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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Big Announcement!

If you squint real hard, you can see Mt. St. Helens in the background.
Alright, alright, it's been long enough.  The suspense is probably killing poor Paddy Anne!

I've been alluding to "something big on the horizon" for the last couple months.  I've been talking about the need to save some money.  I'm talking about selling my beloved Centurion.  Heck, I'm quitting my job.

So what the heck is going on?

Well, first I can tell you it is NOT one of these scenarios:
  • April and I are getting married. Or divorced.
  • April's pregnant.
  • I'm pregnant.
  • I/we're buying a house.
Nope, none of those.
So what is it?

APRIL AND I ARE BIKING ACROSS THE CONTINENT THIS SUMMER!

Yep, come Memorial Day, we'll be departing our beloved Portland for several months and aiming (generally) eastward across the continent!  Yes, we will be returning to Portland, but not until fall.

Why?  Well, I've been wanting to do something like this for awhile.  I almost attempted to pull a smaller-scale version of this last year, but life got in the way.  I think it's inevitable for the amount of touring I've done in the past six years to want to accomplish a cross-continent tour!  Plus, I wanted to check out some interesting places along the way, some I've been to before, some I haven't.  

The tour is also part of a grand project/idea I've been mulling about for a few years.  I want to record "bike culture" in various cities and locales across the United States and Canada.  Not only do we plan on blogging about it, but I want to make a book-type-thing afterwards!

Where?  
I'm going to draw up a fancier map soon, but here's a rough outline of the route.  
  • First, due north to Vancouver to enjoy a few days of Velopalooza!  We'll pass through Seattle, Tacoma, and Bellingham, and do a little island hopping with Vashon, Whidbey, and Fidalgo Islands.
  • Then back southward where we'll catch Adventure Cycling's Nothern Tier route east over the Cascades (at North Cascades National Park) into eastern Washington State, then drop south to Spokane.
  • From there, through the Idaho panhandle to Missoula, Montana, Adventure Cycling's HQ.
  • Then north for the "Grand Parks" series: Glacier (Montana), Banff (Alberta, Canada) and Jasper (Alberta), while swinging through Calgary en route. We will probably cross the Continental Divide a few times en route.
  • Then eastward across the Canadian Praries, doing a grand tour of Edmonton (Alberta), Saskatoon and Regina (Saskatchewan), and Winnipeg (Manitoba).
  • Dipping south again into the States for the Upper Midwest portion.  Fargo, North Dakota, Duluth, Minnesota, and Minneapolis, and all the way south along the Mississippi to Iowa City!
  • Now east again through Illinois to Chicago, then Indiana to possibly Fort Wayne, and down to Columbus, Ohio.
  • Eastward to Pittsburgh. From there we'll use two great bike paths, the Great Allegheny Passage and the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal all the way into Washington, DC!
  • Now northward along the Eastern Seaboard, hitting up the big players Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York.
  • Now northeastward into Connecticut, the home state!  I want to spend some time showing April where I'm from (which won't take long since CT is so small!) From there we'll meaner to Boston, possibly hitting up Northampton, Mass. in the process!
  • From Boston a north-northwesterly direction towards Montreal, passing through New Hampshire and Vermont along the way.
  • Montreal! Now it's time to head east along the beautiful St-Laurent to Quebec City and then cross through New Brunswick to get to the easternmost point, Halifax, Nova Scotia! And the end of the bike tour.  (We'll take the train back to Portland, probably hitting up Ottawa and Toronto along the way.)
I just got exhausted typing the itinerary!  And I feel crazy: Are we really going to attempt this?  Will we pull it off?  We hope so!

I will be talking more (lots more) about this trip in the coming two months before departure, going into more detail.

Would you like to help us out on this crazy quest?  Well, here's how!
  • Buy my stuff!  I will be setting up a sale on the goods I have very soon. In the meantime, check out the Catalog page.
  • Donate money!  We'll be setting up Paypal "donate" buttons soon, though I'd be willing to accept a good old-fashioned check in the mail.
  • Host us along our route!  We'll be staying at a mix of campgrounds, hostels, friend's homes, and Warmshowers hosts along the way, but we can always use a hand here.  Lodging is the biggest expense of a tour besides food.  Giving us a spot to sleep for a night or two will help alleviate this, plus we love staying with interesting folks whenever we can.
  • Give us info!  We want to check out as many cool things as possible along the way, whether it be natural splendour, cool bike shops, interesting bicycle events, people doing good things involving bicycles, you know what we mean. I've been doing as much research as possible, but can always use more advice.
  • Ride with us!  If you feel like spending a day or two or even more bicycle touring with us, please let us know.
Well, this is going to be an interesting year, and in turn, an interesting blog!  Hope you enjoy the ride!

27 comments:

  1. Man, that's cool! I finally get to follow somebody's blog BEFORE they leave on their cross-country journey. I'm happy for you guys.

    Let me know as soon as you get your Paypal account going.

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  2. WOOT!

    Well you know when you get to Saskatoon there'll be comfy couches, warm showers and hot meals waiting for you!

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  3. Rad guys, that's exciting! Once you get your route figured, I may have some places to stay in Duluth or the UP if you go that way.

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  4. Rat Trap--Thanks! Hopefully this week or next week for PayPal.

    Tim--Cool! Looking forward to hitting up Saskatoon. Do you know any good biking routes into Saskatoon (from Edmonton) and out (towards Regina)? The few cross-Canada bike tour routes I saw all stick to the south and miss Jasper, Edmonton, and Saskatoon.

    Gabe--Thanks for the the hookups! And how come I didn't realize you had a blog (though I should have figured)?

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  5. That sounds like a lot of fun, if not a little jig-jaggy/back-and-forthy! I'm impressed with the distances you guys are intending to cover for the amount of time you want to take to complete it. For me, I would need like 2 years to do all that in. (..unless I snuck in a few bus and amtrak lifts along the way!) While in Vanc. we'll have to meet up. Let me know how the accommodations for Vanc. are looking; with a 1 bedroom condo going thru reno's at that time I can't promise our couch, but I have some ideas. :)

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  6. PaddyAnne--Yeah, it's a bit of a meander that we do on the route! Hopefully we'll be able to tackle it all, and not bite off more than we can chew. I figure if push comes to shove, we can hop on the train or something to cover some distance.

    And we should definitely meet up when we get to Vancouver!

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  7. Wow! That trip sounds ambitious and exciting. You'll certainly see a great variety of North American terrain as well as culture en route. Plus, I'd be very interested in your comparisons of bike culture in different places.

    Let me know when you're in the NYC area. If I'm not away, you can spend a night or two with me, as long as you don't mind cats!

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  8. Shawn, that is EPIC! I'm inspired just reading the general itinerary. I plan to self-propel across in either 2012 or 2013, though probably a straighter shot.

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  9. It sounds like an awesome trip! I wish you well and look forward to reading your blog.

    My tip for Montreal is to stop at Chateau du Bagel for bagels. They are best ever (don't let any New Yorker tell you otherwise!)

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  10. Vespabelle--Thanks! Never heard of Chateau du Bagel, but we'll try it out. I've hit up the two bagel biggies of Montreal, St. Viateur and Fairmount (sort of the Pepe's/Sally's equivalent.) Guessing Chateau would fit into the "Modern" role.

    You'll only get that if you are from New Haven.

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  11. That's fantastic news, have a wonderful time! Bicycle touring with my 'co-habitant' is my dream and we're really-really going to try and make it happen this summer. Not across the continent, but perhaps across New England and into Canada.

    Please keep us updated with further developments; looking forward to reading all about it.

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  12. i am so excited for you and april! i will be supporting you along the way and i'm am ever grateful for your support as well. this is a great challenge for you both and i'm excited to follow your guys' journey.

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  13. Velouria--Cool! We should be out "that way" on this tour. It's been a long time since I've been to Boston. Too long! Touring New England should be fun.

    Citygirlrides--Thanks! And have fun with your touring adventures this spring!

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  14. This sounds amazing! Sooo many amazing places to visit, I cannot wait to follow along on your blog. I see that you have Iowa City on the itinarary - if you guys make it a little more West to Ames, we'd love to offer you lodging and a home cooked meal. Good luck with all the preparations and enjoy the journey!

    S.

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  15. Simply--Cool! Ames...hmm. Maybe? (I had a roommate from there once.) It could be a possibility. Thanks for the offer!

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  16. Keith (The Raving Bike Fiend)Thursday, March 31, 2011 at 10:42:00 PM PDT

    You guys know that when you hit Edmonton you will have to stop for a few days... June is bike month here and the greatest of bike culture this side of Portland.

    Will see what I can do to find you a restful space here as my place is a little cramped but the shop is all yours if you need to tune things up.

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  17. Keith--You know we're going to spend a few days in Edmonton, fer shure! It won't be until July that we'll be coming through. You still going to be around?

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  18. How exciting! This looks like a crazy, amazing, life-changing adventure. I'll miss you guys, and wonder how Pedalpalooza will happen without you.

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  19. Ooooo! Very much fun! Come visit up here! We don't have spare bedrooms, but we have much tent room and showers galore :). We would love to have you here, and I'd be happy to ride with you for part of the way if I can. Fun!!!! I'm very, very jealous.

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  20. Snarkypup--Cool! I don't know where exactly you are in regards to our Seattle routing. We were planning on coming into town via Vashon, and then heading north to Mulkilteo where we'd ferry over to Whidbey.

    Drop me a line at
    urbanadventureleague (at) gmail (dot) com

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  21. Your trip sounds amazing! We will certainly have space for you here and Tim makes great pizza!

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  22. wow! A bit late, but AMAZING!!! Look forward to follow your cycling adventure! :)

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  23. Shawn and April, I just read this post. Please contact me when you reach NH. I will gladly support you in anyway I can: meals, showers, etc...

    Sue

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  24. Amanda--Look forward to your hospitality and Tim's pizza!

    Naturally--Cool! We hope to have lots of interesting blog posts in the coming months.

    Sue--Great! We are definitely passing through New Hampshire. Are you southern NH, like around Nashua? Drop me a line if you can:
    urbanadventureleague (at) gmail (dot) com

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