Dan Eash Scott, a sophomore history and social work double major, biked across the United States with his father and younger brother this summer. His grandpa rounded off the intergenerational crew by driving the support vehicle.The trip was inspired by another experience that happened exactly 20 years ago, in 2001. After graduating from Goshen college, Eash Scott’s father biked across the United States with his friend to visit and attend a game at every MLB stadium. The idea of reviving the trip 20 years later was appealing to Eash Scott because he had always wanted to go on a major biking trip.
“I loved traveling,” he said, “and it was a way to get new insight and also allowed me to get closer with my brother.”
The trip began the day after Eash Scott’s brother finished eighth grade. The group started on a beach in Los Angeles and biked for two months with approximately 50 days of riding. They plotted their own path, using county roads and small highways.
Most days, the group would begin riding in the morning and continue until about 1 p.m. Eash Scott’s brother rode 50 miles per day, spending some time in the support vehicle, while Eash Scott and his father averaged 70 miles a day. It was challenging at first, but Eash Scott found that it helped to keep a healthy mindset, telling himself, “all I’m doing is biking at my own pace.” By the end of the first or second week, he says, it wasn’t that bad.
After they finished riding for the day, they would use the afternoons to take advantage of their surroundings. They explored small towns, met new people, read books and relaxed in nature.
The group biked almost every day of the trip, but there were also times where the group rested and took some time to readjust. Though they had planned visits to family along the way, they also stopped to problem-solve during some unexpected obstacles. Once the group stopped for a day due to Eash Scott’s heat stroke. Another time, the group stopped for a whole week because Eash Scott’s father had a fractured elbow.
Surprisingly, the hardest part of the trip was biking through western Kansas.
“Mountains are actually easier,” Eash Scott explained. “Wherever you go up, you always get to come back down.”
In contrast, biking across the flat land was difficult because there were strong headwinds, intense sun and mundane scenery.
“We had to adapt and keep pushing through even though it was demoralizing at times,” Eash Scott said.
But despite challenging days, there were many rewarding experiences. Eash Scott’s favorite aspect of the trip was visiting with the locals at the places they stopped. They would primarily meet new people at campsites and diners.
“I appreciate small town America in a completely different way than I did before” Eash Scott said.
After getting to know some people on the trip, Eash Scott realized that “people love talking about their lives, their towns around them, and even their jobs. If you’re willing to listen, anyone will love to talk to you about what they do.”
Of all the places they biked, western Pennsylvania was Eash Scott’s favorite. When describing the wildlife in the Appalachian mountains he said, “no other place is so alive.”
Their final destination was Lewis, Delaware, where the group reached the Atlantic Ocean.
“It’s not only seeing the creation,” he said. “There’s something so good about seeing the ocean at the end and realizing your body did that. It’s a super cool feeling.”
All in all, Eash Scott says, the experience was a rewarding one.
“The biggest thing was learning to be curious and being interested in people’s lives,” he said. “Asking questions and being willing to listen to the people you meet goes a long way to them and then you learn so much.”
Eash Scott recommends the trip and would consider doing it again. If there were a next time, however, he would take a three-month trip to allow for more time to explore along the way.
“I’m glad I did it,” he said. “It was one of the most memorable experiences of my life.”
To those thinking about pursuing a trip like this, Eash Scott says to “find the people, find the stories along the way.”