Better World Club

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Forget Gas Prices: Plan a Summer Adventure by Bicycle

In an Age of Skyrocketing Fuel Costs, Bicycle Travel is Growing as an Invigorating Alternative for Vacationers

Kerouac is history. The new cool is on two-wheels: the road trip by bicycle. This summer, whether they're planning a solo journey, a weekend family outing, or gathering a group of friends together for a weeklong adventure, more people are rounding up their bicycles, some basic gear, and going gas-free. With the national average gas price at $3.96 (according to Better World Club) the time is ripe for discovering the ease and savings of bicycle travel.

It's a style of travel growing in popularity. "We've been hearing many stories of major increases in bike travel around the U.S.," says Jim Sayer, executive director for Adventure Cycling Association. "At our headquarters, we've seen strong and steady growth in bike map sales, bike travelers, and memberships in our organization," which is the largest cycling membership group in North America and dedicated to promoting bicycle travel.

How much savings can you expect from bike travel? Eddy's Bike Shop in Ohio offers the vivid comparison of a hypothetical family of four's trip to Florida versus the same family taking a bike trip. In this comparison the family not only saves $2,000 but also gains a fleet of bicycles at the ready for any future adventure. Eddy's advises, "With the rising costs of travel, why put all of your hard-earned money into a fleeting, one week vacation? For substantially less money, you could invest in a family full of bicycles, and enjoy them all summer."

Where do bicycle travelers go? Some ambitious cyclists roll all the way across the continent, but many people opt for shorter, multi-day trips closer to home. Recently, Adventure Cycling conducted a survey of its e-newsletter list to see exactly what kinds of bicycle adventures readers were taking this summer. The response was overwhelming and the bicycle travel plans diverse:

Frank Negron (Florida) shares, "I always wanted to take a trip around Lake Okeechobee and I always thought I would do it in a car. Well, I did the trip but it was on my bicycle. Four days later I realized what a great idea it was to be self-contained on a bicycle for a vacation."

Kathy Holwadel (Ohio) writes, "Just returned from my first solo bike vacation, pedaling from Cincinnati to Cleveland and back again (570 miles total). I passed Amish buggies, hosteled at an experimental farm turned state park, and wound my way through seas of corn where I spent whole days without going through a town. I camped. I B&B'ed. I stayed with friends. It was one of the greatest vacations of my 52 years, as well as one of the cheapest."

Bruce Lierman (Vermont) says, "I recently completed a trip around Lake Champlain (my first extended trip). My exact purpose was to see if one could have a reasonable and enjoyable vacation without burning gas. I did."

Colleen Welch (Washington) offers, "My son and I are going on a 4-day, 3-night bicycle trip from our house in Olympia, WA to Port Townsend, WA on the Olympic Peninsula, and back home. So, we will be doing our short vacation completely gas-free. We will be camping at state parks along the way. This will be my son's first bike tour and my first multi-day, self-contained tour."


Another burgeoning trend is people taking simple overnight adventures. Julie Huck, membership director for Adventure Cycling says, "Our staff recently did a basic bike overnight. We departed from our headquarters in Missoula, MT right after work, spent a festive night camping in the woods, and were back by 10 a.m. for coffee at the local farmer's market."

How do I get started? There are many resources for getting started as a bicycle traveler planning fun-filled adventures of all distances and durations. As America's bicycle travel experts, Adventure Cycling's online resources (www.adventurecycling.org) are a great place to start.

Adventure Cycling's How-to Department covers Bike Touring 101, bike repair, and much more. Its Cyclists' Yellow Pages is an online bicycle travel resource guide with listings for tour companies, bike shops, and other resources worldwide.

The Adventure Cycling Route Network is comprised of 21 routes (over 80 map sections) and a total of 38,158 meticulously mapped miles. These maps can be used to plan trips of any length and are geared specifically for the bicycle traveler, featuring turn-by-turn directions, detailed navigational instructions, and elevation profiles. The maps are waterproof and fit into a handlebar-bag window or jersey pocket. GPS waypoints are also available for all of the routes. Maps cost Adventure Cycling members $9.75 and run $12.75 for non-members. Adventure Cycling also offers bike travel gear (for all budgets) at its online store.

Bicycle travel is booming, and with fuel prices soaring to all time highs, this is the perfect summer to learn all about it.

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