Getting To The Start of the Transamerica Trail

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ // The start of the Transamerica Trail, or bike route 76, is Yorktown, Virginia. The team, a.k.a. Annalisa and Taylor, dipped their tires in the Atlantic eight days ago and now it is time for me to catch up.

Proudly standing inside the garage after throwing all the gear and bike into the car

Proudly standing inside the garage after throwing all the gear and bike into the car

Yesterday, this garage was filled with gear scattered on the floor. Three trips to REI made it obvious for the friendly employees, that act like tour guides willing to share their expertise, that this bicycle trip is happening the next day:

“Yes, I should have been here earlier. So what are the options?”

I am already 24 hours behind schedule. The departure date was originally set for Monday, May 22nd and as more items popped up on the list it seemed like Tuesday may be missed too.

Originally planning to take the bus or train

Using Wanderu to map out bus and train options, Megabus and Amtrak both have services to Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA. If the bike and panniers could be packed up than I would be a few miles away from Annalisa and Taylor.

Then I began Googling. Megabus technically says they do not accept bikes over a certain size. Almost comically, a bike forum discusses using spools of Saran wrap until the bike goes under the guise of “art.”

I am no artist. And with the time counting down, I am not expert packer.

So what about the more expensive option of using the train?

American trains could take a lesson from the Danish system, where entire train cars are dedicated to bikers. Once again, the internet warned about Amtrak required bicycles to be boxed.

On the other hand, the website does say there are designed spots for bikes. But what about a touring bicycle with fifty pounds of gear and four bags hanging off the frame? Sigh. 

Grey or Blue?

The text message asked whether the Hyundai or Prius would be the better road trip option.

“I say no to .05% of road trips.” Luckily, Cassidy did not ask too many details.

Cassidy is a new T1D friend that is riding across America with the BeyondBike1 team. The term "train angels" is designated to the people that go out of their way to make your adventure happen. Cassidy happens to be the first angel for this 4,523 mile journey.

Standing outside the home of high school friend Guillermo

Standing outside the home of high school friend Guillermo

Finding a place to stay in D.C. or Virginia or Anywhere

With the trip being pulled together in less than twenty-four hours, decisions are being made on the fly. Text messages are being sent to every friend and online connection along our journey to far west Virginia.

Did I say far west Virginia? Kentucky is more like it.

Guillermo is a high school friend and his family has seen our group of friends grow up over the years. His older sister acts a mentor, while his mom appropriately yells at me for coming last minute and not staying around for a weekend.

No matter what, this is a family that stays up until 2 a.m. sharing stories and you want to hear more.

Day 0: Part 2

There are a few more items we need to get:

Walmart is too distracting with toys and gear

Walmart is too distracting with toys and gear

If this is not how you look at Walmart than you are doing something wrong. Time to pick up some last minute gear:

  • First aid kit
  • Bike light
  • Water bottle
  • Kickball?

Road tripping with another diabetic adventurer has some perks. We use pit stops to fill up on gas and then do laps around the parking lot to work on highs from eating a stack of pancakes and waffles.

Note: it is surprisingly difficult to find a breakfast place that opens before 11 a.m. in Virginia. Also note, fruit for your blueberry pancakes is only available on the weekend.

With a few more hours on the road, we spot the Elizabeth Warren Civic Center and pull in. There she is – Taylor. She is real. New Orleans and New York City finally meet. Annalisa comes and gives a big bear hug.

Tomorrow is Day 1. This trip is really happening.