planning the route

We knew we wanted to use a route from Adventure Cycling Association, as their maps have excellent reputations (and they are the only set of maps that we knew of…).


The routes are carefully planned with cyclists in mind, and every set of maps includes a feedback card to send back to them so that they can edit the maps – they also attach addenda with the maps to reflect recent changes. The maps have markings for campgrounds, hotels, bike shops, restaurants, grocery stores (or convenience stores) and libraries, making them quite complete for cyclists like us.

ACA has many routes in the US, with three to choose from for crossing the entire country. Cycling during the summer, and being relatively heat-averse, the Northern Tier was an easy choice. We’ll start in Anacortes, WA, and finish in Bar Harbor, ME. Further driving our route northward, we also chose to go through the Great Lakes rather than under them, using the North Lakes and Lake Erie Connector routes. This choice was mainly in the hopes that the temperatures would be a bit cooler, and also making the assumption that riding through northern Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ontario might offer more varied riding than Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio.

This is our first time touring with such a complete set of directions. It’s also our first time touring with smart phones, which should help — whenever we have cellular service, anyway. Given the options along this route, our trip should be around 4,000 miles. We’re planning on taking 8-9 weeks, with one day off per week, making that an average of about 74 miles per day.

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