Goal

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The American Dirt Project is my effort to complete the first transcontinental USA bicycle crossing on a route that is almost entirely on soft surfaces. It will be THE most difficult east-to-west bicycle crossing of the United States ever attempted. This lofty goal is bold to be sure, for no such a trek has ever been suggested, let alone attempted - outside of my 2012 unsuccessful effort. My hope is to document this trek with a film documentary and a book. 


Now back in 2011 I initially thought I could accomplish this goal by both riding across the country and doing recon "on the fly". I'd used such a tactic in my 2009 6200-mile road cycling trip across Canada and my 2010 4000-mile road cycling trip across the US. But after employing that strategy during two consecutive American Dirt efforts I came to the indisputable conclusion that there were numerous flaws with such an approach when used on soft surfaces. Last year for example, in what I thought would be a successful effort, I still came up far too short of the goal despite having put in mega-hours of study on the route. I only managed to put down two thousand miles of off-road in a four-thousand-mile cross country trek. Time and financial constraints always seemed to force me to cut corners and make compromises when it came to the big picture - staying off and away from paved roads. What's more, I learned that my "home study," where I poured over volumes of atlases, county maps, USGS quadrangles, GPS data, and where I spent many hours of time on Google Earth, just wasn't enough to get the job done once I was out in the field cycling. Each and every one of those days on the road I was faced with inaccurate road surface information and a multitude of inconsistencies among maps, gazetteers and GPS data. I had just about given up on American Dirt after that second trip. Then during the winter of 012'-013', amidst a good deal of soul-searching, I decided not to accept defeat, and to acknowledge the fact that American Dirt wasn't a quick "run & gun" project, but a multi-year task that could only be realized through a slow, methodical state by state approach that would entail two year's worth of recon trips which would either confirm or deny my home-study route preparations. In hind's sight, those two futile attempts coupled with my recognition of the true depth and scope of such an endeavor impressed upon me just how special the American Dirt Project is. With that being said, I can't walk away from AD without one last gasp effort. It's an amazing adventure and a monumental piece of work...that's totally off the charts, bloody difficult! 


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May thru September of 2013 and 2014 I began working on the American Dirt Project with my recon-trips approach, and was finally been able to put this whole crazy puzzle together. Not only did I lengthen my route east of Washington D.C. all the way to the Atlantic Ocean in Delaware, but I also took the route over the deserts, high plains and mountains of Colorado, Utah, Nevada and California. Now with that being said, I still have far too many sections where I'm forced to use the grass and gravel berms of paved & chip-seal backroads and paved Rails to Trails paths in order to reconnect with my soft surface routes. I also have numerous sections that I had to either canoeabike or hikeabike in order to remain off of hard surfaces. Some of these sections are up to seventy miles in length. For those sections I used a "collapsable" single-speed bike that I either shouldered in a backpack with straps, or carried on a solo canoe.  


For the 2015 trip I had to put together two separate American Dirt routes: one for myself and the actual cycling/hiking/canoing, and one for my support  vehicle. I had to work through the fall and  winter of 2014/2015 on amassing all of this map and computer information such that I could turn it into a kind of AAA "TripTick", along with a schedule of the estimated ETA and ETD's for the states we'd be traveling through. I’ll combine this information with all the Ride With GPS data later in the summer of 2016.