The group I'm going with:
Info on the ride:
WEEK 1The group will congregate in Virginia's Historic Triangle, the "birthplace of America." From there, we'll ride through the forgiving terrain of the Tidewater region, a rolling plain that rises gradually to meet the Virginia Piedmont and its moderate hills. A rest day in Charlottesville will permit us to tour the pretty campus of the University of Virginia and, outside of town, Thomas Jefferson's memorable Monticello, with its resplendent gardens and hilltop location providing expansive views of the surrounding countryside.
WEEK 2In Afton, we'll visit to June Curry, the world-famous "Cookie Lady" who has hosted more than 14,000 cross-country cyclists since 1976. From there, we'll inch our way up to the Blue Ridge Parkway and pedal along that legendary roadway until commencing the four-mile “dive” into the town of Vesuvius. From here to outside of Christiansburg, the route closely parallels the Indian Trace, an ancient Native American trail at the base of the Blue Ridge that Stonewall Jackson marched troops along during the Civil War.
WEEK 3Before entering Kentucky at Breaks Interstate Park, we'll swing in and sign the "Across State Ride" book, which Virginia officials are keeping to compile statistics that one day, they hope, will result in improvements to U.S. Bike Route 76 (established in 1982 and now part of the growing official U.S. Bicycle Route System). The roads in the Appalachians of eastern Kentucky are extremely hilly and, in some places, winding, with dense vegetation. We'll come close to the McCoy-Hatfield Feud territory on the Kentucky-West Virginia border before laying over for a day in Berea, where we can learn about mountain culture at the Appalachian Museum and at Berea College, which specializes in the teaching of mountain youth.
WEEK 4The Bluegrass region of central Kentucky will greet us like a breath of fresh air, with its lush pastures, white-fenced farms, and tidy equestrian operations. After continuing through western Kentucky and towns like Bardstown, Utica, and Marion, we'll cross the Ohio River into southern Illinois, where we'll camp at Dixon Springs State Park. The ridges and valleys of the small mountain range knows as the Little Ozarks will show us the way to Carbondale, home to Southern Illinois University and a perfect place for a layover day.
WEEK 5In Chester, Illinois, we'll cross the mighty Mississippi on the Chester Bridge, a truss bridge that appeared in the opening scene of the 1967 movie In the Heat of the Night. We'll then begin tackling the notoriously steep and seemingly never-ending hills of the Missouri Ozarks. Camping for a night at Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park, we'll explore the narrow gorges carved by the down-cutting action of streams through 1.5-billion-year-old igneous rhyolite. In Eminence, we might set our bicycles aside for a morning in order to enjoy a mellow canoe float down the crystal waters of the spring-fed Current River, a component of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways.
WEEK 6Our first overnight in the Jayhawk State (aka Kansas) will be spent in Pittsburg, a town that in 1876 was named — minus the "h" — after the far better known Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania. Depending on which direction the wind is blowing — at our backs or in our faces, that is — we'll either praise it or curse it as we ride on past endless fields of wheat and sunflowers. When we're still miles from Eureka, Newton, and a host of smaller towns, we'll spot the communities’ tall grain elevators standing like sentinels above the endless plains.
WEEK 7As we navigate our way through central and western Kansas, we’ll sense that we’re slowly leaving the humid Midwest behind and entering the arid West, symbolized by the famous 100th Meridian. We'll cross paths with history in Larned, with its many streets of hand-laid brick and its museum dedicated to the Santa Fe Trail. You may be surprised that the mountains don't jut into the sky immediately after we cross into Colorado — in fact, there's quite a long piece of Kansas-like terrain separating the interstate border and the Rockies.
WEEK 8The fun city of Pueblo marks both the approximate halfway point in our adventure and the jumping off (climbing up?) point for the Rocky Mountains. From the Royal Gorge, which is spanned by the world’s highest suspension bridge over water, we'll ride through the immense wide open of South Park. After climbing Hoosier Pass — at 11,542 feet above sea level, the highest point on the TransAm Trail — we'll descend into Summit County, a hotbed of Colorado recreation in both summer and winter. Just north of Walden, we'll ride into wild and often windy Wyoming. In the little mountain town of Saratoga we'll soak our tired muscles in the free, community-owned Hobo Hot Pool. From there, we'll commence the high and dry ride through the sagebrush- and pronghorn-filled Great Divide Basin.
WEEK 9From Lander to Dubois, Wyoming, home to the National Bighorn Sheep Interpretive Center, we'll alternate between mountains and broad valleys. After climbing up and over Togwotee Pass, we'll free-fall into Jackson Hole and spectacular Grand Teton National Park. We'll spend some time in downtown Jackson, with its Town Square and elk-antler arches, where it's almost required that visitors down a beer or soda while sitting aboard a leather saddle stool in the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar. From there, we’ll ride to Wilson and begin the climb over the exceedingly steep Teton Pass, before descending into Idaho. After enjoying the eight-mile-long rail-trail between Victor and Driggs, we'll head north through undulating potato and barley country to Ashton, "Seed Potato Capital of the World."
WEEK 10After a layover day in West Yellowstone, Montana, and an optional van tour of wildlife-abundant Yellowstone National Park, we'll ride alongside the trout-abundant waters of the Madison River to Ennis. From there, we'll climb up and over the big hill to Virginia City, a well-preserved/renovated Victorian frontier town that was the site of a major 1860s gold strike and, for a short time, the capital of the Montana Territory. From there it's on to the high lonesome of the Big Hole Valley, over Chief Joseph and Lost Trail passes, and into the substantially busier — but no less beautiful — Bitterroot Valley. We'll take a well-deserved break in Adventure Cycling's hometown of Missoula, an oasis of culture and fun.
WEEK 11Tracing the tracks of Lewis and Clark, we'll cross Lolo Pass and re-enter Idaho, pedaling beside the sparkling waters of the Lochsa River as it cuts through an immense wilderness expanse. At Riggins we might take a half-day commercial rafting trip through the whitewater rapids of the Salmon River's main fork. After crossing the Snake River into Oregon near the Hell's Canyon of the Snake, the deepest river gorge in North America, we'll climb all the way to the charming burg of Halfway. We'll enjoy a layover day in Baker City, rich with gold-mining lore. The classic 1969 musical-comedy Paint Your Wagon was filmed in this area.
WEEK 12After crossing a series of relatively minor mountain ranges and passing through towns like Prairie City, Prineville, and Sisters, we'll bag the thrill of crossing the Cascade Range amid the volcanic surroundings of McKenzie Pass, knowing that the Pacific Ocean, and the end of our adventure, is only a couple of days away. After pedaling from Coburg to Florence, we'll repeat the act we began our journey with nearly three months ago — only in this case we'll dip our wheels in the Pacific Ocean, at Beachside State Park. We’ll subsequently partake in a bittersweet celebration dinner in Florence — and say our farewells on the following day, formally wrapping up our crossing of the North American continent by bicycle.