Crossing continental USA

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
MrsHJ
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Joined: 19 Aug 2010, 1:03pm
Location: Dartmouth, Devon.

Crossing continental USA

Postby MrsHJ » 1 Jun 2018, 12:40am

Hi all, I suspect this maybe fantasy route planning but my 3 month sabbatical for a big birthday is creeping closer (next spring/summer) and I'm thinking again about doing the TransAm. I will try to talk myself into a nice sensible option ambling round some cute American towns but as soon as I start researching them I think about the prospect of one of the biggest A to B routes you can do. However, I'm not a big follower of set routes although I get the principle of having a reliable option and it's clear that adventure cycling have done a good job so I'm interested in the variations, specifically in the west.

Looking at the route I would do the eastern express- I've read about it on and off in crazy guy blogs and always thought it sounds more appealing to me than the regular eastern route and I see that Frank Moritz has now semi-formalised it and put a good set of maps together. So that's me sorted from Washington to Colorado with lots of railroad trails and a few home visits with friends. I'm thinking that Kansas will be the only bit to get through that I would rather not bother with but coming out from Kansas and into Colorado seems a better choice than Nebraska into Wyoming.

For Colorado on to the coast I've comptemplated the western express over the years and it doesn't really appeal. Nor does slogging through Yellowstone and Missoula on the regular route. I love Wyoming and have several friends there that I can go and annoy but I really don't find it to be my sort of cycling country. I'd lean to doing one of the southern Colorado routes (probably staying with a friend in Salida) and then hooking up to Moab for some national parks, Salt Lake City, Boise and onto Portland. This has the benefit of mostly being through places I haven't visited before too.

Is this vaguely rational? I've cycled in the states and visited regularly but never cycle toured there so I'd be interested in advice from those who have. Or pointers to any good blogs on CGOAB-many people seem to do the regular route (and presumably that's for a good reason). I'll be routed on either the eastern express or the transam/other ACA routes into Montrose Colorado and I'll be able to pick the transam back up past Boise if I wish to follow it down to the coast.

The only thing that puts my off is doing a very high climb (anything over 2500 is a bit mega for these old legs although I know it's from a highish start). I know Colorado a little and there are some dead bits but on the whole there's a lot more going on than in Wyoming.

Ps anyone contemplating the eastern express route- I would really recommend the Cache De la Poudre Canyon- it's a great choice on the part of the route maker although I'll be heading too far South to do it.
Last edited by MrsHJ on 11 Jan 2019, 11:50pm, edited 1 time in total.

scottg
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Joined: 10 Jan 2008, 8:44pm
Location: Highland Heights Kentucky,, USA

Re: TransAmerica Trail Variants

Postby scottg » 1 Jun 2018, 1:45pm

The TransAmerica Trail, is a jeep trail across the US,
it is doable by bike.

http://www.swallowbicycleworks.com/blog ... he-details

https://www.transamtrail.com/

TransAm-FullCircle-Smaller-1.png
TransAm-FullCircle-Smaller-1.png (18.97 KiB) Viewed 568 times
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Why not the best, buy Cyclo-Benelux.

MrsHJ
Posts: 631
Joined: 19 Aug 2010, 1:03pm
Location: Dartmouth, Devon.

Re: TransAmerica Trail Variants

Postby MrsHJ » 1 Jun 2018, 11:54pm

scottg wrote:The TransAmerica Trail, is a jeep trail across the US,
it is doable by bike.

http://www.swallowbicycleworks.com/blog ... he-details

https://www.transamtrail.com/

TransAm-FullCircle-Smaller-1.png


Wow, what a fabulous blog-bonkers and great at the same time.

Ps -I thought I'd done some tough stuff but I learnt years ago that whilst I might be toughish compared to the average middle aged English woman I'm a total lightweight compared to what some in this community get up to on their cycle trips. So I'm not putting this one down as an option!

MrsHJ
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Location: Dartmouth, Devon.

Re: TransAmerica Trail Variants

Postby MrsHJ » 2 Jun 2018, 10:12pm

I'm gently puttering along thinking about this route. Still in the fantasy stage but I would have the funds and time to do it next summer I think as the kids get a bit more independent and work would let me take an extended unpaid leave. I'm not worrying too much about the eastern express at the moment-I'm focusing on linking the west up to some stuff I want to see. It should include Salida Co, Moab Ut, Salt Lake City Ut, Boise Id, Portland Or.

Image


So assuming I follow the eastern express and follow the link to the transam in southern Colorado then start up the western express I can get to Salida (and also onto Montrose, Co). I have a friend in Salida who has been asking me to visit for a while so hopefully a couple of nights there would help me adjust to the altitude and I suspect she might love to come along for at least part of the next week as she's an enthusiastic off road jeep driver.

From Salida over the continental divide at 11,000 ( highest of the trip) which is the Monarch pass and I think nearly a week to get to Moab which I hope would be a highlight of my trip and where I would probably spend a couple of days (maybe hiring a vehicle or spending time with friends). To get there I'd go over the old route 90 which is an unpaved pass (but has a vehicle camping site and forums online suggest it is cyclable). As it's a pass so I need to check some more information before committing but I suspect that either him indoors, friend in Salida or some of my other medwestern friends would enjoy visiting this area so it may be that there is some support vehicle available for my excess luggage if a loaded bike wouldn't work.

A good thing about this section is that it's fairly touristy so there are campgrounds and towns, hotels and even in the remoter areas there are some out of the way combined shops/bars./ campsites. Obviously the route 90 section would require carrying 2 days water but even then there would likely be other people at the midway campsite. We visited Colorado last summer and although I don't think we did this road I have some of the flavour of the area. Biggest risks are probably altitude problems-hopefully not so much of a heat issue at this altitude.

Here is the link. I've been looking at cycle.travel but not sure how to share that info so here is is on google:
https://goo.gl/maps/JWnBLuBpXi12
Last edited by MrsHJ on 4 Jun 2018, 6:38pm, edited 1 time in total.

MrsHJ
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Re: TransAmerica Trail Variants

Postby MrsHJ » 4 Jun 2018, 6:22pm

Weirdly it's looking like the most challenging bit might be Southern Idaho and a bit of northern Utah as this is the low population high desert area so first impressions are remote and not many trees. I'll ask my friends in Wyoming etc for impressions of this area (they drive days to California and Washington state regularly so I'm guessing they may know a little about the southern Idaho routes).

There's a bit of info online- clearly a few people,have thought Boise to Salt Lake City a doable route before to avoid the real extremes of the western express and I can reach out to local cycling clubs if planning matures into something more concrete. If,anyone here has toured Utah or Idaho though I'd be really interested in your experiences. Cycle.travel is choosing a somewhat remote (and lengthy) route via rockland Idaho whereas I might go for a slightly less remote version via snowville and Malta or snowville up to rockland.

The eastern Utah and southern Colorado piece looks amazing with a couple of fantastic looking routes that are bikable but not paved (and one that I'm not so sure about that cycle.travel is suggesting but I can see it's on the Utah list for reviewed mountain bike routes so looks like a possible as it avoids a busy stretch of road). Really looking forward to that fortnight from Salida to SLC. Haven't really contemplated the eastern part yet as I'm assuming that's all highly organised with lots of route planning already done and Oregon needs a bit of a think but looks like there's a bit more going on plus there's always the option of joining up with the trans am around Baker City.
Last edited by MrsHJ on 4 Jun 2018, 6:30pm, edited 1 time in total.

jacksonz
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Joined: 29 Sep 2015, 7:24am

Re: TransAmerica Trail Variants

Postby jacksonz » 6 Jun 2018, 8:21am

I guess a lot depends on how much time you have for your tour. The Trans-Am takes about three months without much resting or side trips....
A long time ago I rode the classic Bikecentennial route, it was a great ride. Some years ago I rode from Jasper Canada to Flagstaff, it took about three months and I probably needed four. It is my favorite route and I recommend it to you for consideration. It simply is spectacular.......

It's certainly prudent to use the AACA routes, they are well tested and used. You can make your own routes if you want. Most roads have some shoulder and climbs over passes generally have gentle gradients. Americans are a nice lot (especially in the country). I made plenty of side trips to visit National Parks without difficulty. One day I rode to see some Indian petroglyphs and found myself on a major trucking route...... I certainly recommend a mirror.

I spent a quite a bit of time round Moab (and Salida). So many amazing National Parks to see. The view from the Canyonlands Park over the Green River valley is one of the best views I have ever seen....The Black Canyon at Gunnison is also pretty amazing. And so it goes.

I can't recommend anything for you to worry about.......Maybe there were too many cars in Yellowstone? I can't think of any real impediments!

MrsHJ
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Re: TransAmerica Trail Variants

Postby MrsHJ » 6 Jun 2018, 1:02pm

jacksonz wrote:I guess a lot depends on how much time you have for your tour. The Trans-Am takes about three months without much resting or side trips....
A long time ago I rode the classic Bikecentennial route, it was a great ride. Some years ago I rode from Jasper Canada to Flagstaff, it took about three months and I probably needed four. It is my favorite route and I recommend it to you for consideration. It simply is spectacular.......

It's certainly prudent to use the AACA routes, they are well tested and used. You can make your own routes if you want. Most roads have some shoulder and climbs over passes generally have gentle gradients. Americans are a nice lot (especially in the country). I made plenty of side trips to visit National Parks without difficulty. One day I rode to see some Indian petroglyphs and found myself on a major trucking route...... I certainly recommend a mirror.

I spent a quite a bit of time round Moab (and Salida). So many amazing National Parks to see. The view from the Canyonlands Park over the Green River valley is one of the best views I have ever seen....The Black Canyon at Gunnison is also pretty amazing. And so it goes.

I can't recommend anything for you to worry about.......Maybe there were too many cars in Yellowstone? I can't think of any real impediments!


Thank you for your response- I have been burbling away to myself about this for years (and now here). I am fortunate to have visited Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons in 2012 (stunning- I preferred the Grand Tetons) car camping and I don't have a big urge to go and cycle them. We were in Colorado (based in Denver) and Wyoming (RV) again last summer for the eclipse and briefly saw the Black Canyon of the Gunnison and Monument Valley (we did a loop down to the south of Colorado and took in Sand Dunes etc) then but didn't get as far as any of the Utah parks, just some tantalising hints of what it must be like when we visited MV and drove the valley of the Gods. Good to hear about Moab- you see my temptation to head that way instead of up to Jellystone.

Point taken about the mirror- the trucking route thing is a concern of mine. I will probably get a bike tough enough to do some of the modest unpaved roads too and accept a lower pace. On timing I should be able to take 3 months - I don't think there will be massive pressures on time although the family and work will want me back whilst they still know what I look like! My kids will both be teens and work permits sabbaticals/extended leave etc.

The Eastern Express route looks up to ACA standards or close to - designed by Frank Moritz who has done a great website with full service info etc- the main risk is being washed out on the C&O I think so I'd lean to a June start and that cuts out the appalachians which I'd rather not start on!! So I'd get to Pueblo on the Eastern Express, get to Montrose on the Western Express and then divert up through Utah and Idaho to meet the Transam around Baker City if I want to join up with it. Tough bit looks like Southern Idaho- not where I had expected the most challenging part to be but I guess you have to cover the high desert somehow (or do the desert proper on the Western Express).

I think you're saying go and get on with it and I will look into Jasper Flagstaff although I'm wondering if that might be a bit low on services for this cafe to cafe cyclist (I like a bit of wild stuff but the description of a recent warm showers visitor who cycled something like 3 days to get to the next water tank in Oz horrified me!). I will plan on the basis that I've got an outline plan unless any genius sees a way to solve southern Idaho and get some miles in and equipment sorted out. Oh yes- and mention to the family and work that I'm planning a bit of time off!

jacksonz
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Joined: 29 Sep 2015, 7:24am

Re: TransAmerica Trail Variants

Postby jacksonz » 7 Jun 2018, 8:52am

Yes, the Great Sand Dunes NP is very special indeed. If you have already been to the Tetons/Yellowstone then I suggest you don't need to go north. If you are worried about Idaho, don't go! Instead I'd aim for Moab and then proceed westward. Have you been to the Bryce or the Grand Canyons? I don't think the northern route can compete.

Three months will go very quickly and there is a lot to see...... Finishing in Flagstaff is not a bad idea. A train/bus ride will get you directly to LAX....easy.

If you stick to the usual routes you won't be without services, Australia is quite different. Anyway, if you need some help every second vehicle is a pick-up truck.

That's right, get a route planned and go. Imagination (which includes fears) almost never has any relation to what actually happens on tour. All rather exciting I think.

PS. Puncture resistant tires recommended.

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jamesgilbert
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Re: TransAmerica Trail Variants

Postby jamesgilbert » 7 Jun 2018, 10:36am

@jacksonz Sorry to highjack the thread, but what route did you take from Jasper to Flagstaff?

@MrsHJ Thanks for posting your thoughts, the TransAmerica is also something I'd love to do one day.

jacksonz
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Joined: 29 Sep 2015, 7:24am

Re: TransAmerica Trail Variants

Postby jacksonz » 7 Jun 2018, 1:05pm

Take a look at this site https://www.adventurecycling.org/routes-and-maps/adventure-cycling-route-network/interactive-network-map/
The key elements were Great Parks North and South. Use the other routes to connect.

MrsHJ
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Re: TransAmerica Trail Variants

Postby MrsHJ » 7 Jun 2018, 5:40pm

jacksonz wrote:Yes, the Great Sand Dunes NP is very special indeed. If you have already been to the Tetons/Yellowstone then I suggest you don't need to go north. If you are worried about Idaho, don't go! Instead I'd aim for Moab and then proceed westward. Have you been to the Bryce or the Grand Canyons? I don't think the northern route can compete.

Three months will go very quickly and there is a lot to see...... Finishing in Flagstaff is not a bad idea. A train/bus ride will get you directly to LAX....easy.

If you stick to the usual routes you won't be without services, Australia is quite different. Anyway, if you need some help every second vehicle is a pick-up truck.

That's right, get a route planned and go. Imagination (which includes fears) almost never has any relation to what actually happens on tour. All rather exciting I think.

PS. Puncture resistant tires recommended.


I would be totally sold on doing all the Utah parks plus the Grand Canyon. Might need some negotiation with him indoors as he wants to visit there too......perhaps he can do the RV thing again for a couple of weeks for that section with any junior that is willing to tag along........is my OCD strong enough to require me to be a completist instead though and ust do the Utah taster this time around...- I suspect if I'm going to start at the beginning of the TA I need to get to the end in some form?!

jacksonz
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Joined: 29 Sep 2015, 7:24am

Re: TransAmerica Trail Variants

Postby jacksonz » 8 Jun 2018, 8:08am

Well, you can ride down Route 66 and dip your toes into the Pacific... Mission accomplished.

Anyway, whatever route you follow I'm sure you will have a great holiday.

MrsHJ
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Re: TransAmerica Trail Variants

Postby MrsHJ » 8 Jun 2018, 12:42pm

jacksonz wrote:Well, you can ride down Route 66 and dip your toes into the Pacific... Mission accomplished.

Anyway, whatever route you follow I'm sure you will have a great holiday.


Yeah, that's what I was mulling on.

I was also in touch with a couple of friends from Wyoming, one of whom has a campervan he likes to drive down into the parks and they both leant towards lots of red stuff and then finishing somewhere like flagstaff. So I will mull on whether I want to tick a box or not as if I'm not going to the pacific am I doing something else entirely and there's no need to start at the atlantic (don't worry- that's a self question!). Edit:got my Utah atlas and guide yesterday to investigate more-still pondering.

MrsHJ
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Re: TransAmerica Trail Variants

Postby MrsHJ » 11 Jan 2019, 11:42pm

So the transam is happening assuming I don’t break a leg etc before April.

I’d planned to break it into 3 sections of roughly a month each but it looks like I’ll be changing jobs so I’ll plan to start off at Easter and give myself six weeks to get as close to Pueblo, Colorado as Possible I just need to have a chat with my current and future employers next week to finalise things and then book the Flights-almost certainly with BA. Hopefully I’ll go back for three weeks in September and 3 weeks next June to complete the continental crossing.

My route will focus on rail trails and the outline is:
Washington DC
Pittsburgh
Columbus, Ohio
Indianapolis, Indiana
St Louis, Missouri
Salina, Kansas
Eads, Colorado
Pueblo.

I don’t plan to take camping stuff for the first section but I’ll probably have a sleeping bag liner and a thermarest. Then I’ll pick up a lightweight one man tent and a down quilt somewhere like St Louis for occasional camping.

My brain is in set up mode at the moment s on my to do list are:
Insurance
Flights
Sorting out new maps for the garmin
Training
Bike mirror
Think visibility
Set up three Roma anywhere coverage on daughters old phone

willswitchengage
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Re: Crossing continental USA

Postby willswitchengage » 15 Jan 2019, 9:29pm

Did this a couple of years ago as my first time in the country incredibly naively, pretty much all on road and even on a few motorways. 38 days, 3500 miles, full touring setup. Everybody very friendly and welcoming - used warm showers - but this rapidly deteriorates towards the east coast which culminated in me being 'hit and run' by a car in PA. Otherwise the only real issues I had were how expensive food and camping is and the weather had be a bit temperamental - snow and heatwaves in April/May. Did San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Bakersfield, Death Valley, Last Vegas, Kingsman, Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Wolf Creek Pass, a straight line to the Katy Trail, up to Indianapolis, Columbus, Pittsburgh, across the Appalachians (very hot and hilly) then to New York which was the first rainy day of the entire trip. NYC and it's suburbs are a nightmare - I rode the 70 miles into the city with my war face on on the motorway as it was my only option. There were plenty of rail trails around Pittsburgh too, just look at the Strava heat map for clues. Way more fun than Transcontinental. Only typing on my phone so can't share my map but I can't emphasise how incredible the trip is.

Oh and definitely get good tyres. The US is the litter capital of the world and there are shredded vehicle tyres everywhere - the wire from them will give you plenty of punctures.

Overwhelmingly drivers are very courteous and respectful, so don't worry too much about a mainly on road route. I also discovered quickly that our two fingered gesture is used over there as a greeting - in rural areas most cars will do this, honk, or wave. Plenty of other touring cyclists.