Author Topic: Best cities for TransAm ride  (Read 3580 times)

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Offline naugyanks

Best cities for TransAm ride
« on: October 04, 2010, 09:46:26 pm »
Hey everyone,
   A few friends and I are planning a 2011 coast to coast cycling trip.  We plan to start in June and take about two months.  We're going to start somewhere on the Atlantic and end somewhere on the Pacific but specific start and end cities have not been established.  So truly we may not be on the Trans America trail the entire time. We we're thinking about Boston, New York, possibly DC to Los Angeles, Portland, OR, etc. but really I just want to find the best route (both start and end points and possible cool destinations along the way).  I'm sure we'll stay in a motel every once in a while but mostly we're planning on camping most nights.
Here are some of my main concerns and questions:

CONCERNS:
-Safety (traffic, width of shoulders, bike lanes, etc.)
-Fun destinations along the way
-Resources (Food resupply, gear resupply)
-Beauty (Scenery)

QUESTIONS:
-What are the best start and end cities and why?
-What are some great destinations, not too far out of the way?
-Are there any places I'll have to worry about not finding a good camp or stealth-camp spot?
-Feel free to throw any other advice at me.

Thanks so much for any help.  I really appreciate it!
                     -Nick

Offline John Nelson

Re: Best cities for TransAm ride
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2010, 11:53:54 pm »
This question is a no-brainer. Follow the TransAm.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Best cities for TransAm ride
« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2010, 07:20:09 am »
This question is a no-brainer. Follow the TransAm.

I have to agree.  Riding the ACA Trans America route is a great way to go.  Similarly the Northern Tier might be a good option.  There is some chance for flexibility by combining other routes like the Lewis and Clark or the Western Express with portions of the Trans America, but personally I took the TA as my first choice and probably would again.  We did improvise a few sections, but mostly stayed with and liked the route very well.

I think that the listing of places to stay (including many free or cheap ones) and other services like emergency numbers, bike shops, post offices, libraries, and so on are a real asset.

I also think they did a great job of picking the route.  Which picks a lot of country roads and small towns and not too many cities.

There is a nice amount of other bike tourists on the route.  Enough so you can meet and make friends along the way but not so many that it is objectionable.  You will probably meet someone else riding the route every few days or so depending on the date and where on the route you are.  You will be able to camp with other tourists once in a while and will also be able to be alone as much as you want.

Your projected time of two months works out to averaging 70 miles per day if doing the TA.  That is do-able, but I would advise an open ended finish time with the option of taking longer if possible.  It is nice to not be tied to a schedule.

Starting in June in the West is probably OK, but later in June is better than early if starting in the West.  There would be a good chance for McKenzie Pass to still be closed Early June (you can detour on Santiam Pass, but it would be a shame to miss McKenzie).  Starting in the East, earlier than June is better weather wise, missing the heat and humidity of the SE and hitting the west when the snow is reliably gone on the passes.  That said June is OK.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2010, 07:30:58 am by staehpj1 »

indyfabz

  • Guest
Re: Best cities for TransAm ride
« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2010, 09:51:43 am »
+2 on taking one of AC's routes, especially if this is all new to you.  While you can certainly plan you own route, with the concerns you have, it could take a lot of research.  With the AC routes, most of the legwork has already been done.  I have done, among other routes, the entire Northern Tier, the Great Parks bewteen Whitefish, MT and Missoula, MT and the TransAm between Missoula and Fairplay, CO.  What is "fun" for one person might be a bore to others, so I don't think that question can really be answered.  Personally, I find the open expanses of North Dakota liberating.  Others on our x-country trip found the scenery monotonous.  But on either route you are sure to find interesting and beautiful places.

In terms of starting and ending places, cites/areas with plentiful transportation options often smooth out logistics.  Portland, obviously, has major flight, rail and bus access and is accessible by bus from Astoria, OR, where the TransAm ends in the west.  Seattle, which is only a few days ride from the western terminus of the Northern Tier, is similarly served by Amtrak, Greyhound and numerous major airlines.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Best cities for TransAm ride
« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2010, 11:30:02 am »
   A few friends and I are planning a 2011 coast to coast cycling trip.  We plan to start in June and take about two months.  We're going to start somewhere on the Atlantic and end somewhere on the Pacific but specific start and end cities have not been established.  So truly we may not be on the Trans America trail the entire time. We we're thinking about Boston, New York, possibly DC to Los Angeles, Portland, OR, etc. but really I just want to find the best route (both start and end points and possible cool destinations along the way).  I'm sure we'll stay in a motel every once in a while but mostly we're planning on camping most nights.
Here are some of my main concerns and questions:

CONCERNS:
-Safety (traffic, width of shoulders, bike lanes, etc.)
-Fun destinations along the way
-Resources (Food resupply, gear resupply)
-Beauty (Scenery)

Adventure Cycling has done the work for you on Safety and Resources; +1 for following one of their routes.  Roads with little traffic, excellent listings of resources by town/hamlet.  I don't know that I'd tie myself down to TransAm, as we had a great time on the Northern Tier.  Some of the best times you'll have will be talking with other cyclists, especially at campgrouds; and the AC routes tend to concentrate other cyclists so you'l have more to talk with.

Best scenery on TA was between Pueblo and Missoula, second best was Blue Ridge Parkway (which you could ride further SW) to a bit beyond Breaks.  NT was spectacular from Sedro-Wooley to Glacier, and there's some nice scenery in New England.  I'd like to ride the Grand Canyon Connector east on the Western Express to Pueblo, too.

Quote
QUESTIONS:
-What are the best start and end cities and why?
-What are some great destinations, not too far out of the way?
-Are there any places I'll have to worry about not finding a good camp or stealth-camp spot?
-Feel free to throw any other advice at me.

What cities do you want to see?  Note it'll take a day or two to get across the larger cities.  Camping and especially stealth camping could be tough in the suburbs.  Check out warmshowers for alternates.

What do you want to visit?  There was an AC article a couple years ago about a  guy who wanted to bicycle to a home game in every major league baseball park in one season.  Or Cooky's Cafe in Golden, MO offers good food and great pies.

Pick some cities and take off.  Choose NT, TA, ST, or TA plus your choice of WE or L&C.  TA+WE might be the shortest, if you really can't stretch your two month time off.

So decide to go now.  This winter pick a route, next spring prepare, and have a great ride in the summer!

« Last Edit: October 05, 2010, 11:43:44 am by pdlamb »

Lucky13

  • Guest
Re: Best cities for TransAm ride
« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2010, 09:18:25 am »
Here's another vote for the actual TransAm route. It can be considered a rite of passage for North American bicycle tourists - much as the Appalachian Trail is to backpackers. If you do ride the entire route - from start to finish - then you certainly won't forget it!

Most west-bounders start a bit earlier than June, to avoid some of the excess heat in the middle of the country. As mentioned, the TransAm can be done in two month's time, but many folks like to linger a bit longer.

On all of my tours, including a TransAm ride, I have tried hard to avoid big cities and all of that congestion. The "destinations" that I remember best really don't qualify as destinations at all. They were simply random events that I encountered along the way. For me, bicycle touring is a process rather than a destination - if that makes any sense!

Offline TarHeelTreeHugger

Re: Best cities for TransAm ride
« Reply #6 on: October 09, 2010, 09:19:41 am »
Here's 1 vote for incorporating the Western Express into your trip.  I can't disagree with the above input re: doing the entire TA, as I only did the portion from Pueblo east.  I went from Portland to SF along the Pacific route, then WE to Pueblo to pick up the TA heading back east.  I thought the WE portion was phenomenal, despite hitting some bad weather along the way (the reason I went south from Portland was b/c I had to leave in early April and was hoping to miss snow/ice farther south).  Yellowstone could be a side trip from the route.  Climbing up to Carson Pass in the Sierras was beautiful, then dropping into Nevada was quite an experience.  The basin-range-basin-range topography was quite a surprise for me, as it was my first time in that state.  Parts are absolutely desolate, which is great in moderation.  I loved Utah!  I went from Zion to Bryce Canyon to Grand Staircase to Capitol Reef to Glen Canyon.  As someone who has read a fair amount of Edward Abbey, it was a beautiful experience.  Colorado was also fantastic, but the camping was limited due to the remaining snow.  I found some cool lodging in Rico and stayed w/ a host family the next night. 

It seems like most people focus on the entire TransAm route for the obvious, good reasons, but I think more people should take a look at connecting various routes together.  I don't think you could go wrong in choosing a route across the US, so have fun with the decision making!  I lived in Portland for 5 years - Great place to start or end your trip.  Best of luck whatever you choose!