Russell Brunelle (russellb) wrote,
Russell Brunelle

TransAmerica Trail vs. Southern Tier

My impressions so far, for the sake of anyone who wants to ride a bicycle across the country but who may be undecided as to which route to use:

  1. That you can't do the Southern Tier during summer, but MUST do the TransAmerica Trail during summer, is important: if you have the summer available, you'll have far more daylight hours available each day when you do the TransAmerica Trail.
  2. That you will have worse hills to deal with, and more of them, on the TransAmerica Trail, isn't important: if you have to make an earlier start on the TransAmerica Trail, then so what? You'll have many more daylight hours anyway, which benefits you on those mountain pass days as well as every other day.
  3. That you'll enjoy the camaraderie of other riders on the TransAmerica Trail, in a way that you wouldn't on the Southern Tier, is important: meeting the same people over and over, for example in my case that delightful Irish couple, has been a recurring source of enjoyment on the TransAmerica Trail for which there was no equivalent during my experience riding the Southern Tier.
  4. The dogs are worse on the TransAmerica Trail: of course you could just skip Kentucky, and hence skip the whole problem, but if you want to complete the entire route under your own power and aren't a "dog person," then you're probably better off with the Southern Tier.
  5. Motels may be cheaper along the Southern Tier. I'm gaining the impression that the Southern Tier route passes through more economically depressed areas than the TransAmerica Trail, with the resulting impact on motel prices.
  6. In addition to being flatter, the Southern Tier is much shorter. So, if your time is sharply limited, do the Southern Tier.

There remains one matter, which I'm unable to fairly draw a final conclusion on since obviously I haven't completed the entire TransAmerica Trail, but the fact remains that so far on the TransAmerica Trail I've yet to experience anything as consistently depressed and consistently angry as west Texas, which is obviously a big percentage of the total mileage of the entire Southern Tier. Obviously, Idaho, eastern Oregon, and Montana are conservative parts of the United States, but even after President Obama's election I'm still not seeing in those states the kind of signs reflecting blind hatred for the U.N., or blind hatred for the U.S. government, which I did when riding through west Texas even before President Obama's election.

Similarly, it cannot be denied that it's more enjoyable to ride through farmland where said land is actually being used, and is clearly being loved, than it is to ride through farmland which has been abandoned, and is more commonly used for the disposal of garbage, rusting and unusable farm equipment, and dead vehicles: so far on the TransAmerica Trail, I've encountered many more miles of farmland that is being cared for than I did for the same distance of the Southern Tier.

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