One thing that I think everyone has underestimated is the amount of daily planning that an adventure like this takes. People appreciate the amount of effort that the riding requires, but they greatly underestimate the time it takes to download and edit photos, prepare blog entries, coordinate lodging, liase via phone and email with various parties, and map out safe cycling routes. Lodging is the biggest time sink. In a car, a person can just drive until he/she finds a hotel and then simply pay for a room. I must have very carefully spaced ports so that I know I can ride between them without becoming exhausted. Weather problems require complete retooling of the distances I can realistically expect to cover. Food in another huge issue. If its noon and there's no food for 20 miles, its really tough to keep riding. I can carry small snacks but they add weight. These is no end to the challenges when a car (or a plane) is removed from the equation.
Right now the administrative side is manageable as the days are relatively short and I have many hours in the evening when I am housebound. However, as the days lengthen and I do more birding, staying on top of all of this is going to become even more challenging. I feel that I need a full time administrative person behind the scenes to help me. My girlfriend has been incredibly helpful, but as she has her own killer career and is very busy herself, it is far from a full-time endeavor for her. The number one thing people can do to help me on my adventure is to contact me NOW (repeat NOW) if they could potentially host me at any point in the year (firstname.lastname@example.org). My rough route can be seen in the "Route and Strategy" tab at the top of the page.
In this vein, I will now share the plan for the next few (3-4)weeks so that I can get some of the organizational stuff out of the way while I am unable to bird. The plan is to try to ride ~50 miles a day towards Florida. Once I leave Philadelphia, this means it should take about 3 weeks to make it to Northern Florida (~1100 miles). If could spend up to a month in this stretch since I am a bit ahead of schedule. Here is the proposed route at the moment, and some comments on birds I would like to find during this next, transitory phase.
The Plan right now is to go through Wilmington DE, Newark DE, Baltimore, Washington DC, Fredericksburg VA, Richmond VA, Petersburg VA, Chesapeake/Norfolk VA, Elizabeth City NC, Washington NC, New Bern NC, Jacksonville NC, Wilmington NC, Myrtle Beach SC, Charlestown SC, Savannah GA, and Jacksonville FL.
Right now I am all set on lodging from Philly to Richmond (lots of Best Westerns in that stretch). This part of the route is pretty straight-forward. For those wondering, I cannot go down the eastern shore since I cannot ride a bike over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. However, once I get to Richmond I have some choices to make. Option 1 is that I could follow the I-95 corridor inland through both North and South Carolina. Option 2 is to swing out towards the east and stick closer to the coast. Right now I am opting for option 2 since there are likely to be more birds along the coast. It is also flatter than I-95 corridor (particularly North Carolina). Yes, option 2 is a bit less direct, but it a trade off I'm willing to make. Eastern North Carolina is an area where I do not have lots of contacts, so any help anyone could provide me in that region would be greatly appreciated. I am starting to make contacts along the South Carolina and Georgia coasts, but again, any help in those areas would be appreciated.
As for birds, there aren't too many specialty birds in this stretch. However, there a number of birds that it would be great to find so that I do not have to worry about them later.
Tundra swan - This is a must find for this leg. There is a big wintering population in Virginia.
Bobwhite - I should find this somewhere. I'll certainly hear it at some point.
Rails (Black, Yellow, King, Virginia, Sora) - These winter along the coast so if they're around I'll look for them.
Woodcock - I need a place where they display. I could potentially kick one up on the road.
Bonaparte's gull - I missed this up north but they winter down along the southern coast as well.
Parasitic jaeger - I need to find a good place to do a sea watch for this species.
Brown-headed nuthatch - I'll see this somewhere, probably when I'm inland a bit in the pines.
Winter wren - This is another species I missed up north that I should be able to find in MD/VA/NC.
Sedge wren - Secretive birds like this can torture birder's if not picked up early. Need a spot for this.
Seaside/Saltmarsh/Nelson's sparrow - I will find these somewhere along the coast in the marshes.
Henslow's and Le conte's sparrow - I have a good spot for Le Conte's in SC, but it is at least a days ride inland fro the coast. If anyone knows other spots for this bird in NC/SC/GA/FL or in LA/TX where a smaller detour from the coast would be required, please let me know. Henslow's would actually be an ABA life bird for me!