Edit: Left the original post below, but plans have changed...currently, it's looking more like I'll be able to do this trip in 2014, not 2013, unfortunately. Anyway, the current plan would be to start in April sometime and then proceed, east to west, along the route shown here:
(roughly, of course)
All the other details about how I want to do the trip, and so forth, still applies. But I'm wondering what people think about weather issues and so on. This route would hopefully have me out of the southwestern deserts by the end of June, thus avoiding too much extreme heat, but in terms of time of the year, are there any plans I might need to adjust for that kind of issue? Also, I hear that along the Pacific Coast, strong winds come from the north all summer, so I'm a bit leery about heading north along the west - but I'm more interested in the mountains and inland areas than the coast anyway, and I'm not sure if the prevailing winds are still the same away from the coast.
Anyway, looking for thoughts and input.
Long post - I've tried to generously use paragraph breaks to ease the reading.
This coming summer it may become possible for me to do the cross-country bike ride I've been dreaming of for a while. That's yet to be determined, but it hasn't stopped me planning. I want a large part/majority of the trip to be on dirt roads or even singletrack, and if I go I'll have just quit my job, so it'll be fairly open-ended in terms of route and time. I'm focused on seeing the great outdoors and spectacular scenery and wild camping as much as possible, but I of course want to see historical and cultural sites and meet all kinds of people as well.
I have two possible, general routes I've been thinking about. The first would be a southern route; this is probably what I'd do if I were to leave earlier (say, mid-spring rather than summer). The second would be a northern route, which I'd probably do if the trip were in summer or late summer into fall.
Here are Google Maps links to very rough ideas of where each trip might go. Both east-to-west, cause I'm from the east and want the scenery to get more epic as I go, not to mention constantly be getting into new territory along the way.
Southern Route: http://goo.gl/maps/tQczl
(The fork at the end is because from Utah, I could either head toward Seattle or LA. Or somewhere else - but I have relatives in both of those areas. If I'm feeling ambitious and have money left, I could bike down the coast or Sierras/Cascades, too)
Northern Route: http://goo.gl/maps/Tl0vO
Both routes heavily emphasize Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico, as those are areas I'm especially interested in seeing a lot of. Other than that, advantages of the southern route include that it has less midwest riding, and that the timeframe means I'd be more likely to avoid intense heat, whereas the northern route would have me in the Southwest in July and August. The northern route takes me through some more scenic places, like the Badlands, Black Hills, and Tetons, though I'm also interested in riding across Texas. But having driven through much of that region this past summer, it seems kind of painful to ride through Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, etc. etc.
There's a bit of a list already of places I want the trip to incorporate.
On the northern route, I definitely want to go through the South Dakota Badlands, the Black Hills (after driving through them this past summer, I have to go back), the Bighorn Mountains, and possibly a section of the GDMBR.
On the southern route, I'd want to get to New Orleans, Austin, and Big Bend Nat'l/State park in Texas.
On both routes, I'm sure to include Monument Valley, the Grand Canyon, as many national parks in Utah as I can, Moab, Salt Lake City, possibly Yosemite and Seqouia NPs, and as much great mountain biking as I can incorporate, including long-distance routes like the Kokopelli Trail, parts of the Arizona Trail, etc. And I want to see historical sites, especially Native American ruins and Old West frontier-y stuff.
On top of all that, I'd love to hear everyone's suggestions on routes, changes you might make, other places or areas that I don't want to miss, advice on desert riding and on best times to year to be in certain places, what weather conditions to expect, and anything else. From anyone who has done off-road/dirt-road touring, how do you find the best routes? I'm assuming that in the east and midwest, I'll probably have to stick to pavement more, and then get into the off-roading for real once I hit the Great Plains and the west - anybody done off-road tours back east?
I'm more or less equipped for the trip and I'm young and in pretty good shape. I've got a good bit of backpacking experience, though no long-haul bike trips yet. I'm riding a Surly Troll which will probably have Ortlieb rear panniers, a frame bag, and handlebar roll; hopefully that should allow me enough space to pack food and water for remote/desert riding. Which reminds me - any tire recommendations for on-and-off pavement use?
I'm eager to hear what everyone thinks on this topic!