Longmont man biked throughout America, and the expertise helped restore his religion in humanity
Within the face of a world pandemic and a looming election that appears to develop an increasing number of contentious, Longmont’s Bryan Hylenski discovered divisiveness and gloom in every single place he seemed from on-line to his each day life. And whereas discovering a way of humanity wasn’t the impetus for Hylenski’s plan to bike greater than 3,330 miles throughout the nation, a renewed outlook on human type was among the many main issues he took away from the expertise.
Final month Hylenski, 45, who owns the Longmont Climbing Collective, accomplished his biking journey after 51 days on the highway. He began at Seal Seashore, Calif., on June 12 and rode to Rehoboth, Del. — 3,337 miles away. He obtained there Aug. 1, the place he celebrated by consuming mass quantities of pizza and butter pecan ice cream.
Within the time he was on the highway, Hylenski confronted quite a few challenges, a couple of which almost led to him quitting. He obtained misplaced in a seemingly countless stretch of sandy desert in Nevada. He pedaled furiously up the perimeters of 17% grade roads within the mountains in Pennsylvania, and endured arduous stretches of Kansas plains, the place he ended up biking for 45 miles and not using a drop of water.
The bodily agony he skilled on his journey was prevalent, however so too was the immense kindness he skilled from folks throughout America, whether or not he was tenting below a bridge or crashing on somebody’s sofa. The journey instigated a response he didn’t count on. It restored a love of his nation and the individuals who inhabit it, he stated.
“I slept with the homeless in LA. I camped on farms in Kansas. I hung out with liberals within the bike outlets of Ohio, and I stayed in trailer parks in Republican Missouri,” Hylenski stated. “Whether or not folks had been Black, white, wealthy or poor or homeless or no matter — everybody wished the identical factor. They simply wished to speak. They wished to inform their story and be given an opportunity.”
Why bike throughout America?
Hylenski and his spouse, Shauna, have lengthy been adventurers; they taught abroad for numerous years in Korea, Japan, India and Thailand. A perk of the job was that Hylenski obtained three to 5 months off, giving him an opportunity to give attention to mountaineering. Hylenski has been a rock climber for greater than 20 years. He has scaled Himalayan peaks, naming a number of of the behemoths after their daughter, Hana.
After the household moved again to Longmont 5 years in the past, Hylenski felt that work had begun to dominate his life, leaving little time to problem himself with new adventures. That scared him a bit. It reminded him of the decline in well being he noticed in his father, Steven Hylenski, who died within the early 2000s.
“When he grew to become a dad, he put every little thing into me and my household. He stopped being wholesome,” Hylenski stated. “Identical to my dad did, I gave up taking good care of myself.”
Hylenski had a well being scare in early 2019. After weeks of chest ache, he went to the emergency room and was instructed he skilled a light coronary heart assault or a stress-induced angina. After that, Hylenski determined it was time for a change.
“At that time, I noticed I used to be stressing myself to demise,” Hylenski stated. “Later that yr is once I got here up with the concept to problem myself with one thing new. All my life I’ve achieved these challenges which have appeared loopy to folks, however to me had been all the time snug. I appreciated climbing. I appreciated climbing. I appreciated being outdoor, however I all the time hated biking.”
So, biking throughout America felt like the proper problem. Main as much as his expedition, Hylenski spent roughly 5 months biking on a stationary bike within the basement of the household’s Longmont dwelling — a coaching technique he stated didn’t put together him nicely sufficient for mountainous stretches of his journey. He constructed his personal bike for the journey in order that he would know the best way to repair it and skim a e book on upkeep to brush up on restore strategies.
Hylenski’s spouse watched as her husband ready.
“It was a bit scary, I’ve to say as a result of there was a lot uncertainty, and he had by no means achieved something like this,” Shauna stated. “He’s achieved mountaineering journeys, however by no means an extended bike journey like this. It’s sort of his character; he doesn’t simply go for a small journey.”
The coronavirus delayed the begin to his journey. Initially, Hylenski wished to begin the journey on his forty fifth birthday on Could 3 and journey 4,500 kilometers (about 2,800 miles). After ceremoniously dunking his bike within the Pacific Ocean on June 12, Hylenski set out on his journey, leaving Seal Seashore behind.
“Many individuals instructed me I might hate the mountains or the plains — I feel I hated all of them,” Hylenski stated. “Once I was within the Rockies and using, I couldn’t stand 25 miles at a gradual grade simply pedaling for 4 hours at a time. That was grueling, and it was boring, however I obtained by way of it. Once I hit the plains of Kansas there have been no downhills anymore.”
Essentially the most tough terrain, although, was climbing the mountains in Pennsylvania. Whereas not as steep because the Rocky Mountains, the highway grades had been extreme. At one level the highway was so treacherous Hylenski thought of calling an Uber to take him by way of the tough stretch. He stopped biking to place in a request for a driver, however the price of roughly $70 discouraged him from following by way of.
There have been loads of lovely moments, too.
“I used to be using east, so each morning I obtained to see a dawn in a brand new city,” Hylenski stated. “It’s wonderful whenever you’re up at 4 a.m. every single day, and it’s darkish, and also you’re using, and abruptly, you watch the world gentle up in entrance of you.”
Hylenski camped or stayed in accommodations at evening. He additionally related with a motorcycle vacationer hospitality group, known as Warmshowers.org. The group connects with folks like Hylenski and opens up their houses, backyards or garages to permit them a spot to sleep.
The pandemic made the journey more difficult, as a result of eating places, gasoline stations and public locations the place Hylenski could have been capable of cease for water and meals had been closed. Typically he requested folks if he may use their backyard hose to resupply his water. In Kansas, he went 45 miles earlier than discovering a drop of water.
A person Hylenski obtained related with by way of the biker hospitality group in Hutchinson, Kan., was going to permit Hylenski to sleep in his yard. Recognizing that Hylenski, who had turn out to be delusional, had warmth stroke after the 45-mile dry stretch, the person let Hylenski sleep on his sofa and gave him water. Hylenski skilled many acts of kindness like this alongside the best way, he stated.
“I had so many attention-grabbing conversations,” Hylenski stated. “I fell again in love with America. I noticed that it was wonderful to go from COVID situations and being caught in your own home and seeing bullies on either side (of the political spectrum) to simply getting out and speaking to folks and realizing how a lot I missed that. All of us need to be pleased. All of us have issues and simply need to be heard.”
Shauna and Hana, 12, joined Hylenski on a portion of the journey. They met him in Missouri and spent 10 days biking the Katy Path, a 240-mile path throughout the state that was transformed from an previous railroad line. The household averaged about 40 miles a day and spent the evening at bed-and-breakfasts.
“I had a blast,” Shauna stated. “I actually love biking and had by no means had the chance to do one thing like that.”
As for his or her daughter, Hana, Shauna stated she known as it a “As soon as-in-a-lifetime expertise.”
“That signifies to me she isn’t fascinated by doing this ever once more,” Shauana stated.
Hylenski felt the identical about his trek. He stated he has no want to ever bike throughout America once more. The messages he took from the journey, although, have resonated lengthy after his bike dried, after he finalized his journey by dunking it within the Atlantic Ocean.
“While you sit down and truly take heed to somebody, you study loads about them,” Hylenski stated. “You cease judging them and categorizing them. It was the most effective a part of my journey, arms down.”