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  1. #1
    country city-girl i wish's Avatar
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    Riding from PA to TN...

    This summer my brother and I are planning a trip from near Reading, PA to the middle of nowhere near Nashville, TN. Is there a recommended route or routes?
    I've been using Google to help figure out routes, but they don't explain why they take me certain directions....
    Here is the rather round-about route that shows up when I ask for bicycling directions from Reading to Nashville...
    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&sour...29&ie=UTF8&z=6
    I was also considering this route: http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&sour...18&ie=UTF8&z=6 ...but even though it is more direct, it goes through all those mountains....
    I don't have any maps yet...and don't know what ones would be best for this route...

  2. #2
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by i wish View Post
    This summer my brother and I are planning a trip from near Reading, PA to the middle of nowhere near Nashville, TN. Is there a recommended route or routes?
    I've been using Google to help figure out routes, but they don't explain why they take me certain directions....
    Here is the rather round-about route that shows up when I ask for bicycling directions from Reading to Nashville...
    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&sour...29&ie=UTF8&z=6
    I was also considering this route: http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&sour...18&ie=UTF8&z=6 ...but even though it is more direct, it goes through all those mountains....
    I don't have any maps yet...and don't know what ones would be best for this route...
    Register at MapMyRide and plot your route there. MapMyRide has an elevation display, which is useful if you want to avoid, or seek out, climbing.

    As for why Google Maps chooses the routes it does for bicycles, it searches out the nearest rail trail whenever possible. There are worse options than taking the C & O and Great Allegheny Passage. Yes, it adds 200 miles over the other route, but puts you on a near-flat traffic-free trail for 250 miles.

    Your route out of Reading and across PA looks OK.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Paul01's Avatar
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    Google maps will also show you the terrain in the pull down menue.

    The second route looks like a lot more climbing.

  4. #4
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    Adventure Cycling's Transamerica route passes somewhat near (about 60 miles) Bowling Green, KY, and there is a spur to Mamouhth Cave, which takes you even closer to Bowling Green. You could hook up with their Atlantic Coast in Norristown, PA (where is crosses the SRT) and take it to the intersection with the TransAm in VA. The convenience of this approach is that services (camground, grocery stores, etc.) are shown on the map.
    "I've wanted you to succeed, but watching you find excuse after excuse after excuse and then laugh it off as the loveable, quirky, chubby guy is getting old."--Ill.Clyde

  5. #5
    Senior Member Cyclebum's Avatar
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    G maps, plus satellite and street views. Change what you don't like. Transfer to state maps(free from state tourism dept; they'll mail them to you)and head out.

    Don't overplan. It'll all work out.
    The bicycle is one of the great inventions of mankind. Delights children, challenges young men to feats of daring, and turns old men into boys again.--Me

  6. #6
    country city-girl i wish's Avatar
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    Thanks! I didn't look close enough at the google option to see the 300+ mi long bike route...I think that is the way to go...at least on the way down!

    I tried looking up state tourism departments...but had difficulty finding maps. Is there a specific place to look?

  7. #7
    Senior Member Cyclebum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by i wish View Post
    Thanks! I didn't look close enough at the google option to see the 300+ mi long bike route...I think that is the way to go...at least on the way down!

    I tried looking up state tourism departments...but had difficulty finding maps. Is there a specific place to look?
    I just Googled "Texas Department of Tourism" and got several hits. Had to do a little digging to find the order form for a free map. You'd think it would be easier. But, I've gotten free maps from many states in advance of a tour. They're available. Also, with a bit more digging you can usually find online maps of tourism centers and rest areas, both potentially useful to a cycle tourist. But that may be getting into "over planning."
    The bicycle is one of the great inventions of mankind. Delights children, challenges young men to feats of daring, and turns old men into boys again.--Me

  8. #8
    country city-girl i wish's Avatar
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    Hmmm....
    I won't be taking digital stuff on the ride...just hopefully logging in occasionally at libraries and friend's houses so online maps only work for at-home planning.
    I'll keep looking for the free maps...thanks!

  9. #9
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by i wish View Post
    Thanks! I didn't look close enough at the google option to see the 300+ mi long bike route...I think that is the way to go...at least on the way down!

    I tried looking up state tourism departments...but had difficulty finding maps. Is there a specific place to look?
    PA's Bike Route maps are online. Best to print them out.

  10. #10
    Neil_B
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    You are working on a good story, and in a small way I'd like to be part of it....

    http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/35357896

    This is a route from Reading to York, PA. It takes the Thun Trail to Birdsboro, then the PA Bike Route L to the PA Bike Route S. From York you can either continue on the Bike Route S to near Chambersburg and then ride south and pick up the C & O Canal Towpath at Hancock, or take the York Heritage Trail south into Maryland. The YHT ends north of Baltimore. From "Balmer" you can ride into DC - take care, lots of traffic! - and pick up the C & O Canal Towpath at its start. Or again, find your own way....

  11. #11
    Neil_B
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    http://cyclingintotheunknown.blogspo...ment-list.html

    Gear list looks a little heavy.

    Why sandals, shoes, and boots? Why "warm gloves" in addition to cycling gloves? Why a book on edible wild plants? (I thought the Eulell Gibbons rule was that you don't eat what you don't know.)

    I'd add sunscreen and bug repellent. And possibly earplugs.

  12. #12
    country city-girl i wish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil_B View Post
    You are working on a good story, and in a small way I'd like to be part of it....

    http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/35357896

    This is a route from Reading to York, PA. It takes the Thun Trail to Birdsboro, then the PA Bike Route L to the PA Bike Route S. From York you can either continue on the Bike Route S to near Chambersburg and then ride south and pick up the C & O Canal Towpath at Hancock, or take the York Heritage Trail south into Maryland. The YHT ends north of Baltimore. From "Balmer" you can ride into DC - take care, lots of traffic! - and pick up the C & O Canal Towpath at its start. Or again, find your own way....
    Thanks for the interest and the map! I really appreciate it.

  13. #13
    country city-girl i wish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil_B View Post
    http://cyclingintotheunknown.blogspo...ment-list.html

    Gear list looks a little heavy.

    Why sandals, shoes, and boots? Why "warm gloves" in addition to cycling gloves? Why a book on edible wild plants? (I thought the Eulell Gibbons rule was that you don't eat what you don't know.)

    I'd add sunscreen and bug repellent. And possibly earplugs.
    I'm trying to reduce my gear load...but need the variety of footwear because I will be visiting farming friends...and doing who-knows-what outdoor activities with them. Maybe the shoes are dispensable...I'll have to think about that.
    The warm gloves are a precaution. The cycling gloves are fingerless and would do little for keeping my hands warm if the weather gets cool.
    I'm taking the book so I can have free vegetables. I don't have much money so I want to eat free as much as possible. I will be careful...if I'm not SURE the plant is edible, I won't eat it.

    The shea butter I listed is what I'll use as a type of sun screen. That, and a long-sleeved white shirt...
    Bug repellent...I guess I'll just ride fast enough they can't catch up...
    I didn't really think about that...I like to stay away from chemicals and sprays as much as possible...
    Why would I need earplugs? I've seen them in a few people's gear lists and am not sure why they would be necessary...

    Thanks for the suggestions and concern...now you got me thinking!

  14. #14
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by i wish View Post
    I'm trying to reduce my gear load...but need the variety of footwear because I will be visiting farming friends...and doing who-knows-what outdoor activities with them. Maybe the shoes are dispensable...I'll have to think about that.
    The warm gloves are a precaution. The cycling gloves are fingerless and would do little for keeping my hands warm if the weather gets cool.
    I'm taking the book so I can have free vegetables. I don't have much money so I want to eat free as much as possible. I will be careful...if I'm not SURE the plant is edible, I won't eat it.

    The shea butter I listed is what I'll use as a type of sun screen. That, and a long-sleeved white shirt...
    Bug repellent...I guess I'll just ride fast enough they can't catch up...
    I didn't really think about that...I like to stay away from chemicals and sprays as much as possible...
    Why would I need earplugs? I've seen them in a few people's gear lists and am not sure why they would be necessary...

    Thanks for the suggestions and concern...now you got me thinking!
    I for one don't like to share my campsite with the mosquito - or at least provide him dinner. And greenflies are faster than me when riding. They don't respect clothing, incidentally.

    As for earplugs, the C & O and Great Allegheny Passage are near active rail lines. I can sleep through train noise, but many people can't.

    The problem with foraging is that as a touring cyclist you are going to be eating a LOT. And do you want to have to spend a lot of time hunting up edible plants when you could be riding? Not to discourage you, just something to consider.

    What were you budgeting for food per day?

  15. #15
    country city-girl i wish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil_B View Post
    I for one don't like to share my campsite with the mosquito - or at least provide him dinner. And greenflies are faster than me when riding. They don't respect clothing, incidentally.

    As for earplugs, the C & O and Great Allegheny Passage are near active rail lines. I can sleep through train noise, but many people can't.

    The problem with foraging is that as a touring cyclist you are going to be eating a LOT. And do you want to have to spend a lot of time hunting up edible plants when you could be riding? Not to discourage you, just something to consider.

    What were you budgeting for food per day?
    I wasn't planning on eating only foraged food...just having that option for fresh greens. I do enjoy some wild greens at home occasionally, but I know they won't do it for when I'm on the road.
    I had no idea those routes were near railroads...

    I don't have a budget, I was going to spend as little as possible on food. I'm planning on trying to avoid restaurants and convenience stores if I can. I want to try to carry some bulk products to cook with. I have the NOLS cookery book, and they talk about carrying bulk food for hiking. I wouldn't have to be as extreme as that, since I will be near civilization...

  16. #16
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by i wish View Post
    I wasn't planning on eating only foraged food...just having that option for fresh greens. I do enjoy some wild greens at home occasionally, but I know they won't do it for when I'm on the road.
    I had no idea those routes were near railroads...

    I don't have a budget, I was going to spend as little as possible on food. I'm planning on trying to avoid restaurants and convenience stores if I can. I want to try to carry some bulk products to cook with. I have the NOLS cookery book, and they talk about carrying bulk food for hiking. I wouldn't have to be as extreme as that, since I will be near civilization...
    Well, earplugs are useful if you are camping near a public road, or in a campground.

    Perhaps "budget" is the wrong word. What do you think you can live on day after day while riding? "As little as possible" is a wish, not a plan. And keep in mind that this is supposed to be fun. A death march, for most folks at least, isn't. I've seen the figure of ten dollars a day for food thrown around here and other places. And that's a low end figure.

    How many days are you going to be on the road? And how many miles do you think you'd be able to, on average, ride a day? Keep in mind you'd probably want to take a day off at some point.

  17. #17
    country city-girl i wish's Avatar
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    I really don't know. We will be taking it easy and enjoying the journey instead of cranking out the miles. We will also be staying at friend's and relative's houses for indefinite periods of time.
    We will first be heading from NY to PA. That should take us about 6 days, I think. We will be staying with friends there for some time. After that I should have a better idea of how much I would need to spend each day, and if we have enough money to get to TN
    The trip to TN will be at least three times as long as the first bit...I really haven't done much research on that part of the trip....yet...

  18. #18
    Neil_B
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    From NY to Reading, you can ride PA Bike Route L, which crosses the border a couple of miles north of Lanesboro, south to Birdsboro. In Birdsboro take the Thun Trail into downtown Reading - about ten miles. The trail takes you to Reading Area Community College and the city's riverfront park.

  19. #19
    2 Fat 2 Furious contango's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by i wish View Post
    The shea butter I listed is what I'll use as a type of sun screen. That, and a long-sleeved white shirt...
    Bug repellent...I guess I'll just ride fast enough they can't catch up...
    I didn't really think about that...I like to stay away from chemicals and sprays as much as possible...
    A lot of bugs will bite through clothing. I've had enough experience of mosquitoes in VA to know this very well...

    Hoping to outrun them doesn't work - although I've found that speeds over about 8-10mph leave mosquitoes behind I've been overtaken by bumble bees when I was doing 15mph. I've also cycled through swarms of bugs and found several of them pitched on me as I went through. It's easy enough to sweep them off but I wouldn't bank on never getting bitten along the way.

    Why would I need earplugs? I've seen them in a few people's gear lists and am not sure why they would be necessary...
    If you're touring with someone and they snore. From what I gather during my last bike trip I snored loudly enough that my wife would probably have slept better had she been next to the railway line.

  20. #20
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    We had 4 very loud snorers with us crossing the country in a group of 13. If we camped in a large, open area, they were "required" to pitch on one side of the area away from the non-snorers. If we had smaller sites, there were snoring and non-snoring sites. Same for rooms when we stayed in motels.

    I understand that Off has a new product. It's a thing you hang around your neck to repel mosquitoes. Several people have said it works pretty good. Some people also swear by Avon's Skin so Soft. I found it somewhat effective, but I don't know if they make that anymore.

    We are going to be in serious MT mosquito country in late June. The kind of place where, in the late afternoon/early evening, they will be on you in a minute after you get off your bike. I have every intention of taking my 100% DEET. And, as noted, they will bite through things like spandex shorts.

    If there is very little chance of encountering cool weather, you might consider polypropylene glove liners instead of full blown cool weather gloves. You car wear them under your cycling gloves to keep your fingers warm.

  21. #21
    country city-girl i wish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil_B View Post
    From NY to Reading, you can ride PA Bike Route L, which crosses the border a couple of miles north of Lanesboro, south to Birdsboro. In Birdsboro take the Thun Trail into downtown Reading - about ten miles. The trail takes you to Reading Area Community College and the city's riverfront park.
    I will be coming from Buffalo, NY, and won't quite reach Reading....we are heading to Bernville.
    Google had us taking Pine Creek Rail Trail...and I thought that looked quite pleasant.

  22. #22
    country city-girl i wish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
    We had 4 very loud snorers with us crossing the country in a group of 13. If we camped in a large, open area, they were "required" to pitch on one side of the area away from the non-snorers. If we had smaller sites, there were snoring and non-snoring sites. Same for rooms when we stayed in motels.

    I understand that Off has a new product. It's a thing you hang around your neck to repel mosquitoes. Several people have said it works pretty good. Some people also swear by Avon's Skin so Soft. I found it somewhat effective, but I don't know if they make that anymore.

    We are going to be in serious MT mosquito country in late June. The kind of place where, in the late afternoon/early evening, they will be on you in a minute after you get off your bike. I have every intention of taking my 100% DEET. And, as noted, they will bite through things like spandex shorts.

    If there is very little chance of encountering cool weather, you might consider polypropylene glove liners instead of full blown cool weather gloves. You car wear them under your cycling gloves to keep your fingers warm.
    Ok....maybe earplugs would be more useful than I thought...
    I don't live where there are many mosquitoes...so I don't have experience with that kind of attack. I'm thinking more seriously about but repellent now...
    The warm gloves I'm taking are those stretchy thin cotton things...only good for cool, not cold weather. They don't take up much space but will help on cool mornings.

  23. #23
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by i wish View Post
    I will be coming from Buffalo, NY, and won't quite reach Reading....we are heading to Bernville.
    Google had us taking Pine Creek Rail Trail...and I thought that looked quite pleasant.
    It is. Here's the trail last August, taken from Barbour Rock on the west rim of the canyon:





    I suggest following the trail to Jersey Shore (it's a town, not a TV show), riding into Williamsport, and then taking the PA Bike Route J south.

  24. #24
    country city-girl i wish's Avatar
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    Are PA bike routes labeled with signs? Are the roads wide? I know most PA roads are only wide enough for two cars to pass without riding on the shoulder...and there is no shoulder... I have ridden in a car plenty in PA, but never ridden a bicycle anywhere there.
    NY bike routes have small signs showing cyclists where the route is. The routes are on wide-shouldered roads, too.

    I'm asking because on Google....the bike routes don't show up in PA. Only the bike-only paths seem to show.
    What is the advantage to riding on the bike route? Are there disadvantages?

    BTW, those pics are beautiful!

  25. #25
    Neil_B
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    PA Bike Routes are on roads, but may use trails. For instance, Bike Route G uses the Pine Creek Rail Trail and, closer to the Maryland border, the Lower Trail. Combined they total about 70 some miles of the 250 comprising the route.

    PA Bike Routes are usually signed very well, and when on roads often have a wide shoulder. Bike Route Y, Pymatuning State Park:



    Bike Route G, Pine Creek Rail Trail, at Darling Run. Note the signs:



    Bike Route V, south of Hickory Run State Park:



    Bike Route L, Hickory Run State Park:



    Bike Route G, just south of Waterville. The Pine Creek Rail Trail and Bike Route split here. I suggest you stick to the trail since both it and the Bike Route G end in Jersey Shore.



    Bike Route S, on Pughtown Road outside Kimberton:



    Bike Route S, just outside Elverson, PA. A right turn connects you to the L Route.



    Bike Route L, just outside French Creek State Park:


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