It has been a life-time dream of mine to bike across the country. Luckily for me, spending four years in Ithaca, NY has introduced me to many people who have had similar ambitions. Some days, it almost seems like an everyday activity. When sharing my plan with someone new, they would simply respond "biking across the country, huh? I did that once..."
Inadvertently talking to people who have already accomplished what you're setting out to do is a great way to fuel an ambition though. Of course, my dream has always been a bit unique. Whereas most set out simply to go coast to coast, I've always wanted to take a slightly different approach. I'm after National Parks, National Forests, and some amazing (albeit slightly inaccessible) scenery.
Needless to say, such an ambitious goal has been hard to translate into a tangible plan. In my typical tendency to get ahead of myself, there was one point when I actually thought that I could see it all in one attempt. Luckily for my health and sanity though, the map told a different story.
After countless months of research, a few eye-opening conversations, and a bit of compromise, I have finally solidified a route. 6,000 miles of biking though 18 states, passing many National Parks and Forests along the way.
There will be hills bigger than I want to imagine, lonely nights in the middle of nowhere, and perhaps a few moments of utter regret. I will probably see a bear closer than I would ever want to, and learn more about myself than I ever cared to.
And yes, I’ll be riding a steel-frame mountain bike.
To better prepare for this excursion, I recently went on a three-day, 300 mile bike tour of the Finger Lakes region. Although not quite as extreme as a cross-country trip, I was able to learn a few valuable lessons about what’s to come.
What I found is that there’s something about exploring that makes you realize how big the world actually is. Despite many challenges and even a few moments of fear, I finished the trip wanting to see more. On the brink of this new adventure, I’m ready to explore, eager to learn, and excited for the unexpected.
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