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Old 06-16-10, 09:41 PM   #1
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48 States

Today I heard about these guys who are currently attempting to break (their own) world record for driving to all 48 contiguous states in the shortest time possible. Their goal is 96 hours. Link.

Turns out this feat is more about route planning and less about driving fast. Which made me think about bike touring and if anyone's ever thought about a shortest route for visiting the 48 states. Not something I'd be up to personally but something I find interesting and I'm curious to know if it's been done (not necessarily in record time). Anyone ever thought about a route like this?
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Old 06-16-10, 10:13 PM   #2
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Not 48, but why not. Recently did 5 in 3 days. With a stiff tailwind, can be done easily in 1 day. And a stiff wind in NE New Mexico/ western OKlahoma is pretty common.
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Old 06-16-10, 10:20 PM   #3
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A few years ago, I looked up the GPS coordinates for 48 state capitals as well as largest city in each of those states in a loop that started and ended at same place. I then coded up a computer program to help me find an approximate shortest distance through either the capital of each state or the capital and largest city of each state. [There is a common computer science problem known as the traveling salesman problem that talks about finding such paths].

The general conclusion I had after letting my search run was:
- It would be aggressive but possible to visit all 50 states (short jaunt to Honolulu, Anchorage, Juneau) in a year; I was getting ~14000 miles + extra since wouldn't be shortest distance
- Some of sequences I was getting weren't too bad given additional bicycling constraints like avoiding northern states in middle of winter.
I don't have the program or sequences anymore but it was an interesting exercise.

A little after that I also did a related exercise of figuring out a sequencing of all the county seats in Colorado. That turned out to be more of a 2-3 month exercise, In that case, as the sequences started to settle, I started putting in actual highway mileages between towns to get a real route. Someday if I get a chance to take a summer off I might decide to ride every county in Colorado and take a photo of the courthouses along the way...
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Old 06-17-10, 09:28 AM   #4
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Somebody from Ohio recently attempted 48 states in 48 days. All the links I find are pre-ride, but I do believe he did all 48 but in a bit over 48 days.
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Old 06-17-10, 08:59 PM   #5
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If you planned it just right, you could cover several states in one day of riding. I've ridden in about half of the states, and some of my rides were strategically done to be able to hit 2 or 3 states in one ride. I think you'd want to ride quite close to borders for the most part.
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