How many people do you know who have ridden bicycles across America?
Scratch that, how many Australians do you know who have ridden bicycles across America?
Well, I know two.
I am going to tell you about Rob, the 24 year old who likes bikes, and Tom the 24 year old who had the guts to spontaneously join Rob on a journey “Across America”.
“Take me to Rogue Brewery” I said out loud after setting my GPS to Newport, Oregon. On my solo road trip around the Northwest, breweries became my place of choice when arriving into a new area. I find a sense of authenticity in local brewpubs. Not only do they offer good vibes but usually good company as well. Blame it on the hops or blame it on the ego boost that comes with a little buzz, whatever it is, the stories from breweries are always the ones I remember most–how ironic.
A mixture of the hazelnut brown ale and the cold brew coffee stout still lingers on the back of my tongue as I remember sitting at the bar. There were at least thirty taps of beer in front of my face, the barstool was so high my feet were swinging childishly at least a foot off the ground and a boy with an accent just ordered a beer from “Danielle” the bartender.
You know somebody has confidence when they use the bartenders first name. I think that is true for Rob, the shaggy haired goofball from Tasmania, who I am still pretty sure ignored me the first time I said anything to him.
“Where are you from” I asked the boy with an accent.
“Oh cool, I’m moving to Australia in a few months” I replied, nonchalantly.
And then he was gone.
That seems to be a theme in my life–boys with accents ignoring me at bars.
But don’t worry, somehow we always reconnect. I was half invited to join their table of three, so I over aggressively pulled up a chair to the table and said “I’m going to sit with you, if that’s okay”.
I should really work on my social skills. But really, you’ve gotta be pretty lame to not invite the flannel wearing girl who hasn’t brushed her hair in days and owns too many beanies, alone at the bar to have a drink with you.
She’s always got a good story. But that night at Rogue, it was not my stories worth sharing, it was the stories of the people I met.
Like I said, Rob is 24 and he likes bikes. Tom is also 24 and I think he likes bikes now, too.
When I Say Rob and Tom like bikes, I mean they just spent 99 days riding their bikes from the West Coast of San Francisco to the Atlantic Ocean of Virginia Beach.
“The first part of the ride, San Fransisco to Portland took about two weeks”, Rob noted, “Crossing the continent took about 75 days”.
Here is Rob and Tom, in Newport, Oregon when I met them:
Both Rob and Tom choose beer over wine, any day of the week, unless however a “goony bag” is involved. You’ll have to ask Tom what that is…
If you still don’t believe me that R & T really like bikes, well after conquering the United States they decided to spend some time riding around in Toronto and Montreal, Canada. Currently, as I write this, they are biking to my house in Amherst, New Hampshire. They crushed over one hundred miles yesterday.
Before I informed these two Tasmanian raised knuckleheads that I lived only forty-five minutes outside of Boston (where they were headed), this is what Rob said to me, “[I] need to get back on the bike and Boston is close, a beautiful ride away and apparently a really chill city”.
Oh yeah last time I checked it was just a quick little bike ride from Montreal to Boston, Massachusetts, not much different than my three mile morning commute I did once a year when I used to “ride my bike to high school”.
I have met other people who have biked across the United States, however Rob and Tom, are the first duo I’ve met that not only are not from the States but also just seemed to “wing it”. What stood out to me about this ambitious pair was their loyalty to any and all possibilities.
“I wanted to do something a little bit more adventurous than my previous travels, while also going somewhere new. Decided I liked cycling on my last set of travels and made it a big part of my life so it seemed like the best choice” said Rob.
“When Rob presented the idea I was visiting him at his work in a city about three hours from my hometown, he was going to do it solo so I said I would join him if I didn’t get a job which I was in the middle of applying for. Obviously I didnt get the job, which Rob was quite happy about. As it turns out I’m also super glad I didn’t get the job because it’s an amazing way to see a country” said Tom.
I’m also super glad Tom didn’t get that job. I feel so lucky to have met these two, and I am sure there are many other people out there who feel the same way.
“Over the rest of the adventure we got involved with some guys doing a charity ride and spent the rest of the ride with them. They are like family now” Rob told me. (Please check out and support the cause here and definitely read this post written by Rob)!
Speaking of family, I asked these two where they felt most at home.
“Wherever my friends are, or people who can make me laugh and smile like they do”. Rob spoke of his current homeland, Hobart, Tasmania, “[I] use it as a home base to work for as long as it takes to fund my next adventure. I generally stay there for a year and half to a year before I can afford something”.
“Devonport (Tasmania) [feels most like home] for sure, most my family and friends live there and [I] have grown up there my whole life” Tom said.
I guess there really is something special about loving where you come from, and knowing you can always go back to the place you truly call “home”.
I asked the boys how they make an income to support their travels.
“I pour beers at a nice pub in Salamanca (a giant outdoor market) in Hobart. Every time I leave and come back they always give me my job back so it’s super good for me. I also work with people I love” Rob said.
As for Tom, “I work in Dispatch for Petuna Seafoods. A lot of forklift driving and manual labor”.
“Im not really much for self reflection” Tom said “but I guess through riding a bike for 6 plus hours a day gives a lot of time for it. Probably just gave me a bit more focus of what direction I want my life to travel in after this trip is done and dusted. I am a lot more introverted than my other half (Rob) so I dont seek out conversation with others as nearly as much. But I do enjoy being around extrovert people like Rob as I can slowly add myself into conversation easier and back away when I feel I need to”.
“You can’t travel like this without talking to strangers” Rob, the more extroverted side of the pair admitted. My job is talking to strangers so I think it’s the easiest thing in the world”.
Speaking of strangers, Rob’s favorite person he has met while traveling is a guy named Mark White. “I met him in Paris. He was travelling with his chapman stick and busking to get by. The worst thing I’ve ever done is add him on Facebook because he is still travelling and busking and he’s having the best time”.
Tom couldn’t pick a favorite person he’s met, but he did say “You are definitely top ten”.
Choosing a favorite place along the trip was a little easier for him. “Portland, OR or Montreal, Canada. Both cities have been locations to our longest time spent in one place and they both have really cool vibes with plenty of diversity and things to do”.
Grand Tetons was Rob’s favorite place. “The decent into the Tetons was fantastic riding out of Yellowstone, the tress just let you see enough to realize it was beautiful but not enough to really see everything. Such a tease. Once we got down to the lake and got to see it all, me and another guy just ran straight in [the lake] and started using it for a bath. BEST BATH EVER. All the while the tourists looked at us with a thousand weird faces”.
Climbing the 11,500 foot elevation of Hoosier Pass, in Breckenridge Colorado (my old home!) was the biggest physical challenge these boys met.
“My lungs where burning and I was gasping for air for a lot of the climb” Rob said. “I don’t think that you are ever really aware of how you have changed when you are travelling, only once you get back and you look at where you were with different eyes. [I] have learnt that my body can do things though”.
We make decisions every day of our life, but there are only a handful that we can truly remember as being “life changing”.
“Well I already mentioned deciding to come on this trip” said Tom, “Another life altering [decision I made] would be joining the Army Reserves back home at 19 years old. Basically part time military. It has sculpted [me into] who I am significantly, for the better I would say”.
And then we talked about biggest fears, “Drowning in an enclosed space, like a cave or something” Rob said. “It’s not the drowning though it’s knowing it’s coming. Double points if I can see the outside and can’t get out”.
Tom’s biggest challenge was “Getting out of bed in the morning” and his biggest fear, “[the] Monster under my bed”.
You figured out these two are goo falls, right?
Goofballs and chance-takers. “Book a one way ticket to Africa”, was Rob’s craziest life decision. “Was also the best choice I’ve ever made”.
I chose to share Rob and Tom’s story not only because of how impressive it is, and not because I think they are pretty cool dudes, but because I think success is different for everybody. Your comfort zone is different than the person’s next to you. We all have different dreams, but not all of us will achieve them. At least not until we decide are are seriously going to.
Your dreams will not become a reality until you make them happen. Yes, YOU. Quit waiting around for someone else to tell you that you can do it. There is always going to be somebody out there telling you that you cannot do it, there will always be somebody judging or questioning your decisions or your goals, but THIS IS YOUR LIFE. I recommend getting after it now, before it’s too late.
“I had a family member tell me that I wouldn’t be able to do what I just did. That’s when I decided I had no other option” Rob says.
“Rob thinks I did good”.
I think these final words from Tom, really sum it all up.
You did good, boys. Congratulations on another adventure in the books!
For the full interview with these crazy boys click here!