Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Route

How do you determine a bicycle route across the United States? The options are virtually endless. I'm taking a northern route. Some people are drawn to the lower states. I've always enjoyed the seasons and the geography in the north. After selecting a northern route, the only other consideration was to travel through Des Moines and Pella stopping at the Pine Rest Iowa Clinics, (After all raising funds for the Pine Rest Iowa Clinics is one of the main goals for the tour.) and then to swing through western Michigan, stopping at the Pine Rest main campus in Grand Rapids. This has lead to one of the main joke questions I hear; "So are you planning to bike across Lake Michigan?" No, but I am planning to take the high speed ferry from Milwaukee to Muskegon and I'm not peddling on the ferry. I decided it's better to travel through Milwaukee than the dense population on the south side of Chicago.

Having chosen a route the next step is to select the specific roads. The most important consideration in choosing a road is safety. The safest road often means the road less traveled. (Sorry Robert Frost) Some roads are designated for bicyclists with signs. Even better, some have a bike lane. I've never biked in the mountainous northwest. Therefore I needed a trusted, established route. I'm using maps I purchased from Adventure Cycling out of Missoula, Montana. The route was first charted for the 1976 bicentennial. Their maps determined my starting point in Florence, Oregon. I'll follow them through the Cascade mountains, from Oregon, to Missoula, Montana and on to Rawlings, Wyoming. The route passes through Yellowstone Nation Park, which should be stunning.

So far, I've also gotten bicycle maps for Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Ontario and New York. I still need Michigan and Massachusetts. The New York route follows the Erie canal, which means 373 flat miles, but beautiful towns and rich history.

After I chose the general route and the maps dictated our starting point, how did I decide where to end? I told Mary it would be somewhere in Massachusetts. She then informed me we would end in Salem because "We've never been there and I want to see it."

I hope to have time this week to pick up the last of the needed maps. Just writing about the route makes me excited. I'll provide more details later. Stay in touch. I promise to post pictures.

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