After realizing we wouldn’t be able to make it out to Boston due to time restrictions, we were pretty bummed. It wasn’t because we would be missing out on visiting that city, although we were interested in exploring its transit system and bike culture. We were disappointed because we wouldn’t be able to visit with our college friend Gabe, who now lives there with his wife and daughter. We haven’t seen or really even spoken to Gabe in over five years, but he plays an interesting role in our trip. Whether he knows it or not, he was instrumental in our decision to take this crazy adventure in the first place.
It started out a long time ago (okay, 10 years feels like forever sometimes). Reuben, Gabe and I all went to the same college in northwest Iowa. We noticed that Gabe was doing something unprecedented in this tiny Midwest town. He was riding his bike. Every day. 12 miles or more. And not for just for recreation – he was riding to his work and back – in all kinds of weather! He also did some bike overnights. He would pack his two small rear panniers with gear and ride to a campground 30 or 40 miles away, sleep there, and return the next day. I remember one night we drove out to meet him on one of these trips and were surprised that he did not want to take any of the extra food we had brought along. The self-sufficiency aspect of the trip was important to him and he didn’t want to use anything that he hadn’t brought along on his bike. It was all very interesting to me.