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Sun Feb 9, 2014, 05:57 PM

Training to ride the TransAm from Yorktown, Va to Florence, Oregon

We'll depart the end of April. We are currently riding our trainers indoors for 45 minutes each day during the week and doing outdoor rides on the weekend (when weather allows). Today was a two hour jaunt up to Afton mountain in 36degree temps. We added a couple miles over last weekend and managed it in the same time, despite the much colder temps.
We are adding 15 minutes to our long outdoor ride each week, looking forward to when it is light early enough to get our daily training ride outside because the roads out here are hilly and hard.
Anyone have any ideas on training or cross training we should be trying?
We hope to ride 50 miles a day, our current weekend ride is about 19.

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Reply Training to ride the TransAm from Yorktown, Va to Florence, Oregon (Original post)
peacebird Feb 2014 OP
happyslug Feb 2014 #1

Response to peacebird (Original post)

Wed Feb 19, 2014, 11:25 AM

1. How are you going?


Last edited Wed Feb 19, 2014, 08:11 PM - Edit history (4)

After I wrote what is below I finally goggle Yorktown VA to Florence OR and discovered what I had not heard of since 1976, the Trans-America Bicycle trip. I finally found out how you are going.


I still think the better route is Washington DC via the Great Allegheny Passage to Weirton West Virginia, then to US 40. US 40 intersects the TransAmerican Bicycle route in St Louis and then stays north of the trail till west of Denver. The TransAmerican trail when it intersects US 40 in Western Colorado goes EAST on US 40 then turns off US 40 and goes north. US 40 ends in Utah.

A variation of the above would be just follow the Ohio River South from Weirton West Virginia.

The TransAmerican Route is interesting but the web cite on the trip make the comment the most hills you will run across will be in Virginia, for the trail goes through that part of Virginia that crosses the Eastern Continental divide (of which I write about more below).

The TransAmerican Trail main advantage is you avoid DC. While the belt way is a terror for auto drivers, The Great Allegheny Passage connects with the B&O Canal and that bike trail starts at the Watergate in DC.

The Great Allegheny Passage from Washington DC to Weirton West Virginia is open, except for some parts west of McKeesport PA. I would recommend it over taking US 40, which other cross country riders have ridden.


The trail is through to Pittsburgh, but I would advise taking the Montour Trail to the south of Pittsburgh till you come to the Panhandle Trail, and then take the Panhandle trail to Weirton West Virginia.


List of Uncompleted sections, the longest is only 3.4 miles long:


As to the trail between McKeesport and Downtown Pittsburgh, the trail is a flat (for Western Pennsylvania) trail to Downtown Pittsburgh, West of Pittsburgh you end up on very busy highways, thus I recommend the Montour and then Panhandle Trails which runs to the south around Pittsburgh. Theoretically you can go to Pittsburgh (and take the Inclines on Mt Washington) and then go west on West Carson Street till you get to the Montour Trail and take in south to the Panhandle, West Carson Street (PA 51) is not for the timid, even if you are in a car. Lots of curves, and traffic with some hill climbing. On the other hand if you want to risk it., a trip up the Monongahela Income may be worth it.


Now, I am unfamiliar with Weirton and Steubenville OH (They are separated by the Ohio River). You are on the Allegheny Plateau, but the higher ridges are to your East, it become more level as you get out of Pennsylvania.

US 22 runs through Weirton, but it is a four lane highway. As in Pennsylvania parts of old 22 is off to the side of the modern four lane highway, but in many areas the four lane highway is right over the road. US 40 goes through Wheeling West Virginia, which is 40 miles south of Weirton,along the Ohio River. So if you are taking US 40, it is a quick cut back to US 40.

If you want to go on US 30, US 30 enters Ohio along the Ohio River at East Liverpool, about 30 miles north of Wierton West Virginia. Those are your three choices out of Pittsburgh, US 30 and US 22 are the same highway as their enter and leave Allegheny County (County Seat and largest city Pittsburgh). US 40 goes via Washington PA, which is the county seat of the County south of Allegheny County.

I have traveled on US 30, US 40 and US 22 through the Appalachian mountains of Pennsylvania, none of them are "Good", even if you are traveling by automobile (Advice to anyone traveling through that part of Pennsylvania, take the turnpike, yes its is a toll road but it is worth it, I have drove I-68 the "Free" Road along US 40, it is NOT worth it, take )i-70 to Breezewood and take the Turnpike). On a bicycle the best way is the Great Allegheny Passage, which connects to all three US Highways (US 30, US 40, and US 22) at one point or another.

I mention the Great Allegheny Passage, for it is the best way through the Appalachian Mountains between the Mohawk Valley in up State New York, and Atlanta in the South. Even the Interstate System tries NOT to go through West Virginia (Preferring the area where Virginia and Kentucky meet as opposed to the much larger area both states share with West Virginia.

They are other gaps in the mountain, but the Western Maryland (WN) in 1912 wanted the easiest route they could haul coal from Pittsburgh to Norfolk where there was (and I believe still is) a massive coal exporting terminal. Norfolk and Western (Now Norfolk and Southern) had a route south from Cumberland that the WM could use, but between Cumberland and Pittsburgh it had to use the tracks of the Baltimore and Ohio, then controlled by the Pennsylvanian Railroad (PRR). Thus the Western Maryland (WM) railroad tracks were laid down, at an almost constant climb up to the tunnel the Western Maryland (WM) drilled through Allegheny Mountain and then at a constant rate down to McKeesport PA. The line was so successful that the C&O used the profits to buy the Baltimore and Ohio line, make that its main line and give its old line to the Great Allegheny Passage for a rails to trails path.

Now the Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) had a route through West Virginia. It is still an active Coal Line as to the Eastern Continental Divide, but once over that divide the remains of the line west of Clarksburg West Virginia to Parkersburg West Virginia is a rails to trail line. The problem is getting over the divide


More on the rails to trail route West of Clarksburg:

Thus I suspect your route is going through or around Pittsburgh and the best route is the Great Allegheny Passage, then the Montour Trail, then the Panhandle then either US 40 or US 30.

Now you did mention Afton Mountain and that is Rockfish gap in the Shenandoah Mountain. There is a proposed rails to trails in the area, using abandoned tunnels that were bypassed during WWII, when the US had the machinery to dig rather then drill. The problem is NOT Afton Mountain but the next ridge



Allegheny Mountain on the West Virginia and Virginia border is the Eastern Continental divide. It is the highest point people actually have to travel heading West. In Maryland it is known as Mt Savage. In Pennsyvania it is again known as Allegheny Mountain. The roads over Allegheny Mountain are limited, most are bad, some are acceptable. On a bike the Great Allegheny Passage up to and through Mt Savage is the best route.

On the other hand once over Allegheny Mountain In West Virginia and you arrived at Clarksburg, the rails to trails to Huntington West Virginia is a nice ride.


One more advantage of The Great Allegheny Passage, if you plan carefully, you can take a train up some of the mountain: Cumberland to Frostburg MD:


They have no establish their schedule for 2014, but the trains did not run till the first week in May in 2013. They do permit bikes on the train, $5,00 fee for the bike. Reservation are recommended


Standard fares were $35 for the ride:


I would recommend the train ride, it will take you 2/3rds up Mt Savage Mountain. Frostburg is 16 miles (8 miles as the crow flies) and 1365 feet higher then Cumberland. Not as severe as you will see in the west, but more then a barrier then you may think as you start out:

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