I'd always heard about those guys — the ones that head out on their own to do mega bike trips. With limited time, money and knowledge, my own ride ambitions weren’t looking good. But life post-breakup will make you stir crazy, and I was willing to wing a ride from New York City to St. Johns, Newfoundland. I didn't know how I'd do it, but I had to get out of the city, so I bought an Ibex BOB Trailer on Craigslist, a waterproof backpack, an iPhone handlebar mount (in lieu of a GPS), and hit the road shortly thereafter.
Everyone was worried about me. Everyone thought I'd get hit by a car, or mauled by a bear, and I wondered why none of these fears registered. Mostly I thought I'd be lonely. Bike touring vets told me I was nuts for doing it on a mountain bike with out all the fancy, expensive gear, and feelings of self-doubt did occasionally creep in. I didn't have all the answers, but I knew I could do it
regardless. I had to.
With 80 never ending miles of riding, the first day was complicated. I got my one and only flat of the entire ride, and broke a bolt on my trailer three miles outside the nearest town. With all the delays, I got into camp just as it was getting dark. I heard something creeping outside my tent that scared the bejeezus outta me. When I called out, there was no answer, and I was sure this was the end! The next morning I followed a trail of almonds and energy bars leading from my campsite, only to find out that all that noise had been a raccoon dragging my bag of food deep into the woods. I’d forgotten to put it in my tent! And when the heck did camping get so expensive? Some of the state parks were as much as $40/night for a single dude with a bike. But it still beat a hotel hands down in both views and tranquility, and often times in cleanliness too.
I had beautiful weather for days, but I knew it couldn't last forever. I got caught in the most brutal of rainstorms in Maine, which followed me from Portland to Camden. Ugh! I never thought it would end. Cheap shades came in handy to help prevent tire crud from flying into my eyes. After a night camping in the rain, a local suggested warmshowers.org — creepy name, I know — which is like couch surfing for bikers. My world was never the same! I’m so grateful to have had many complete strangers open up their doors for me.
East coast summers get cooler the further north you get, but the heat can still be an ass whooper. At one point, I was riding north of St. Andrews into St. Johns, Nova Scotia, and my water bag rolled off my trailer and directly under the wheel of a passing car. POP! The heat was impossible, and with 3 hours to go until I reached the nearest town, I had no choice to but to hitchhike. People kept passing me by, and I was getting discouraged, when the coolest guy ever stopped and towed me in with his truck — again, so grateful!
Nova Scotia has some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen, and the Cabot Trail in the north of Cape Breton Island was unreal. The views there were
as unbelievable as the hills (which were endless). And while I really, really tried, I'm still not a lobster guy! Regardless, the abundance of wild blueberry pie and fresh seafood welcomed me everywhere, eventually fueling me on to my final destination in St. Johns, Newfoundland.
Einstein said, go deeply into nature, and you'll understand everything. It's true. With miles and miles of road to myself, not seeing a single car for hours, being alone felt so good. But it was just as good to be taken in, taken care of and entertained by Mother Nature, as it was by total strangers. I felt like the world was now my home, not just my apartment. I know it sounds cheesy, but you can't deny feeling that way after an experience like that. In total, the ride was 1,700 miles, and took me 34 days. It sent me back to New York City
feeling confident, rested and peaceful.
If you ever get the urge, just go.
Josh in St. John's, Newfoundland 1700 miles later
All photos by Joshua Garcia
Follow Josh's adventures on instagram at: http://instagram.com/
See Josh's bike route: http://goo.gl/maps/8Sz4a