For long enough, my travelling motto was “If they don’t distil spirits, brew beer or make wine, I’m not interested” – to be taken not entirely literally. Though it is true to say that I would generally plan my travels around being able to visit wineries, breweries and/or distilleries. Not to get wholly strung-up on joining the dots of America’s alcohol producing regions, I certainly do want to make the most of the journey.
After all, the USA is far to vast for the experience to be solely about the start and finish points. Also, given that my trip will be a cycle tour and not a race, drawing a line in the shortest possible distance between two points carries no importance. In a general meandering across the country, it is entirely possible to take in several different production regions – and I fully intend to do just so.
A Boozy Journey Across America
I guess the first consideration I had was the choosing of a route. The Adventure Cycling Association of America (ACAA) is a really awesome resource with many different set routes crisscrossing the US, so it would be possible to pick one and accept that much of the planning work has been done for me (and for the hundreds of others who traverse the country annually). I’ve always been a “road less travelled” kind of person though, so a straight-out-the-box route solution isn’t really my thing.
A few things I did know though:
- I want to cycle East to West – this was the direction the European migrants travelled when discovering and settling what would become the USA; I want to see the country open out before me in much the same they would have seen it.
- I want to finish the cycle in the Pacific Northwest – I studied for a year at Washington State University so have many friends in and around Seattle and Portland; It will be far more motivational to end the cycle with friends than to bid them farewell with 4,500 miles ahead of me.
- I want to set a route whereby friends and family (particularly in Ontario, Canada) may be able to join me for a few days cycling.
- I’m a stickler for symmetry.
Thus Portland (Maine) to Portland (Oregon) seems a good starting point.
Add in the Finger Lakes wine region in upstate New York, the Bourbon Trail in Kentucky, some awesome breweries (and distilleries) in Colorado, then the Walla Walla and Columbia Valley wine regions in Washington State – and the route is starting to flesh itself out.
Then back to the incredibly useful (have I said that already) ACAA maps to plot a course – see main photo.
So that’s the macro-route-planning done, now to focus on the real details of where I’m actually going day-to-day, planning where I can stay (couchsurfing where possible, camping where not), where it’s possible to get food, and – the biggy – where the bike shops are!!!