The story of how I saved money, quit my job, sold my possessions,
and set off to endlessly travel by bike around the world.
My 3 Books
I write, self publish and sell
books about touring
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Places I have been
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India and Neighbors
May 2010 to present
/ Canada / USA
May 2008 to April 2010
Sept 2007 to May 2008
Sept 2006 to Sept 2007
SE Asia / China
Nov 2004 to Sept 2006
June 2003 to June 2004
AZ, Mexico, and
March 2002 to April 2003
How I started
The 5 years before I left
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Equipment Pages Index
How Much to Bring and Weight
Advice About Advice
A Note to Perspective Sponsors and Gear Suppliers
more about Sponsorship)
HERE for Touring Bikes and Commuting Bicycles
Custom Touring Bicycles and Bike Upgrade Buyers Guide
Bicycle Touring Frames
Steel Repair Myth.
and Aluminum Derailleur Hanger Repair.
Bicycle Touring Wheels
Phil Wood: The Best Bicycle Hubs
Panniers / Bike Bags
Cargo Trailers Vs Panniers
Tires for Bike Tours..
Bicycle Touring Saddles.
Women's Specific Bike Touring Saddles
Brooks Leather Touring Bicycle Saddle Care and Conditioning
Touring Handlebars, Bar Ends, Adjustable Stems, and Padded Grips.
Sealed Cartridge Headsets
How to prevent flat tires
Bike Route Trails and Maps
Buying Camping Equipment
Tent and Ground
Pots and Pans
Solar Power for Camp
Bike Touring Shorts
Bicycle touring lights
Pictures of Equipment Failures
all 3 book)
Adventure Cycling's USA Northern Tier Bike Touring Route Maps
Bicycle Tour Coast to Coast Across America - States: Washington, Idaho,
Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio,
York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine
ANACORTES, WASHINGTON TO FARGO, NORTH DAKOTA
This portion of the Northern Tier begins in Anacortes, Washington, which is
located on Fidalgo Island in the Puget Sound. Anacortes is also the jumping-off point
for folks going to the San Juan Islands, a favorite cycling destination. At the
start, the combination of lush forest and ocean feeds and moistens the soul.
Heading eastward along the rushing Skagit River, you carry that feeling up to
the top of Rainy and Washington passes in the Cascade Mountains. Descending to
the east side of the Cascades brings you into the drier part of the state and
the widely known orchard country of the Okanogan Valley. Leaving this valley,
you'll be climbing and descending several more passes full of ponderosa pines
and finding many sleepy farming communities down along the rivers you cross. The
river valleys tend to run in a north-south direction across the northwestern
part of the United States, and because the route travels west to east, you will
be working your way up and down. There are plenty of towns, rivers, lakes,
mountains and forests in eastern Washington, Idaho and western Montana until
you reach Cut Bank on the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains.
The spectacular Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park is a hard
climb but well worth it for the scenery. The route takes a jump into Canada to
access Waterton Lakes National Park, and then you'll head back into the States
at Del Bonita, a little-used border crossing. Cut Bank is the beginning of the
Great Plains, and from here on you'll start praying for tailwinds. Supposedly,
heading eastward, tailwinds predominate in the summer. The route uses U.S.
Highway 2, the main road through central and eastern Montana along the railroad,
so camping spots can occasionally be somewhat loud. Wherever possible, side
roads are used to relieve the monotony of being on the highway. Afternoon
thundershowers are a constant companion out on the Plains. You'll follow the
Missouri River from Havre, Montana to New Town, North Dakota and the plains of
Montana eventually transform into the green rolling hills of western North
Dakota. Sunflowers are everywhere, and they become the crop of choice as the
terrain flattens out in eastern North Dakota. Fargo is located on the banks of
the Red River, on the border of North Dakota and Minnesota.
The route lets you warm up slightly before the major climbing begins. There
are four major passes in the first 300 miles, and Sherman Pass is the highest at
5,575 feet. It then becomes rolling, the route following river valleys until you
reach Glacier National Park. Logan Pass, on Going-to-the-Sun Road, is the last
major climb. There's a series of roller-coaster hills heading into Canada. Once
you get about 20 miles east of the Rocky Mountains, it starts to become Big Sky
country with moderately hilly plains. The plains roll out through Montana and
become hilly in western North Dakota, and then the route flattens out in eastern
Services are generally good along this route. There is a 71-mile stretch of
limited services between Cardston, Alberta and Cut Bank, Montana. There are
also some sporadic spots lacking services in central Montana, but nothing is
farther apart than a day's ride. The people of the towns across the plains of
Montana and North Dakota are super generous and genuine. Camping in town parks
is not uncommon. Another 74-mile stretch of limited services occurs between
Williston and New Town, North Dakota. Only a few bike shops exist between
Whitefish, Montana and Fargo, North Dakota, a distance of 1,150 miles.
FARGO, NORTH DAKOTA TO MUSCATINE, IOWA
This portion of the Northern Tier Route can be ridden from late spring to
late fall. Due to changing local conditions, it is difficult to predict any
major wind patterns, but tornadoes are common in Iowa. They mostly occur in May
Heading east from Fargo and Moorhead in the Red River Valley, you begin to
slowly leave the Great Plains. Lakes and hills become the standard scenery, and
the resident mosquitoes increase in number. The birthplace of the Mississippi
River is in Lake Itasca State Park, in northern Minnesota. This area is full
of forests, lakes and rivers and draws many recreationalists during the
summer months. The route follows the Mississippi River until it heads east
around the cities of Minneapolis, St. Paul, and surrounding towns. There is a
spur into Minneapolis-St. Paul that ends with access to the airport. Along the
St. Croix and Mississippi rivers, the towns are older and the buildings much
more historic. At Prescott, Wisconsin the St. Croix joins the Mississippi, and
the route again follows that river southward for 175 miles. You'll leave the
river occasionally on less-traveled roads, but these also mean climbing and
descending the bluffs along the river. As you enter Iowa, you may think that the
terrain is going to flatten out, but the hills continue after leaving the river.
Small laid-back farm towns are abundant through Iowa. The route ends in
Muscatine, an old industrial town located on the Mississippi.
The terrain is continuously rolling over the entire length of this route. Ask
any Iowan if Iowa is flat, they will respond with a "No," especially in the
northeastern part of the state.
Services are abundant throughout the route, and the townsfolk are friendly in
MUSCATINE, IOWA TO BAR HARBOR, MAINE
This portion of the Northern Tier can be ridden from early spring to late
fall. Due to changing local conditions, it is difficult to predict any major
wind patterns. The Midwest and Great Lakes summers can be hot, especially
inland. Along the Great Lakes, breezes provide cooling and are sometimes a
friend and sometimes a foe.
Beginning at the Mississippi River, the route traverses the large prairie
farms of central Illinois and the smaller farms of Indiana and Ohio, eventually
reaching the shore of Lake Erie at Huron, Ohio. Here a side trip takes you to
nearby Cedar Point Amusement Park, where you can ride the greatest number of the
most pulse-raising roller coasters in the country. Or you can take a ferry to
one or more of the Lake Erie islands and visit the area where Admiral Perry
defeated the British fleet in the War of 1812. Heading through busy Cleveland,
you'll pass the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Science Center with an IMAX
theater, a retired Great Lakes iron ore freighter and a World War II submarine.
Along the lake shore in eastern Ohio and Pennsylvania, the route passes
through small towns where tourists flock to the shore during summer. In Erie,
Pennsylvania you can explore the miles of sand beach at Presque Isle State Park
and the replica of the sailing ship Niagara, Admiral Perry's flagship in the War
of 1812 Battle of Lake Erie. Leaving Erie, the route enters the fruit and wine
region of Pennsylvania and New York and hugs the relatively rural lake shore to
the outskirts of Buffalo, New York. Views across Lake Erie of the Buffalo
skyline and Canada usher the cyclist into the bustle of the southern end of the
metropolis. The route passes the magnificent Basilica of Our Lady of Victory in
Lackawanna. Seeing its magnificent Italian Renaissance and French Baroque
architecture is a must. Through the suburbs to the Peace Bridge, ride carefully
through the city streets. The route takes you to the lakefront Buffalo Naval and
Military Park with World War II vessels open for visits.
After crossing the Peace Bridge into Canada you'll follow one of the most
scenic recreational trails in North America along the Niagara River to Niagara
Falls. Take the cable car ride across the Whirlpool Rapids and visit the other
attractions along the trail. Then you'll cross back into the U.S., enjoying the
view of the Niagara Gorge. Heading east, the route uses the Erie Canalway Trail
for 85 miles along a waterway dripping with history. Take the time to explore
the towns along the canal. At Palmyra, the route turns north to Lake Ontario,
where it follows the lake shore to Sodus Bay, dips inland to Fair Haven, and
then leaves the Great Lakes to cross the Adirondack Mountains and arrive at
Ticonderoga on Lake Champlain. A visit to Fort Ticonderoga will give meaning to
Revolutionary War history.
After a short ferry ride over the lake, you are in New England, cycling
through Vermont farmland, forested hills and picturesque villages. In New
Hampshire, the route follows the Connecticut River, passing through the villages
of Orford with its ridge houses and Haverhill, a classic New England village
with its fenced village commons and old homes. The route crosses the White
Mountains, the backbone of New Hampshire, on the famous Kancamagus Highway. Mt.
Washington, noted for its fierce weather, is just a few miles north, and the
Kancamagus shares some of its weather reputation. Be prepared, even in summer.
Entering Maine, you'll traverse forests and fields, arriving at Rockport on the
coast. Allow time to savor the quintessential ambiance of the coastal towns.
Before crossing the Penobscot River, stray off route to visit Ft. Knox, an
exceptionally well-preserved unused Revolutionary War fort. Finally, don't end
your trip without cycling the gravel carriage paths of Acadia National Park and
viewing a sunrise from atop Cadillac Mountain. The park is near the town of Bar
Harbor, at the end of the route.
The first 946 miles of this route (from the Mississippi River to Palmyra, New
York) is virtually flat. Illinois has some gently rolling prairie and is
treeless except in towns. The trees increase in Indiana. East of Cleveland,
Ohio, the route climbs to a low ridge for a few miles and then descends back to
the lake shore until Buffalo, New York. From Buffalo to Palmyra, the route
experiences only slight elevation changes at the locks along the Erie Canal. The
mountains in New York, Vermont and New Hampshire extend north and south, and
the route travels east-west so the remainder of the route has a lot a variety —
flat sections along river valleys and several challenging climbs. The Kancamagus
Pass at 2,855 feet is the highest point on this portion of the Northern Tier
Overall most services along this route can be found only in towns.
Campgrounds are reasonably plentiful, but there are a few gaps. Advanced
planning is needed if you are camping. Some cyclists may want to do the eastern
portions of this route during the colors of autumn. If you do, call ahead to
verify campground availability because many close after Labor Day. If staying at
hotels or B&Bs, make
Tips & Advice
Tools and Spares
Pots and Pans
Preventing Flat Tires
Bike Touring Shorts
Have Learned On The Road
Injustice of Poverty
Much MORE Gear Here!
Cycle Touring Racks
Tents and ground