The dream is still very much alive. We're now targeting the summer of 2016. By that time the boys will be 20, 16, 13, 8, and 3. The oldest is now riding his own road bike. The oldest two and I went on a 350-mile five-day excursion last month, which was great, and the second-oldest indicated a desire to do more.
I'm still feeling a little stymied by the amount of planning that will be required for the seven of us. I have now purchased ACA maps for the whole TransAm route and have been studying them. I'm envisioning we would start Memorial Day weekend in Yorktown and end Labor Day weekend in Astoria. That gives us a total of 102 days. If we average 50 miles a day then we'd have 88 days of riding and 14 rest days. Is that at all realistic?
My wife is less reluctant than she used to be (perhaps mainly because she's realizing that this dream of mine isn't going away), but we now have the baby's needs to consider too. Can we really do this entirely on bikes? Lately I've been wondering if we should bring a van along, and those of driving age can take turns driving it, and those who get tired of being on their bikes (or who get sick, or injured, or just plain sore) can ride in it when needed. It would give us a lot more options and flexibility ... but would definitely cut down on the sense of adventure.
My wife has indicated that she would be more enthusiastic if we can find some things to do along the way that will interest her. Her brother's family has a nice cottage in Montana, near Glacier National Park. That's not directly on the route, but we could take a little excursion on the Great Parks route from Missoula and get there. We might be able to plan a significant family gathering, timed for when we'll be passing through. I'm also looking at getting my family to join us for a few days in Breckenridge. Those potential family visits definitely add some appeal for her.
I've been looking over the maps, trying to figure out where we would stop along the way and how much we would need to budget for the whole trip. This is very, very complicated, and I'm looking for ways to make the planning simpler. (Suggestions?)
If we make the excursion up near Glacier National Park, then I wonder if we should backtrack back to Missoula, or if we should just head west on the Northern Tier route. That one looks hilly!
I have concerns about some of the climbs. I've spent more time looking at the Appalachians than the Rockies and the Cascades, but the Appalachians look intimidating. Would my younger riders really be able to make those climbs?
There's the question of how we get to/from the start/end points. If we take the van, we will have a several-day drive on either end, with all our bikes and all our gear. If we leave the van behind, we've got an awful lot to transport by plane.
Then I can't figure out what kind of bike equipment would be best. Do I need a tandem for a couple of the boys? What do I do with the 8 year old - a tag-along? How many of my family members am *I* going to have to pull - along with how much of our gear?
As you can tell, I'm feeling a little intimidated by all this. I seem to have way more questions than answers. I'm sure there must be a way to pull this off, but it's daunting. I don't want my dream to die just because I can't figure out some of the logistics.
Thank you for whatever suggestions and advice you have to offer me. I do appreciate it.