In June of 2002, for some reason, I decided to ride my bicycle across the country. OK, I cheated. I did it South to North, thereby technically "across the country" but a mere 1,701 miles instead of, well, lots more the long way.

See the route I took and read the crazed exhaustion-fueled ramblings I spewed along the way in the map and journal I kept.

Ever seen touring cyclists with overloaded panniers struggling up a hill? Way too undignified. I figured - do this as a "credit card" tour - sleep in cheap motels, eat in local diners. More expensive, sure, but this way I could take an extreme minimal amount of equipment. My entire set of clothes and equipment fit into a day pack.

The Credit Card Tour

The idea and name came from a magazine back in the 80's, can't recall the details. The principles:
  • do not use panniers, keeping the bike light and agile
  • equipment to fit in a day pack or in a small bag on the rear
  • take no camping gear except for emergency equipment - stay in cheap roadside motels
  • take no cooking equipment or food except for that needed between towns or meals
  • take minimal clothes and wash in the motel room sink
  • pay off the sizeable debt after you get back....
Since I did not have the equipment to stay on the side of the road, before leaving I researched a route that would keep no more than 90 miles between towns with motels, and compiled a list of all the towns I would pass through. The list had:
  • miles between each
  • altitude for each so I would know how much climbing I was in for
  • alternate routes (seen as "a" or "b" on the list)
  • notation for any town with >5 motels - no need to worry about finding a room
  • a separate listing of all motels in towns with 5 or fewer motels
I contacted bike shops near the start point (in my case El Paso Texas), and found one that would let me UPS the bike to them and let me rebuild the bike in their shop. At the end, I rode to a Wal-Mart to get a bike box and walked it back to my motel to repack the bike.

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