Adventure Bicycle Trips: Touring In America On 1,357,430 Miles Of “Quieter, Unpaved Roads”

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, 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. 

ACA Bicycle routes in U.S. Illustration by John S. Dykes Wall Street Journal

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.

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