Author Topic: Trans Am Ride  (Read 6025 times)

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Offline kenwil

Trans Am Ride
« on: September 27, 2010, 08:01:02 am »

I hope to come over from the UK next year and do the Trans Am route. Some advice would be appreciated...

When to start?
West to east or vice versa?
Alternative starting points, given that I'll be flying direct into a major airport with my bike in a box?
Good diversions off ACA route ( I'm keen on Yellowstone)
How long will it take?
Any good books on the subject?(I'll be getting the ACA route map)
Any sections that are particularly difficult, desolate, dodgy?

Thanks for any suggestions.

Ken Williams

Offline John Nelson

Re: Trans Am Ride
« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2010, 10:13:00 am »
Either direction is fine. If you start in the east, the first half of May is ideal for starting. If you start in the west, mid-June is good. I'd pick my direction based on the most convenient time for you to start. Personally, I like east-to-west.

You can fly on to Newport News, which is only 10 miles from the start. If you've never been to the U.S. before, you might like to visit Washington D.C. or New York City before heading down south.

No diversion necesssary for Yellowstone. It's already on the route. I would take the optional side trips noted on the ACA maps to Mammoth Cave and Jenny Lake if you have time, but I would otherwise stick to the route. The route has already been crafted to give you the best places to visit. Some people like to divert to the Katy Trail in Missouri, but the standard ACA route through the Ozarks is great as is.

The two main books on the TransAm are Donna Lynn Ikenberry's "Bicycling Coast to Coast". It's dated now (over 15 years old) but still worth reading. Just don't count on all the little details to still be accurate. The other book in Stephanie Kirz's "Bicycling the TransAm", which is good reference for motels if you plan to primarily stay in motels. I prefer Donna Lynn's book if you're only going to get one.

No "dodgy" sections at all. Wyoming is pretty desolate. Everything except Kansas and eastern Colorado is hilly.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2010, 10:14:49 am by John Nelson »

Offline staehpj1

Re: Trans Am Ride
« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2010, 11:24:43 am »
I generally agree with what John said.  Weather is probably better with a East to West ride since you miss the heat and humidity in the East and get to the Rockies when the snow is gone.  That said there are good reasons to go either way, but either will be a great experience.

In the West Portland OR is probably the best airport to use.  I had never heard of anyone using the Newport News airport, but it does look very convenient to the route.  Newport News looks like a pretty small airport so you will probably have to fly in to somewhere else like Reagan or Dulles in Washington DC and then get a flight to Newport News.  Alternately folks take a bus, ride their bikes, or rent a car to get to the start from one of the DC airports.

The TA is pretty nice without the need for any diversions.  We made a few local diversions but only because of specific to us reasons.

As far as how long it will take...  That is pretty dependent on you.  We took 73 days, which I think is fairly "normal".  Some take substantially more or a bit less.  Personally I like to have a very open ended schedule if at all possible because I hate to be a slave to a schedule.  That may not be an option for you though, given the demands of international travel.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Trans Am Ride
« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2010, 11:49:13 am »
If you do decide to start in the west, I'd fly into Portland, Oregon as Pete suggests. You can ship your bicycle directly to "Bikes & Beyond" is Astoria, Oregon and then take the bus for $18 from Portland to Astoria. To a large extent, the most cost-effective approach depends on the number of people in your group. Certain economies of scale can favor rented transportation for more than one.

It took me 70 days (including a 2-day side trip to Mammoth Cave National Park), but I was a bit faster than average. I'd consider 70 to 90 days as typical, but some people do it in fewer or more. There are certainly those meandering types who take twice as long as everybody else.

If you read the TransAm journals over at, you can get an idea of the breadth of different approaches people take.

There have been quite a few thread here discussing the west-to-east vs. east-to-west factors.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2010, 11:50:47 am by John Nelson »

Offline PeteJack

Re: Trans Am Ride
« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2010, 05:56:16 pm »
From the UK I'd recommend starting in Washington DC and taking the Atlantic Coast route south until it meets the TransAm in Mineral Virginia. It is a major pain getting from Newport News to Yorktown by bike or on any kind of public transport apparently. you'll find Virginia and Kentucky much like North Yorkshire hillwise, lots of them in succession, shorter and harder climbing than the Rockies where roads are built to what was known as "mule grade" i.e. a gentle enough slope for a team of mules.

If the weather is bad when you get to the Grand Tetons/Yellowstone I'd urge you to consider waiting until it clears. I camped opposite them but never saw the Grand Tetons and rode through Yellowstone in the pouring rain with visibility perhaps one mile. Even Old Faithful is a let down if it's cloudy and if you take a picture under these conditions you can't distinguish geyser from cloud. The whiz down from Old Faithful is a 17 mile delight no matter what the weather.
« Last Edit: December 12, 2010, 10:38:52 pm by PeteJack »

Offline Gus Riley

Re: Trans Am Ride
« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2010, 08:55:57 pm »
If you do choose to fly into Newport News, here is a link on "Map My Ride" of an easy route to Yorktown from the airport.  If I'm in the area, I'll ride with you to get you there.  If not, my son may be able to ride with you and guide you.  Maybe even get you there in his pickup truck.   Even unguided it is not a hard route to follow, just make note of the different roads to take.
« Last Edit: December 13, 2010, 09:01:04 pm by Gus Riley »

Offline Salisbury

Re: Trans Am Ride
« Reply #6 on: December 29, 2010, 06:14:52 pm »
I am British live in Salisbury, Wilts and completed the TransAm east to west in 2008 unsupported solo.  Go east to west with the history and the sun is on your back.  I have a spreadsheet of my route and copious notes.  So if you have any questions you can contact me direct. 01722 416913 .  Jeff