Updating for 2013
In 1976 a group of intrepid bike travelers took off from Yorktown, Virginia, to ride some 4,200 miles to Astoria, Oregon.
The bike ride celebrated the nation’s 200th birthday, and the route was dubbed the Bikecentennial Route. That bike tour stirred the wanderlust of every bicyclist who heard about it.
Eventually, the non-profit that prepared the route became the Adventure Cycling Association and that route became the TransAmerica Bicycle Route.
Today, there are dozens of routes that criss-cross the US and hundreds of groups will be riding them this year. Here are a few of the rides that I’ve stumbled across lately.
Non-profit and fund-raising tours
Atlantic Coast — The Adventure Cycling Association presents this self-contained bike tour for 2,875 miles from Bar Harbor, Maine, to Fort Meyers, Florida. Dates: Aug. 18 to Oct. 18, 2012.
Big Ride Across America — A fund-raising bike tour for the American Lung Association, the 3,300-mile supported bike ride rolls out from Seattle to Washington DC. Mostly camping with some overnights at college dorms. Registering 30-40 riders, some chores. Dates: June 17 – Aug. 3, 2013
Bike4Friendship — This is the second year for this cross-country ride that raises funds for The Friendship Circle, a national Jewish organization that provides social support for children with special needs and their families. You can ride the entire 3,279 miles, or just a segment. Dates: July 2 – Aug. 17, 2012.
Bike4Peace — This cross-country bike tour leaves from San Francisco and is scheduled to arrive in Washington DC on World Car Free Day. Former Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, the 2008 Green Party presidential candidate, is joining the ride. See the Google map for the route. Dates: July 24 to Sept. 22, 2010.
Bike & Build — Ten teams, comprised mostly of college students, raise money and work on affordable housing as they take different routes across country. The bicyclists ride about 75 miles a day and share chores on the supported rides. See the Bike & Build Facebook page for updates regarding registration. (Registration Nov. 1-7, 2011) Dates: May – August 2012, depending on route.
Bike the US for MS – Three cross-country bike tours are scheduled in 2012 — Northern Tier, TransAm and Pacific Coast. No dates as of yet. Dates: (TransAm: June 1 to Aug. 1, 2012)
Coast 2 Coast – This southern tier cross-country ride is a fund-raiser for theDeveruex Children’s Residential Treatment Center offered by Bubba’s Pampered Pedalers. Rolls out from San Diego, CA, to St. Augustine, FL. Fully supported, including camping gear and setting up and taking down tents. Dates: March 9 – April 30, 2012.
Fuller Center Bike Adventure — A cross-country bike ride from Savannah to Vancouver, BC, to raise money for Fuller Center for Housing, a nonprofit ecumenical Christian Housing ministry dedicated to creating adequate housing for all people in need. Dates: June 7 to Aug. 11, 2013.
Hazon – Cross USA Ride — The Jewish environmental group is organizing the ride that travels from Seattle to Washington DC in 10 weeks. Meals are kosher and vegetarian options available. More info. Dates: June 7-Aug. 16, 2012
Journey of Hope – This is a service bike tour for the Pi Kappa Phi college fraternity to raise funds and awareness for people with disabilities. Two teams leave San Francisco and one leaves Seattle to arrive in Washington DC. Dates: June 8 (Seattle) or June 12 (San Francisco) to Aug. 13, 2011.
Northern Tier – Van supported — Bicyclists pedal the 4,400-mile northern tier route across the U.S., while their gear travels by van. This tour from Anacortes, Washington, to Bar Harbor, Maine, is presented by Adventure Cycling Association. Dates: June 21 – Sept. 19, 2012.
Pacific Coast - Van– Bicycling with the Pacific Ocean on your right is a scenic way to travel. The van-supported bike tour begins in Bellingham, WA, and ends in San Diego, CA. The 1,800-mile bike trip is offered by Adventure Cycling Association. Dates: Sept. 25 – Nov. 4, 2012.
Santa Fe Trail Bicycle Trek — Ride all or part of the Santa Fe Trail (1,100 miles) on paved public roads. Leaves from Santa Fe, NM, and ends in New Franklin, MO. Limited to 50 bike riders. Sagged. Dates: Sept. 5 – 25, 2010.
Sierra Cascades — This ride follows the inland route mapped out from San Diego to Bellingham, Washington, by the non-profit Adventure Cycling Association. Self-supported touring means bike travelers carry all their own gear for the 2,500 trek. Dates: May 26 – July 25, 2012.
Southern Tier — A self-contained bike tour from San Diego, CA, to St. Augustine, FL, presented by the non-profit Adventure Cycling Association. Bike travelers carry their own gear and share cooking and other chores. 3,100 miles Dates: Sept. 15 – Nov. 18, 2012
Southern Tier – Van – The Adventure Cycling Association provides a van and staff to carry the bicyclists’ gear and prepare meals. The San Diego, CA, to St. Augustine, FL, route is 3,100 miles. Dates: March 12- May 8, 2012.
TransAm — This TransAmerican bike tour starts in Williamsburg, VA, and ends in Florence, OR, 4,253 miles away. A self-contained tour prepared by Adventure Cycling Association, members carry their own gear and share cooking responsibilities. Dates: May 4 – Aug. 4, 2012.
TransAm – Van – This Adventure Cycling Association bike tour is supported by a van to carry food and bikers’ gear. Staff also prepare meals and other conveniences. 4,253 miles. Williamsburg, VA, to Florence, OR. Dates: May 19 – Aug. 9, 2012.
Other long-distance tours operators:
America by Bicycle — This tour outfitter offers a handful of cross-country bike tours in 2010, heading both east/west and north/south. The list includes Fast American South, Across America North, Ride the East, Ride the West, Great Mississippi Ride, Cross Country Challenge. The first ride departs in April. See the website for details.
Cycle America — Bicyclists can choose to ride this company’s Coast-to-Coast 2010 route all at once, or split it up into any of 9 different cross-state bike tours. Interesting concept. See website for details on the Seattle to Boston bike tour.
The North American Epic — Tour d’Afrique offering — for the first time – a 5,000-mile bike tour across North America in 2011. It rolls south out of San Francisco along the Pacific Coast, then heads northeast along Route 66 corridor to Great Lakes, then through Canadian provinces to Newfoundland. [Tour d'Afrique also organizes the annual Cairo to CapeTown bike tour.] Dates: May 29 to Aug. 28, 2011.
Women Tours — This women’s only bike tour group offers a northern tier bike tour, a southern tier bike tour (listed above as an optional breast cancer fund-raiser) and a ride along the Mississippi River. See website for details.