Thursday, April 13, 2017

Photos from a Bicycle Ride across the USA

If you’re thinking about riding a bicycle across the United States, I absolutely encourage you to get out there and pedal.

I’ve done two trips, one in 2007, another in 2011, two of the greatest adventures of my life. I tell everyone who’s interested: It’s not that hard. If you can pedal without crashing you can do what I did. You just have to be persistent. I was 58-years-old when I rode across the country for the first time.

I was in good shape for my age—but you don’t have to be a superb athlete to make this happen. Again, you have to be persistent.

If you aren’t the type to quit, you can manage.

If you’re interested in details, I have lengthy posts describing both trips. I was still teaching in 2007 and my students at Loveland Middle School helped raise $13,500 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. I raised $10,500 in 2011—and got handcuffed as a suspected bank robber while traveling in Indiana.

I did both trips east to west, saving the most spectacular scenery for last. I also made a point of hitting Yellowstone both times, and traveled more than 4,000 miles on each trip.

Here’s the best news. Both times, when I reached the Pacific, I wished I could turn around and ride back. 

I had that much fun.

Many riders I’ve talked to would say the same.

My daughter Emily developed Type 1 diabetes when she was 14.
I rode in her honor.

I always tried to teach my students if you have two legs, you can do it.
You can always do more than you think.

I began my ride in Avalon, New Jersey.
The first few days, I rode down the coast, took a ferry from Cape May
and crossed over into Delaware and Maryland.

I carried camping gear; but when I was tired I paid for motels.
In Fredericksburg, Virginia I stayed in a real dump.
That's the towel the motel supplied!

I taught history. So I visited the battlefield at Chancellorsville.

I also steamed up a steep hill to see Jefferson's home at Monticello.

I think this is a famous pioneer's car.
Blue Ridge Mountains.

(I didn't take many pictures of Ohio, Indiana or Illinois.
Lots of farm fields.)

My bicycle (21 gears; heavy duty wheels) held up well; camping near Columbia, Missouri.

Beside the Missouri River;
a bunch of drunks at a campsite nearby kept me awake late into the night.

These two young men were pedaling east from California.
I met them in Kansas.
(I lost their names; but we shared acquired wisdom.)

Yeah: Kansas is flat!

Kansas sunflower and visitor. 

More Kansas! Still flat!

Many small towns in the West are shriveling as family farms are supplanted by agribusiness.
Population declines mean even churches close.

Abandoned high school, Ness County, Kansas.
Large parts of the West have fewer people than in 1920.

Kansas scene.

Eastern Colorado is flat, too, but you gradually rise in elevation to around 4500 feet.
You can tell you're approaching towns because you can see grain elevators from twelve miles away.

Somewhere in Colorado.

Royal Gorge Bridge is fun to see and the scenery in this part of Colorado is fantastic.

Scene from the Arkansas River Valley.

I woke up near Leadville, Colorado to this view outside my tent.

Parts of southern Wyoming are barren. Somewhere north of Rawlins.

I pedaled from New Jersey to Wyoming before I got my first flat.
(I served with the Marines, 1968-1970.)

While fixing my flat, this young lady pedaled up and we had a nice chat.
She was riding south to Durango, Colorado.

Large parts of Wyoming are almost empty.
I went up on a hill to get this picture, looking back about thirty miles.
I made it my campsite for the night.

Lake at the top of Togwotee Pass, not far from Grand Teton National Park.
You soon start a 17-mile long downhill ride.

Grand Teton National Park.

Morning in Grand Teton National Park.

If you're pedaling coast-to-coast, I highly recommend going through Yellowstone National Park.
You'll be glad you did.

Spectators watch me pedal past in Yellowstone.

Yellowstone elk.

One of many hot springs.

A geyser erupts.

Earthquake Lake was formed in 1959 when a huge rock slide blocked the Madison River.
Several campers were crushed in their tents.

So many people people donated for the cause. These two waitresses at a place near Earthquake Lake heard what I was doing and gave generously to JDRF.

You can ride I-90 near Butte, Montana. There were some big fires in the area in 2007.

Pedaling up and over Lolo Pass, in Idaho, I met Gene Meyers, one of the few riders I ran into also heading West.
He was a gentleman and we rode together for several days.

It was fun to have someone to talk to after going solo so long.

Gene and I spent an entire day pedaling up the Lochsa River Valley.
A gorgeous Idaho stretch.

When I hit the Washington State line I realized, "Hey, I'm actually going to do this!
I said I'd pedal across the USA and I'm nearly finished."

Eastern Washington; not far from Walla Walla.

Waterfall in the Columbia River Valley, Oregon.

Mt. Hood, sixty miles away. Columbia River Valley.

You can ride I-84 down the Columbia River; here, I was on Old Route 30, high above.
My brother met me on the second-to-last day of my ride,
carried my gear in his car, and brought champagne.
Finished the ride after 51 days.
Oregon Coast not far from Tillamook.

(I will post pictures from my second trip, probably next week.)


  1. Fantastic!! Thanks for posting 😎

    1. You are welcome. I try to convince others to try this kind of ride.

  2. Thanks for riding for JDRF!!!

  3. Such a noble cause, great pictures, beautiful daughter!

    1. Thanks, we love her. She's now a diabetic nurse counselor.

  4. I've been to most of the U.S., not on a bike, but I've travelled to a lot of places. America is beautiful and breathless. I've had some quite unique experiences. Those who don't see this U.S.A. are really missing out. I've met some wonderful people, been to the Congressional Country Club for dinner, deep sea fished (mostly chumming it), went to the Daytona 500 infield when people told me I'd never get in. Lots of flat land, grasses, waterways and by the way-those beautiful falls at the Columbia are the "MULTNOMAH FALLS" in Oregon. Beautiful!!! Camped in Colorado lots of times. I love America. I love meeting people as the majority of Americans are with heart. I've been blessed with being able to travel. Blessed with meeting people and being able to enjoy. Went with "anonymous" John-

    1. I totally agree; first of all, I met nice people at almost every stop. And I used to tell my students, "You have to drive across the United States at least once in your life, to appreciate all the beauty there is."

  5. You obviously didn't get into the hilly part of Kansas. I did Bike Across Kansas...Kansas is not flat!! Great pictures! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks, I do remember one killer hill in Kansas, near the end of a day where I was really exhausted. It was twenty miles east of Marion, Kansas, if I recall, a "long 3-mile rise," as my notes have it. I added: "Put it in low gear and churn; would like to ride w/someone, but I don't know many insane people." (I did both my cross-country rides solo, which has its good points, too.)

  6. Great post. Inspiring me to plan a similar trip for sometime in 2018. What is your bike? What would you recommend? Was it a problem to find camping places? Noticed only nice weather in photos... did you encounter rain, etc? What did you do then?

    1. I have a Cannondale 700, with 27 speeds, purchased in 1999. I did a lot of stealth camping, where I made my own spots. As for rain, I got soaked pretty good on seven days out of the first twelve during my 2011 trip. I had rain gear; but it caused me to sweat so much, I was soaked anyway. Some days I quit early and hunkered down in motels. Since I was riding for a good cause, I also had free lodging on several occasions. People were super nice along the way. For more advice, check my post: "Advice before Bicycling Across the USA."