This page was last updated Thu 05 January 2017.

Contents: Tours (13)   

Reports by Norman D. Ford

All descriptions are in English, unless otherwise noted.

Tours

Cycling California--The Do-It-Yourself Way
by Norman D. Ford, tour started April 2006, submitted 1 July 2006

Ten Days Of Cycling Through The Best Of California: Starting off with an awesome 150-kilometer ride high on the cliffs of America's wildest seacoast--past beaches filled with monstrous elephant seals--I pedaled on around surrealistic 17-Mile Drive and on through the Cannery Row of Steinbeck's novel into the famous resort of Monterey. Next, I soared across vast San Francisco Bay on the Golden Gate Bridge, and on across bike-friendly Marin Country to Point Reyes National Seashore for two nights in a traditional cyclists' hostel. Then came more exciting bike travel, through towering redwood forests beside the Russian River and across the Napa Valley Wine Country to the university town of Davis, famed for its many bicycle paths. Finally, I cycled part way around beautiful Lake Tahoe and ended the trip at the Nevada State Line. My website gives full day-by-day info on how I made the tour;and how to make the same trip yourself, including overnighting at economy lodgings, and where to get maps, when to go, and other helpful literature.

See all 13 reports by Norman D. Ford

Huge elephant seals sprawl on beaches within a few metres of Highway One
Touring Oregon's Columbia River Gorge
by Norman D. Ford, tour started October 2005, submitted 22 January 2006

Paved all the way, Oregon's Historic Columbia River Highway takes cyclists on a breathtaking 75-mile ride through the Columbia River Gorge, a region so spectacular that in 1986, Congress declared it a National Scenic Area. Almost every mile of the way, I pedaled past steep, rocky cliffs and evergreen forests and I cycled next to 5 roadside waterfalls, one cascading down a sheer 620-foot drop. Most of the ride is on low-traffic, secondary roads with about ten miles on car-free bikeways. (To by-pass an as-yet unfinished 14 miles, cyclists are permitted to ride on the wide shoulder of I-84.)

Comfortable, affordable motels are spaced every 20-30 miles and you can take either 2 or 3 days to ride the Gorge--surely one of America's most awesome cycling experiences. En route, I pedaled up two superbly scenic--and fairly gentle--climbs, each around 750-feet in elevation gain--and with stunning panoramas from both summits. Along the way, I also spent a couple of hours touring Bonneville Dam where salmon were leaping up fish ladders. My day-to-day report tells exactly how I made this two-day tour and it's packed with advice and map sources for anyone wishing to duplicate my route. (Tip: it's just a six-hour drive between the Gorge and Spokane WA, end of my ``Touring the Northwest'' trip (see report on home page menu) and you can squeeze both tours into a one week vacation.

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Cycling high above the Gorge near Hood River
Touring New York's Finger Lakes and the Erie Canal
by Norman D. Ford, tour started May 2005, submitted 22 January 2006

New York State's long, spindly Finger Lakes are webbed by roads that take you pedaling along lakeshores or over rolling hills, past world-class vineyards and picturesque farms, to quaint towns and villages with elm-lined streets bordered by elegant Victorian houses and gardens. From high ridges, I viewed breathtaking panoramas of the sparkling lakes below. On quiet backroads, I met Amish carriages drawn by high-stepping horses. And I spent the final two days on a flat 90-mile ride along the car-free towpath of the Erie Canal, cycling next to a series of still-operating locks and 19th Century towns, each with a unique lift bridge across the Canal.

My trip took 14 days and covered nearly 600 miles and I spent each night at a comfortable, affordable motel in traditional towns like Auburn, Geneva, Watkins Glen, Penn Yann, Canandaigua, Brockport and Lockport. Small wonder this is one of America's most popular bike tours! And if you'd like to ride it yourself, my full report not only describes my day-to-day cycling experiences but also gives full map and info sources for duplicating my route on your own.

See all 13 reports by Norman D. Ford

Colorful Federal-era houses line bike route through downtown Geneva
Touring the Northwest on the Hiawatha-Norpac-Coeur d'Alenes-Millenium Trails
by Norman D. Ford, tour started September 2005, submitted 22 January 2006

Up in Northern Idaho and Washington, a series of 4 car-free bike trails linked together form one of America's newest bicycle tours. My 4-day tour began high in the Bitteroot Mountains with a wildly scenic ride down the Milwaukee Road's Trail of the Hiawathas, former route of the famous Hiawatha Scenic Vista Dome train. The line went bankrupt in 1977 and the Hiawatha stopped running. Today, though, you can enjoy the same scenic adventure on a bicycle, including traveling through the same 9 cavernous tunnels and across the 7 high steel trestles used by the train.

Next, I rode a 12-mile stretch of the former Northern Pacific railbed through emerald forests then switched to a paved stretch of the former Union Pacific Road that led for 66 spectacular miles through a wilderness of tall mountain peaks, rivers, lakes and wetlands and past historic mining towns to the Victorian village of Harrison, perched on a hilltop overlooking beautiful Lake Coeur d'Alene. I completed the trip by riding another 62-miles on the paved Millenium Trail beside Lake Coeur d'Alene then west along a cascading river into Washington and the city of Spokane.

My day-by-day report not only describes how I biked this 160-mile tour but also gives full map and info sources for duplicating my route. Using a unique routing strategy, for instance, I was able to ride the whole way either on the flat or downhill. And I found comfortable motels or guest houses a day's ride apart the entire way.

See all 13 reports by Norman D. Ford

Cycling the paved Centennial Trail beside the Spokane River
Biking and Kayaking at Frisco, Colorado
by Norman D. Ford, tour started September 2005, submitted 21 January 2006

Almost every year, I spend a bike touring vacation at Frisco CO, staying in the same motel while each day I bike out and back on a complex of paved, car-free bike trails that wind past colossal mountain scenery to famous ski resorts like Breckenridge, Keystone, Copper Mountain and Vail. One easy trail hugs the shore of huge Dillon Lake to Keystone. Another winds up to the posh resort of Breckenridge. And a third climbs through awesome Ten Mile Canyon to Copper Mountain and on up over Vail Pass (10,600 feet, 3250m) then drops down to the Alpine-style town of Vail.

Using fat tires, I usually spend a day cycling up the unpaved road to Boreas Pass (11,480 feet, 3500m) where America's highest railroad depot still stands. Then for a change, I'll rent a kayak and paddle around Dillon Lake for a few hours. But there's lots more. It's just an hour's drive to nearby Georgetown, an unchanged Victorian mining town and from here a paved bike trail leads up to Silver Plume, a fascinating old mining town still much as it was in 1880. Heading back down, a low-traffic paved road leads to Idaho Springs, your motel base for cycling America's highest paved road that leads for 28 miles to the summit of Mount Evans (14,264 feet, 4360m). And with a mountain bike, still more exciting rides await, all in a world class setting of breathtaking grandeur. My website describes how I biked each trail, then gives loads of advice, and full map and info sources, for riding these trails on your own.

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Cycling up North America's highest paved road to the summit of Mount Evans CO, 14,260 feet (4,360m)
Rails-to-Trails Touring in America's Midwest
by Norman D. Ford, tour started September 2004, submitted 21 January 2006

Trail reports and best strategy for touring 4 of America's longest Rails-Trails conversions that take you cycling through America's rural heartland on former railroad beds, converted to car-free bike trails, with comfortable, affordable motels a day's ride apart. Day-by-day, these reports describe how I cycled each trail plus loads of info and advice for anyone wishing to cycle the same route.

The trails are: Root River Trail, 60 paved miles (100 kms) along Minnesota's beautiful Root River, 2 days, McElroy-Sparta, 105-mile (170kms) trail system along Mississippi River in Wisconsin, smooth-unpaved, 4 days (can be combined with Root River Trail), Mickelson Trail, 109-miles(175kms)on smooth, unpaved trail through historic, Gold Rush country of South Dakota's Black Hills, 3-4 days. The 225-mile (362-km) Katy Trail along the Missouri River in Missouri, smooth-unpaved, 4-5 days. All are fairly level, easy rides through historic railroad towns and scenic countryside rich in Americana and wildlife.

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One of 100 bridges I cycled across on the Mickelson Trail
Cycling Germany's rivers: Neckar, Rhein and Mosel
by Norman D. Ford, tour started 2004, submitted 28 December 2005

In spring 2004, I spent 21 rewarding days cycling the most scenic sections of these picturesque German rivers that meander past historic towns like Tuebingen, Heidelberg and Koblenz. Nearly all the way, I rode on car-free bike paths that were mostly paved and free of big hills. Each night I stayed at a budget-priced hotel, often in the pedestrian-only center of medieval towns full of rambling, cobblestoned streets lined by half-timbered houses with tall, rakish roofs. And day after day, I pedalled along riverside bike paths that wound between steep, craggy hills with crenellated castles perched on cliffs high above the sparkling river. Half travelog, the rest of this report is packed with everything you need to know to duplicate my trip on your own.

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Austria, Czech Republic, Germany and Switzerland
by Norman D. Ford, tour started 2003

From Vienna to Switzerland's Rhine Falls via some of Europe's most extravagent castles, walled medieval towns and Bavarian villages filled with painted houses. Packed with how-to-do-it hints and tips.

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The towers and spires of Neuschwanstein Castle soar above the bike paths of Fuessen in Bavaria
Around Switzerland by bike
by Norman D. Ford, tour started 2003

Cycling Switzerland's National Bike Routes, from the high Alps to mountain lakes, rivers and medieval towns with painted houses.

It was months since my knee surgery but when I mentioned bike touring in Switzerland to my orthopedist, he immediately said, ``No pedaling up long hills.''
Switzerland Without Hills? It scarcely seemed possible to bike through this mountainous land without long uphill climbs. Yet Switzerland offers several unique strategies that help to make it possible.
To begin with, I simply cycled around Switzerland on four connecting long-distance bike paths that were largely flat and level. Mostly car-free and 80 percent paved, these were four of Switzerlands nine National Bike Routes.
For example, I rode half way around the country on Route 9, the Lakes Route, which runs beside a series of lakes and rivers on a mostly level route through spectacular mountain ranges. Then I switched to Route 5, the Mittelland Bike Path, that bordered more lakes and the beautiful Aare River. In between, short stints on Routes 2 and 8 were also flat and easy.
True, there was an occasional long climb. But I never had to pedal far uphill. Nearly every long upgrade can be by-passed by putting your bike on a train or Post bus and letting it take you up hill.

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Looking down bike route towards Grindelwald from cafe atop Grosse Scheidegg Pass
Germany and Austria
by Norman D. Ford, tour started 2002

Through the Heart of Europe on Germany's Romantic Road and Altmuhl River Bike Paths, and on Down the Danube almost to Vienna.

I've just spent 16 memorable days cycling beside the rivers of Bavaria and Austria on a network of mostly paved and car-free bike paths. Day-by-day, I pedalled through a series of almost perfectly preserved towns and villages straight out of the Middle Ages. Many were enclosed by still-intact city walls. Entering the walls through a gate in a massive watchtower, I would pedal through a maze of crooked, cobblestoned streets lined by half-timbered medieval houses to picturesque squares with centuries-old churches and soaring Gothic towers.

Out in the country, I cycled on level bike paths beside scenic rivers. The bike paths themselves may have been flat and easy to pedal. But they were full of hidden delights and surprises. Flat sections led through farmlands dotted with scarlet poppies and a patchwork quilt of blazing yellow rapeseed fields. Elsewhere, rivers like the Danube wound between steep, forested mountains where hilltop castles, monasteries and abbeys loomed over the landscape.

Altogether, I cycled along three of Europe's most famous and popular Radwegs (bike paths): the Romantische Strasse and Altmuhltal Radwegs of Germany, and the Donau Radweg (Danube Bike Path) which runs through both Bavaria and Austria. The entire region is rich in history, and towns and villages along the way were on every tour bus itinerary. But the tourist buses miss the many unspoiled and half- forgetton villages, and the spectacular river panoramas, that only bicyclists get to see. Bicycling is undoubtedly the one best way to explore this wonderful region--better, in my opinion, than seeing it from one of the many deluxe cruise boats that ply the Danube.

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Traditional Half-timbered Houses in Dinkelsbuhl
Through the Alps of France, Switzerland and Austria, 2001
by Norman D. Ford, tour started 2001

From the Vercors of France through Switzerland's Bernese Oberland to the Austrian Tyrol. The itinerary traverses a series of world class bike rides including Gorge de La Bourne, Les Grands Goulets, and Combe Laval in the Vercors; the North Face of the Eiger, Lauterbrunnen Valley, and Grosse Scheideg in the Bernese Oberland; then via the Furka and Oberalp Passes and down the Rhine to Chur and Lichtenstein and by the Tauern Radweg to Zell am See.

I also give full advice and information sources for anyone wishing to cycle this same route or to go elsewhere by Switzerland's National Bike Routes or by Austria's 30 Official Bike Routes. This trip was done in May and June 2001. Will add photos soon.

See all 13 reports by Norman D. Ford

Gorges of Southern France
by Norman D. Ford, tour started May 2000

Starting at the mountain acropolis of Najac, I biked for 17 days along incredibly scenic rivers--the Aveyron, Lot, Cele, Dourdou, Truyere and Tarn--rivers that meander through deep gorges and loop around ancient villages and majestic chateaux. En route, I rode through some of the most delightful villages in France, which in Languedoc included several fortified cliffhanger villages built by the Cathars in the 12th century and looted by Simon de Montfort. Other highlights on this ride included medieval Conques, St. Cirque La Popie, Entraygues, Estaing, Florac and the Cevennes, the immense Gorge du Tarn and an exciting ride over the mountains of Haut Languedoc to Carcassonne. The day-by-day report not only describes my experiences but also tells how to duplicate my route.

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Corsica by bicycle
by Norman D. Ford, tour started 2000

In autumn 2,000, I spent 19 days cycling around this compact Mediterranean island on some of the most spectacular seacoast and mountain roads on earth. Day after day, I pedalled along clifftop roads high above the sea with a balcony view of the wild, rocky coast. In the interior, I cycled on quiet backroads through rugged gorges and to ancient villages perched high in the mountains. Traffic was mostly light and each night I stayed at a comfortable hotel in mountain villages or at beach resorts or fishing harbors or under the massive walls of medieval citadels. My route took me completely around Cap Corse and to the awsome heights of the col de Bavella, and I visited Corte, Bastia, St. Florent, Ile Rousse, Calvi, Porto, Ajaccio, Propriano, Porto Vecchio and Bonifacio. Day by day, this report describes exactly how I did it with loads of advice to help you experience Corsica by exactly the same route.

See all 13 reports by Norman D. Ford