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Best American Adventures: Bike Across America

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We've just updated our popular America's
Best Adventures
feature with 50 new trips, bringing our grand total to 100 iconic escapes (see the map, state-by-state list, and photo gallery, too). So no matter what your pleasure—hiking,
heli-skiing, surfing, climbing, biking, or paddling—we've got the perfect adventure
for you. Check in each day for a new, out-the-backdoor adventure highlighted here on our blog.

By Kate Siber; Photograph by Ben Neumeyer

Here’s one way to outdo the all-American
cross-country road trip: travel by bicycle. The best way is along the
TransAmerica Trail, a low-traffic, highly scenic back-roads route the
Adventure Cycling Association designed specifically for cyclists for
the country’s bicentennial. Passable between May and September, the
route takes three months, factoring in stops to smell the flowers along
the way—and there are plenty of proverbial flowers. Between Astoria,
Oregon, and Yorktown, Virginia, riders pedal past rugged beaches,
ancient lava beds, high passes in the Rockies, fertile farmland, and
snowcapped peaks. They pass some of the country’s most beloved national
parks (Yellowstone, Grand Teton), and stop in small-town cafes that
have served down-home American comfort food, from chili to Chesapeake
crab, to cross-country riders for decades.

The
challenges, of course, are formidable, such as 11,000-foot
(3,353-meter) passes, a 70-mile (113-kilometer) climb, and deadening
Midwestern heat. But seeing America from the slow-moving seat of a
bicycle offers a more detailed view of the country than any other mode
of transportation. It also offers the time to ponder it all, including
those who came before you: Signs of Native Americans, pioneers who
labored along the Oregon Trail, and soldiers who fought the American
Revolution all dot the route. What cyclists say strikes them most,
however, is the remarkable hospitality and warmth of the modern-day
Americans that they meet along the way.

Need to Know: The Adventure Cycling Association (www.adventurecycling.org) offers maps and guided tours from $4,349.