Today’s blog post was written by Seattle bicyclist Kevin Henderson. He shares a reason why the US Bicycle Route System (USBRS) is important to him.
In the summer of 2009, I embarked on my first long distance bike tour, alone. This had been something I’d dreamed of since I was a teenager in the 70s, and one day something finally clicked in me that said “you need to do this, this is the year.”
My destination, Scottsbluff, Nebraska, made sense to me, since I was born there and have great childhood memories of many visits with my extended family during visits over summer vacations. The only problem was, how do I get there? What’s a good route? Browsing the internet, I was lucky to find blogs of some others who had traveled along routes that I could make use of, at least in part, to get where I was going. Bike travel has some different considerations than motorized travel. For example, it’s good to plan your travel time to be off the road by the time the hottest summer sun is beating down. In order to make the day’s travel segment work out, it really helps to be able to predict what lies ahead.
I pieced my route together with combinations of local city and state bike maps, and with the help of selections from Adventure Cycling’s library of route maps. I was happy to find that I could make use of portions of both the Lewis and Clark and TransAmerica routes.
In retrospect, I have to say that traveling on a route planned for and by cyclists makes a world of difference. In a sense, though I was making this trip by myself, being on an Adventure Cycling route helped me feel like I was never really alone. The things you care about when you’re on a bike like “where’s the next available water, or restroom, lodging, or even, how much further will this uphill last” are all readily apparent.
By virtue of the work of all the people that went into making the route, I felt connected to those who came before me. In the best way, I was never really alone. The concept of a U.S. Bicycle Route System appeals to me, because it shouldn’t take planning on the order of a lunar expedition to get out and see our country in the best possible way: on a bike!
Building the USBRS is an ambitious undertaking and the Bicycle Alliance is working with Adventure Cycling to create USBRS routes in Washington State. A fundraising campaign for the USBRS is underway during the month of May. A donation (as little as $10) through our Team Washington page ensures that a portion of your contribution will be dedicated to efforts in our state.
Seattle to Nebraska – that is impressive. I've never done a long trip like that in the US, but last summer, I went over with my Montague folding bike and did some riding along the bike paths in Belgium. They have such an awesome network of bike paths over there – I wish we had something comparable in the states.