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EZ Touring Across The States
By Mike McGhee - (contact)

You're Gonna Do What?: Yep, and here's why.

Tuesday March 4, 2014

If I tell people that I'm going to ride my bicycle across the states they say "You're gonna do what?", followed quickly by "Why would you want to do that?" Thus I needed to have some kind of an answer. Often, the answer is illusive to me as well but then I get to thinking about it and the reasons just start pouring out.

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I really enjoyed the Natchez Trace last May

I've been doing crazy stuff all of my life, most of which was done outdoors. I guess it all started out by growing up in the country with a family that loved to be outside. My father especially influenced me with his background in hiking, camping and being a naturalist. Boy Scouts introduced me to hiking and camping and water sports. White water kayaking started later in Grad School but biking, as is the case for most kids started with my first bike. Training wheels, no brakes and about 2 feet off the ground. That progressed to my first real bike, a one speed, Firestone tank including a huge light with batteries. I rode that on my first 50 miler when I passed my bicycling merit badge. My friends at that time all had 10 speeds which were so new at the time. I was so envious of those flashy bikes with all those gears that I saved up my allowance and bought my own Ralliegh 10 speed for 73 dollars.

That led to many adventures with my friend Frank as we rode though the streets of our town and country every weekend sometimes venturing up to 70 miles. There was a time in the tenth grade when I rode 10 miles to school and often beat the bus there. I would say that I rode 10 miles to school, barefoot, in the snow, up hill, both ways, but that only happened once.

Unfortunately, things often change when teens reach 16 and riding bikes gave way to driving cars as the way to get around. That happened to me as well. Thus, that old friend was put in the attic and forgotten for way to long. Kayaking and hiking seemed to fit the schedule of work and family so much easier that it was years before the biking bug hit again. I have my wife Jeri to thank for that and the opening of a new bike shop in my town by a friend named Joe. Jeri had heard of BRAG, bike ride across Ga. from friends and they convinced her to go. She asked me to as well, but I was to busy with other things to bother at that time. She came back with the best stories ever and convinced me to go the next year. I went to Joe's shop and got out my old friend to be fixed up for the event. Joe took pity on me and asked if I wanted to go riding with him and his friends. As Joe was an accomplished racer, I was quite flattered and tried my best not to disappoint. With his patience and encouragement, my riding skills improved and I was able to ride BRAG in pure joy even doing my first century. Somewhere along that ride, the thought of riding across the country took shape.

The journey had to wait however as taking off for at least 3 months was not something a business owner could do. Also, another life long dream had to come first as it had taken seed much earlier. Thus, I tried to stay in shape, doing little trips, running etc. so that when that day came, my body might still be able to endure the miles. As fortune would have it, I was able to semi retire early enough to accomplish the first of my bucket list and I thru hiked the Appalachian Trial from Ga. to Maine in 2011. That took quite a toll and I decided to take time off to recover before tackling my bike trip.

Now that time has come I am more than ready. Each spring since the AT trip, I have been itching to go and now this spring the anticipation is barely containable. In less than 2 months, on May 3, I'll be starting the Adventure Cycling Association's self-contained TransAm trip with 13 other new friends. I'll once more be experiencing the joy and pain of traveling under my own power. Meeting incredible people from all walks of life from all over the US and I'm sure other countries as well. Seeing the country at an average of around 13.5 mph instead of 65 and touring the back roads instead of the interstate. Seeing the Rockies rise up over the horizon somewhere in Colorado. Enjoying the simplicity of getting up, eating, riding, eating, eating, eating, and yes more eating then finally sleeping, and then getting up and doing it all over again daily for 3 months. Yep, I know there will be hardships along the way. No one that has ever hiked the AT can forget that there will be times when you would ask yourself, "You're doing what, and why?" As it turns out, that is another reason for doing these types of things. It's the challenge. Can you put up with the physical and mental hardships placed before you on a daily basis? Time will tell.

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Happy with my brother at the end of CNC

So that is why I'm doing this. There are many other reasons as well and as I go, they may be discussed in length. Hopefully you will follow along and offer words of encouragement especially when the going gets tough. My friends that followed me on the AT hike never knew how much it meant to me to hear form them as I slowly walked to Maine. Their support kept me going when I might otherwise have just given up. Thus, I ask, come with me this time as well as I ride form Virginia to Oregon.


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"EZ Touring Across The States" Copyright © 2014 By Mike McGhee - (contact). All rights reserved.
Page was created on March 4, 2014 07:02 PDT, last updated on March 20, 2014 06:54 PDT
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