bicycle travel - United States '95/'96 (first crossing)

'96/'97 was my time in North America. I went all over the place. And ended up having cycled about 26.000 kilometer (incl. '97th extension). 8.000 of which in the US. This is the story.

diagonal across the US - Detroit to El Paso by bicycle

I had just come back from Russia. A row of odd circumstances made me leave the country. So there I was, back in Germany, the place of my parents. Was nice, and enjoyed it, but not for too long. My legs kept asking me "when are we going to cycle again?" and I became restless. My mind was still on the road somewhere.
Took an atlas, got to North America and thought "could be interesting". Not much later and I had found my route: Starting in Halifax and ending up at the west coast, probably somewhere in California. The next day I bought a ticket to Halifax and another few days later (2 month after I had come from Russia) I was on my way. November '95.

At this time I knew only two things about North America. What it looked like on a map and that it could be awfully cold in north-eastern Canada in winter.
It was only on the plane that I really realized it and became nervous. Halifax, in November? O.k., I had equipment for -20 C , but ..., and decided it would be better to start in Detroit where I had to change planes.
That's how it all began.

I had maps - ripped out of an atlas - of those states most likely for me to come through and drawn a nice line. The route I would follow.
Well, the weather changed everything. Five days heavy snowfall and another couple of days extreme cold temperatures made me travel nothing else then due south-west, straight into 'warmer' regions.
At this point the only thing left of my original plans was my destination: "heading west".

But with time, finding my own route - nearly day by day a new one - proofed to be a big advantage and worked just perfect. Beautiful scenery and amazing people all along the way.
You wonder I'm not complaining about the 'boring plains'? Well, I haven't seen them. "What?? But you have to cross them!" tells me another cyclist much later. He's not alone with that opinion. Not one touring cyclist I met in North America had an idea of where I had been or taken a similar route after telling them the places that happened to become my route.
You now really wonder? Well then, here we go:

Detroit - Turkey Run SP (Indiana) - Wayne Fitzgerell SRE (Illinois) - Blanchard Springs Caverns (Arkansas) - Ozark NF - Eufaula Lake (Oklahoma) - Lake Texoma (Oklahoma/Texas)- Texas Forts Trail (Texas) - Sonora Caverns - Seminole Canyon SP - Langtry "Judge Roy Bean" town - El Paso.

Here the first leg ends.
Being as far as El Paso it did seem to unpleasant to cross the Rockies, "now in late January". So I switched, bought a one-month rail-pass (rail travel is my second passion) and left my bike in storage. After that - and back on the bicycle - I went to Mexico, followed by a second time in the US and Canada. But that's different stories.
main page sending email Mexico '96