I’ve had the good fortune over the last several years to experience some great adventures in foreign countries. But spending the last four months riding my bike across America at 15 miles an hour has been one of the greatest adventures.
First and foremost, America is a beautiful country. I saw every corn field, wheat field, lake and mountain that was on my course—the Northern Tier. There were times when I didn’t see a car or a human being for over 20 minutes. I began to wonder if something had happened in the world while I was biking because there was no chaos around me. But actually the peace and serenity of those moments were one of the best parts of the trip. Whenever we came to a larger city, it was like chaos. Couldn’t wait to get back into the countryside.
Second, the people I met along the way were kind and generous. I was amazed by their interest and concern for our trip and the charities I was riding for. I was even more taken by the donations that I received from some of the people I spoke to for only a few minutes.
For example, there was Brad and his dog Cody, who found me in a parking lot looking at my map, thoroughly puzzled by what route to take. Brad offered to take me to the correct route about a mile away. I spoke with him for a few minutes about what I was doing and the charities I was riding for. A few days later I received a generous contribution from him. I later received comments and some donations from his neighbors as well—people I hadn’t even met but were apparently solicited by Brad after our meeting. Another time I stopped at a pull-out to take a picture of a mountain stream. While I was there, a car stopped to look at the view as well. The two couples were from Sandpoint, Idaho, and were out for a sight-seeing tour of the area. We spoke for about 10 minutes and I told them about my ride. A few days later I received notification that they had made a very generous donation to one of our charities.
We also had great service and kindness from people who worked on our RV. The boys at the Rattlesnake Truck Service not only went out of their way to pick up a part by driving an hour to the parts dealer, but also offered to let us set up our RV at their place of business for the night. They provided us with water and electrical hookup.
These personal kindnesses were not isolated instances but rather reoccurring time and time again.
Not everyone is physically or mentally prepared to bike 4,285 miles across our country but:
We can all slow down and absorb the true beauty of our country.
We can take the back roads instead of the highways.
We can open ourselves to the experience of talking to a stranger.
We can look at the beauty that grows along the side of the road.
We can travel more in America because it is the most beautiful of beautiful places.
We can open ourselves to the simpler life on the road without the need for all the modern conveniences and without the need for the daily news.
We can discover the goodness of America and its people.
We can better appreciate our friends and family who sent their prayers, their strength and their good wishes to us each and every day.
These are some of the things I learned in the 113 days we were on the road.