Looking ahead: the Northern Trek 2014

This week, instead of a sea story, I lay out the Northern Trek 2014 in broad strokes. If I will be passing through your neighborhood, I invite you to contact me off-line (freewheeling@scriptorservices.com). 

On Monday, 12 May 2014, I will set out from Charlottesville heading southeast to Hampton Roads, Virginia, stopping in Richmond, Newport News, Norfolk, and Virginia Beach. I will be attending a class reunion in Virginia Beach.

Probably Monday or Tuesday of the following week, I plan to take the shuttle across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. It costs the same as taking a car, and it is the only way to get a bicycle to the Eastern Shore, also known as the Delmarva Peninsula. The run up the Eastern shore should be smooth, flat, and relatively straight. The ferry will take me from Lewes, Delaware to Cape May, New Jersey. Then I will ride up to Eastern shore of New Jersey to Highland. The hydrofoil ferry to Manhattan only takes 38 minutes, and will leave me at the South Street pier.

If I have enough time, I will ride from New York up one side of the Hudson or the other to Ulster Park near Poughkeepsie, arriving in time for my mother’s 87th birthday. If time is short, I will take the train. Metro-North allows bicycles to roll aboard.

July will see me riding through New England visiting friends and relatives. I should touch at least these towns: Andover CT, Old Lyme CT, Easton MA, Boston MA, Brookline MA, Portland ME, Harpswell ME, Brunswick ME, Mount Desert ME, Bar Harbor ME, and into New Brunswick, Canada.

I should be spending August and part of September in Canada: Rivière-du-Loup, Québec, west on the Route Verte to Ontario and across to Sarnia. I will cross into Michigan in September, visiting more friends and family on my way to the 55th Conference of the American Translators Association in Chicago, Illinois. I should arrive in Chicago in early November.

This link leads to a map of the overall route: Northern Trek 2014

After the ATA Conference (assuming that I don’t go to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for the conference of the American Literary Translators Association), I will take the train back to Charlottesville Virginia, arriving in time for Thanksgiving.

The ride should be about 5000 km long. The mapping software that I am using (Google Maps and Microsoft Streets and Trips) is woefully inadequate for planning a bicycle trip. The various permutations of the route range from 3920 km to 5414 km. In any case, it will last about seven months, compared to the five months that I took for the Southern Swing 2013.

Starting out, I will be trying a few new things:

  1. No bounce box this time. Instead, I plan to pack my belongings into small boxes. If there is something that I need on the road, I will send for it. If I cannot carry it on my bicycle, I will send it back.
  2. Only two panniers and a rack trunk, at least at first. I have been inspired by some of the other touring cyclists that I have read about who travel with much less gear than I did on the Southern Swing 2013. Also, it is so much more pleasant not to have a load on the front wheel that I think it will be worth the inconvenience of not having as many things with me. I tested riding with just two panniers from Tampa to Miami, and from Miami back to Charlottesville. I think I can do it.
  3. Probably less bus travel this time, because I will be leaving the bicycle bag behind. It takes up most of a pannier, and weighs a lot. When I need to leapfrog, I will probably take trains and local buses, rather than Greyhound. I also have several ferry crossings planned on this trip, which is something that I enjoy.
  4. Change of seasons by mail. It will turn cold about halfway through my trip, somewhere in Canada. I may not be able to fit my bulkier winter clothing into two panniers, so some of the boxes that I leave behind will have the two forward panniers, as well as the winter clothing ready to ship. We will see how that pans out.
  5. Traveling farther each day, but staying longer at each stop. I’m going to try to stay at least two nights in places where I don’t know anybody, and perhaps longer when staying with family or close friends. On the Southern Swing 2013, I did most of my work while staying in one place, and little more than check email when riding from one place to the other. This is a paradigm shift, and I am looking forward to trying it out.
  6. Camping. I did not need to do any camping on the Southern Swing 2013. I am not sure that I will camp on the Northern Trek 2014; however, I will have my camping equipment ready to send.
  7. Interviewing fellow travelers. I mentioned doing this in an earlier blog post. There are very many different kinds of people living and working on the road, although not very many of them are doing it on a bicycle. If possible, I will interview different types of people that I meet in the hotels, motels, and possibly campgrounds that I stay at.

There you have it. I have many friends and relatives to visit, but if I’m going to be riding anywhere near you, do let me know, and perhaps we can meet. My email is freewheeling@scriptorservices.com. If you happen to participate in couchsurfing.org or warmshowers.org, feel free to contact me through those systems.

As always, I encourage you to post your comments and reactions here on the blog. I do not recommend that you put your address or other contact information on the blog; put that in an email.

Do come back next week for the sea story.

Smooth roads & tailwinds,

Jonathan.

3 thoughts on “Looking ahead: the Northern Trek 2014

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