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Touring Have a dream to ride a bike across your state, across the country, or around the world? Self-contained or fully supported? Trade ideas, adventures, and more in our bicycle touring forum.

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Old 11-28-04, 10:07 PM   #1
gpsblake
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Rate your state for touring.

I'll start off by rating the two states I am most fimiliar with, South Carolina & Maryland.

South Carolina (grade: D)
I would give my state a total F based that almost zero roads here have shoulders nor are bike friendly on the major roads. Many roads are also narrow two lane here. The only reason I don't give it a total F is that there is many back roads that are lightly traveled. Other than for dogs, they are good for riding. They are also requiring that new roads have at least a two foot paved shoulder on them.

South Carolina has an unofficial bicycle route map at:
http://www.sctrails.net/trails/ALLTR...de/biking.html

Maryland (grade: B)
Outside the Baltimore-Washington metro area, the bicycling is outstanding here. Most of the major state routes have wide nicely paved 8 foot wide shoulders. You also have a good many bike-hike trails here. The C&O Canal is outstanding. Getting into Baltimore can be a pain if you don't know the road well along with bad neighborhoods. Traffic cutting into you or across you can be a pain in busy metro areas. Baltimore's light rail is very bike friendly as is the DC Metro (finally) Sometimes during bad winters, potholes can be a problem.

http://www.bikewashington.org is an excellent site for bike routes in Maryland
The state of Maryland also will send you a free bicycle map of the state
http://www.sha.state.md.us/SHAServic.../OPPE/maps.asp


Like to read some opinions about other states

Happy Miles and Cheer,
BLake
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Old 11-28-04, 10:43 PM   #2
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I have very little experience here but I give California my homestate a "D" because they could do much better.
Oregon would have to get higher marks. Touring the coast from North to South is excellent. As a state they have done a lot to make touring safer and more pleasurable.. "B+" or "A"
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Old 11-28-04, 10:58 PM   #3
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PA, my present state of residence, gets a C. Roads themselves are terrible for touring as most have no shoulder to speak of. There are, however, many rail trails. No good for extended touring, but I hear the GAP (Great Allegheny Passage) is great for a 6 or 7 day tour.

WV, where I will be moving to, gets a D-. Lots of hilly secondary roads to tour, but unless you are familiar with them, it's easy to get lost, even with a map. If you value your life, you will stay off of the state highways!!
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Old 12-02-04, 02:46 PM   #4
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arizona gets a b, could use more shoulders. we have a great law, which says you have to give bicyclis 5 feet! or a motorist could get a 250.00 misdemeaner.
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Old 12-02-04, 03:06 PM   #5
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I would give Wisconsin an A or a B. Lots of backroads and multi-use paths, lots of fellow cyclists and pretty terrain. Although at times the ride can be more fragrant than you may desire.
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Old 12-02-04, 04:01 PM   #6
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I've lived in VT, MA, NY, NH, CA, CT, and PA and raced/cycled in all these plus ME, RI, NC, FL. I tend to ride the back roads and generally train/tour and love hills/mts.

My rating will be multiple (condition of roads, traffic, terrain, bike friendly)

VT(A, A, A+, A)
MA western (A, B, A, A)
NY western (A, A, B+, A) NYC (C, F, D, D)
NH northern (A, A, A+, A)
CA southern (B, F, D, C)
CT north central (A, B, A, A)
PA northwestern (B, B, C, A)
ME eastern (A, A, B, A)
RI (B, C, C, C)
NC RD Triangle (B, D, C, C) Asheville (B, B, A, B) OBX (C, F, D, B)
FL (A, B, D, B)

some of this riding was several years ago so conditions maybe different
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Old 12-02-04, 04:05 PM   #7
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My wife and I tour extensively in the southeast, here's my take on ratings;

North Carolina (Home State) I'ed give a "C" because there doing much improvments on the roadways (bike lanes) as they repave, also motorist are for the most part respectful to bicyclist.

Georgia, "B", We love to bike in GA, the motorist are very respectful, great shoulders on the roadways we travel, Our favorite spot is Jekylle Island and St Simon Island, teriffic scenery, Great people, and bike lanes are plentyful. Route 10 is awsome. GA has a great bicyclist awareness program.

Florida, "B", Our second home, Great roadways around St. John's county (St Augustine area) A1A great biking, they are also making "Bike lanes" as they repave, FLA has a teriffic bike safety awareness program. We have not had one problem with motorist.

South Carolina, "C", We often travel from Charlotte to Columbia and on to Myrtle Beach area and love the back roads, shoulders are a little narrow on the two lanes, however the four lane secondary shoulders are great. The people are very friendly to bicyclist.
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Old 12-02-04, 04:24 PM   #8
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I must give Wyoming an 'A' for many reasons.
First - almost all of its two-lane highways have shoulders and light traffic. I have noticed over and over how the roads always get worse when you cross over into Colorado even though both states are about the same size, have similar topography - but Colorado has a higher gas tax and 10 times the population. Seems odd - but I guess it proves the diseconomies of scale - i.e. the Denver metro area eats up the state DOT money precluding highway improvements elsewhere. Yes, traffic is bad in the summer in the Wyo national parks - but in the shoulder seasons they are magical. I've biked Yellowstone in the spring when there were zero - zip - cars.
Second - you can camp anywhere in the state on BLM or USFS land - which is 50% of the land area - not just designated campsites. This does NOT apply, of course, to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks - but there are nice hiker/biker sites in both parks - in fact, the hiker/biker site at Jenny Lake has an awesome view of the Tetons plus you are close to facilities for those who want a little creature comfort after being in the boonies for a few days.
Third - conditions - yes, there is quite a lot of wind in Wyoming, but if you are heading West - just get out of your tent early and cycle before the wind picks up - then call it a day. The mountain grades are long - but usually not as steep as in places like West Virginia. Also, when you head down, you don't have to brake away all the energy you put into climbing - instead you can fly down long, sweeping curves - for example Ten Sleep Canyon. (See photo)
Fourth - then there are the dirt roads - a zillion of them - with maybe one rancher in a pick-up who stops to ask whether or not you are lost. Best bets - Grays River Rd, Big Sandy/South Pass Rd, Dull Center Rd.
See you soon - J
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Old 12-02-04, 09:37 PM   #9
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I've toured in four Australian states (five if you count the 20km or so I rode in South Australia to reach Mt Gambier in 2002). I was going to rate them all, but I think I'll just write a blurb and let people decide what they think.

Queensland -- The South East is very scenic, with a wide variety of riding experience available. However, one needs to beware of the worst drivers in the country, and the heat in summer (not to mention the tourists, and accompanying increase in prices). Probably ideal for a winter tour. Elsewhere, be prepared for large distances and a dearth of alternative routes.

New South Wales -- I've only toured in the North East, and similar comments to Queensland apply here, although probably a less extreme version on all counts. However, the distances between towns are smaller, unless you're out in the western half of the state, which I've never visited. Again, avoid the east coast over the christmas holidays, unless you want to pay a large wad in camping fees (or fines for camping outside a designated area).

Victoria -- Just got back from my second tour there. Absolutely beautiful. Comfortable distances between towns, diversity of scenery, and a near perfect climate. A little more crowded than I would like, but drivers are much more considerate here than in Queensland, so it's less of a problem. Also a good train network from Melbourne for getting to various regions of the state, although I prefer to ride there myself. The Great Ocean Road is a must-ride.

Tasmania -- the best of the lot. Something for everyone, from the flat East Coast, to the rugged west coast, and with something like 25% of the island world-heritage listed, that speaks for itself. If you come in winter, be prepared to be snowed in, but the good thing is that summers aren't hot at all. Just remember not to drink the water in Queenstown.
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Old 12-03-04, 02:22 PM   #10
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NEW YORK: Many may think it's paved border to border but it's really quite a rural state. I live in upstate New York and am pretty impressed with its general bike-friendliness. There are just so many backroads here that there's always another route you've not tried. Drivers are generally good to cyclists here; they're used to us and let us behave according to the law--like cars. Shoulders? Well, our backroads seldom have well-defined shoulders, but it doesn't seem to matter that much. If you just ride to the right on winding, hilly roads, it's easy to coexist with what motor traffic there is.

New York's a mixed delight. There are scenic vistas, but I value the stopping just as much as the riding. Our backroads are dotted with mom-and-pop grocery stores, the old-fashioned kind where you can still pick up soap for your shaving mug or maybe a flyswatter to go with your road-fare purchases. And those independent, in-town restaurants and cafes--those that have survived the fast-food onslaught--can be the best places for a chat with hometown folks. We're lucky to still have lots of such places. They enrich a cyclist's day.

The Adirondack Mountains are especially nice for cycling. Even the main roads see light traffic, and there are plenty of streams, mountains and lakes to enjoy (and very few billboards). But give the farm country a try, too. There are lots of dairy farms, corn fields and apple orchards to see, and again, traffic is light if you don't count farm wagons and short stretches where cattle have left their marks on the pavement.

I personally have not enjoyed biking Westchester County, as even the narrow backroads have seemed just too full of traffic. I've never biked Long Island or the five boroughs of NYC, so I can't speak for them, but I've covered the rest, north to south, east to west, and feel lucky to live here in NY state.

VERMONT is a wonderful biking state. I've done it top to bottom and crossed both ways. I think that the things I've said above in favor of NY go doubly for Vermont. Outside of a hill or two, I've found nothing to complain about when riding in VT, and much to recommend it.
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Old 12-07-04, 07:24 PM   #11
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Touring or Riding? I live in New Jersey. Actually South Jersey. I'd give South Jersey a B for riding and a C for touring. The lower touring grade is due to lack of stealth camping possibilities. With the exception of the Pine barrens almost everything is posted. The roads in South Jersey are very ridable. Flat and once out of the Philly metroplex the traffic thins out. Most of the roads have shoulders and new bike lanes are being added yearly. I live about 50 miles from the Jersey shore and can ride the entire distance on roads with 8 foot shoulders(but lots of summer traffic). Riding in the Pine Barrens or the farm country of Salem and Cumberland Counties makes you forget that 20 million people live within 100 miles. I once got a flat on a back road in the Wharton State Forrest. Pesky thing took 20 minutes to fix. Only one car passed by as I worked on the tire. And they stopped and asked if I was OK.
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Old 12-07-04, 08:05 PM   #12
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Tennessee I would rate a B, a good number of bike lanes and increasing number of "greenways"
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Old 12-07-04, 09:05 PM   #13
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I agree with Meanderthal about upstate New York. The riding here is great. The state is crisscrossed with signed bicycle routes, The state is building a bike trail that will follow the Erie Canal from Albany to Buffalo. ( over 1/3 completed) nearly all of the state and many county roads have paved shoulders over 18" wide Vermont as a state is more scenic than New York, But NY has a greater number of scenic rides.
Quebec would be as close to an A that I have experienced. Here in the USA, New York and Calfornia is a toss up for A-. the other 48 are B's or less
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Old 12-08-04, 12:11 AM   #14
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I've only toured in four states of the United States so far and one province of Canada.

Of the states Michigan north of Port Huron, Bay City etc is my absolute favourite. Michigan has an excellent state park policy that allows bicycle tourist to have a place to camp even when the state park is full. Most of the roads have good shoulders. People are very nice and kind (although this statement seems to apply everywhere so far).

New York from Buffalo to Pennsylvania border had decent shoulders on the route I took.
Pennsylvania had smaller shoulders but they still existed.
In Ohio the shoulders disappeared but they had the excellent Lakeshore route that took me through Cleveland.
Southern Michigan had busy roads with little to no shoulders from the Ohio border to Detroit.

Ontario is slowly improving the highways with the addition of paved shoulders. Many small, paved farmlanes are available. Camping away from the major cities is usually problem free except possibly on the long weekends.

I attended the 2001 Mountain bike championship in Vail, Colorado as a visitor. Rented a bike and really enjoyed the mountain trails. From being in the state about a month it appears that Colorado would be a really nice place to tour (and live). Lots of people on bikes. Lots of scenery.

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Old 12-08-04, 09:36 AM   #15
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Very interesting thread. I'm relatively new to doing longer distances (I'm probably more of a roadie than a tourer, but I think they overlap), so I don't have the wealth of knowledge that some of you obviously do.

I live in Massachusetts, and there is a lot of good riding here in varied terrain. But even in my own "neck of the woods", there are excellent roads and other roads that are nightmarish due to heavy traffic and no shoulders (unlike some of the posts have mentioned, I haven't encountered all that many roads with a nice wide paved shoulder). Bottom line: most of the time you can find a road less travelled. Motorists are pretty good, in my experience, but I'm sure there are plenty that I've been fortunate to not encounter as well. In Boston, of course, all bets are off

There are several good bike baths now that have been put in place of RR tracks, and I've noted some interesting advocacy campaigns, such as trying to designate two major E-W routes and two major N-S routes for cyclists - see http://www.massbike.org/ for more on this and other Mass bike areas of interest.

My wife and I did an inn-to-inn trip in Vermont for a few days in September, and it was outstanding! It was basically a big loop around Brandon. A few roads with those big dumptrucks, but other that that (and a few hills!) it was bike heaven.
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Old 12-13-04, 11:42 AM   #16
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I would give Ontario a "D". Very few paved shoulders and motorvehicles seldom wait until nothing is coming in the other direction, when they could give you a wide berth. There are areas in the province where there are quiet back roads for cycling, but touring generally means following narrow old highways without paved shoulders.
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Old 12-13-04, 12:27 PM   #17
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Agreed... Ironically, all of the paved shoulders are on the freeways!
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Old 12-13-04, 12:57 PM   #18
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Give Arizona and Tucson area an "A"!
Tucson has over 400 MILES of striped bike lanes!
All of the state is good and, at times difficult, riding. Elevation varies from below 1,000 to 9,200 ft and from Ponderosa pine forests to giant saguaro cacti.
Have ridden in over 30 states and some other faves are OH, MI, UT, OR, MD, MN, WI
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