Map route

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US_Route   Ok this is one pretty big image – 20k x 5k pixels ! It’s the precise route I’ll be following in the US, or as precise I could do, setting one small bit after another in google map. Then cutting all parts and putting them together in one big image. That should do nicely along with the street view video from the other day. Not sure how the image will download and open up though 🙂 It’s 14mo large ! Now that I have the course plotted, along with possible stops, motels, hosts, etc, that’s one big chunck of the preparation done.

I should also get my old bike back tomorrow. It took Decathlon a full couple of weeks to repair it, not really a record. So I’ll be back on the road very soon now. But I had a lot of things to do in these two weeks anyway, that would have had to be done in any case. Most of my stuff is now packed and ready to be stored. I’ll be coming along at 10 large boxes of clothes / kitchenware, 3 large ones of DVDs, 10 small ones of books, and almost 25 average ones of comics. Plus a few assorted boxes for papers, bills, stuff like that. I’m not keeping any furniture, still that’s a lot of stuff accumulated over the years. And I’ve thrown away, sold or given perhaps the equivalent of all that already over the last few weeks. I guess my next home will try to be more zen 🙂

Among these two weeks, the last two days have been intense 🙂 I signed my departure from Ubisoft yesterday. That’s the final, official step when leaving a job. I paid a visit to former colleagues, collected all papers and was off. With this step behind me, I thought it would be a good idea to officially announce my travel project on facebook, and so this post will be the first one to be published there 🙂

And today, after a visit to the bank to plan things ahead, I signed in the first step to selling my flat. I’ve found buyers a week ago, and now we started the administrative process of the sale itself. That’s one of the three big changes I wanted to complete before leaving, along with quitting my job and concluding the divorce. So all will be done before the end of the month, and that’s a great relief. I will be completely set on the journey itself from early may. I still have a few quirks to iron out, but that’s completely secondary to these three points. I’ll come back on these subjects during the trip, of course. That’s the “spiritual” part of the journey itself, among with other subjects.

What do I still have left to do in the two and a half weeks left ? Getting the final bike in a week max, buying a trailer and trying all of this on the road, including a few trips of a couple of days. Getting some bike maintenance lessons. I have to get plane tickets, an insurance, settling a few administrative details, and then moving all of my stuff. I had a lot of postits on the wall but now it’s mostly done ! And a good thing as time is running out ! Just as in life : you start with a full bag of luck and an empty bag of skill, and the goal is to fill your bag of skill before you run out of luck 🙂

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Google road map

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Well I’m still without a bike, and so I used the time to complete the screenshots of the route I’ll take. It was a very repetitive task 🙂 3300 screenshots, 4x this number clicking on the map to move 2kms by 2 kms… Perhaps it can be seen as a good preparation for cycling thousands of time.

I followed the Adventure Cycling association roads as well as possible. Not all roads are mapped by Google, and I used the closest route when necessary. They avoid large cities as much as possible – on the east coast, it’s probably too much. Reaching New York or Philadelphia means going well around the city and then going straight into it. That’s also probably due to simplifying the maps and avoiding too many paths.

Sadly, there is no route from California to the Grand canyon. I will have to improvise going through Las Vegas.

The result is very interesting and a very good help for such a trip. I can prepare the places I will go through, where I could stop – and most notably, the deserted areas where nothing can be found ! Apart from Nevada and Utah, such areas are frequent in Kansas and Colorado. In California and on the east coast, on the other hand, there are always towns and services around.

I learned a lot about Google street view as well. They update theirs pics quite a lot, and the latest versions are very impressive HD photos. The comparison with older versions is clear. You can also see easily where they make the updates, and which areas are, well, secondary to say the least.

What else ? Utah seems very difficult, very desertic, few towns, lots of climbs… But it’s, by far, the most beautiful state there is. It’s worth the trip by itself. I thought maybe I would cut from the Grand canyon to Colorado, but I’ll go through this part even if I have to walk the climbs on foot.

As expected, Kansas is very, very flat. I’ll probably go this state pretty quickly. The Appalachians seem pretty difficult too, with steep climbs and narrow roads. And the east coast is a long line of cities – even if the maps avoid them as long as they can.

I used the time I had to plot the chain of Motel 6 on the maps themselves, as well as the Warm Showers hosts. Motel 6 has a discount for the Adv Cycling members. But… there are close to none on the route apart from California and the east coast. Those in the middle west are in larger cities and too far to be useful. Warm Shower hosts will be a very good fallback, even if they are scarce in the Rockies and the middle west as well. I only hope I’ll be able to take a shower every now and then 🙂

Journey path

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Ok so I’ll be riding from west to east. But on what path ?

It seemed obvious to me that I would be going from California to New York, more or less. I would start either from San Francisco or Los Angeles. The distance between both cities is already quite noticeable, 500 miles, or 800 kilometers, if I ask google maps. But the ocean route is supposed to be a view in itself, so I’ll probably do that as a first leg. With some time in each city and along the way, that’ll be 3-4 weeks already

From LA, the next stop is Las Vegas, of course ! I’ve never been there. That’s another 300 miles or 500 kms. Probably a couple of weeks.

Then I’ll try to hug the south of the Grand Canyon as much as possible, aiming for Flagstaff, and after that, north-east to Denver. This part is not very clear yet, but all in all that’s about 900 miles or 1400 kms. The Rockies are supposed to be easier than the Appalachians on a bike, still it’ll be a month ride.

At this point it’s quite simple 🙂 I’ll catch the TransAm bike road, which links New York to Seattle, and rides south of Kansas City, St Louis, Louisville, and north of Oklahoma City and Nashville. That’s 1600 miles or 2500 kms through the Middle West. I’ll certainly make a few turns here and there and use 1 and 1/2 months to cross three time zones. Hopefully this part will be flat !

From here on I’ll be in sight of the first colonies. I’ll reach Washington in 400 miles or 600 kms, a bit more than a week, maybe two. I will spend some time in the capital of course 🙂 The final stretch will include Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and Boston. That’s 500 miles or 800 kms, a couple of weeks and at least as much visiting, so a month.

That’s my draft route, to be detailed until and after starting up. Right now I count 4200 miles or 6600 kms, and at least 5 months, more reasonably 6. If I start on early may that would lead to end october. I may have to cut some parts :p Or not, depending on how everything goes 🙂