When did you start riding and when will you finish?
I started riding in Portland, Maine on May 11, 2016 with the intention of finishing by the end of July.
What route are you riding and why?
I am riding Adventure Cycling’s Northern Tier route, which runs from Bar Harbor, Maine to Anacortes, Washington. I knew that I wanted to ride an established route and of Adventure Cycling’s three cross-country routes, the Northern Tier seemed the best. I didn’t want to ride the TransAm, because I’ve spent most of my life in the Midwest and I’ve seen enough of it. The Southern Tier was tempting, but I didn’t want to attempt riding through the desert alone in the middle of the summer. So that left the Northern Tier.
What inspired this tour?
Several years ago, I stumbled across a blog about a family who cycled from Alaska to the tip of South America. I followed along as they finished their trip and decided that if two eight-year-olds could ride that far, I could probably do something similar. That blog sparked my interest in bike touring, and I spent the next few years casually researching it before I actually made the decision to do this tour.
Why are you doing this tour now?
In August, I am moving to Los Angeles to begin studying for my MFA in film production at USC, so I decided to leave my full-time job in St. Louis a little early in order to do this tour.
How many miles/hours per day do you ride?
I started off riding 40 miles per day and worked my way up to 60. I hope to keep increasing that until I get to 70–80 miles per day. I’d also like to try to ride a century (100 miles) or two before I get to the west coast. Depending on weather, wind, and my energy levels, I usually ride about six to eight hours per day.
How do you find places to sleep?
The Adventure Cycling maps are very well marked with campgrounds and state parks along the route, so usually I plan to camp at one of those. I’ve also camped in a few town parks. If there is a Warmshowers host in the area, I will try to stay with them if they are available to host. Other than that, I have diverted from my route a few times to stay with friends of friends. I’ve not yet attempted wild camping, but I may try it in the coming weeks.
What do you eat?
For breakfast, I eat oatmeal with peanut butter and coffee. If there’s a bakery or gas station in the area, I’ll often stop for a doughnut or pastry. For lunch, I usually pick something up at a restaurant or gas station, often a sandwich or burger. If I am cooking, supper consists of Knorr’s rice sides, Lipton’s soup, mac and cheese, or other prepared dinner packets, which I cook on my MSR Pocket Rocket backpacking stove. If I decide to eat out for dinner, I try to pick a local restaurant but I have eaten fast food a few times. For snacks, I eat Cliff bars, Power Bars, trail mix, dried mangos, apples, bananas, beef jerky, Gatorade, and peanut M&Ms.
What kind of bike are you riding?
A Jamis Coda, which I’ve had for three and a half years.
What tent do you use?
A Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2. It’s great.
How did Fang get his name?
The day I brought my bike home after buying it from my friend Matt, my sister Katie decided to take it for a test spin. She rode to the top of the hill and then came flying back down and slipped on a patch of wet leaves at the end of my parents’ driveway and crashed hard. She ripped her jacket and broke her new watch, but otherwise she and the bike were okay. My dad remarked, “Wow, that bike has a nasty bite.” And thus, Fang was born.
Have you had any mechanical problems?
I’ve had several spokes break on my back wheel. After the fifth one snapped, I bought a new wheel in Iowa City. No flat tires yet.
What’s the coolest thing you’ve seen?
Niagara Falls was pretty amazing. I also really enjoyed camping on the beach next to Lake Erie.