Mike McGhee on his touring bicycle after riding the perimeter of the nation.
Mike McGhee cruised back into town Thursday on his bicycle after a 13,334-mile trip around the perimeter of the United States, saying that it was mostly fun.
Arriving a month ahead of schedule after departing on January 1, the Jasper cyclist was on his third bicycle and had spent a month recuperating after being hit by a truck in Texas on March 6 (which destroyed bike #1).
Looking back over the many days, McGhee described the trip as fun - doing something he enjoyed and visiting towns where he could have the occasional beer and a good meal and find lodging when he needed it.
“I got to see stuff, talk to people,” he said. “It’s a simple lifestyle; you know exactly what you are going to do the next day.”
Here are few of the interesting facts from the ride:
• 94 miles was his longest single day of riding;
• Washington pass in the Cascade mountain range was his favorite section;
• The toughest day was crossing the Continental Divide in Glacier National Park, primarily because of the winds.
• New Mexico and Arizona were extremely slow going due to constant headwinds. “It was 5 miles per hours and you got 70 miles to go, but it was cool and the desert was beautiful and something that I don’t normally get to see.”
• Approximately two-thirds of the time, he rode by himself, but says he didn’t get lonely as there were plenty of people to talk to in stores and restaurants. His unusual touring bike is always a conversation starter.
• He went through the big cities that were on his planned route, including New York City, Portland and Washington D.C. He detoured around Los Angeles.
•He dropped 32 pounds, down to 162 following the almost solid year of pedaling.
• McGhee primarily relied on GPS navigation to plan routes which almost always worked out. “It takes some of the adventure out of it, but made it much easier,” he said. There were occasions where he got temporarily lost, mainly because of poorly marked roads.
Reflecting on the trip, McGhee said he came to notice that every time something bad, or something he perceived as tough happened, it led to something good to balance the scales. In one case a detour led him to meet a friend who was on a car-trip and he happened to recognize McGhee riding past, even though they were miles from their homes.
In another case, a delay at railroad tracks let someone return something he’d forgotten at a previous stop.
Up next for McGhee are some shorter trips, both on bike and in an RV with his wife Jeri.
McGhee, who had already ridden across the country once and hiked the Appalachian Trail, said he’s not sure what form his next adventure will take, but thought it may involve a touring kayak.
All McGhee’s adventures can be found on his blog: