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Keeping up the pace!

Fast America South Ride

Sunday, April 23 to Saturday, May 20, 2006

Wide open desert.  Beautiful! The Fast America South Ride is an event for cyclists who want to see the U.S.A. Fast! It is an aggressive and very challenging fully supported 27 day coast to coast bicycle tour. The Fast America South Ride will cycle through some of the most beautiful and scenic areas in America averaging 115+ miles per day and cycle through 9 states. This is the perfect tour for cyclists who want to increase their cycling ability, learn new skills and see the country in just under a month. From the natural beauty of the southern Sierras and Rockies to spectacular river crossings like the Arkansas, Missouri and Mississippi, each day is a unique adventure in itself. You'll depart Irvine, California, for an exciting ride to Savannah, Georgia, in 27 days and 2,892 miles. See the beauty of America that only a cross country bicycle tour can offer.
The Fast America South Ride will depart from Orange Country California at Irvine. We will head over to the southern California coast at Newport Beach, dip our rear wheel in the Pacific Ocean and begin the trek Across America. We will then head inland and follow the Santa Ana River to the base of the San Gabriel mountains. After a little climbing to get us over the San Andreas fault, we will be rewarded with a terrific ride down to the desert floor. We will then roll through Palm Springs and over to Thousand Palms for the first evenings overnight. The next day we'll do more substantial climbing up off the desert floor and cross Chiriaco Summit and continue east through the arid southern California desert just south of Joshua Tree National Park. The desert continues as we cross the Colorado River, the terrain flattens out and the landscape turns agricultural. Wow, they grow everything here. It's amazing what a little water will do! The terrain begins to roll up again as we cross into Arizona. The climbing really becomes mountainous as we cycle up and over Yarnell Pass and we have a good downhill run. Up again, we'll ride through the Prescott National Forrest and down through the town of Prescott. Crossing the Prescott Valley, we'll tackle the toughest climb of the trip, Mingus Mountain. Get ready for a fast and wild descent back to the desert floor. In the middle of the descent, you'll pass through the old mining town turned artist colony of Jerome. On the other side of Jerome, the switchbacks straighten out and give way to a nice straight descent. Here's a great opportunity to open it up and see what gravity can do for your maximum speed. The climbing isn't over yet as we'll ride up through the red rock town of Sedona and tackle Oak Creek Canyon. The climbing is intense but the views and vistas are worth every inch. The ascension ends for a while as we cycle through Flagstaff, gaze at Humphrey's Peak (12,663') and get a great descending reward on the way down to Winslow, Arizona. The Eagles will help you �Take It Easy�!
Next we'll cycle across the rural western desert plains. The terrain will range from flat to intermediate rolling as we gradually descend for a few days. The climbing will begin again as we pass the four corners, cross into New Mexico and roll up and over the Continental Divide. We'll really stretch out our legs as we cycle through the Acoma and Laguna Indian Reservations, conquer 10 mile hill, and finally experience an exciting descent into Albuquerque proper to complete our highest mileage day, 146. One more day in the mountains will see the western states climbing over as we transverse Glorieta Summit and roll down to Las Vegas. The western desert slowly gives want to the high plain as we spin into Texas. Take pride.
Next you'll cross Texas on your way to Oklahoma, the state that Will Rogers described as, "The heart of America's existence." As you cross the vast, rolling Texas Panhandle, you'll pass through Dumas, Texas, the site of the largest natural gas facility in the world. You'll ride along the immense Texas rangeland and sense what it must have been like to have breakfast from the back of a chuck wagon as you pass areas where thousands of cowhands drove herds along the Chisholm Trail to railheads for shipments to eastern markets. Your first stop in Oklahoma will be Elk City, once a rest stop for cattlemen driving herds along the great western trail to Kansas. Like those cowhands, you will also spend some long hours in the saddle to Chickasaw and McAlaster. In Oklahoma, the state that has more horses per person than any other state, rangeland will give way to farmland as you cross the Main Street of America�Route 66. Some of this route is open to travel and you will still see signs that symbolize a time less complicated than today. Farmland will turn to beautiful mountain ranges as you enter eastern Oklahoma and you'll be ready for a well-deserved day off in Ft. Smith, Arkansas.
1000 miles in 8 1/3 days! Arkansas will offer gently rolling terrain as you ride along the Arkansas River Valley within sight of the Ozark Mountains and the Ozark National Forest. As you cross the Arkansas River, the terrain will almost be dead flat as you ride across the basin of the Great Mississippi River. You will understand why there was so much land under water during the great flood of '93. You will finally be in the east when you cross the Mississippi River at Helena, but you will definitely know you are in the south when you start to see Kudzu (a voracious vine that covers everything in its path) and start to experience warm southern hospitality. Your first stop in the Deep South will be in Oxford, Mississippi, the home of the University of Mississippi. You will ride through the campus and stay one block off the quaint town square which includes intimate eateries and specialty shops to pass the afternoon. After leaving Oxford on your way to Aberdeen, Mississippi, you will be on mostly quiet rural roads all the way to Georgia. But if you think the south is flat, you are in for an education. Although there are no mountains in Mississippi or Alabama, you'll have some of your most challenging climbing days before Georgia.
The heart of Dixie beats strong and the Deep South doesn't get any deeper than in Alabama. Here cotton is king, the confederacy was born, and Jefferson Davis's birthday is a holiday. Your first taste of Bama will be a challenging climbing day and you'll finish by riding right through the campus of the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa where someone is bound to ask you if you are a Tiger fan or a Tide fan. Don't get caught up in that discussion since you may start Civil War II if you have the wrong answer. Although there are no significant individual climbs you will have one of the most challenging total elevation gain days as you ride to Prattville, Alabama. There you will ride right past the largest Civil War cotton gin factory in old historic downtown. On your last day in Alabama, you'll ride through Tuskegee, the home of the Tuskegee Airmen, and the campus of Tuskegee University. You will overnight in Columbus Georgia right next to the beautiful Chattahoochee River. You will be within a short walking distance to the historic downtown and the beautiful Riverfront. As you explore the area, you will realize you are nearing the end of your great journey. The next day you will depart Columbus on the river bike trail into Ft. Benning, the only US Army facility for Ranger and infantry training. You will ride by the sniper school, Ranger training area, and heavy armor firing range. If you are lucky, there may be a demonstration going on as you pass by�just don't ride down range. The day into Perry, Georgia is relatively short so you may want to take a side trip to Andersonville, the site of the infamous Confederate Civil War concentration camp. All across Georgia you will see reminders of the Civil War as monuments, battlefields, and cemeteries recall the ravages of war, while white-pillared mansions tell a story of prosperity brought by cotton and river commerce. The terrain will start to level out as you near the coast. After your last night on the road in Vidalia Georgia, the sweet onion capitol of the south, your emotions will be mixed as you prepare for your last day into Savannah. The terrain will be flat and it will get even flatter as you get nearer to your destination and final victory. You will meet at a small park for lunch before riding the last 15 miles to Tybee Island to dip your wheels into the Atlantic Ocean. On your way back to the motel you'll have the opportunity to do some sightseeing at Ft. Pulaski, where rifled cannon was first used successfully to breach a fortress. Also, spend some time touring historic Savannah before the final banquet and departure. Congratulations, you have crossed the country in 27 days and will share experiences and friendships for a lifetime.

Check out the Fast America South Ride Itinerary

Also Available:
Fast America South- West
Fast America South- Central
Fast America South- East

Ride Along with Tour Leader Mike Munk
and read his 2004 Trip Diary


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