If you have two months or more to spare and want an adventure of a lifetime, then consider taking the time to cycle coast to coast - Seattle to Boston or San Diego to St. Augustine in Florida or one of the other routes on offer. You can even cycle all the way from San Francisco to New York on dedicated cycle tracks. If you can’t take that much time out, then you can always do a segment of the route for a week or more. Cycling coast to coast attracts visitors from around the world, so pack your cycling gear, reflective vest or reflective belt and experience the history and incredibly varied terrain of the States.
The length of the journey and the days taken to complete it depends on which company or route you use, but it is generally between 50 to 70 days and the distance covered is around 4,500 miles (7,242 km). Although this trip can be done without using a dedicated company, using a company makes life a lot easier. On the other hand, using a company does not give you the freedom to spend an extra day at a particular spot you have fallen in love with. Companies will transport your luggage from campsite to campsite. They will provide breakfast, lunch and dinner and on road support. The route will be clearly marked out and a mechanic will be on the road to assist with any problems and will be there at the end of the day to perform any repairs that are needed.
THE TRANSAMERICA TRAIL
This is considered the classic cycling trail for coast to coasters. If you have time, it is recommended that you do it over three months as there is so much to see on the way. However, if you have a competitive spirit and limited time, you could always enter the Trans Am bike race. The route is littered with affordable guest houses, motels and camp sites and a great variety of coffee shops and restaurants. There are also shops which specialise in cycling gear, where you can buy anything from a reflective cycling vest or reflective belt, to a brand new bike. The Transamerica trail is 4,233 miles long (6,812 km) and begins in Astoria, Oregon and ends in Yorktown, Virginia. It traverses many contrasting landscapes – deserts, mountains, Yellowstone and Great Teton national parks in Wyoming, the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, the Appalachian Mountains in Virginia and the great flats of the Midwest.
THE NORTHERN TIER ROUTE
The Northern Tier Route covers a distance of 4,295 miles (6,912 km) and takes you through fifteen states. If you are planning to go coast to coast in the summer, this route is an excellent choice as it avoids the heat of the Midwest and desert. It is highly probable that you will encounter snow during your trip, even in the summer and you will definitely experience chilly nights. The journey begins at Bar Harbour, Maine and ends in Seattle or you can reverse it and go west to east. The route takes you through four different mountain ranges including the Rockies, the Appalachians, the Cascades and the Adirondacks. You will enjoy the beauty of Glacier National Park, the plains of Montana and the rolling countryside of Wisconsin and Iowa, not forgetting the headwaters of the Mississippi.
THE SOUTHERN TIER ROUTE
The Southern Tier Route is the shortest coast to coast and covers 3,092 miles (4,976 km). If you plan to go west to east, then you start in San Diego, CA and finish in the 400 old town of St. Augustine, Florida. This is a route which will enthral history buffs and they will want to add days for sightseeing. At the beginning of the route, there is the marked influence of the Spanish and the Mexicans. Arizona and New Mexico will introduce you to the ancient indigenous pueblo cultures and Texas still has memories of the Spanish conquistadors. You can experience the French influence in Louisiana, and the Old South as you ride through Mississippi and Alabama. The route takes you through deserts and across the continental divide. One third of the trip is taken up with crossing Texas and enjoying true Texan hospitality. If you choose late spring and early summer, you will marvel at the carpets of wild flowers. The Southern Tier Route is renowned for its hospitality. Many cyclists say that they were invited into locals’ houses almost every night of their trip and treated to hot showers, comfy beds, wonderful food and conversation. Some cyclists say that hotels and guest houses have refused to let them pay for their accommodation, as they are just delighted that people are exploring the area and getting to know what southern hospitality is truly about.