If a bicycle vacation sounds appealing, but you don't make the RAGBRAI lottery, do not despair.
This is a banner year for bicycle tours, with dozens of multi-day rides in more than half the states of the nation.
What follows is a list of rides, in a variety of locations. There's something for almost every ability level, ranging from the relaxed 30 to 40 miles a day of PALM (Pedal Across Lower Michigan), to mountainous challenges in such states as Arizona and Washington. There is also a wide range of group sizes, with some tours open to thousands of participants, and others limited to less than 100.
Of these tours, all but the Seattle-to-Portland tour offer basic amenities: baggage transport, some form of accommodations (generally camping) and sag wagons (used in the event that either the rider or the bicycle can't complete the day).
Most tours also provide water stops, occasional snacks, maps, first aid and T-shirts or other souvenirs.
In addition to the basics, some tours also provide bus service (which can be important on point-to-point routes), meals and evening entertainment.
Sometimes such features are included in the basic fee; sometimes they are separately-priced options.
Many rides are popular and fill quickly. The Bicycle Ride Across Nebraska and Colorado's Ride the Rockies, for example, already are full for 1990, and are included on the list only for people planning for 1991.
When contacting one of the listed rides, send a business-size, self-addressed, stamped envelope.
If you are looking for tours that don't appear on this list, try contacting bike clubs or bike shops in the part of the country you are interested in visiting. They often are very helpful.
Bike America (previously known as AFFBRAAM). June 3-Aug. 24; 5,050-mile transcontinental tour, Anacortes, Wash., to Belfast, Me. Consists of 12 connected cross-state rides. Limit: 300 riders per segment. Fee: $120 per segment, if postmarked before May 1; discount for multiple segments. Contact: Box 29, Northfield, Minn. 55057, (507) 663-1268. Individual segments are: 1) Washington, June 3-8, Anacortes to Newport, 472 miles; 2) Rocky Mountain, June 10-17, Newport to Columbia Falls, Mont., 490 miles; 3) Park to Park, June 17-23, Glacier National Park to Yellowstone National Park, 462 miles; 4) Montana, June 24-29, West Yellowstone to Beach, N.D., 502 miles; 5) North Dakota, July 1-5, Beach to Fargo, 363 miles; 6) Minnesota, July 7-13, Fargo to Lake City, 510 miles; 7) Wisconsin, July 15-20, Lake City to Kewaunee, (continues to Michigan with a ferry ride across Lake Michigan), 402 miles; 8) Michigan, July 22-27, Ludington to Morenci, 373 miles; 9) Ohio, July 29-Aug. 3, Morenci to Bessemer, Pa., 435 miles; 10) Pennsylvania, Aug. 5-10, Bessemer to Bath, N.Y., 389 miles; 11) New York, Aug. 12-17, Bath to Clintonville, 352 miles, and 12) New England, Aug. 19-24, Clintonville to Belfast, Me., 370 miles.
Oklahoma Freewheel. June 9-16; 468 miles, Marietta, Okla., to Noel, Mo. Ride is in its 12th year. No limit (3500 expected). Fee: $2 (to cover postage costs), includes usual services; no meals. Contact: Tulsa World, P.O. Box 1770, Tulsa, Okla. 74102, Attention: Freewheel; (918) 581-8385.
Biking Across Kansas. June 9-16; west-to-east tour by three routes converging in Pittsburg, Kan.; all routes are approximately 500 miles. Limit: 300 riders per route. Tour is extremely popular and fills by mid-February. Fee: $75; includes indoor lodging, some meals. Bus from Kansas City or Wichita, probably $50-$60 round trip. Contact: Norma Christie, 809 N. Parkwood, Wichita, Kan. 67208, (316) 682-4086.
BRAN (Bicycle Ride Across Nebraska). June 10-16; Sidney to Omaha, 445 miles. Route varies each year, always crosses state from west to east, ending near Omaha. Limit: 500. This year's ride already is full. To apply for 1991, send SASE during December, 1990, and send back registration form by return mail. Ride fills within one week of time applications are mailed out in January. Fee: $50 this year. Bus available. Contact: Northwest Rotary, 10730 Pacific St., Suite 218, Omaha, Neb. 68114.
Sierra to the Sea. June 16-23; Columbia State Park, Calif., to San Francisco, 400 miles. Limit: 96. Fee: $250, includes bus to and from San Jose and seven meals. Contact: John Halverson, 1125 Shenandoah Drive, San Jose, Calif. 95125.
Ride the Rockies. June 17-22; Craig, Colo., to Boulder, Colo., 391 miles. Limit: 2,000, filled by lottery on March 2. Fee: $110, bus available. Contact: The Denver Post, 1560 Broadway, Denver, Colo. 80202, (303) 820-1338.
BRAG (Bicycle Ride Across Georgia). June 17-23; begins on north side of Atlanta, ends in Albany, approximately 350 miles. No limit (2,000 attended last year). Fee: $35 last year. Contact: P.O. Box 14531, Savannah, Ga. 31416, (912) 439-9203.