From a Wall Street Journal online article:
Patricia McNeal, a 58-year-old brain-aneurysm survivor from Panama City, Fla., is currently riding home from Seattle on her 2017 Trek Émonda SL 6 road bike. She’s improvising a route, but confessed she’d one day love to ride the Great American Rail Trail, a transcontinental route from Washington, D.C. to Washington state that’s now in piecemeal development.
A self-described “credit-card camper,” Ms. McNeal doesn’t rough it. She carries a single bag and sleeps at hotels and homestays arranged via warmshowers.org, a peer-to-peer cyclist’s site, as well as supporters who learn about her travels via the Black Girls Do Bike organization. Her necessities are padded shorts, a gel seat, chamois cream to help with chafing and some music.
Bicycle touring in America is shifting gears away from that old school derring-do on skinny tires, when cyclists scraped by 18-wheelers on highways. Instead, the sort of protected cycling paths common in urban centers are now stretching tendrils over abandoned railroad lines to link cities coast-to-coast. Meanwhile, riders are joining mass multiday fundraising rides for safety in numbers, or taking to America’s 1,357,430 miles of quieter unpaved roads. For that, they ride increasingly popular “gravel bikes,” a toughened road bike designed for speed on off-road with added mounts for gear.