Last year in May 2019 Dan and I left Santa Monica, CA on a cold rainy day to start pedaling to New York. Dan had this goal of riding across the country a few years ago after we had done some shorter bike touring trips together. I didn’t want to do this ride at all when he initially brought it up.
Maybe two months before the trip I decided to join since Dan couldn’t convince anyone else to go with, and you can’t let your friend ride across the country alone right? In the months leading up to the trip I had been traveling for work so did not have much time to train. “I will get in shape on the ride” was my thought.
We were self-supported on the trip, riding from motel to motel, carrying everything on our bikes. The route we chose would be to follow Route 66 until Missouri and then link up with the Trans America Trail. Route 66 was tough.
The west is vast and there is not much between bigger towns. We hit a snowstorm outside Flagstaff, AZ and then a few days later were fighting gale-force headwinds in New Mexico.
Texas had triple-digit heat and then we had to avoid a tornado in Oklahoma. We rode by so much of the country that has been forgotten on Route 66. As we pedaled east the towns started to get closer together and the humidity rose. The Ozarks were beautiful and steep. Illinois was being hit with unprecedented rainfall and the Mississippi River was flooding over its banks as we arrived. We worked our way around barriers to pedal across an empty bridge just hours before the road was flooded.
The towns throughout the eastern states were much closer together and the network of bike paths was amazing. Each stop was fun and it was good to chat with people in the smaller towns. At this point, we were so used to riding over a century a day, and when we would tell people at our food stops where we were coming from and going to they would all think we were crazy and wish us luck with big smiles. As we reached Pennsylvania we could taste the end, but we missed riding in more remote parts of the country as going through bigger towns was more of a hassle.
Riding all day became our job, fixing flats was just a time to rest, and getting an ice-cold coke and chocolate milk at a gas station was always a joy. The smell of the ocean in New Jersey hit our noses with such joy and seeing the Atlantic brought the biggest smile to my face. We took the ferry from New Jersey into New York City and pedaled to our final hotel of the trip. Our last day would be riding out Jones Beach on Long Island to dip our toes, and bikes, into the Atlantic as a symbolic end to the journey.
The rush of emotions we expected didn’t hit us then as we expected. Each day of the trip was a challenge, there were the highs and the lows. It took a long time to process the whole trip as life came at us fast right after we finished. We knew that this was a trip of a lifetime, something we both learn and grow from. So much can be accomplished in a day with a positive outlook and taking it one pedal stroke at a time. In the end, we were just going for a bike ride, but it changed us in ways we couldn’t have imagined.
We pedaled for 28 days and covered a little over 3,000 miles. We wanted to do something with all the images captured on the trip. It ended up turning into a 164-page book filled with 168 images.
It was fun to relive the trip through images and put them into something physical people can enjoy.