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If you were to ask me if I’m a biker, I’d probably say no. Which is just one reason why it might seem crazy that I plan on biking from Astoria, Oregon to Yorktown, Virginia this coming September and October. The Transamerica Route is 4,241.5 miles and should take my boyfriend, Don, and I 68 days to complete. We are planning for 6 “zero” or non-biking days and will be carrying most of what we need with us. The plan is to bike, camp, explore, take photos, and blog about our experience. So how did I come up with this crazy idea and why might a non-biker want to do something like this?

It all started Sophomore year of college when a friend of mine took a semester off to bike across the country with her brother. I followed her blog with envy, promising to myself that someday I too would make that journey. I think initially it was the challenge that seemed most enticing. I like to push myself and see what my body is capable of. It was the same reason that I signed up for and ran the Chicago Marathon back in 2008. I also liked the idea of living simply for an extended period of time. On bike tour, or long-distance hiking, or any other long-term adventure, you are consistently living in the moment. Fewer worries or distractions and more being present.

As the years have gone by, my reasons for wanting to bike across the country have only matured and multiplied. There is so much that I want to see, especially in my own country, but with gas prices always on the rise, I feel more and more confined to my own small world. Our country is incredibly diverse, both geographically and socially. I want to meet more people from different walks of life. The older I get the more clear it is to me that I fit very definitively into a certain demographic and the vast majority of people that I interact with fit into that same demographic. I have always believed that when it comes to people “to know is to love” and without knowing anyone outside of my own group, I feel like I am missing out on the ability to really love all people. Also, since living in Portland I have grown in my respect for the bicycle as a mode of transportation. Many people in my city choose to own a bike instead of a car, and they get along just fine. Traveling by bike is a win-win scenario. Not only is it costly to own and drive a car, but it pollutes our air and wastes natural resources. Now don’t get me wrong. I own a Subaru Outback that I love, and I am the last person to go around judging people for driving a car, but I look forward to proving to myself and others that there is really no distance so far that you have to ditch the bike and take a car. Riding your bike is healthy, simple as that. I look forward to the physical fitness involved in so much biking. I am getting older and I know that when it comes to my body it’s “use it or lose it”. I consider this bike tour an investment in my overall health. I expect my heart, lungs, muscles, and all other organs to be healthier when I finish bike tour than they have probably been since I was a child. Earlier generations used their bodies for everything, but with modern inventions, we have found more and more ways to move less. When Europeans were first exploring this country they did it using human and animal power. I look forward to the clarification that will come as I discover what I really “need” versus what I “want.”

Society is quick to offer reasons why this kind of a trip cannot or should not happen. The two that I have felt most compellingly are time and money…those precious commodities that rule our lives. They’re related of course. How, people ask, can I take over two months off of work and still survive? How will I pay bills while I’m gone? What about rent or storage for my belongings? How will I save enough money to pay for trip expenses? There is a frighteningly steep curve that happens between the ages of 18 and 26. At 18 people expect you to “find yourself”. There are a good 5 post-high-school years where it is perfectly acceptable, and quite easy, to take off for long periods of time for travel and growth. But around age 24 or 25, expectations change and people begin to settle down. Most people rapidly acquire things, people, animals, and jobs that make the idea of leaving for 2 months challenging if not impossible. I have already run into this problem myself and it scares me. Am I really supposed to confine all of my adventures to a week or less from here on out? This trip is my attempt to work around the many barriers that keep others only dreaming.

The major catalyst for my decision to make this trip happen came in the form of a love story. Back in October, there was this handsome man that I worked with who made my heart a-flutter and whom I was sure was unavailable. We had exchanged a few words, but mostly I just tried to keep from tripping when walking past him at work. Then one morning he approached me and brought up the fact that he had heard I wanted to bike across the country. A week before I had been on a radio ad for our store where they asked me what adventures I wanted to go on and they kept playing it over and over while we were at work. I tried to respond calmly that yes, I wanted to bike across the country, ideally this coming summer, and no, I didn’t know who I would be going with. To that, Mr. Too-good-to-be-true nonchalantly remarked that he, too, wanted to bike across the country and maybe we should talk about the possibility of going together. My mind began to race. He must be single! What did he mean by this invitation? Did he really expect us to bike for 2 months together just as friends? Could he not see how smitten I was? Did he feel the same? I made an embarrassing attempt at continuing the conversation later in the day. I believe I said something like, “Hey, we should keep in touch about the bike ride…that would be really cool to do it together!” before running home nervous and excited. To make a long story short, it was another month before I had the courage to ask Don if he wanted to hang out. As our friendship developed and eventually grew into love, a cross-country bike tour only seemed more plausible and likely, especially considering that Don is a certified bike mechanic! As it turns out, Don had no ulterior motives when he first asked me about bike tour. He legitimately wanted a bike partner…but in the end we both ended up with so much more.

It was January when we officially decided that we would do everything we could to complete a cross-country bike tour this year. In the last 4 months, we have learned a lot and tried to plan as best we can at this stage in the process. It has already been an interesting journey, and one that I will write about in more detail in my next post. We can’t be sure if we are doing everything correctly, but so long as we complete our tour, we hope that our process can be a resource for others who want to attempt this kind of long-distance trip.

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About Me

- 26 years old
- Pacific Northwest
- Educator, adventurer, friend

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