Author Topic: What is Your Favorite Cross Country Route and Why?  (Read 13178 times)

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Offline skD1am0nd

What is Your Favorite Cross Country Route and Why?
« on: December 15, 2016, 12:37:28 pm »
We are blessed with many options for Adventure cycling routes across the country. If you have done or are thinking of cycling cross country on an Adventure Cycling route which do you want to do? Why? Love hills, hate hills, heat, cold, tailwinds, too long, too short, favorite bakeries, like the football teams in the state you’d ride through. Whatever your reason I’d love to hear your thoughts.

So many routes, so little time.

   -Scott

Offline John Nettles

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Re: What is Your Favorite Cross Country Route and Why?
« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2016, 01:30:02 pm »
If you are talking about ACA routes, then the TransAm hands down.  I have done most of the routes and still prefer the TransAm over the others.  The reason is that it changes about every 7-10 days in geography or similar.  Tired of the cool ocean breeze, get into eastern Oregon.  Tired of the pine trees, add some geysers and mountains of Yellowstone & Tetons, etc.  Just a very good route.

However, since I have been touring for closing on 40 years (started young) and I have done most of ACA routes, I have been doing mostly my own routes lately.

Best, John

Offline John Nelson

Re: What is Your Favorite Cross Country Route and Why?
« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2016, 07:59:54 pm »
Agreed. This is no contest. For coast-to-coast routes, the TransAm is a clear winner. The TransAm has far more tradition, far more cycling infrastructure, far more comaraderie, more signage, more welcoming churches and fire stations, more free camping in city parks, more charming small towns, more friendly people, etc.

And you absolutely must experience the exhilaration of being chased by a Kentucky dog.
« Last Edit: December 15, 2016, 08:02:56 pm by John Nelson »

Offline staehpj1

Re: What is Your Favorite Cross Country Route and Why?
« Reply #3 on: December 16, 2016, 06:47:11 am »
I'll give another recommend for the Trans America.  It is a great route with a lot of tradition going back to Bike-centennial in 1976.

When it comes to coast to coast routes, I have only done the Trans America and the Southern Tier so I don't have experience with the Northern Tier.  The Southern Tier was okay and had the advantages of being able to go in the winter, minimizing the climbing, and being much shorter.  Unfortunately I found the scenery pretty drab, day after day after day of brown scrub brush.  Lots of interesting people and food made up for the scenery to some extent, but I still much prefer the TA if I have to pick a favorite.

Offline canalligators

Re: What is Your Favorite Cross Country Route and Why?
« Reply #4 on: December 16, 2016, 10:02:49 am »
I've only done the Northern Tier, which I thoroughly enjoyed.  You guys make me want to do the TA.

indyfabz

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Re: What is Your Favorite Cross Country Route and Why?
« Reply #5 on: December 16, 2016, 10:26:45 am »
One possible combination is the Pacific Coast route north from Seattle to the Northern Tier to Glacier National Park for a ride up the west side of Going to the Sun and back down then back track and take the Great Parks North to Missoula to the TransAm. Did that itinerary in 2000 during a trip to Mesa Verde, CO. Split off from the TransAm at Fairplay, CO.

Offline John Nettles

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  • I ride for smiles, not miles.
Re: What is Your Favorite Cross Country Route and Why?
« Reply #6 on: December 16, 2016, 10:35:19 am »
Indyfabz, you are cheating!  I didn't know we could combine the routes  :D

Offline sfuller

Re: What is Your Favorite Cross Country Route and Why?
« Reply #7 on: December 16, 2016, 11:44:11 am »
I'm in a bit of a bind as I've (currently) only ridden on XC route, and that's the GDMBR. It's an extremely challenging route, but the silence and the scenery are absolutely amazing. Plenty of time to look around, not worry about traffic, and take in the the scenery and the fresh air. I also found the logistical planning around getting through the day incredibly enjoyable.

The Trans-Am is likely my next XC route to take on.

Offline Ty0604

Re: What is Your Favorite Cross Country Route and Why?
« Reply #8 on: December 16, 2016, 05:54:41 pm »
Seattle to San Diego along US 101. I've done the route following the Interstate 5 corridor as well. Enjoyed the US 101 route much more. When I leave for the Southern Tier in about 50 days it'll be my first true ACA route. My other rides; Portland, OR--->Portland, ME; Cincinnati--->Seattle and Seattle--->Green Bay were all my own routes. They stayed North.
Instagram: tyjames0604

WI—>WA—>CO

Offline jamawani

Re: What is Your Favorite Cross Country Route and Why?
« Reply #9 on: December 16, 2016, 06:55:44 pm »
Assuming a summer ride - a combination of -

1. Glacier NP to Yellowstone NP via US 89 on the east side
Going to the Sun Road is one of the finest rides in the Lower 48.
Yellowstone is doable if you ride early and/or late - and worth it.

2. The Black Hills of South Dakota and the Sandhills of Nebraska.
Way, way better than the mind-numbing flatness of E. Colo / W. Kansas on the TransAm.
The best way to cross the Great Plains.

3. The Allegheny Passage / C&O Canal between Pittsburg and Washington, DC.
Off pavement and tricky when wet - but so nice to escape from traffic in the East.
Plus there are free campsites every 10 or 15 miles.

West of #1 you can do either the Northern Tier or the Lewis & Clark.

Between #1 & #2 you can do the Northern Tier route on the Wyoming Bike Map.

Between #2 & #3 you can do any of a number of routes across Iowa to the Northern Tier.

East of #3 you can quit in DC or ride out Cape Henlopen using passenger ferries across Chesapeake Bay.

PS - If you start with the Northern Tier you can do a ferry ride out to the San Juan Islands -
then end with a ferry ride to Smith Island in the Chesapeake Bay - nice bookends.

Offline staehpj1

Re: What is Your Favorite Cross Country Route and Why?
« Reply #10 on: December 18, 2016, 07:58:31 am »
One possible combination is the Pacific Coast route north from Seattle to the Northern Tier to Glacier National Park for a ride up the west side of Going to the Sun and back down then back track and take the Great Parks North to Missoula to the TransAm.
We made friends with some folks who did about the same.  It sounded like a pretty good choice, Not that the regular TA isn't nice as well.


Assuming a summer ride
That is definitely something to consider.  You couldn't pay me to do the ST in Summer.  It was nice when I did it in a Feb.-Mar. time frame though.  Nights were chilly and at times and even cold, but it was always nice by mid morning.  I like cooler weather though.

Offline bikemig

Re: What is Your Favorite Cross Country Route and Why?
« Reply #11 on: December 18, 2016, 09:33:04 am »
Assuming a summer ride - a combination of -

1. Glacier NP to Yellowstone NP via US 89 on the east side
Going to the Sun Road is one of the finest rides in the Lower 48.
Yellowstone is doable if you ride early and/or late - and worth it.

2. The Black Hills of South Dakota and the Sandhills of Nebraska.
Way, way better than the mind-numbing flatness of E. Colo / W. Kansas on the TransAm.
The best way to cross the Great Plains.

3. The Allegheny Passage / C&O Canal between Pittsburg and Washington, DC.
Off pavement and tricky when wet - but so nice to escape from traffic in the East.
Plus there are free campsites every 10 or 15 miles.

West of #1 you can do either the Northern Tier or the Lewis & Clark.

Between #1 & #2 you can do the Northern Tier route on the Wyoming Bike Map.

Between #2 & #3 you can do any of a number of routes across Iowa to the Northern Tier.

East of #3 you can quit in DC or ride out Cape Henlopen using passenger ferries across Chesapeake Bay.

PS - If you start with the Northern Tier you can do a ferry ride out to the San Juan Islands -
then end with a ferry ride to Smith Island in the Chesapeake Bay - nice bookends.

I like this. I'm starting to plan a ride from where I live (IA) to the west coast. I'm thinking about doing much of the Lewis and Clark ride but I'd like to do the sandhills and the Black Hills. That sounds better to me than going North/South through South Dakota and then spending time in North Dakota. I've cycled ND before; really nice people but it's flat and I imagine that the roads have not gotten better with the oil extraction industry. Do you have a route that you did through the Sandhills and the Black Hills?

Offline jamawani

Re: What is Your Favorite Cross Country Route and Why?
« Reply #12 on: December 18, 2016, 11:07:16 am »
Rode thru Iowa this past summer as part of an x-USA trip. From Onawa to Davenport.
And I did the Black Hills & Sandhills, too. In fact, I've ridden Nebraska many times since 1987.

How much do you want to get "back there"? And where will you be starting from?
Initially, I read you home as "1A" and looked at some reference for 1A - then realized it was IA.
Crossing the Missouri on the Kerry Bridge is nice, but Omaha is "Meh" to bike thru.
The US 30 bridge to Blair has shoulders, but the stretch in W. Iowa is busy and narrow.
The Decatur bridge has a metal grate deck and is tricky - esp. if you look down.
(Plus, the hills on the Neb. side are killer for 40 miles.)
The Sioux City Bridge has great bike lanes and bike trails on the riverfront, too.
(Although it may put you too far north for your plans.)

There are three general Sandhills routes - US 20, Neb 2, and Neb 92.
US 20 has excellent shoulders, light traffic, plenty of towns, moderate exposure to the Sandhills.
Neb 2 goes right thru the middle of the Sandhills from Broken Bow to Alliance, moderate traffic, OK shoulders.
Neb 92 west of Broken Bow is stunning - pure Sandhills - zero traffic, but remote. And the longest jog north.

Depending on how much time you have - I would go as far west as Crawford and Ft. Robinson.
Then turn north on Hwy 2/71 to Hot Springs - light traffic - and Wind Cave NP - to Pringle.
At Pringle I would shift to the Mickelson Trail all the way thru the Black Hills.
(North of Rochford you can opt to switch to the parallel road.)
After you hit Deadwood/Lead, loop back southwest to US 14A thru Spearfish Canyon (!!) to Spearfish.

From Spearfish you might be interested in hitting Devils Tower NM - but that's another post.

Pic - The Mickelson Trail


Offline bikemig

Re: What is Your Favorite Cross Country Route and Why?
« Reply #13 on: December 18, 2016, 12:00:54 pm »
Rode thru Iowa this past summer as part of an x-USA trip. From Onawa to Davenport.
And I did the Black Hills & Sandhills, too. In fact, I've ridden Nebraska many times since 1987.

How much do you want to get "back there"? And where will you be starting from?
Initially, I read you home as "1A" and looked at some reference for 1A - then realized it was IA.
Crossing the Missouri on the Kerry Bridge is nice, but Omaha is "Meh" to bike thru.
The US 30 bridge to Blair has shoulders, but the stretch in W. Iowa is busy and narrow.
The Decatur bridge has a metal grate deck and is tricky - esp. if you look down.
(Plus, the hills on the Neb. side are killer for 40 miles.)
The Sioux City Bridge has great bike lanes and bike trails on the riverfront, too.
(Although it may put you too far north for your plans.)

There are three general Sandhills routes - US 20, Neb 2, and Neb 92.
US 20 has excellent shoulders, light traffic, plenty of towns, moderate exposure to the Sandhills.
Neb 2 goes right thru the middle of the Sandhills from Broken Bow to Alliance, moderate traffic, OK shoulders.
Neb 92 west of Broken Bow is stunning - pure Sandhills - zero traffic, but remote. And the longest jog north.

Depending on how much time you have - I would go as far west as Crawford and Ft. Robinson.
Then turn north on Hwy 2/71 to Hot Springs - light traffic - and Wind Cave NP - to Pringle.
At Pringle I would shift to the Mickelson Trail all the way thru the Black Hills.
(North of Rochford you can opt to switch to the parallel road.)
After you hit Deadwood/Lead, loop back southwest to US 14A thru Spearfish Canyon (!!) to Spearfish.

From Spearfish you might be interested in hitting Devils Tower NM - but that's another post.

snip . . .

This is great info; thank you. I'll have to check these routes out. I'll be starting in central Iowa (Des Moines) and I've been wanting to explore the Sandhills region for a while on bike. Nebraska 92 sounds great. It even has a wiki entry, :). I didn't realize that there was highway 92 in 4 states (WY, NE, IA, and IL).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nebraska_Highway_92

Offline lkowalski

Re: What is Your Favorite Cross Country Route and Why?
« Reply #14 on: July 01, 2022, 10:49:54 pm »
We are riding the Eastern Express route from Walden, CO east.  Does anyone have a route link that detours through the Sandhills of Nebraska from the standard Eastern Express route?
Many thanks.
Lynn