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.
Today, there are dozens of routes that criss-cross the US and hundreds of groups will be riding them this year.
2016 Non-profit and fund-raising tours
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. Northern Tier route. Registering 30-40 riders.
Bike4Friendship — 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. The 2013 tour went from San Diego to New York City.
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 opens in the fall) Dates: May – August 2016, depending on route.
Bike the US for MS — Four cross-country bike tours are scheduled in 2016 — Northern Tier, Pacific Coast, TransAm, and Southern Tier. Race Across America (RAAM) participants can also raise money for National MS Society. Self-contained bike travelers can also raise money, and there’s a UK bicycling event. Check the website for details (openings still available in January 2016)
Fuller Center Bike Adventure — A cross-country bike ride from Seattle, WA, to Washington DC. Also segment rides along the way. Raises money for Fuller Center for Housing, a nonprofit ecumenical Christian Housing ministry dedicated to creating adequate housing for all people in need. Dates: June 10 to Aug. 14, 2016.
The Ability Experience (formerly 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. Teams leave from San Francisco, Los Angeles or Seattle headed to Washington DC. Dates: June – August, 2016.
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. Presented by nonprofit Santa Fe Trail Bicycle Committee. A total 30 to 40 cyclists will make the trip. Camping with gear carried by truck. Dates: Leaves Sept. 11, 2016.
Adventure Cycling Association’s Epic Adventures
Follow links for dates and details
Southern Tier I (van supported)
Southern Tier II (van supported)
Route 66 – Epic Eastward (self contained)
Underground Railroad – North to Niagara (van supported)
TransAm Westward (self-contained)
TransAm Westward (van supported)
TransAm 76 Eastward – Under 30 (self contained)
TransAm76 Westward – Under 30 (self contained)
Northern Tier (van supported)
TransAm Eastward (self contained)
Epic Great Divide (self contained)
Great Parks North (self contained)
TransAm Eastward (van supported)
Southern Tier (self contained)
Route 66 – Epic Westward (self contained)
Pacific Coast (van supported)
Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults (cross-country)
4K for Cancer is a cross-country fund-raising drive for the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. The 4,000-mile bike routes leave from Baltimore for destinations in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and San Diego. Participants are chosen on a first-come basis after interviews.
Baltimore to Seattle — June 5 to Aug. 13, 2016
Baltimore to Portland — June 5 to Aug. 13, 2016
Baltimore to San Francisco — June 5 to Aug. 13, 2016
Baltimore to San Diego — June 5 to Aug. 13, 2016
Other long-distance tours operators:
America by Bicycle — This tour outfitter offers about a dozen cross-country tours in 2014 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.
Coast 2 Coast – This southern tier cross-country ride is 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 4 – April 25, 2016.
Cycle America — Bicyclists can choose to ride this company’s Coast-to-Coast 2014 route all at once, or split it up into any of 9 different cross-state bike tours. Check website for dates.
Portland to Portland Cross Country — One of Trek’s luxury bicycle tours, this one covers 3,700 miles at the rate of about 100 miles a day from Oregon to Maine. See dates on website.
Women Tours — This women’s only bike tour group offers southern tier and Atlantic Coast bike tours, as well as shorter multi-day tours. Dates: 2016 Sierra Cascades – May 4 to June 20, 2016; 2016 Atlantic Coast – April 19 to June 10, 2016; 2017 Southern Tier – March 9 to May 7, 2017; 2017 Pacific Coast – Sept. 15 to Oct. 21, 2017.