Saturday, November 10, 2012

Last Post

Ah... it's good to be home.

It was 66 degrees today. Seems like the weatherperson has a cruel sense of irony. All the same, I am glad to be home.

General Thoughts

I'm really glad I did the trip. I have no regrets whatsoever. And -- best of all -- I only had to wait a year from the time I started planning. I met boatloads of people, most of whom I had no idea I would meet, most of whom were incredibly kind to me. I came out with lots of stories (more than could even fit on this blog), have two new friends from Bosnia, have leads on a few jobs, can say I've taken a bath outdoors in the back yard of someone I met less than an hour beforehand, and the list goes on. I'm really happy I did this, and I can't wait to do it again. I mean, I kind of have to wait, unless money starts growing on trees or coming out of the hot water pipe. Not to mention there are other things I want to do first.


Both for fun, for my own curiosity, and to appease your inquisitiveness, here are the stats of the trip -- those I can remember, anyways.

Date departed: August 20th, 2012
Date arrived: November 2nd, 2012
Total number of days: 74
Total number of break days: 12 (9 of which were spent in Jeff City, CO, while waiting for Lisa to arrive from CT)
Nights with Warmshowers hosts: 14
Nights invited on the property of a complete stranger: ~6
Nights in a motel: ~3
Nights in a church: 1
Nights stealth camped: ~50

Total miles: 4,032
Average miles/day (excluding 12 break days): 65
Longest day: 144 miles -- Pueblo, CO to Sheridan Lake, CO; 6 AM departure, 8 PM arrival
Estimated revolutions per wheel: 3,268,164
Estimated pedal strokes: 2,513,972
Continental Touring Pluses (Tires) replaced: 1
8-speed chains used: 2

Total amount spent on room and board: $1460
90 day budget: $1800
Proportional budget for 74 actual days: $1480
Average amount spent per day (including break days): $19.72
Daily budget: $20

Next Up

After I spend the holidays at home enjoying my last "real break" before entering real life, I plan to visit India, Guatemala, and Zambia, to volunteer as a bike mechanic. I'm keeping a blog for this one too -- be sure to follow it at This month starts more fundraising, trying to get airlines to sponsor me, and applying for an Indian visa! Don't miss out.

As far as careers go, I have an interview lined up with Epic, a healthcare technology company in Madison, WI. The position is a perfect fit, so I'm hopeful. I could end up there for a while, or I could get into bicycle advocacy and education. As far as I know right now, I would be happy doing either. Bottom line, I want to make a positive impact on the world. Maybe that makes me naive... I'm okay with that. If there is one thing this trip has done, it has shown me that kindness can never go too far. I already wanted to make the world a better place, but now I kind of have to -- all those people who gave me food, company, a place to sleep, they all said one thing:

Pass it on.

Tell me... what is it you plan to do with your one wild, precious life...?
Mary Oliver

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Iowa City, IA to Minneapolis, MN: I'm not dead -- I'm home!

Greetings devoted followers! I apologize for the delay between this and the last post -- a lot has happened, as always. For starters: Yes, the title of this post speaks true, I am home! Apparently some people have been worried that I might have died. Not the case.

So, that means this blog is quickly winding down. There will be two more posts, this being the first. It will focus on the last few days of the trip. The second post will be an overview and have a small "What's Next?" -- because you can't just stop at biking the country. Be sure to tune in a few days from now for the final post! And until then, on to business...

The business of pedaling!

We left Iowa City at 8:30 with an encouraging text from Anne (our host) ("Get your asses out of bed and in the saddle!"). Aside from passing an old-fashioned Diary Queen (see FB) and a car wash called "Rubber Ducky Car Wash" (complete with smiling rubber duck logo), it was a pretty standard day. Heck, it wasn't even that cold.

Thanks to Anne, we have a route picked out for the next day and a half. There was a bike trail from Ely, IA to Waterloo, IA. The trail would turn out to have some hiccups, but nothing major.

As we came into Cedar City, IA, we saw some pretty cool houses, and some pretty cool art. There was one house I neglected to photograph that had a gazebo built into it. We saw a birdhouse made out of a cowboy boot, and another made out of a bicycle helmet. It was all quite swell.

Before we went into the maze of bicycle trail throughout Cedar City, we smelled... delicious.


An intentional wrong turn led us to a Czech Village with a Czech bakery. It was the most delicious choice we made ever. Okay, maybe not ever... but having lunch at a bakery is definitely on my do-more list.

We continued on to make it about 20 miles outside Waterloo before stopping for dinner at Joensy's Tenderloins in Center Point, IA. It was one of the three places to eat in town, next to a pizza place and a gourmet snack shop -- eg, Joensy's was the cheapest and the least greasiest.

And unbeknownst to us, also the hugest.

After letting our stomachs settle we decided to head out and look for the first place to stealth camp we could find. Despite having just taken a break day, we were exhausted... somehow. So we found a place. And crashed. At 7.

And woke up and were cold.

We woke up and thought about getting going... and then decided it was too cold. We didn't get going until 9, at which point all our stuff was still frosted (see photos on facebook). We had to stop frequently to rub our toes, change into warmer and/or colder clothing, etc. etc. It was all rather annoying, and not something we really wanted to repeat. But really.

We had set ourselves up to stealth camp for four out of the next six nights... and weren't really looking forward to it. We weren't meeting a heck of a lot of people (since, at that time of year, most of our meeting happened via Warmshowers), and oh yea... did I mention it was cold?

When I first left Tacoma, the point of the ride was to get to Minnesota. Sort of. I wasn't really sure what the point was, but I decided that a significant part of it was to have fun, and to meet people. We weren't meeting a lot of people, and it was so cold that it wasn't fun -- at least between the hours of 4 PM and 11 AM. So we decided not to continue.

Somehow my Grandma was able to come get us that same day. We were expecting to have a day to change our minds, but alas -- quick-acting Grandmas. In any case, we were glad to be warm. We spent a few days with Arlene (my Grandma) and Caleb (my first cousin) before my sister came to pick us up and take us home to Minneapolis.

"Yo! It's cold in here!"

So... thus ends the story of my bicycle trip across the country. I have a lot more to say... which I will say in my last post. Check again in a few days. For now, I'm being called to cook dinner and watch the election! My dog is here, my mom, sister, and best friend are all here... oh, and did I mention -- it's warm indoors?