Bike Across America: Looking Back on 5,000 Miles

Seth Orme and Abby Taylor biked across America, picking up trash along the way. This is the duo’s final post from the adventure, looking back at a 5,000-mile ride.

The last article always seems to be the toughest one to write. Not because there’s nothing to say, but more due to my inability to find words. Maybe that’s why they call it a “trip-of-a-lifetime”: it might just take a lifetime to digest the journey. Below, I’ll fill you in on the final days of this year’s Packing It Out tour and, then attempt to regurgitate some thoughts from this year’s endeavor.

Where we left off….

Only a month ago, Abby and I were biking through a landscape ravaged by fire. In Abby’s last article she described the challenges we faced biking across a fire-laden Montana. We continually questioned our health — and sanity — during that time. Once we made it to the base of the Cascades, the smoke dissipated and the ascent began. One pass separated us from Seattle.

It’s been almost three weeks since Abby and I made it over Stephens Pass and into Seattle, WA. We relished Seattle’s welcoming bike paths as we nestled ourselves into the heart of the city for our last presentation at the flagship REI store. After telling people about what we do, we went out to do what we do. We partnered with the Seattle Trails Alliance for our final clean-up at Ravenna Park.

Two hours later, Abby and I weighed our final pieces of trash for this year’s Packing It Out tour. Ironically, the last two pieces we put on the scale were a pair of bicycle rims. After making it to Seattle, giving our last presentation, and completing our final clean-up, this year’s Leave It Better Tour was officially concluded.

Is it really over!?

As we all well know, these journeys are never really over once you reach your destination. We had made it across the country by bicycle, and now we had to make it back home. We didn’t finish this year’s tour in an ugly place. It was only right to take advantage of the Pacific Northwest’s beauty.

I hopped back into the saddle and biked out to the Olympic Peninsula. After biking along some of the most intense roads to date, I made it to the place on the map I wanted to see. Cape Flattery is as far northwest as you can go in the lower 48. It did not disappoint.

Abby dove into her own set of adventures. After attending a wedding in Sequim, she made her way back east to the Cascades, where she would climb a few of those incredible mountains we were drooling at only a few days prior. She is only now concluding her time in the great Pacific Northwest.

Final thoughts.

The response to completing a five-month endeavor like this is almost always one of joy and nostalgia. This year was no different. Instead of lamenting how rewarding and special this year’s trip was to me, I think you all would be better served by knowing why I get a numbing sense of joy and sadness during the conclusion of these adventures.

For me, these uninsulated life experiences are vital ingredients in the making of a fulfilled life. Long distance, self-propelled journeys have exposed me to the world in RAW format. In the photography world, RAW format is king. Why? Because it allows you to capture so much more information and detail. I believe this same concept applies to an adventurous life. Ask anyone who has thru-hiked, bike toured, etc. – odds are, they too experienced the transformative power of these full-sensory experiences.

Traveling the country has shown me how different and unique people can be, but more importantly it has shown me how similar we all are. One thing we can all agree on is the importance of leaving future generations the best world possible. Even amidst selfish pursuits of adventure, we can still invest in the future. We can all Leave It Better.

Thank you…

To those before us, who had the foresight to preserve land for future generations.
To the dogs that gave us company along those quiet country roads.
To trees and water for giving us relief from the heat.
To the little town parks for providing us a place to sleep, even when it wasn’t technically legal.
To those who shared bread.
To those who shared knowledge.
To those who opened their home to complete strangers.
To those who supplied us with the gear we needed to succeed.
To those who believe that community service isn’t a derogatory term.
To the friends, family, companies, and strangers that allowed Abby and I to experience our country in RAW format.

Until we cross paths again…

See you up the trail,
Seth “Cap” Orme


– Our 2017 ‘Packing It Out’ coverage is sponsored by REICheck out the crew’s 2015 and 2016 efforts on our ‘Packing It Out’ page. Connect with Abby and Seth on InstagramTwitter, and their blog.

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