Monday, April 6, 2009

Life Starts Now!

One warm spring morning a few weeks from now I will make my way over to a beach in Yorktown, Virginia where the York River, the Chesapeake and the Atlantic Ocean meet. Once there, I will load up my bicycle, roll over to the surf and inhale deeply. After a couple of minutes of silent contemplation, I will turn around, get on my bike and start the rest of my life.

Next stop, the west coast.

HUH!?
That’s right, my dear reader. I have decided to bike across the United States, from coast to coast, on a bicycle. Yes, you heard (read) right. A bicycle.

I will be traveling completely unsupported, which basically means that I will be carrying everything I will need right on the bicycle itself. Save for the occasional motel stay, I plan on camping 95% of my nights on the road. And there will be a fair number of nights of camping; the trip will last between 3-4 months. Oh boy…

ROUTE
While the entire route has not been completely finalized, I’ll be taking the Transamerica bike trail most of the way. This trail starts in Virginia and passes through Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and Oregon. Here’s a map of the trail:


And here’s how the Adventure Cycling Association describes the route:

“This is still the greatest and most used route crossing America. This classic ride offers everything you would expect from a transcontinental crossing. You'll encounter all kinds of scenery and terrain, including ocean coastline, lush forests, high desert, mountain passes, snow-capped peaks, sweeping vistas, expansive plains, fertile farmlands, rolling hills, and wide rivers. You'll pass through small, out-of-the-way towns in America that still serve up some of the best home-cooked meals and fresh-baked pies.”

There is a chance that once I get to Colorado I might opt to take the Western Express trail that cuts across the deserts of Utah and Arizona before hitting San Francisco, California, but this will be a decision I will make once I’m on the road.

WHAT I’M EXPECTING
During this trip there will be tons of bicycling, reading, yoga training, hiking, meditating, blogging, kayaking, and miscellaneous mischief throughout.

More than anything, I’m hoping that folks I meet along the way will help me ‘discover’ the heart of this beautiful country we call America. I’m longing to have interesting conversations over a campfire in Kansas. I’m counting on the kindness of strangers somewhere by the side of the road in Missouri. I’m yearning to share the vastness of the desert stars with a family in Utah.

ARE YOU OUT THERE?
While side-trip possibilities are limited off the trail, I think it would be awesome to meet as many of you as possible. Do let me know if you are going to be near the trail and maybe we can meet up somewhere along the way.

WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS?
Because I want to. Because I can. Because this will be an incredible adventure. Because I want to challenge myself in a way that does not involve billable hours, Asset Purchase Agreements and/or 2 hour conference calls.

Because, at the end of the day, I want to be able to look at myself in the mirror and know that I had the courage and conviction to embrace life to the fullest.

53 comments:

Anonymous said...

How will you handle water? This poses tremendous opportunities, but it's going to be really hot along that route.

s in Ohio said...

Awww...you aren't going through Ohio!! Bummer.

Jerry Critter said...

What a great adventure! Be well and do well. I look forward to following you across the US vicariously.

Kerry said...

Yay Jack!! I am so excited for you. It's amazing how excited you can be for someone that you never met before.

If you feel the need to come through NC, let me know. I would love to meet you.

Many prayers and happy thoughts to you. Please please please find a way to blog on the trip.

Anonymous said...

What an amazing adventure and opportunity! I do not think you will be the same person when you are finished with this journey. Get ready...close your eyes...and jump!

Jennoit said...

What a fantastic adventure, Jack!! I wish you well and I do hope you will blog from time to time? If you get a little further north, make sure you let me know. A warm welcome could be had in Vancouver, BC.

Meg said...

That's awesome! It's a shame you aren't making it down to North Florida, though! There are gorgeous bike trails around here and you could count on some good southern hospitality and a glass of sweet tea from the hubby and I!

Julia said...

I'm jealous! I've always wanted to do something like this. Not sure about cycling, though :) Best of luck to you!

Eager said...

Excellent! Congratulations. I hope you'll be blogging along the way?

I'm sure you'll cover this in future posts, but how will you be able to wrap everything up (student loans, townhouse, etc.) by the time you're ready to leave on your cross-country adventure?

Elizabeth said...

have fun!

it's hard to tell where the Oregon route is .. doesn't look like it goes through PDX proper. But .. if you wind up on the northern end of the OR coast, let me know - the pup and I are always up for a day at the ocean. :)

Srividya said...

drooling here :) I am going to live vicariously through your journey. Make sure you spend enough time camping and enjoying the places.

Jennifer Cameron said...

Good luck on your journey. You won't be needing those resistance bands...

As much as I would thoroughly enjoy meeting and hosting you, (my husband and I were discussing you and your goals and accomplishments just last night!) We live far off the trail you are taking. I do look forward to reading your updates though.

Miss Scorpio said...

Be sure to stop off and see my mama in the middle of the country. She will fix you a hope cooked meal.

Jack said...

@Anonymous,

Already on that. Will carry enough to hydrate during the day and will rely on streams, rivers and grocery stores for camping/cooking/showering.

@S in Ohio,

Yeah, total bummer. Next time though...

@Jerry,

Thanks man.

Jack said...

@Kerry,

Thanks! Yes, there will be tons of blogging. Many campsites have wi fi and I will also rely on hot spots along the way.

@Anonymous,

Right on. It's all about adventure.

@Jennoit,

Thanks. I know you would totally appreciate the trip. I might be up there sooner than you think.

Jack said...

@Meg,

Thanks for the offer. Who knows...maybe florida might be my next destination.

@Julia,

Thanks for the comment. How else would you do a similar trip? Are you more of a road trip person?

@Eager,

Absolutely; will be blogging all the way to the west coast. And to answer your question, not everything will be wrapped up before I leave on this trip. Will just have to monitor things from a distance as I go along.

Jack said...

@Elizabeth,

Absolutely. You might not believe this but I actually thought of you guys when I decided on the trail through Oregon. Let's play it by ear.

@Srividya,

Thanks. Just check in on a regular basis. No telling what will happen. BTW, do you have your profile set to private? I seem to recall being able to see it at some point.

@Jennifer,

Funny enough, I'm actually going to be taking them with me:) I'm going to get a ton of cardio done on the bike, but I don't want to neglect my upper body. And no worries about hosting. Maybe we will meet at some point regardless.

Family on Bikes said...

YIPPEE!!! Another one bites the dust!

Nancy
www.familyonbikes.org

amy said...

This is so awesome! You rock! Have you ever read Where the Pavement Ends by Erica Warmbrunn? This reminds me of that book. She biked from Mongolia to Vietnam. If you haven't read it, it might be a good one to take along on the trip (if you have room/time for a book, that is). I'm looking forward to watching your journey unfold. May safety and total adventure awesomeness be yours!

Daizy said...

I am very happy to see that you have found your first (of many) adventures. I hope you have a wonderful trip. I see you will not be visiting Arizona but you wouldn't want to be here during the summer anyway. Have fun!

Debbi said...

You'll actually be heading away from where I am, and I'm planning a trip out West, but not in the next 3 to 4 months.

However, it sounds like an awesome adventure. Good luck! (And remember to stop every now and then to stretch.)

Jack said...

@miss scorpio,

Sounds like a plan. Will need her address.

@Nancy,

You know that some of this is your fault!

@Amy,

Thanks! I'll check it out. I think that I've actually heard of it.

Fonk said...

Give me a shout when you roll through Colorado. Looks like you'll be bypassing the Springs, but I could come meet you down in Pueblo or maybe out in Summit County; maybe even ride with you for a day or two.

LAS said...

You are doing something that I've always wanted to do - in spirit if not specifics. I'm so jealous but excited for the blog posts.

My aunt trekked across spain a few years ago and I couldn't wait for the emails - it was like reading a book you can't put down. Last year someone I didn't even know retired from my office and rode cross country for a cause. I read his web page like it was my job.

I'm so excited to read about your journey. I hope you're prolific.

Weston said...

NOW YOU'RE FREAKING TALKING.

There are way too few situations where we can set off on an adventure, knowing with an absolute certainty that we will remember it for the rest of our lives.

Have a great time.

" Vision without action is a dream. Action without vision is simply passing the time" ...John Barker

Jack said...

@Daizy,

Thanks. But just to be clear, I may be in Arizona sooner than you think.

@Debbi,

Shoot! Well, maybe next time then.

@Fonk,

Sounds like a plan. Let's see if we can make it happen.

MarylandMom said...

Missoula! My husband's grandparents live there. It's amazing. You HAVE to stop at the best locally grown, organic pizza restaurant in the world, Biga Pizza, in the tiny Missoula downtown. Buy some Moose Drool beer at the VFW next door and carry it in. Wind at your back, Jack.

Anonymous said...

We're just 20 miles from the Katy trail in central Missouri. We'd love to host you!

Sounds like an awesome adventure! Enjoy! ~leah

SteveG said...

Have fun!

This should be an amazing journey!

All the best.

Jennifer @ Conversion Diary said...

Good for you! Have a great trip. Let me know if you get sidetracked and end up in Austin. :)

dtb said...

I just rode my bike to work today for the first time--longest ride I've had in years (and it's really not long at all). Words cannot express the joy I felt at transporting myself, literally and spiritually for a mere hour. I can only imagine what this will be like for you. Congratulations.

Anonymous said...

You're never going to make it. You'll give up. You'll stay in hotels the whole way and lie to us, saying you camped.

Jack said...

@LAS,

I think the level of blogging will depend on how often I hit those hot spots and access wifi on the go. But I expect to write every day. There is a lot of stuff to focus on and I want to start with the written word.

@Weston,

Sweet quote. Adventure of a lifetime, indeed. Come on and join me:)

@Marylandmom,

That sounds pretty yummy. I will have to check it out.

Jack said...

@Anonymous,

Sounds like a plan. Thanks for the offer! Let's see if we can make it happen. Remind me as I get closer.

@SteveG

Thanks!

@Jennifer,

Will do, though I may just pop in regardless.

vnug said...

Jack -

Good luck on your adventure (cross country). I have done similar cross-country trek a while back. Looking forward for the updates along the way. If your biking takes close to Lexington, KY ... let me know. Like someone earlier said - "wind on your back".

-vasu

Jack said...

@dtb,

Bike riding is actually a spiritual experience for me. I can totally understand.

@Anonymous,

Wow.

@Vasu,

Will do. And thanks.

Dreamer said...

Jack - take care, keep in touch and have a fantastic time!

Sophia said...

Well done! I once met a wonderful couple who were cycling from mexico to alaska on a tandem bike. They were so charming I dragged them home with me for the night so I could feed them a proper meal and so they wouldn't have to camp.

There are so many people out there who will be happy to meet you and help you on your way. Bound to be a great experience. Good luck! Go on Twitter so we can follow along!

Simmons said...

Sounds like a lot of fun! I hope to do the coast to coast one day, but family is the focus for now. Good Luck on your adventures!

Jack said...

@dreamer,

Thanks!

@Sophia,

I probably will. Thanks.

@Simmons,

Never a "perfect time" to do it. You just have to choose a time to focus on it.

Rheutillius said...

I'm 74 and just heard about bicycle touring in the last year. Got an HP Velotechnik Scorpion trike and my first brief trip starts this month. Sailed the Caribbean a couple of years with wife and 3 children (Have 16 grandchildren now) but this is the first non-motor assisted land travel. Wish I had this idea 40 years ago! I'm sure you have heard of warmshowers.org I got to host a young man that was over 6,000 miles since leaving on his tour.

Anonymous said...

Jack,

While your trip doesn't include Michigan, you should definitely try to find the time to come up this way, it is absolutely beautiful spring, summer and fall! Up North, as Michiganders call it, would be great for you, scenic roadways; Lake Michigan and so many inland lakes; great, underrated wineries and breweries... Happy trails and have fun! I'll monitor from my desk at SmallLaw (btw, SO much better than BigLaw) in Michigan. Cheers, Brad

Tamara said...

Wow, that's incredible! I'm sure you are going to learn about yourself and what you want after this. Good luck and fair winds!

Jack said...

@Rheutillius,

Definitely never too late to starts. And already signed up for Warmshowers.org. It's a wonderful service.

@Brad,

Thanks man. Been to Michigan so know how beautful it is out there. Need to go back.

@Tamara,

Thanks. Just hope this thing is still on (see my new post for today). Urgghhh.

Anna said...

Wow Jack - this is such a good idea! I've been fantasizing about doing the TransAmerican trail too so I can't wait to hear all about your trip - hopefully you'll be blogging along the way, when you can. I'm going to be passing through Kentucky on a roadtrip at the end of May, so if our timing corresponds, maybe we can meet up at the Daniel Boone National Forest. :) Until then, take care of your ankle!

Christine the Strawberry Girl said...

Fantastic! I am glad to see you putting all your dreams into reality!

Linda said...

Sounds like a wonderful adventure!

I do hope that you're doing this for enjoyment as well!

I don't know you (besides from what I've read on the blog) but I, like so many others, have sadly enough based our lives on performance. And I'm personally very sick of it!

I'm experimenting in simplicity just like you, but I have to watch myself all the time so I don't fall back and make the simple live all about achievement and competition. Beeing the good girl/boy is so boring!

Well, what I really wanted to say by all this was:

I wish you have lots of fun on your journey and enjoy yourself to the fullest! Good Luck!

Linda
http://simplethics.blogspot.com

Linda said...

And, oh, by the way! You should come to Sweden on your next journey. Midnight sun in the north is spectacular!

Linda

Jessica said...

VSJ!

Its too bad you aren't coming down South. We have a futon and my husband and I are both excellent chefs.
Southern hospitality, bro...

Jack said...

@Anna,

Sounds like a plan! Just send me an email and let's see if we can get this done.

@Christine,

Thanks for the support

@Linda,

Thanks for the kind words. Will check out the link as soon as I am done here.

Jack said...

@Linda,

Believe me, Sweden will be part of my next European vacation for sure. I've been wanting to go north every time I am on the continent but just never got the chance.

@Jessica,

Who knows. Life is weird. I may one day host both of you somewhere on the road...:)

Jonna (aka mom) said...

This woman is doing yoga globally. She's very interesting. I think you'd find her travels interesting.

http://www.thisendup1.com/

Beany said...

I began reading your blog last year a few months after you started. And although I've never made more than 40K, I've had very similar thoughts as yourself. After convincing my husband, we got rid of everything we owned and biked across country and found ourselves in San Diego. It was the most life altering things my every-cautious self has done. Congratulations on your journey to date and if you ever need a place to crash and some good food to eat, get in touch!