Harrisburg to Cave City – Planning Stages

IMG_3987After carefully examining my options for a week long bike tour this summer I got bored and fell asleep.  In all honesty I would really like to go do one but its not looking likely.  First off is time.  To do a week long ride I’d need a week or more off work and I’d be separated from my darling wife.  I could probably do this but it wouldn’t be easy.  The next problem is money.  After paying for the ride which will cost around 300-400 dollars I’ll need to cough up another 300 dollars for expenses. Its likely that week long organized tour will cost about 600-700 dollars. My wife points out that one could go on an all expense paid cruise for less then that.  I can’t figure out why anybody would want to do that though.

The other day it just hit me, I don’t need to pay someone to go on a bike tour, and it doesn’t have to be a week.  Here’s the thing though, I want to actually go somewhere, doing a loop where I get a day away from home doesn’t sound all that exciting.  I went to the adventure cycling website and looked at their routes.  They have routes all over the America and 5 of them pass though my area.  Every summer fully loaded touring cyclists pass though Southern Illinois and I often consider running away and joining the circus with them.

When I began riding it was with mainly touring style riders.  Many folks had handlebar bags on their bikes at all time.  These riders were more concerned about covering miles at a nice even touring pace then they were with any ideas of speed.  My long rides back then were touring style rides, very early starts with mixed groups of riders, regular breaks every 10-15 miles, and a light pace.  Averaging 10 miles per hour over the course of a 70-80 mile was about normal when you added in all the breaks and regrouping.  It’s been awhile since I’ve been on a road ride like that.

mammoth cave routeThe TransAmerica route crosses the Ohio river by ferry boat near me at Cave in Rock IL.  It continues on across Kentucky where there is a little side loop down to Mammoth Cave State Park.  It occurred to me this will make a perfect short tour and my wife can come pick me up and we can check out Mammoth Cave together.  If I pick up the TransAmerica trail at Eddyville and follow it to Mammoth Cave the distance is 262 miles.  Break that up into 3 days and I’m looking at 87 miles a day.  A long day even on an unloaded bike.

I’ve been thinking about it for a few days and trying to decide what I need to take.  At first I was thinking my road bike, an extra pair of shorts and credit card. I’d stay in motels for a few nights and eat whatever was available along the route.  After thinking and reading about it some more I thought, “where’s the adventure in that?”  Not to mention it’s going to cost a lot more.  I’ve got camping stuff, I’ve got panniers and a rack I can mount on Jake the Snake turning him into a touring bike.  I’ve got a little MSR stove I can cook with and I’ve even got a water filter so I can suck water out of ponds I see along the road.  This can be a true adventure!

I’m planning on taking the trip in May sometime.  I’m really hoping I run across some folks on the road touring, or maybe recruit someone to come with me, though I don’t see that happening.  I just ordered the TransAmerica route map I’ll need so at this point I’m committed.


About Matt Gholson

Cycling, school teaching, husband.
This entry was posted in Barn Door Cycling, lifestyle, Rides and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Harrisburg to Cave City – Planning Stages

  1. capejohn says:

    You know that once you do a bike tour you will be hooked. I can see you quitting your job and riding the trans am within two years. 8>) p.s. I’m dong Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard this summer.

  2. Matt Gholson says:

    I know that’s why I haven’t done one yet. Riding the trans am would be so awesome but I don’t think I can just disappear for 3 months.

  3. James Russell says:

    A 3 day tour would definitely be more fun with a group, but a solo ride will have its share of advantage I suppose. I travel down route 146 every weekend; do see a few fully loaded touring bikes during the summer; they do seem to struggle with the hills in that area.

    Being solo I would wear a hi-viz vest or clothes. If you don’t have a mechanical or sudden change of weather it might be fun. Wish you luck.

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