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Old 01-15-10, 12:48 PM   #1
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Chosing a route when you can't see everything in a region

This spring I'll be riding from New Orleans, LA to San Diego, CA. I haven't spent much time in the Southwest so there are MANY places I want to visit and people I want to see. I'm having difficulty chosing a route. If I tried to see every place I wish to, my route would zig-zag all over and it'll take forever to get to Californi, but I'd enjoy it the whole way. Or I could just hop on the ACA southern tier route and zip right along. I've never ridden a designated route and I like the idea of meeting other touring cyclists. But I don't wish to feel like I missed out on much of the Southwest.

On my last tour from Vermont to Louisiana I was 1500 miles in and only 200 miles away from where I started. I felt a bit silly.

Do other tourists who make their own routes run into these issues? Most routes I've seen seem to head in a general direction. When you know you won't be back in a region, how do you pass by a "attraction", knowing you will probably never be that close again?
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Old 01-15-10, 12:56 PM   #2
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I read that three times and don't have a clue.
I did this ride last summer.

NY to LA in 58 days

http://s256.photobucket.com/albums/h...view=slideshow
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Old 01-15-10, 01:01 PM   #3
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Of course you can't see everything. You have to decide what you want to see the most and use that as the basis for your planning.
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Old 01-15-10, 01:17 PM   #4
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How much you can see depends mostly on how long you've got for the trip. Most of us here seem to be pretty much destination orientated. When somethings interesting on the route, great. If far off route, then it's likely to be passed by.

There might be some places along the way where you could stash the bike for a day and take a shuttle or rent a car to see something way off route. Albuquerque is an example not on your route where there is an hourly shuttle to Santa Fe. Closer to your route might be Tombstone. Maybe there is a shuttle from Tucson.

All you can do is plan detours to fit your sightseeing agenda using available maps. Your travel line is likely to be squigglier than most.
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Old 01-15-10, 02:35 PM   #5
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Not a touring expert here but I've done a few week-long trips over the years. I would pick a handful of places I'd really like to visit along the way and then try to build the route out from there. If a particular place is too far out of the way, it could be left as optional. Your ride would seem to have no shortage of things to see. I personally would want to pass through the Guadalupe Mtns of W Texas, Carlsbad caverns in S. New Mexico and perhaps up to Santa Fe/Taos, etc., then of course the Grand Canyon in Ariz. and maybe canyon country of southern Utah ... OK, I've probably just made it worse.
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Old 01-15-10, 02:40 PM   #6
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Not a touring expert here but I've done a few week-long trips over the years. I would pick a handful of places I'd really like to visit along the way and then try to build the route out from there. If a particular place is too far out of the way, it could be left as optional. Your ride would seem to have no shortage of things to see. I personally would want to pass through the Guadalupe Mtns of W Texas, Carlsbad caverns in S. New Mexico and perhaps up to Santa Fe/Taos, etc., then of course the Grand Canyon in Ariz. and maybe canyon country of southern Utah ... OK, I've probably just made it worse.
No, those were all places on my list....well, I've set aside Utah for another trip, but that's about it.
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Old 01-16-10, 09:58 AM   #7
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Each day as I'm riding, I have a destination in mind. I tend to want to get there so I can get off the bike, relax, etc. So if there are sights to see along the day's route, I usually don't stop, unless I need a rest break. Once I get to the evening's stop, I seldom do any sight-seeing. I remember on my first big tour, down the west coast, I had the Kirkendall/Spring book that told of all the sights and interesting places along the way. Each night when I got to the campgrounds, all I wanted to do was put up my tent, make some coffee, take care of some chores - like a shower - and then relax. There were many campgrounds along the ocean where I never even walked down to the beach. My rationale was that I had been sight-seeing all day from the saddle of my bike, and getting a view of the route that was infinitely better than what I'd get from inside a car.

Nowadays, when I want to explore and enjoy an area, I generally take a rest day. For me it's a win/win. I get to explore someplace new, and I get a free day to rest up.

I think each person has their own slant on these kinds of issues. I know people who feel gypped if they haven't seen every interesting thing along the route. Others (like me) tend to ride past most attractions.

As far as altering your route to visit certain attractions, that's another personal thing. I know I've had several tours where I started getting tired after a few weeks, and was ready for the tour to end. In those cases I made straight for the destination, with no rest days, etc. I've also taken a couple of tours where I didn't have an "official" end point. My plan was to ride and see how my mood was. In those cases I also tended to end the tour sooner rather than later. But other tours I've gone off the main route to see a favorite attraction, or visit an old friend, and it just enhanced the trip.

I guess you'll have to answer your own question. My only advice is not to have regrets, whatever choices you make. There are an infinite number of beautiful places worth seeing in this country, and you can't get to them all. Just savor the places you do go, and enjoy the quality of the experience you get by traveling on a bicycle.
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Old 01-16-10, 10:15 AM   #8
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There is no such thing as a straight line.

Even if you were to fly a direct path from New Orleans to San Diego, it would be a curve on the globe.
And were you to fly a great circle direct path - it would not be so in sidereal measure.

So why not go wherever you wish - within the frame of the entire journey.
If riding to the coast is import - then you have endpoints.
But there's no law saying you can't end your tour at the Grand Canyon.

Coloring only inside the lines was a bad idea when you were five.
It still is now.
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Old 01-16-10, 12:46 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Enthusiast View Post
This spring I'll be riding from New Orleans, LA to San Diego, CA. I haven't spent much time in the Southwest so there are MANY places I want to visit and people I want to see. I'm having difficulty chosing a route. If I tried to see every place I wish to, my route would zig-zag all over and it'll take forever to get to Californi, but I'd enjoy it the whole way. Or I could just hop on the ACA southern tier route and zip right along. I've never ridden a designated route and I like the idea of meeting other touring cyclists. But I don't wish to feel like I missed out on much of the Southwest.

On my last tour from Vermont to Louisiana I was 1500 miles in and only 200 miles away from where I started. I felt a bit silly.

Do other tourists who make their own routes run into these issues? Most routes I've seen seem to head in a general direction. When you know you won't be back in a region, how do you pass by a "attraction", knowing you will probably never be that close again?
It depends on your reason for going does it not? If it's too see things along the way, then you need to decide what you want to see, and plan your route and time accordingly. Go to AAA and get the travel guidebooks for the states your passing through and decide what you must see, what you would like to see, but is optional, and what you don't really care about. You plan your route according to what is on the must see list. Note where you are close to a would like to see, and if your slightly ahead of schedule then you can go see it, if you don't have time, then you can skip it. The AAA books usually list facilities like hotels/motels along the way, including what is provided and rates, don't remember if camping locations are included or not, although car oriented, they can still be helpful. You can always go back to an area at some point in the future, unless your either giving up riding or are running out of years.
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Old 01-16-10, 02:24 PM   #10
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Some tours are "point to point" (e.g., New Orleans to San Diego).

Other tours wander around an area to get in depth. You could ride a couple of thousand miles in New Mexico and Arizona alone and not get bored.

Sometimes in online forums I detect a dogged determinism in bike tourists about following ACA routes and racking up miles. Reading the journals I sometimes get the impression that the tourists feel they have a timetable they need to hit. Other people just use their bikes as a means of transport in, around, and through parts of the world they want to see. Some of these folks even mix up cycling with public transit, hitchhiking, or flying.

It's up to you.
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Old 01-16-10, 04:27 PM   #11
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Sometimes in online forums I detect a dogged determinism in bike tourists about following ACA routes and racking up miles. Reading the journals I sometimes get the impression that the tourists feel they have a timetable they need to hit. Other people just use their bikes as a means of transport in, around, and through parts of the world they want to see. Some of these folks even mix up cycling with public transit, hitchhiking, or flying.

It's up to you.
I'm new to cycling but I have met many people traveling who want to go somewhere just so they could say they have been, usually a country to add one more to the tally. I have met a lot of young backpackers in hostels who have these insane ideas about massive 3 week trips in Europe going to like 7 countries, they really didn't think it out at all. I have one friend who has been to 129 countries. It is true he has 'been to' 129 countries but he has not 'experienced' 129 countries. many of them are just a check off the list and he will admit that. That is up to him and I do admire him for many reasons, good man, but we travel a little differently granted I have the advantage of rarely have any time frames

Personally, I tend to rather stay somewhere and experience a place even it if means crossing somewhere else off entirely. Far as the original question, I research where I am going and pick the places that appeal to me most. Then decide how much time I will want for each. An example, I could go stop at the Hoover Damn for 20 minutes and see it or I could spend 1/2 a day and do a tour. Maybe if it is likely the only time in my life I will be there I think I would enjoy a tour and it is worth allotting time for that. Maybe that sounds boring to me and I'd rather keep going and get to Vegas to drink and gamble or prefer to spend an extra day at the grand canyon instead. You have to decide those kinds of things on your own, nobody else can do that. But with some research and planning you can make some educated decisions.

For me, it is also very important to be able to change plans on the fly. If I decide I want to stay somewhere longer I do; want to leave, I do. Hear great things about a place I must see, I go. My philosophy is if you plan on ending in San Diego but the trip somehow randomly ends in Denver then that is awesome and odds are you had an amazing trip. The end destination is just an idea, you don't have to actually go there. My last trip my original idea was to end in Prague, somehow I ended up taking a boat from Odessa, ukraine to Georgia and my trip ended in Armenia. Never ever crossed my mind that I would go to Armenia or Georgia when I left on the trip but I'm very happy I did--Never did make it to Prague

--Hoover Damn probably isn't on your way, it is just the example I happened to think of
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