staehpj1/pics/julywinds.gif

As far as the worries about shipping the bike...  My preference is to have the air travel out of the way up front.  Easier to buy tickets when you know the date you need them.  You generally know when you are starting a trip, but unless you are different than me you only have a general idea when you will finish.  It is nice if you finish near home.  Being greeted by family and friends after the TA was a great experience.  It brought tears to my eyes when I saw them there to welcome us.  They had a van all painted decorated up and they threw us a nice cookout at the finish.  It was worth picking the direction of travel for that alone.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2009, 08:01:43 am by staehpj1 »

Offline wildandcrazy

Re: East to West
« Reply #7 on: March 03, 2009, 10:18:09 am »
Consider Amtrak.  The trip would take 3 or 4 days.  You will see some of the terrain that you will be riding, and it doesn't cost much to have your bike travel with you.

Offline staehpj1

Re: East to West
« Reply #8 on: March 03, 2009, 10:39:09 am »
Have you had good luck with Amtrak for coast to coast?  I like it in concept, but have heard other complain of delays in the range of days not hours.

Offline ztmlgr

Re: East to West
« Reply #9 on: March 03, 2009, 06:57:41 pm »
I took Amtrak home from Boston to San Francisco in 2007 after riding my bike from SF to Boston.  Those 3 and one-half days on the train were harder on me physically than the previous 54 days on the bike. I rarely slept more than 2 hours a night, forgot to bring my own food onboard, and suffered on Amtrak snacks and microwaved hotdogs. The seats on Amtrak may seem comfortable to sit in, but try sitting in them for 84 hours straight or worse yet, try sleeping in them.  I had to change trains twice, once in Albany, NY, and again in Chicago.  Each time, there was a 2-3 layover wait.  I experienced only "minor" delays, with the train getting into Martinez, CA only a couple of hours late.  However, I think my experience is the exception rather than the rule.  Longer delays should be expected.  If you are going to do the Amtrak trip before you ride, I would suggest giving yourself a few days to recuperate before you start riding.

I shipped my bike home via UPS so I can't comment on using Amtrak to transport a bike.  However, I saw how the Amtrak baggage handlers treated luggage, so I would make sure I had packed the bike very securely with a lot of padding material to increase the odds that your bike will arrive intact.  UPS was a snap, although it costs some money.  I just wheeled the bike into the local bike shop in Boston, told them where I wanted it shipped, they did a professional job disassembling the bike and packing it securely, and it arrived at my doorstep 1 week later without a scratch.

Offline jimbo

Re: East to West
« Reply #10 on: March 03, 2009, 08:51:33 pm »
 Like you I am a New Yorker and was/am new to touring and for my first tour (Aug-Oct 2008) (www.c2c4conservation.org) I went west to east from Washington to Southern Maine in 10 weeks/3700 miles (SAG supported)
Getting a bike to the start point is a solvable problem and doing it from home is easier than doing it from the finish point.
Regarding winds:  We had more tail winds than head winds; but not by much.  We had more days of southern side winds than either tail or headwinds.
 For us riding towards home was the primary advantage of west to east.

Jim K
Canadice NY

Offline johnsondasw

Re: East to West
« Reply #11 on: March 03, 2009, 11:40:21 pm »
I agree with ztmlgr about Amtrack.  I've taken 2 long trips on Amtrack and will never do it again.  Both times, schedules were a joke, employees were unfriendly, bathrooms were disgusting, and decent sleep impossible.  And the cost was about the same as flying.  We were also repeatedly lied to about when we would arrive at destinations.  Not my idea of a great way to see the country.  That's been my experience!
May the wind be at your back!

Offline Westinghouse

Re: East to West
« Reply #12 on: March 04, 2009, 11:37:54 am »
Every person makes his opinions on his own experiences, and we can also learn from the experiences of others. From my experiences I will say this much. DO NOT USE GREYHOUND BUS except for short hauls, the shorter the better. If Greyhound bus were the ony single choice I had for transportation back to Florida after cycling to California, I would pack up my gear, haul it out to the roads of America, and hitchhike back.

Offline John Nettles

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Re: East to West
« Reply #13 on: March 04, 2009, 11:59:13 am »
....DO NOT USE GREYHOUND BUS....

I agree on Greyhound but some of the regional bus companies are quite nice.  Jefferson Lines in the central plains area are newer buses, nice personnel, pretty much on time, kick troublemakers off the bus, etc.  I have used them a few times with no problems unless during the harvest season when a TON of Mexicans seem to ride them to the various farming towns.  What is weird about that is that 20 will get off at a roadside stop and scatter in all directions LEAVING THEIR LUGGAGE for one guy who was already there to pick up.  So much for border security.  Anyway, some bus lines are nice but Greyhound does leave something to be desired.

Offline staehpj1

Re: East to West
« Reply #14 on: March 04, 2009, 01:21:57 pm »
....DO NOT USE GREYHOUND BUS....
From the Harry Chapin Lyrics to Greyhound:
Take the Greyhound.
It's a dog of a way to get around.
Take the Greyhound.
It's a dog gone easy way to get you down.

That about sums it up.  I will say that if you are looking for an "adventure" the Greyhound will likely provide that.