The Pedalshift Project 228: My Bike Tour Planning Process

It’s the end of the season, but that doesn’t mean we can’t dream up new tours. In this edition, I open up my bike tour planning process and technique for a brand new tour I’m thinking about next year. Once upon a time Snake Plissken escaped from NY… this potential tour turns the tables!

The Pedalshift Project 228: My Bike Tour Planning Process

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The Journal: My Bike Tour Planning Process

More tour wishcasting!

A potential spring 2021 tour to scratch a few itches
A bit of tour planning in lieu of touring
Some insight into how I come up with new tours

How I start

Come up with where to go and from where I’m starting (usually in that order)
Factor in limitations (i.e. money, COVID, time)
Reverse engineer things from there


I’ve always wanted to find touring on the east coast that satisfies me the same way riding on the west coast does
Might be worth rethinking that… the infrastructure just isn’t the same
But, let’s go with NYC

Starting point

I’ve tried to do a start from DC in planning before and I tend to get frustrated/dissatisfied with the route. New plan: start from the cabin and see how it goes


C&O, Google Maps, Ride With GPS, message boards and past research

My path

It seems like the C&O is a good gateway to get me east to a point that gives me a good path north
C&O to Williamsport, MD
From there it’s trying to connect north into PA and hit one of its surprisingly robust bike routes

Have I mentioned US highways are GREAT for bike touring? Hwy 101 makes up the bulk of the riding in Oregon and CA, and it has a good to great shoulder for many parts of the ride. 
Turns out, US Hwy 11 is an *excellent* gateway northbound into PA
From there, I go a bit less than 30 miles to Chambersburg to hook up with US Hwy 30 eastbound and PA Bike Route S which takes me essentially all the way to Philly

The lightbulb

That’s when things get great and I realize there’s a resource to tap into… the East Coast Greenway, a route I’ve been meaning to hit for years.
The gap between the end of Route S and Greenway is pretty minimal, and that gets me onto a trail in NJ and on my way through Trenton and then north to New Brunswick as I’d cut across the center of the state before turning north again to Elizabeth, Newark/Jersey City and then a quick ferry or PATH train to Manhattan!

Mileage? Timing?

That’s the next step because that can determine whether this has camping possibilities before I’d have to look at hotels or Airbnbs later in the trip as things get decidedly less wildernessy

Generally, I figure it’s 6 days or so? 
2 days to Trenton
2 days to NYC


Mixed bag – lots of up and down hills in parts
Good shoulders when on roads
Some trail riding

Other things

Bike – Almost assuredly the full-sized touring bike, but Brompton isn’t out of the question if I decide not to camp

Camping/Lodging – Not sure – that’s next steps but I suspect the stealth camp option would be pretty compelling

Is this COVID-friendly? Not sure. I’d probably have to consider hotels.
Worst case might be a good one for post-vaccination but too-early-to-consider-flying kind of a tour?

Getting back – Amtrak, one-way car-rental, bus – lots of options, some better than others from a COVID perspective

So… doing this?

I’m pretty interested. I’ve also always wanted to circumnavigate Manhattan as a day tour, so if timing allows, that could be the bonus add-on!


As always we like to close out the show with a special shoutout to the Pedalshift Society! Because of support from listeners like you, Pedalshift is a weekly bicycle touring podcast with a global community, expanding into live shows and covering new tours like this spring’s DC to Cincinnatti bike tour! If you like what you hear, you can support the show for 5 bucks, 2 bucks or even a buck a month. And there’s one-shot and annual options if you’re not into the small monthly thing. Check it all out at

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You’ve been hearing about Jason Kent and his music for many fine episodes. Sunfields has a new album in 2021, AND Jason has a new solo album in 2021, AND his first solo album is now streaming on Spotify, including America, the Pedalshift theme. Go listen!

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