It all started from an idea. Many inspirations which stemmed from our own life experiences brought us to the point where we departed on such a journey. These ideas built us. They pushed us. They forced us to follow our passions until the point where we looked at the idea directly in the face and said, “I will conquer you.” We looked North, East, West, and South. We turned the key into the ignition each day and embarked on the day’s ride that lay ahead of us. As we rode, we found that the journey was more about the in-between than it was about the destination. Although we’ve made it to our halfway point, it was never really about reaching the East coast and turning back. Rather, the entire journey had been more about what we’ve seen, the roads we’ve crossed, and the trails we’ve razed than it has been about the destination we’ve reached.
We intended to set out to explore the country, but we learned much more. Each day of riding, as the day would turn to dusk and we would still have yet to reach our destination, we would take to the ride like wolves against the moonlight, riding to ensure our own survival against the darkness. As the roads of America jetted under our feet, we expanded our thought to new understanding. Bounding past the walls we’ve created within our own souls and investigating our own thoughts within the endless hours of self reflection, we rode not only to make our destination, but also to answer the ever-asking questions within our own helmets. We rode, we traveled, we wandered, we wondered, and we awoke.
In this day and age, there’s a few select ways to cross the country. Most choose air, opting for a a six hour journey complete with in-flight movies and CocaCola on ice to make the journey bearable. Others choose a car along I-80, complete with air conditioning and the novelty of rolling windows up or down depending on the weather. A few choose a train or a greyhound bus, vessels both riddled with annoyances as they are conveniences. All these adventurers aside, a select few of us choose to conquer this country on those wild machines ill-equipped for long travel, without windshields or air conditioning, upon the seats of old bikes fueled by the fumes of pure wanderlust.
From 19th avenue in San Francisco, where we set off more than 38 days ago, until now, in New York City, we’ve encountered more than most Americans believe they can. Winding up the coast of California, Oregon, and Washington, we saw a people and country much like we are accustomed to at home. As we turned East, we encountered the America that one sees in post cards and commercials — an America full of wheat fields and tractors. Montana, Wyoming, and South Dakota tested us in our resilience. We fought hard against the roads, the weather, and the environment. However, as we put the wild West behind us and arrived in the mid-West, all seemed to be redeemed. We turned from interacting with a people independent and uncompromising to a people full of life, love, hope, and happiness. We became one with ourselves once again in the breadbasket. The food nourished us and the work on the farm replenished our bodies. Continuing East, we found a city more alike ourselves than any other. Amidst the warnings of danger and the playful quips of self-reliance, we found a city in touch with the naturalness of America. In only Detroit does one find an urban city so in touch with America’s rural side. Though this was entirely not what the city of Detroit intended their identity to be, it oddly fit with the rest of America which we have seen. We turned from Detroit with angst to reach the East coast. For the first time, we truly turned the throttle around the clock and reached the East coast after a 400 mile night ride in freezing cold weather. Though the rest of the trip had not been anywhere close to easy, it was time we truly tested ourselves. And we passed. We reached Hyde Park, NY, at 5:30am after riding more hours at night than we had the entire trip in one day thus far. Here, we rested. We regained our composure and nurtured our spirit. We had time to reflect on the journey we’ve made. We’ve managed to cross the 6,000 mile point and reach New York City, the halfway destination. We’ve looked out upon the Statue of Liberty and seen her prideful face. It has given us hope of soon turning to the Pacific, bikes on hip, with the same smile on our face which we faced the Atlantic with.
We often talk about this country as one, all encompassing country. Fifty states combined in unity to become an all powerful, all inclusive macrocosm of life in the Western hemisphere. In one sense, it is. We are a people bound together by more similarities than we can count, and we define what life is or can be for those who work their hardest to fulfill the American dream. Traditionally, one can come to this country and make it for themselves without judgement nor ridicule, but rather be accepted as someone trying to make it in their own personal struggle to overcome the hardship. And however much the fact that we are all just a number of different Americans trying to make it rings true, one can still turn on the news and not help but ponder how we are a people so different yet are still united under one common flag and one common constitution.
Since departing from San Francisco, the three of us have noticed a number of very human themes that pull America together. These themes have ranged from individuality to dependence, hopefulness to hopelessness, inspiration to desperation. Yet. above all, we have noticed a certain untouchable pride in people — no matter how much the other themes come to light — a pride in people that truly, no matter the costs of stating such a fact, we are all American. Though many may say this country is more divided than it is united, we have come to discover the 0pposite. We are American, and we are all proud of it.