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To the followers (all half-dozen of you!) of this TransAmerica 2010 blog, I am embarking upon a new cycling expedition across Europe, from Lisbon to Istanbul.  This ride is in support of Yaowawit, the Thai children’s charity, and to promote awareness of climate change.    The fun begins on June 1.  My new blog, Travels with Todd, is alive and kicking:     Travels with Todd : TransEuropa 2011

3700 miles, $37,000

 

Phang Nga, Thailand:   This last day of the year and of TransAmerica 2010, and both end on a high note.   During the summer I cycled 3,700 miles coast-to-coast across the United States to raise awareness and funds for A New Day Cambodia.  In total, I raised just over US$37,000, a sum 20+% above my fundraising target.  With the generosity of over 100 friends and industry colleagues, US$10 was contributed for every mile that I cycled across America.  This money will go a long way in helping 100 very deserving children a real chance of a productive life free of poverty.  Thank you all so much for your interest in and support of this mission.  

With the recurrence of the number of 37, I did some research in numerology to understand its significance.  It appears 37 is full of Judeo-Christian symbolism, and the number represents “the individual evolution in the cosmic organization.”  Yup, that sums up my year.

Two nights ago in a lovely Thai beach community, I hosted at my residence a cocktail reception for about 30 neighbors of Natai beach.  A fellow neighbor and good friend, Kung and her extended family, did all the heavy lifting for this cocktail party; my role was to speak about my cycling trip and A  new Day Cambodia, and what motivated me toward TransAmerica 2010.  It was very befitting that Dorine, a friend who lived in Phnom Penh until recently and introduced me to A New Day Cambodia almost a year ago, was on hand at this charity event.   THB75,000 was raised at this charity acution event, which took my fundraising over the $37,000 finish line.  Many friends contributed items for the auction, from babysitting services to home-cooked breakfasts, home-made dumplings and yoga lessons.  A good industry friend and talented artist in Singapore, Janine, contributed a beautiful original piece of artwork of an ostrich with an important reminder that we should keep our head out of the sand.   How appropriate.  Rather than speaking about cycling, I spoke about chasing dreams, and my ability this year to realize one particular dream in cycling across the US.  A New Day Cambodia also enables its students, through education, to dream of a productive life beyond poverty. How empowering. 

The ability to chase one’s dreams is a very special privilege.  With 2011 comes new beginnings, new aspirations.  My new big dream is to cycle around the world in stages, and I am already deep in  intensive research as I prepare to chase this new dream.  

God bless.  Follow your bliss.  And wishing you a very happy new year.

Todd

31 December 2010

Good Karma

 

Hong Kong:  First I will start with the good news.  I have (slightly) surpassed my fundraising target of US$30,000 for A New Day Cambodia.   These funds will support the 100 children who have been rescued from scavenging the municipal dump of Phnom Penh.  To reach this fundraising target it took  much longer than the 50 days I spent cycling across a continent, and it was much, much harder.  How I got over the financial finish line is a story I want to share, because it oozes with good karma.   

In late September I was about US$4,500 short of my target as some pledges surprisingly did not materialize.  Without knowing the specifics of my fundraising situation, the good people at Disney Channel in Singapore heard about my ride and decided upon A New Day Cambodia as the beneficiary of a regular internal charitable effort.  Guess how much the employees of Disney Channel Asia collectively contributed?  US$4,700, just enough to get me over the top.    That’s what I call good karma and extraordinary generosity.

There’s more karma.  Over the past few weeks, through coincidence and good old-fashioned networking, I have made contact with several other extreme long distance cyclists.   These interactions affirm my new goal of, eventually, cycling around the world.   I’ve come into contact with a Brit who us currently cycling pan-Eurasia from Hong Kong to London.  Next week I will meet Mark Beaumont,  the author of “The Man Who Cycled the World.”  Shortly thereafter I look forward to meeting Rob Lilwall, who recently relocated to Hong Kong also authored a book — “Cycling Home From Siberia” — and starred in an eponymous National Geographic series.  In early December I will have dinner with a former Hollywood studio executive (sound familiar?) who cycled around the world a decade ago.  Finally, a friend has introduced me to an Australian couple who are planning to cycle across South America. 

All these encounters are helping to shape and to stimulate my new cycling ambitions.  

Finally, last week in Los Angeles I caught up with three fellow cyclists from this summer — Michael, Matt, and Alex — and we had a great time rekindling and reminiscing about the good ‘ole days of summer 2010 spinning across America.

After all these interactions, I am convinced some things are just meant to be.  Karma.  Very good karma.

Hong Kong:   Recently a friend who publishes a terrifically cool blog, The Groovini (http://thegroovini.com/), asked me to write a summary of TransAmerica 2010 for that blog to help with my fundraising.  Three weeks after I completed the journey, the following 1,139-word result tries to sum up my coast-to-coast experience.  Also included are some new photos which I recently received from tour leader and master photographer Mike Munk (http://www.bamacyclist.com/).  Thank you again, reader, for accompanying me on this journey.

  

 

Most people have dreams….some modest, some fanciful, some lingering.  For years I have had a particular aspiration to cycle across the United States.  But I never imagined I would have the time and the energy for such a journey.  For me, pedaling coast-to-coast was an aspiration that I imagined had a similar probability as, say, winning the lottery.  

When my employer agreed to a two month sabbatical from my day job in television, two things quickly resonated.  I wanted to chase this dream and to pedal with a purpose.   Settling on a transcontinental bike trip was the easy part.  It took me much longer to settle on the charity to support.   

I spent months evaluating various causes, and happened upon A New Day Cambodia (ANDC)  through a friend’s introduction.  I visited Phnom Penh in January, met the kids and the founders, and observed the charity in action.  I immediately connected to the good work A New Day Cambodia does, and to the 100 very special kids in Cambodia that benefit from this work.  ANDC rescues children from scavenging the municipal dump and emphasizes education and English language learning to break the poverty cycle.  What really impressed me about the kids at ANDC is their hopefulness, confidence, sense of future; many whom I spoke to aspire to professional careers.  None of this would be possible without ANDC’s nurturing.   

I got jazzed thinking how in chasing my particular dream, I was also enabling some deserving children in Cambodia the capacity to dream beyond a life in poverty.   Sign me up.  This is a cause I wanted to go the distance for.  I dubbed the whole endeavour TransAmerica 2010.

So on a cold and grey morning in Astoria, Oregon on June 21, I set off — along with 46 other cyclists — on a 50-day cycling journey across America.  It was a start without fanfare or fuss; sometimes the momentous events in life are like that.   On that first day I felt like I was cycling across town, not across the country.  I was part of a commercially organized, fully supported trip by America by Bike, a company specializing in ultra long distance cycling journeys.  To my amazement I was not the only one with such a crazy dream and collectively we had one big goal:  to safely get to the other side of the continent. 

The route across North America was straightforward:  Head East from the Oregon coast.   Bear right in Boise.  Go over Teton Pass in Wyoming.  Cycle pass cornfields for thousands of miles.  Cut through Canada, then climb over Vermont’s Green Mountains before coasting to the Atlantic.   In total we cycled across all kinds of terrain in ten states and one Canadian province and through many weather conditions, good and bad. 

3700 miles and 49 days later, I reached the Atlantic Ocean at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, at high noon.  Ceremoniously escorted by police for the final stretch and fuelled by determination, my quads and plenty of delicious ice cream along the way, I crossed a continent and was greeted on the other side by family, friends and a huge banner that said, “Thank You Todd Miller Love ANDC.”     

Upon reaching the ocean at Wallis Sands beach, I carried “Bubba,” my trusty Cannondale bike to water’s edge and dipped the front wheel into the cool Atlantic.   I hugged my family and many of my fellow riders, and did what came naturally after actualizing a dream and crossing some of the continent’s biggest mountain ranges, largest rivers and lakes, and climbing cumulatively more than 100,000 feet:  I got teary-eyed.   

Let me put some perspective to these numbers.  I cycled 6,000 km in total across the northern US.  In comparison, Sydney to Perth is just 4,000 km and my home of Hong Kong is 6,000 km away from Dubai in a straight line.  In elevation gain, I cycled the equivalent of about 3.5 times from sea level to the summit of Mt Everest.

When I embarked upon TransAmerica 2010 I intended to cycle Every Friggin’ Safe Inch of the country.   I did.  Amazingly I crossed the North American continent without neither incurring a flat tire nor falling.   I set out to enjoy myself, and along the way made some friends and perhaps even some lasting friendships.   I set out to find the tastiest ice cream in America, which I did at Beernsten’s in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.   And I endeavored to find the prettiest barn in America, which I reckon to be one outside Dayville, Oregon.   This happened to be the first striking barn of the trip, and it stuck with me for all these miles.  

After 16 years of living in Asia I also aspired to immerse myself in America, reconnecting with my home country.  I went native in the process, fully experiencing Americana at its best.  Or, depending upon your perspective, worst.  I watched the Legend of the Rawhide parade in Lusk, Wyoming.  I visited the Corn Palace and stampede rodeo in Mitchell, South Dakota — it was a revelation that a corn palace even exists.  I chatted up the 1993 Bologna Queen in Yale, Michigan, and enjoyed the vibes of Brattstock in Vermont.   I visited Bliss, Idaho.  It’s hard to top Bliss.  An American flag that flew on the back of my bike survived the journey to the Atlantic.      

What I didn’t quite succeeded in doing is to raise US$30,000 on behalf of A New Day Cambodia.  I am still a few thousand dollars  short.  Any contribution, small or large, will have an impact on these kid’s lives.  You can also help by simply forwarding this fundraising appeal to spread the word about A New Day Cambodia. 

I think of this moment not as the end of a dream, but as the creation of a new one.  My new aspiration, eventually, is to pedal around-the-world, and there are many more momentous experiences in life I look forward to tackling.   When you spend about 300 hours on a bike you have some time for thinking and planning.     Now back in Hong Kong and back in the corporate world, I have resumed cycling and still have some unfinished business and other activities for A New Day Cambodia in Asia, including a fund-raiser in December and some potential speaking engagements.  

I learned many things on this trip, including that America’s a big country with lots of corn fields.   While I’m still trying to process the full impact of this experience, three life lessons stand out.   First, this trip proves any big challenge can be accomplished through a series of doable, smaller tasks.  Second, life isn’t a race and there’s much to gain from living in the moment.   Finally, and absolutely, chase your dreams. 

Albert Einstein said life is like riding a bicycle.  To keep your balance you need to keep moving.   

Keep pedaling, and chasing those dreams.

 

Hong Kong:  It’s been nearly two weeks since I completed this transcontinental journey, and I am still basking in the “halo effect” of this enriching and empowering experience.  Here are some of the things I learned while cycling from sea to shining sea.  This ride across America is definitely a life altering experience, but I am not quite sure exactly how it will impact me long-term.   So far this is what I learned:

Live in the moment.  Life’s not a race.   My need for speed evolved on this trip.  In the early days of the journey I was more focused on getting to the day’s destination somewhat quickly; by the very end of the trip I was deliberately among the last to finish each  day.  My mantra “Are we there yet?”  evolved to “What’s the rush?”  What changed?  My desire to enjoy the journey, and frequently stop along the way to get a sense of the place I was traveling through.   These “slow” days were among my most favourite.   I think this can be an important lesson for life. 

Conquer big challenges through small tasks.  When looking at a map I still have difficulty getting my head around the fact that I cycled across the country.   This journey is a powerful demonstration that any challenge can be broken down into a series of doable tasks.   I feel I can now do anything I really set my mind to, by breaking down any future challenge into a series of small daily steps.

America.  It’s a big, beautiful  country.  I already knew that.   What was surprising is the extent to which the world’s largest economy is still an agricultural-based economy, and particularly how much corn the country grows.  What especially struck me, coming from one of the most densely populated places on the planet, is how vacant the Western US is.  The first four states I cycles accross — Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming and South Dakota — have a combined population less than Hong Kong.   I found the regional specialties and passions, from the corn palace to the bologna capital, really charming.  But the political, socio-economic and “mindset” fissures  I observed are really scary.   One motivation for this trip was to reconnect to America, but strangely, in much of the middle of the U.S., I felt more distant than ever to my home country.

Keep pedaling.  The South China Morning Post, Hong Kong’s top English newspaper, wrote in June about my ride that I will be a cycling “addict or over it.”   After 3,700 miles I am definitely an addict.  More than ever I love cycling as a sport, as a mode of transport, as a way of seeing a place.  There was never a day on the trip when I woke up and wished that I were not cycling.  I became a better cyclist with hopefully better safety habits.   And after watching 79-year-old Howard spin, I realized that cycling can be a sport for life and I yearn for the next long distance ride.

Boy Scouts have it right.  Like a good boy scout, I was prepared for this ride.  I trained hard for months and this paid off.  On balance, this trip was much easier than I thought.   About the half the time I felt like I could comfortably keep going.  There were only two truly hard days — days where I was tired to the bone — and on one of those days I suffered a migraine. 

60 is the new 40.    The majority of riders on this trip were over 50, with about half over 60.  I was the fifth youngest rider on this trip, and I’m definitely no spring chicken. The seven week time commitment makes it difficult for middle-aged professionals to participate.  I was truly inspired by the older riders, who have amazing stamina and endurance levels, and I now appreciate how cycling can help carry good fitness throughout life.

Junk Foodie.   I am surprised by how quickly I lost control over my good nutrition habits, and by my overindulgence.  I ate alot of junk food because I could afford to eat alot of junk food.  Around the middle of the trip I became obsessed with food — the quantity, definitely not the quality — due to my body’s high metabolic rate.  Some days I just couldn’t eat quickly enough to satiate my appetite; it was very common for me to have two lunches.  On this blog I also exuded this food obsession by writing alot about what I ate, because when you’re surrounded by miles and miles of cornfields, there’s just not much else to write about.   My eating habits definitely fall into the category of’ ‘what happens on the road stays on the road.’

 

Hong Kong:   Several of you have asked how you might donate to A New Day Cambodia (ANDC).   There are two options:

Directly with ANDC via pay pal.  An US tax receipt can be issued:-

http://www.anewdaycambodia.org/

Or via Variety Hong Kong, in which case a HK tax receipt can be issued.  Click through the TransAmerica option:-

http://www.varietyhk.org/HeartFundProjects/Projects/index.php

The 100 kids under ANDC’s care appreciate your support.

Keep Pedaling.

 

Portsmouth, New Hampshire:  The bike ride that began without fanfare or fuss 50 days and 3700 miles ago in Astoria, Oregon, today reached the Atlantic Ocean at high noon.  Escorted by police for the final stretch and fuelled by determination, my quads and plenty of delicious ice cream along the way, I crossed a continent and was greeted on the other side by family, friends and a huge banner that said, “Thank You Todd Miller Love ANDC.”    

Upon reaching the ocean at Wallis Sands beach, I carried “Bubba,” my trusty Cannondale to water’s edge and dipped the front wheel into the cool Atlantic.   I hugged my family and many of my fellow riders, and did what came naturally after crossing some of the continent’s biggest mountain ranges, largest rivers and lakes, and climbing cumulatively more than 100,000 feet:  I got teary-eyed.  

The route across America was straightforward.  Head East from the Pacific.  Bear right in Boise.  Go over Teton Pass in Wyoming.  Cycle pass cornfields for thousands of miles.  Cut through Canada, then climb over Vermont’s Green Mountains.   

When I embarked upon this transcontinental journey I intended to cycle Every Friggin’ Safe Inch of the country.   I did.  I crossed the North American continent without neither incurring a flat tire nor falling.   I set out to enjoy myself, and along the way made some friends and perhaps even some lasting friendships.   I set out to find the tastiest ice cream in America, which I did at Beernsten’s in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.   And I endeavoured to find the prettiest barn in America, which I reckon to be this one outside Dayville, Oregon.   This happened to be the first striking barn of the trip, and it has stuck with me for all these miles.

I also reconnected with America (or at least the concept of America) and went native in the process, from: the Legend of the Rawhide parade in Lusk, Wyoming; to the Corn Palace and stampede rodeo in Mitchell, South Dakota; to chatting up the 1993 Bologna Queen in Yale, Michigan, to enjoying the vibes at Brattstock in Vermont.   I visited Bliss, Idaho.  Hard to top that.  The American flag that has flown on my bike across all kinds of terrain and weather conditions also survived the journey to the Atlantic.   

What I haven’t quite succeeded in doing is raising US$30,000 on behalf of A New Day Cambodia (ANDC), a very deserving children’s charity that provides shelter, nutrition and education — in short, a future — for 100 children who would otherwise have to scavenge the municipal dumps of Phnom Penh.   Including pledges, I am still a few thousand dollars  short, and do need your help to my target.  Any contribution, small or large, will have an impact on these kid’s lives.  If you’ve been thinking about donating, details are on this blog.  You can also help by simply forwarding this fundraising appeal to spread the word about A New Day Cambodia.

My immediate plan is to take a few days off  in Bar Harbour, Maine with my family before flying over the continent I just cycled across.  Next Monday in Hong Kong I resume work and my son enters the big leagues of first grade.  Tonight I will enjoy a celebratory dinner with my family and with Joe and Susan O’Neil, co-founders of A New Day Cambodia, who travelled to Portsmouth for this occasion.  The kids at ANDC made the banner;  it is a treasured gift. 

I think of this moment not as an ending, but as a beginning.  My goal, eventually, is to pedal around-the-world, and there are many more momentous experiences in life I look forward to tackling.   When you spend about 300 hours on a bike you have some time for thinking and planning.     This blog will remain live through the end of the year, as I resume cycling in Hong Kong and continue some activities for A New Day Cambodia in Asia. 

Finally, I am tremendously thankful for my safe passage from sea to shining sea.  I am overwhelmed with a huge sense of gratitude to all the people who have supported, enabled and followed this journey, and for my employer to give me the time and space to chase a dream.   Thank you.  I especially appreciate the understanding and patience of my son, who somehow understands at age six this is an important bike ride for Dada.  

Albert Einstein said life is like riding a bicycle.  To keep your balance you need to keep moving.  

Keep pedalling.

Todd

9 August 2010

Manchester, New Hampshire:   Day 49 of my cycling trip isn’t about the cycling.   It’s about family.   A mile into the day’s ride we entered New Hampshire and passed through some pretty towns, including Keene and Greenfield, on a Sunday morning.  But the highlight was intersecting with my family near Francesville. They were driving from the East and I was cycling from the West, and amazingly we crossed paths somewhere on a country road.  It was at that time when I felt the journey was complete, and I was ready to thumb it back home:

Well, I did pedall all the way to Manchester where I enjoyed a rendez-vous that also included my step mother Sylvia and my cousin Robin and her beautiful family, who drove up for the day from Connecticut.   It had been ages since I had last seen Robin, and my son finally had some playmates.

The evening was devoted to a celebratory and reflective farewell banquet among the riders, support team, and some significant others.   A song was sung; a poem was read, and a hilarious skit was performed.  Each rider was then awarded an America by Bike “Abby” award for some distinction on the ride, and we then had the floor to address the group.

I received my “Abby” for wearing my cycling shorts inside-out.  After 50 days and thousands of miles on the road, I will be remembered as the guy who got the cycling shorts wrong.  Upon accepting this award, it was only appropriate that I drop my pants to reveal underneath a pair of cycling shorts inside-out.   That resulted in considerable laughter. It was the first time, ever, I have dropped my pants so publicly.

During my farewell remarks I reflected on the morning of June 21, the start of this ride.  In Astoria with my cousin Kevin, I shared to the group a conversation he and I had about how preposterous and unlikely this whole endeavour seemed, which made the present moment somewhat surreal.   I then expressed sentiments of appreciation to the fine and fun group of cyclists with whom I shared this experience, and much gratitude to the incredible support team who got us here, to this moment, safely.    

The support team also had an opportunity to address the group.  Barbara, in her infinite wisdom, told the crow of mostly hyper type-A people with a need for speed to essentially slow down, and to not forget to live in the moment.  Throughout this trip she has dispensed very wise and caring motherly advice.

Tomorrow I cycle to the beach.

Day 49 Summary:

Day 49 route:  Brattleboro, VT to Manchester, NH     
Day 49 mileage:  82.92 miles  
Cumulative mileage:  3,642.06 miles
Day 48 climbing: 4,200 feet 
Cumulative Climbing:  102,495 feet of climbing
Terrain:  hilly

Now for the Top 10 list.  When you spend 50 days in intense physical activity with 50 very diverse period, all kinds of things get said.  Here are my favourites.  If some of these things don’t seem so funny, well I suppose you had to be there.  And we cyclists do have a warped sense of humor.

#10- “It’s going to be hard to take it all in.”  Said by 79 year old Howard, referring to the Corn Palace, the rodeo, and dinner at a Mexican restaurant.

#9- “Have you seen my Kuchaloo?” asked Nan.  Wow, that takes our friendship to a whole new level.

#8- “I paid good money for this.  Why?”  asked Don, climbing Teton Pass

#7-“You clearly don’t own a pair of cranky pants” said Margot to Texas Tom

#6-“If you don’t rinse your shorts enough, you end up with soapy butt,” advised Jeff, one of the tour leaders 

#5-“The rain has washed away my butt lube and I am chafing somewhat awful,” said Don

#4-After I confessed I wore my cycling shorts inside out for 92 miles without realizing it, that elicited all kinds of responses and has been the butt of many jokes (no pun intended).   “But where did you put your chamois butter?” asks Beth. “It just goes to show we don’t look at each other’s butts as much as we think,” said Barb.  “That’s how to get 184 miles out of a pair of shorts” reasoned Texas Tom

#3- “He’s coming to ride.  I’m coming to talk,” confessed Teresa, referring to Pennsylvania John

#2- “Mike doesn’t know what he’s missing.  It’s so cool and tangly,” said Katie, referring to chamois butter and Mike’s comment that he’d never tried it in 175,000 miles of cycling.

#1- “If your corn flakes taste funny, don’t blame it on me.  I just needed a place to pee,” said Don

Brattstock

Brattleboro, Vermont:   Today was nearly a perfect day of cycling, the kind of day that makes me sad this journey is nearing the end.  It’s a day when we crossed the entire state of Vermont (albeit the skinny part) in a day.  Brattleboro is just one mile from the New Hampshire border, and is “close to Vermont,” says Vermont native and trip mechanic Jim. 

The morning began in Eastern New York, when we crossed the Hudson and passed through the city of Troy, which was founded in 1789 and happens to be the birthplace of Uncle Sam.  We then pedaled through three quintessentially New England towns in Vermont:  the college town of Bennington; Wilmington; and easy-going Brattleboro. 

  

The weather was ideal, with amazing blue skies and fluffy clouds.  It was ideal terrain too, with some good hills courtesy of the Green Mountains of the Appalachian Range, and plenty of trees, including the Green Mountain National Forest.  But most of all it was an unrushed day with some excellent company.  I cycled with Margot from the first SAG stop to Brattleboro and though we attacked the hills at a good pace, we also stopped in all the important places, such as a chocolate shop in Bennington, an antique flea market, and we enjoyed a picnic lunch from a gourmet deli next to a covered bridge.  I certainly don’t get to do that very often.  The hills reminded me of the good ole’ days earlier in the trip climbing in Oregon and in the Tetons.

In Brattleboro I had some yummy chocolate orange ice cream (imported from Massachusetts, unfortunately) with Sarah, Renny and Leo.  It was very good.   I then stopped by Brattstock, Brattleboro’s three-year old charity music festival.  It was a real treat to listen to some great music in the park.  Alex and I had a good chat with the emcee — who was very intrigued about our ride — and introduced us to a fantastic chanteuse, Samirah Evans, who gave a fine performance.  Samirah relocated to Vermont  from New Orleans after Katrina.  It’s refreshing to unexpectedly come across such a talented and energetic performer.

Entering Vermont was a watershed moment for me.  I finally realized that I am on the East Coast.  For some riders, reaching the Mississippi or the Great Lakes was the watershed moment.  Tomorrow is where the bubble world of this group and this cycling journey collide with my real world.   In New Hampshire I meet my family tomorrow — my son, Patrick, my folks and a cousin — and thus begins the process of re-adapting back to reality, a process that begins in earnest on Monday when we reach the ocean’s edge.

Day 48 Summary:

Day 48 route:  Latham, NY to Brattleboro, VT     
Day 48 mileage:  79.2 miles
Cumulative mileage:  3,559.14 miles
Day 48 climbing: 5,050 feet 
Cumulative Climbing:  98,295 feet of climbing
Terrain:  hilly!

Meet the Cast

 

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.