USA coast to coast

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
irc
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Re: USA coast to coast

Postby irc » 4 Nov 2019, 1:01pm

Thanks irc - very useful info, good to know prevailing winds aren't really an issue, I didn't think they would be.
Washington DC- SF - LA looks like a good bet (though what is cycling in LA like?!)
However, it's beginning to look more likely I will need to start in Boston and do a more northerly route. Which would mean having to get a car or public transport to go from say Seattle to LA.

What were the other two crossings you did?


Vancouver to Boston. and San Diego to Florida.

The ACA Pacific Coast route goes past LA so getting to LA wouldn't be a problem. I've never found any ACA route to be a problem for a cyclist used to UK traffic. Bar a 400 yard stretch of Route 1 south of San Francisco where I pushed up a hill with fast traffic, bends, and no shoulder.

Drawback of a straight line from Boston to Seatle area is that the Great Plains are a bit wider and emptier further north. Crossing the plains on the ACA route through Kansas is a nice experience. You are needing to get south to get below the Great Lakes anyway. Once you get far enough below Chicago to avoid the big city traffic effect the distance to any point on the Californian coast from San Francisco north is pretty similar.

For a better idea of my DC - SF route and a look at the scenery my crazyguy blog is at. http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/ridingwest

For me going north and having a week on grassy plains rather than a week through Utah would be a huge mistake as far as scenery goes,



D-downhogs.JPG
Note the road cut into the rock in the left middle distance. Mile after mile of this scenery in Utah.


For another Boston - San Francisco route try Mike Noonan's journals. He's done SF - Boston 3 times by non ACA routes, though he uses mostly the ACA Western Express from SF until across Nevada.

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/sftobostonbybike

robing
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Re: USA coast to coast

Postby robing » 4 Nov 2019, 2:03pm

Thanks very much - I'll have a look at those links. The trouble is with crazy guy and C2C USA in general, there's so much information out there it's hard to see the wood for the trees.

If I was doing a northern route, I'd probably take the northern crossing of Lake Michigan from Ludington to Manitwoc. Also you could do a bit of Ontario from Niagara.

I didn't realise that so much of the northern route would be flat plains - I thought that Kansas would be pretty boring - but I stand corrected.

Certainly finishing in SF would make more sense with onward flights from LAX.

Weather in July - Oct? I guess would be pretty hot doing DC-SF, I don't mind that too much, I'd rather have it too hot than wet.
If I did a northerly route I'd end up in the Pacific Northwest in September, which I'm guessing would be more mixed.

irc
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Re: USA coast to coast

Postby irc » 4 Nov 2019, 2:28pm

robing wrote:Weather in July - Oct? I guess would be pretty hot doing DC-SF, I don't mind that too much, I'd rather have it too hot than wet.
If I did a northerly route I'd end up in the Pacific Northwest in September, which I'm guessing would be more mixed.


Temps vary. I got a heatwave in July for the first week of DC-SF. 95C temps. East coast temps feel hotter than the west because of higher humidity. But then in the east there is always shade somewhere. Towns close together. Managing heat is easy. Start/finish early.

After Pueblo CO the route clims about 4000 feet in a day. IE the valleys are at 5 or 6 thousand feet so a good deal cooler. A July start gets you to the west in Late August/Sept past peak temps. Finishing in mid Sept I never had any heat problems past Pueblo. Mostly perfect shorts and T-shirt weather. Sometimes cool enough for a windproof in the morning.

Sometimes the plains get heatwaves as well. In two crossings I've had the odd really hot day but in general it;s OK. If you get 95f+ you just need to start and finish early. Every small town has a library with aircon to kill time in the afternoon if you need to.

As for the Pacific northwest. Americans think its wet but it is drier than Glasgow. In my Vancouver - Boston I only got 2 wet days where it rained for hours. The odd thunderstorm in and out in 30m. Passes in the Rockies often get thunder and lightning in the afternoon. Worth starting early if you are going up and over. San Francisco will get drier weather than Seattle though.

irc
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Re: USA coast to coast

Postby irc » 4 Nov 2019, 2:45pm

robing wrote:I didn't realise that so much of the northern route would be flat plains - I thought that Kansas would be pretty boring - but I stand corrected.


The plains are flat wherever you cross them but are wider by maybe 50% near the USA-Canadian border compared to Kansas.

Map_of_the_Great_Plains.png
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Plains#/media/File:Map_of_the_Great_Plains.png


Opinions vary on Kansas. I liked it. A bit like cycling across an ocean. Towns appear 15-20 miles out beyond the curve of the earth. Just the tops of the big white water towers and grain towers. Then very slowly get bigger and closer over hours. The ACA Transam is by far the busiest cross USA ropute you'll see a dozen or two cyclist some days compared to none or a couple a day on the Southern Tier, Western Express, or Northern Tier. So the Kansas small towns are cycle friendly. Free camping in town parks with showers.Nicely spaced for day's ride usually. A week or 10 days across the plains through Kansas and eastern Colorado was fine. Maybe 2 weeks plus further north would start to drag?

But I've not cycled the Norther Tier. I've done the section from the west coast to Glacier NP but I then cut south to Yellowstone. There are people on Crazyguy who have done the Transam and the Norther Tier. A post there on the relative merits might be worthwhile.

Richard Fairhurst
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Re: USA coast to coast

Postby Richard Fairhurst » 4 Nov 2019, 3:31pm

I stumbled across this the other day: https://words.helder.land . Nicely written notes on a few long-distance US routes (Southern Tier, Western Express, Pacific Coast). Certainly easier to digest than trip journals tend to be.
cycle.travel - maps, journey-planner, route guides and city guides

robing
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Re: USA coast to coast

Postby robing » 4 Nov 2019, 5:58pm

Thanks - I didn't know the great plains were wider the further north you went.

robing
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Re: USA coast to coast

Postby robing » 4 Nov 2019, 6:44pm

I could pick up this route to SF from Pittsburgh, starting from Boston - would make it about 3500-3600 miles in total though, so still doable on an ESTA.

Sid Aluminium
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Re: USA coast to coast

Postby Sid Aluminium » 7 Nov 2019, 4:11pm

willswitchengage wrote:However, down south I imagine Texas could get a little dull.


In Texas one will find treeless, windswept plains, deserts, swamps and thickets, immense pine forests, rolling farmland, a coastal plain, rocky hills, neotropical savanna, hardwood forests, ~190 lakes, 5400km of coastline, a 444km long hypersaline lagoon, 1300km long rivers, and a range of mountains peaking over twice as high as anything in the UK.

The issue for cycletourists is that this is spread over an area almost three times as big as the UK, 1400km road distance west to east and 1500km road distance top to bottom. Today's scenery might remind you a lot of yesterday's scenery!

Screen Shot 2019-11-07 at 10.07.22 AM.png
Screen Shot 2019-11-07 at 10.07.22 AM.png (115.18 KiB) Viewed 158 times


Anyway, a hypothetical desire to ride across the USA from saltwater to saltwater but pressed for time could route from San Diego to Corpus Christi.

nsew
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Re: USA coast to coast

Postby nsew » 7 Nov 2019, 7:49pm

Sid Aluminium wrote:
willswitchengage wrote:However, down south I imagine Texas could get a little dull.


In Texas one will find treeless, windswept plains, deserts, swamps and thickets, immense pine forests, rolling farmland, a coastal plain, rocky hills, neotropical savanna, hardwood forests, ~190 lakes, 5400km of coastline, a 444km long hypersaline lagoon, 1300km long rivers, and a range of mountains peaking over twice as high as anything in the UK.

The issue for cycletourists is that this is spread over an area almost three times as big as the UK, 1400km road distance west to east and 1500km road distance top to bottom. Today's scenery might remind you a lot of yesterday's scenery!

Screen Shot 2019-11-07 at 10.07.22 AM.png

Anyway, a hypothetical desire to ride across the USA from saltwater to saltwater but pressed for time could route from San Diego to Corpus Christi.


I think that should read 540km of coastline.

irc
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Re: USA coast to coast

Postby irc » 7 Nov 2019, 8:19pm

Sid Aluminium wrote:The issue for cycletourists is that this is spread over an area almost three times as big as the UK, 1400km road distance west to east and 1500km road distance top to bottom. Today's scenery might remind you a lot of yesterday's scenery!


Texas is huge. My San Diego to Florida tour was 2800 miles through 7 states. Approx 1000 miles of it was Texas. THe Texas desert is a bit less interesting than other desert areas like Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Nevada. It tends to be flatter and more of the land is fenced off with no trespassing signs. A bit trickier for casual camping in some places. I've crossed Kansas twice on more or less the same route (different directions). Crossed Nevada twice on a mix of the same and different roads. I wouldn't go back to Texas.

Sid Aluminium
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Re: USA coast to coast

Postby Sid Aluminium » 8 Nov 2019, 3:54am

nsew wrote:I think that should read 540km of coastline.


Nope, but (and it's a big but) they measure every little squiggle of where the saltwater touches dry land. Measuring in this way is certainly not unique to Texas.

https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/us- ... tline.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coastline ... ed_Kingdom

robing
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Re: USA coast to coast

Postby robing » 8 Nov 2019, 8:30am

irc wrote:
Sid Aluminium wrote:The issue for cycletourists is that this is spread over an area almost three times as big as the UK, 1400km road distance west to east and 1500km road distance top to bottom. Today's scenery might remind you a lot of yesterday's scenery!


Texas is huge. My San Diego to Florida tour was 2800 miles through 7 states. Approx 1000 miles of it was Texas. THe Texas desert is a bit less interesting than other desert areas like Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Nevada. It tends to be flatter and more of the land is fenced off with no trespassing signs. A bit trickier for casual camping in some places. I've crossed Kansas twice on more or less the same route (different directions). Crossed Nevada twice on a mix of the same and different roads. I wouldn't go back to Texas.

A RTW cycling couple said that if Texas were a country, it would be the 3rd largest country they cycled across in their RTW trip!

irc - I have this preconception that southern USA states are inherently much more dangerous in terms of crime, and that a middle or northern route is much safer. Is there any truth in this?

irc
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Re: USA coast to coast

Postby irc » 8 Nov 2019, 6:06pm

robing wrote:irc - I have this preconception that southern USA states are inherently much more dangerous in terms of crime, and that a middle or northern route is much safer. Is there any truth in this?


I can only comment on the Southern Tier route. It runs pretty close to the Mexico Border and the Gulf Coast. I only felt one small town to be a bit dodgy. Bit of a ghetto feel. To the extent I didn't even want to stay in the cheap motel in town. But I went 5 miles east and it was back to normal. Camped just off the road no problems. Compared to further north the biggest issues with the Southern Tier are less variety of scenery and more dangerous or unpleasant roads. Not everywhere by any means but a few stretches of shoulderless roads with enough traffic to be unpleasant. Some long stretches riding on a shoulder with heavy fast traffic a few feet away.

The sample size is too small to draw any conclusions but I heard of three cyclists who were hit and injured by motor vehicles on the route while I was riding it. A member of the Adventure Cycling Group was hit in the Globe Tunnel and suffered a broken wrist. A cyclist who was riding a few miles ahead of the cyclists I met at St Augustine was hit by a pickup and suffered multiple injuries. Staff at the Pirate Haus hostel told us of a rider who had passed through two weeks earlier after suffering a compound arm fracture when he was hit by a truck in, I think, Louisiana. One of these crashes was completely the cyclists fault but if you are on a route where on many days there is hundreds of vehicles overtaking you there is more chance of a being hit by a vehicle than riding railtrails, empty back roads in the midwest, Utah, or Route 50 in Nevada where the vehicles are not there at all. It can be hard maintaining concentration while riding five or six hours day for week after week.

I wouldn't choose it as a first USA route unless the Oct-May period was the only time time off was available or riding the USA in that window fitted in with plans before or after.

But as far as danger, with a bit of awareness of your surroundings the biggest danger is from traffic.

Sid Aluminium
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Re: USA coast to coast

Postby Sid Aluminium » 9 Nov 2019, 3:44pm

robing wrote:I have this preconception that southern USA states are inherently much more dangerous in terms of crime, and that a middle or northern route is much safer. Is there any truth in this?


Everyday life throughout the USA is considerably more pastoral than the typical Hollywood movie. :D

nsew
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Re: USA coast to coast

Postby nsew » 9 Nov 2019, 10:54pm

Hollywood doesn’t touch on it. If you’re travelling through the Southern US States and staying in cheap motels, you’ll often be in close proximity to dangerously unstable methamphetamine users where selected rooms rent by the hour. Guns are plentiful too. Bonne route.