How the Adventure Cycling Association Works

Adventure Cycling Association Programs

The ACA has created the Adventure Cycling Route Network, which traces more than 40,000 miles (64,374 kilometers) of routes in various parts of the United States. Some routes cross the entire continent, while others cover a region or coastline. Cyclists who follow the routes have the advantage of a well-planned, bike-friendly course. They are more likely to meet other cyclists along the routes, and they will run into more bike-friendly businesses. The ACA continually updates information about the routes, allowing riders to stay on top of changes [source: ACA Route Network].

Not all road maps are created equal. The ACA publishes a series of detailed, convenient maps especially for cyclists that correspond to the ACA's routes. Unlike ordinary road maps, the guides give turn-by-turn directions and include elevation profiles to show you the dreaded hills.

The maps are waterproof and laid out to be easy to follow while riding. They give information about weather, road surface, width or lack of shoulder, and alternative routes. On the backs, they list all kinds of services a cyclist needs to know about, from libraries and post offices to lodging and bike-friendly camping spots. Each map covers around 400 miles (643.7 kilometers) of a route and costs $14.75 for nonmembers [source: ACA Maps].

The Association offers more than 50 guided bicycle tours every year in all parts of the United States. There are four types of tours:

  • Self-contained tours require bikers to carry their own gear. Usually, the group includes a single leader and about 14 riders. Cyclists camp most nights. On some tours, they stay in motels or other lodging.
  • Fully supported tours are designed for large tours of up to 120 riders. Vehicles carry the gear, so you can ride light. The group camps at prearranged spots like campgrounds or state parks.
  • Van supported tours are for smaller groups. Equipment and supplies are carried in a van.
  • Educational tours are designed as an introduction to road touring. Some include leadership training, which teaches participants about operating a self-contained tour of their own.

The Adventure Cycling Association maintains an online Cyclists' Yellow Pages, which points riders toward many of the resources they'll need when they go out on the road. It includes bicycle touring clubs, events, and publications. Riders can check out bed and breakfast listings, computer services for bikers, tour operators, bike shops and bike parts suppliers. Another feature called "For a Cause" lists the many rides organized to raise money for charity [source: ACA Yellow Pages].