Four thousand four hundred miles. That is the round-trip distance I drove in order to pedal my bicycle in the Boston-Montreal-Boston 1200km Permanent, making it my longest journey powered by an internal combustion engine since the epic Great American Road Trip of 2005. Only this time I gave myself only ten days to travel instead of several months. In hindsight, I wish I gave myself at least an extra day or two.
Despite the whirlwind nature of the trip, it was memorable and educational—particularly because I used the majority of the alone-in-the-car time to listen to, practice and internalize an entire French CD course consisting of 34 lessons. The road trip—in cost and essence—was therefore much like a 40-hour French immersion class, except that I got much more verbal practice, did not have to listen to other students mangle words with an Anglo accent, and had constantly varying scenery whiz on by.
In addition to cycling a classic North American randonneur course and improving my French communication skills, I got to do some fast-action sightseeing and visit a friend from Fort Collins who is staying in the D.C. area for the summer. I also went through seven states I had never visited before: Michigan, Rhode Island, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Missouri. My visited U.S. states count is now 42.
This was the itinerary:
- August 8, 2011 (Mon): Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa. Camped in Rock Creek State Park (east of Des Moines) for the night. 720 miles.
- August 9, 2011 (Tue): Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ontario. Camped in Wheatley Provincial Park, Ontario (by Lake Erie). 601 miles.
- August 10, 2011 (Wed): Ontario, New York, Massachussetts. Stayed in the Monticello Inn in Framingham, MA for the night. 664 miles.
- August 11-14, 2011 (Thu-Sun): Boston-Montreal-Boston Permanent by bicycle, self-supported. 753 miles.
- August 14, 2011 (Sun): Drive from Newton, Massachusetts to New London, Connecticut, stopping in Providence, Rhode Island for a couple hours. ~110 miles.
- August 15, 2011 (Mon): A traffic- and rain-laden drive from New London, CT, through New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland to Washington, DC to visit Tia. We did some sightseeing and had dinner at Thai Chili before heading over to her sister-in-law’s place for the night in nearby Waldorf, Maryland. ~380 miles.
- August 16, 2011 (Tue): From Waldorf, Maryland through Virginia and to a hotel in Dunbar, West Virginia for the night. Slow driving due to going over the Appalachians. ~400 miles.
- August 17, 2011 (Wed): West Virginia, Kentucky (with a lunch stop in Shelbyville, hometown of the late Colonel Sanders), Missouri (sightseeing and dinner in St. Louis). Camped in Graham Cave State Park, MO for the night. ~600 miles.
- August 18, 2011 (Thu): Missouri, Kansas, Colorado and back home to Fort Collins. Only made stops for food and gas. 830 miles.
One thing that I missed by only one week was the unveiling of the Martin Luther King Memorial (25 years in the making) in Washington, D.C. On the other hand, I also missed the northeast’s most powerful earthquake in 114 years by eight days and Hurricane Irene by two weeks.
Highlights from the road trip are depicted in the associated photo gallery.
If you enjoyed this article, please consider receiving my weekly newsletter. I typically write about endurance bicycling, world travel, self improvement, Colorado living, marathon running, and epic adventures.