FAQs on our Ride across the U.S.
May 4, 2023 | First of all, before we get to the FAQs, a very big THANK YOU for all of you who have donated to MD Anderson in recognition of our ride this summer. We really appreciate the donations and the support of what we are going to do. iGR is sponsoring the ride so ALL the donations go to MD Anderson.
Tell people that you are going to ride across America and you get several reactions. The first is usually “You are going to do WHAT?” quickly followed by “You are CRAZY”. As we get closer to the start date (July 6th), I am starting to agree with the second sentiment! Every time I get in bed at night, I am reminded that I only have 65 days left before we leave and I am going to spend six to seven weeks in a tent….on a thin camping pad….in a sleeping bag….
The next reaction is usually about the bike itself: we have had a lot of people ask if we are going on electric bikes. Nope, pure leg-power will get us through this. While electric bikes are cool, there are a couple of major issues when riding long distances. Firstly, the advertised range drops significantly when you add 20 pounds of gear on the back (more on this in a minute). So, a range of 40 miles or so is realistic. We could get more batteries, but that adds weight. Secondly, once the batteries are depleted, you would be left with a seriously heavy bike and you would still have to pedal. Thirdly, we are planning to camp along the way with nights in a hotel every four or five days. Where would we charge the bikes up? What if the campsite does not have a convenient outlet? If we cannot reliably charge an electric bike, we are again just left with a heavy bike.
The final argument against an electric bike is pride. If we are going to ride 3,500 miles, we are going to do it properly :)
By this point in the conversation, the questions usually turn to support, with people assuming someone is going to follow us with all of our gear. Again, nope. Lauren and I are going to carry all of our gear - tent, sleeping bag, stove, clothes, food, etc. We have been reading a lot about people who have done the journey self-supported and the trick is not to take too much. So we will be traveling with minimal clothes and will only carry enough food for a couple of meals; the plan is to eat along the way as much as possible. Once we clear the mountains, we plan to mail our cold weather gear home.
The next question is the route. Simply, we are flying to Seattle and riding right out of the airport, stopping somewhere in Seattle to dip our wheels in the Puget Sound. Then we ride north to go through the North Cascades and head east through western Washington, Idaho and into Montana. The plan is to ride through Glacier National Park up Going to the Sun Road (look it up…), weather permitting. After Glacier NP, we hit the plains of eastern Montana, North Dakota and into Minnesota. Fun fact, the halfway point is Fargo, ND. Then we go through Wisconsin, take a ferry across Lake Michigan, then through Michigan to Ohio, Pennsylvania and drop into Washington, D.C. The plan is to end in Annapolis, MD and dip our wheels in the Chesapeake Bay. Sounds easy when I describe it like that…
The final question is “WHY are you doing this?” Both Lauren and I like adventures and bike riding. I have done the MS150 Houston - Austin ten times, plus RAGBRAI (across Iowa) five years ago. And multiple mountain bike rides in Colorado. So half of me likes the idea of the challenge.
The other half of me thinks this is nuts! And the closer we get, this voice in my head is getting louder :) The truth is my daughter Lauren has shamed me into doing this with her. If I had decided not to go, she would have found a group to do it with. And then, for the rest of my life, all I would have heard would have been about “the ride Dad did not go on”. Seriously, doing the ride is going to be less painful than being reminded I did not go for the next 30-odd years! So, yes, she appealed to my competitiveness to rope me into this.
Finally, we both know this will be a big adventure. We will get to see great parts of the country (you see far more from a bike than from a car), meet some fun people and, importantly, raise money for a great cause. What better way to spend six or seven weeks this summer?