Personal Goal

Why would anyone in their right mind ride a bicycle across the country?

I've always had a desire and knack for different forms of transportation. I've spent many days in canoes and with backpacks slung over my shoulders but have rarely taken many long trips on a bicycle, despite the countless hundreds of miles I have bicycled in my life.

It seems like such a lofty goal to others. To some it seems impossible. "You're riding your bike across the country?" they say. It sounds almost as unusual and endless as copying the Encyclopedia Brittanica by hand.

Life is a journey, not a destination

While visiting some friends in Pittsburgh during the summer of 2001, one commented to another, "We should drive across the country next summer to pick Larry up in Oregon. He's riding his bike across the country, you know." Another friend looked puzzled thinking "Why would we drive to Oregon to get Larry when he's got a perfectly good motorcycle to ride back to Pennsylvania on?" It turns out I was planning to ride a bicycle.

Lots of people think I'm nuts. Others gave me a pat on the back and wished me luck.

I suppose that I should give a few reasons why I did it.

  • I have had only visited three of the states on the route and only on a very limited basis. (I've probably spent two weeks in Virginia, a total of 12 hours in Illinois, and about three days in Missouri.)
  • My profession as a teacher gave me just enough summer vacation to complete this adventure. There are thousands of other people who would like to do this but can't.
  • Adventure traveling is exciting to me. I have spent a great deal of time backpacking and canoeing but have never set out on a bicycle adventure. This added to my "been there, done that" repertoire.
  • There's a whole lot of America out there to see. Why not enjoy the view? I fear that our society misses the true majesty of our nation by exploring it in automobiles at highway speeds.

A teacher at the high school I graduated from, Mr. Jim Yeich, is part of my inspiration. Jim is a long time adventurer. He thru hiked the Appalachian Trail and has cycled across the country, following a more northerly route than I will. He's also cycled in Ireland and taken a dory (wooden hulled boat) down the Colorado River. These are just a few of his adventures.

He was a good resource for me and I consulted with him many times before I dipped the rear wheel in the Atlantic.

Jim (left), my father (center) and I discussing plans for the trip during a visit to my hometown at Easter 2001.

Jim and I discuss the design of the bike

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Lawrence J. Flint