Country and Western Bike Tour of America 2012

<quick link to the blog>

I talked about doing this for years. I love country music*. I really needed to go and see where it all originated. I love bikes and cycling. Put 2 and 2 together and I get a 2000 mile bike tour across the states of America that inspired so much of the music I listen to from waking till sleep.

I had dreamed about sailing to America, riding coast to coast and sail back again. As my friend Will (thanks Will!) noted, if I waited till I could do all that at once I'd never do any of it. Sage advice, so sailing was scrapped. The coast to coast plan was scrapped too so I could concentrate on the parts of the country that I'm excited about rather than doing an arbitrary and well ridden route. Also because of the 1000 miles of desert was going to have to ride across in the height of the summer...

My planned route (see map below) had to be flexible so I could take tips on the road about things so see and places to avoid. And because I'm rubbish at navigating. I had a plan though:

  • Washington DC - a conveniently placed international airport, apparently there's other stuff there too. Maybe pop up to Maryland to bag another state?

  • Virginia - The Blue Ridge Parkway, The Crooked Road country music heritage trail, The Skyline Drive, The Shenandoah National Park.

  • West Virginia – “Imagine Vermont during the Depression” unfortunately I can't imagine Vermont, or the depression. It's supposed to be beautiful though.

  • North Carolina – The Great Smoky mountains, Clingmans Dome

  • Kentucky – The Bluegrass State!, The Country Music Highway, Mammoth Cave (longest cave system in the world!).

  • Tennessee - The Home of Country Music – for the Bristol Rhythm & Roots Revival festival. Also Nashville(!), Memphis, Dollywood and Graceland!

  • Alabama - Heart of Dixie – I'll just be nipping across the corner on the Natchez Trace Parkway.

  • Mississippi – There's a river I think. The Natchez Trace Parkway runs North East to South West to Natchez. I'll get a boat from there to New Orleans if I can or I'll ride through south.

  • Louisiana – Baton Rouge and New Orleans!

  • Amtrak train from New Orleans to Memphis.

  • Arkansas - The Ozarks, great beer in Little Rock I've heard...

  • Oklahoma – Muskogee. Route 66...

  • Texas – Paris, Waco, Davy Crockett National Park and Austin! Then fly out of Houston.

So was the plan. Me, my bike, a tent, some spare parts and clothes and a lot of road. Not much of a plan.

* I call it all country music because I'm lazy. It covers old time, honky tonk, bluegrass, western swing, blues, anti-folk, alt-country, folk, ragtime and probably some other genres I've never even heard of. I now think Americana is a better catch all term, which I was surprised to find they use in America, which is handy because that's what this site is called.

The route below is 3035 miles but that includes the 420ish miles I'd be doing from New Orleans to Memphis on the train. It wouldn't work out quite like that anyway...

To find out what really happened read the blog. One day I might get around to editing it all and putting the photos inline but the blog as it was written is all there is for now.

You can email me about any of this at me@brightonamericana.com

 

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