As I write this, we are at a campground in Troy, Montana on the Kootenai River. Tomorrow we enter Idaho, and on Monday, Washington- our last state of the journey! Today is Saturday, and one week from today, we will be reaching our “finish line”. On Saturday July 30th, we will hit our 7,000 mile goal, and will end this adventure in Bellingham, Washington. Originally we had a secondary goal to hit the 4 corners of the US- but ever since we decided to take the rural route, we hit our mileage goal much quicker. We are very happy about this decision and feel our route could not have gone better. The company who sponsored the bikes, Dost, is going to meet us at the finish line in Bellingham. We are quite excited for the celebration! We have been working closely with Dost for the last 5 months, and while we have done many video calls, we have never met any of them so we are looking forward to that.
When this journey is over, I am going to write an extensive overview of the journey. So much has happened that I don’t even know where to begin. In my spare time I have been taking notes and journaling about a short story I plan to write about the expedition as a whole. But I thought for now, I’d do another quick update since it’s been a while. Once again, this will be completely random, in no particular order, and followed by lots of pictures and some links to short videos i’ve put together- also in no particular order.
- On July 5th, 2022 around 1pm, Kyle and I broke the current Guinness World Record for The Longest Distance Traveled by Motorized Bicycle. We broke the record in Hinckley, Minnesota after spending 3 zero days in St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin with Kyle’s family. Because we were only 50 miles outside of St. Croix when we broke the record, Kyle’s family was able to come and they were awesome. They had a streamer we biked through, signs, food, drinks, etc. It was lovely. We had 3 independent witnesses there, one of whom is the Mayor of Hinckley. The current record was at 5,100.9 and when we entered Hinckley, we were at mile 5,107. Now this is considered unofficially beating the record. Nothing is official until we submit all our evidence to Guinness which we don’t do until the end. So once we finish, we’ll quickly submit all our evidence, and as long as our evidence is approved, we’ll hold the new record at 7,000+ miles!
- As I write this, we are at mile 6,553.5 of the journey. We have spent 408 hours and 31 minutes pedaling. That would be 17 days of nonstop pedaling! We are on day 84 and have 6 days left.
- On July 20th we reached the Rocky Mountains in Montana. It was one of the most memorable days of my life. I cried tears of joy when I saw our first Glacial Lake. On the 21st, we pedaled the 50 miles of Going to the Sun Road. If you don’t know what that is, you should look it up. It is something I don’t have the words for at the moment. I look forward to writing about it in my short story. We entered Glacier National Park at 5am and due to the early hour, we had a lot of the place to ourselves. We did the ride from East to West, and most of the cars do it the opposite, so we dealt with very little traffic on the most intense parts of the road. We felt so thankful for this.
- The Rocky Mountains have been 100x better than we expected. Every single day since we reached the Rockies has been unbelievable. It isn’t nearly as hard as we thought it was going to be, and we’ve already done our highest elevation days. It’s more beautiful than we could have ever imagined, and today, for example, I spent the entire 90 miles laughing and smiling and just so full of pure joy. We were on Highway 37, riding parallel to Lake Koocanusa. The road was surrounded by cliffs on our left, and the lake to our right. We’d go up for a while, and then get to a fantastic view that would take my breath away, and then we’d cruise downhill at 26mph for miles. I had music playing from my speaker and I was singing so loud and just laughing and in absolute awe of my surroundings. As Kyle very eloquently put it, “this doesn’t suck”.
- I don’t know if it’s because we’re nearing the end, or because of the beauty of where we are, or simply that we’re just having an incredible time, but we are having SO much fun. We laugh so hard we can’t breath multiple times a day. Today at lunch, we climbed over a guard rail on a pull out and laid out the yoga mat. We leaned our backs against the guard rail and in front of us was the lake, framed perfectly by trees on each side, but with a clearing where we were looking out. Kyle started throwing small pebbles at me, which kept getting stuck in my knotty/messy curly hair, and then he hid them in my shoes so when I went to put my shoes back on, they had tons of small pebbles. I then took my socks off, which if i’m being completely honest, I’ve probably been wearing for too many days in a row, and kept putting them in Kyle’s face. For whatever reason, we thought all of this was hilarious, and laughed so hard tears were coming out of our eyes. There have been lots of moments like this over the last couple weeks. It’s like we’re totally high on the energy of our surroundings and the adrenaline of riding these crazy roads in the mountains.
- While we are sad the journey is coming to an end, we are ready. We are ready to not be on the move 24/7. To not live in public campgrounds surrounded by so many people all the time. To not have to set up and break down camp every.single.day. I am ready to not have to deal with so much technology (for the record requirements). We are ready to eat fresher foods, to work on projects that have been on our mind, and as crazy as it sounds, we are ready to go back to work. That being said, we are so excited for the next week. We feel the 90 days we gave ourselves for this expedition was the perfect amount of time. Just long enough that right when it’s over, we’ll be thankful. But not too long that we wished it was over sooner.
- My favorite state so far on this trip is Montana. It used to be Maine, but Montana has surpassed that due to it’s huge scale. Kyle’s favorite state so far is also Montana. Maine is second. Our least favorite states are South Carolina, Georgia and Ohio. South Carolina and Georgia were terrible to bike through- super unfriendly to bikers. Ohio, while very bike friendly, was sooo windy, very boring, and just corn. Always corn. We did have one great experience in Ohio that’s worth mentioning though. My uncle Kevin is from Ohio and told us about this state park to check out. We biked through it, and it was really great. It was the only good experience of biking in that state. He also hooked us up with his brother and sister-in-law and we stayed with them for the evening. Their hospitality was above and beyond. They had all our favorite foods, and drinks, a comfy room, laundry, great conversation, and it was just overall an awesome experience. So our time in Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Wadsworth were great. The rest of Ohio was corn. A huge shout out to Patty and Brian for hosting us and my Uncle Kevin for setting it up. We had a great time.
- I saw a Grizzly bear when we were in Glacier. Kyle was behind me and missed it, but it was across the river and so majestic and huge. I was very thankful it was across the river.
- The amount of roadkill we see on a daily basis as gone up substantially. At least 20 dead animals every day.
- We don’t need to eat as much food anymore. We still eat a lot, but our hunger has evened out- we think this is due to our muscles now being all built up and things getting easier due to time on the bikes and experience level.
- I feel like an incredibly competent bicyclist. My confidence has gone up SO much since the beginning of this trip. I can already tell this has oozed over into other areas of my life. I look forward to reflecting on this in my short story.
Below are some thoughts from Kyle.
From Kyle (aka Skipper)
- Electric bikes are the future. I do not suggest inexperienced cyclists just hop on one and start buzzing around at high speeds, lots of people get hurt that way. But the average speed we have experienced on this trip, especially considering our weight, is incredible. They are super durable and everything about them will keep getting better I am sure. We need to remember the positives when we hear the bad stories and make sure we advocate for balanced policy and rules regarding them because embracing the electric bike is a serious opportunity to bring more people outside and into a better physical condition.
- We need stiff policy about our future roads in America. Roads NEED shoulders. Period dot. And not just for bikes, but for the safety of the driver in an emergency or during a breakdown. If I could give the USA a couple thoughts based on the experiences of this trip:
- No new road construction or resurfacing project can be approved for federal funding unless it has a full shoulder (minimum half lane- bonus money for full lane). Sidewalks are for walking and do not count. If there is parking on the street, the shoulder (bike lane) goes OUTSIDE the parking next to the sidewalk- leaving parked cars as a guard rail against traffic- which is safer for the people getting into their cars anyway.
- Take out or “to-go” food packing must biodegrade 98% in 1 calendar year under average conditions for the area which it is being sold. This is self explanatory: since humans seem to really enjoy throwing cups and fast food bags out their car window- where the DOT crew mow it into little shreds- it should then disappear on its own so we do not have to look at it.
- Bonus thought: New power lines and any repoling over 1 mile must be buried with a case tube large enough for future accommodations. We the taxpayers subsidize the powerlines, which private companies profit from, and we shouldn’t have to stare at them all our lives every place we go. The landscape without them is incredibly more beautiful and we should be able to enjoy our country without staring at them!
- I never thought I could enjoy pedaling every day as much as I have, but it’s been great. The adaptation period takes weeks. You have to grow muscles, skills, and just generally adjust, but after that it’s a superb way to see our country. Its a gratifying experience to work hard each day and accomplish your goal by arriving to your pre-set destination. I find myself proud of each day and especially stoked when it’s been a particular tough one: I pretty much end each day feeling like celebrating what has happened. We woke up with a mission to pedal to our next camp and we did it! haha This has never happened in my life except on physically challenging journeys.
- We live in a great country. Sure, it has problems, crazy people, and I could complain about some things. But overall, people are good, places are clean and it’s a beautiful land that is very easy to travel through. We have awesome roads and signage. We all know there are things our country needs to work towards but if you want to have your faith in humanity as a whole renewed and lifted up: travel and do it as slow as reasonably possible.
- I really enjoy being in good physical condition. I feel great; strong, fast, coordinated.. I have never really been a gym person, though I have always been an active one, but this trip, like our river trip and others always makes me feel strong again. I need to remember this for our return to “average life” and incorporate more fun activities. Biking, walking, frisbee, paddling, whatever the activity is, I want do it with intensity and get some work out from it. But by making these types of adventures a part of our lifestyle, I feel we really benefit physically by giving our body some intense physical conditioning.
Okay, that’s all for now! I’ll update once more when we finish, and again with my short story. Thanks for all the support along the way, you guys are awesome!