Welcome to the TransAm Eastern Express Bike Route


I am Frank Moritz, a veteran Adventure Cycling tour leader, instructor and board member, and I’ve completed the initial research to create an “eastern express” addition to the legendary TransAmerica bike route. This new route provides a welcome option for TransAm cyclists to bypass the severe mountain climbs and nasty dogs that confront cyclists in southwestern Virginia, eastern Kentucky, and southern Missouri on the eastern half of the existing route. It also replaces three major high-altitude climbs in Colorado with one gradual and scenic climb to the Continental Divide. Amazingly, almost 600 of the 2,100+ miles of this route are on dedicated bike/pedestrian paths, towpaths, or rail-trails.

Starting in Washington, DC, westbound riders on this route will take an estimated 34 pedaling days (and much less climbing) to reach Walden, CO compared with a typical 50 pedaling days for Adventure Cycling’s self-contained tours to reach Walden on the original TransAm route. This new route is not yet endorsed by Adventure Cycling, but cyclists who are interested in riding the route, or who would like to participate in crowd-sourcing the refinement of this new route proposal, can download PDF files of the documents from other pages of this website and provide your comments here.

27 thoughts on “Welcome to the TransAm Eastern Express Bike Route”

  1. Frank,

    Excellent job of detailing this route. One that would be an excellent choice for a first time crossing of the US. I have often thought that a trip up the C&O and GAP would eliminate the dread of the Appalachians in VA &KY.

    Since I live near Yorktown, I would naturally choose to follow the East Coast Greenway / USBR 76 alignment at the Virginia Capital Trail (54 miles paved off road route) all the way into Richmond. Heading north along the ECG, would bring some additional off route bike paths in Fredericksburg and Northern Virginia. Eventually connecting with the C&O.

    I am a member of the Birthplace of America Trail committee that extends the Virginia Capital Trail south of the James River along a similar route of the ECG into Suffolk. The Beaches To Bluegrass route will take you from Suffolk to the Atlantic Ocean at the Virginia Beach boardwalk. In essence, a direct route for a wheel dipping in the actual Atlantic Ocean.

    I had once hoped to do the entire Beaches to Bluegrass route, but have a tough time leaving a non riding spouse behind. But someday, I could easily see your route as a preferred map to the west. Thanks for your hard work. If I do get a chance to ride it, I will make my comments to you.

    1. Hi, Tom — Thanks for your kind comments on the Eastern Express bike route, and thanks also for your work related to the bike trails in your area.

      I recently added to the website a note about the possibility of starting or ending an Eastern Express ride all the way at the Atlantic coast in Delaware, by using parts of the “American Discovery Trail” (http://www.discoverytrail.org/) and the “East Coast Greenway” (https://www.greenway.org/) to ride between Cape Henlopen, DE and the eastern end of the C&O Canal in Washington, DC. That web page is: https://www.easternexpressroute.com/the-transam-eastern-connectors/ .

      Your offer to provide your comments and feedback on the route is much appreciated, because that kind of crowd-sourcing has already proved invaluable this summer for refining both the route and its service directories.

      Frank Moritz

  2. Frank,
    Thanks so much for all this great planning work! I’m planning to redo my 1976 TransAm spring/summer 2018 and was dreading Kentucky and not looking forward to the Ozarks. This is just right for me!
    I found this a few months ago and now I’m going through the details and all looks good so far. I’ll be trying to get the info into my Garmin GPS and work out some general idea of timing.
    I see you even have an option to pick up the Trans Am in Eureka,KS which is what I want to do. I liked Kansas and loved the entire CO section so am looking forward to repeating that.

    1. Hi, Ed —
      I’m delighted that you will find my Eastern Express helpful for your repeat ride on the TransAm. The current version of each map set on the website incorporates all of the comments, corrections, updates, etc. that I received from the many folks who rode this route last summer. I hope that your journey next summer is a great one, and that you will also send me reports on any updates that you note along the way.
      Frank Moritz

  3. Dear Frank,
    I am an educator from San Francisco and I just retired this past June. I am not a racer and enjoy touring which I have done for many summers. Now I have the time to cycled across the U.S. Time is not the most important thing for me. I will be going from west to east and leave either from San Francisco or Florence, Oregon using the ACA maps. I tried doing the reverse routes using your directions. The map that came out did NOT look like the maps going east to west. There was less detail in the west to east map. No one would confuse me as working for Google. I am not Mr. computer. Do you know what I did wrong or give me some guidance? I want to use yor maps from Peublo, CO to the east coast
    Thanks in advance,
    Jay

    1. Hi, Jay —

      I’m sorry that you are having trouble reversing the RideWithGPS files that are part of my Eastern Express bike route’s daily documents. However, since I am registered as the owner/creator of these files in the RideWithGPS system, I am not able to completely replicate your experience, so I am not sure how to advise you on solving your problem.

      It is possible that you’ll find the best help at the RideWithGPS’s website by submitting a request (https://ridewithgps.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/requests/new ) for their advice on the best way to enable you to reverse the route data for a route that was created by someone else. When I was initially finding my way around their application, I found them to be very responsive.

      I would also like to clarify a couple of other issues that your email raises:

      1. If you start from San Francisco using Adventure Cycling’s Western Express Route, your ability to plan an early enough departure to avoid the worst heat of Nevada and southern Utah will be affected by the snowpack in the Sierra Mountains, since that route’s secondary roads through the Sierras are not plowed until late spring. And if you do use that route, you will use the original TransAm route maps from Pueblo to Eureka, KS where you will use the Eastern Express “connector” maps from there to Boonville, MO, and then you will follow the Eastern Express from there to Washington, DC.

      2. If you start on the TransAm route from Florence, OR you will connect with the Eastern Express route in Walden, CO rather than Pueblo, CO (unless you want to climb the 3 major mountain passes that are on the TransAm route between there and Pueblo).

      I regret not being able to give a full answer to your original question, but I hope that this information us helpful.

      Frank Moritz

  4. Kevin –
    The Big Savage Tunnel is traditionally opened sometime during the first week of April, weather permitting. Your April 10th start in Delaware should put you in good shape by the time you get to the tunnel. It’s been a harsh winter here in western Pennsylvania — hopefully spring will be here soon. You may want to check out the Great Allegheny Passage (unofficial) Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/groups/gapcando/?ref=bookmarks closer to your depature date to find out trail conditions, especially how the trail has “firmed up” after the winter thaw.

    1. Judy,
      Many thanks for providing the GAP Facebook link, which should be a valuable added resource for riders of that segment of the Eastern Express.
      Frank Moritz

  5. Hi Frank,
    Unless I’m missing something I see something that could be cleaned up. It’s at the junction points where the WB Connector leaves from Jefferson City,MO to Eureka,KS.
    While the route diverges there, map #19 ends at Tibbetts, MO. For those continuing #20 starts where #19 ends, but for the Connector #1 map starts at Jefferson City. Google says it’s a bit under 14 miles between Tibbetts and Jefferson City and almost all on the KATY trail so easy to navigate, but it would be more consistent to start Connector #1 at Tibbetts so all the end points match up. Same for the GPS route start point.
    It took me awhile to be sure what was going on there not being familiar with any of the place names and it’s easy enough to use the part of map #20 that’s needed, but since everything else is so perfectly set up I though I’d mention this small one.

    Thanks again for putting this amazing amount of detail work out there!

    Ed

    1. Hi, Ed —
      You are correct. This is a loose end of housekeeping on the website, and I have just updated and posted all of the related files and documents for this day’s ride for those who choose to ride on the first day of the “connector” route west from Tebbetts, MO.

      The original itinerary for map set #19 ended in Jefferson City, MO. But when an overnight lodging facility opened up last year in Tebbetts, I changed the itinerary and the map set for that day’s ride but forgot to update the related documents for the connector option.

      Thanks for pointing out this item to me. There is an incredible amount of detail involved in creating the route, the website, and all of the related documentation, and I continue to benefit from the crowd-sourcing refinements provided by folks like yourself.

      Frank Moritz

  6. Started the C & O with touring trike on May 22nd. At this time with mud and at least 2 detours , 2 full closures and numerous edges washed out stay away. It should be noted this trail is NOT for trikes or for two wheel trailers. At times the worn trail is only two feet wide on each edge with waist high grass in middle. If more than two foot wide you go through grass. I am looking forward to other sections

    1. Hi, Bryce —

      I’m sorry to hear about your experience on the C&O Canal towpath. As you’re aware, this year’s epic rains in that area are not typical, and I’ve heard from a number of folks who avoided the whole C&O Canal segment, and took the train from DC to Cumberland, MD.
      Your problems on the western segments of the towpath that are unique to your trike and your two-wheeled trailer are the first that I have heard about, but they’re not surprising, now that I think about it. I know that those parts of the towpath are simply a two-track, but the high grass between the tracks is a non-typical feature which has not been reported by any of the Adventure Cycling tour groups that run on that route twice a year. I also can’t imagine that the 1.5-mile hike around the Paw Paw Tunnel closure was any fun with your combination of trike and trailer.
      I do hope that your experience on the rest of the route goes much better. I will consider how/whether to put a notice on the website alerting trike riders to these issues.

      Frank Moritz

  7. I too was on that segment of the c/o. At the same time. It was horrible but you try and make the best of it.. But the paw paw was and might still be open for 2 weeks. Avoiding the hike around.. bike on

  8. Small route update to map 18A -(Alton-Marthasville). Just after crossing the Clark bridge on US67 the West Alton Trail is closed and impassable. It looks to me like it’s been at least a year and from reading Traillink some there says it wasn’t there in 2012.
    US67 has a good shoulder there and good thing since that’s the only way.
    It can be fun to ride down to as described to the parking lot and get up close to the river, then ride about about 0.1 on the parking lot road back onto US67, but it’s fine to just stay on road.

    1. Hi, Ed —

      Many thanks for taking the time to provide this update. I have just updated both the PDF map set and the RideWithGPS file for this day’s segment of the route, and have posted them to the website. I’ve also put a note about this change on the website’s “Updates & Addenda” page.

      Frank Moritz

  9. More small updates, to TAEE-WB-19 this time, services in Tebbetts has K&R market north on SR 47, but that’s actually in Marthasville, not Tebbetts. Also it appears that the P4 pub is closed – won’t be there until tomorrow, but a couple of places on the web say business closed. Rhineland has Trailside Bar and Grill http://www.trailsidebarandgrill.com/ open 6:30-9 (closed Monday, shorter hours Sunday).

    1. Ed,
      Thanks once again for the updates and correction. Keeping the service directories up to date is a never-ending task.
      Frank Moritz

  10. Some updates to TAEE-WB-Connector-04-LaCygne to Iola:
    -at mile 14.4 where there is a right then immediate left to stay on W. 2100th Road the road (and Baskerville Rd and part of the next road – for a total of about 5 miles) are gravel, sometimes deep. I had to walk about 1/2 mile and rode 6-9mph the rest of the time. Some may need to walk more or go slower (or faster depending equipment). It’s nice and no traffic, but riders should make sure to allow for the extra time it will take to get from Parker to Garnett.
    -Another addition – there is a good small restaurant and convenience store in Parker right on the route called One-Stop on Google maps.
    -And one more addition – in Garnett there is a motel on US59 0.1 mi north of Park Road (where the park with camping starts). It’s called Economy Inn – $50/night budget motel.

    1. Hi again, Ed —
      My apologies for the unexpected 5 miles of gravel road. There is no “street view” for that rural area, and you are the first rider to report on the “connector” route through Kansas. Unfortunately I could find no paved alternative in that area. The service directory additions are likewise much appreciated.

      Frank

      1. Hi again,
        Final update as I’m on the TransAm route in Newton now. Overall I loved the Eastern Express with the various alternatives (I think I did all of them). Thanks for putting this together! I hope ACA can take it over and do some fine tuning.

        My last comment is back from a few weeks ago. In TA-EE-11 regarding the services in Jeffersonville,OH. There is an excellent cafe in town right next to the post office called Outside The Box Cafe https://www.yelp.com/biz/outside-the-box-cafe-jeffersonville. There is only that and maybe the Pizza place across the street from that in town. The fast food is all out by the highway exit. The description says fast food in town. There is a hotel, AmeriHost Inn & Suites ,at the highway exit. The others (hotels and food) are off route (4 miles from town and 2 mi. down some road that has no street view available) at best and some of the places mentioned are even further. They say Jeffersonville but when you map them they’re not close.

        Thanks again for this big undertaking! It made my trip much easier and more enjoyable.

        Ed

        1. Hi again, Ed — Thanks for your valuable input. I have updated the service directory for Map Set #11. Good luck on your continued journey now that you have joined the original TransAm route.

          Frank

  11. I just completed the Eastern Express ride from Washington Dc to Platte City, MO ( just north of KC airport). I started on May 7 and reached Platte City on May 31. A total of 25 days- 23 riding days and 2 days off. Total miles were about 1450- averaged 63 miles per day.

    I highly recommend this route. We followed the route sheets very closely and found they were a great resource for campsites and food stops. I rode with another couple from Pittsburgh to the Mississippi River and one of them used Ride with GPS ( he purchased the app that showed location on map). This was helpful when we needed to get off route because of road and bridge construction.

    Luckily we just missed the rain on the C&O and (please don’t report me to Park Service) squeezed through the fence openings at the PawPaw tunnel. One of our group had a trailer that would have been impossible to get over the bypass route.

    I found the most challenging section getting around and out of Pittsburgh ( what a hilly place) and on to the Panhandle trail. We stayed in Mt Lebanon and had to work our way over to the trail head.

    I have not ridden the TransAm so I can’t compare directly, but I found the Eastern Express a delightful ride through the rural Midwest. Almost no issues with dogs. Most of the houses were on farms and set back 50 to 100 feet from the road. We were past the house before the few dogs not fenced noticed us and started to chase. Maybe Midwest dogs are just nicer.

    Loved the farm towns we rode through and the drivers were considerate. A few steep hills, but for the most part they were short ups and downs with manageable elevations. Of course the 500-600 miles of bike trails- C&O, GAP, Panhandle, Katy Trail, and several others were all relatively flat with good surfaces-except the dirt trail on C&O and the slight climb on GAP from Cumberland to continental divide.

    Looking froward to continuing the route next year from where I left off in Platte City. Thank you Frank for putting this together.

    1. Hi, Larry — Thanks for the great feedback. I am delighted to hear that this first part of your tour went so well, and that the Eastern Express route was so enjoyable. I promise not to tell the Park Service about your creativity at the Paw Paw Tunnel.

      Frank Moritz

  12. As a non-American I’ve read enough journals on crazyguyonabike etc to know that the appalachians are a problem especially for someone who’s office bound and probably doing a bit of riding into fitness before hitting the difficult stuff. Having now found a map I think I see what this route does and how extensive the Appalachians are-I hadn’t realised before. The route effectively goes at right angles across the range NW to Pittsburgh and then skirts the range as it cuts down to the Katy trail.

    1. Hi, Kate —
      Thanks for your observations on this route. I would point out that the hardest work in creating this gently graded route through the Appalachian Mountains was done over a century ago — first by the folks who built the C&O Canal for barge freight traffic along the Potomac River from Washington, DC to Cumberland, Maryland, and soon after that by the railroad company that (literally) blasted its way through the mountains from there to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and thereby made the canal obsolete.

      In the mid-1900’s the U.S. Park Service made the canal and its towpath a national park, thus ensuring its preservation & maintenance. Then for several decades, a private nonprofit organization and a rails-to-trails conservancy worked to convert what had become an abandoned railroad right-of-way into a bike path and to rehabilitate its infrastructure for use by cyclists, thus creating the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) from Cumberland to Pittsburgh. That work was completed less than 5 years ago, and made this new version of a coast-to-coast bike route possible.

      Frank Moritz

  13. Hey, Frank, wasn’t sure if I should comment here or email you since you may want to remove this comment and address in some way that’s consistent with your plan for this route.

    I thought you might want to mention that an alternative after Wheeling, WV if you’d like more services, less steep hills, and more random locals interactions, you can ride Historic Rt 40. We had someone in our group who was quite challenged by the backroads and not passing services, and after I switched to Rt 40 for her, it was quite nice. Many places have great shoulder or bike lane, and when it is a four lane road, almost every body moved over a lane, even when the shoulder was huge. There are various historic markers, an old covered bridge, etc. We took rt 40 from near Barkcamp State Park all the way to Smithboro, IL, then took 140 straight across to Alton, IL.

    The other feedback I’d give is Barkcamp State Park is a real pain to access. It comes at the end of a long day of climbing, and it is a lot of up and down on gravel, rocky road, then more up and down with poor signage to find the office.

    The last bit of feedback is after looking around a bit and talking to locals in Kansas, I decided to ride up to Atchison, KS and pick up rt 36 in Hiawatha. I took rt 36 all the way across Kansas to St. Francis, again for services, good road, and locals interactions. Every 30 mi or so, there’s a town with a diner, motel or town park, grocery store, etc. Then I popped up to rt 34 at Haigler, NE and went into Fort Collins via Greely (from Greely, a lot of the ride to Fort Collins is on the Poudre River Trail, which is VERY nice.

    Anyway, just a few ideas for others if you like with the very short summary of trading more remote roads (and sometimes steeper climbs) for more populated areas with more frequent services, restrooms, etc.

    Cheers,
    Bill

    1. Hi, Bill — Thanks for your feedback and suggestions on the Eastern Express route.

      Regarding the segment in Ohio as you ride west from Wheeling, WV: The route from Wheeling, WV to Zanesville, OH is identical to Adventure Cycling’s Chicago to NY City route, and it meets their standards for cycling safety and enjoyment, which is why I adopted it for this segment. US 40 in this area is doubtless graded more gently and has more services along the way, but those were not my primary criteria for mapping the route.

      However, I did take a second look at using SR 140 from Vandalia, IL to Alton, IL, and decided to publish it as an alternative for that day’s ride. It is posted to the website as Map Set #17B. It is indeed the most direct and straightforward route between those two towns; and although it carries more traffic than I would prefer, it does not appear to be too risky or unenjoyable for a very experienced cyclist.

      Frank