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USA (FL-NC-TN-WV) – Bicycle touring Information

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USA MapTime of Visit
March-April 2009

Visa
I got an entry stamp at the airport that gave me a stay for 90 days. No visa required. The same rules for citizens from the following countries: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom.

Borders
I entered by plane in Miami from Bogota. I left by plane from New York to Amsterdam. The first flight was with LAN Airlines, the second with Delta. Both times I packed my bicycle in a box and didn’t pay an extra fee.

Route
Florida: From Miami to High Springs, 750km
From Miami I did a nice ride through the Everglades by night. Great to see the alligators and have the whole park to yourself.
From Miami I followed the road A1A north. It is almost always close to the ocean and very often runs on the barrier islands with ‘the river’ on the left and the beach on your right. Scenery is great, many state parks and other protected nature. I saw many special birds, dolphins, manatees, alligators and other wildlife. The interstate I95, that runs a bit inland, has most of the traffic, the A1A becomes fairly quiet about 50km out of Miami. My route was part of the Atlantic Coast route from the Adventure Cycling Association, but I didn’t see any signposts. I guess you have to buy the maps. I followed the coast until Flagler Beach:


View Florida coast in a larger map

From Flagler Beach I cycled inland to see some different scenery. The Ocala National Forest offers nice quiet cycling, not spectacular. Highway 40 has some traffic, but not too bad. Gainesville is a nice college town.


View Cycling Florida in a larger map

Chattanooga, TN to Bryson City, NC, 260km
I got a ride with a car through Georgia and started cycling again from Chattanooga, Tennessee. With a good map or google maps you will find your way out of the populated areas. I cycled west to Cleveland and took highway 40 to the Cherokee national forest. All roads here offer beautiful scenery, easy stealth camping and have not much traffic. The route I describe here is only one of the many possibilities.
Turn left at Lake Ocoee on highway 30 and about 11km later take a right on highway 135. This road takes you to Tellico Plains. Here starts the Cherohala Scenic Drive, 84km/52miles.

map

Click to enlarge

There are several side trips possible. For example, turn right on road 210 and follow the Tellico River upstream to the Bald River Falls. This road actually continues all the way to Murphy, NC, but is not all paved. You can also turn left on road 217 (North River Road) and come back to the Scenic Drive. Also not completely paved.
The Cherohala Drive takes you to Robbinsville, from there take roads 143 and 28 to Bryson City.

Blue Ridge Parkway 755km
The Blue Ridge Parkway is an extremely beautiful ride of 755km/469miles. There free maps available in the visitor centers, next to the road or here

Skyline Drive, Shenandoah National Park, 169km
The Skyline Drive is connected with the Blue Ridge Parkway. It runs for 169km/105miles through the Shenandoah National Park. For all the information see here.
The northern end is in Front Royal, WV

From Front Royal, WV to Washington DC (C&O Canal), 170km
A great way to cycle into Washington DC is on the C&O Canal cycling route. There is a unpaved bike path next to canal that runs from to the center of Washington DC.
I joined it at Harpers Ferry, WV (about 72km/45miles from Front Royal and 100km/65miles from the capital) and it took me straight to the center, without any traffic. Scenery is great, camping easy. See info.

The BEST route
In general I like the northwest of Argentina more than famous Patagonia. The great scenery of the altiplano and the high Andes, that is so different from Himalaya or Alps, keeps me going back there.

The Antofagasta de la Sierra route offers the most remote cycling and very beautiful scenery. Quebrada de Humahuaca and all the high passes are also fantastic.

The WORST Route
n/a

Bicycle Shops
Many good bike shops all over the country.

Bicycle Touring Gear Shops
Available in all the bigger cities.
www.cyclocamping.com

Camping Gear Shops
Probably the best country in the world to buy camping equipment: low prices and good quality.
www.cyclocamping.com

Good Address
www.warmshowers.org and www.couchsurfing.com works great in the US to find free lodging.

Best Season
Florida has a very pleasant spring and autumn season, winter is mild. In the Appalachians summer and the autumn colors are great, but attract many tourists. Late spring (May) might be the best time. April was very nice and quiet, but trees were still without leaves.

Worst Season
Florida summer is very hot and humid. Most of the northeast part of US has a very severe winter. In July and August some places get very crowded.

Maps
Adventure cycling Association have unrivaled bicycle map for the USA

Languages
In America you speak american!

Average for Cheap Lodging
Cheap motels can go from  $40 to $60. Cheap camping: $17.

Locals’ Average Salary
I don’t know

Transport your Bike
By Air: See above
By bus: I took my bike in the so-called Chinese busses from Washington DC to Philadelphia and then to New York. It is very easy to take a bicycle, just put it in the luggage space yourself. The rides cost me 15 and 10 USD respectively.

Usefull Website
Adventure cycling Association

Note from CycloCamping.com: If you would like CycloCamping to publish your article, reviews or any additional information, please email YOUR OWN WORK to info@cyclocamping.com. For country information, please try to follow the categories given in the following article.

Author
Peter Van Glabbeek (Netherland)
7 years of bicycle touring experience including a 4-year long journey around the world
Cycled through 40 countries
Peter’s website
Article written in 2010

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About Stephane Marchiori

Owner of Cyclocamping.com
Bike touring since 2003, including:
a 5-Year Bicycle Journey Around The World!

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