With the conclusion of Vision Quest 2012, my thoughts and actions related to human powered travel have turned to The Big One, the monster tour that lurks in our future, creeps into our thoughts, our dreams, our wallets. Our goal, which I may have mentioned before, is to load Jodi, me, the hound Django, two trikes, a trailer, and touring gear into a one-way rental van and maroon ourselves in the wilds of Canada. Then over the next four months we will struggle south, crossing, recrossing and crisscrossing the Continental Divide many times down to Silver City, New Mexico. Then we will turn west and cross the Sonoran and Mojave deserts to get home. Most of the route will be paved, but we've worked in a couple of significant dirt road passages through the Colorado Rockies, including one pass over 12,000 ft., which will be the high point of the tour for sure. In 2007 when I did my solo cross country tour, the original plan had been to do it as a couple, but Jodi's career was heating up, and she had work to do. Now we're taking this big leap together. Based on my research so far and what I already know about the route, this may turn out to be the finest of all possible north American tours. Don't get me wrong. There are many beautiful parts of the country, but week upon week of corn and soy in the Midwest gets mighty old, and the climate in the East can quite challenging--humidity, hurricanes, you name it. This tour (see map links below) will involve mountain touring for the majority of its length and then some fine desert riding for the last few weeks. Unlike my cross country adventure, the bulk of the riding for this tour will be in remote, lightly populated areas, so much of the camping will be wild and free--our favorite. We've been working on gear selection, mapping, logistics, and most of the entries in the coming weeks (with a few exceptions) will deal with preparations for this big tour.
We're veterans of this kind of trek, but we're still anxious, uncertain, keyed up, ready to go. There's so much to do. Some of the biggest concerns have already been worked out. We've got a house sitter for the duration of the tour--hallelujah! We've worked out a landscape maintenance guy. We've put in the request for passport cards--for freakin' Canada, eh! Some of the bill paying still needs to be ironed out, although most of our financial stuff we already handle online. Perhaps the biggest hassle will be arranging for proper doggie chow along the way. It's not a good idea to shift and switch dog food, and it's often hard if not impossible to find small bags for a medium sized hound. To solve this problem, I'm drinking 12 -packs of excellent lager and ale! Well, the brew has its own intrinsic value, of course, but the boxes that the bottled brew is packed in are going to serve as shipping containers for dog food and extra goodies for the human trike motors. For the tour, for us, for our fine furry friend, no sacrifice is too great. I must soldier on.... We'll pack each box with two weeks worth of kibbles, which weigh in at 6 lbs. When we find we're getting close to running out, we'll have our house sitter or someone else drop ship another box general delivery to the next appropriate town on the route.
Here are some maps of the route. Although some details may be out of whack, these cover much of the route:
Length: 3,323 miles, give or take.
Elevation gain: 184,000 ft., give or take.
As I said, DAMN!
The main routing question I need to answer at this point is navigating the wilds of Phoenix. Adventure Cycling takes a straight forward but very tedious approach by picking up Hwy 60. We drove this section last winter--no freakin' thank you, freakin' thank you. So I've got some homework to do. The Phoenix basin as a vast array of bike paths, which we may use. Or, as mapped here, there may be a workaround. We have options, which is the main thing.
Time is critical on this tour. We need to clear the highest passes before major snow but be in the deserts late enough so that we can ride without baking us or Django. I think hitting the low desert starting in November should do the trick, and that's our aim.
Stay tuned for more developments, gear debates and analysis, the works!