That’s What Friends Are For…
If you’re like me, you value your friends and hold them high in a special place. I’d stop right here to name each of my good friends, but I’ll spare you for now. 🙂
So I was talking with my friend Devon this last week. Devon is like the brother my parents never gave me. I would give my life for the man. We’ve known each other for 29 years. 29 years…What a true blessing to know a person that long and to not have a friendship fade.
One of the great parts of a true friendship is the legitimate care and concern you have for one another. So, in talking with Devon about my route change from the Great Divide Route to one that would take me across the country, along highways, byways, through towns small and cities large, he became very concerned for my safety. And rightfully so.
This journey carries more risk than my Pacific Crest Trail hike last year. (And there were several times along that journey that I was concerned for my safety to different degrees). But mix in 3,000 more miles than I hiked, and those unpredictable creatures known as “people,” and those crazy machines they like to drive around in called “cars,” then you have stepped into a whole new game. A very dangerous one.
So when Devon spoke, I listened. He generally doesn’t unnecessarily sling words around much (unlike his friend writing this).
One of his main fears were the roads I would be riding on. So I did some research, and it turns out the same organization that I was going to use for my Great Divide Route maps produces maps for a variety of different rides around the country, focusing primarily on bicycle friendly roads. Their website states:
“In creating the ever-growing Adventure Cycling Route Network, we’ve researched and developed 41,399 miles of prime cycling routes in the U.S. to date. These routes follow some of the most quiet, scenic roads and bike trails in the North America and are designed with cyclists in mind.”
Great news!Many of these roads follow the exact path I was initially going to ride, so that was a good thing. Unfortunately, there were several changes I made to my route, based on the maps, that will more than likely make a few speaking engagements I was hoping to make not possible. But, the trade-off: Safer roads to travel. I’m ok with that. There are just a couple of times I will be riding “off map,” as it will be. Two will be in the very beginning of the journey, the last will be from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C. I’ll be researching the best routes to take for each, but I know they are possible to ride.
The other aspect of safety was visibility. I had already begun looking into ways to make the bike more visible. Devon was concerned about the height of the recumbent bicycle, as they ride lower to the ground than a normal bike. Good news today that I liked to hear: Klaus, who is making the bike, said the tallest type of recumbent would be my best choice for this trip. Excellent! Higher = more visibility. Also, I am working on designing a way to have a battery, possibly charged by solar power, hooked to waterproof LED lights that flash in an eye-catching pattern firmly fastened around the back of the bike somehow. It shouldn’t be too difficult. Also, Dan McHale, who made my custom backpack for the PCT hike, offered to make for me a sturdy attention grabbing bicycle flag that would help alert drivers. Dan’s a great guy, and I thought this was a very cool gesture. Thanks, Dan!
So things are coming together. And if all goes well, I’ll be dipping my wheels into the Hudson River in Manhattan this October, after a s a f e ride across the country!
Below are a few more shots of the maps, which you can find here: Adventure Cycling Association
The Adventure Cycling Association was kind enough to sponsor me with all of the maps I needed, which is a value of over $200.
- Southern Tier: Maps 3, 4, 5
- Great Rivers: Map 3
- Underground Railroad: Maps 2, 3, 4, Pittsburgh Spur
- Atlantic Coast: Maps 2, 3
Here’s a few more map images of the map set I’m looking to use, as well as a video of quite possibly the most well-lit object on earth…