Remember riding your bike for just the joy of riding? Remember how you loved the feel of the wind as it zipped by your face and twirled your hair? Remember how you would dare yourself to go faster and faster and faster until you were afraid you wouldn’t be able to stop? Remember how ow you would go on new adventures and explore the world around you with no destination in mind and no time commitments?
Imagine doing that as an adult and not only have the support of your family, but having them go with you! Dan McDonald has not only imagined it, he and his wife Brianne, made it happen!
For years Dan has ridden his bicycle. He rode it to the University of Nebraska – Omaha during his undergraduate studies. Later, he began exploring the Keystone Trail and going further and further each time he went out. Eventually he began to travel by bicycle throughout Omaha and discovered the trails expand further than he ever imagined!
One day, while traveling for work he found himself in Pittsburgh, Kansas. Sitting near him, he noticed a content looking gentleman who appeared to have his life packed onto his bike. Dan later found out his fellow diner was traveling the TransAm Trail, which Dan immediately researched and decided he wanted to do the same!
He broached the idea of riding the TransAm Trail with his wife, Brianne and they tabled it for a few years. With twin boys, school and work, it didn’t seem like a possibility. Dan began longer rides and participated in RAGBRAI and BRAN. He continued to increase the length and challenges of his rides and began to test his endurance. When Dan found himself out of work during the summer of 2016, and while Brianne was completing her Master’s in Business, they made a decision that now was the time. It was decided that Dan would ride across the United States on the TransAm Trail while his wife, twin boys and their dog followed behind in the truck and camper.
Detailed and intense planning began and together they researched their upcoming trip. With the help of a check sheet they downloaded from the internet, the family began stocking up on necessities and planning out meals they could easily eat on the road. Toiletries were purchased, rations were researched and the camper was packed.
On May 10th, after saving and planning, they began their journey and headed east to pick up the Trans Am Trail in Yorktown, Virginia. On May 15th, beginning at the Atlantic Ocean, Dan geared up and began the ride of his life (to date).
While Dan explored the world from two wheels, Brianne and the boys saw the world from four. The family discovered the Cyclist Ministry (http://www.gracechurchyorktown.org/cyclistministry), who provided a wealth of resources for their family. They provided meals, community information and often a place to shower or stay the night. Utilizing their resources combined with those from the Trans Am Trail, they were able to plan ahead for their trip with trusted people who also had a passion for their journey.
The couple had a plan of action. Dan would rise at 5:00 AM and pedal away while Brianne packed up camp. With a predetermined mid-day meeting point, they would connect in person and more often than not, Brianne would make sure Dan had enough water and snacks to maintain his endurance for the rest of the ride.
Since cell service was touch and go, Brianne typically stayed on the paved roads and looked for landmarks or signs to guide her. This proved to work well until the couple discovered that not all trails were marked. Dan stuck to the maps and trail guides and took in the beauty of our country as he pushed himself each day.
His longest ride turned out to be about 77 miles, however as he explained to me, it was less about how far he could ride and more about how many days in a row he could continue to ride that far. His biggest challenge typically turned out to be the last ten miles of each day, when he dug deep to find his strength. He would meet his family at their designated meeting point and Brianne would make dinner while they visited and planned the next day’s route.
Any challenges turned out to be worth it, as this trip turned into an extended family adventure. Both parents couldn’t say enough about how their boys grew over the summer. With limited access to the web, minimal toys, and a wide open playground, their unique personalities came out. Brianne noted that she also relaxed over their journey and was able to enjoy their adventures. As a person who loves driving through the mountains, this was a dream come true for her, considering she went through several different mountain ranges.
The family enjoyed many different experiences together; immersing themselves into the vast wildness and experiencing so many different socio economic areas. The small townships they encountered proved that people are still welcoming and willing to help. They toured many National Parks and even came close to a small family of black bears! These events are firsthand adventures their family will cherish as memories for their lifetimes.
For a family who was active together before marriage and a family, this provided something for everyone, including the dog. They discovered that Ranger Stations are a traveler’s best friend and were a good grounding point when they found themselves out of their comfort zones.
With travels through Virginia, Kentucky, Illinois, Mississippi, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Oregon, their trip ended when Dan dipped his bike tires into the Pacific Ocean outside of Seeside, Oregon.
Nearly 4500 miles later, Dan, Brianne, their twins and four legged family member celebrated the completion of an amazing adventure. This won’t be this family’s last adventure. Biking continues to be a strong pull for Dan and Brianne would love to live in Alaska…who knows what their future holds? Be sure to follow them via Facebook page, Go Seek Nature and their website, http.//Goseeknatur.com, where they hope to inspire others to get out into the great outdoors.
What an amazing adventure for this family. They were able to create adventures, memories, and show their boys that anything is possible! Keep on inspiring, McDonald family! We look forward to more of your family adventures!