Point Made – The Great Allegheny Passage completes its journey

By Adam Newman and Jon Pratt

We’ve written about the Great Allegheny Passage trail a number of times, after all, it’s right in our own backyard (read some here and here). This past weekend the GAP celebrated its completion, connecting downtown Pittsburgh to Cumberland, Maryland, and beyond to Washington D.C. via the C&O Canal Towpath.

The trail was, of course, once a railroad, but when it was sold by the Western Maryland Railroad in the 1970s, new ideas began to sprout. The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy purchased a 26-mile stretch of railroad between Connellsville and Confluence in 1978. The 9-mile trail from Ohiopyle to Ramcat opened in 1986. People loved it. By 2001 the corridor had an official name: The Great Allegheny Passage. 

Countless individuals and several local advocacy groups and sponsors along the corridor have worked for more than three decades to make it happen, and finally on June 15, 2013, the trail reached Point State Park in downtown Pittsburgh. 

To celebrate, Bicycle Times photographer Jon Pratt made the trek from Washington to Pittsburgh and documented his journey: 

 

The Great Falls On The Potomac River, 15 Miles Outside Of Washington, D.C.

 

The Desert Rose Cafe in Williamsport, Maryland, is a great, bicycle-friendly place to grab a bite to eat. We were happy to get out of the rain and mud.

The Paw Paw Tunnel is one of the most famous, and darkest, spots along the C&O Canal Towpath. 

In Cumberland, Maryland, the C&O Canal ends and the Great Allegheny Passage begins.

 

After the more than 20 mile climb out of Cumberland, you’re rewarded with spectacular views from Big Savage Mountain.

It’s nice to know it’s all downhill from here!

Crossing the Salisbury Viaduct—1,908 feet spanning the Casselman River Valley outside Meyersdale, Pa.

 

Naturally we stopped at the Wilderness Voyageurs’ Beer And Gear Festival In Ohiopyle, Pa.

The Roundbottom Campground has plenty of trees for hammocks, and even a few shelters to sleep in.

 

The final stretch that needed attention was a few hundred yards near the Sandcastle water park. Now it is paved and the point is made! 

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San Francisco Bicycle Music Festival rolls into Golden Gate Park

The San Francisco Bicycle Music Festival—the original and world’s largest bicycle music festival—happens Saturday June 22, 2013, from noon to 5 p.m. at Pioneer Log Cabin Meadow in Golden Gate Park.

Our LiveOnBike music bike parade will commence at 5:00pm, en-route to 22nd and Bartlett Streets where the party continues until 9pm.

The San Francisco Bicycle Music Festival is a free, all-day, all-ages, outdoor concert featuring musical acts from around the Bay Area.The Festival champions bicycle mobility, audience participation, and zero use of fossil fuels.

Although this is a completely free event, the bands are paid in part by cash donations. We suggest attendees bring cash to support the bands.

All amplification for the music is Pedal Powered, meaning that the audience generates electricity for the sound system by pedaling bicycles in equipment provided by Rock The Bike. Every material aspect of the Festival–sound equipment, instruments, gear, personnel, musicians, and fans–is transported by bicycle.

New this year: 

  • Night Venue in a bustling block in the Mission, the same location as the Thursday Night Farmer’s Market. (22nd & Bartlett)
  • Our Biggest LiveOnBike ride ever, possibly reaching 1,000 cyclists, enjoying a mobile performance from an 8-foot wide Mobile Stage, and amplified by speakers strapped to bikes and connected wirelessly.
  • True concert grade sound, including a new Line Array and a new subwoofer along with other new audio tools like better mics. It’ll be the World’s largest Human-Powered concert. History in the making!
  • The biggest Pedal Power effort ever, with 25 efficient generator bikes—one 16 feet tall, some sized small enough for 7-year-olds, some ridden in by musicians performing at the festival, so the vision of true community-powered all-day music festival can be achieved.
  • The first time featuring an internationally prominent environmentalist / thought leader on the mic, Bill McKibben of 350.org. With Carbon in the atmosphere passing 400 PPM, his message has never been more needed.
  • Refresh with bike-blended smoothies and pedal-churned ice cream at Golden Gate Park, and at the evening venue, enjoy local, hot, delicious fare from the Mission Community Market–all while checking out some amazing local music.
  • The LiveOnBike Mobile Stage allows small acts to face a rolling audience of hundreds.

Line Up: Laurie Lewis & the Right Hands, Bill McKibben of 350.org, Quinn DeVeaux & the Blue Beat Review, The Seshen, Classical Revolution, Earth Amplified, DJ Real and more. LiveOnBike performance by Jason Brock of TV’s The X-Factor.

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Nutcase Helmets welcomes guests to Cyclepedia exhibit in Portland

Everyone knows Portland is one of the top biking cities in the U.S., which is why it’s the perfect place for Nutcase Helmets to call home. Now through September 8, the Portland Art Museum (PAM) is teaming up with Nutcase to open their latest exhibit, Cyclepedia.

Portlanders and museumgoers can get a preview of the special exhibition by visiting the entrance of the PAM where the 475 donated colorful and original Nutcase Helmets currently are displayed. Included are some of Nutcase’s most well-known and iconic helmets like Dazed and Amused, Daisy Stripe, Got Luck? and Glo-Brain. 

The Cyclepedia exhibit features 40 bikes from the collection of world-renowned bicycle designer and aficionado, Michael Embacher. Each bike was chosen by Embacher as examples of pivotal moments in the evolution of bicycle design. The exhibition will include racing, mountain, single speed, touring, tandem, urban, folding, cargo, curiosities, and children’s bicycles.

Cyclepedia is the third entry in the Museum’s design-oriented exhibition series. Preceded by China Design Now and the Allure of the Automobile, the exhibition will be accompanied by a full-color publication described by the London Sunday Times as the most comprehensive and visually satisfying book of bicycle portraits ever published; and an iPad App, rated App of the Week in the UK iTunes store.

Related programming will include public workshops, tours and lectures showcasing Portland’s internationally recognized community of bicycle designers and builders.

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On the (bumpy) road of Trans Iowa

By Jeremy Kershaw

The Trans Iowa is many different things. Speaking for myself, but I think many would agree, the race is a once-a-season phenomenon. It is a marker by which the rest of the year is gauged. You are either preparing for the T.I. or recovering from it… physically and emotionally. The high that I received from finishing last year endured many months afterward. This year, I will try to roll away optimistic, philosophical, but also more than a little disappointed. To me, that shows the gravity of this wild gravel race across Iowa farmland.

The wonder of the T.I. lies in the many different parts that build the whole of the event. There are the obvious: months and miles of base hopefully laid down beforehand. In the Northland, that means hours spent riding cold, wet and often snowy conditions in order to gain a little spring time endurance fitness, or worse, more-than-I-can-remember spins on the indoor trainer watching cartoons so that I could pretend I was kind of parenting and training at the same time.

Then there is the bike prep. This year, that meant endless emails to fellow singlespeed racers trying to guess as to what would be the best gear ratio for such a long race and exceptionally hilly one at that. Going singlespeed represented to me an analogy similar to mountain climbing high peaks without oxygen. Why not up it a notch, the already crazy challenge, into the just plain insane? I chose a 40×19 gear this year. It was probably as near to perfect as I could hope for.

There is the palpable sense of togetherness at the dinner the night before the race. So many genuinely good people about to share in an adventure that will test everyone of them to their limits.

Laying in the hotel bed the night before, watching the Weather Channel or The Simpsons, knowing full well that you have to be awake and ready to go by 2 a.m. That mix of fear and excitement makes for an extremely fitful few hours of rest.

Then, 90 riders, all with their white headlights and red flashing taillights on, huddle together at the start line in downtown Grinnell. Guitar Ted informs us of last minute changes. Confident handshakes and words of encouragement as brakes are tested, computers zeroed-out and tired eyes look blankly ahead into the darkness.

For about a mile, even the slowest rider can be up front, leading the pack through the first few turns out of town. You feel like a real bike racer. Hell, I can win this thing if I really had a good day!

The first crunch of limestone rock under the tires. A few unsecured water bottles already fly into the ditch. Many riders are very experienced with the jolt that riding "gravel" induces on the bike and the body. A few are already suffering the cruel facts of life on these rough farm roads. Too much air pressure in the tires equals exceptionally squirrely handling. Too little, and you risk suffering a pinch flat. Just right means a compromise between some form of air comfort and a rim dinged from tennis ball sized rock.

A quick look back and you realize that the race is on. A long string of lights rattling through the predawn darkness. In only minutes, though, I find myself in my own little pocket of speed. How is it possible that no one else is going the same pace as me? I know this will change as the day goes on. Alliances will be forged. New friendships made. But for now, quiet time, alone and many many miles to go.

Frogs. Lots and lots of frogs doing their spring chorus from the roadside ditches and marshes. If there is one thing I love about riding in the wee hours of the morning and night it is the sounds of birds and frogs. I never feel lonely when I hear them. I remember two years ago walking along a ditch of a "B" road ("unmaintained"), shoes filled with mud, grass and water, bike caked with ten pounds of Iowa’s finest black dirt, headlamps turned on trying to see through the foggy darkness of predawn. And the chorus of frogs was the only soundtrack supporting this scene of chaos. Millions of them. I wonder if anyone else noticed. How lucky we all were to be out there covered in shit, serenaded by amphibian music.

 

This year, we are graced by a nearly full moon preparing to set, sheets of early morning fog hanging over the low-lands, and a sun just dying to rise on a rare, clear Iowa countryside. I have my small camera along, tucked in my jersey pocket. I nearly die from the missed opportunities of images that I could have captured only if I had stopped and taken the time to shoot. It is a dream landscape. A scene where a thousand pictures could be made, ready for local bank calenders, chamber of commerce flyers, and stock photo galleries to showcase the pastoral beauty of rural Iowa. It was one of those mornings that I will remember for the rest of my life.

Huh…I’m still by myself. That’s OK. I don’t want to have to worry about going too fast right now anyway.

The first checkpoint. On these long races, you have to force yourself to ride checkpoint to checkpoint. It’s just too long otherwise. The T.I. racers are lucky to have some of the best volunteers in cycling. After my first 50 miles of alone time, it’s nice to see people again. Shed layers. Remove gravel from socks. Stretch. Swap out a fresh bag of cue cards. Clip in and go again.

Cue cards. An icon for these gravel races. Count them. Make sure they are all there. Without them, you are one turned around fool in farmland. I race to checkpoints, but I really race to the bottom of a cue card. A small victory every time you get to the last turn of the card and flip a new on top. A huge victory when you see you are on your last one.

Convenience stores. In this edition of the T.I., that meant Casey’s General Stores. Now, I love the science of sports nutrition and endurance physiology, and there have been tremendous strides taken in educating the average cyclist about what to eat and when, but I am seriously waiting for someone to write a manual on how real gravel endurance cyclists eat. It ain’t by the book.

Pizza slices? No problem. Coca Cola? Sure. Cinnamon rolls, Cheeze-it’s, Hot Tomales, chocolate milk, Peanut Nut Rolls…if you can keep it down then you win the game of ultra nutrition. A convenient store on course is like a little Christmas every 60 miles. A time to eat, socialize, stare blankly out into space while stuffing a bag of chips in your face. And lots of very friendly old farmers wondering where you are going and why you are going by gravel road instead of by Pontiac.

Back on the road, after a stop, there is a small period of re-acclimation. There is never the ability to replace what you are burning in calories. But for about 15 minutes, you have a vague feeling that you should not have eaten that last fruit pie. 

Time to think. About important life decisions. Hours to re-plan your life and make mental check lists of things you are going to change when you get home. Actually, that’s kind of bullshit. Really, it’s some damn cartoon song that is stuck on repeat in your head. Dora the Explorer must DIE!

At mile 120 my butt begins to feel a bit chafed. Nothing serious. I wonder about about other rider’s butts. Does anyone really escape this thing without undercarriage damage? Does anyone really have the perfect saddle? Except for those fools riding their precious Brooks antiques. (I actually covet one and I think they may be the ONLY ones with intact butts at the end of the T.I.)

At mile 160 I feel the first and maybe the most ominous sign of bodily frailty. Rather out of nowhere, my left knee feels weak while standing on a climb. Then, a few miles down the road, both my knees feel weak while riding the flats. I think it will go away. But deep down I know this is not good—especially with no other lower gears to fall into.

Really? Still alone? I could have sworn there were other riders this year…

If I were a mathematician, I would probably win the Nobel Prize. Why? For naming the phenomenon that exists when you realize that your diminishing speed, coupled with a distance less than 10 miles, will always mean that it will take a half hour to reach the final checkpoint. I think there are probably still a few riders trapped out there in this black hole of time-space-cornfield.

The call of shame. It is both a curse and a blessing to have a Casey’s store only a couple of miles from the last checkpoint. For sure it represents an oasis in which to re-fuel and warm up. (This one looked like a cross between a bike swap and a homeless shelter. I think I watched a man fully change kits at the end of the candy aisle) It is also a spider web of defeat to those that get trapped within the sticky grasp of more pizza, bright lights and a place where your support crew might be able to find you.

I called Guitar Ted and informed him that I was done. I paced the sidewalk for a good 20 minutes before dialing the number. There followed an acute feeling of disappointment. Failure. A general sense of "what does it all mean". And a fleeting wave of relief.

This year I stopped riding at mile mark 180. I had ridden alone for nearly all of the 15 hours I was in the saddle. I chose to go singlespeed this year. The muscles surrounding both my knees, ten miles before the last checkpoint at mile 170, simply started to fatigue to the point that I couldn’t stand and pedal without a sense of impending buckling. I just couldn’t see making another 150 miles. So I called in and ended my bid for a second T.I. finish.

The importance of races of this grandeur can not be minimized. The Trans Iowa is a study in perseverance. Endurance. Cycling community. Hope. Breakdown. And a dusty stage to act out one’s own dreams of being a gravel god(ess).

Thank you, Guitar Ted, for creating and producing the Trans Iowa.

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Gravel racing: A look at my Dirty Kanza 200 weapon

Editor’s note: This story is a cross-post from our sister magazine, Dirt Rag. This weekend riders from across the country will converge on the Flint Hills of Kansas to tackle the Dirty Kanza 200, one of the premiere events in the burgeoning gravel racing scene. 

By Mike Cushionbury

Gravel road racing is filled with innovations and inventions. Bikes range from road to cyclocross to full-on Frankenbikes cobbled together from a mix of road, cross, touring and mountain bike parts. As a mountain bike racer and first-time DK200 competitor I momentarily considered setting up my 29er cross-country race bike for the task late last year but further consideration led me towards my cyclocross bike—namely a 2013 Cannondale SuperX Disc—with the goal of keeping it as simple and familiar as possible.

I knew for sure a Frankenbike was not the answer. I didn’t want to gamble with a cumbersome bike I wasn’t used to. I also wanted something I could consistently train on, making sure my position was completely dialed. In February, after ‘cross season, I set up my SuperX with the exact same measurements as my road bike, a professionally fitted position I’ve had for as long as I can remember. My saddle height, reach and stem length are all exactly the same on both bikes.

I also chose the same model Fizik Areone saddle (that’s well broken in by now) and same crank arm lengths (being a mountain biker I use long-ish 175mm on the road for consistency.) Once everything was set I put road tires on and used this rig as my road bike, compiling as many miles as I could to make sure the bike and my position was deeply burned into my muscle memory and as comfortable as possible.

Frame

The SuperX’s carbon frame is lighter than many road bike frames and with SAVE seat and chain stays it’s compliant and forgiving over rough terrain. It is truly an elite level ‘cross bike that performs like a refined road bike with snappy acceleration and geometry suited to longer road races opposed to crit-style racing—just the ticket for DK. Front and rear disc brakes insure precise stopping will never be an issue.

 

Build

Nothing too radical for parts save for some drivetrain adjustments. I choose a short reach Ritchey WCS Curve carbon fiber handlebar and WCS 4-Axis stem for ultra lightweight and reliability. I also went with a bump absorbing Ritchey WCS Carbon Flexlogic Link seatpost. The post’s carbon layup provides a claimed 15-percent increase in vertical compliancy compared to standard posts without giving up any lateral or torsional stiffness. For a little extra comfort I double wrapped the top of the bars since this is where I will mostly be, not down in the drops.

Shifters and front derailleur are standard SRAM Force. For the road I used a Force rear derailleur, SRAM Red 11/26 cassette and Cannondale Si 53/39 crankset. Because 200 miles is, well, 200 miles, I wanted extra low gearing for the later hours of the race. I switched out the rear derailleur for a SRAM XX mountain unit and matched that to an XX 11/32 cassette. I also geared down the front with an FSA K-Force compact crank and 50/34-chainring combo.

This is a set-up I successfully used at last year’s Iron Cross race so I’m already comfortable with it. I’ll be using Shimano XTR Race pedals and mountain bike shoes because I believe top-level mountain bike shoes, though they do have very stiff carbon soles, vibrate less over such harsh roads. Super stiff road shoes could lead to early foot numbness and fatigue.

Wheels and tires

Wheel selection was simple; I’m using the same NoTubes Alpha 340 Team road wheelset I’ve been on all winter—simple, light and ultra reliable. Initially I was going to use a NoTubes ZTR Crest mountain bike wheelset to widen the tire’s contact patch but tire installation proved difficult due to the increased rim width (something I didn’t want to deal with in Kansas.)

My tire choice was simple as well: Challenge Almanzo’s. These super-durable, 360-gram, 700x30mm tires are specifically designed for gravel road racing. They roll very fast and utilize a special Puncture Protection System belt between the casing and belt—perfect for the spiky rocks on the roads around the Flint Hills.

Accessories

Since I’m not much of a water pack wearer, I plan on going with two bottles on the bike and one in my pocket—three bottles per 50 miles to each checkpoint where I’ll have a drop bag loaded with supplies including real food like sardines, pepperoni sandwiches, black licorice and of course drink mix and bottles. If I stay on point of not using a water pack I’ll add a large seat bag with three tubes, a multi tool with a chain breaker, two quick links, a few links of chain, electrical tape and a tire boot. I also have a Lezyne mini-pump secured to the bike. As a precaution, I’ll have a full water pack in my drop bag at the midpoint checkpoint.

Veterans of the race may think I’m gambling by going minimalist but when I built up my bike for this mammoth event I went with what I know and am comfortable with. It’s a roll of the dice I’m willing to take.

Dirty Kanza is Saturday, June 1 in the Flint Hills region of east-central Kansas. Go to dirtykanza200.com for more info.

Keep reading

For more on the Dirty Kanza 200, check out our race report from last year, and see how other riders set up their rigs

 

 

 

 

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Stop by the Rivendell pop-up store in San Francisco next week

Rivendell Bicycle Works is opening a pop-up in San Francisco’s Mission District near Shotwell and just three blocks from the 24th and Mission BART Station.

There will be several Rivendell bikes to see and touch, art from the Rivendell showroom in Walnut Creek, plus bags and handlebars, some free schwag, brochures, coupons, a secret ‘have-to-be-there-to-get-it’ super deal, small items for sale, and discounted posters.

No test rides, sorry. Although the big honkin’ 71cm Homer will be there for riders in the ‘Century Club’ only (if your pubic bone height is 100cm or higher).

Word is there’s an espresso machine, and Rich Lesnik himself will be building wheels while you watch!

Opening day is noon on Saturday, June 1. At 5 p.m. Saturday there will be something special—a giveaway perhaps? Hmm….

There are parking meters along the sidewalk for blocks so there’s plenty of bike parking. FYI: the road between BART and Shotwell on 24th is under construction. Good luck parking a car!

Rivendell Bicycle Works SF

Some thoughts from Grant Petersen, Rivendell founder and owner

What prompted Rivendell to open a pop-up in the Mission District?

We now have several tattoo’d staffers, and thought ‘Hey! they’d be perfect for a pop-up.’ John found it, talked to Dave; I’m just going along.

What can people expect to experience when they, visit the 24th Street location in early June?

Bikes, bags, hatchets that you can’t try out, clothing. Posters on the walls. We may get a lug mobile together by then. Background music (Swedish jazz). I’d like to have a fashion show, but.. no access to models.

Think RBW might open something permanent in SF?

Probably not right away, but we’re looking into an Alamo store, and if that isn’t a money pit, if we can work out some bugs in it, we’d look at other locations. The tough part is staffing it. We don’t want "regular" people.

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Bicycle Times Issue #23 is on its way!

By Karen Brooks

Issue #23 is here! This time around, we’ve decided to tackle a subject that most of the rest of the bike media is somewhat obsessed with: the Tour de France. But we’re doing it in our own style, from the perspective of interested spectators, rather than from the viewpoint that racing is what road riding is all about.

We also asked our Publisher, Maurice Tierney, to further explain our feelings on the bike industry’s emphasis on pro road racing (in the Big Cheese’s uniquely outspoken style, of course). 

Letter from the Publisher

To hell with pro cycling! It’s the epitome of everything wrong with this thing we love, riding bikes! I am really sick of it. Not only does pro racing support cheating, doping primadonnas, but it’s just not what people generally do on bikes! That’s why we started Bicycle Times.

How many people have been turned off by the expensive, delicate, uncomfortable bikes that this paradigm tells us we need to ride? All bent-over, dressed in some glaringly ugly skinsuit, head down against the wind, not seeing the world around you. Aspiring to be something you’re not.

I’m sick of watching the bicycle industry keep buying into this “Race on Sunday, sell on Monday” marketing scheme. Tons of dollars spent on something that almost no one does. Yeah, some companies “get it”—you can see them in the pages of this magazine.

The right thing to do would be to spend this racing money on advocating for a bike-friendly world, thus making our lives better and curing some doper of his habit at the same time.

Have I got your attention? Any buttons pushed?

Of course we have a place in our hearts for racing. Despite the current doping debacle, the history, traditions and drama of pro cycling events like the Tour de France are worth enjoying. En-joy-ing. Joy! We enjoy it, so we’re writing about it.

But we want to change the overall narrative.

To a narrative of fun! Joy! Diversity! Comfort! Inclusion! Bikes are such a positive force in the world, and the media—that’s us—needs to reflect this.

So while you’re reading our pieces on the Tour and how to watch it, let’s think about some other things…

That bicycles are the antidote to many, if not all, of the world’s problems.

That a sustainable community is going to be a pedal-powered community, and a happy community.

That biking people are healthy people.

And that biking stands for fitness, freedom, and FUN!

– Maurice Tierney, Publisher, Rotating Mass Media

What’s inside

 

Features

The 100th Tour de France, by Gary Boulanger

The Super Bowl of cycling is happening for the 100th time this July! We decided to delve into the history and the inner workings of this grand spectacle.

 

 

Your Own Tour de France Experience, By Jeff Lockwood

Want to see La Grande Boucle up close? Here are some pointers for turning it into a great bike-themed vacation.

 

 

The Secret Kings of the Cape Cod Canal, by Jonathan Wolan

A royal band of outdoorsmen use custom-rigged bikes in their hunt for striped bass and glory.

 

 

Interview: Nate Query of the Decemberists

Bass player and bike rider Nate Query tells about his favorite rides, and why he’d never want to combine bike and band touring.

 

 

Reviews

  • Dahon Formula S18 folding bike
  • Raleigh Misceo Trail 2.0
  • Specialized Tricross Elite Steel Disc Triple
  • Westcomb and Showers Pass jackets
  • Giro New Road shirt
  • Geax, Challenge and Vittoria tires
  • Packs from North St. Bags, Blackburn, Boreas, Osprey and Shimano
  • And more! 
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Changes bring U.S. Bicycle Route System to 5,616 miles

By adding a new section of U.S. Bicycle Route 45 in Minnesota, Route 76 in Missouri, and realignments for Route 76 in Kentucky, the U.S. Bicycle Route System now encompasses 5,616 miles of official routes in 10 states. The changes were announced today by the Adventure Cycling Association and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).

The routes are currently found in Alaska, Kentucky, Illinois, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Virginia. Presently, more than 40 states are working to create U.S. Bicycle Routes.

Minnesota: U.S. Bicycle Route 45

With the completion of the middle section through Minneapolis and St. Paul, U.S. Bicycle Route (USBR) 45 now runs the entire length of the Mississippi River in Minnesota from the headwaters at Itasca State Park in northwestern Minnesota to the Iowa border. Also known as the Mississippi River Trail (MRT), USBR 45 spans 700 miles, with route options on both sides of the river in certain sections.

The northern segment of USBR 45, designated in October 2012, begins in Itasca State Park, where the river originates as a small stream. The route then travels through the north woods and past numerous lakes, to Bemidji, Cass Lake, Grand Rapids, Brainerd, Little Falls, and St. Cloud. At Cass Lake, bicyclists have an off-road option to travel roughly 100 miles on the Heartland State Trail and Paul Bunyan State Trail.

These routes merge in Brainerd, where the river widens and the land opens into farmland. The newly approved middle segment passes through the Twin Cities Metropolitan area and the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area — a 72-mile-long park managed by the National Park Service. Much of the route is on bike paths with scenic views. This segment of the route offers opportunities to connect with great restaurants, museums, parks, and festivals along the river.

The southern segment, which was designated in May 2012, extends from just south of the Twin Cities Metro area in Hastings to the Iowa border. Also known as the Mississippi Bluffs segment of the MRT, this section includes bicycle-friendly roads and multi-use paths that closely follow the Mississippi River through steep limestone bluffs and hardwood forests.

Detailed maps and information are available to print, or access via smart phone or GPS unit, at www.mndot.gov/bike/mrt.

Missouri: U.S. Bicycle Route 76

Missouri’s newly approved U.S. Bicycle Route 76, also known as the TransAmerica Bicycle Trail, begins at the Mississippi River in Chester, Illinois, traversing 348.5 miles before exiting the state 28 miles west of Golden City. The route passes through the hilly Ozark Mountains then levels out toward the western end of the state. Considered by geologists to be one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world, the Ozark Range consists of deeply eroded hills, which are blanketed by hardwoods and pines, small farms, and numerous rivers.

Farmington, a mid-sized town along the route, is a bicycle-friendly community featuring a local bike shop, TransAm Cyclery, and the TransAm Inn, a hostel known affectionately as Al’s Place. Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park on the East Fork of the Black River offers a spectacular demonstration of Mother Nature’s hydraulics in a series of rock chutes and channels — a must stop for swimming.

The route also passes through the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, a national park created to protect the Current and Jacks Fork rivers, and the scenic Alley Mill, or "Old Red Mill" history museum located in Alley Spring. In western Missouri, the route intersects the 35-mile Frisco Highline Trail in the small town of Walnut Grove. Before leaving the state, cyclists should be sure to stop at Cooky’s Cafe in Golden City to sample one of their homemade pies.

The Missouri Department of Transportation will begin installing USBR 76 signs along the route later this summer.

Kentucky: U.S. Bicycle Route 76 Realignments

In Kentucky, U.S. Bike Route 76 spans 563.7 miles, entering the state near Elkhorn City and leaving at the Ohio River crossing via the Cave In Rock ferry. The route, which was originally designated in 1982, had not been documented electronically at AASHTO and was in need of some updates. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet did a thorough review of the route across the state and submitted realignments for the route based on their Bicycle Level of Service Model for rural roads. Adventure Cycling Association plans to adopt these same realignments for its TransAmerica Bicycle Trail.

Kentucky’s U.S. Bike Route 76 passes through a variety of terrain from the steep Appalachian Mountains in the east, and the hilly, wooded Cumberland Plateau to the rolling, fertile farmland of the Bluegrass Region. Berea, known as the gateway to the Appalachian Mountains and coal mining, is a notable highlight, home to Berea College as well as several museums.

On the route, cyclists will pass the Lincoln Homestead State Park, and they can access the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site by taking a short side trip off the route. Mammoth Cave National Park, the longest explored cave system in the world, is 40 miles south of the route but well worth the ride. The Rough River Dam State Park offers boat rides on the reservoir and bird watching opportunities. Once cyclists reach the Bluegrass Region, they will be treated to white-fenced horse farms and quaint towns known for their antique shops, country dining, and southern country hospitality.

About the U.S. Bicycle Route System

The U.S. Bicycle Route System is a developing national network of bicycle routes, which will serve as visible and well-planned trunk lines for connecting city, regional, and statewide cycling routes, offering transportation and tourism opportunities across the country. Adventure Cycling Association has provided dedicated staff support to the project since 2005, including research support, meeting coordination, and technical guidance for states implementing routes. Work on the U.S. Bicycle Route System is highly collaborative and involves officials and staff from state DOTs, the Federal Highway Administration, natural resource agencies, and nonprofit organizations including the East Coast Greenway Alliance and Mississippi River Trail, Inc.

AASHTO’s support for the project is crucial to earning the support of federal and state agencies and provides a major boost to bicycling and route development for non-motorized transportation. Securing approval for numbered designation from AASHTO is a required step for all U.S. Bicycle Routes. AASHTO is a nonprofit, nonpartisan association representing highway and transportation departments in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. A powerful voice in the transportation sector, AASHTO’s primary goal is to foster the development of an integrated national transportation system.

Support for the U.S. Bicycle Route System comes from Adventure Cycling members, donors, and a group of business sponsors that participate in its annual Build It. Bike It. Be a Part of It. fundraiser each May. The U.S. Bicycle Route System is also supported in part by grants from the Lazar Foundation, New Belgium Brewing, Climate Ride, and the Tawani Foundation.

When complete, the U.S. Bicycle Route System will be the largest official bike route network on the planet, encompassing more than 50,000 miles of routes. Learn more at www.adventurecycling.org/usbrs.
 

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National Bike Challenge begins Wednesday

Now in its second year, the National Bike Challenge continues its mission to inspire and empower millions of Americans to ride their bikes for transportation, recreation and better health. The friendly, online competition—sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists and Kimberly-Clark Corporation—kicks off on Wednesday, May 1, and runs until September 30, 2013.

The goal: To unite 50,000 bicyclists to ride 20 million miles in communities across America.

The Challenge is simple, free and open to everyone in the United States. Sign up at Endomondo.com as an individual or as a team, log your miles, share your stories and encourage others to join you. Users can download the free, GPS-enabled Endomondo mobile app to record travel distance and automatically upload their miles. Riders will compete for prizes and awards from sponsors Sierra Nevada and Scott Natural on the local and national level.

In 2012, the Challenge engaged 30,000 individual riders, 9,000 workplaces and 500 communities to ride 12 million miles. We’re already looking at breaking those records in 2013.

Even before the official start, the Challenge has engaged thousands of participants. During the warm-up period, over 10,000 residents from more than 2,000 communities nationwide registered. Collectively, they logged more than 1 million miles and burned more than 37 million calories.

The Challenge is also spawning competition among communities and businesses, as well. Recognizing the tremendous resource to boost employee health, more than 3,100 companies and nonprofits have already signed up for the 2013 Challenge, including Kimberly Clark Corp., UPS, Target Corp., Facebook, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and Microsoft Corp.

The race for top community will likely not end at Atlantic Mine. Lincoln, Neb., is leading in the largest communities’ ranks, with more than 35,000 miles logged. Lincoln’s third place finish last year left Challenge participants wanting more.

Sign up at www.nationalbikechallenge.org.

2012 Challenge by the Numbers

30,000 individuals participated

9,000 workplaces participated

500 communities participated

12 million miles logged 

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NYC 5 Boro Bike Tour steps up security

In response to the Boston Marathon bombings, Bike New York, producer of the TD Five Boro Bike Tour on May 5, is working closely with city, state and federal agencies to ensure that all necessary security measures are in place for the Tour.

Riders will not be permitted to bring backpacks, saddlebags/panniers (front and rear) or hydration packs. However, water bottles, fanny packs, (waist packs) and small bike frame bags (under seat and handlebar bags) are permitted. There will be checkpoints along the route to ensure compliance with these new regulations; confiscated items will not be returned.

This year’s Finish Festival at Fort Wadsworth in Staten Island will be strictly limited to registered Tour riders and will not be open to family and friends of participants or the general public.

For more information about the security measures in place for the 36th annual TD Five Boro Bike Tour on May 5, visit www.bikenewyork.org/security.
 

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