It wasn't always easy to get a conversation going with my granddad. But one thing that was sure to get him talking, any time we drove out to Arkansas for a visit, was to bring up the route we took getting there. In his lifetime, he had been all over the country, it seems, and he knew a dozen ways to get from any given point to another. So he would begin weighing of the various merits of I-40 vs. I-70, or any of a number of US highways which could cut off miles or add interest to the trip.
Waxing philosophic about routes for travel seems to be a universal, if perhaps masculine, tendency. It make me wonder if, when I get old, I'm going to look back on life and decide that one of the few truly important things in this world is our nation's highway system. But more likely, we gain an affection for the roads which have led us to all of the experiences we accumulate over the course of the years.
There is also something romantic about poring over a map, and planning a route makes the pending adventure become more concrete in my mind. Reading the names of the places along the way makes me imagine what I'll see and do when I get there.
This is the route I've devised for the Grand Canyon tour. The map also reflects other preoccupations, like making sure there will be a place to sleep for the night or to take on provisions.
View Grand Canyon Bicycle Tour in a larger map
I have never been on any of the roads I'm going to take on this trip. But the national forests, mountains, and lakes along the way promise it will be a wonderful experience.
One fact of life is that, if you want to go west from Denver, you have to cross the mountains. And while I've gained an appreciation for a good climb, doing it on a loaded touring bike is a completely different story from doing it on a 16-lb. road bike. So there will be some difficult days, but I find that focusing on the beauty of my surroundings helps to ease the pain of burning muscles