A cross-country bicycle trip may sound like a crazy idea to some, but cyclist Gordon Scott embraced the challenge when he rode his Wabi Classic from Alaska to Mexico.
Gordon was 23 when he set out on the 3,244-mile trip with his dad and best friend in September of 2013.
Nearly four years later, we asked Gordon to share some intimate insights into his 76-day journey, including daily journal entries and photos from his ride.
Check back every four weeks for recaps of Gordon’s trip on the blog.
Who is Gordon?
Gordon grew up in California, and cycling was in his blood. Since he could remember, his father was an avid cyclist.
“I bet since I was born he has driven a vehicle to work less than 100 times, and all of the other days for the past 27 years he probably rode his bike,” Gordon said.
Gordon’s father taught him how to ride a bike on a path behind their house. Later in life, Gordon returned to the bike path from his childhood.
“I could remember wobbling around on my bike while my dad ran beside me,” he said.
Growing up, Gordon was active in BMX and mountain biking, receiving trophies at most races where he was a competitor. But Gordon fell in love with cycling in a new way after he got his first job and began commuting to work on his bike.
“The commuting was what made me fall in love with riding for riding’s sake,” he said.
What inspired the cross-country trip?
A National Geographic book about Alaska in the city library sparked the idea for Gordon’s cross-country ride. Gordon wanted to explore Alaska, but he had never bought a plane ticket or spent any money traveling before.
“If I was going to spend money, I wanted to have something to show for it, even after the experience,” he explained.
His first idea was to buy a motorcycle and camp along the road. Gordon recruited his best friends, Jericho and Mohammed, for the trip, but the idea fell apart when the trio was unable to afford the motorcycles.
But Gordon persisted. “The seed had already been planted, so because we were incapable of letting it go, we simply changed it to be much more economical—and also much more ridiculous.”
Replace motorcycles with bicycles and Gordon’s vision was reborn. Jericho wasn’t tempted by the new plan, despite Gordon’s spiel about chasing dreams and adventure, but Gordon did hook Mohammed and attracted a new recruit, Gordon’s dad Phil.
In 2012, Gordon bought his first Wabi Classic in Jet Black, with no intention of riding it across the country. He simply wanted a reliable commute, and after a glowing recommendation from his dad, who loves the simplicity and quality of his own Wabi Classic, Gordon was sold.
Unfortunately, about a month after Gordon bought his Wabi, it was stolen while he was at school. Tired of walking and riding the bus, Gordon was ready to fork over everything he had to replace his Classic, but since he was dropping the money on a new bike anyway, Gordon decided to invest in a bike that he could ride on his cross-country trip.
After talking to a few bike experts and even the founder of Wabi Cycles, Richard Snook, the advice was unanimous: Gordon should ditch the single speed and find a more versatile bike that is built to handle rough terrain. But Gordon ignored them and bought the Wabi Classic, this time in turquoise.
Applying a 22-tooth rear freewheel made it possible for him to cruise fairly easily at 12-15 mph on flat ground. Climbing hills were tough at first, but his legs grew stronger every day.
“Having cages on my pedals was also a necessity for climbing. The upstroke was a lifesaver in many situations,” Gordon said.
Before starting the journey, Gordon never doubted his own ability, but had doubts about the Wabi’s effectiveness. A week into the trip, his doubts disappeared, and he never looked back.
“I just loved it, and because I loved it I knew I could make it work,” he said.
Check back July 18 for more about Gordon’s cross-country adventure!