I am hacking together my own route. I took the atlas and I pointed at where I wanted to go: the places I haven’t seen and the places I want to see again and I want to cycle to. An unsophisticated and romantic thought system has gone into selecting my route, nothing else.
I have chosen this route on the basis of 4 non-negotiable aspirations (in order of relevance):
1; cycle across the US, from sea to shining sea!
2; cycle on as few highways as possible
3; cycle the Pacific coast Highway 1
4; cycle through Badlands in South Dakota and cross the Rockies at Yellowstone Park.
I leave Washington DC on the second week of August. I want to take the shortest and less painful way to negotiate the steep inclines of the Appalachians, cutting West from Leesburg through Winchester and Morgantown on highway 50 and road 7. My route through the Midwest will be as flexible as possible as I will ride through the patchwork of midsize cities of Columbus, Dayton, Indianapolis, small cities and back roads of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois avoiding the traffic but mindful of the infrastructure that the cities offer (hotels and bike shops primarily). Once I cross the Mississippi, I expect long straight roads and fewer arteries to travel on in Iowa and South Dakota until I hit the first mountains in Wyoming. Past Rapid City, I purposely veer North taking a slight detour so that I can cycle the Beartooth highway, the National Scenic Byways All-American Road which will take me all the way into Yellowstone and south to Grand Teton National Park. From there I turn West zigzagging through the mountains of Idaho and Oregon. This will be the toughest part of the whole ride as the terrain is hilly throughout and the services on the road are few and far between. My plan is to reach the Pacific Ocean at Crescent City, North California. From there I have 1000 miles or so to go as I follow the Pacific Coast Highway 1 through Redwoods, San Francisco, Monterey Bay and all the way to LA, my final destination. 15 States and 5000 miles, give or take.