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Preferred direction for cross-US tour?

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Preferred direction for cross-US tour?

Old 01-31-19, 12:49 PM
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wgscott
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Preferred direction for cross-US tour?

I have to go to Washington DC 2 or 3 times per year, including this coming June. I live on the West Coast. So it would be comparatively easy to fly to DC and bike back in June, but I am worried about the head-winds.

The longest tour I have done is down the West Coast (many years ago). In that case, it is very ill-advised to go South to North.

Is it a similar situation for riding East to West, vs. West to East, given the prevailing winds?
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Old 01-31-19, 02:22 PM
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I rode East to West many years ago, and I only remember two days when headwinds were a real problem; and I only remember one day with a real tailwind. It isn't really a big problem.
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Old 01-31-19, 02:36 PM
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When we did the Southern tour route in 2011, we had thought west to east was the best way to go. But as we met people going east to west, they did not complain about headwinds. In fact some talked about tail winds. I am not sure how that happened. I would check out crazyguyonabike for the winds and other info. You might find the blogs helpful.
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Old 01-31-19, 02:50 PM
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I prefer East to West. However, I think you will get less headwinds going West to East.
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Old 01-31-19, 03:04 PM
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From my experience, wind in summer will be from the SW more often than any other direction in the western states. East of the Mississippi, I don't know, but I get the impression it's less windy out there anyway (more trees).

Eastbound and down, loaded up and truckin'.

Last edited by BlarneyHammer; 01-31-19 at 08:23 PM.
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Old 01-31-19, 05:05 PM
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Much depends on time of day. Out west here the strong west winds are typically in the afternoons. Often there's a light east wind in the morning. Timing is everything.

My XC trips have all been eastbound, and I've been very happy for some of those afternoon tail winds. I tend to plan my days to catch them. I could just as well plan my days to avoid them. One memorable eastbound trip across Montana included five days of very strong tailwinds all day. The westbounders I met then were miserable.

I also have noticed prevailing winds to be SW.
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Old 01-31-19, 05:42 PM
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Major weather patterns move W to E in North America.
Local wind conditions are affected by winds below the jet stream, terrain and daytime heating and may be far less predictable of direction and intensity for days at a time.
The Race Across America has always been held W-E for good reason(s).

That being said a tour is not a race and if one spends all of the $$$ and effort to arrive on the E coast with a properly equipped machine and the time to ride back to the W coast: Why Not?

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Old 01-31-19, 05:47 PM
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I did the Southern Tier, west to east and had a few days of wondrous tailwinds and a couple of days of really annoying headwinds. Articles I've read over the years say that for a cross the US ride there are no certain prevailing winds, one writer even went so far as to record the winds each day and then graphically display the entire journey's winds on a star graph. There was no clear prevailing wind direction. People who fly coast to coast will always suggest that it's faster west to east, and if I can ever pedal my Surly LHT to 30,000 feet I'll likely agree with them. But, for those of us that pedal on the ground, I don't think there is a better travel direction based on the wind direction.
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Old 01-31-19, 08:22 PM
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Originally Posted by BlarneyHammer View Post
From my experience, wind will be from the SW more often than any other direction in the western states. East of the Mississippi, I don't know, but I get the impression it's less windy out there anyway (more trees).

Eastbound and down, loaded up and truckin'.
I was thinking of Dallas to Duluth tour along your train of thought. In June prevailing winds in the afternoon seem to be from the South.
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Old 01-31-19, 08:35 PM
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Originally Posted by boomhauer View Post
I was thinking of Dallas to Duluth tour along your train of thought. In June prevailing winds in the afternoon seem to be from the South.
You'd probably want to go northbound anyway, based solely on temperature. As summer keeps getting hotter, you'll be farther north. You don't want to be in Texas in July or August, or even late June.

Why ACA suggests doing almost all of their routes westbound and/or southbound, I'll never know (Pacific Coast is the only one that makes sense to do so). More headwind, and hotter areas later in summer. Brilliant, I tell you!
Anyone at ACA reading this: You hiring? Sounds like y'all could use insight from someone that's done some touring.
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Old 01-31-19, 08:57 PM
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Tornados tend to go west to east. However, the wind is in all directions within a tornado, so it’s best to avoid them altogether.

https://www.spc.noaa.gov/faq/tornado/
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Old 02-01-19, 06:04 AM
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Originally Posted by ironwood View Post
I rode East to West many years ago, and I only remember two days when headwinds were a real problem; and I only remember one day with a real tailwind. It isn't really a big problem.
+1. I rode west to east. It was a mixed bag. Tailwinds some days. Headwinds other days. I can only remember one day when I was really glad I was going east. That was on the Montana High Line. The wind was so strong I sustained 32.5 mph for several miles until I spent to much time in the red and had to drop down to 28 mph.

Someone placed a map of surface winds in July over a map of ACA's Trans Am route. Prevailing winds were out of the SE, which can be typical in the east as well when you get the hot, humid systems during the height of summer.

Living on the east coast, what I really liked was riding my bike home. I literally rode across the country to my front door. When you do that you don't have to worry about making your scheduled flight or whatever home and dealing with getting the bike home.
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Old 02-01-19, 07:15 AM
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Originally Posted by boomhauer View Post
I was thinking of Dallas to Duluth tour along your train of thought. In June prevailing winds in the afternoon seem to be from the South.
I cycled Abilene to Minot last July. One strong front came through with winds from the north, but otherwise a lot more winds from the S than the N on the great plains.

As far as E/W goes, winds wouldn't be a primary decision factor for me.
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Old 02-01-19, 01:00 PM
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study, choose


previously offered https://www.windy.com/ so study that.. for next few months?


NB; 1st weekend in June 70 + competitors will again gather by the http://crmm.org/ and first head south down the coast ,
then turn East , following the ACA Transamerica Trail, but Racing .. un supported ..



....

Last edited by fietsbob; 02-06-19 at 10:45 AM.
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Old 02-01-19, 01:55 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Globe rotates within its atmosphere, so as to seem like winds blow west to east, ( with the exception of barometric and temperature differences, )

in June another group of competitors gather here and will race each other to Yorktown VA unsupported..

they cover the distance in less than 2 weeks..


previously offered https://www.windy.com/ so study that.. for next few months?

south to north with storms coming out of the south is the current scheme ,

it is more pleasant when the summer high settles in over the north Pacific, thus the following wind, riding southbound..







....
Rotates within its atmosphere? Please explain. Tradewinds are from the east in tropics. Prevailing westerlies in mid latitudes.
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Old 02-01-19, 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by mev View Post
I cycled Abilene to Minot last July. One strong front came through with winds from the north, but otherwise a lot more winds from the S than the N on the great plains.
Flashback to my 2006 CANDISC supported tour in North Dakota. We had some serious winds out of the south. During one 18 mile stretch between rest stops I couldn't get above 12 mph going down hill in a tuck on my road bike. At mile 9 there was an intermediate fluid stop that consisted of a pickup truck staffed by a woman and her daughter. My companion and I stopped for water. I asked the woman how far until the next rest stop. She said 9 miles. I was shocked that we had only come 9 miles since the last stop and said "It feels like we have been riding for an hour." My companion looked at her watch and said "We have been riding for an hour." When the SAG bus pulled into the rest stop it was nearly full of bushed people. At least we made a left there and got a tailwind.
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Old 02-01-19, 02:55 PM
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Having lived my entire life in the central plains states, prevailing winds are generally from the south and mostly west but can be southeast. If you're coming this way, do it after the 4th of July when the corn is head high, makes a huge difference if traveling west.
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Old 02-01-19, 03:24 PM
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post


Rotates within its atmosphere? Please explain. Tradewinds are from the east in tropics. Prevailing westerlies in mid latitudes.
that's a temperature differential as is the gulf stream in the Atlantic ocean and the Coriolis effect . you sailing from the Azores?

OP is riding a bike on land.. I'm on the west coast on the big river.. I was in the US Navy But not the Navigator..



If it really matters to you, May I suggest a course of study in meteorology ......







...
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Old 02-04-19, 10:38 AM
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Originally Posted by BlarneyHammer View Post
Why ACA suggests doing almost all of their routes westbound and/or southbound, I'll never know (Pacific Coast is the only one that makes sense to do so). More headwind, and hotter areas later in summer. Brilliant, I tell you!
Well...

Most of the strong winds I experienced on the TransAm were south winds. As Jobst Brandt explained a while back, it feels like a headwind whether you're going east or west. The exception was west of Rawlins, WY going west where we hit a horrible headwind. Same stretch where an eastbound couple we talked to ran into a horrible headwind a few weeks earlier. Big west to east prevailing winds are at 30,000 feet; unless your bike has wings and you've got supplemental oxygen, don't worry about it.

Hotter areas later in summer? Leave westbound early May, finish in the PNW around the first of August; the last 4-6 weeks are in low humidity areas at altitude. Contrast that with eastbound, leave early June, you get to spend your last 4-6 weeks in July and August climbing the steepest hills on the route in the heat and brutal humidity of Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, and Virginia.

Do you like to hit the road early, or ride late in the day? If you're a morning person, go west; the sun at dawn will be in the eyes of oncoming traffic, on the other side of the road from you. That's a safer scenario than traffic coming up behind you in your lane and blinded by the sun so they don't see you. Reverse if you'd rather ride until sunset (or thereabouts). Of course, the weather will be cooler, and the wind much lower, from dawn to noon than noon to dusk: advantage westbound.
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Old 02-04-19, 11:03 AM
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Thanks, everyone. I was trying at the minimum to see if there was a universal consensus regarding going West to East (like there is going from North to South on the Pacific Coast route).
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Old 02-04-19, 11:31 AM
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East to west, you gain three hours. West to east, you lose three. That’s six hours difference depending on which way you ride. North to south is obviously better since it’s downhill the whole way.
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Old 02-04-19, 12:44 PM
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Wouldn't the direction of the sun be more of an issue? I would prefer the sun illuminating the road in front of me than glaring in my face.
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Old 02-04-19, 01:29 PM
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start later in the day..
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Old 02-04-19, 01:36 PM
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West to east has a slight advantage - maybe 55% to 45%.
Especially true in the High Plains of Montana, Wyoming, Colorado; Four Corners, and Columbia Gorge -
Where there can be some truly killer westerly winds.

But the main advantage of east to west is saving dessert for last.
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Old 02-04-19, 01:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Samcls04 View Post
Wouldn't the direction of the sun be more of an issue? I would prefer the sun illuminating the road in front of me than glaring in my face.
Sun is a huge issue for me. I am an early riser. I am awake with the first birds, rolling out of camp about the time the sun cracks the horizon. And I like to be off the roads by 2p.m (blue collar Miller Time). So if I rode West to East I would be looking into the sun most of my ride, as would all of the traffic coming up BEHIND me in MY lane.

If you roll out at noon and ride until it's too dark to see, like many people do, then West to East seems to make sense.
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