May 18th – Oct 15th, 2018 (You can see photos from this tour in my Instagram feed!)
This year I left from Chandler Arizona where I had been house sitting amongst other wedding tasks for a good friend of mine. On May 18th I had my bike loaded up and I headed out for an adventure. I am not one of your typical hobbits, I enjoy adventures, and so I was off.
My first stop was Silver City New Mexico. I’m fond of this place and when I’m not exploring I always find myself visiting there. It’s a nice town with really nice kind people and if there is an abundance of time on hand I always find myself camping in the nearby forest for several weeks.
One of my favorite places to stay at while I’m there is a place called the Bicycle House (Google Maps: Bikehaus). It’s usually filled with an eclectic mix of people from traveling musicians to firefighters in training. I once met a man that traveled with an 85lb sled dog named Flame. He was from Australia. The town itself has a mix of shops, bars, cafes and restaurants. It has a food co-op with a great selection of food from vegan to the run of the mill. There happens to be a cafe there called the Jumping Cactus. The coffee is great, the pastries locally made and the coffee mugs are all unique and handmade by a local artist. On a side note, they have sponsored me with fresh coffee beans on several occasions. All in all a great place to visit. By the way, there is a bike co-op and great bicycle shops there as well.
On this trip, my plans were to make a quick stop there and then shoot up to Telluride, Colorado to volunteer at the Telluride Bluegrass music festival. My plans were derailed when I found out the forest was ablaze on several key sections and I was forced to head further east til I could go north into Colorado. On this journey across New Mexico I discovered many new places and campgrounds. Highlight was the Cosmic Campground, a dark sky viewing area of our country that’s hard to beat for stargazing.
Then there’s the Eco amphitheater, a state park that is a must camp spot. And these are just a few. Oh, and then there is the Continental Divide Trail. It’s an easy ride for most bikes and worth the excursion for a couple of days.
Once In Colorado, I then headed west on my quest to make the music festival. Alas, that did not work out for me. I was a week late due to the detour caused by forest fires. Telluride is an awesome little town with shops, cafes and bars all filled with live music. Their campgrounds are in Box Canyon and worth every penny. It offers hiking, some great nearby biking trails and skiing in the winter. If you need a repair on your bicycle, be prepared to spend more than normal due to resort town premiums.
To my delight, I ran into a person I first met at the Bicycle Cellar in Tempe, AZ. I had I casually recommended that he check out the area and to my surprise he rode his mountain bike there! His name is Estefan and he is from South Africa. I was getting ready to leave Telluride early that morning and lo and behold he was standing before me with his bike. I ended up staying another day with him hearing about his ride to Colorado and sharing stories about mine. He was waiting for his girlfriend to show up and tour the area before returning back to South Africa. We had a great time together.
From there I decided to visit a friend of mine that I have not seen for several years in Clarksville Georgia, a 1,700-mile journey from my present location. I took the Trans American route from Colorado to Kentucky, then headed south using a Ride With GPS route. A route that would take me from London, Kentucky to Clarksville, Georgia. If you like to ride on state forest roads, river view roads, gravel and dirt roads this is the path that you want to take. I loved every moment of it.
I’d like to step back for a moment. If you’re thinking about or planning to do the Trans American route, you’re in for a treat. Almost every town has a park, church, or a fire station that welcomes you a great experience and the people want to get and know each and every cyclist. I’d like to specifically mention the Tunnel Hill State Trail in Illinois, it’s a 55.3 mile rails to trails project with beautiful scenery.
From there I once again used the ride with GPS with a route through Georgia and into Florida taking me on the A1A south to Orlando. Where I spent time on beloved beaches an visited friends an family I have not seen in 30 years.
All in all, I traveled over 10 states and 4,000 miles in 6 months. I went through 2 chains 1 rear cassette and I cracked my rear wheel in 5 places. And it was worth every moment.