Saturday, March 26th, 2011

For those of you who thought my mangled carcass was slowly decomposing in a swampy roadside bog in Louisiana, I've got news for you: 5,500+ miles, 4.75 months, 5 flat tires, 10 states and 31 host homes later I'm very alive and exceedingly well in KEY WEST, FLORIDA!!

To be honest, I am probably more amazed than anyone that I actually followed through with it...and survived! At the outset I'd speculated that my chance of arriving in Key West was maybe 30%, given the myriad problems, challenges and obstacles I could encounter: crippling knee pain, chronic hemorrhoids, paralyzing trepidation, foul-weather burn-out, mechanical catastrophes, disastrous encounters with cars, trucks and RV's, monetary shortcomings and failures, gratuitous overuse of adjectives, etc. But through a combination of good fortune and halting perseverance, I made it to the end of the yellow brick road! What an adventure it's been!

Far and away the best aspect of the journey has been the incredible people I have met. More than anything––and, yes, I know this will sound cliche, but it's true––doing a trip like this restores/reinforces/confirms one's faith in the goodness and generosity of the general populous. Over and over and over I was blown away by the willingness eagerness of perfect strangers to extend a hand; even go the extra mile to help, assist, and offer hospitality. Nor was it just my good fortune––I heard accounts from nearly every fellow cyclist I talked to of similar experiences, some even more dramatic than mine. One cyclist told of meeting a motorist on the road who recommended a restaurant ahead, finding when he arrived at the restaurant his meal had been put on the motorist's tab!

Something disappointing I've discovered along the way is that there are a lot of people out there living with an abiding fear of the world. Other cyclists I've spoken with confirm this. A ubiquitous comment shared amongst cyclists is, "I've had a number of people ask me if I'm carrying or have considered carrying a gun." (!?) Another question cyclists often report being asked is, "Aren't you afraid of getting attacked/mugged?" (Naturally, this always comes from people who have never done anything like a cross-country bike trip.)

I suspect that this common dread stems from a culture of isolationism; we've built an infrastructure of virtual (and actual) walls and shields that keep us from interacting and socializing with those around us. Day after day, over and over, I've observed people sitting in their cars/trucks, queued up at the fast-food drive-thru (when there's no wait inside), living in their little fortresses (ie., houses), "safe" from the perceived threat outside/next door, observing the world through the television and computer screen, growing more and more convinced that the world is a scary and dangerous place.

Fortunately, the cure for the dread is to simply get out and discover that you're not attacked, mugged, murdered, harassed or even threatened and that the many people who are not kind and friendly are not malicious and dangerous but are likely just the aforementioned fearful.

Hey, do your part to reform this culture of fear! Get outside and interact with your neighbors. Talk to strangers in line at the grocery store. Initiate conversation with your co-workers and family members about this fear. Invite the neighbors you don't know over for dinner. Undertake a cross-country bike trip or a 500 mile walk.

And for God's sake, get out of your car!!

Whoo, sorry about the rant! Had to get that off my chest. Feel much better now. Kind of like after you vomit.

Now if you're wondering about the missing two and a half months of blog entries, they're coming. I have hundreds of photos and dozens of videos to sift through and edit and I will get them uploaded along with blog entries as soon as I can after I get home (April 2nd). I'll send another email when the blog is finished.

Tomorrow (Monday, the 28th) I'm renting a car here in Key West and driving up to Miami where Tuesday morning I am boarding a train for a five day trip back to Seattle.

It will be very nice to be back in the wonderful Pacific Northwest!


  1. Yipee !!!!!!
    We are so proud and impressed!
    Mom and Dad

  2. Congratulations!!!! Wow! I'm super impressed with your determination and mad pedaling skills! I'm excited to see you!


  3. Decided to check your blog just now and WOW, you're done! Very cool! Congratulations!

    - Steph(anie Park)

  4. Bryan! Congrats!!!
    You write so well! I look forward to reading 'between the gaps'.

    See you when you get back. DRIVING!

  5. Amazing!!! I am so proud of you! I can't wait to see you. Miles has seen the pictures and loves them.


  6. Congratulations Bryan!!!
    What an amazing journey you've been on. Glad I could share it with you, if only to enjoy a meal and exchange a few stories.
    I couldn't agree more with your sentiments. As a solo, female backpacker, mostly in Asia, I have to have absolute faith in the goodness of people. I have found that people are kind, generous, caring and interested. It's an amazing experience to cross those social boundaries, take a risk and share a connection with a stranger, who soon becomes like an old friend.
    I'm heading to China at the end of May, if you find yourself on my hemisphere, please contact me. You and your bike are always welcome at my home!!

  7. Bryan! Way to go man. I've been wondering what you've been up to and glad to hear you finished your trip. It's very encouraging for me to finish mine. Hope your return to Seattle is dry and warmly received by both friends/family and the weather. I know that Pacific NW. Anyway, take care and I'll have to pedal up to see you again one of these days.