Summer Road Trip Series: biking from NYC to San Francisco

A lot of people have driven across the country, but how many can say they’ve biked cross-country?

Our next Summer Road Trip Series guest can. Meet Anne Wave, a member of the Illini 4000. This nonprofit dedicated to fighting cancer just wrapped up its annual cross-country bike ride, and Anne was one of the 20 riders who braved the elements and elevation to ride exactly 4489.6 miles across 16 states. Badass? I think yes.

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THE INSPIRATION

“I decided last September that I wanted to join this group of crazed people so full of life, and we were going to bike from New York City to San Francisco. I just graduated from college this May so I wanted to take charge of my last possible summer, and biking coast-to-coast was my answer. Also! This group of folks happens to be a 501(c)3 non-profit that raises money for cancer research and support services. We’re at right about $90K for the 2014 team so far. The trip takes 72 days—I’m writing on the road!—so we left on May 24 and we arrive August 3. For a rough description, our route took us from New York through the Appalachian mountains through the plains (with a stop in my hometown, Chicago!) to the Rockies up to Oregon and down through the Cascade mountains, south through California so that we end in San Fran.”

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THE HIGHLIGHTS

“We’ve had really interesting days. The day we rode into Alliance, Nebraska was one of the more challenging ones for me; we had strong headwinds that whipped up across the plains plus intense heat. But! The end of that day took us to Carhenge, which is America’s Stonehenge made of old cars spray painted brownish tan. It’s like, a big thing. Car art. It was bizarre and awesome. Mostly bizarre.

Another day in Nebraska, we were stopping for a quick water break in Atkinson when a man came up to me and asked about all the bikes outside; when I told him what we do, he asked if I knew Jack, the kid that ran the touchdown in the Nebraska Huskers game last year. I said “yes! The little boy with cancer?” And he told me that’s his son. He and his wife started the Team Jack Foundation two years ago, have raised nearly $2 million for pediatric cancer research, and he happened to be at the gas station filling up before going in to work when my team and I stopped for a rest. He was such an inspiration for us; we dedicated the next day’s ride to his son, Jack.

The day we rode into Lancaster, Pennsylvania was also a riot. First off, Lancaster is the Amish capital of the country. We were about 15 miles outside of our destination for the night when winds whipped up and a storm came speeding towards us with such intensity that we had to get off the road. We were wandering the streets looking for shelter when an Amish man hollered at us asking if we wanted to seek refuge in his barn. We parked it there for two hours rationing out what snacks we could find in our pockets while rain and hail came down on the roof. Then we booked it in.”

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THE NEXT ADVENTURE

“As for my next adventure, I’m trying to get my post-grad life together to move to New Orleans when my trip is over. On the traveling side, I would love to see the Andes and spend some time in Ecuador and Peru. I’ve loved the time I spent in Central America—it’s time to go South. Maybe I’ll even bring my bike!”

Anne’s Twitter // Instagram // Team Website

Since Anne wrote this from the road, the group completed its ride and reached San Francisco. Read more about it here!

Any cyclists out there who would love to do what Anne has done? I’m pretty inspired myself to go on a long bike ride… up the street.

Check back this time next week for the final installment of the Summer Road Trip Series for some incredible photos from one of the most gorgeous places on earth.