I honestly could not tell you where I first discovered my love for the bicycle. But it doesn't matter. That feeling of wind on your face, two tires on the ground, and a destination ahead, that's what matters. Bicycle touring is a way to get out and see the world and exercise maturity and practical knowledge in a high-stakes environment. Here I will highlight a couple of my most impactful trips.
TransAmerica Route, 600 Miles, Summer 2016
Freshly graduated from 8th grade at Ruffing Montessori School, I cut my teeth on bicycle travel by riding 600 miles through humid, steep, treacherous, and unrelentingly beautiful Appalachia with six of my best friends. But they weren't always friends.
See, a few months ago I was looking for someone to ride with over the summer. My search quickly brought me to Adventure Cycling's "Companions Wanted" website, where I found a post from Danny, or as we quickly referred to him, Trekker Dan. He was planning to ride from Virginia all the way to Washington state. After a few phone calls to verify that he was not a serial killer and was willing to ride with - but not look after - a fourteen year old upstart from Cleveland with the ambition to ride as far as he could for two weeks, my father drove me five hours to Roanoke, VA to set off. I have a lot of fond memories of that first trip, but perhaps above all was the family we made. By the end of the trip, Dan and I had found five other cyclists on the same route. Strangers for a minute, friends for a lifetime. That was truly special. After this trip, I was hooked. The freedom of riding a bicycle to cover distance, the ability to be self-sufficient with a tent and a stove, and above all the people that you meet. That's what makes it truly special.
Northern Tier Route, 1200 Miles, Summer 2018
This trip also holds a lot of significance for me. Two years after my first big foray into cycling with the TransAmerica route, I was ready for something more. This route was a lot longer than my first, in addition to having a significant solo portion. I met my partner the same way I did on the TransAm trip. Mark lives in Boston, and we are still in touch today. Critically, this was my first big adventure with a significant solo travel portion. The first three days and the last six I traveled about 600 miles by myself. Lessons learned: the saddle can be lonely. I can do a lot if I set my mind to it. Solo travel is wildly rewarding.