Man Crosses Santa Fe on Bike for 15,000 Mile Trip to See US Capitals | Adventure
Bob Barnes has spent the past few years commuting with other people to where they needed to go as an Uber driver in Syracuse, NY. On August 1, he left for a walk on his own.
The magnitude of the journey is hard to comprehend, and it is an experience he will never forget.
The affable and tenacious 52-year-old man is in the middle of a cycling odyssey of more than 15,000 miles to visit every state capital, as well as the United States Capitol in Washington, DC, in every 12 months. He calls the trek the “Great American Triple Switchback” because it will take it across the country not once but three times.
If he completes the trip, he will have traveled a distance greater than half the circumference of the Earth.
Barnes cycled to the Santa Fe Roundhouse on Friday, day 160 of his trip, to mark his 25th capital. He’s ridden over 7,000 miles so far, averaging 40 to 50 miles a day, and he’s showing no signs of slacking off as he races into Austin, TX on top of his trusty bike that ‘he affectionately calls Seabiscuit 2.
“I feel great, I feel strong and I always get stronger as I progress,” said Barnes, who said he has lost 27 pounds since starting the race.
Barnes began his journey in Syracuse and marked the northeastern capitals before moving down the east coast to North Carolina, then slicing west through the center of the country.
He visited California, including a ride along the Pacific Coast on beautiful California State Route 1, and visited Tijuana, Mexico, for fun. Now he is returning to the east to chain the capitals of the southern states. When it reaches Florida it will head north to Ohio and make its final westerly turn through the northern states of the Lower 48.
To top it off, he will travel from Olympia, Washington, to Prince Rupert, British Columbia, where in July he plans to take a ferry to Juneau, Ala .; there is no way to reach Juneau by road. Finally, he hopes to fly to Hawaii, cycle to the capital city of Honolulu, and take some much-needed time to rest and relax on the beach.
Barnes hadn’t seen large swathes of America until this monumental adventure. Everything is fresh in his eyes, and the promise of new discoveries to come prompts him to take on the challenges of rough climbs, flat tires or tired legs.
“Every day is like the first day of vacation. It’s new and exciting every day, ”said Barnes.
“That’s all you think it would be. You get on your bike and just ride; it’s like a big neighborhood. But it also shrinks the country because now you know more. “
Peanut butter sandwiches, canned soup, morning coffee, and donuts help Barnes get through his days. At night, he takes out his tent and his sleeping bag from the small trailer that he pulls behind his bike and sets up camp.
He only spent nine nights in a hotel, staying indoors to avoid dangerous conditions. For the past two weeks, he encountered a snowstorm heading for Flagstaff and had to hol up in Gallup to wait for a winter storm warning.
Much of Barnes’ trip was funded by crowdfunding. He raised almost $ 5,000 through donations to a GoFundMe campaign. The money is mainly used for food, water, bicycle repairs, campsites and other expenses. He hopes that there will also be enough for this flight to Hawaii to cap off his trip.
In return, Barnes provides updates on his progress three times a day through his Bibbery Travels Facebook page (Bibbery is a nickname he chose in college). The messages include photos of what he saw and descriptions of his encounters.
He powers his phone and lights using a solar panel that he carries above his trailer.
Barnes has built a modest but active following of over 1,200 people on his Facebook page. Most of his posts receive multiple comments that include words of encouragement, questions, or remarks about what he has shared. He replies to many of them regularly.
He said the interactions made him feel like he had a group of hundreds of people traveling with him, which gave him a boost of motivation.
While pedaling on the sidewalk, he also received “overwhelming” support.
“Everywhere you go in the country it will be the same but different,” Barnes said. “People are people; I think everyone is nice. There are different cultures and different ways of life, but everyone is human.
Truck drivers have been especially considerate when he rides on the shoulders of the highways. He had two cases where a truck driver stopped in front of him to give him water as he passed.
Barnes also tries to give back as much as he can. He donates blood every 60 days and volunteers during the holidays. He spent Thanksgiving at an American Legion dinner in Salinas, Calif., And Christmas at a Salvation Army dinner in Phoenix.
“I’m a big fan of paying up and giving back,” he said. “I like to do what I can do with what I have. I have no money, but I can do something else.
It’s weird to hear him say it, given what he’s doing right now, but Barnes says he’s underperforming. He said he had a few small cleaning companies in his twenties and thirties, and now he drives Uber to pay the bills.
“I hate to say it, but I haven’t done anything exciting, work-related, in my life,” Barnes said.
Outside of work, however, he has always been active and goal-oriented.
Barnes said he had completed 15 full marathons, and three years ago he did a 5,800-mile bike tour through the northern part of the country.
This trip is by far his biggest challenge to date and his most fulfilling.
He learned a lot about the country – so it can snow heavily in Arizona and New Mexico – and a lot about himself.
“I’m stronger than I thought I was,” Barnes said. “I love who I am, if that doesn’t sound too arrogant. And I can do more than I thought I could.
Barnes said he was going to have a problem at the end of this trip. What do you do after living on the road for a year and completing the adventure of a lifetime?
“I have to prepare for the end and either come up with something else or just learn to relax a bit,” Barnes said. “Life is going to be like a wave hitting me from behind.”
Fortunately, he still has at least 8,000 miles before he has to face this reality. He may spend some of that time thinking about what’s to come next, but most of the time he says he’ll be focusing on the present and the remarkable journey he’s on.
He hopes his story inspires others to take the plunge and pursue their dreams too, while they still can physically.
“A lot of people are talking about it, but they don’t,” Barnes said. “People have to do it. “