The Sunride Top Ten Rides in America
For the sake of my fellow cyclists, I thought I’d list my top ten favorite rides in the Sunride 50-state tour. I’d love to hear your favorites. I want to give honorable mention to the hilly lush Delaware Greenway Trail where I saw Joe Biden ride, the Bayfront Bikeway in Erie, PA., and Shelby Farms in Memphis, Tennessee which was such a joy because of all the friendly people. The ride from La Crosse, Wisconsin, along the Mississippi in Minnesota to New Albin, Iowa will always be special to me because that completed the ride of the 48 Continental United States. For the joy of the ride, here’s my top 10.
10- Levee in Louisiana
This was sheer fun. Looking across the Mississippi River on one side, and down at the highway on the other, the levee near New Orleans is an elevated bike path just for us bicyclists and joggers. It’s flat, smooth, scenic and safe. I felt on top of the world careening along watching the flamingos as they congregated in pools not observing social distancing. What a delight to go miles and miles in the sun along Old Man River.
9- Acadia National Park, Maine
This has to be one of the best National Parks in America, and it is very bike-friendly. Frequent road signs remind motorists it’s the law to keep at least three feet from cyclists. The vistas are incredible, and the faint scent of pine fills the pristine, crisp fresh air. It’s hilly, some long and steep; and that’s usually a challenge for biking enthusiasts, but not electric bikers. The throttle insures a purely pleasurable ride through the vast scenic park.
8-Richmond to Williamsburg, VA
This fabulous bike trail through wooded areas, past historic antebellum mansions and verdant fields is a deeply moving experience. This is a good land. It still produces marvelous fruits. It has been farmed by dedicated people for centuries. I could feel and appreciate their love and care for the land.
7- Anchorage, Alaska
The raw natural beauty of Alaska is a thrill beyond measure; and for the cyclist the City of Anchorage has mapped out a network of biking and hiking trails, beautifully maintained, throughout this exquisite sylvan city. Watch out for moose, especially during rut. Those boys get pretty darn cantankerous.
6- Hawaii Into and around Diamond Head Crater
Riding in tank tops and flip-flops in the marvelous open air of Hawaii is a feeling of complete and utter freedom. Riding into the crater of the Diamond Head volcano is like discovering the Garden of Eden
5-The Mall, Washington D.C.
There is no better way to see our nation’s capital than by bike. There’s a lot of real estate between the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, the FDR Memorial, the MLK Memorial, all the war memorials, and the Washington Monument. By bike one can move from place to place and you always have a seat, the bicycle seat, where you can take the time to ponder the great words of Lincoln, Roosevelt, King and the rest. I came away with a true sense of awe for the great people who have made America such a great country.
4-Silver Comet, Alabama to Georgia
This was my longest single day ride, 105 miles, and it was all pure pleasure. The Silver Comet is an abandoned railroad track that’s been converted to a biking and hiking trail. It’s a hundred-mile tunnel through the trees that provide cool shade on a hot summer day. As you ride through battlefields and past old telegraph poles you can feel the history. “The Yankees are coming!”
It’s 72 miles around Lake Tahoe, this jewel of the high Sierras. It’s one of the most beautiful places in America and a great bike ride. There are bike trails much of the way, down close to the water’s edge, weaving through the pine forest. When forced out onto the road, there are high vista points that are truly breathtaking. It’s hard to imagine a better way to spend a day on a bike than riding around Lake Tahoe.
2-New York City and Central Park
Lake Tahoe and Gotham City might seem like a big contrast to most people, but not to the biking enthusiast. The whole island of Manhattan could easily fit inside Lake Tahoe. Getting around the city that never sleeps on a bicycle is a piece of proverbial cake. For one, you never have to worry about parking. That’s a big deal here. Secondly, the city has dedicated bike trails up and down the west and east sides along the Hudson and East River. Go up as far as you want, Harlem, for instance, then over to your destination – The Apollo Theatre. It’s so easy to get around. Central Park, a big chunk of Manhattan, has no cars. A guy on a bike is like a kid in a playground. You go anywhere, all over the place, without a care in the world. On the streets of the City, you feel completely safe. New Yorkers, especially the taxi drivers, are good alert drivers and many streets have bike lanes. The lyrics of Frank Sinatra’s famous song, “New York, New York”, are true: “…if I can make it here, I’ll make it anywhere.” Riding on Broadway, 5thAvenue, Wall Street and past the Statue of Liberty was nothing less than triumphant!
1-Natchez Trace, Mississippi
I debated a long time with myself about which ride would be my # 1. I was on top of the world in Central Park. I was Lance Armstrong around Lake Tahoe. I streaked like the Silver Comet train through Alabama and Georgia; and I was awestruck on the Washington Mall. I closed my eyes to remember my best moment, and there it was!
Imagine a tree-lined two-lane highway, rolling its way through and banking against the gently barely perceptible hills, the road smooth and impeccably maintained, nary a bump in a hundred miles. Every curve offers a new scenic three-dimensional wonderous work of art. There were so many tree species I couldn’t begin to count. There were big trees as big as the Douglas Fir in the Pacific Northwest. Imagine passing landmarks of historic sites from those who came this way a hundred, two hundred, three hundred years ago making their way from Nashville all the way to Mexico. Now imagine having the whole road to yourself, a beautiful, wide, two-lane highway built for cars but there are no cars. The cars and trucks all switched to the faster freeway running parallel unseen and unheard well beyond the trees.
Now imagine you’re a kid on a bike. Go as fast as you can, as long as you can. You can go faster and longer than you’ve ever gone before because you have a throttle and 21 gears. Frequent road signs remind everyone “bikes can use full lane.” Ride in the middle of the lane if you want. You don’t have to cower at the edge, as if you really didn’t belong. Lean and bank the turns without slowing down one bit. Tear into them! You have the skill and the bike is sound. You are a kid on a bike going fast downhill. Feel the wind pushing the water from the corners of your eyes. Is that the wind or are you seeping tears of joy?
I found the fountain of youth riding on the Natchez Trace. Sixty years of aging vanished into thin air. You see, it’s not a chronology; it’s a feeling.