Cycling

A Brief History of Time My Cycling Universe

As a child and teenager I was overweight. It wasn't until my senior year of high school that I finally decided to do something about it. At first I began by jogging. I couldn't run very far or fast, but at least I was moving. I did that for a few years and eventually lost a little weight. But before long I got bored by it. Then on a whim I asked for a bicycle for my birthday. (Yea, I was in my late-teens, early twenties and asked my parents for a bicycle.)

That summer I got an inexpensive bike from Academy Sports and every Saturday started riding it, first for only a mile, then two and then more. There is a 40-mile loop from Pensacola Beach to Navarre Beach and my lofty goal that summer was to ride that entire loop. It seemed impossible at the start, but by late August both my sister and I had successfully completed the loop.

It was that summer experience that made me realize that you could really cover some distance on a bicycle. I continued riding off and on over the next 5 - 10 years, but it wasn't until 2013 that cycling really changed my life.

After letting a friend borrow one of my bikes in 2012, the two of us began dreaming about taking a massive bike trip across the United States. Just like the 40-mile loop seemed impossible those many years ago, biking across the US seemed like something only ultra-athletes did, which I am definitely not. Also, it would take months to bike 4,200 miles. I was working a job that I loved and was in graduate school.  But I couldn't shake the feeling that this was something I was meant to try.  It wasn't practical. Most of my friends and family thought it was not a wise decision. I'm pretty sure most people thought I wouldn't finish.

But on November 12, 2013, 76-days after we started in Astoria, Oregon, we successfully reached the Atlantic Ocean, in Yorktown, Virginia.  I knew at the time that I had done something memorable and something that had helped me get in better shape, but I didn't know that it would continue to shape who I was for years to come.

Since that first trip in 2013, I have taken three additional bicycle tours of varying lengths. On every trip I enjoy sharing photos and blogging about the experience. Those blogs are available below.

Tour Blogs and Photos

TransAmerica Blog
August - November 2013

Ireland - Czech Republic Blog
Summer 2015

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Norway - Finland Blog
Summer 2017

New Zealand Blog
February - March 2019

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Outer Banks Solo Bike Trip
October 2021

 

Touring Cyclist Hosting

On the sixth day of our cycle across the United States we stayed at the home of a couple named Paul and Laura in Pineville, Oregon. Paul and Laura were complete strangers to me, yet they graciously opened their home to two smelly dudes who had been on the road for six days. Their act of generosity was deeply moving and the first of countless stories of gracious people across the United States who opened their hearts and homes to us. I knew when the trip was over I wanted to find a way to give back to the touring cyclist community that had welcomed me with open arms. In December 2013 I began a program through First United Methodist Church of Pensacola to host touring cyclists as they traveled through Pensacola on the Southern Tier Bicycle Route. From 2013 - 2019, the church hosted over 500 cyclists from 6 continents and countless countries as they traveled across the United States.

Guest Book

Digital version of the guest book that some of the touring cyclists who stayed left notes in from 2013 - 2020.

Past Articles and Media about Cyclist Hosting at First UMC Pensacola

Welcoming the Stranger
Home on the Road
Pictures of some of the cyclist hosted at First UMC Pensacola

While the program has since been discontinued at the church, I continue to host at my home through the Warm Showers community using Warmshowers.org, a worldwide hospitality exchange for touring cyclists. In addition, in 2020, I was elected to the board of the Warmshowers Foundation and look forward to serving to promote and grow cycle touring around the world.