On touring and not especially regarding buses
(May as well start that new thread, right? even if I’m going to do it really awkwardly)
(a few weeks ago I rode down to Atlanta, I mentioned it in the Megabus thread, and conversation then diverged from buses, so for those who wanted to continue that branch:)
I went through Ohio and Kentucky, a little longer, but probably a little flatter. Also I wanted to visit bike coops and there were more that way. I didn’t altogether avoid highways, but for the most part they were quiet or at least had a good shoulder. At least until I hit Georgia. I don’t find trails really pleasant for long distances.
If I were to do it again I’d have to try going through WV.
Aryn, awesome trip and a remarkable achievement. Do you have a route description – either a list of cities/towns that you went through, or a GoogleMap with lines drawn on it, or a GPS track file?
Have you considered posting the story of your ride on CrazyGuyOnABike?
i’ve never bicycled thru WV, but i’ve motorcycled thru, while keeping an eye on the roads for future bicycle adventures.
The roads were great there, with not a ton of car traffic. No doubt it would be challenging (it is the Mountain State), but the surfaces were very well maintained, many with a decent shoulder. I mostly concentrated my riding in the Monongahela National Forest, which has WV’s highest point. Did i mention that it’s really really beautiful there?
Congratulations, that’s a pretty impressive ride.
Also, on the topic of touring, and for lack of a better place to put this, the musicians here should appreciate this website:
Scroll down and check out the video of the tour that the band did – something like 600 miles in 11 days, with a bunch of shows, by bike. Their bikes are loaded down with what I guess are bluegrass instruments. That’s a pretty tough band there.
That is an impressive trip. Your report leaves me hungry for more details!
I have a bunch of questions. (Apologies for pushing against your reticence)
How long did it take? How was the weather?
How did the drivers and residents of the places you passed through react?
My impression is there’s place in northern Georgia (or maybe Alabama, depending on the route), where the world drops away and you would have serious downhills with a view for maybe 15 miles.
Camping? Couch surfing? Motel/Hotel/B&B?
@jacob McCrea – I started a new topic for Steel Wheels.
Yeah, I’ve been stalling, sorry.
It was awesome. I did just over 900 miles in total getting down there over 14 days. I tried to start off sort of slow and work into it, and indeed the first few days were the hardest, and then it got easier and I did more miles. I took a full day off in Columbus (only rode maybe 15 miles around town) on my fifth day out, and then the next day got up at 4am and rode all the way to Cincinnati (115 miles, which is definitely the farthest I’ve gone in one day. I wanted to get there before 5pm, and made it, even if not by as much of a margin as I’d hoped).
The Atlanta area seemed less friendly than anywhere else I was, at least compared to Kentucky and Tennessee, and so after surviving the suburbs that last morning I was pretty ready to stop. I could have done better with my route choice for that last stretch.
I stopped in Canton to see a friend, and then in Columbus, Cincinnati, Lexington, and Chattanooga to visit their bike coops. I’m working on putting together a list of notes from my encounters there. I met a lot of people, who were all very friendly. A number of people who thought I was a little crazy to want to do such a thing, but all nice. One guy in Chattanooga spent a while shocked, went over how I seem healthy and sane, and then maybe tried to ask me out and told me I’m too old to not be married or have kids, I’m pretty enough, he said. But most interactions were a little more normal (or seemed so to me). I got pretty lucky with drivers. For the most part people were very nice. Many were worried about how others would be, some were probably a little annoyed, but not outwardly. One guy in Georgia was turning left where I was going straight and looked shocked that I was going through before him, and glared at me as he went. Another guy in Georgia (in Marietta, I could see Atlanta) slowed down driving beside me to ask where I was headed. He sounded really disappointed when I said just to Atlanta, what with the panniers, he said, he figured I was headed cross country. I told him I was from Pittsburgh, then, and everything was ok. Turns out he was from here, too.
Except for one partial day of rain, I had pretty good weather. Even that day it dried up before sunset, so wasn’t too bad. It was usually warmish during the days, though could be pretty cold in the mornings. Some days the frost didn’t fully melt till past 10am. I wish I’d had better gloves, as sometimes my fingers were pretty cold, but otherwise I was always fine.
I camped where I could- I got better at finding good spots as I went. The first night I ended up in Steubenville and stopped in a little spot of woods downhill (and so not visible) from the main road and steeply up from a road below it, and hoped for the best. I stayed in a park once. There were lots of good places to stop that I passed earlier in the days before I was ready to stop. Alas. I slept next to a lot of churches. I had four places to stay with people planned out before I left. One with my friend in Canton, one with some women in Columbus through WarmShowers, one also in Columbus through one of the bike coops there, and one in Lexington with a friend of a friend. I found people with along the way who invited me home three other nights, and slept outside the other six nights.
and for anyone really serious about wanting my route, I mapped it out by day:
Aryn, that is a great report, thanks. I also rode that way once and found myself regretting having chosen to ride west across central Ohio. Too hilly. But you had a different goal.
Anonymous 12/05/2012 at 5:51pm #
I’ve had this dream for a few months now of riding from my home here to my old home in Raleigh,NC but dismissed it as too long.
Now you’ve kneecapped that excuse! How did you go about picking your route? The first part of mine I’m sure would be the GAP to DC but quite unsure from there. I tried it on google maps for a first cut idea, but when I tell it to map the route for bikes it freezes. Kind of hilarious actually.
I also appreciate Aryn’s report.
@byogman, a few years ago I biked from Pittsburgh to Raleigh, NC to get in shape for racing. It was 5 days and about 525 miles. It was not an easy ride. To not hijack Aryn’s thread, shoot me a private message if you want the route, etc.
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