Seven weeks ago we convened in Oregon as strangers. Today, thinner with funky tan lines and perhaps a bit sore in some delicate areas, we’ve become an extended family of cycling fanatics with a powerful and, I think, forever lingering shared experience.
The camaraderie among my fellow cyclists and the mix of colorful personalities have made this epic bike ride between the left and right coasts a singular experience. The awesome America by Bike team — the producers and directors — have enabled a safe journey and guided and coddled us along the way.
Although we’re still shy of The End of this transcontinental adventure, with just 148 miles to go and with almost everyone in reflective mode, here, in their own words and in random billing, is the cast of the 2010 version of Across America North. Let the end credits roll . . .
Margot (L, Connecticut) and Ellen (Maine): Margot did this ride for fun and for adventure but will miss the people and the unexpected laughs. Ellen says – “Head ‘em up and move ‘em out.”
Rod (New Hampshire) has enjoyed seeing the countryside from a bike and gaining more perspective on the country. He’s enjoyed the camaraderie and family of the group and hopes to maintain the healthy lifestyle during this trip. (Editor’s remark: Does that include the SAG food, Rod?)
Gerard (Arkansas): “Saddle sores suck.”
Teresa (Pennsylvania) chose this ride to see Mt Rushmore (“FABULOUS!”)….but the journey to Mt Rushmore was just as good as the experience there.
Matt (L) and Mike (California, father/son): Mike’s riding for Hunington’s Disease families. Matt is along for the ride. Plus, he doesn’t want to get grounded.
Fred (New Hampshire): His best moment is cresting Teton Pass; worst is the final hill at Kah-Nee-Ta.
Tom (Texas): “The older I get, the faster I remember I once was.” (Editor’s Note: Brings to mind the words of the Indiana Jones character, who quipped: “It’s not the age, babe, it’s the mileage.”)
Sarah (Wyoming): “If you’re not having enough fun, you need to lower your standards….but not as far down as John Day.”
Kim (Washington): This trip, he says, illustrates that any challenging goal in life can eventually be achieved when broken down into small pieces. This is Kim’s third transcontinental bike crossing, which coincidentally occurred at 11 year gaps apart.
John (Pennsylvania) says this ride has been the most rewarding life experience other than the birth of his daughters.
Ann (Ontario): “‘Where are all the mountains?,’ says my crotch. This flat ride is killing me.”
Dave (Michigan): Expectations have been exceeded personally and with the trip.
Margo (California) strives to “keep the rubber side down.” She says this ride is “like summer camp for adults.” She wanted to do something momentous, and this is a momentous thing to do!
Tom (Washington) has enjoyed seeing the diversity of viewpoints and varied perceptions of the same world. The rodeo in Mitchell is a good example. He’s also surprised how much agriculture there is in the US, from the start to the finish of this trip.
Ken’s (Pennsylvania) most vivid memories are the asphalt truck turning a corner and spraying gravel and descending from Teton Pass at 45 mph.
Shirley (Iowa) says the trip has been surreal. She can’t believe she’s ridden across the US. This has been one of the most challenging and rewarding “vacations.” Although apprehensive at first, she says she’s glad the trip has turned out the way it did.”
Ian (England) was hoping to meet lots of Americans on this trip but hasn’t had time, because he’s been busy eating, sleeping, cycling and doing laundry. The rain showers and rolly ride into Little Falls reminds Ian of cycling in England — except in England he would have stayed indoors on such a rainy day. (Editor’s note: Smart man).
Andrew (Connecticut) decided to do this trip “because it’s there.”
Leo (Texas) did the ride for the downhills. (Editor’s note: The Minnesota downhills?)
John (Maine) sums up the trip as a “fantastic experience!”
Mark (Canada) marvels at the power of a central goal with this ride; how an incredibly diverse people can get together and rally to a common goal that everyone wants to achieve, at the same time, with the same purpose.
Mark (California): This is Mark’s third Across America North section with ABB in as many years, and says by far this is the best group because everyone is very friendly.
Nan (Indiana): Feels like a “kid in a dream” getting up every morning to do this FABULOUS TRIP!” Also, has anyone seen her Kuchaloo?
Eileen (Connecticut) marvels how the days are long but the trip is short.
Renny (Wyoming): “Just because it’s all-you-can-eat doesn’t mean you have to eat it all, in 15 minutes or less.”
Alison (Arkansas) came to the ride with no expectations, but this has turned out to be an “incomparable” experience.
Rick (Arizona) says these trips are a ball and appreciates the “tons of supportive people” and “no bad attitudes. His best day was in the Black Hills enjoying the trees, granite formations, and good climbing.
Mark (New Jersey): “There was a moment on almost every day when I said, ‘this is the best day of the trip.’”
Team Suisse : Bruno (L) and Daniel (Switzerland): Bruno’s highlights were Mt Rushmore and Niagara Falls, and he confesses this trip has been easier than he expected. Daniels says: ”So viele Menschen haben Trau me. Mit dieser Tour wurde mein Traum wahr.” (Editor’s translation: ’Many people have dreams. This trip has made my dream real.’ Not bad for rusty college German, eh? )
Don (Oregon) says, “What a magnificent country we live in. From sea to shining sea we are so blessed to live in this country and to see it from the top of a bicycle.”
Helen (Indiana) most enjoys the non-biking parts of this biking trip. She loves stopping and listening and watching and appreciates this bike ride as an excuse to see the country.
Gary (Connecticut) had high expectations, and they were exceeded. “It’s all about the biking (it’s not about the food and motels!)”
Sandy (L, Colorado) and Todd (Hong Kong): Sandy describes the ride as self-revealing; she is continually surprised how the little steps have formed a big feat. “Each day doesn’t seem so big,” she says, ”but then I look at the map and go OMG.” After cycling past thousands of miles of corn fields, Todd still asks “Are We There Yet?” There’s still a long way to go. This transcon trip is the first stage of Todd’s plan to eventually cycle around-the-world. It should be more comfortable now that he always wears his cycling shorts with the chamois on the inside.
Katie (New York): “Laugh. Dance. Cycle.”
Dan (Indiana): “Oh what a beautiful morning…..”
Beth (Colorado) describes this as a “journey of a lifetime. A great way to live in the moment. Every moment.”
Dereka (Maine): “If you don’t complain, how will they know you’re alive?” She then ponders,”How many times do you spend seven weeks with strangers? This is longer than most experiences. It gives more time to care about people, but this is like a shipboard romance and not a marriage.”
Bill (Colorado): “Watch for the camels.”
Howard (Iowa) says the best experience of this trip hasn’t happened yet. He expects it will happen on Monday, the end of the journey. The worst experience, he says, were the headwinds going into Pierre.
Dennis (Oklahoma) has done this ride in three stages over three consecutive years. What he enjoyed the most is having some of his kids along for the ride….his son-in-law during the first year and his son this year during the Ontario leg.
John (Ohio): “Great trip. Great people.”
Jeff (Connecticut): Quoting Lincoln, “It’s not the years in your life, but the life in your years.” Jeff hopes to have both.
Alex (Indiana): “Old men are weird.”
Mark (Maryland) considers this the “experience of a lifetime.” It’s meant much to him to do this ride for his father-in-law and for his father and other people he has met with lung disease. And it’s been “wonderful to ride with 50 people I can relate to almost completely, who think like I do.”
Steve (Illinois) says he was first attracted by the physical challenge of this ride, but has grown to appreciate the support staff and camaraderie of the cyclists.”
Joe (Georgia): Looks forward to hiking the Appalachian trail after completing a marathon, a 100 mile race and this ride.
The Producers and Directors: The awesome America by Bike Support Team:-
Mike (Alabama - Trip Leader): Mike is drawn to leading ultra long-distance cycling trips for the people, watching the people grow, and to share his love of cycling. Riders have preconceived perceptions and varying experience levels, and Mike enjoys seeing a group grow and bond and helping them achieve a common goal. He also enjoys helping to instill good cycling habits among the riders that will serve them for the rest of their lives. These good habits are a form of ambassadorship which can also positively impact the sport of cycling. He also notes that most riders return to their normal lives, but the experiences they have had on a trip like this has changed their lives forever — although sometimes the impact isn’t immediately apparent.
Karen (Oregon): “The best part about working for ABB is meeting new people and seeing the group come together as a family. Many close friendships seem to have formed during the 2010 America North Tour. Thanks for letting me share in your great accomplishment and journey.” (Editor note: Thank you, Karen!)
Jim (Vermont) sees long-distance rides as an exploration, and cyclists as explorers. Increasingly, he sees more and more cyclists on exploring inward on these long rides.
Debbie (Pennsylvania) says this group is the most “even keeled” group she’s ever seen. Quoting Einstein, she adds: “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you have to keep moving.”
Jeff (Minnesota): “No matter where you go, there you are.”
Barbara (Alabama): “The reason I do this ride, or any ride, is I enjoy helping people reach their goals — and this is a hard goal to reach. I admire people who have such a lofty goal. (Editor’s note: Thanks, Barb and we are really, really gonna miss your tips of the day!)
Editor’s comment: This support team is superb…professional, caring, and very, very knowledgeable about cycling. Their passion for cycling shines through. What has greatly impressed me is the strong emphasis on safety, which started at orientation and is reinforced every day on the ride. But what makes this team really stand out is their profound and sincere commitment to safely guide the group across the country….to get us to the other side.
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