Riding 814 miles on a bicycle… Cool, I guess… Being on this adventure with this crew of people traveling through this region of the country… Words can’t even come close to painting a true picture… But I guess that’s what I’m trying to do here… So keep reading!
Let’s start with this frequently asked question: What’s the difference between this trip and the Appalachian Trail?
The most similar aspect is definitely the daytime. On the trail, you’re in the woods; out here, your on the road. On the trail you don’t deal with civilization during the day; out here, it somewhat surrounds you. So wait… completely different right? Not for me. You get in the same mindset as you would at a job you love… Get the daily task at hand completed by the end of the day and have fun going through the process. 15 miles hiking; 50 miles biking. Either way, a daily goal with a sense of daily accomplishment. I’m still climbing mountains, I’m still seeing beautiful views, I’m still driven by good music in my ears, I’m back…
Biggest difference: end of the riding day. So in the morning we make a tentative plan of how far we will go and where we will end the day. So we find ourselves in this middle of nowhere town with a population of 264. There lies the difference between the AT (Appalachian Trail) and Sea2Key (Seattle to Key West)… Sleeping.
On the trail you are legally allowed to sleep pretty much anywhere for free. On the road you are legally allowed to sleep pretty much nowhere. Basically we rely on the kindness of strangers here. Standard procedure is to loiter in front of a gas station/grocery store and ask every passer-by if we can sleep in their backyard. Sometimes you find yourself in a house being served a steak dinner and sleeping in a bed. If that fails, you find yourself in situation #2… Stealth camping: the act of sleeping illegally in an area not designated for camping. Objective: get a good night’s sleep without getting caught. City park, golf course, farm, cemetery, behind a dumpster… The possibilities are endless… Use your imagination, it’s an art.
So know we come to a different topic… Could you do this? Let’s review the game plan: Ride a bicycle 4,000 miles from Seattle, Washington to Key West, Florida. Physically can you do it? Absolutely. I’m 100% positive you can. Mentally: completely different ball game. How do you feel about being homeless for 5 months? Finding water to drink, finding food to eat, finding outlets to charge your phone, finding a new place to sleep every night. It can definitely drain your energy quickly… But I absolutely live for it. Water: park and store water fountains. Food: food pantries (free, slightly expired food from grocery stores). Electrical outlets: in a bar… That way you get to enjoy air conditioning and watch some Sportscenter Top 10 while you charge up… If your thirsty… Resist the beer. Sleeping: you would be amazed at the kindness of absolute strangers… Soooo now I can sign you up for the next adventure, Right?
Another question I have received: What are you carrying with you and how are you carrying it?
My bike has a rack over the rear wheel that carries a bag on each side of the wheel and a bag on top. I also have a handy-dandy handlebar bag.
Packing list: tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, kitchen (stove, fuel, pot, spoon), food, clothes (riding, town, sleeping) chargers, toiletries, electronics (phone, camera, iPod, headlamp, GPS tracker) bike tools/parts, speakers, baritone ukulele… The last two are extremely necessary. Best part: the speakers connected to my iPod mounted to my handlebar bag… entertainment center for a bicycle.
Congratulations! You made it to your favorite part of the blog: random stories from the road!
Missoula: favorite city so far on this shindig. Boo Boo’s relatives made that possible: Budelle, Mark, and Snoop (the dog).
There is a river wave in the middle of downtown. Squeeze and Breezy borrowed a couple of surf boards and ripped it up… Kind of… They did their best.
Snoop loved us living at his humble abode. As soon as we would leave any item of food out and unattended he would attack it quick as Jimmie Johnson hitting the home stretch. He obviously had a bread obsession… Loaf of banana nut bread, loaf of jalapeño cheddar bread, and 36 dinner rolls… all devoured.
We were at a bike shop in Missoula working on our bikes and when they were getting ready to close they said we could keep hanging out and work on our bikes if we wanted to. Gave us the keys to lock up and everything. Best part: they said if anybody came by we could let them in and help them out. Pretty cool running an after hours bike shop.
The family we were staying with in Missoula invited us to go to a funeral with them… A funeral with music, tons of food, and an open bar. They said we should find dates to it… Asking someone to go to a funeral with you is a tough sell…
Missoula is home of the Testicle Festival… Who can cook the best bull balls.
We slept inside a church in Avon, MT. After we got set up the preacher came in and heard me listening to my iPod with my speakers. He proceeded to kick us out because we weren’t listening to Christian music… Just kidding. He showed me how to hook up to their speaker system and crank up some Van Morrison tunes as loud as we could.
So riding a bicycle on the interstate in Alabama is 1000% illegal… Not the case up here. It has turned into one of my favorite places to ride. Once you get past the fact that cars are going 127 mph… You realize that you have a 15 foot wide shoulder to absolutely dominate.
So as we were arriving at a place to camp one night (public park), a wind/hail/lighting storm rolled in. Everybody thought I was insane for sleeping in the public bathroom… Just makes sense to me. I’m out of the weather and I can lock out the grizzly bears… However it did absolutely reek of… you guessed it.
So our next big city stop was Jackson Hole, Wyoming. My buddy Richard lives there. I called him about 4 days before we were supposed to get there. Here’s the conversation:
Richard: When are you getting here?
Me: Hopefully August 8th for my birthday.
Richard: Perfect. I’ll be back the 7th.
Me: Where are you going?
Richard: Going to see Phish play at The Gorge.
I instantly tell Raw Dog, the other fan of the band in our group. He said “we have to go now that we know about it…” So we look up the location of The Gorge thinking it will be close: George, Washington. No joke. 700 miles away.
Richard doesn’t have room for us. We chalk the trip up as a loss thinking there is no way we can make it. But after deciding failure was not an option we decide to hitch hike all the way there.
Long story short: after a lady from Holland that had spent time hitch hiking; A very cool couple from Helena that decided they could sleep on the way home from the show if we drive their car; and 3 beautiful teachers from San Francisco could use a designated driver for 630 miles; we made it to the show and hitch hiked a total of 1,400 miles.
That’s all for now folks. Hope this has been an enjoyable experience reading through my ramblings. Get out there, on an adventure that is, you will be happy you did, tell em’ I sent ya…