Most people react with a mixture sceptisicm, dismay and consternation when they hear about my plan of crossing the U.S. on a bicycle. The question about the ‘point’ of this trip is valid since evidentially you can board a plane in New York and after about six hours you will arrive on the west coast. It is difficult to explain the appeal, but nevertheless I will try to tell you how I came up with this idea on this page.
It all started about ten years ago. My parents were planning a vacation in the U.S. and I took the map of the states and thought: ‘You could also cross it with a bike’. Until today, I have no idea why I had this thought, because none of my family members had ever done a bike-trip and I wouldn’t call myself a big adventurer. Maybe it was the obsession my sister and I had with bets at that time. We made bets about the most pointless things (the question of who would have the higher Body-Mass-Index at the age of 30 was the subject of another bet the same night). With this said, we actually signed a ‘contract’ saying that I would have to cross the U.S. from east coast to west coast on a bicycle until I’d be 35. From today’s point of view it is a little bit annoying that I was a naive 13-year old boy who accepted 50€ stake for every bet. But at least – after completing the bike-tour – I can hope to win the BMI-bet as well and get another 50€.
As a starting point New York was obvious for me and as my final destination I picked San Francisco with the Golden Gate Bridge. I still remember how I went to my room and googled “biketrip USA” and found the webpage of a Swiss guy who had cycled a similar route. From that evening on, I had the dream of doing such an adventure myself – crossing such a big country under one’s own steam must be a great feeling.
The following years, I started to become more and more interested in bike-tours and fortunately my best friend Patrick was also into it. We started with small day-trips and in 2007 it was time for our first big tour. We biked from our hometown in the west of Germany 700km (430miles) to Paris – we weren’t well-prepared and pretty clueless but it was still a great experience.
Unfortunately this was our last trip together since we are studying different things and therefore never had holidays at the same time. I still wanted to continue my new hobby and because none of my other friends were into it, I just did it on my own. In the summer of 2010, I biked 1200km (750miles) along the River Rhine, across Switzerland and the Alps to Saas-Grund. One year later, my next trip was supposed to be a little bit longer again. This time my destination was Barcelona. In 3 weeks I travelled 2100km (1300miles) across, Germany, France, the Pyrenees to the Mediterrenean Sea. After this, I knew that my next goal had to be my long dream of crossing the U.S…
After all, to understand the appeal of such a journey, you have to have done it yourself before. Personally, I enjoy the peace and quiet while cycling by myself, enjoying nature and seeing things and/or people you wouldn’t have seen when travelling in a car or a plane. It also is a big challenge, an intense experience and at the end of the day you know what you have done – but I also know that I will probably ask myself the “why”-question several times during this trip.