50th Anniversary of Bikecentennial, US Semiquincentennial - CycleBlaze

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50th Anniversary of Bikecentennial, US Semiquincentennial

Pete Staehling

The 50th Anniversary of Bikecentennial and US Semiquincentennial are coming up in 2026.  I don't know if the ACA is doing anything to commerate it.  So far they have been silent as far as I know.

I am starting to look ahead to a ride to commerate both in 2026.  I dreamed of riding Bikecentennial in 1976, but didn't manage to ride the route until 2007 when it was called the Trans America.

I ride self supported and these days pack ultra light.  I'll be 75 in 2026 so I may be starting to indulge myself with more frequent motel stops, but still plan to go self contained unless something changes my mind in the next few years.

Are any of the other folks here planning a TA tour for 2007?  Too soon to ask?  It normally would be for me since I am generally not much of a planner and usually go more on the spur of the moment even for big tours.  I may have dreamed of a TA for years, but it was a few weeks in deciding to actually go last time. This time I am looking way ahead.

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2 weeks ago
George HallTo Pete Staehling

Pete;

What an interesting coincidence - I had been thinking the same thing as regards possibly doing a repeat of the Transam on the 50th anniversary year.  Like you, I wanted to ride the original Bikecentennial, but I was a young man who had just started a career and I couldn't afford the time off or the money back then.  So my first long self-supported tour was the Transam in 2015; 2015 Transam.  I was 62 at that time, and still working full time, so I had to accomplish the trip faster than optimal and did it in 10 weeks.  That's way too fast for me these days, and I would take 12-13 weeks for the same trip now - by the time 2026 gets here I might need another week or 2 on top of that. 

I don't ride ultra-light, I carry full camping gear but I prefer to stay inside as much as possible.  Last year I rode the Northern Tier with my brother-in-law and we only camped for 7 days of the 12-week crossing  (2021 Northern Tier).   BTW, our original plan was to do a repeat of the Transam and I had worked out a 13 week itinerary for it, but the plan changed when my sister had to drop out.   

Your post has given me some encouragement to think about my long-term touring plans, thanks for that.  I'm younger than you, I'll "only" be 73 1/2 at the time I would start that tour in 2026, but still I find that it is getting harder to do these things and I need to be reasonably well conditioned before starting a tour.  I'm going to put a bug in my sister and brother-in-law's ears about riding the Transam in 2026 (sis is just a year younger and bro-in-law is same age as me), so who knows?  Maybe we will end up with a geriatric touring division of the 50th year crossing!  Best of luck,

George Hall

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2 weeks ago
Pete StaehlingTo George Hall

Great to hear from a like minded rider.  I expect that there will be some who unlike us rode bikecentennial in 1976 and are doing a 50th anniversary of their first one.    So no doubt there will be others our age.  At least I'll be surprised if that is not the case.

I have no idea how long I will take this time assuming I am able to do the ride.  I took 73 days in 2007 and only had to motel stays, but stayed with hosts a number of times.  I have since done other tours where I did longer daily mileage, but will wait to see what makes sense at age 71.  I figure that an open ended schedule is always a good thing, but probably more so as we get older.  I don't think making it in any particular number of days is important.

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2 weeks ago
Kelly IniguezTo Pete Staehling

I keep telling myself we need to ride an ocean to ocean trip. Our 2020 border to border trip was by far both of our favorites. I liked it for the change in geology and topography. It was a great tour on many fronts. 

I can't quite get excited about a coast to coast tour. Frankly, I'm intimidated by the steep climbs back east, and the humidity. 

But, we've done several long tours, just not 'that' long tour. Maybe I'll work up the nerve by then?  

 

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2 weeks ago
Pete StaehlingTo Kelly Iniguez

I highly recommend the TA route, but yes there are some really steep places in the east in both the Ozarks and the Appalachians.  I guess missing them is possible by using the Eastern Express.

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2 weeks ago
Jeff LeeTo Kelly Iniguez

I think if the border-to-border trip was your favorite tour, then you should definitely consider a coast-to-coast trip. There's something special about doing something so epic.

Of the well-known routes, the TransAmerica Trail probably lets you experience the most striking changes in terrain, scenery, culture, etc. Certainly it's more interesting than the ACA Northern Tier, which I found pretty boring in comparison. And there is something cool about following a route that is pretty historic at this point. (Despite my reservations about some of the ACA's routing choices, where they sometimes choose busier roads in order to reduce the distances between services - not the tradeoff I prefer.)

Some of the climbing in Virginia and Kentucky is tough, but at this point I feel like its difficulty is maybe a little exaggerated. I don't think it's *that* many days of steep climbs when you consider the totality of the route. And when you've done it, you'll have bragging rights ;)

It would be a little difficult to do the entire thing without camping even once (which I know is your preference), but it's definitely possible, especially if you carry a sleeping bag and are willing to sleep in the many free places like churches and fire stations.

You should do it! (And East to West is the best direction, no matter what anyone says!)

Jeff

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2 weeks ago
Pete StaehlingTo Jeff Lee

Jeff, we probably disagree completely on what the ACA's mistakes are in routing.  My thoughts are that they tend to go off the beaten path to more minor less direct roads for what seems like no good reason.  One could argue they were more scenic, but in many cases (most?) they don't seem to be.  It almost seems as if they just go out of their way to climb some big hill and take a longer no more scenic route.   To be fair some of the places I complained about on ACA routes may have been more scenic when they first chose the route.  For example I recall one that might have had multiple scenic overlooks that no longer existed after years of tree growth.  Also one persons idea of scenic isn't the same as another's.  Ditto for traffic tolerance.

The fact that there are complaints in exactly opposite directions makes me think maybe they are doing an okay job.

I do agree that the TA is something very special and probably the very best of the coast to coast AC routes.  It certainly is far nicer than the Southern Tier which is the only other one I have actually ridden.

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2 weeks ago
Jeff LeeTo Pete Staehling

Haha! Yes, based on a discussion we had last year on BikeForums.net, we disagree completely on what makes a good cycling route. 

My goal when designing a route is no traffic. At all. Also, I love climbing more than most other aspects of cycling, so I prefer minor roads that go up and down hills, rather than flatter major roads.

So, to reference a couple of riders I've followed since I started touring: I'm from the intersection of the John Egan (low-traffic back roads) and the Rich Haubert (the more climbing the better) Schools of Bicycle Touring ;)

Jeff

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2 weeks ago
Pete StaehlingTo Jeff Lee

Yeah, it is all good and we all like different choices and that makes it impossible for the ACA to choose routes that folks won't complain about.

Just to be clear.  I love some climbing.  Heck I rode the Sierra Cascades from San Diego to an alternate ending in Reno.  Plenty of crazy steep climbing there.

I am particularly fond of rollers more so than real mountain grades, but I will ride it all.  I just don't see the point of detouring out of the way to take a less direct route with what to me to has no real benefit and requires an extra climb.

Alternately, I am annoyed when the ACA detours away from lovely sections of beautiful rollers because there is some truck traffic.  I am thinking of a section on the ST that I remember really enjoying that they cut out.  To be fair they apparantly had lots of complaints about the traffic, so I guess I am the odd ball on that one, but it was one of the most fun sections in my memory.  I just love to hammer that particular kind of rollers.

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2 weeks ago
George HallTo Kelly Iniguez

Kelly - I agree with Jeff and others that the TA is the route to do if you want an epic coast to coast ride.  And that you should ride it east to west - or, since you live in CO, maybe do a both-ends-to-the-middle journey like I did.  That really is a good way to do it. I ended each of my 2 halves in Canon City, it worked well for my needs at the time.  It IS humid in the east, and the hardest climbing of the entire trip occurs from about Charlottesville, VA to Berea, KY, so by going east to west you are done with the hardest parts in the first 2 weeks. Not that there isn't plenty of other challenging parts ahead, but once you make it to Berea, KY you know you can handle the rest. I saw folks climb the mountains on tandems and every imaginable sort of bike and trike - some even pulling trailers.  Sometimes you may need to walk a steep climb - no big deal.  It's a tour, not a race - ride shorter days in the mountains and longer days once you hit Kansas.  There aren't THAT many crazy climbs, just a few, and a lot of "normal" hard climbs. There are some hard parts, but it's doable for any determined cyclist.  I do recommend that you should show up for this tour in decent cycling shape - this isn't a tour where you should plan on getting in shape as you go along, at least not if you go east to west - but if you train at least moderately then that gives you a good mental edge when you hit the climbing.  And even on the hardest days, you aren't climbing all day - you make a steep climb, then go down and ride in the valley a while, then repeat.  Oh, the dogs in KY really can be a problem too. :>)

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2 weeks ago