Author Topic: Seeking advice on East to West US transit  (Read 5151 times)

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Offline Cheri

Seeking advice on East to West US transit
« on: August 01, 2011, 01:23:23 pm »
Would like to consider an East to West crossing next summer, ending in Oregon.  Nobody seems to do it east to west, and I am expecting headwinds is one problem, and the most mountainous rides are at the end instead of getting them out of the way in the beginning, but what are the other reasons not to do trans-Am east to west?  Have a reunion coming up on west coast next year and would love to ride to it.  Thanks ~  Cheri

Offline staehpj1

Re: Seeking advice on East to West US transit
« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2011, 02:21:15 pm »
Would like to consider an East to West crossing next summer, ending in Oregon.  Nobody seems to do it east to west, and I am expecting headwinds is one problem, and the most mountainous rides are at the end instead of getting them out of the way in the beginning, but what are the other reasons not to do trans-Am east to west?  Have a reunion coming up on west coast next year and would love to ride to it.  Thanks ~  Cheri
I'll attempt to kill three myths right off...

First, I think that the winds actually favor E-W on the traditional Trans America route.  The winds on the plains in summer tend to be out of the southeast and the Trans America tends to go NW in that area.  Also it offers better weather for an early-ish start.  That way you miss the hot humid weather in the east and get to the Rockies when the snow is long gone.  Ideally a spring start is the east is the best shot of all at pleasant weather.

Second, the Appalachians are harder than the Rockies at least on the Trans America, IMO.  The climbs in the east may not be as long, but they are much steeper.  That said I think that is one factor that actually favors going W-E because rather than getting tired you are getting road hardened.

Third, lots of folks go E-W.  Not sure where you got the idea that everyone went the other way.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2011, 02:31:00 pm by staehpj1 »

Offline staehpj1

Re: Seeking advice on East to West US transit
« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2011, 02:29:00 pm »
Forgot to mention a few other factors...

Riding east puts the sun in your eyes in the morning and riding west does the same in the evening.  So it might be better in that regard one way or the other depending on if you are an early or late riser.

Riding toward home means that you can arrange air travel at the beginning when you know when you will be starting, not at the end where you are less likely to know ahead of time when you will be there.

Flying away from home first is a great way to ensure commitment to the trip since it is harder to bail out early in the trip.

Finishing near home means that friends and family can maybe meet you at the end.  I know that was a big plus on my Trans America when we were greeted by loved ones we hadn't seen all summer.  They threw us a picnic at the end.  It was awesome.

There are lots of other factors, but those are a few that I tend to consider.

FredHiltz

  • Guest
Re: Seeking advice on East to West US transit
« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2011, 02:53:23 pm »
Everything Pete wrote rings true with me. You can find a lot more here by searching the Routes and General Discussion forums with key words like wind, east, and west.

My own experience is largely on the Northern Tier and Lewis & Clark routes in summer. Something of a weather nut, I logged my estimated wind speed and direction every morning and afternoon. A vector average at the end of the trips came out less than 2 mph both times. One SW and one SE. Conclusion: in the long run, it makes little difference. (The strong exception to this is the Pacific Coast route in summer.)

Anyway, +1 to Pete.

Fred

indyfabz

  • Guest
Re: Seeking advice on East to West US transit
« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2011, 09:47:59 am »
Last month we spent 2 1/2 days on the TransAm heading west to east (Missoula, MT to the bottom of the east slope of Big Hole Pass) and then another night in Twin Bridges, MT, which is also on the TransAm.  In that short period, we talked to 8 people that I can remember who were riding east to west and saw at least four others fully loaded who were riding east to west.

Back in '00 I did the section between Missoula and Fairplay, CO before turning south to Cortez, CO.  Same thing.  Met several people riding it E-W.  I likely would have met more but it was a little early (mid-June) to encounter E-W riders as far west as MT.

I think it would be a cool way to show up at a reunion.  Imagine the bragging rights.

Offline litespeed

Re: Seeking advice on East to West US transit
« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2011, 01:34:02 pm »
I have crossed the US east to west on a northerly route twice and on a southerly route to Utah twice. I fought headwinds in southern Wyoming and northern Idaho but in neither case was it strong enough or of enough duration to stop me. In the midwest you have a good chance of a SE wind pushing you. If you go westward along the Columbia River you are pretty well guaranteed strong west winds in your face. The most sustained headwinds I ever faced were strong SE winds against me while going eastward on US50 in Colorado and Kansas. I have also fought westerly headwinds while going westward in the the Texas panhandle but again it was only for a day or two.

On balance I don't think it matters all that much which direction you go.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Seeking advice on East to West US transit
« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2011, 02:43:29 pm »
Would like to consider an East to West crossing next summer, ending in Oregon.  Nobody seems to do it east to west, and I am expecting headwinds is one problem, and the most mountainous rides are at the end instead of getting them out of the way in the beginning, but what are the other reasons not to do trans-Am east to west?

Everyone confuses the jet stream with wind you'll feel on the ground.  Unless you're really riding high, you won't care about the jet stream when you're on a bike.

I did the TransAm east to west, and felt like I fought headwinds all the way across Kansas.  Funny thing was, any time I looked at the nearby National Weather Station reports, the wind was within 30-45 degrees out of the south; a cross wind.  If you feel techie, look up wind roses for Wichita -- summertime it's almost always a south wind, or nearly so.

I think after the wind gets to a certain speed, you feel ANY wind as a headwind.  (Tail winds excepted, naturally!)  There's something about a cross wind that disrupts the air flow around you, that you feel like it's holding you back.  And if you're headed west, the south wind will blow the shock wave of oncoming trucks across the road and into your face.  You'll learn to appreciate aerodynamic trucks in Kansas, if you never have before!

And one more concurrence for Pete's observations about the mountains.  The Rockies are higher, but, at least on the TransAm, the Appalachians felt steeper than the Rockies.

Offline happyriding

Re: Seeking advice on East to West US transit
« Reply #7 on: August 06, 2011, 06:09:21 am »
Another vote for 'no problemo'.  I believe riding the Trans Am east to west is the traditional way to do it.  I've been on a section of the TA out west, and I met scads of people riding it east to west, and nary a soul riding it west to east.  And for what it's worth, I rode the last 1/4 of the Northern Tier east to west, and it was fantastic riding.
« Last Edit: August 06, 2011, 06:15:50 am by happyriding »

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Seeking advice on East to West US transit
« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2011, 10:49:54 am »
It is possible to run into the teeth of mighty headwinds  that will put you off your bike for days. Of the several crossings of the USA I have made east to west, I encountered such winds rarely. Don't worry about the cardinal directions. Forget about the wind. It's there. Cyclists deal with it.