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.
9 August 2010