One of the questions that people always ask me is: “How do you find your way from one place to another?”. No, I’m not going to use a navigation device or google-maps on my Iphone, but maps on real paper. After searching for a while I found the website of the “Adventure Cycling Association”. They provide a huge network of bicycle-trails all around the U.S. and one can just combine different trails to an individual route.
There were basically two potential routes:
- The traditional ‘Transamerica’ route going ‘straight through the middle’ until Colorado. Then it’s taking a turn towards the North, going through Yellowstone and other highlights.
- The ‘Southern Tier’, starting in Atlanta or the coast of Georgia (where I have lived for two years), along the Gulfcoast through Texas and ending in southern California.
Finally, I have decided on a mixture of both, because it had always been my dream to start from the Brooklyn Bridge and arrive on the Golden Gate Bridge. With that said, starting in the South wasn’t an option and the end of the Transamerica trail in Seattle was also inconvenient. I also figured that the Southern Tier wouldn’t be the best idea during the hot and humid months of August and September with all the thunderstorms.
Therefore I will bike on my individual route starting in NYC. First, I will be going down South towards Washington D.C. and shortly after that turn towards the West and will be going that way until I hit the Rocky Mountains. From Pueblo it will go into the Rockies with passes as high as 10000 feet (3000 meters). After biking through Cedar City I’m going southward – passing the Grand Canyon – until right before Phoenix where I will meet the Southern Tier which I will follow until San Diego. The last leg will lead me along the Pacific Coast past Los Angeles to San Francisco where I will (hopefully) arrive around November 9th.
The distance of the route is about 7700-8000km (4750-5000 miles) and I will be passing through 13 states (+ Washington D.C.).
I’m looking forward to seeing so many highlights along the way – NYC, Washington D.C., Colorado, the Rocky Mountains, Bryce Canyon National Park, the Grand Canyon, Arizona, the Pacific Coas and so many more. But I’m also curious about the vast plains of the Midwest – there are nicer things you could think of than crossing states like Kansas or Missouri with heavy headwind, but this is part of the ‘charm’ of such an adventure.
Besides the Midwest with the strong winds, I imagine the Appalachian Mountains to be the toughest part of the tour. I will have to cross them at the very beginning of the trip and from what I have heard/read from other cyclists and saw in maps, there are a lot of steep climbs with following descents – just to have another climb again right after it. Of course the Rockies with their enormous ascents and about 20kg (45lbs) of equipment won’t be a piece of cake, but from my previous experience I have to say that long, steady climbs are better to deal with than short, extremely-steep ones with descents inbetween. It can be demoralizing to never really reach a defined peak and to start all over again. In fact it was easier for me to cross the Alps and Pyrenees than to ride around the Massif Central in France which doesn’t have very high mountains. The ‘worst’ ride of my life was the coastal road from the South of France to Barcelona – I was expecting a nice ride along the beach and instead it was a constant up and down with steep climbs. But to be fair, the views were spectacular and it was in fact one of the highlights.
I hope and know that everything will be worth the effort.