Dave DeSimone Biked Across America for the Environment!
I met Dave in Baltimore in 2007. He was the first CouchSurfer to grace my apartment. He has since gone on to do amazing things, one of which was to plan and execute a bicycle trip across America to raise awareness for environmental issues. Dave took the time to share the inspiration, challenges and planning it took to make a once-in-a-lifetime trip a reality.
I had a map and motivation. Nothing else. No experience, no training, no money and perhaps most disheartening–no bike. However, I knew I for years that I had wanted to pedal across the country. So I knew it was possible. In order to achieve the goal, I made a bike trip across the country my highest priority so that no other actions, events or expenses would prevent it from happening. I returned to school in order to ensure I would have a full summer off from responsibilities. I sold my car to help fund the trip. I coordinated with a non-profit I felt strongly about in order to gain moral support. Slowly, everything else fell into place.
Often times people have stated that they would love to do a trip like that. My advice–if you truly want to do it above anything else, then do it! It is feasible. However, it is not possible if it is not a high priority. If earning a high-paying salary, purchasing an impressive car, or even getting married in the near future are your priorities, it might be difficult to make a cross-country bike trip a reality. Although these are completely acceptable goals, they might prevent you from taking three months off from the daily routine. For me, it was all about choosing priorities–including the decision to stay in on a Friday night rather than enjoying a tasty amber ale at the bar!
The rest of the planning phase was easy. Since I had a passion for it, making it work was not a chore. It was fun. Everything from learning to intregrate the live GPS tracking into the website, to designing the t-shirts, to laying out the route became my daily stress release rather than an added task. Additionally, since tasks such as web design, video editing, graphic arts and public relations were all now part of the trip (the idea of doing a cross country bike trip for an environmental non-profit got big quickly), I found out how valuable my friends were as resources. Since each of my friends had different talents and hobbies, their time and effort into the project was greatly appreciated. It really helped the project gain a professional and efficient aura. Meanwhile, through all this, I learned to trust that this project was in good hands. My friends’ true artistic abilities shined through when I delegated each task and allowed them to run with it. This was no longer me riding a bike. It was now a group-coordinated and interactive project that raised awareness for the non-profit organization, Center for Environment and Population. The name of this project — Biking for Balance.
With all the planning and preparation, it was crazy to think the trip was just starting when we took off from the east coast. But that it was. Upon leaving the east coast, I had the intentions of seeing America. I arrived on the west coast having met America. Everyone we encountered along the way–ranchers, politicians, truckers, students, businesspeople, librarians, and unemployed families–all had something to share; all had something to teach. After 13 weeks and over 4500 miles of pedaling, we arrived on the coast with more inspiration than we left with. Overall, I learned people are inherently good. Each has something to offer and many share common goals.
As for the bike trip itself, I will be honest, I haven’t pedaled since. Once I arrived on the coast the bike (and my knees) all but fell apart. However, I’ll continue to remain active with the non-profit (Center for Environment and Population) and the other non-profits we coordinated with this summer. More than anything, I am proud to say that within a couple years I went from not even owning a bike and barely understanding how to shift gears to pedaling across the country–all because I made sure to make the goal a priority.
– Thanks Dave DeSimone for being so awesome! –