While reviewing the Adventure Cycling Association (ACA) website (www.adventurecycling.com) before writing this article, I kept getting sidetracked by all of the features offered on the site. First I had to see which of their organized tours were still available for the year, then I had to check on the route maps for my dream trip (cycling the Pacific coast), and finally I got back to the history of the organization. After 8+ years as a member, I continue to find valuable information and opportunities through ACA.
It all started with a dream: a bicycle tour across the United States to celebrate the nationís bicentennial in 1976. The initial vision was for a mass start in San Francisco of thousands of people ready to ride across America. After four years of planning by dozens of people what resulted was 300 trips involving over 4,000 cyclists. Most importantly, the TransAmerica Trail was developed, a route across the middle of the United States over 4,250 miles long. More than half of those who participated in Bikecentennial rode the entire distance.
What started as arranging a grand bike trip resulted in the development of a non-profit organization: Bikecentennial. After 1976, Bikecentennialís goals broadened to encompass creating new long-distance and urban trail loops, and promoting the bicycling lifestyle through education, guidebooks, trips and more. The organization continued to grow in functions and membership until it morphed into Adventure Cycling Association in 1993.
Now boasting over 44,000 individual and corporate members nationwide, ACA maintain its corporate headquarters in Missoula, Montana. Thanks to the hard work of an active staff and board of directors, ACA continues to be a driving force behind bicycling in the United States. Adventure Cycling Associationís projects and services include:
1. The creation of the Adventure Cycling Route Network which boasts over 40,000 miles of cycling routes, all covered by informative and detailed maps
2. The production of Adventure Cyclist magazine, a beautiful, full-color publication dedicated to bicycle touring around the world and distributed as a benefit of ACA membership
3. Offering guided self-supported and fully-supported cycling tours across America ranging from one week inn-to-inn trips to cross-country camping trips
4. Selling bike travel gear
5. Providing a variety of trip planning resources
6. Producing Bike Bits, a biweekly e-mail containing an assortment of interesting cycling news
7. Blogs and forums on numerous topics
8. Participation in the development of the U.S. Bicycle Route System
9. Much, much more
Adventure Cycling Association is a member-based organization that needs the support of cyclists to continue its work, work that benefits us all. I strongly encourage you to join this fantastic organization, enjoy your subscription to Adventure Cyclist, and take advantage of all the other benefits membership provides.
Ride safe and have fun!