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Bicycle Luke to Bike the USA

My Australian friend, and character of this travelogue, Bicycle Luke just informed me that he will be biking across the USA in 2010. He asked me for a route: East Coast, West Coast, across the friggin’ middle? I answered quick: start in Alaska, go to Mexico. But I need to offer a better route than [...]

My Australian friend, and character of this travelogue, Bicycle Luke just informed me that he will be biking across the USA in 2010. He asked me for a route: East Coast, West Coast, across the friggin’ middle?

I answered quick: start in Alaska, go to Mexico.

Bicycle Luke in Hungary

Bicycle Luke in Hungary

But I need to offer a better route than this. I need to offer him a killer route. So I ask you readers — I know that some of you have traveled long distance through this country by bicycle before — what route would you suggest?

What continuous route across the USA would show the most of America. What route would be best suited for travel by bicycle? Any tips, suggestions, anecdotes of experience would be appreciated.

If you have any suggestions, please leave them as a comment below.

Thanks,

Wade

Filed under: Bicycle Travel, USA

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 88 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3411 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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11 comments… add one

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  • Scott McArthur October 20, 2009, 12:06 pm

    any single route will only show a small cross section. A better route may be a loop, something like east to west across I-10 (might get hairy in the desert though), then up the west coast to Seattle and then a funky zig zag back east (maybe 90 to 82, then 84 to 25, cut down to Denver then hit 70 to St,. Louis and then 64 to Virginia Beach.)
    Biking on the interstate is actually illegal, but there are always side streets. With all of the nothing in the middle though, he should be ready to camp a lot! I would recommend starting the southern route in the winter and coming back in the summer too.

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  • Bob L October 20, 2009, 12:50 pm

    Ummmm. From Vermont to South Carolina via the mountain ranges, then Amtrack to Colorado, from there up north, then across to the washington coast and down the coast into California?

    How much time will he have? How many miles does he usually cover in a day? Does he have a feeling for just how BIG the US is?

    Bob L

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  • johnny October 20, 2009, 2:30 pm

    Wow, what an idea for a trip! You ought to volunteer to ride with luke across the country. That would make for some really good blogging. For a route I’d suggest Seattle to San Francisco(or maybe big sur). That would highlight the best of the U.S.: redwoods, humboldt, the lost coast, olympic penninsula, pueget sound, gold coast of oregon, cascade mountains. If he was really ambitious he could turn inland after S.F. and ride to the canyonlands of utah and arizonia. Hope to hear more about this. Johnny.

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  • Russ October 20, 2009, 4:29 pm

    It really depends what he wants to see. When I did my San Diego to Phoenix trip I was just along for the first week of my friend’s killer San Diego to Boston bicycle trip. I know that route through the Southwest is loaded with amazing sights of natural wonder, including the Grand Canyon and Glen Canyon and all those amazing areas where you could spend weeks at each one. And then that’s followed by the ride up and over the Rockies. But of course from there east you’re in the big center of this country. From my understanding though that route is the most highly traveled, and there are websites online from which you can download detailed maps of every mile of the road. But the real answer is that it really depends on what he wants to see. I think that an east-west (or vice versa) route will show the most different cultures of this country, everything from the big bustling cities of the east coast to the crazy coastal cities of the west coast, and all the good ol’ cities of the Heartland to what remains of America’s old Wild West — where as you’ve found an anything goes vibe makes camping and roaming the outskirts easy. But of course Alaska to Mexico would show another side, as would the Pacific Coast and Northwest. But truthfully I think the most diverse view would come from the cross country route.

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  • Brian W. October 20, 2009, 6:54 pm

    I like your idea of Alaska to Mexico, maybe Seattle to San Diego if you want to shorten it a bit. There is quite a bit to see if you want like crater lake and the redwood forest. The weather along the west coast is pretty constant throughout the year too. I really like the people in the Portland area, they are nice and “weird”. Drawbacks might be that it’s more expensive in California and you are only seeing a small section of the country.

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  • Bicycle Luke October 21, 2009, 4:21 am

    Nice work on the replies fellas! A little more info for you all. It is looking like the starting point might be Vancouver. Ferry up into BC or Alaska somewhere and begin riding back south. I would like to see the redwoods and possibly the Canyon, which means riding the west coast.

    After that I could head north east through Colorado as im guessing the mountains and forests there are nice? If I keep heading East from there it appears on Google Maps that the landscape begins to change from open scenes to become millions of little rectangular fields that appear to continue until the coast. Thats a lot of farmland… is there much else other than continuous joined fields?

    I am most happy on the bike where the forests are green and the cities small. Is the East much more heavily populated and built up than the west? I do understand the geographical enormity of the USA as have just ridden my motorbike around Australia and to do the same in the US would be a great deal further. The question is do I keep going to reach the east coast then head back towards mexico through Georgia and Loisiana or is that a lot of back tracking for not so much scenic return?

    Appreciate the replys!
    Luke

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  • Nathan Mathes October 21, 2009, 11:19 am

    US Route 20 from the East to the Pacific Coast Highway south into California. That incorporates a great amount of the cities and wilderness that make America, America.

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  • Russ October 21, 2009, 12:32 pm

    Just want to clarify what Scott said above about riding on the Interstate. Usually it is illegal, but it’s not always. Typically it will periodically be marked if cyclists are forbidden, and it will actually be posted where cyclists must exit. For part of my trip we actually did ride on some of the Interstates (I-8 and I-10), as in some places the Interstate is the only way through some of the mountain passes. http://www.adventurecycling.org/ is an invaluable resource if looking for particular routes and/or maps.

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  • johnny October 21, 2009, 3:28 pm

    answer to luke’s query about the nature of eastern america. In my mind the west is definitely the best. That’s where the awe-inspiring scenery everyone associates with america is found. The east is fine but think quaint and pastoral rather than grandeur giving way to dense urban areas on the coast. Yes, the east is much, much more urbanized and developed than the west. Night and day really. If you want to ride east but minimize the farmland and cities aim for the ozarks of missouri and the hills of tennessee (those are forest areas). Otherwise illinois, indiana, pennsylvania, new york are all farms and cities. I would start on the west coast and then make it up as you go. Missing louisiana would mean missing new orleans and new orleans is worth seeing if out of the way.

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com October 26, 2009, 10:31 am

      This is all good advice. I will post more information on Bicycle Luke’s ride and probably seek more consultation as he plans this journey.

      Thanks,

      Wade

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  • juan January 6, 2013, 12:29 pm

    I need help in how much stuff do i need to have with to start my bicycle journey from USA to Europe & Israel any time this 2013… I have my bicycle my training, my old experiences in 84. But today I am in the golden age. What about visas, etc etc…..Thanx juan ….

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