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Cross Country This Summer

Old 04-07-11, 08:22 AM
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Cross Country This Summer

I've been wanting to do a cross country ride for some years already, and because of current circumstances in my life at present, I think this may be a good time. My timeframe will be from mid to late May to some point in July. I have been thinking out a few possible routes for the last year and a half, but in the end I will most likely ride the ACA Bike Centennial Trail for my first transcontinental attempt because it's already been done several times over, and because of the possibility of meeting up with others along the way.


Ideally I'd like to do this solo, but considering safety considerations, and to keep certain concerned parties in my life at ease, I might like to travel along with someone, or try to tag along with a group that is already organized. I am located on Long Island, New York, but I'm not sure which route I'll want to attempt yet.


If anyone else is thinking about doing such a route around that time, I'd definitely consider a touring partner. Hit me up if interested and I'll tell you more about myself, and hopefully vice versa. Thanks.



Yiannis
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Old 04-07-11, 08:33 AM
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I am planning on leaving for Seattle on 11 May. I plan to take the Pacific Coast trail to Longview WA, then pick up the Lewis and Clark trail to Missoula, MT. I will then head north on the Great Parks route to Columbia Falls. I will then take the Northern Tier to Erie PA, then south on the Underground Railroad spur to Pittsburgh. From there I will take the Alleghaney Passage to Cumberland MD, then the C&O canal tow path to Washington. From there I have to make my way home to southern MD using the Tidewater Potomac Heritage Route.

This is probably not what you had in mind.
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Old 04-07-11, 08:49 AM
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If you want to go solo, go solo. Groups are a totally different experience, and a random companion is likely to be more trouble than they are worth. It's safe enough, just go.
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Old 04-07-11, 09:13 AM
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Another thing I will add is that on the Trans America (formerly Bikecentennial) you will meet lots of other folks and if you really want to you will likely be able to camp or ride with them some of the time.

My observation is that, of the riders we met who started out riding with someone other than a family member, most had either parted ways already or did so at some point farther down the road. That was sometimes even in the case of folks who were with long time friends. So in your planning consider the fact that groups do often split up.
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Old 04-07-11, 11:00 AM
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I'm interested in joining you for a tour. I sent you a private message. I'm pretty flexible and would prefer to start close to home (within a day's drive of nyc).
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Old 04-08-11, 08:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Lamabb View Post
I'm interested in joining you for a tour. I sent you a private message. I'm pretty flexible and would prefer to start close to home (within a day's drive of nyc).

Hi Lamabb,

Thanks for your quick reply to my post, I apologize that I was unable to send a private message because of my low post count. As of now I am unsure whether I will set about this journey on my own or not--ideally I would prefer to do so, but as you seem to agree, it may be better to ride with someone for safety reasons, and to keep concerned parties relaxed. I will keep you in mind though, and if I do decide to tour I will let you know either way. The only reservation I have is that you are a bit younger than me, and if I where to ride with someone, I would like them to be at least my age, or may be a bit older for a number of reasons, one being riding experience, the other is that I am doing this ride because I am at a crossroads in my life, and I have reached a certain level of life experience that I would like to share with someone around my age. That said, I'm not sure that the fact that you are younger would be a deal breaker, I am a teacher who taught classes to high school students who are now your age, so I think that it might be an interesting experience in that respect.

What are you future touring prospects, and what is your cycling background?

Regards,

Yiannis
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Old 04-08-11, 08:24 AM
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Originally Posted by thesearethesuns View Post
The only reservation I have is that you are a bit younger than me, and if I where to ride with someone, I would like them to be at least my age
I don't know either of your ages, but I will say that when I was 57, I rode the Trans America with a couple of recent young college grads. One was my daughter, but I think that they would have been excellent companions even if that were not the case. In a sense, it was a great chance see the world through younger eyes.
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Old 04-08-11, 09:32 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
I don't know either of your ages, but I will say that when I was 57, I rode the Trans America with a couple of recent young college grads. One was my daughter, but I think that they would have been excellent companions even if that were not the case. In a sense, it was a great chance see the world through younger eyes.
Right on, I just read through your blog. You must be a wonderful father. Inspiring.

BTW--I am thirty years old.
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Old 04-08-11, 09:49 AM
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Originally Posted by thesearethesuns View Post
Right on, I just read through your blog. You must be a wonderful father. Inspiring.

BTW--I am thirty years old.
Thanks.

I hope you have a great tour whatever you decide wrt touring companions.
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Old 04-08-11, 03:42 PM
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Thanks for the support Pete...


Tentative Itinerary:

I'm just going to layout two very rough and early sketches of my intended route(s) in hopes that someone can chime in with any and all holes I have in my planning stage. Please let me know if you have taken a similar route in the past, or if you know for sure whether certain stretches are feasible by bicycle.

I am planning on leaving sometime in late May/early June, and to finish sometime in July.

Plan A

1. First, I will have to get off Long Island, which will be a mission in itself (Southwest Suffolk County if anyone can lend a hand with this) and head up to Queens to spend the night at my uncle's place.

2. Next I will go take the 59th st bridge into Manhattan, and ride down to Battery Park where I will pick up the ferry to Staten Island.

3. At this point I will have to find a way to cross Staten Is to enter NJ and head toward Newark (I will need help figuring this out if there is anyone with experience on this route). I suppose the ferry to Sandy Hook, NJ would be a better bet as far as skirting Metro NJ roads.

4. Then I intend to take a section of the East Coast Greenway in central Jersey, then link up to the D & R canal path to Princeton. From there I hope to link up to the ACA Atlantic Coast Route and ride down to Richmond, VA where I will stay with a friend.

5. I am thinking about doing sections of the ACA TransAm trail out of Richmond and on into the Smokeys, where I would like to link up to the Blue Ridge Parkway, and get off around Asheville, and continue into Cherokee, NC. From there I will have to find a way to cross out of the mountains and into Tennessee.

6. I would like to head to Nashville, and then onto Memphis. From Memphis I will cross the Mississippi into Arkansas, and continue through the state northwest, heading in the direction of Tulsa, Oklahoma. From here I would like to link up to old sections of Route 66, and stay roughly parallel to I 40.

7. I will continue on I 40 southwest into Armarillo, TX, through the panhandle into New Mexico, heading toward Santa Fe on the northern loop on I 40.

8. From here I will have to figure out a way to continue to the Grand Canyon--probably I 40 to Flagstaff, and some road to take towards and into the park from there.

9. From the Grand Canyon, I will have to head south once again and link up to I 40/Route 66 somewhere around Kingman, AZ. (Yes, I realize it will be very hot in July) From there I will continue into Southern California and finish in Santa Monica at the end of the pier.


Map


Plan B

Steps 1-4, continuing along the ACA TransAm into Pueblo, CO, then to the ACA Western Express and on to finish in San Francisco. I think I'm leaning toward this one, the first route will need a lot of holes to be filled, and it will be much hotter in July. Plus I am doing this tour in honor of my father, and San Francisco was one of his favorite cities.

Last edited by thesearethesuns; 04-09-11 at 08:59 AM. Reason: Added Map
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Old 04-08-11, 07:28 PM
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Upon looking at my commitments, I realize that I will probably not be able to join you on your tour. However, I believe that the age difference wouldn't of been a big problem. I have done a fair amount of short multi-day tours with a member of my cycling club who is in his 50's and we never had a problem. I am 20 and ride with guys three times my age in many cases. Like I said before, it's more who you are than what your age is. I really hope you have a great time on your tour!

I still urge you to go with someone. I understand how you prefer to ride by yourself, but you don't always have to be talking with your partner; it just helps knowing you're with another person. That's in addition to the safety reasons.
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Old 04-08-11, 09:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Lamabb View Post
I am 20 and ride with guys three times my age in many cases. Like I said before, it's more who you are than what your age is.
Nice Lamabb, I definitely agree with that sentiment--it's one that I had at many times related to in my life, and I'm glad you feel that way too!

Please understand that if I were to ride with someone else, the reason I feel that I would rather ride with someone closer to my age is because of the philosophical station I have found myself at this particular time in my life. I thought it would be cool to find someone else at such a cross road in their own life, and at this age (because I feel that there is something significant to this particular age) to swap stories and reflect with. It's been without a doubt a significant year for me out of many others. I'm sure you're a great guy with a lot of his own personal experience and unique philosophical outlook to impart.

Anyway, I hope you get to do a great tour this summer!

Last edited by thesearethesuns; 04-08-11 at 09:17 PM. Reason: Clarification
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Old 04-09-11, 08:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Lamabb View Post
I still urge you to go with someone. I understand how you prefer to ride by yourself, but you don't always have to be talking with your partner; it just helps knowing you're with another person. That's in addition to the safety reasons.
I guess it depends, but I tend to ride with someone if I know I like them and think I will get along well with them. I don't think that I would seek out the company of a stranger just to not have to tour alone. That said, I do consider some of my online friends that I have never met to be folks that I would like to tour with.

As far as the experience of touring alone or with different size and composition of groups... It has a great effect on how much you will be likely to interact with folks you meet. I found that when alone I had a lot nice conversations with strangers that might not have occurred if I were with a group.

That does depend on the composition of the group though, we actually found people more open to us when we were a viewed as a dad and two daughters (actually only one was my daughter but everyone assumed we were a family). People were very interested in the notion of a family on bikes crossing the US. The fact that my two companions were attractive young women didn't hurt either. We were approached in a friendly manner quite a bit where if I was alone I might have had to initiate the conversation. We were also offered hospitality a bit more.

On the safety thing... I really don't think that safety is that much bigger of a concern when traveling solo. At least I never felt it was in the places that I have toured.
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Old 04-09-11, 08:00 PM
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Originally Posted by thesearethesuns View Post
Ideally I'd like to do this solo, but considering safety considerations, and to keep certain concerned parties in my life at ease, I might like to travel along with someone, or try to tag along with a group that is already organized.
If you really want to do this solo, then do it solo. You won't be any safer with a partner, as cycle touring is inherently a very safe sport. A partner is not going to keep you from being run over, and you'll stay out of sketchy neighborhoods. I hope. Common sense, obeying traffic rules, and being highly visible will make for a safe trip. At least as safe as teaching school.

Touring with a partner is great. Companionship and support. As long as you don't mind negotiations and compromise for weeks on end. But heck, that's just part of everyday life. OTOH, if you want to get away from everyday life for a while, go solo. Enjoy the freedom of the open road without the worry of how someone else might "feel" about your wishes.

As Steph1 pointed out, you'll likely meet many touring cyclist on the ACA routes. If you want, probably can hook up temporarily. This sort of loose arrangement can make for some companionship without much commitment. Sort of the best of both worlds.

Be sure and journal your ride, maybe over on www.crazyguyonabike.com.

Last edited by Cyclebum; 04-09-11 at 09:59 PM.
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Old 04-09-11, 09:22 PM
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Riding with a companion won't protect you from getting hit, but if you do get hit, you have someone who can get medical attention while you're in a serious condition.
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Old 04-12-11, 06:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Cyclebum View Post
If you really want to do this solo, then do it solo. You won't be any safer with a partner, as cycle touring is inherently a very safe sport. A partner is not going to keep you from being run over, and you'll stay out of sketchy neighborhoods. I hope. Common sense, obeying traffic rules, and being highly visible will make for a safe trip. At least as safe as teaching school.

Touring with a partner is great. Companionship and support. As long as you don't mind negotiations and compromise for weeks on end. But heck, that's just part of everyday life. OTOH, if you want to get away from everyday life for a while, go solo. Enjoy the freedom of the open road without the worry of how someone else might "feel" about your wishes.

As Steph1 pointed out, you'll likely meet many touring cyclist on the ACA routes. If you want, probably can hook up temporarily. This sort of loose arrangement can make for some companionship without much commitment. Sort of the best of both worlds.

Be sure and journal your ride, maybe over on www.crazyguyonabike.com.
Thanks Cyclebum! I think I will at least start off solo and see where it takes me.

I also plan on doing a dry run from my house in Bay Shore, LI, NY to Montauk, LI, NY and back. It's about 80 miles each way, mostly flat terrain until forty or so miles into it. I figure I will do a fully loaded dry run, breaking the run up half way in one direction, and an endurance day back, making it a three day tour. I have already completed a 60 mile tour in Rockland County, NY about a year and a half ago, so I have a feel for what a very hilly sixty mile day is like, but it's been a while all the same...

Anyhow, I had just talked to a guy today from my LBS who told me that he had completed more or less the same route that I am thinking about taking (ACA Atlantic Coast to Richmond VA, then Trans Am to Blue Ridge Pkwy, over the Smokeys and linking up with I 40 to cross the country.)

He told me that it's doable, and that people along the corridor anticipate cross-country cycle traffic, and that there are even periodic shelters along the road such as old campers. Does anyone here have experience with I-40 or adjacent roads?
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Old 04-13-11, 07:49 AM
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Originally Posted by thesearethesuns View Post
3. At this point I will have to find a way to cross Staten Is to enter NJ and head toward Newark (I will need help figuring this out if there is anyone with experience on this route). I suppose the ferry to Sandy Hook, NJ would be a better bet as far as skirting Metro NJ roads.

4. Then I intend to take a section of the East Coast Greenway in central Jersey, then link up to the D & R canal path to Princeton. From there I hope to link up to the ACA Atlantic Coast Route and ride down to Richmond, VA where I will stay with a friend.
There is no way off Staten Island by bike. Even if you could get across the Goethels Bridge by bike, you would like what you would find on the other side.

If you take the Delaware River arm of the D&R Canal Path from the Trenton Area north you will hit Lambertville, NJ, which is on AC's Atlantic Coast Route.

If you really want to ride from NYC, send me a private message with your email address. I have a route from Hoboken, NJ, which is served by ferry from NYC, to Lamberville. (The cue sheet is actually for the other direction, so you will have to work backwards.) It's only doable on the weekends as it goes through the Port of Elizabeth & Newark. Riding through there during the week would be suicide by truck. On the weekends, it's empty. The route goes through a few towns (e.g., Lyons and Raritan, NJ) that are served by NJT trains from NYC and/or Newark. You could take the train to avoid the urban parts of the route. From Lyons, it's about 50 miles to Lambertville. Even less (wth fewer hills) if you start in Raritan.

Last edited by indyfabz; 04-13-11 at 07:49 AM. Reason: Wrote "now way" instead of "no way."
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Old 04-13-11, 08:40 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
There is no way off Staten Island by bike. Even if you could get across the Goethels Bridge by bike, you would like what you would find on the other side.

If you take the Delaware River arm of the D&R Canal Path from the Trenton Area north you will hit Lambertville, NJ, which is on AC's Atlantic Coast Route.

.

I hear you man, I just did a car drive through this area to check it out first hand, and I would not do it. It's ugly to say the least. What I will end up doing is taking the ferry from Lower Manhattan to Sandy Hook, NJ and skirt all of the Urban NE NJ congestion. From there I will head west across the state.

I'm not sure if it would be better to ride down to ride northwest up to New Brunswick to link up to the D and R Canal Path, then onto Lambertsville, or continue down the shore to around Seaside Heights, and cut it west across the state until I get across the state to Philly. I would like to ride down the coast line as long as possible before heading toward Philly to take advantage of the scenery and ample lodging/places to camp on or near the beach if possible.

Any suggestions on that?
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Old 04-13-11, 10:13 AM
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Originally Posted by thesearethesuns View Post
I hear you man, I just did a car drive through this area to check it out first hand, and I would not do it. It's ugly to say the least. What I will end up doing is taking the ferry from Lower Manhattan to Sandy Hook, NJ and skirt all of the Urban NE NJ congestion. From there I will head west across the state.

I'm not sure if it would be better to ride down to ride northwest up to New Brunswick to link up to the D and R Canal Path, then onto Lambertsville, or continue down the shore to around Seaside Heights, and cut it west across the state until I get across the state to Philly. I would like to ride down the coast line as long as possible before heading toward Philly to take advantage of the scenery and ample lodging/places to camp on or near the beach if possible.

Any suggestions on that?
That's certainly one way to go. You could pass through Whatrton State Forest. There are several campgrounds there.

To ride into Philadelphia, you have to use either the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge or the Ben Franklin Bridge. The NJ side of the former is in a high traffic area, and the PA side is way north of the center of the city. The NJ side of the latter is in Camden, which has its own dangers caused by people and traffic, although I have navigated it several times without incident.

There is a good public transit alternative--the PATCO train between Lindenwold and Philly. The last time I rode "down the shore" as we say, I took the train from the center of the city to the Woodcrest Station and started from there. There are elevators at the 15th St. station and at the Woodcrest Station, and bikes are allowed 24/7. The platforms are level with the doors so you can roll your bike right on. Ride takes about 25 min. from Woodcrest If you can get to Hammonton, which isn't too far from Wharton State Forest, I can give you a decent route from there to Woodcrest. It's the route the giant MS fundrasing ride uses every year. Or you could ride right to Lindenwold and catch the train. Once you are in downtown Philly, you won't be that far from the path/trail system that the AC route joins.
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Old 04-13-11, 12:52 PM
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An alternate strategy may be to go north to use the ACA route and cross the Hudson River and stay north of New Jersey, then come down the Penn side of the Delaware River. It is a very pleasant ride that avoids the metro areas of NY, NJ and PA.
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Old 04-13-11, 03:45 PM
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The thing about dry runs is that the first few days are the hardest, which is all you get on a short trip. So be of good cheer.

The idea of finding a philisophical life partner making the same passages in their personal life reminds me of that movie Narural Born Killers.
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Old 04-13-11, 08:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Peterpan1 View Post
The thing about dry runs is that the first few days are the hardest, which is all you get on a short trip. So be of good cheer.
Thanks Peter Pan, sounds like sound advice!

Originally Posted by Peterpan1 View Post
The idea of finding a philisophical life partner making the same passages in their personal life reminds me of that movie Narural Born Killers.
Woah, a little intense there...
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Old 04-13-11, 08:22 PM
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Originally Posted by ClemY View Post
An alternate strategy may be to go north to use the ACA route and cross the Hudson River and stay north of New Jersey, then come down the Penn side of the Delaware River. It is a very pleasant ride that avoids the metro areas of NY, NJ and PA.
I already tried doing that with little success, because I underestimated the terrain of "Rockland" County, NY (go figure....) and I was wiped out before I even started. I headed up 9W on the NJ side toward Nyack, and made the huge mistake of making a left turn and heading westward through some extremely steep and hilly areas (there was at least one or two grades where I had to get off my bicycle and push it up hill. Not fun on the first day of a tour, with a thrown back after an earlier accident that day, and after my first 50 miles. I think that if I did continue north instead up through Harriman State Park and into the Catskills proper to meet up with the ACA Atlantic Coast route, it might have made a slight difference, although I'd rather try a different route.

This time I'd like to start out on as flat terrain as possible for as many miles as I can in order to gradually build up my stamina for steep rises (I know I'll have too once I hit the Blue Ridge Pkwy, and cross into the Smokeys.) I figure that the ferry to Sandy Hook, NJ from Manhattan, and the subsequent ride about halfway down the shore on coastal roads, then across south central NJ towards Philly, Baltimore, and Richmond VA. should do just that.

I would like to try that ride at some point though, I used to live in the Catskills near the ACA route (New Paltz) and it's very beautiful country up there all year round. The rail trails are really worth checking out in the summer and fall.
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Old 04-13-11, 08:24 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
That's certainly one way to go. You could pass through Whatrton State Forest. There are several campgrounds there.

To ride into Philadelphia, you have to use either the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge or the Ben Franklin Bridge. The NJ side of the former is in a high traffic area, and the PA side is way north of the center of the city. The NJ side of the latter is in Camden, which has its own dangers caused by people and traffic, although I have navigated it several times without incident.

There is a good public transit alternative--the PATCO train between Lindenwold and Philly. The last time I rode "down the shore" as we say, I took the train from the center of the city to the Woodcrest Station and started from there. There are elevators at the 15th St. station and at the Woodcrest Station, and bikes are allowed 24/7. The platforms are level with the doors so you can roll your bike right on. Ride takes about 25 min. from Woodcrest If you can get to Hammonton, which isn't too far from Wharton State Forest, I can give you a decent route from there to Woodcrest. It's the route the giant MS fundrasing ride uses every year. Or you could ride right to Lindenwold and catch the train. Once you are in downtown Philly, you won't be that far from the path/trail system that the AC route joins.
Thanks for all the great info man! I will definitely add your suggestions to modify my route!

Cheers!
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Old 04-14-11, 04:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Peterpan1 View Post
The thing about dry runs is that the first few days are the hardest, which is all you get on a short trip. So be of good cheer.
I tend to agree with that.

Maybe I am just weird, but short tours don't really appeal to me. I think if I had started with some short tours I may have lost interest in touring pretty quickly. Ten days is about as short as I think I want to do. I might go shorter to tour with someone I really want to tour with, but otherwise probably not.
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