I have had the pleasure of riding the Southern Tier a couple
of times....as well as working on the maps and updates to the
maps. The question that you pose, or some variant of that
question, is one that we hear almost daily here at Adventure
When we choose routes, the initial criteria that we shoot for is
safety....and this is generally roads that are more rural in
nature. From there, the next important criteria are
services....and having services that are somewhat close
together since most folks seem to average about 65 miles a
day. After that we look for scenic routes with some interesting
features along the way. All of these things added up means
that our routes are probably not the quickest way from point A
to point B.....but hopefully the route would provide experience
for a cyclists.
But every cyclist has their list of things that they want to see.
And since our routes are so specific, they generally don't
include all of these things. And we aren't saying that our
routes are the end-all be-all to bicycle touring in the US.
There are thousands of roads in the country that aren't part of
our routes that make for outstanding riding.
I think that the biggest advantage to touring on Adventure
Cycling routes is that the guess work is taken out of the
equation. We hear from people all of the time that have
toured for years....who have never used our routes. Then
after a tour using them they go on and on about how much
easier it made their tour. Their comments seem to be about
having the location of the services (that are update monthly
on our website) as much as the route.
Over the years we've learned that roads and highways
change all of the time. They get busier, lanes are added,
surfaces change.....and we try to keep up with these changes
and make them available as fast as we can. Just like we do
with the services.
Some people that tour do not like to know what is coming up.
They like the experience of just heading out to see what will
happen....talking to locals along the way to find out where to
ride, eat and stay. They might just be using a state map, and
following mostly major roads. People that tour this way can
have a great trip, just like folks that use an already existing
When people call to ask about the best way to go about
designing their own trip we generally tell them this:
We generally don't have a lot of information when it comes to
traveling off of our routes. What we do have to offer though
are some good resources to help you with your planning.
The first thing that I suggest to folks is to take a look at the
routes that we have http://www.adventurecycling.org/routes/
network.cfm. From there, find out which parts you could
potentially use. The next step is to get in touch with the bike
coordinators for the states in which they will be traveling
through. The bike coordinators have a wealth of information
that they can distribute for no charge. Most every state
publishes a bicycle map of their state that they will send out
for free....and while the maps aren't as detailed as ours, they
generally offer suggested roads for cycling through their
state. Some states, such as Colorado and Wisconsin, have
outstanding information, while other states are much simpler.
But every little piece of information can help. Here is a link to
the contact information for all of the bicycle coordinators: http://www.bikewalk.org/contacts_links/
Another good resource is our Cyclists' Yellowpages, which is
now on-line. From our Home Page you can select "Cyclists
Yellow Pages" in the banner towards the top of the page. Of
here is a link straight to the site: http://www.adventurecycling.org/cyp/index.cfm
This is a search
engine for the Yellowpages and has a lot of good reference
information about where to find information for your trip.
I will also add to folks that are planning their own trips…..we
see more and more as State and U.S. highways are being
resurfurced that the DOT's are adding a nice 3 to 4 foot
shoulder to their highways. While traffic on these roadways
tends to be heavier than others, the shoulder can make for
some nice, safe riding…..depending on where the rumble
strips are placed.
routes and mapping