Within the the next year, I will be cycling across America!
My route: Charleston, SC, to Los Angeles, CA
Length: ~3000 miles
Time frame: Ideally, it will take 2-3 months
It’s not prudent to share the exact coordinators of my route, so here is a general overview of the states I will be passing through:
South Carolina — Georgia — Alabama — Mississippi – Arkansas — Texas — New Mexico — Arizona — California
February 2020: route mapped, “new” second-hand tent and backpack purchased since the ones from my walk are in disrepair.
Instead of going the traditional racks and panniers route, I’m hoping to strap my backpack to my rear rack. And if that doesn’t work, I’ll try attaching a milk crate to my rear rack for my backpack to sit in.
July 2020: approximately 60% of my gear acquired. Still missing:
• bike lock
• bike gloves
• bike headlight/tail light
• bike rack
• bike pump
• water bottle holder
• tire repair kit
(In other words, all the gear exclusively related to cycling I am still sorely without 😂 )
This post will be updated periodically. Next update will likely be a picture + specs of my bike.
I never intend to write blog posts about my journey, but, if I survive it, I’ll surely throw up an art gallery showcasing the way. 🤪
October 2020: Got my bike! A 2007/2008 Trek 520 off Craigslist. I’ve named him Sal, short for Salvation. Decided to bite the bullet and get a set of panniers too, so I don’t have to lug around my backpack. Might reroute to stay away from Atlanta and Dallas. Too much danger in the concrete jungle, where road raging drivers fester on the tarmac like the roadkill unlucky enough to have met their wrath already. All of my gear has officially been bought except for 1-3 miscellaneous things. Start date is just around the corner . . .
November 2020: On my first test run, in the process of chivalrously swerving around a mother with her children in tow, a pole decided to hit me, severing my front brake. Managed to repair the broken brake myself, a fact I’m proud of as I’ve never been very mechanically inclined, and I see the merit in familiarizing myself with the inner workings of my steel steed. What was once an annoying setback is now something I see as a fortunate learning opportunity.
On a later test run, I realized my panniers were positioned too far back and corrected them. I also mistakenly secured my flagpole too loosely, causing it to jut into my back wheel when picking up speed and bending the back tire’s valve tip unnaturally. Pshhh.
I have decided to forgo making the long haul this winter and have switched my start date to the spring, because of my own ever-prevasive cowardice and out of concerns about COVID.
I am anxious to leave, and anxious about leaving.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about a dream I had in early spring, where I look outside the back door of my family’s apartment and see three grizzly bears. Except they’re all white, not brown.
The largest one strolls right up to the window and stares at me, unblinking.
I am both intrigued and scared for my life, but sure in the knowledge that they cannot get me through the glass.
Just then, I hear a noise upstairs.
At first I think “well, maybe it’s just an innocent creak.” You know, typical house noises.
But then it starts up again, louder this time, and I know for certain that someone else is in the house. Someone who shouldn’t be.
I frantically retreat from the back door to the living room, where I can see when – and if – someone comes down the staircase. Then I dial my mom, but she is already on a call with my sister and I can’t get a word into the conversation. They keep cutting out. So I hang up the phone in frustration and open the front door because the noises upstairs-the footsteps upstairs– are getting louder and I know I need to LEAVE.
But the moment I step outside, an elk runs past me, out of nowhere, which throws me for a loop because this is North Carolina and there are no elk here. Then I remember the grizzly bears, and I know that must be what the elk is running from. And, hell, there’s no way I can outrun the bears, so I back step inside and slam the door.
There, I call my mom again and, this time, when she answers the phone I can hear her voice clearly. Hear her say something she once told me about my adventures, “sometimes, Gin, I think you just do all this to escape.”
Then she runs down the stairs with a knife in hand to kill me.
It should be noted that this dream is not a reflection of my mother’s character in the least. She is kind and fair and has been more accepting of my antics than most parents would. Instead, I think it just reflects my unhappiness at home, coupled with my perpetual fear of death on the road, and how the two things can feel like being caught between a rock and a hard place.
I have regressed since my walk. Weeks have stretched into months and I’ve wasted all that time, gained weight, and let my mental health slip. I feel detached from the person I was before, yet my love for life on the road remains a tight rope around my heart, threatening to pull taut every time I look at the map of the United States on my bedroom wall. I figure my desire to roam is like a raging fire that I can either wrestle into submission, knowing embers will always be simmering under the surface, or I can let it burn free until its energy is spent and a new life is ready to grow from it ashes.
And while it pains me to think that I may die before I can grow old, I cannot make an idol out of my fear and call it God, either. Especially not when fear only tries to belay me while I’m still at home, swaddled in relative safety; when out adventuring, it lingers in the back of my mind but never calls the shots, as it shouldn’t. There’s an irony in that that makes me laugh.
Suffice to say, the open road calls to me; I am ready to return to it, and to return to myself.
July 2021: Four months. 16 states. March 9th to July 9th. Charleston, SC, to Los Angeles, CA. Seattle, WA, to Port Huron, MI.
Faith over fear.