Why would anyone ride a bicycle around America? Why don’t you just drive a car instead? Can’t you just live a normal life?
These questions were all asked to me when I announced my plans to ride around the perimeter of America from January to September 2020. While there is no straight-forward answer, here are a few things that have motivated me to make this decision to ride.
In August of 2019, I traveled to Switzerland to meet up with someone who lived her life drastically different than the one I had been living. She decided what she wanted to do that day entirely by how she was feeling. Since she was a freelance photographer, she could decide if she wanted to work that day, hang out with friends, travel to the Alps, or none of the above. I learned a lot from her and on the day we were parting ways, I went to a coffee shop alone to think about what I felt like doing in 2020. I like to live my life one year at a time and at that moment what I thought I was going to do in 2020 was buy a large sailboat and sail it into the Pacific Ocean and back to safe harbor in San Francisco Bay on the weekends. That day, I realized that I wanted something sooner, that I didn’t want to work longer at my job to own something that would put me into debt. When time is money and money is time, the boat meant continuing to spend more time working to save more money and ultimately a long sailing trip, which would have taken a few more years. So with that in mind, I decided that I could do something similar with a lot less money, and I could do it now.
While a long-distance sailing trip is still a dream of mine, it is still something that can be done when I’m a little older. Maybe not like retired older, but somewhere near the age of 40. I think 29 years old is a great age to bike around America. At this point in my life, I’ve established that I am capable of working towards a career for an extended period of time after having done it for the past six and half years planning and designing bike lanes as a transportation engineer. Because of that tenure, I am starting the tour free of financial debt. When I am done touring, I’ll still have a resume that will hopefully allow me to re-enter engineering if I decide to do so. I also resigned from my previous company after I was fully-vested in their retirement plan, meaning I haven’t completely shot myself in the foot when that time comes.
There are many choices that I could have made with this next step of my life. I could have bought a van and dd the vanlife thing, traveled around the world via airplane, or even just hopped on other people’s boats to sail around the world. But my decision to bike is based on the ability to do it on my own terms and reducing my impact on the environment. All of my decisions in life are based on their impact to the climate such as selling my car a few years ago, becoming vegetarian preferred in 2019, and living a smaller lifestyle to reduce energy consumption. I’m climate motivated and I want to do whatever I can to help the climate crisis that we’re in. If you’ve read the facts, the world will be drastically different within our lifetime if we don’t do something now. With that in mind, I want to see America as it exists today and document as much as I can about it.
There’s never been a point in my life where I didn’t have a plan for it. I lived a pretty straightforward childhood – lived in the same house for 18 years, graduated high school and went to college and got a degree in civil engineering. After graduation day, I started at a job just a week later. I’ve always tried to plan everything out the way I wanted it to go. Of course it doesn’t always work out that way, and I’m glad it didn’t. With this bike tour, I don’t know exactly what will happen and that excites me. When I thought of another week or two of vacation, there was nothing that came to mind that interested me as much as the aspects of bike touring. Living ‘off the grid’ (OTG), meeting new people, and learning to genuinely ask for help, all while seeing something new everyday is what I want to do. In order to get that amount of freedom, I needed more time so I decided to quit my job. It takes about three months to bike across America, which I probably could have taken a leave of absence for at work, but I didn’t feel like that was enough time to accomplish the things I’d like to, nor did I want strings attached to my ride. As I mentioned earlier, I want to see all of America, not just a straight line (well, this tour actually skips the plains in the center of the country, but once you’ve seen them once there’s no need to see them again). So my tour became a loop around America to take it all in.
Lastly, the only thing we have in life in time. It’s up to you on how you want to spend that time. For me, I don’t want to let it pass me by. I want to see the world while I can and have a positive impact on it, because I think the environment around us will drastically change during our lifetime. This tour will be a way for me to see what America is like right now. My physical ability to ride a bike for this many miles will only last for some time, and I don’t want it to be wasted. I realized that the time to do something is now and I hope you do to.
One thought on “Why I Ride”
Great read dude! Time is definitely something we never get back.