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2 questions on TransAm - climbs / fires

Old 07-29-21, 07:16 AM
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apkramer2021
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2 questions on TransAm - climbs / fires

Hey touring community!! Two quick questions on my upcoming cross country tour (taking the TransAm from Astoria leaving ~August 18th):
  1. Fires: I've been cross referencing maps of the fires with the TransAm trail. I am still planning on doing some more research. Regardless, I wanted to see if people have thoughts, resources or expertise on navigating fires in the Northwest. Is it currently no-go because of air pollution?
  2. Climbs/gradations: I am trying to get a sense of how rough the climbs are on the TransAm around the Rockies, especially Yellowstone to Breckenridge. For context, I have a 2by Kona Rove that I will be using for the trip. Any comments on what the climbs are like out West would be super helpful - or any resources to point to!
Thank you!
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Old 07-29-21, 07:28 AM
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Are you familiar with Ride With GPS? You can map segments. When you do, it will generate a profile showing grades in percentages. Here is an example I made for someone. It's the Northern Tier from Whitefish to Clark Fork.

Dashboard · Ride with GPS

The profile is at the bottom. If you put your cursor on any spot, left click and drag your mouse and then let go it will zoom in on the section you have chosen so you can see the grades better.

And without more details about your gearing and load, giving us the name of your bike doesn't help much.

As for fires, what things are like today could be drastically different tomorrow or three weeks from now. Be prepared to improvise or bail.
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Old 07-29-21, 07:39 AM
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The climbs on the TA in the West are long but generally are not super steep. Just be ready to do the long grinds. I remember the ones in the Appalachians and Ozarks actually being much harder, not as long, but crazy steep at times.

Fires, yeah, what indy said.

Also for me the smoke really sucks even when a long way off sometimes. I have gotten a little gun shy about trips in the west because of the smoke, but probably more because of my backpacking trips in the Sierras (and one ill fated on/off road tour in the Rockies) than because of my road tours.
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Old 07-29-21, 01:04 PM
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I did a week long ride across part of Colorado. I rode three days of the TA trail, starting with the Hoosier Pass. From the west, the route takes you up Colorado Highway 9 to over 11,000 feet. There are not a lot of paved shoulders on the road up there. There's also not a lot of oxygen up there...My rig was 70 pounds, bike and baggage. My smallest gear was 26/34. I was ok for most of it until the switchbacks towards the top. I was going so slow I didn't feel safe, so I mostly walked those. Most of the climb was 7% grades or less until I hit the switchbacks, so of the 11 mile ascent out of Breckenridge, I probably walked 3/4 of a mile or so. I think if the 12% grades would have been at a lower altitude, I would have been fine.
The second day I rode to Canon City. There are a couple of 9000 foot hills there, but it's a gorgeous ride. If you have any energy left when you hit Canon City, take Skyline Drive as you enter the city...It is an amazing road and worth the climb. The third day to Pueblo is very nice and significantly less altitude.
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Old 07-29-21, 02:07 PM
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Hoosier Pass (11,500' and change above sea level) from the center of Breckenridge (about 9,600' above sea level) is about 10 mi with a bit under 2,000' of climbing. Just a bit under a 3.6% average grade. Ruling grade looks to be about 7.2% near he top.

But the oxygen level can do a number on you. I took a day off at the HI Hostel in town and could really feel it.
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Old 07-29-21, 02:14 PM
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I recall Togwotee Pass as challenging but I did it at midnight after a 200 mile day and it was 26F. The rest of the way to Hoosier Pass is easy. The top of Hoosier is moderate but the air is thin. Missouri, Kentucky, and parts of Virgina are much, much more difficult.
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Old 07-29-21, 02:20 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Hoosier Pass (11,500' and change above sea level) from the center of Breckenridge (about 9,600' above sea level) is about 10 mi with a bit under 2,000' of climbing. Just a bit under a 3.6% average grade. Ruling grade looks to be about 7.2% near he top.

But the oxygen level can do a number on you. I took a day off at the HI Hostel in town and could really feel it.
The good news is that since you start the TA at sea level you are somewhat used to elevation by the time you get to Hoosier Pass. East bound you will have often been at 9000-10000' often so even though Hoosier is higher it isn't that terrible. It may be worse headed west, not sure since I have not gone east to west on the TA. So yeah there isn't much oxygen and it is hard, but it isn't like you won't be acclimated at least if west bound.
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Old 07-29-21, 04:06 PM
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I picked up the TA in Missoula after coming down from Glacier. So yeah, there is “prep” time in the 7,000s in MT. At least one 8,000+ pass in Yellowstone. Craig, IIRC. Then Togwotee at over 9,600. The thing about taking a day off at Breckinridge altitude is that you are up there for two days. I was atop Togwotee for maybe 45 minutes tops.

After descending to Fairplay I continued over Trout Creek Pass on the Great Parks South route. That was close to 9,000. Then I did Monarch the next day up to 11,300 and change. At the time, it was home to the world’s highest Subway restaurant. I miss my younger days.

BTW…Seems like the hostel in Breckinridge is no more. Shame. Other than the lady running way back in 2000 being a jerk, it was a decent place.
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Old 07-29-21, 04:35 PM
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I do not know if this is all large fires or only fires with federal agency involvement. But it is a map you can look at on occasion to see if there is something going on in a location you planned to go to. You can zoom in on the map. I do not know how well it would work from your phone, you would have to try it yourself.
https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/
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Old 07-30-21, 04:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
I do not know if this is all large fires or only fires with federal agency involvement. But it is a map you can look at on occasion to see if there is something going on in a location you planned to go to. You can zoom in on the map. I do not know how well it would work from your phone, you would have to try it yourself.
https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/
This same map can be overlayed on ACA's interactive map (if needed, click the "Click here for Route Conditions..." below the list of routes) so you can see where they are in relation to ACA's routes.

As to the OP, climbs in the west are longer but less steep. Fires come and go. Unless you are downwind of a lot of fires, you usually can ride through the haze in a day or two of one fire. It is an early snow you may have trouble with in Colorado if you ride at a leisurely pace and don't hit the high elevations until mid-October.

Tailwinds, John
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Old 07-30-21, 06:40 AM
  #11  
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There has been some moisture in the Northern Rockies this week,
A shower or two in southern Oregon, northern Calif.
The heat has diminished as the heat dome has moved east.
It appears that the relief from the most extreme heat will continue for the next week.
Perhaps August will be moderate - but there is almost no moisture anywhere.
So current fires will contnue to burn and new fires are likely.
It may not be the worst ever - 1988 was pretty bad.
But you should expect ongoing fires and the need to detour.

Smoke can be a serious problem.
Light smoke is an irritant and limits the views of western scenery.
But heavy smoke is dangerous and makes cycling nearly impossible.
Also, despite all the nice online maps, a change in wind direction can change everything.
The general pattern of the worst smoke is from SW Oregon thru central Idaho to southern Montana.
For now - cycling in Washington rather than Oregon would have far less smoke.
(But the Northern Tier isn't doable because the North Cascades Highway is closed.)
US 12 over White Pass is easily accessible from Astoria and scenic -
But central Washington can be sizzling hot.

You should be prepared to alter your route as needed.
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Old 07-30-21, 10:34 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
The good news is that since you start the TA at sea level you are somewhat used to elevation by the time you get to Hoosier Pass. East bound you will have often been at 9000-10000' often so even though Hoosier is higher it isn't that terrible. It may be worse headed west, not sure since I have not gone east to west on the TA. So yeah there isn't much oxygen and it is hard, but it isn't like you won't be acclimated at least if west bound.
You aren’t headed east or west on Hoosier Pass…just sayin’.

That said, the Breckenridge side (north side, going south) approach is a bit tougher than the south side. The elevation gain from Fairplay to Hoosier Pass from the south is 1600 feet over 11.9 miles (2.7% average). From the north, the climb is 1960 feet over 11.2 miles (3.2% average). The averages don’t tell the whole story, however. The south side is a fairly constant sustained climb. The north side is flatter near Breckenridge with steeper climbs (and hairpins) just below the bottom of the pass.
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Old 07-30-21, 01:30 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
You aren’t headed east or west on Hoosier Pass…just sayin’.
Unless you're riding east or west on the TransAm route when you cross Hoosier.

Similar to a few situations with highways and interstates. I was driving south on I-81 as I was driving north on I-77 earlier this month. Of course I was going west according to the compass, but not according to the road signs.
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Old 07-30-21, 01:40 PM
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I thought Transam went East from Astoria to Virginia? You go the other way and you are westbound?

Like on the Appalachian Trail, you are NoBo or SoBo irrespective of compass settings. South Bound or North bound

Odd numbered Interstate highways are North/South even if they sometimes go east/west
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Old 07-30-21, 02:17 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
You aren’t headed east or west on Hoosier Pass…just sayin’.
Since we are talking about the Trans America Route, I think it is reasonable to refer to going east or west.
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Old 07-30-21, 06:08 PM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post
I thought Transam went East from Astoria to Virginia? You go the other way and you are westbound?

Like on the Appalachian Trail, you are NoBo or SoBo irrespective of compass settings. South Bound or North bound

Odd numbered Interstate highways are North/South even if they sometimes go east/west
Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
Since we are talking about the Trans America Route, I think it is reasonable to refer to going east or west.
Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
Unless you're riding east or west on the TransAm route when you cross Hoosier.

Similar to a few situations with highways and interstates. I was driving south on I-81 as I was driving north on I-77 earlier this month. Of course I was going west according to the compass, but not according to the road signs.
Yes, but if you ask locals about going east or west on Hoosier Pass, they will look at you like you have two heads or they would give you directions to North Star Mountain or Hoosier Ridge. Their directions would be in northbound and southbound since the roads run in that direction and the TransAm is not all the well known outside of the bicycle community.

Even on highways that don’t follow the cardinal points, it’s a good idea to know what those direction is are because directions will be given in relation to the ground.
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Old 07-31-21, 07:56 AM
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The OP is traveling on the Eastbound TA. They will cross the Hoosier Pass going south on CO 9. Cyccommute is correct. And he’s also correct about the climb. Relatively easy below 10000 feet. Relatively difficult at the top. The inside of the switchbacks are double digit grades with traffic. But, they don’t go on forever, and the downhill is pretty good.
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Old 07-31-21, 12:48 PM
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May I suggest a few classic films?

"East of Eden" with James Dean
"West Side Story" with Natalie Wood
"North by Northwest" with Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint
"South Pacific" with music by Rodgers & Hammerstein
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Old 07-31-21, 06:46 PM
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Originally Posted by jamawani View Post
May I suggest a few classic films?

"East of Eden" with James Dean
"West Side Story" with Natalie Wood
"North by Northwest" with Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint
"South Pacific" with music by Rodgers & Hammerstein
How can you forget Krackatoa, East of Java? Which isn’t.
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Twisting Down the Alley. Misadventures in tornado alley.

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Old 08-01-21, 04:36 AM
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if you go to Cycleblaze you can read the journals of people who haver recently or are currently on the TransAm route and finding route closures due to the fires.
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Old 08-01-21, 05:29 AM
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Originally Posted by jpescatore View Post
if you go to Cycleblaze you can read the journals of people who haver recently or are currently on the TransAm route and finding route closures due to the fires.
Current info from folks currently on the TA can also usually be found on the ACA forums (https://forums.adventurecycling.org/index.php) as well as in the ACA route addenda (https://www.adventurecycling.org/rou...d-corrections/)
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Old 08-01-21, 06:47 PM
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Originally Posted by jamawani View Post
May I suggest a few classic films?

"East of Eden" with James Dean
"West Side Story" with Natalie Wood
"North by Northwest" with Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint
"South Pacific" with music by Rodgers & Hammerstein
“All Quiet on the Western Front.”

“How the West Was Won.”

”West of the Pecos.”
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