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TransAm alternatives (Seeking input on route)

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TransAm alternatives (Seeking input on route)

Old 06-14-22, 11:46 AM
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jdhutz
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TransAm alternatives (Seeking input on route)

I've been productively procrastinating at work for the last couple weeks looking for some alternatives or modifications to the ACA TransAm route. I'm not opposed at all to riding the TransAm as-is, I just figured it could be worthwhile to look at some other options. Some considerations/things I'm keeping in mind with these modifications:
  1. Start date and direction: I would like to go East to West, aiming to start Mid-May/June 2023. Ideally would start in June for work/life reasons.
  2. Would like to keep total mileage equal to or less than the TransAm route (<=4200 miles)
  3. Would be fun to start in NYC since I have family there, and passing through St. Louis for family as well (minor considerations)
With those considerations, here's my "Frankenstein" route I've made:
  • Ride the ACA Chicago to NYC Route from NYC to Indianapolis (~930 mi)
    • Pretty straightforward. Would be curious to hear from anyone else that has ridden this route before. I'd be skipping the southern part of the Appalachians but I would still expect this to be hilly.
  • Ride from Indianapolis to St. Louis (~270 mi)
    • Off any created routes, but seems straightforward enough following Highway 40 most of the way. Besides seeing family, another part of riding to St. Louis is to hook up with the Eastern Express Route
  • Ride the Eastern Express route from St. Louis area to Walden, CO (~1047 mi)
    • This is maybe the biggest unknown. I came across the eastern express route in my research and am really intrigued by it. Would love to hear from others if they've ridden it or sections of it. The Katy trail seems like a nice alternative, but I do hear some people speak really highly of the Ozark's during their TranAm trip. This would also cut significant climbs in CO.
  • Ride the ACA TransAmerica Route from Walden, CO to Oregon (end of trail, ~1800 mi)
Approximate total mileage: 4050 mi.

The way I see it, potential benefits to this route are:
  • Slightly less total mileage than TransAm
  • Likely less elevation (cutting out climbs in Colorado with the Eastern Express, and maybe some climbing in the first section, though it may be just as brutal)
  • Some more rail trails in the busier parts of the country
  • Seeing some cities more personal to me
Potential drawbacks:
  • Mixed feelings on rail trails. I definitely can get bored on them (still low mileage overall though)
  • Missing potential beautiful parts of the Appalachians/Ozarks, and maybe parts of CO?
  • Eastern Express is relatively unvetted
  • Plenty more I imagine
What are your thoughts? Ridden any of these sections? Would you not trade the TransAm for anything? Is June too late to start East -> West? So many questions, but just spitballing here. Appreciate any and all feedback/discussion, thanks!
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Old 06-14-22, 03:01 PM
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Weatherwise, I'd expect starting the EE in June might be roughly comparable to starting the TransAm a couple weeks earlier, since you'll be about one state further north crossing the plains.

I'm not sure you're going to miss the steepness of the southern Appalachians by crossing the ridges of New York or Pennsylvania. I suspect that will be a wash, as well. You may miss the Ozark climbing experience, so that may be a plus for your proposed route over the TA.

After riding across Kansas and the eastern half of Colorado on the TA, the Rockies were something for me to look forward to. And they didn't disappoint. Despite the total feet and altitude of climbing to Hoosier Pass, it wasn't bad climbing, max'ing out at only 6% or so. I was ready to climb by the time we got there. And the scenery from South Park up to Walden was really tremendous. Looking back, I'd hate to have missed it.

After riding across the endless soybean and corn fields of the midwest, and the wheat, corn, and sunflower fields of the Nebraska plains, are you sure you want to miss seeing some mountains? You'll still have half the width of Wyoming to see flattish high plains before you make it to the Absorkas and Tetons.

Some people are entranced by the prairies. I'll admit to being interested by them for a few hours, but not a few weeks. Given my preference, I'd be split between following the L&C up to the new Peaks, Parks, and Prairies route (let's see what the Bighorn Mountains look like from the ground!) and taking the connector to the TransAm at Eureka.

Whatever you decide to do, make sure you keep a good journal or travel diary. "Good" in this context means writing a few paragraphs or more almost every day, and if you post pretty pictures to a blog, give every picture a caption to explain why you posted it. It helps the folks back home understand a bit of what you're experiencing, and it's a record for years later when you look at a naked picture and ask, "Why did I take that shot?"
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Old 06-14-22, 03:33 PM
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I don't "get" your route. You 'd miss all the best of the TA in the east and skip the west altogether if I understand correctly. You'd miss out on doing a coast to coast ride

I'd suggest just riding the TA or maybe the TA with the EE alternate. Your timing is more suited to starting in the west though. BTW, not sure where you are, but I prefer to start on the opposite coast from where I live. That way you get air travel out of the way up front. It is easier to buy a ticket for a known start date than an unknown finish date.

Oh the NT would be another good option that I'd think would be better than the route you proposed. You could also cobble something together with the L&C and TA. Then again your preferences may be different and your route may suit you. I just don't see much merit to it.
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Old 06-14-22, 03:41 PM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
Weatherwise, I'd expect starting the EE in June might be roughly comparable to starting the TransAm a couple weeks earlier, since you'll be about one state further north crossing the plains.

I'm not sure you're going to miss the steepness of the southern Appalachians by crossing the ridges of New York or Pennsylvania. I suspect that will be a wash, as well. You may miss the Ozark climbing experience, so that may be a plus for your proposed route over the TA.

After riding across Kansas and the eastern half of Colorado on the TA, the Rockies were something for me to look forward to. And they didn't disappoint. Despite the total feet and altitude of climbing to Hoosier Pass, it wasn't bad climbing, max'ing out at only 6% or so. I was ready to climb by the time we got there. And the scenery from South Park up to Walden was really tremendous. Looking back, I'd hate to have missed it.

After riding across the endless soybean and corn fields of the midwest, and the wheat, corn, and sunflower fields of the Nebraska plains, are you sure you want to miss seeing some mountains? You'll still have half the width of Wyoming to see flattish high plains before you make it to the Absorkas and Tetons.

Some people are entranced by the prairies. I'll admit to being interested by them for a few hours, but not a few weeks. Given my preference, I'd be split between following the L&C up to the new Peaks, Parks, and Prairies route (let's see what the Bighorn Mountains look like from the ground!) and taking the connector to the TransAm at Eureka.

Whatever you decide to do, make sure you keep a good journal or travel diary. "Good" in this context means writing a few paragraphs or more almost every day, and if you post pretty pictures to a blog, give every picture a caption to explain why you posted it. It helps the folks back home understand a bit of what you're experiencing, and it's a record for years later when you look at a naked picture and ask, "Why did I take that shot?"
Thanks for the response. I'm not totally averse to climbing so you're making me re-consider just doing the whole bit of CO. The EE connector seems like a good middle ground to shave off some time, but the L&C/Peaks, Parks and Prairies combo also sounds enticing... I'll have to do some more research on that and see what the distance looks like (probably more miles total).

Definitely planning on keeping a travel diary for this one, I like that you call out some substantial writing every day. I've done too many little trips already without documenting my experience, I'd like to be able to have something for myself (and others) to remember this.
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Old 06-14-22, 03:46 PM
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I don't "get" your route. You 'd miss all the best of the TA in the east and skip the west altogether if I understand correctly. You'd miss out on doing a coast to coast ride

I'd suggest just riding the TA or maybe the TA with the EE alternate. Your timing is more suited to starting in the west though. BTW, not sure where you are, but I prefer to start on the opposite coast from where I live. That way you get air travel out of the way up front. It is easier to buy a ticket for a known start date than an unknown finish date.

Oh the NT would be another good option that I'd think would be better than the route you proposed. You could also cobble something together with the L&C and TA. Then again your preferences may be different and your route may suit you. I just don't see much merit to it.
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Hey Pete - thanks for the feedback. the Western part wouldn't be skipped. I'd pick up the TA at Walden and follow it to its Western end from there, so it would be a coast to coast ride. But I understand your criticism of the route overall.

I'm smack dab in the middle of the country so less of a concern for me

Gonna look into the L&C as well! I hadn't really done any research on this, so glad to know that people at least consider it.

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Old 06-14-22, 04:15 PM
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Originally Posted by jdhutz View Post
Hey Pete - thanks for the feedback. the Western part wouldn't be skipped. I'd pick up the TA at Walden and follow it to its Western end from there, so it would be a coast to coast ride. But I understand your criticism of the route overall.

I'm smack dab in the middle of the country so less of a concern for me

Gonna look into the L&C as well! I hadn't really done any research on this, so glad to know that people at least consider it.
I think I misunderstood some of the rest as well. I still probably wouldn't choose it myself, but it upon rereading it makes more sense than I thought.

FWIW, from what I have been reading the EE is getting pretty well vetted by now. Quite a few folks are apparently riding it and the ACA has been using it for some of their guided trips. I place a fairly high value on the "bikecentennial" tradition having wanted to do it since 1976 and finally doing so in 2007 when it was called the Trans America., but the EE looks like it would avoid the parts of the TA that I found most difficult, but also some of the prettiest of the east.

Whatever you choose, have a great time/
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Old 06-14-22, 04:51 PM
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Big drawback is missing cookies cafe pie shop in Golden City, Misery.

Missouri, Kentucky, and to a lessor extent Virginia have the most difficult hills on TA in my view. All the climbs out west are a piece of cake at 5-8% modern graded, just longer. I took a quick look at the elevations and grade of the Eastern Express, it looks easier

I am not sure I would want to miss Pueblo up to Walden although Poudre Canyon is nice

You should be able to hook up with TA in Kansas using only part of the Eastern Express..??
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Old 06-14-22, 06:08 PM
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IIRC, Frank Moritz created the EE. Frank led our Northern Tier tour from Red Wing, MN, to Booneville, NY, after we voted our original leader off the island, so to speak. I would follow Frank into the abyss. Great and knowledgeable guy. And a damn good chef.
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Old 06-15-22, 09:26 PM
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Really, really random musings:

1) Yeah, just ride the TransAm.
History, historical American bike touring, meet the greatest number of other cycletourists.

2) TransAm East Atlantic to Cave-in-Rock, Great Rivers South north to St. Louis, Katy&Rock Island paths across Missouri, Lewis&Clark to Fort Thompson, Parks/Peaks&Prairies to West Yellowstone, TransAm West to Pacific.
You'd miss most of the thigh-building Ozark hills, breathtakingly scenic Western Kansas & Eastern Colorado and Wyoming's Great Alkaline Basin (plus those Colorado mountains everyone is raving about) but gain the Katy, the Badlands, the Black Hills, Devil's Tower and the Big Horns. Oh, and I like the Mississippi River crossing at Cape Girardeau better than the bridge @ Chester, but that's just me.

3) West-to-East #2 to St. Louis, Route 66 to Odell, Northern Tier to Bar Harbor.
Might be good to go north if late summer 2023 is a hot one.

4) Great American Rail Trail to Chicago, Route 66 to St. Louis, & etc.
Perhaps some 2/3rds of your mileage to Kanas City would be paths & trails.

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Old 06-16-22, 05:23 AM
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I’m not saying that the Eastern Express to Walden is bad but it doesn’t cut off climbing. In fact, it’s a steeper climb. Pueblo and Fort Collins are of similar altitude. It takes 125 miles to climb to the top of Hoosier Pass from Pueblo which is about 10,000 ft of climbing. That’s about 80 feet per mile. It takes 66 miles to climb from Fort Collins to Cameron Pass which is 7800 ft of climbing or 118 feet per mile. That’s a significantly steeper climb.


I haven’t looked at Peak, Parks and Prairies specifically but the Gangplank in Wyoming is the reason the rails went that way initially. The Colorado mountains are too steep for rail and they do have significantly more climbs.

I’m not trying to dissuade you from the the Eastern Express route but only to inform you that there is no free lunch. Colorado’s mountains will get you one way or the other
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Old 06-16-22, 06:13 AM
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Hoosier and Cameron are both 100 time easier than the so called 15% rollers in Missouri. Ozarks are pretty but hard constantly up and down hard all day. Cameron is mostly 4-5% until the top where there is a short section around 8-10% but overall, it is a very nice road and climb for my money. Hoosier in the other direction west to east has a few steep switchbacks, I have not ridden it east to west but the descent seemed pretty gentle and nothing special scenary wise.
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Old 06-16-22, 06:39 AM
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I tend to agree with statements made on Colorado passes and would not put it as a strong consideration if it were my choice. I have cycled both Hoosier and Cameron Passes.

I'll also suggest that some of the grades and descriptions quoted also seem like slight overstatements. First -

"It takes 125 miles to climb to the top of Hoosier Pass from Pueblo which is about 10,000 ft of climbing." Pueblo is elevation 4,692 and Hoosier Pass is 11,541. Google Maps would tell you 9000ft climb and 2000ft descent over those 126 miles or 71ft per mile or less than 1.5% on average. It will also tell you most of this is fairly evenly spread out - and CDOT will tell you there are a few switchbacks listed at 8% near the summit - https://www.codot.gov/travel/maximum...in-passes.html

In general following the Arkansas River up from Pueblo is a pretty mile rise. You can tell vs. going the other direction though at times a headwind could have a larger effect than the climb. For example, I'd rather climb this with a touring bike than go against the wind in a place like the Columbia River Gorge...

"Cameron is mostly 4-5% until the top where there is a short section around 8-10%". Fort Collins is 5003ft and Cameron Pass is 10276ft. Google Maps bicycle directions somehow decided to tell me "mostly flat" rather than an elevation gain - but again not much downhill on a pretty gradual climb over 68 miles. Lets say 6000ft over 88 miles and we're talking just over 1.5%. CDOT doesn't tell us the maximum grade westbound but Wikipedia says maximum grade is 3.1% - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...es_in_Colorado. So rather than "mostly 4-5%" this is a pass whose maximum grade is 3.1% coming from Fort Collins. When I've cycled the long approach canyon I put it in a slightly lower gear and have found winds sometimes as obnoxious as any climbing.


In general where I am in agreement with both posters is
- If your motivation is to bypass climbing, there isn't much different between the routes.
- Passes in Colorado will have long gentle approaches over many miles. There can be a shorter few miles near the summit that are slightly steeper - however typically have found these grades much less than shorter but steep climbs in other places. I find those shorter steep grades more difficult than a gradual climb over many miles.

Last edited by mev; 06-16-22 at 06:47 AM.
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Old 06-16-22, 06:58 AM
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Cameron basically starts at Ted's Place and is a very gently 60 miles to climb about 5,000 feet to the top. I did it in the big ring (53T) until the top where there are a couple 8-10% pitches.

The two climbs that got me out West were McKenzie Pass in 100+ heat, White Bird in 110F, and Togwotee Pass in 25-28F temp. Personally, I would not worry at all about the passes out West. The steep hills in Appalachia and Ozarks are far more difficult.
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Old 06-16-22, 08:29 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
I’m not trying to dissuade you from the the Eastern Express route but only to inform you that there is no free lunch. Colorado’s mountains will get you one way or the other
The hardest part of the TA was in the east IME. The Colorado mountains had LONG climbs, but I found the Oarks and Appalachians much harder. The EE cuts out a ton of climbing there in the Appalachians and Ozarks. The elevations may not be much but the grades can be crazy steep. My experience was eastbound, but I think it still would apply for westbounders.

If only talking about the western portion of the EE I don't see much advantage to it. I figure it was probably created strictly to avoid the Appalachians and Ozarks.
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Old 06-16-22, 08:40 AM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post
until the top where there are a couple 8-10% pitches.
Even that probably overstates things.

8% is 400ft climb per mile, 10% is 500ft climb per mile. Consider what Google Maps tells us about the very last bit from Chambers Lake to the Summit: https://goo.gl/maps/eRwsVPZ1iqu2j1oE9

Over this last bit, there is 1200ft of climb over 6.6 miles or about 3.4% and the profile tells us fairly steadily spread out. There just aren't very many places to hide a 400ft/mile rise that has any appreciable length.

I've done quite a few of Colorado's paved passes and on average most fall within interstate highway specs of 7% grades as also presented by CDOT - https://www.codot.gov/travel/maximum...in-passes.html There are a few that get to 8% typically for a mile or two - and hence could be traveled by semi-tractors if other factors were ok (have seen more problems in cases such as Independence Pass where the issue is sharper bends/curves getting semis stuck than grades). McClure Pass and Rabbit Ears Pass both listed as steeper - https://www.outtherecolorado.com/adv...c8fe0f25d.html and I've found relatively more difficult - and still found roads other than these major roads in Colorado to be more of an issue.
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Old 06-16-22, 08:50 AM
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Originally Posted by mev View Post
Even that probably overstates things.

8% is 400ft climb per mile, 10% is 500ft climb per mile. Consider what Google Maps tells us about the very last bit from Chambers Lake to the Summit: https://goo.gl/maps/eRwsVPZ1iqu2j1oE9

Over this last bit, there is 1200ft of climb over 6.6 miles or about 3.4% and the profile tells us fairly steadily spread out. There just aren't very many places to hide a 400ft/mile rise that has any appreciable length.

I've done quite a few of Colorado's paved passes and on average most fall within interstate highway specs of 7% grades as also presented by CDOT - https://www.codot.gov/travel/maximum...in-passes.html There are a few that get to 8% typically for a mile or two - and hence could be traveled by semi-tractors if other factors were ok (have seen more problems in cases such as Independence Pass where the issue is sharper bends/curves getting semis stuck than grades). McClure Pass and Rabbit Ears Pass both listed as steeper - https://www.outtherecolorado.com/adv...c8fe0f25d.html and I've found relatively more difficult - and still found roads other than these major roads in Colorado to be more of an issue.
You misinterpreted what I wrote.

A pitch is not a mile.

A pitch is barely a hill. An 8-10% pitch is a very short rise. Google, Strava, RidewithGPS, etc. are not very accurate when it comes to short pitches. I like to use my speed measured at the wheel (not GPS) and indicated power output realtime to calculate the gradient. So, if I know I need 200 watts for 5 mph on a 10% gradient and it is taking me 300 watts for those 5 mph, I know I am on a 15% hill.

Nonetheless, I agree that almost everything out there is graded for modern standards and 7% is about the limit. I do recall old White Bird road to be steeper and it was also into a 30-40 mph wind at points.

I found this description of what I was thinking out loud in an earlier post. Taking the Eastern Express part way and connecting to the TA in Kansas. Might be worth OP's consideration

https://www.easternexpressroute.com/...rn-connectors/
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Old 06-16-22, 07:53 PM
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Originally Posted by mev View Post
I tend to agree with statements made on Colorado passes and would not put it as a strong consideration if it were my choice. I have cycled both Hoosier and Cameron Passes.

I'll also suggest that some of the grades and descriptions quoted also seem like slight overstatements. First -
I’d say trust the people who live near the passes.

"It takes 125 miles to climb to the top of Hoosier Pass from Pueblo which is about 10,000 ft of climbing." Pueblo is elevation 4,692 and Hoosier Pass is 11,541.
Google Maps would tell you 9000ft climb and 2000ft descent over those 126 miles or 71ft per mile or less than 1.5% on average.
I already said most of that. I rounded and didn’t include the descent because, for the most part, any descent is made up for.

It will also tell you most of this is fairly evenly spread out - and CDOT will tell you there are a few switchbacks listed at 8% near the summit - https://www.codot.gov/travel/maximum...in-passes.html
Nope. CDOT won’t tell you that because it isn’t true…or, at least, it depends on which direction you come from. From Pueblo, there are no switchbacks on Hoosier Pass. It is a climb with some curves from Fairplay but it has no switchbacks. Those are on the Breckenridge side.

In general following the Arkansas River up from Pueblo is a pretty mile rise. You can tell vs. going the other direction though at times a headwind could have a larger effect than the climb. For example, I'd rather climb this with a touring bike than go against the wind in a place like the Columbia River Gorge...
That’s the point I’m trying to make. From Pueblo, it’s 126 miles or about 3 days of riding to get up to nearly 12,000 feet. 5000 feet to 12,000 feet is a significant altitude adjustment and the extra time means that you can acclimate easier.

"Cameron is mostly 4-5% until the top where there is a short section around 8-10%". Fort Collins is 5003ft and Cameron Pass is 10276ft. Google Maps bicycle directions somehow decided to tell me "mostly flat" rather than an elevation gain - but again not much downhill on a pretty gradual climb over 68 miles. Lets say 6000ft over 88 miles and we're talking just over 1.5%. CDOT doesn't tell us the maximum grade westbound but Wikipedia says maximum grade is 3.1% - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...es_in_Colorado. So rather than "mostly 4-5%" this is a pass whose maximum grade is 3.1% coming from Fort Collins. When I've cycled the long approach canyon I put it in a slightly lower gear and have found winds sometimes as obnoxious as any climbing.
Some (if not most) will try to push to get over Cameron Pass in a day. That’s a very significant increase in altitude in a very short time. A 8 to 10% at 10,000 feet without acclimation may result in significant problems for some people. Altitude sickness is a thing and can be severe.

In general where I am in agreement with both posters is
- If your motivation is to bypass climbing, there isn't much different between the routes.
- Passes in Colorado will have long gentle approaches over many miles. There can be a shorter few miles near the summit that are slightly steeper - however typically have found these grades much less than shorter but steep climbs in other places. I find those shorter steep grades more difficult than a gradual climb over many miles.
Yes, Colorado passes are somewhat gentle. But they do make up for the attitude of eastern climbs with altitude. Just because can conquer steep climbs in the east doesn’t mean that you won’t have trouble with the altitude in the west. Climbing in the east, you run out of legs. Climbing in the west, you run out of air.
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Old 06-16-22, 11:28 PM
  #18  
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Iíd say trust the people who live near the passes.
For what its worth, grew up in Colorado and spent half my working career in Fort Collins where I have still have property. Parents with condo in Frisco. Four Ride the Rockies and five BTC during that time and multiple trips over Cameron Pass. Somewhat more frequent to come the other direction because Fort Collins to Laramie to Walden to Fort Collins made for a nicer three day loop than the other direction and also trips ending in Fort Collins were more likely to come from the west. Also more common to go from Frisco up to Hoosier Pass and back and to come over the pass from the other direction.

I'll stand by the assertion that describing Poudre Canyon as a "4-5% with sections of 8-10%" is an overstatement. There are long stretches of 1% or 2% in my experience with a some miles slightly steeper but not much at all I can describe in the 8-10% range. When it gets to that range I've occasionally switched to walking a slight bit (e.g. Rabbit Ears Pass) and never did that on Cameron Pass. Yes trying to do most all of Fort Collins to Walden in a day makes for a very long day - because of 5000ft of climb but also because you are at 100 miles as well (also why going the other direction was nicer).
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Old 06-17-22, 05:24 AM
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From what Iíve read on these forums over the years, riding out of NYC is no picnic. The only way to head west is to first ride north in Manhattan to cross the GWB to Ft. Lee, NJ. Iíve ridden to Brooklyn more than 15 times. Always took a ferry from Hoboken except for last year, when the ride switched to the Staten Island Ferry. Either of those requires some heavy traffic riding. Our ride has always been on the Sunday before Labor Day. If you decide to go that route I recommend starting on a Sunday. I would also expect camping the first night could be tough.
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Old 06-17-22, 05:28 AM
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Originally Posted by mev View Post
For what its worth, grew up in Colorado and spent half my working career in Fort Collins where I have still have property. Parents with condo in Frisco. Four Ride the Rockies and five BTC during that time and multiple trips over Cameron Pass. Somewhat more frequent to come the other direction because Fort Collins to Laramie to Walden to Fort Collins made for a nicer three day loop than the other direction and also trips ending in Fort Collins were more likely to come from the west. Also more common to go from Frisco up to Hoosier Pass and back and to come over the pass from the other direction.
Based on your statement about switchbacks on the east side of Hoosier Pass, I assumed that you were not from Colorado. That said, as someone who has lived their entire life in Colorado, warning people from outside of the state about the altitude is common practice. I stand by my warning. Even with the gentle rise across the plains, going from Fort Collins to the top of Cameron Pass in one or 2 days is a significant change and could trigger altitude sickness in some people. Taking 2 or 3 (or even 4) days to cover a similar altitude change is easier on most people.

Additionally the tours you describe are very different from a self contained tour. Riding to the top of either pass on an unloaded road bike is a very different endeavor than doing either pass on a bike loaded for a cross country tour.

I'll stand by the assertion that describing Poudre Canyon as a "4-5% with sections of 8-10%" is an overstatement. There are long stretches of 1% or 2% in my experience with a some miles slightly steeper but not much at all I can describe in the 8-10% range. When it gets to that range I've occasionally switched to walking a slight bit (e.g. Rabbit Ears Pass) and never did that on Cameron Pass. Yes trying to do most all of Fort Collins to Walden in a day makes for a very long day - because of 5000ft of climb but also because you are at 100 miles as well (also why going the other direction was nicer).
And I’ll stand by my statement that it is a shorter, steeper climb which could be problematic for some people than the Pueblo to Hoosier route
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Old 06-17-22, 06:03 AM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
warning people from outside of the state about the altitude is common practice. I stand by my warning.
Yes, although several things also come from practical experience:
- Altitude definitely varies by person
- There seems to be a fairly sharp effect at what point it cuts in for individuals. For example, taking out of town guests to Frisco (elevation ~9000ft) rarely had much effect. There is a surprisingly large difference in effect between Frisco (9,000ft), Cameron Pass (10,300ft), Hoosier Pass (11,500ft) and Trail Ridge (12,200ft). The worst scenario seems to be flying into DIA and then immediately going to altitude - did that once with a friend flying from LAX and within 12 hours we went up Longs Peak. He was in good health and had hiked up Whitney but still needed time to adjust. Next trip after he visited we did Longs Peak but spent a few days around Frisco first.
- So assuming going up Cameron Pass all in a day from Fort Collins - particularly if you hadn't adjusted to Front Range altitude by cycling via Eastern Colorado would be a stupid assumption but I don't see you need to make that assumption - particularly given distances involved.
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Old 06-17-22, 07:00 AM
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All of that raises some questions in my mind. I wonder about how much difference there is in dealing with altitude for TA riders going E-W vs ones going W-E. I don't recall it as being a huge deal for me going W-E when I was 56. Sure I felt it and we gained elevation and especially going over Hoosier Pass, but it was okay. Is the E-W profile worse? I am considering a US Semiquincentennial Trans America in 2026 and figure that might be a factor to consider in choosing direction of travel if the difference is significant.

I have had a much bigger issue when flying into higher places and taking off on trips. Heat and forest fire smoke seem to compound the problem for me. On one trip I got HAPE, tried resting a couple days, rode to lower elevation, and ultimately bailed out and went home.

I have found no way to predict when it will be a problem and have not found fitness level to be a factor. I have gone on trips where I was pretty out of shape and been fine and ones where I was quite fit and gotten hit hard. I guess acclimating as slowly as possible is the best bet. Flying in from sea level to 5000' and riding immediately to 10,000' and 100F heat with forest fire smoke was a disaster.
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Old 06-17-22, 07:23 AM
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By the time an eastbound TA cyclist gets to Hoosier Pass, they will have gone over Togwotee Pass (~9600ft) after coming across Yellowstone and spent time in Walden (~8000ft) and then Summit County (~9000ft) so there can be a number of days before going over relative elevation at 11,500ft of Hoosier Pass. A westbound rider would have come to ~5000ft near base of the Rockies before then getting to 11,500ft of Hoosier Pass. So I suspect some caution to not go all at once is in order.

Other than needing extra air - for myself I noticed it more hiking once I got over ~13,700 or so - more near last bits of 14ers than before. When cycling, my high point was in Peru at 14,850ft. Prior to getting there, I spent several days in Arequipa at 7,500ft before climbing the Altiplano. I had heard guidance to "climb high, sleep low" and to pace oneself to not climb more than 1000m between successive nights. However, there weren't many good places to stop between Arequipa and the higher points so I pushed that 1000m guidance some. In evening before I cycled this high point, I slept in Imata, Peru at 14,600ft (4450m) and could notice a slight headache - so had climbed too quickly that day. Once over this top, the Altiplano was again slightly less and headache went away.
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Old 06-17-22, 08:19 AM
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Originally Posted by mev View Post
By the time an eastbound TA cyclist gets to Hoosier Pass, they will have gone over Togwotee Pass (~9600ft) after coming across Yellowstone and spent time in Walden (~8000ft) and then Summit County (~9000ft) so there can be a number of days before going over relative elevation at 11,500ft of Hoosier Pass. A westbound rider would have come to ~5000ft near base of the Rockies before then getting to 11,500ft of Hoosier Pass. So I suspect some caution to not go all at once is in order.
The increase in summit elevations when I did the portion of the TA between Missoula and Fairplay, CO, was helpful. I had started on the Northern Tier, when to Glacier to go up and back down the west slope of GTS and then headed down through Missoula to Hamilton over four days, so I had a bit of a break from climbing. 6,000s and 7,000s (Lost Trail/Chief Joseph, Big Hole and Badger) in Montana. 8,000s (Craig) in Yellowstone. Togwotee at 9,600', as you mentioned. I also took a day off in Breckenridge, which is at 9,600'. I could definitely feel the effects during my two days there. After finally doing Hoosier I got on the Great Parks South route at Fairplay and did Trout Creek, which is around 9,300'. I think that day took a toll because I had a hard time on Monarch (11,300') the next day. Probably could have used another day off after Hoosier/Trout Creek, but I was in between Buena Vista and Poncha Springs. Nothing really around since the local market close to the campground had burned to the ground the week before.
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Old 06-17-22, 08:39 AM
  #25  
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Seems like a fair consideration that West to East gives enough time for released erythropoietin to facilitate additional red blood cells and make for less huffing and puffing at altitude on the relatively gentle climbs. Keeping the total weight down also helps. It is doubtful the East approach has enough elevation on the plains to prepare the body for elevation whereas starting in Astoria, one gradually goes higher and higher.

I know what not to do. Don't fly into Denver and go over Trail Ridge the next day. The climb is easy. Puking down the backside isn't much fun.
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