My previous trips have been somewhat goal oriented. Ride from one end of something to the other end of something. In 2016 and 2017, I rode from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific coast, and last summer I rode down the Pacific coast from Canada to Mexico.

My plan for 2020 on the other hand, was to do a large loop, ending where I started. Specifically, a loop starting at my daughter's home in Portland, and ending at the same place, 3 months later. The route goes from Portland Oregon, thru Missoula Montana, Yellowstone, and the Black Hills, to Minneapolis and back on a more northerly route through North Dakota, Glacier and down the east side of the Cascades, and past Mt. Ranier, ending back in Portland. The planned start was June 1st. Given A 4000-5000 mile length, and a duration of 3 months, I would get back to Portland on or about the frist week of September. I said was beacause after I made the plan, Covid-19 showed up...

So, I have decided to wait until doing a long ride is truly safe, and until things like parks and other facilities became available. Thus my new target for starting is July 15. Starting 6 weeks later will get me to back to Portland 6 weeks later, or in mid October. Too late to safely cross the mountains in the west. I could simply end the trip in Minneapolis. But 2200 miles is less I like to do during the summer. Or, I could save as much as a month by taking a train all the way from Minneapolis to Glacier, or 3 weeks from Fargo to Glacier, but that also cuts a lot of miles and riding time. So I took a good look at the ACA route map to see what I could do.

Thus summer 2020 ride version 2 was hatched. Keep the first half as is, but change the second half. My previous rides have been in the north, to get out of the summer heat here in Arizona. But I'll be leaving Minneapolis about the first of September, about when things start cooling off (hence the problem with a delayed version of the original plan). Given an early September departure from Minneapolis, I can travel south without getting cooked. One of the ACA routes, the Great Rivers South, goes south along the Mississipi river to New Orleans. So my new plan is to ride section 7 of the northern tier from Minneapolis to Muscatine, Iowa, and the Great Rivers South” from Muscatine to New Orleans

The more I thought about this, the more I realized that it really is a more interesting route anyway. The route I had originally intended to use, means riding across the plains for 1000 miles (for a second time in one year...), which after a couple days becomes kind of monotonous. And for the most part I'd be doing something that I've already done before, while going south to New Orleans, is totally new. It’s also something I really don't want to do during my normal summer ride, because it's too hot and too humid. But given the later timing of this plan, riding south is doable.

A further plus of this plan is that I get to ride the Natchez Trace - One of the more highly regarded bicycling routes in the US.

Here is a summary of the key attractions of this trip:

Here is my new high level agenda (assuming a July 15th start):

 Start Point…  End Point Miles Days Arrival Date
 Portland, OR  Canyon Village, WY 962.8 19 08/02/2020
 Gardner, MT  Minneapolis, MN 1290.6 26 08/28/2020
 Minneapolis, MN  Muscatine, IA 372.7 7 09/04/2020
 Muscatine, IA  New Orleans, LA 1384.5 28 10/02/2020
    ---- Total Trip --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 Portland, OR  New Orleans, LA 4010 80 10/02/2020

And finally, here is a map of the new route from Porland to Minneapolis and on to New Orleans:


The Brown lines are sections of the Lewis and Clarke route.
The Black lines are my own sections.
The Dark Purple line is the new Peaks, Parks, and Praries route.
The Pink line is section 7 of the Northern Tier.
The Sky Blue line is the Great Rivers South.

First Half Details:

The first half of the trip is unchanged from my original plan: Ride from Portland Oregon to Minneapolis on a mix of parts of the lewis and clark route, and connectors found using Google and other maps. Then ride Adverture Cycling's" new parks-peaks-and-prairies route from Yellowstone to Minneapolis:

The simplist route would be Lewis and Clarke to Missoula, and Trans Am to West Yellowstone. But I've done that multiple times; Time for a change...

So here are the details:

  • Portland, OR to Wallula Junction, WA (222.5 miles) - Lewis and Clarke section 7
  • Wallula Junction, WA to Missoula, MT (383 miles) - Trail of the Coeur d'Alene, Lookout Pass
  • Missoula, MT to Lincoln, MT (78.3 miles) - Lewis and Clarke section 6 (Blackfoot Option)
  • Lincoln, MT to Helena, MT (51 miles) (Non ACA)
  • Helena, MT to Three Forks, MT (69 miles) - Lewis and Clarke section 5
  • Three Forks, MT to Livingston, MT (65 miles) - Lewis and Clarke section 8
  • Livingston, MT to Canyon Village, WY (94 miles) - Non ACA, Yellowstone North Entrance)
      -    Note that coming into Yellowstone from the north skips the first 28 miles of "PPP" section 1.
  • Canyon Village, WY to Minneapolis, MN (1290.6 miles) - Parks Peaks and Prairies)

  • Total Distance from Portland to Minneapolis: (2253.4 miles)

Second Half Details:

The second half route from Minneapolis to New Orleans is pretty straight forward:

Ride from Minneapolis to Muscatine, IA on section 7 on the Northern Tier (373 miles), and from Muscatine, IA to New Orleans on the three sections of the Great Rivers South route (1385 miles). There is some potential for changes.

These are:

  1. If the COVID situation becomes a problem, likely I will find the nearest airport or train station and go home.
  2. If COVID gets really bad, and I need to get home, but planes, trains, and busses are not available, I could ride home on sections 2-5 of the Southern Tier - 1767 miles, and add another month. Pretty unlikely, but hey, who knows...
  3. If I'm feeling energetic at the end, I might continue east on the Southern Tier. There are 2 segments between New Orleans and St. Augustine, totalling 841 miles, or an additional 2 1/2 weeks or so.
  4. If I'm feeling Really REALLY energetic at the end, I could even ride home on sections 2-5 of the Southern Tier - 1767 miles, and add another month, get home in early November (and hope to cross Emory Pass in New Mexico without snow) Again... Need Energy.

So that pretty much sums up the second half. A change from my original plans, and a bunch of unknowns, but actually, something that looks like a lot of fun:

Other Changes for 2020

Every year, I evaluate what I did, and more commonly, what I took, the previous year and/or years. While over time, the changes become less and less, something always changes, at least a bit. That said, the other "significant" changes are:

  1. Bike. Over all, I like my Randonee better than my Bike Friday, so had been thinking about selling it, and sticking with my Randonee. But given the uncertainty that COVID-19 brings, I'd might need to be prepared to get home pretty much at a moments notice (see "potential for changes" number 1 above). If such a scenario happens, finding a way to get my bike either prepared for transport, or shipped back home for me could be a problem if say, bike stores were closed. Having a bike that I can simply put into it's suitcase to take with me, has great appeal. No decision yet; I'll decide as things get closer, so stay tuned.

  2. Technology. I'm still trying to decide what to use here. Phone, Camera, etc. My goals are to stay in touch, and document my trip, but without having technology (and keeping it charged) becoming the "tail wagging the dog". How do I keep things charged even with remote camping? Is there a simple (and light) way to take good pictures? How much will reasonable use of libraries help? Last year, I just used a smart phone. That worked, but even with just a phone, I found myself worrying about keeping it's batteries charged. Frankly, that's probably more paranoia on my part, but it's still something to consider.
    Once again, due to COVID-19, Libraries could be less available, and I may need to be able to function as if I were at home, from the road. I purchased a Microsoft "Surface GO" earlier this year, just on a whim. It's about the size and weight of a 10" tablet, but is an actual PC (albeit somewhat low powerd). That plus my phone for 4G tethering and I can "pretend" to be at home, while on the road. Of course it comes with the "how do I keep it charged" - even more so (though it can charge via USB-C) and the "will someone steal it" risks noted above.

  3. Stove. Last year I went without a stove as an experiment. Yup, it's doable. So, I know I can survive if I can't find fuel. Nope, Ain't gunna do it this year. I like hot coffee too much ;-)

  4. Last year along the coast, the temperature rarely varied beyond 50 – 75 degrees. But this year I need to be prepared for a much larger range. So, I'll go back to carrying a full variety of clothing choices.

Once I settle on the above, I'll publish a gear list here.

So what about next year?

I have purchaed a book "Great Divide Road Bike Route" by David Plaskett and Barbara Breuning. This is a 2000 mile ride from Puerto Palomas on the Mexican/New Mexican border, to port of Peigan on the Montana/Canadian border near Glacier National Park.

I could even concievably ride from my home near Phoenix, Arizona, to the start - a 430 mile journey And I could ride from the end point to Portland, Oregon - adding 1500. This would result in just about 4000 miles, and allow me to ride the best part of my planned return route this summer.