1. Washington, D.C. Yes, the Atlantic Coast tour travels right through the heart of America’s capital! The bike path leading to the Lincoln Memorial follows the Potomac River from Mount Vernon on up. From the natural beauty of this well-designed bicycle path, to the roar of jet engines at neighboring Reagan National Airport, to the sightings of historic monuments across the river, this ride tops my list. The collaborative effect of like-minded tourists, bicycling enthusiasts, a trail isolated from city traffic, and an urban setting with historic sites sparked excitement. Debbie’s adrenaline had kicked in as you’ll see from this video. Getting lost heading north out of the city added a key ingredient to the adventure of bicycle travel. If you’re ever here on a bicycle, ask for directions as the trails are not clearly marked.
2. Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, at the intersection of yesteryear and everyday commerce. When you think of the Amish, this portion of the United States may be forefront. Combine the quaint, simple subsistence and enduring industriousness of these people with beautiful rolling hills, brimful fields, buggy-clad country roads, and a serene, orange sunset, and you’ve just witnessed a collision of natural beauty and hard work. You can’t ride through this region without a renewed frame of mind and vivid memories for the road ahead. We landed there just in time, rescued from the clutches of the Susquehanna River Valley, where one murderously steep hill nearly broke our will. When lush beauty surrounds you, even a grueling day of cycling becomes secondary.
3. Williamsburg, Virginia. After we cycled through the low country of the Carolinas, we were pleasantly surprised by the change of scenery upon ferrying across the James River into Virginia. Williamsburg impressed me as an attractive and friendly city. Beautiful evergreen forest soon sprang up. Not to be outdone, massive fields reminded us that some of America’s earliest settlers found plenty of arable land in these parts. Both colonial and Civil War history permeated the decidedly green surroundings. Cannons dotted one field while historic markers sprouted up all along the route. The distinctive architecture was unique to Virginia. We cycled along the tail end, or the beginning depending upon your direction, of Adventure Cycling’s TransAmerica Trail. Perhaps someday we can tell you about that one!
4. Coastlines in Florida, North Carolina, and Maine. The term “coast” in the tour’s name, Atlantic Coast, might give one the wrong impression. Little coastline was visible from Georgia to New Hampshire, with the exception of North Carolina. And because Debbie and I did not begin in Key West, we bypassed much of the Florida Atlantic experience. Perhaps this is why we relished the coastlines that we did see. Cycling adjacent to the Atlantic was magnificent. For one thing, the relaxed pace means fewer vehicles, slower traffic, and virtually no large, noisy commercial rigs. While Florida’s coastline felt like the aquatic equivalent of Montana’s high plains with an endless, tranquil horizon, Maine’s version proved curvier, rockier, and livelier. Regardless, splashing surf, long ocean vistas, and the sounds of water fowl provided a marvelous backdrop to miles in the saddle.
As a native Mainer, I might rather think that Acadia National Park would make any best of the Atlantic Coast list. However, Debbie and I bypassed that fabulous area for scheduling reasons only. Enjoying the best of the Atlantic Coast was an experience that we won’t soon forget. If you’re ever near these areas, make sure you drink them in.