When I quit my job in January of 2020, my plan was to ride around the perimeter of the United States along the four major routes (Pacific, Southern Tier, Atlantic, Northern Tier). I left from my doorstep in San Francisco on January 18, 2020 and headed south with the semi-organized Coast Ride group. I continued to ride for the next two months along the Pacific Coast and Southern Tier until the coronavirus swept across the world by storm. On March 22nd, I crossed into Louisiana, who had just issued a shelter-in-place order that day. Fearing the unknown of what was to come, I paused my tour and my dad drove from Victoria, Texas, to pick me up and take me to my parent’s new home. Now, 10 weeks into sheltering, I am ready to pack up and leave again, but this time with a few changes that I’ve had time to reflect on during this pause.
My original philosophy for my bike tour was to carry everything I would possibly need to start a new life somewhere on the road. I had parts, tools, jackets, pants – enough to get through a semi-professional interview and a first day of work. My bags were packed to the brim. I would ride around America and if there a place that I connected with, I would unpack and setup a more permanent camp. After a month of riding, I decided I could ditch a few items I hadn’t used yet, so the many extra warm layers, collared shirt, and a few spare parts got shipped home. While this resulted in a little more space, every other bike tourer and Warm Showers host I interacted with seemed to note how heavy my setup was. On the day I paused my tour, I even met another tourer who could effortlessly pick up his loaded bike with one hand (yeah, my jaw hit the floor, too). While I still plan to carry most of the same things, I am leaving a few more things behind. Since it’s now summer, I’ll no longer need my beloved sweatpants and some other warm layers that provided me much comfort through the cold southwest desert nights. I originally carried a laptop and iPad, both of which had their uses, but won’t be necessary for this next leg. These subtractions should lighten my load a little bit.
Another thing I learned about my touring style is that I was very planned and prepared. I knew exactly how many miles I would ride each day and where I would stay. I had a custom Google map with all of my stops and a spreadsheet to detail it out. I treated my touring as if it were my job, which I think was a transition from working full-time for the past six and half years. Frankly, I was nervous about it and wanted everything to go right, so I planned as much as I could. While I still have a custom Google map with my route, I’m leaving some flexibility in it to experience more things like swimming in more bodies of water and not having every campground planned out. Without a laptop, I won’t be able to present my Business of Bike Touring presentation on the road. Previously I wasn’t sure what would happen after my tour, so I wanted to network with as many people on the road as possible. Now, however, I do have some plans for after my tour, but I’m still finalizing details and not quite ready to share them yet.
Finally, the biggest change (and a slight hint to my next steps) is the route. From where I currently sit in Victoria, Teas, I’ll be heading straight north to Minneapolis, Minnesota, for my sixth annual camping trip with Marco, Robin, and Joey. I was contemplating finishing the Southern Tier to Florida from where I left off in Merryville, Louisiana, but I would have had to travel through dense cities during a Gulf Coast summer. I would have also had to fly to Minneapolis for the camping trip, and I’m not quite ready for that yet. My new route to Minnesota avoids major cities and has more outdoor areas than the Gulf Coast. There’s also a lake or river at least every other day so I’m stoked to do some summer swimming! I’ll be camping every night, and maybe a cheap hotel room here and there. While the Warm Showers network is incredible, I want to limit the risk of COVID infection to these great people.
After my camping trip in Minnesota, I’ll be heading EAST to the Atlantic Ocean in Boston. While I thought through every possible combination to be able to ride over the Golden Gate Bridge as the finish line of my tour, my next move is taking me east. While I’m excited to share what it’s store, there are still approximately 3,000 miles of biking between here and there, so I’m going to focus on making the most of that for now.
One thought on “Beauty in Breakdown”
Hey Man! Lovin it. Brad here, met you in Marathon, TX, was it? I was cycling west with Clement (you with Sam). New route and adventure looks awesome. I live in Ottawa (Canada) so keep me posted (I’ll follow you), and I’d like to zip down to upper NY state and ride with you for a few days heading east.