So – I’m biking across the country in 1 month & 12 days.
That’s the short version of the story. The longer version includes researching/planning/pondering/dragging my feet/keeping it on the DL since January, finally committing and buying a one-way ticket out West two weeks ago only to find out I didn’t have a bike to ride for the trip (😱), and eventually one epic, two month adventure as I attempt the wildest feat of a lifetime…
I can’t pinpoint the exact time when the seed was planted in my mind, but cycling across the country has been one of those “that would be seriously bonkers but awesome / I should do that at some point in my life”-type ideas over the last few years. And I definitely had a burning feeling in me that 2017 needed to be a big year as it approached. I started doing some light research and reading about bike touring in January. Looking back, I created the “cycle_usa” folder on my laptop on February 12th, the unofficial point when the crazy pipe dream started to become a real possibility. Over the next month or so, I let family and some close friends know that this may go down, and cleared the trip with my bosses at both jobs.
Fast forward from there to Saturday May 13th – after a long day of research, I’m having a couple beers in my apartment, blasting music, and psyching myself up to officially make this a reality (this is kind of a tradition now for committing to something crazy). Filled out the webpage for my one-way ticket to the West Coast on July 28th, clicked the “confirm” button, and stood up triumphantly (actually – the true story is that I got an error from the website cause I forgot to enter the security code on my credit card, and had to retry – talk about a buzzkill 👎) – I had finally committed to the trip that had been on my mind for months. I was full of crazy emotions and thoughts. I texted/called some close friends and family to tell them the news.
During the last month or so since then, there have been a ton of ups and downs, and plenty of contemplating about squashing the trip altogether, hence the delay in letting the word out for over a month after I booked my ticket. Some family drama, some surprise work commitments, some disapproving reactions – all of which I have either worked out or convinced myself are not the end of the world. The news I got after that, on the other hand, had me straight up searching for rental cars & plane tickets back to the East Coast….
So, two Saturdays ago after I had finally picked two sets of racks and bags to carry all my gear (totaling over $500 on their own 😯), I went to the local bike shop to learn more about mounting them to my bike. The guy at the counter says a-matter-of-factly: “not on that bike”. What?! 😵🔫…..My road bike (so I’ve learned) is built for racing – fast, lightweight, and not designed to carry heavy loads (like all the stuff I need to survive for two months), at least not safely. So let me break this down – I was the noob, with a one way ticket to the West coast, in 8 weeks, planning to ride a bike back, but with no bike to do it with. I left the store disappointed, demoralized, and, to be honest, pretty embarrassed.
I spent the next few days feeling pretty down, starting to accept the fact that this year just wasn’t my year. I let some of my friends know the news. By the end of the week though – after a bit of encouragement from those friends, plenty of soul searching, and some number-crunching to make sure I wouldn’t need to eat Ramen noodles until 2019 – shelling out for a brand new bike to salvage the trip felt like what I had to do.
Here I am – I’ve already got a plane ticket to the West coast, I’ve somehow managed to clear a two month leave of absence with both my jobs and still be welcomed back after, I’ve planned and researched for months, and I know that with each year that ticks by, doing something this crazy gets significantly less likely.
The fire was back. A goal is a mother-effin goal and I’m going to get it done regardless of the obstacles put in my way.
I went to the bike shop on Monday this week and ordered my brand new, powerhouse road bike that’s built to go the distance. Yes, I just dropped well over $1000 on it. Yes, it was jolting. And yeah – it scares me a bit to think about the long list of other gear I still need to purchase and the uncertain amount of money it’ll take to live on the road for two months. But you know what, it fired me up more about the trip. It made me feel like I’m unstoppable.
Wrapping this long story up – I’ve got six weeks left to figure out how to make it 3600 miles or so across the country on a bike, living off of whatever I can carry on it. Although I’m sure it will be challenging physically, the logistic/mental challenge feels more daunting to me. I know I can do it though. My life has been driven so far by the belief that I can do anything I put my mind to. Cliche, definitely, but true. And no, not unique to me, but to anyone who actually accepts & believes that cliche as truth.
I know that I will need all of the support I can get when I set off on this adventure. I’ll be narrowing down & sharing my route over the next month – any recommendations on friends of friends (of friends) to stay with (bonus points for middle-of-nowhere locations) would be greatly appreciated. I’m sure positive encouragement of any form will go a long way once I get going, especially when I’m in the middle of Nebraska wondering what the F I’m doing with my life. I’ve also decided to forego trying to raise any funds for myself personally to fund this trip, in hopes that it will inspire more people to donate to the TBD fundraiser that I will organize. More details to come on all of this.
So now onto the first & most important orders of business: who is going to babysit my plants when I leave, and what is my emergency plan when I run out of peanut butter on the road and can’t find any?? 🤔