Chandler, AZ couple Steve and Kathy McDermott describe their 4,500 mile transamerica adventure.
by Steve and Kathy McDermott
We decided that this summer (2014) was going to be THE summer that we cycled cross the United States. Using Adventure Cycling’s Trans Am Route, we left Mechanicsville VA May 13 for our wonderful adventure. Our route, with some deviation, took us 114 days (88 cycling and 26 planned off days), totaled 4,546 miles, with 173,941 total feet of climbing. We love cycling and bicycle touring but had never done a self supported tour lasting more than 3 weeks.
We have been married 36 years and travel extremely well together. This entire trip was not a one-person-did-it-all adventure. We have no children and are very close in everything we do. We did not once feel the need to get away from each other. You must be on the same page as your travel partner or you are setting yourself up for disaster. Our years of marriage pretty much took care of this for us. We cannot for one minute imagine having done this trip with anyone but each other. We both feel so very fortunate to enjoy the same activities. This trip would not have been the same with anyone else.
We like plans so we, in essence, planned a one to two week vacation every couple weeks in order to have a definite place to stay and known route. We did prepare cue sheets prior to the trip which were immensely helpful. We just read the turns on the Adventure Cycling Maps and typed up the cues. We stayed in hotels/motels every night except for a few nights when we stayed in a bicycle hostel. Our preference is not to camp; however, we did carry a light tent, sleeping sacks and Thermarest pads in the event we were forced to camp.
We were very thankful for GPS and smart phones, although cell coverage was sporadic in some parts of the country. We carried an iPad with a wireless keyboard to create an on line journal and posted daily updates. If you are interested in our journal, the link is as follows: www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/kstransam2014
We flew from our home in Chandler AZ to Richmond VA. We traveled east to west because we knew the heat, humidity and hills in Virginia, Kentucky, southern Illinois and Missouri were going to be brutal. We were not disappointed. We have biked the Rockies in the past, and we were looking forward to biking towards them. Many people also feel the prevailing wind is west to east. From the countless journals we read both before and during the trip, this is not true. We had just as many days with tailwinds as headwinds. Which direction you travel is a personal preference; ours was east to west.
|climb from Halfway,OR to Richland,OR|
Physically the trip was very demanding. We are 63 years old, avid and very experienced cyclists, and had some very tough days. However, it was nothing more than we had done before. We were each carrying about 50 pounds of gear on our touring bikes. You must remember bicycle “touring” is different from daily riding. Although we approached each day with the attitude that it is just another day ride, we were in no hurry. We averaged approximately 10 to 12 MPH most days. Our slowest day was approximately 7 MPH and our fastest approximately 14 MPH.
We had many good days and a few not so good. Numerous factors enter into the evaluation of a day; e.g., weather (rain/sun/snow; wind; temperature; humidity); traffic; road conditions; road surface, scenery; and terrain. It is all relative as a bad day could be an exceptional day given different conditions.
The people we met did make the trip, and we met countless people who made the trip enjoyable.
The simplicity of self supported bicycle touring for an extended period of time is liberating. Everything we needed was on that bicycle, and we had more than enough. We did not carry food or cooking gear, opting instead to eat in restaurants. However, we did always have emergency rations and snacks on the bikes.
We biked through Virginia, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Oregon. Everyone in every state was wonderful to us. However, our favorite state was Kansas for the people. Our favorite states for scenery were Colorado, Wyoming and Oregon.
Not that we needed confirmation, but this trip most definitely confirmed that America is beautiful, and we are so very proud to be Americans. It was wonderful to see it all at an average speed of approximately 10 MPH.