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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi there from Oz. I'm a new member but a not so new rider & have 40yr old gravel-rash scars to prove it. The 'lost' bit is because I'm having trouble using this forum: a) because I am IT challenged b) because I just want to ask (as an Aussie who is not familiar with you climate), for some in depth info on a planned ride across the US from East to West next year. Any guidance on how I do that please? Ah yes, my current bikes are a Ducati 796 and a Triumph Thruxton converted to a simple & very capable tourer. Hope to chat soon. Thanks.
 

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Welcome -- a coast to coast isn't all that unusual, or at least common enough you can find folks who have done some or all of it at one time or another, I'd look at the IBA site or let others here chime in... Guess might be good to know whether you plan to bring your own bike, or plan to rent while here, or...

As for being IT challenged -- yep its a small, but very exclusive club... me too...
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks man. After checking out hiring I think I'll end up taking my own bike - the Trumpy, but 'best laid plans of mice & men' as they say. Over roughly 6 weeks, I want to ride from Georgia, up the Blue Ridge, then wobble north west through Kentucky & the likes of Missouri, Nebraska, the Dakotas and Montana to end up in Oregon. My main criteria are to avoid the summer break hassle, to not freeze to death (I'm a tropical boy) and not to spend 90% of the time on a wet road. Simple! My quandry is whether to go in May to mid-June or as soon as possible after the summer break. What think you dcstrng?
 

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Hmmmm.... Well, I’ve ridden the run from Virginia to the Dakotas many times, so that is roughly your proposed Georgia thru to Montana route – although usually I was straight through… Haven’t ridden in Georgia in thirty-something years, but if you brave Atlanta traffic, a trip through the Varsity (hotdogs) is something of an institution… There is plenty of material on the Blue-Ridge and I’d suggest that the challenge isn’t the east to west part of your route but the north south… by May it can already be hot and humid through Georgia/Alabama, yet in early May it is not terribly unusual to get surprised by brief snow flurries in North Dakota or Montana, or in the higher elevation as you cross over to Oregon… Kentucky/Ohio and that middle area should be in full bloom by then, with winter well behind…

After Memorial Day (end of May to early June), school is out and families begin to hit the road but generally that primarily affects traffic around tourist spots – which just has to be accounted for… depending on what sort of roads you plan to travel, you may not see much more than a tractor and a hay-wagon or on the interstates a long string of motor-homes… But as you get west of Chicago, the area is often much less densely populated other than right around major cities, so other than the ubiquitous road construction (sometimes a factor, sometimes not…) you might ride for hours and wonder where everyone is… I’ve driven (my wife’s Miata) through some of those middle-western states with the GPS set to no highways and no tolls, and you’d think you are a different planet from what your see from the interstates…
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
My theory was that in early May (or even Late April), the southern bit would be warm enough (confirmed by what you have said) and by early-mid June, the northern bits would be warm enough in turn. The more I looked though, it seemed that rain was more the issue & I might be riding through the wettest periods for just about everywhere. This is how I ended up thinking that after the summer break might be better. Do you have a firm opinion on that one?
From what you said, I may be worrying too much about the summer congestion? That comes from not intending to plan too much - just ride when & where I want, but the perceived downside is finding accommodation every night (basic to moderate motel), when the majority of the US population is also & obviously going to be in the same vicinity that night. Can you to ride until 4pm or so & then find somewhere and do most places have bike parking that is sort of safe?
So many questions,but I hope I can pick your & others brains over time.
Thanks.
 

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The problem with spring and early summer riding in the midwest and eastern US is the likely hood of lots of rain and bugs. I prefer late summer and early autumn when it should be dryer, say mid September to early October. It's a bit of a crapshoot, though; September can sometimes be quite warm and late September/early October can be cold and snowy in Wyoming and Montana.
 

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Welcome to the forum!!!

When it comes to the Midwest, May can be a bit of a gamble. It'll either be blistering hot already (last year's heatwave) or so soaking wet that everything is awful. Things get better in June and July, though July brings the heat with it. Early August is another fine time to ride. Trees are still green, it's still warm everywhere, and the rain usually hasn't had a chance to come back yet.
 
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Summer break in the US is not the same thing as vacation month in Italy or other European countries (don't know about New Zealand). Everything is still open, and while there might be more traffic I have not found it especially noticeable. The very beginning and the end of summer, though, when families take their vacations, can make lodging an issue. Otherwise, I would worry more about the heat and, on the east coast, the humidity. It might be worth putting up with all that just to avoid cold weather during the northern bits of your trip - but I have never ridden up there, so best listen to others on that.

You might consider a smartphone with a US carrier so you can reserve rooms a few hours before you stop, thus getting ahead of any family tourers who pull in at sunset. I call them the Griswalds.

Also recommend you expect the Blue Ridge and Kentucky/West VA legs to take extra time. The roads are windy and the turns are sharp. Slow going, but beautiful. Oh, and the cell phone I recommended above will not work in many of the remote mountain areas.
 

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Your biggest traffic issue is not going to be the time of year, but rather the time of day going through major cities at any time of year. If it were me, I would go in the middle of the summer. But I personally handle the "heat" better than the cold, or even the cool. For me 95 degrees f with even high humidity is no big deal, especially on a bike. With the possible exception of those temperatures being done in stop and go heavy traffic. My main focus would be to avoid major cities during rush hours.
 

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--

There are no "perfect" places to go where the weather is "perfect." Generally, the southern half of the US becomes good riding weather sometime in May while the northern half is good in June. Higher mountain areas can still be with some snow (off the roadway) until July.

My biggest suggestion would be to stay away from larger cities and real close to major tourist attractions--unless that's what you want to see. And where you go should matter depending on your visiting plans. Are you going to see natural sites, tourist attractions, wildlife, national parks, photographic scenes, riding challenging roadways, or large entertainment events? The US is too big to try to see it all. You would have trouble just seeing it all in one or two states in six weeks. Your route would probably be about 5,000 miles.

This summer I traveled from Colorado to N.Carolina to Massachusetts to Wisconsin to California with the intention of riding the 5 twistiest roads in the country (in one summer) and along the way to take lots of photos of many published routes.

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Summer break in the US is not the same thing as vacation month in Italy or other European countries (don't know about New Zealand).
The OP is from Ozz. Brick and compass country. Another difference with NZ, is there national rugby team is in Ozz, while NZ's team is in Japan.
Further North in the US, and the bottom of Canada, September is the most reliable month weather wise. The summer heat has gone, and it can be dry for the entire month. Typically it snows in the high country in October, and snows in the valleys in November.
However, it can snow any month of the year at about 5000 feet and above. East of the Cascade Mountains, and East of the Sierras, it is hot in July and August. Even in Canada. North it is not as hot as inland from Perth, but 37 plus is common.

I am on the left coast of Canada. Ozzy David lives about 2 miles away.

UK
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Hey McRider. Thanks for that. It's lining up with what I was beginning to think ie spring =wet =bad. Yep, the weather is always going to be a lucky-dip - just like my computer's reliability when I really need it.

Miss M. Thank you fair lady. It does sound like May could be miserable. Being a tropical animal, I can handle the heat (up to a point hey) but for the same reason, your terms 'wet' & 'awful' strike fear into my good & honest heart. August is sounding much better.

BWB. In time of war & other catastrophes, New Zealand (the Kiwi's) are our best friends & allies, but at other times & especially in sport, its a case of "as long as we beat New Zealand". You are forgiven. Thanks for the lodging tips - except for continual rain, it's actually my biggest worry. The Trumpy will love those Blue Ridge bends.

Bpe: I think we are related. I too can handle heat better than cold & cities & a high priority is to avoid the cities completely.
Hi Ron. Thanks for the tips. I'm going for the natural landscapes and the history & with no real itinerary. Didn't want to be tied down to booked dates to see the National Parks etc, so am just going for a ride & will see what pops up in front of me. Avoiding crowds of any sort and tourists in particular, is another priority - a bit ironic given I will be one! Pizza, beer and museums are high on the entertainment list.

Uncle. Thanks for defending the Great Southern Land's honor. Also & alas, the rugby team & coach are in deep trouble at the moment as you seem to know. Thanks for the weather tips. Your very varied landscape is primarily what I'm going for, so a bit of misery from the equally varied climate is to be expected. 37 degrees C in bike gear is hot in anybody's language.

Couple more immediate queries folks: Are the road rules uniform across the country or a State by State thing? Does anyone have a useful link to find them? Could I expect reasonably safe parking for the bike when at a budget or moderate motel? The vision of leaving it on the street is fairly distressing. If I do go in August/ Sept, is the Tornado threat in the mid-west significant. I've read somewhere there are dedicated radios to buy for cheap to get warnings. Regarding hitting wildlife, I'm assuming there's more risk in the north than south & that the time of day is the main determinant. Am I roughly right? Thanks to all & apologies for the weird group reply thing I've done. I did something wrong somewhere early & wasn't game to retreat. I'll get better.
Ocker
 

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Ocker,

The road rules are similar enough to not have to worry about it. Speed limits can vary on the interstates....some have 80mph maximum and some 65, but they are posted.

I would definitely have a system for locking your bike at night at motels. Beside the steering lock, I use a disk lock on the rear rotor. Best defense would probably be to stay away from big city centers.

I will not ride at night unless for some reason I have to. I am paranoid about hitting a deer and night time is when they are most likely to be out and about and hard to see. I've had a few cases where I had to brake heavily to avoid one, but so far have not hit any. I recently rode for a few days in West Virginia, which is supposed to have the highest rate of deer strikes of any state, but the only deer I saw was in a park during a picnic lunch stop.

Can't help you any on the tornado problem. I've never lived in tornado country.
 

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Wildlife are all over and can be an issue – but most are moving about in rural areas and within a few hours of sunset/sunrise – except for possums and armadillos it seems… I suppose any can be out anytime, but except for more rural routes I’ve never seen any when I was riding at night (I have hit deer in both car and bike, but I was not in places folks touring are likely to be). The antelope can be a factor in Wyoming, etc., as they’ll sail over almost any fence and can move fast, but I’ve never seen one unless I was out “looking” for them. The highway rules are consistent on most Interstate or US routes – state and county routes can be a unique, but generally will be well posted. Tornadoes – not a factor – like tsunamis, you don’t want to be caught in one, but the likelihood of one sneaking up on you (at least while you are riding) is pretty poor – they do have weather-alert apps for smartphones – my wife gets a “warning” on hers about once a summer when she is in NoDak, but haven’t seen an actual one. The truth is, that one is more likely to ride from one coast to the other and hit only one or two thunderstorms (or none – but if you don’t have rain gear it will rain all the way), see no wildlife close-up except the feathered variety; with the only major risks being running out of gas and increasing your corpulency due to too much fast-food… It is probably a poor practice, but it has been more than twenty some years since I chain-locked my bikes and more likely than not the keys are in them – my Nomad and Harley never had the key out of them cuz I didn’t want to be bothered – no one touched `em… but depending what one is riding, it is probably unwise to follow my modus…

PS -- Google Maps is a good tool to play route "what if" games as you can plan a rough route and then move to satellite view t get a sense of what the terrain is likely t be like...
 

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Hmm....Running out of gas.....
If you are traveling the backroads in the western US, it can be a LOOOOONG way between gas stations. Never miss a chance to fill up.
On major highways like interstate 80, not so much of a problem. But why would you want to ride them anyway? All you'll see is the white line.
 

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Hmm....Running out of gas.....
If you are traveling the backroads in the western US, it can be a LOOOOONG way between gas stations. Never miss a chance to fill up.
On major highways like interstate 80, not so much of a problem. But why would you want to ride them anyway? All you'll see is the white line.
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Comments here. If you have maps showing most medium size towns, and they are within the distance for your next gas stop, then don't be too concerned. It's not the wild, wild west as most towns have at least one gas station.

As to taking interstates, they are always good when you are in a hurry since while back roads are leisure riding, they can take twice as long to get somewhere. Not true that you can't see any nice scenery, except true if you are around big cities. For example, I-70 from Denver, Colorado to Grand Junction goes through the Rocky Mountains, along narrow canyons, between high flat topped mountains, and along the Colorado River all for about 225 miles. Beautiful ride all the way.

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Going East from Seattle: Or aiming at Seattle from the East. You can take I90, fast and boring, or Stevens Pass, really cool, great scenery, and make good time. Or route 20 that goes thru Twisp, Winthrop and Cement. Really really cool, a bit slower, once in a lifetime ride.
All go over the Cascade Range. On a bike I would not take I90. Further North in BC Canada, it can be 37 East of the Cascades, near zero going over the 5000 foot part, and back to about 25 on the left coast.
Similar temperatures In South Dakota and Utah areas.
The Sierras are a lot higher than first imagined.

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If you have a choice I suggest you pick our late summer /early fall ( Aug-early October) seasons, it tends to be much drier in most parts of the US rather than May/June which many years are quite wet.

Temperatures will vary, depending on the area you can easily see a lot of variation both seasonally and in the course of a day depending on the area. Let me explain, for example in September I did a long ride from New Jersey to Georgia and back, 750 miles each way. I saw 41F and 102F that day, it was in the 50s when I left at 2am, cooler crossing the mountains of Virginia (Blue Ridge parkway area), and 102F in Georgia around 2PM, and back to 50s again by the time I got back home around 1am. You need to carry a variety of clothing, I went from wishing I had worn my heated gear to melting wearing my thinnest mesh jacket.

I rode from Pennsylvania to Wyoming a couple of times, both times in July, on a trip like that expect anything from hot dry weather under a blazing sun to pouring rain, to hail, to lightning, to a dust storm, the back to sunshine and a gorgeous rainbow.. oh and that was all in one afternoon in Rapid City, SD, near Sturgis. Not trying to scare you, I love long rides, just be aware our weather is often changeable.

Unlike most here I'm an interstate rider, you'll usually find me tearing up the superslab at ludicrous speed to get where I want to go, then I spend my time on the back roads and on excursions to see the sights. The Blue Ridge parkway was probably the longest non interstate ride I ever did, it's awesome, ride every inch of it if you can, but be aware it's SLOW, you need a couple of days.


Keep in touch, sounds like your planning a cool trip!
 
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Riding across the continent is on my maybe I try it one day list. So is riding across Australia.

When traveling in the US I like to get off the interstates ASAP unless I am in a hurry to get someplace. The smaller back roads are much nicer the small towns friendly when you stop. I like to find small local place. They do have tendency to be all closed and boarded up by 1700.
Along the interstate it’s 24 7 and a tendency to be fast food chains a diners. Denny’s at every second of ramp.

If going across the US even in the off season popular places which are on everyone’s list of places to go. Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite or even not in the US Banff and Jasper. Have a tendency to be full. When I went to the Grand Canyon everything on the better known more popular S side was full. The guy at the trail ride laughed when I asked if they had space. Booked up to two years ahead.
They did have a space on the N side less than 7 miles as the crow flies. I booked it before I discovered it’s 350 miles to go around. Got there and every campsite and motel full.
Slept at the side of the road.

Well I’ve been right round the canyon and and rode a mule down into it.
Bryce was a little quieter and just as spectacular.
Didn’t have time to do Zion as well. Maybe next time.

Both times I’ve passed through Yosemite in the off season it was full. But found an overflow cam site.

Yellowstone full. Slept at the side of the road, Again spectacular.

Wildlife, I don’t worry to much. Just watch your speed particularly around sunset sunrise. Seeing wildlife is one of my main pleasures in life.
On the way to Edmonton. I saw an Elk and got quite excited and stopped to take a picture. Tried to pass through Jasper in the early morning and there were hundreds of them and they wouldn’t get off the road.
Passing through Banff in early March I headed of up one of the parkways and got surrounded by bighorn sheep and had to stop while the liked the salt of my vehicle.

Had to put the brakes for a bear crossing in front of me on Hy 16 last month. I think even my stock pipes scared it away. Back into the bush.

At least none of them can jump 20 feet out in front of you like a kangaroo.

I like to take the coast road down from Washington to California again it’s busy

I like the off season less people more wildlife even so, book ahead. I ride a triumph and keep an eye on how far to the next gas station. 220k till the fuel light goes on.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thanks very much folks. So much info gleaned in so short a time. August & Sept it’s going to be.

I do have one of those smartphone thingos, so I just need to marry it with a US service as suggested. Any recommendations? (Until I recently did start playing with Google maps, I had considered the most valuable characteristics of my iphone to be that I could read the time on the screen without having to find my glasses and it has quite a good torch on the back of it.)

Though I intend riding through rural areas, I was not really worried about fuel, assuming as RonK said, that most towns have it. The Trumpy’s tank is very small though & even with reserve only gets me 210 Km (130 miles). With the 5 litres spare I carry, that stretches to about 295 k (185 miles). As long as I keep my brain in gear, I reckon that would be adequate for most places that you wouldn’t consider ‘remote’? Am I wrong?

Thanks for info on the wildlife. I’m sure the locals will fill me in more at the time. We have a ‘Roo whistler’ that supposedly scares off kangaroos. Mixed opinions on whether they work or not. Do you have an equivalent for er.. deer, bears, antelope … mammoths ... tourists? That would be an orchestra rather than a whistle wouldn’t it?
 
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