Agent One (Bruce Graw) recently completed his solo bike ride across North America. This page acted as an online journal during the trip, and now available as an archive of the journey. Feel free to link to this site or use any of the material included. I hope you find some inspiration from these pages, and good luck in your own touring and cross-country rides! To view a particular day, click on the map below or any of the text links provided. You can also step through the entire trip by beginning on Day 0 (the "preparations" page) and clicking on "Next" at the bottom of each day's report.
Day 0 | Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 9 | Day 10 | Day 11 | Day 12 | Day 13 | Day 14 | Day 15 | Day 16 | Day 17 | Day 18 | Day 19 | Day 20 | Day 21 | Day 22 | Day 23 | Day 24 | Day 25 | Day 26 | Day 27 | Day 28 | Day 29 | Day 30 | Day 31 | Day 32 | Day 33 | Day 34 | Day 35
Well, that's it, I managed to ride my bicycle from coast to coast! Now that it's over, it doesn't seem like it was all that tough, but then I think back on those mountains and the headwinds and remember how difficult those days really were. Only rarely did I ever think about how far I still had to go to finish the whole trip. Instead, I concentrated on one day at a time, and before I knew it, it was over. That's the biggest piece of advice I could give anyone who's planning a ride like this one. If you think about the overall distance, it'll overwhelm you and make you think it can't be done. Instead, stick to daily goals. After all, journey of a thousand miles begins with a single pedal stroke.
Anyway, I hope you all enjoyed reading the daily postings...writing them was one of the things that kept me motivated to press onward on the tougher days. I'll leave them here as an archive of the trip. As a final thought, I leave you with some statistics:
Miles: 3294. Days: 35. Miles per day average: 94.11. (If not for that week-long storm front, I might have cracked 100.) Longest ride: 160 miles. Shortest: 35 miles. Longest ride without a break: 83 miles (I don't recommend this, but it was too cold and wet to stop). Highest altitude: 5230 feet at the Continental Divide. I didn't keep statistics for things like average miles per hour (but it was probably around 12-13). The typical cycling day was 10 hours of riding, interrupted by a lunch break and 1-2 other breaks. I took no days off, which was surprising, but I felt if I ever stopped, getting started again would be all the harder.
Flat tires: 4. Broken spokes: 4: Worn out tires: 1. Other bike problems: 1 (the pedal plate). Unbelievably, nothing else went wrong. (Of course, two days after the finish, I went for a short ride into Rhode Island, and had a seat spring crack and a brake cable come loose. Figures.)
Physical/health problems: None of any real significance. Sometimes my legs were slightly sore, but for the most part I'd trained them to be used to constant riding, and kept at a pace that woudln't abuse those muscles. The biggest problem was a tightness across my back, between my shoulder blades, that appeared after being on the bike for a couple of hours. Once it set in, any movement of my head (say, to look over my shoulder) created a stabbing pain as though someone were jamming a knife between my shoulders. Taking a break of any length, or standing up and coasting for a while, made this go away (mostly). I had some sunburn early, dealt with a few saddle sores, had the skin taken off my knees by my rain pants, and added pads to my shoes to cure a potential blistering problem, but otherwise that was about it. I went the entire ride without needing a single painkiller (e.g., aspirin). The only medicine needed was some antibacterial cream for the knees and saddle sores.
Number of accidents/crashes: None. After some of the crosswinds I had to battle, I'm still amazed I was able to avoid getting blown off the road at least a couple of times. I had several near misses with cars and trucks pulling out or turning in front of me, but any cyclist learns to get used to stuff like that. Hint: Don't ride on the sidewalk, no matter how tempting it looks. Drivers coming out of side streets or driveways don't normally look left or right until they've already crossed your path, and anyone out on the main road pays no attention to someone on the sidewalk when they turn. However, if you're in the road, they HAVE to notice you. Every time someone shouts "Use the sidewalk!" as they pass you, it proves they saw you. To a driver, when you're on the sidewalk, you're unimportant. When you're on the road, you can't be ignored.
Wild animal sightings: 1 bald eagle, 2 moose, 3 mountain goats, countless deer, prairie dogs, snakes (sunning themselves on the road), ducks, geese, and the like. No bears, coyotes, mountain lions, or other predators, fortunately. Number of dog chasings: At least a dozen, but none actually got close enough to touch me.
Other cross-country riders spotted: About 10, but I didn't start seeing them until I reached Canada, near the end of May (I was obviously doing this early in the year, as the hotel managers were also telling me I was the "first rider of the season"). The cyclists I saw were heading west; I never encountered anyone heading my way. All of them seemed to have more bags and panniers than I did, but none had a trailer. Several were older, retired types, but seemed to be plugging away with little trouble. All but one were solo; the lone pair looked like a retired husband and wife. I always waved, but never stopped to chat. Once, both of us were going slow enough that we could shout out where we were headed, and he said he was on his way to Vancouver. I hope he got there safely.
Approximate cost of the trip: $2000. Plane ticket $175 plus $75 for the bike (I hate that extra fee), about $1300 for 33 nights of hotels, about $500 for food and Gatorade over 35 days, maybe $50 for minor purchases along the way (superglue for the pedal plate, replacement spare tire, a few loads of coin-op laundry, postcards, etc.). This doesn't include stuff I bought for the bike before the trip, like the trailer and rain gear. I should point out that I was pretty frugal with my spending, trying to stay around $40 per day or less with hotels, and $15 or less per day for food. If I'd camped out some of the time, I would have spent less, but that would have taken longer (hauling the trailer would have limited my mileage per day). Besides, it was almost always too cold to camp comfortably. It was a rare day where the low was above 50, which is one of the dangers of taking the northern route so early in the Spring. Anyway, $2K for a 35 day vacation is pretty cheap no matter how you look at it.