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Trend Picks of the Year: Road Trips

Rebirth of Fuel
+ "Whither goes thou, America, in thy shiny car in the night?" It was exactly 50 years ago that the dangerously overcaffeinated Jack Kerouac published those words in On the Road. Bet the Beat prophet could never have predicted this year's boom in alt transport.

+ The charismatic billionaire Elon Musk unveiled his all-electric Tesla Roadster, which tops out at a smoking 135 mph (217 kilometers per hour) and a cool $100K.

Honda's new 2009 diesel is so taintless, even California allows it.

+ And Parkour, the hyperkinetic urban leapfrogging trend that percolated up from the streets of Paris, sprinted into the mainstream with sport-specific shoes and a starring role on the Casino Royale DVD. (Alas, if only the riders of this summer's Tour de France hadn't notched so many high-octane drug tests.)

+ No worries, road biking redemption came in a different form this spring: the new 2,058-mile (3,312-kilometer) Underground Railroad Bicycle Route from Alabama to Canada.

+ That's a lot of asphalt, but it pales in comparison with the post-postmodern Mongol Rally, which runs 10,000 miles (16,093 kilometers) from London to Mongolia. The only rule? Motors can be no bigger than one liter, barely larger than a lawn mower engine—or roughly the amount of fuel Dean Moriarty used to toss back after a long night behind the wheel.

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