Now that RAGBRAI is over, I’m thinking about getting into a ride across state myself. What’s RAGBRAI, you ask? It’s the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa — the granddaddy of all the cross-state rides.
In all, about 40 states have some kind of cross-state ride. They’re pretty neat, because they offer a chance for cyclists who do not tour on their bikes to sample a long-distance, multi-day trip. Typically, these rides offer sag support, medical attention, bike repair, meals, and rest stops. A day’s ride can be anywhere from 40 to 100 miles, but usually run about 60 miles.
Most of the time, riders will camp at a large group campground each night. Some rides make arrangements with area motels to take cyclists who are not the camping type.
One of these years, I’m going to do RAGBRAI. The 2011 version has already wrapped up. Their website is already anticipating next year’s ride. The catch is, RAGBRAI is so popular, it limits the number of cyclists who ride the whole trip to 8,500 — and fills that quota with a lottery. So you might not get in.
But there are other options if you don’t. Most of the other cross-state rides aren’t as famous as RAGBRAI, but worth considering nonetheless. Here’s a sample.
California Coast Classic: Sept. 17-24. An eight-day trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles.
Dick Allen Lansing to Mackinaw (Michigan): Aug. 31-Sept. 4. Five days from Lansing to the tip of the Lower Peninsula, with an option to continue up to Sault Ste. Marie.
One Awesome Tour Bike Ride Across Nevada (OATBRAN): Sept. 25-Oct.1. Starts and ends in Lake Tahoe.
Bicycle Ride Across Tennessee (BRAT): Sept. 11-17. The 22nd annual. Overnight camping in state parks. Figure 8 loop west of Nashville.
Tour des Trees (Virginia): Oct. 2-8. Ride from Virginia Beach to Washington, DC and plant trees along the way.
These are all still scheduled, so if you want to ride one, act fast. Most of the cross-state tours seem to happen in spring, especially June. Some worth considering are the Oklahoma Freewheel: June 10-16, 2012; south to north across the state; Biking Across Kansas; Great Annual Bicycle Adventure Along the Wisconsin River (GRABAAWR); June 16-23, 2012; Bicycle Ride Across Nebraska (BRAN). You can also cross a state in one day in the Ride Across Indiana (RAIN), which goes from Terre Haute to Richmond — 160 miles.
The idea of crossing a state appeals to me — much more than riding across the entire country. I’ll be putting several of these on my bucket list. If you’d like to scope out even more options, the fine touring blog Biking Bis has a whole section devoted to them.
Have you ever done one of these cross-state tours? What do you think?