I am not raising money for charity. This is my vacation. Bicycle touring is an excellent form of Adventure and it allows:
- a blend of a goal driven approach with a stop-and-smell-the roses serendipity
- healthy outdoor exercise
- a chance to travel fast enough to cover real distances, but slow enough to trade smiles with people
- an excuse to explore, meet people and understand more about a place
I have traveled across six continents and even wrote a book about it. This trip came after thinking “what to do for an encore”? I had already cycled all 50 states, but not yet seen all the State Capitols. I also didn’t have enough time to visit all the capitols so 30 seemed like a good subset.
Follow me or join me as I discover the parts of America that lie between those State Capitols.
Where are you going?
I am headed to <X>, where X is the next larger town on my itinerary.
This question is by far the most common question I am asked when I meet people on the road. I enjoy interacting with people I meet and this seems to be a common ice breaker. Some people will ask the question and once curiosity is answered not ask anything else. Others might offer their assessment of whether I am actually on a route that will get me there – or advice on a better route. For others, it is a starting question for other questions on the trip, e.g. how long will it take, where did I come from, etc.
Because this question gets asked so often – I get practice on how to best answer it. Providing a longer more complicated answer about traveling in a zig-zag line to end up in Seattle – or providing too far distances sometimes confuses. I was also on rides where fellow riders were asked so often (“where are you go”…), they just started making up non-nonsensical answers, e.g. Peru or China.
However, I don’t mind being asked and so answer truthfully but with a simpler answer related to next major point on the itinerary.
Where did you start?
Plan is to start in Washington DC. While I have cycled in the other 50 states, and I have visited Washington DC, I haven’t ever ridden a bicycle in Washington DC. This and starting at the US Capitol seems like a fitting and symbolic place to start my ride.
Where will you end?
I expect to end at the US West coast, for example Seattle where I can catch an Amtrak train back home. I may adjust to exactly how far I am able to go.
Why only 30? Why not bicycle to all the State Capitols?
I have allocated six months because that is the amount of my leave of absence. That is too short for me to be able to reach all the capitols. As described in the route page, I did figure out how long it would take to bicycle all the capitols and realized that instead I prefer to do my ride with a LOA so I can more easily rejoin work in a new role after my trip.
How far do you go each day?
While I know where I am headed, I often don’t have a precise stopping point picked out much in advance. Instead, the weather, any mechanical issues and sights along the way might determine how far I go on a particular day. On past trips I often started out in the morning with several potential destinations and let things play out to see what was available and where I stopped. In rare cases if I am in touristy region of know lodging might be scarce I might make a reservation a day or two before.
I do want to keep track of a rough “budget” of how much time I have available on average how far to travel to stay roughly on track. This is on the “route” page and isn’t an exact itinerary but a rough approximation because at times I am “behind”, I might be more inclined to ride slightly longer days and when I am “ahead”, I might find an excuse to take an extra day here of there.
Where do you stay overnight?
I expect to mostly stay in budget motels, but also have a mix of camping and perhaps staying with friends where it makes sense.
It still surprises me how often during my visit I end up in a small town motel owned or managed by a Gujarati family, often with last name Patel and these are types of places I frequnt. Alternately, I have with me a basic tube tent that serves as a shelter from rain and coupled with a bug net is a lightweight place to stay. I am a member of Warmshowers and may use them occasionally. Alternately, if I am not too far from friends I might also do an overnight visit. Invitations welcome, though no offense intended if it doesn’t quite work.
Have you done this before?
Yes. This trip is part of a pattern for me. Typically I have worked four or five years and then taken a longer leave to go on a long bicycle trip. Hence, this is the 7th long trip I have taken with other six trips including:
- 1992 – A Bicycle Ride Across the USA
- 1997 – A Bicycle Ride Across Canada
- 2001 – A Bicycle Ride Around Australia, Across the USA And through New Zealand and India
- 2007 – A Bicycle Ride Across Eurasia and A Bicycle Ride through China
- 2013 – A Bicycle Ride Across Africa
- 2016 – A Bicycle Ride Across the Americas
After my last long trip in 2016, I completed a life goal of cycling across six continents. I will never cycle across Antarctica so considered the goal complete and also published my bike trip memoirs as an Amazon book.
What do you do? How can you afford the trip? How do you get time off for the trip?
This trio of questions typically comes as people figure out how I set up on my trip, can take time off to do this ride, afford it and otherwise do this.
I work as a Software Engineer and Manager. I am taking a six-month LOA from my work. I wrapped up previous assignments before departure and will go back for new assignments on my return. I am feel both fortunate and grateful to work for an employer who has supported this LOA.
I have done this multiple times during my career, taking some breaks along the way rather than waiting to an early retirement (and perhaps discovering I can’t do those trips anymore). About every 4 or 5 years, I’ve been able to take an extended bicycle trip. For these trips, I work with my managers in advance to provide notice and otherwise help grow people so they can take things over. I want to leave things as best I can so my employer is also motivated to have me back after my LOA. On return, I am eager to jump into the next assignment – so there is a natural cycle of learning, contributing, renewal to my work career.
I have prioritized this trip and have saved up before the trip. This generally means living below my means. For example, I haven’t owned an automobile since 2001 and otherwise watch big expenses like housing to get by without spending too much. I am also single and without dependents, and that makes logistics easier.
I realize not everyone has the same flexibility and so feel fortunate to be able to do such a trip. But, I have also made choices along the way that make this trip possible for me.
Let me know what else is missing from this list.