Do you know what’s shockingly pleasant?
Pedaling a bicycle across Kansas.
Whoever called Montana “big sky country” had clearly never been to Kansas.
At age 25 I’d still never left the eastern time zone. The wide-open places out here blew my mind, especially as viewed from the seat of a bicycle.
To be outdoors on a bike is a form of isolation. On the straight and lonely roads, sparse vehicles keep their windows rolled up tight.
Flat expanses of green fields between towns were as good as wilderness.
Hazy summer days slowed to a crawl. Baseball fields, railroad tracks, and tall silos dotted the landscape.
The people were down-to-earth, kind, and real.
…like this gentleman I met one evening near sunset, eager to chat as I passed his front lawn:
I don’t know if we each have a destiny, or if we’re all just floating around accidental-like on a breeze. But I think maybe it’s both.”
The world was often drowned by the wind in my ears as I approached Colorado. American flags guided the way as I tuned in to FM radio. The DJ said “greatest classic hits of southwest Kansas and the panhandles.”
“Oh yeah,” I though. “That’s where I am. Somewhere in the middle of that colorful wall map from grade school. How did I get here?”
Simple. On my bike.
Where am I going?
Also a loaded question, but simple for now.
The Golden Gate Bridge, California… still a mythical place at age 25, of course.
My mama always said you’ve got to put the past behind you before you can move on”
I even had a steady stream of classic rock radio to motivate me as I pedaled… just like the Forrest Gump movie montage!
Though sometimes Gnarls Barkley would remind me how Crazy I was, or I’d find guilty pleasure in something about a Black Horse and a Cherry Tree… because it had a good beat for cycling.. or even worse, Josh Turner, inviting someone to come with me.
The Wheel in the Sky marks the days.
Wheel in the cosmos like wheels on a bike, man…
Next up is Emerson, Lake, and Palmer.
How you can experience this and not be grateful? It’s almost impossible.
This is how adventure travel improves our lives. Travel teaches gratitude. Gratitude leads to happiness. Absence of happiness leads to the the dark side.
When I got tired, I slept. When I got hungry, I ate. When I had to go, you know, I went.
Backpacking is wonderful and all, but this was a breakthrough trip for me. It’s a big world out there!
And with access to small-town conveniences on a daily basis, it was even easier than the Appalachian Trail. Cold Coca-Cola every day! Whooo!!!!
25 years old and way too idealistic for my own good, I ride my bicycle alone across the United States.
See it all through my journal:
I was 25 years old in 2006 when I started out alone with my bike. I began at the Atlantic Ocean on a Saturday morning… the Outer Banks, North Carolina. May 27th.
I’d essentially never been farther west than Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, so I was going to see the country for the first time via bicycle.
In late August I reached the Pacific Ocean and Eugene, Oregon. By then I was almost out of money. I wanted to keep going, so I managed to get a job there in Eugene, where I lived and worked for about six weeks.
Early October found me riding north to Seattle, and finally south along the Pacific Coast to San Francisco. From there I flew home to Pennsylvania on November 6, 2006.
Across the United States
Day 3 – Portsmouth, VA to Charles City, VA
Day 4 – Williamsburg, VA to Granville, VA
Day 5 – Granville, VA to Mechanicsville, VA
Day 6 – Mechanicsville, VA to Mineral, VA
Day 7 – Mineral, VA to Afton, VA
Day 8 – Afton, VA to Rusty’s Hard Time Hollow
Day 9 – Rusty’s Hard Time Hollow to Buchanan, VA
Day 10 – Buchanan, VA to Catawba, VA
Day 11 – Catawba, VA to Wytheville, VA
Day 12 – Wytheville, VA to Damascus, VA
Day 13 – Damascus, VA
Day 14 – Damascus, VA to Breaks Interstate Park
Day 15 – Breaks Interstate Park to Hindman, KY
Day 16 – Hindman, KY to Booneville, KY
Day 17 – Booneville, KY to Berea, KY
Day 18 – Berea, KY to Springfield, KY
Day 19 – Springfield, KY to Louisville, KY
Day 35 – Golden City, MO to Walnut, KS
Day 36 – Walnut, KS to Toronto, KS
Day 37 – Toronto, KS to Newton, KS
Day 38 – Newton, KS to Hutchinson, KS
Day 39 – Hutchinson, KS – 4th of July
Day 40 – Hutchinson, KS to Larned, KS
Day 41 – Larned, KS to Ness City, KS
Day 42 – Ness City, KS to Scott City, KS
Day 43 – Scott City, KS to Eads, CO
Day 44 – Eads, CO to Ordway, CO
Day 45 – Ordway, CO to Pueblo, CO
Day 46 – Pueblo, CO to Canon City, CO
Day 47 – Canon City, CO to Guffey, CO
Day 48 – Guffey, CO to Fairplay, CO
Day 49 – Fairplay, CO to Frisco, CO
Day 50 – Frisco, CO to Heeney, CO
Day 51 – Heeney, CO to Hot Sulphur Springs, CO
Day 52 – Hot Sulphur Springs, CO to Granby, CO
Day 53 – Granby, CO to Walden, CO
Day 54 – Walden, CO to Saratoga, WY
Day 55 – Saratoga, WY to Lamont, WY
Day 56 – Lamont, WY to Lander, WY
Day 57 – Lander, WY
Day 58 – Lander, WY
Day 59 – Working in Lander, WY
Day 60 – Working in Lander, WY
Day 61 – Lander, WY to Dubois, WY
Day 62 – Dubois, WY to Togwotee Pass, WY
Day 63 – Togwotee Pass, WY to Jackson, WY
Day 64 – Jackson, WY to Colter Bay Campground, WY
Day 65 – Colter Bay Campground, WY to West Yellowstone, MT
Day 66 – West Yellowstone, MT
Day 67 – West Yellowstone, MT to Twin Bridges, MT
Day 68 – Twin Bridges, MT to Jackson, MT
Day 69 – Jackson, MT to Stevensville, MT
Day 70 – Stevensville, MT to Missoula, MT
Day 76 – Oxbow, OR to Baker City, OR
Day 77 – Baker City, OR to Austin Junction, OR
Day 78 – Austin Junction, OR to Baker City, OR
Day 79 – Baker City, OR to Austin Junction, OR
Day 80 – Austin Junction, OR to Mitchell, OR
Day 81 – Mitchell, OR to Sisters, OR
Day 82 – Sisters, OR to McKenzie Bridge, OR
Day 83 – McKenzie Bridge, OR to Eugene, OR
Day 84 – Eugene, OR
Day 85 – Eugene, OR to Florence, OR
The Pacific Coast
West Coast Day 4 – Cascade Locks, OR to Randle, WA
West Coast Day 5 – Randle, WA to Greenwater, WA
West Coast Day 6 – Greenwater, WA to Sammamish, WA
West Coast Day 7 – Seattle, WA
West Coast Day 8 – Sammamish, WA to Seattle, WA
West Coast Day 9 – Seattle, WA to Shelton, WA
West Coast Day 10 – Shelton, WA to Centralia, WA
West Coast Day 11 – Centralia, WA to Castle Rock, WA
West Coast Day 12 – Castle Rock, WA to Astoria, OR
The Oregon Coast
West Coast Day 13 – Astoria, OR to Manzanita, OR
West Coast Day 14 – Manzanita, OR to Tillamook, OR
West Coast Day 15 – Tillamook, OR to Pacific City, OR
West Coast Day 16 – Pacific City, OR to Washburne State Park, OR
West Coast Day 17 – Carl Washburne State Park, OR to North Bend, OR
West Coast Day 18 – North Bend, OR to Port Orford, OR
West Coast Day 19 – Port Orford, OR to Brookings, OR
West Coast Day 20 – Brookings, OR to Elk Prairie Campground, CA
West Coast Day 21 – Elk Prairie Campground, CA to Eureka, CA
West Coast Day 22 – Eureka, CA to Rio Dell, CA
West Coast Day 23 – Rio Dell, CA to Richardson Grove State Park, CA
West Coast Day 24 – Richardson Grove State Park, CA to Fort Bragg, CA
West Coast Day 25 – Fort Bragg, CA to Point Arena, CA
West Coast Day 26 – Point Arena, CA to Wright’s Beach, CA
West Coast Day 27 – Wright’s Beach, CA to San Francisco, CA
About the TransAmerica Trail Bicycling Route
The TransAmerica Trail is an established bicycle route across the United States from Yorktown, Virginia to Astoria, Oregon. It primarily winds along scenic country roads with low traffic, avoiding highways and major cities. The largest city to be found directly on the route is Eugene Oregon, with a population of about 150,000. The average touring cyclist takes about three months to complete the trip. It’s approximately 4,200 miles.
The TransAmerica Trail was inaugurated in 1976 as a means of celebrating the nation’s bicentennial year. The idea for the ride was spawned by Greg Siple in 1972, while on a long tour.
The ’76 cross-country ride and consequential organization was called Bikecentennial. Over 4,000 cyclists that hailed from all 50 states took part in the ride. 2,000 riders completed the entire route in its first year – a notable event. Over forty years have passed since then, and many more cyclists have followed, creating a route rich in history and tradition.
Bikecentennial later transformed into what is now known as The Adventure Cycling Association. The organization now has almost 50,000 members, and has mapped almost 40,000 miles of 20 different long-distance cycling routes in the U.S.
Have you found Jesus yet, Gump?
I didn’t know I was supposed to be looking for him, sir!