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Photo by Adam Coppola
Media specialist and BikeOvernights.org editor lists his 10 favorite rail-trails.
Last week I received a note from a representative of Tourism New Zealand, with some pretty darn exciting news. "Tourism New Zealand has just announced the latest cycle trail opening on New Zealand’s national cycleway," wrote Kelly Stephens. "It is a stunning cycle loop with sweeping vistas. We thought this might be of interest to you to share with your readers."
There’s a place you really should see. In the high desert of south-central Wyoming, “where the rivers change direction, across the Great Divide” (as sung by Nanci Griffith and others).
Spring may be here, but it hasn’t sprung at our place in the Wyodaho Tetons. We have four feet of snow on the level, and it's still coming down as I write this. But just across the road there’s a foothills ridge, wind-scoured and south-facing, that will be free of the white stuff soon.
I think the first time I ever heard of bicycle polo was back in 1989 at Fat Tire Bike Week in Crested Butte, where I watched a match in action. At the time, I figured the players were just a bunch of Colorado crazies that included more than a few equestrian wannabes who had decided to settle for two wheels rather than fork out the bucks for four legs and one horsepower (and a big pickup truck and a horse trailer and ...)
Every now and then — but not often enough — I get together to do some riding with my friend Chuck Haney, an outdoor photographer from Whitefish, Montana, whose work often graces the pages of Adventure Cyclist magazine. One of our most memorable trips took place in July of 2002, when we met up in tiny Wise River, Montana. This general region holds one of the most spectacular expanses of mountain-and-basin country in all of Montana; and, in terms of Adventure Cycling routes, it’s a true crossroads.
Just before Aaron Teasdale left his position in the Adventure Cycling publications department, he and I had a discussion that revealed we both perceive a need for more off-pavement bikepacking routes like the Great Divide. He and I quizzed one another: What would be a good location for such a route? Western Washington and/or Oregon? Maybe. The Great Basin of southern Idaho and northern Nevada? Possibly. Paralleling the Appalachian Trail on the Eastern Seaboard? Perhaps.
If you like people and enjoy riding mountain bikes (or like the idea of trying it), but have never signed up for a mountain-bike festival, you're missing out on some great fun. I've attended fat-tire festivals in Colorado, Wisconsin, and Utah, and found that they all shared a certain spirit of camaraderie that's tough to beat. I'd be willing to bet that the ones I've haven't attended share it, too.
Common knowledge among the mountain-biking crowd is that there's no off-road riding in Yellowstone National Park, where the hiking paths are indeed off-limits to bicycles. Last week I made a circuit around the park with my full-suspension Jamis to determine if the rumor is true or not.
On a Saturday in mid-May, my wife Nancy and I were driving from our home in southeast Idaho to Seattle, by way of western Montana and northern Idaho. We had our road bikes with us; so, because the weather was stellar, at around 10 a.m. we pulled off I-90 at the Cataldo exit, intending to sample a stretch of the 72-mile-long Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes that I’ve heard so much about.
Now, I’m not trying to steal the thunder from my friend and colleague Jenn Milyko, who one of these days might want to write about the Utah Cliffs Loop in her “milestone routes” series. Among other nice things she does, Jenn occasionally supplies me with packages containing two of my food groups — Twizzlers and CornNuts — so I definitely don’t want to make her mad.
Where in the world is the best place for bicycle travel? Tough question, no doubt, and anyone’s answer would have to be subjective — I mean, who on Earth has cycled everywhere?
Perhaps you’ve heard of the Slow Food Movement, a “nonprofit, eco-gastronomic member-supported organization that was founded in 1989 to counteract fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions ..."
Self-guided touring can be a beautiful blend of do-it-yourself and letting someone else take care of the details. In late September 2004, my wife Nancy and I toured southern France in this mode, when we were reminded that often it’s the least expected things that become the most memorable.
The 225-mile Katy Trail State Park is one of the crown jewels of North America’s rail-trail system. It follows a former route of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad -- the MK&T, or Katy for short -- between St. Charles and Sedalia, Missouri. A quiet artery, the Katy Trail transports cyclists and other self-propelled travelers through the heart of Missouri. On a grander scale, the riverside portions of the trail between St. Charles and Boonville serve as components of a pair of trails that are national in scope: the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail and the coast-to-coast American Discovery Trail.
Even today, more than 30 years after his death in 1982, you're likely to hear the name "Clarence Pickard" mentioned with reverence by a fellow cyclist or two if you brave the crowds, July humidity, and miles of cornfields to ride the Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI).
Vélo Québec's La Route Verte ("The Green Route") has been described as "The best bicycle route in the world." A bold claim, indeed.
I'd like to share a pair of slide shows involving the TransAmerica Bicycle Trail that I personally can't get enough of. Both of them I first found three or four years ago.
One of the things I most enjoy about my association with Adventure Cycling is the fascinating stories I often get to hear or read. Consider the following, a correspondence sent recently by a fellow named Nick.
A few days ago it came to my attention that VeloPress, the book-publishing arm of the bicycle-racing journal VeloNews, has issued a pair of new titles that could help cyclists and aficionados of other outdoor activities reach their 2010 athletic goals. Alternatively, if you have no such goals, one of these books might help you think of some.
As I write this, snow covers the ground outside my window and the thermometer reads an absurd 20 degrees below zero. The cycling season has come to a screeching halt, obviously; now, however, the dreaming and planning wheels are spinning up to speed.
The Rough Stuff Fellowship is a poetically named organization in Great Britain whose beginnings date to 1955. On the home page of their website, they point at that this was "long before anyone had heard of Marin County."
Adventure Cycling member Bob Youker of Bethesda, Maryland, is a former World Bank employee and current cheerleader of all things rail-trail. He emails me on a fairly regular basis, telling me about trails he's recently ridden and urging me to promote them. I guess his efforts work, because here I go ...
Remember that classic country song by Crystal Gayle, "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue?" You don't? Oh well, regardless, in a twist on its title, in Michigan they could soon be singing, "Don't it make my blue roads green?"