7 American rides to do before they change forever – Bike Magazine Australia

Landslides. Beetle infestations. Wildfires. Searing temperatures. Many of the most beloved cycling spots in USA are already feeling the effects of climate change, but it’s not too late to visit. Here are seven of the most endangered.

Highway 1, Carmel-by-the-Sea to Cambria, California

Photograph courtesy of John Madonna

This 160km stretch of California State Route 1 might be the most dramatic coastline road in the whole of USA. Dozens of climbs and hairpin turns pass by centerfolds of crashing surf, thousand-foot cliffs, and old-growth redwoods.

How It’s Changing: Average temperatures in the Sierra Nevada mountains – home to snowpack that provides 60 per cent of the state’s water – may rise 10 degrees by the end of the century, increasing the risk of wildfires, drought, and severe flooding (drought conditions hamper the soil’s ability to absorb water). Last year, a wildfire burned more than 132,000 acres south of Carmel-by-the-Sea, due in part to years of  drought. Then, this past winter, Big Sur had its wettest rainy season in more than a century. In February, heavy rain caused a landslide that blew out the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge, about 50km south of Carmel-by-the-Sea. In May, another slide buried a 400m stretch of road at Mud Creek (pictured). As of June 2017, about 56km of this route were closed.

What to Do: The Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge is slated to reopen by September 30, and October is one of the best months to ride the coast – autumn brings fewer cars and less fog than summer. Plan to turn around at Gorda to avoid the pileup at Mud Creek. And consider donating to the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, which researches climate change and other water-related issues.

Moab, Utah

Hage Photo

Mountain bikers have flocked to these red rocks since the early 1980s. Highlights include the Navajo sandstone on the Slickrock Trail; the jaw-clenching exposure of Porcupine Rim; and the Whole Enchilada’s 8,000-foot drop through alpine forests, pinyons, slabs, and rock gardens.

How It’s Changing: Scientists predict an average temperature increase of 7 to 11 degrees F in Moab during this century. Some trails may get too loose and dry to ride, and those fragile soils can be kicked up into dust storms. 

What to Do: Moab’s main riding seasons are April through May and September through October. Help preserve the landscape by donating to the conservation organization The Nature Conservancy, which has a branch in Moab.

Going-to-the-Sun Road, Montana

Myke Hermsmeyer

The 52km climb from Glacier National Park’s Apgar Visitor Center to Logan Pass rises 1,000m and passes rock overhangs, dramatic mountain and glacier views, and historic stone walls. 

How It’s Changing: The scenery is already disappearing. Glaciers are melting at an astonishing rate; research released in May found that some have shrunk by as much as 85 per cent since 1966. Some scientists estimate that the remaining 26 glaciers – out of the original 150 – could be gone in the next few decades.

What to Do: Going-to-the-Sun is usually open from late June to October. From June 15 through Labor Day, some sections are closed to bikes from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. After you take in the glaciers, join the fight to save them – check out the Montana-based grassroots volunteer organization Glacier Climate Action.


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