Road Tripping in 2008, Part 2: The Carless Road Trip
Posted Sep 09 2008 8:00am
Alright, so the perks of arguing about radio stations, dealing with traffic, and worrying about speed traps while road tripping are not to be missed. But you could eliminate some of the less pleasant attributes of road trips and keep some smog out of the skies this summer by knocking out the car aspect.
As I've said before, a properly fitted road bike is a wonderful thing. If thin tires aren't your thing, you can also spring for a more forgiving hybrid road/mountain bike. Either way, bikes as a long-distance vehicle are looking more and more attractive (kind of like your butt after one of these trips). The Adventure Cycling Association has a host of trans-national routes covering some of the mellowest and most beautiful byways you'll ever see. They have over 38,000 miles covered so far, with the newest addition being a historically themed south-north route called the Underground Railroad. Or go east-west with the Northern Tier, starting in Bar Harbor, Maine and finishing 4,306.5 miles later in Anacortes, Washington. The maps run for about 13 bucks apiece, or get all of them for a package deal (it'll probably run you about the cost of two fill-ups). They include details of high-traffic areas, symbols to indicate useful resources like hostels and bike shops, and charts to describe local weather patterns.
I wouldn't advise comparing it to anything in Europe, but the US does have a decent train system. You can get from San Diego, California to Chicago, Illinois in a leisurely 80 hours or so, no driving necessary. Check out blogger Ian Gregson's account of taking his family from Vancouver, BC to San Francisco, California using the train and just a couple of buses. The trip's transportation costs came in under $100 each--not bad for such a classy way of getting across the country.