Yesterday afternoon we hit 3,500 miles! Which means that for our 7,000 mile goal (in order to beat the world record) we are officially halfway! This was a huge milestone for us, and we are feeling very excited to have reached the second half of our journey. We have given ourselves 90 days to complete the 7,000 miles, and it took us 44 days to complete 3,508- so we are right on track of where we wanted to be. Even 1 day ahead 😉
As many of you might know, we had the goal of reaching the 4 corners of the continental US. And we have now hit 2 of the 4 corners! Last week we reached Madawaska, Maine, which is the Northeastern most point of the US. We have since turned West, and are currently in Lake George, New York making our way to the 3rd corner in Washington state.
Back in South Carolina we made the decision to stay off of Highway 1 and the more direct route, and instead take rural roads. Due to this decision, we are halfway on our mileage, but not halfway geographically. While the 4 corners is a fun goal and gives us direction, it is not a requirement for the world record. All that matters for the world record is the miles. At this point, it’s looking like we will hit 3 of the 4 corners, and most likely end the trip near Portland, Oregon. But basically we are just going to keep going until our 90 days are up! This decision was very simple for us as we are having such a wonderful time taking the back roads and enjoying exploring the less populated areas of the US. Plus the riding has been amazing.
Anyway! I thought that since we have hit two milestones: 1. 2nd Corner- Madawaska, Maine and 2. The halfway mark – I would make a little update post. Here are some random thoughts, facts, and information from me and Kyle about the first half of our journey (in no particular order), followed by lots of photos. We tried to come up with a list of things that people might not think about regarding this adventure. Enjoy!
- Our average speed of the entire trip is 15 mph. Because this average has stayed so consistent, it makes planning our days much easier.
- We have biked in the rain for 3 days straight. It didn’t stop raining the whole time. And those 3 days happened to fall on our highest elevation days, as well as some pretty high mileage days. It was difficult and very wet. Ourselves and our gear were completely covered in road grime. We have a rule during days like that: no whining. And complaining is okay but only if it is done through singing. I made up quite the song to the tune to “Here come the Sun” by the Beatles. It went something like “Here comes the rain… do do do.. here comes the wind.. and this really sucks..” the rest I probably shouldn’t repeat here 😉 We got through those days, and let me tell you, when the sun came back out, it was glorious.
- Kyle and I realized that we have spent the majority of the last 9 years outside. Whether it’s working, adventuring, or living on our sailboat (all the hatches and windows open at all times)- we came to the realization that we live life in the weather. Rain, wind, and the elements are something we have to pay close attention to. But what intrigues me about this realization the most, is I wonder what impact all the fresh air has on our health. We are both very fortunate to have great health and rarely go to the doctor and hardly ever get sick. Sometimes I wonder if this is because of how close we live with nature. But I have no idea, just a random thought I had while riding.
- I really love sleeping in the tent. I asked Kyle if he loved it, and he said “Do I love it? I enjoy it.” I think what I love so much about it is being so close to the ground, to the earth. I enjoy looking out my screen door and seeing all the bugs crawling on the ground. So much life all around me. Bugs and insects fascinate me, and I like watching them go about their life. I do this often due to the fact that I sleep at their level. I also can’t get enough of all the sounds around me. The birds, the critters, the animals that move around at night. It’s all so alive!
- During this journey we have been exposed to the incredible diversity in which people live. Whether is a shack in the middle of the woods with garbage and junk piled everywhere, or a stone cottage on the water surrounded by wildflowers. McMansions in the suburbs, to deeded communities that we aren’t allowed to bike through. Apartment buildings and houses with white picket fences. Trailer parks and triplexes. Throughout our 3,500+ miles I have no idea how many dwellings we’ve biked passed, but I can tell you one thing, there is more diversity than I could have ever imagined.
- We see about 5-10 dead animals every single day since we left from Key West. The amount of road-kill is something I had never considered. At first this was very difficult for me. I have gone through so many phases with this experience. At the beginning I was so sad for the animals, then I was grossed out by seeing them all smashed, and by this point, I have come to terms with the road-kill. I realize it is just a part of the life we live. If there are roads and cars, then there will be road-kill and that’s all there is to it. It has actually made me really contemplate the process of life and death. I know that’s a bit strange and morbid, but when you have seen easily over 300 dead animals within a 45 day period, in every stage of decay, you can’t help but contemplate death. Completely random and unexpected, and a bit sad, but that is our reality so I figured i’d share.
- This next one I was a bit hesitant to share, but it’s again, our reality. We pee in the strangest places. Whether is quite literally on the side of a secluded highway as quickly as possible before a car comes (this only happens if we can’t access the trees/bushes), behind trees, in the bushes, behind gravel and rubble piles, or anywhere else that might be convenient and hidden. I made a joke that I sometimes feel like a dog just marking my territory as I make my way across the US. Obviously we are respectful about this. We do not pee in neighborhoods or anywhere near where people might be. If we are near people/neighborhoods, we find grocery stores or gas stations. But being that we have taken the rural route, we are usually in the middle of nowhere without facilities anywhere nearby.
- We are still hungry all the time. Food is still one of the most important parts of this trip for us. We eat a lot.
- We have spent 225 hours riding the bikes so far. This is just time actually pedaling. Being that we can’t talk on the phone, or read, or even really talk to each other, you can imagine that we have a lot of time to think. I can guarantee you what Kyle thinks about and what I think about are very different things. We’ll stop for a snack and I’ll have just been thinking about how cute the chipmunk I just saw was, and Kyle will come over and go into a full discussion about what kind of aluminum he wants to use on our next build 😂 Sometimes we listen to music through our little speakers, but we do not wear headphones or listen to music very loud.
- We can watch movies in the tent. Being that we have to charge the bikes every night, we are always at developed campgrounds, which means we usually have cell service for a hotspot or wifi. Kyle set up a line on the top of the tent and we are able to hang the computer from it so we can lay flat on our backs and watch movies. We are usually so exhausted by the end of the night, that sitting up to watch a movie is too much work. We only do this if we are enjoying jiffy pop or a dessert.
- Kyle has 8 items of clothing and I have 12 (not including rain gear and warm jackets). This has actually met all of our needs, and we are satisfied with what we packed. We do laundry 1-2 times a week, usually at campgrounds using quarters.
- Tortillas and bread are staples of our diets. We have gotten quite creative with what you can put inside tortillas and bread. My mom dehydrates all sorts of food for us, and sends us packages along the way (with lots of other goodies inside too). Lately we have been doing bread, mayo, cheese with dehydrated: sauerkraut, tomatoes, and onions for lunch. (by the way- mayo doesn’t need to be refrigerated as long as it’s in a squeeze container that can not get contaminated).
- We love draft (tap) beers but have only had them on 3 occasions during the journey. This is for a variety of reasons (we don’t drink and ride, there aren’t many breweries/pubs around, and we’re too tired). But because of that, the 3 occasions that we have, were very special and fun. This is the same for going out to eat. We have only eaten out 3-4 times in the last 45 days, but when we do- it’s a real treat.
- We have a ton of fun together. We are truly having a great time on this trip. We laugh A LOT, joke around, sing, and just generally are in good moods 95% of the time. We feel incredibly grateful to be best friends and to enjoy the same things. This trip has honestly been more enjoyable than I could have ever imagined, and I can’t wait for all the reflection that will come when it’s over.
- This trip has caused us to be exceptionally present. It’s almost like we are in this tunnel of riding, and are focused so intently on our surroundings, that it puts us into what I would call a meditative state. I find myself so focused in on the trees, the road, the little chipmunks skittering around, the clouds in the sky, the sunshine- I feel connected with my surroundings and am so thankful to spend so much time outside.
Okay, that’s all for now! Thank you for all the support and encouragement along the way. You guys are awesome.
-Danielle (and Kyle!)