I recently corresponded with a touring cyclist, Dave, who has lived on our TransAmerica Bicycle Trail route near Springfield, Oregon, since the Bikecentennial days. He’s seen his share of cyclists passing through, some only a few days into their trip and a little confused while others are just shy of completing their cross country goal, maybe dragging their feet a bit as they near the end of the journey. A piece of advice he often gives both types of cyclists, “… is to get off the thoroughfare once in awhile. Pick up a state DOT road map and part company with the cycling crowd.”
His point being that the residents and business people along our routes, especially the heavily traveled ones like the TransAm, Northern and Southern Tiers and Pacific Coast, have become accustom to seeing colorfully dressed persons riding bag-laden bicycles through their communities. They often extend a warm welcome and a friendly smile as a natural course of their summer day. While on the other hand, when cycling into a community NOT on an Adventure Cycling Bicycle Route, you might be the first touring cyclist a local has seen in their town.
“The residents on your routes are profoundly nice people and for the most part, well adjusted to our presence. The one thing they are not, is awestruck. We’re a dime-a-dozen to folks on the Route. Get off to the side a few miles and people are blown away: ‘You’re doin’ what? Damn, come on in and have a piece of pie!'”, continues Dave.
The merits of using our route maps for a bicycle tour are widely known. This is why we created them in the first place. It is good to know how far you will pedal between services and what those services will be, especially if you are in need of a bicycle repair or a library where you are likely to find a free internet connection. Not to mention the economic benefits to the community you are traveling through.
However, all that being said, quite possibly you will find your experience enriched by riding off the edge of the map once in a while. Any reason is worthy and the additional adventure into the unknown is the cherry on top.
Photo: A BBQ is a good reason to go off route!
GEOPOINTS BULLETIN is written by Jennifer ‘Jenn’ Milyko, an Adventure Cycling cartographer, and appears weekly, highlighting curious facts, figures and persons from Adventure Cycling’s Route Network with tips and hints for personal route creation thrown in for good measure.