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Ernie Fund Spurs Cross Country Cycle Trip

Bicycle Touring from Wyoming to Washington
by Laura Loretz

Bikes packed and ready for touring.

With the help of this travel grant provided by Mountain Whitewater, a pro-deal purchase for some amazing panniers from Pacific Outdoor Equipment and of course the support of my mom and dad I took off! Although I was going to make the trip happen no matter the circumstances, the ease of this trip would not have been possible without the Ernie Fund and the support given to me by MWD!!

This past fall, a friend and I took off on our first ever bicycle tour. Bicycle travel is human-propelled and therefore sustainable by nature. This along with my need to keep this trip as low-cost as possible fit perfectly with what the Ernie Fund stands for. (Traveling cheaply and with the environment). I applied for the Ernie Fund, and proudly became the 2010 recipient.

My friend Toby and I began in Lander, WY with little expectations, only a simple goal of reaching the coast of Washington in the 30 days we had to complete the journey. What we learned was there was no way to plan for what was about to take place. 1,400 miles, 29 days , and 4 states later we finished with new friends, amazing memories, and a feeling of satisfaction and pride I never expected.

Reaching the Puget Sound in Anacortes, WA I realized that the memories were endless;
From the scary (a bear growling around our campsite in the dark or being face to face with buffalo in Yellowstone NP) to the impossible (climbing up 5,000 ft in elevation for 25 plus miles) to the beautiful (the moss-drapped trees of Washington, The Grand Tetons peering at us from a campsite) to the unexpected (locals bringing pizza and beer to our campsite, the constant addition and subtraction of total strangers to our ride) The people we met will not soon be forgotten, nor the support of friends and family. And the miles, well, let’s just say I am certain that they will keep on going… because for me this is not the end of an adventure, but the start of many more!

Things that I learned while cycle touring:

  • People think that riding your bike across the country is impossible
  • It is not impossible
  • Warm beer is infinitely colder than no beer at all
  • We are not “bikers”, but rather cyclists
  • At the end of the day you forget the pain, can’t put your finger on any frustrations and still feel as though your are having the time of your life
  • Tourists in Yellowstone seem more attracted to cycle tourists than the wildlife around them
  • Washington state is a temperate rain forest
  • People are good
  • The best cure for a bad day, a good day, a rainy day, a hilly day or a flat day is a good beer and a Snickers bar
  • Even when you think you cannot pedal for one more mile, you usually find that you have to pedal 15 more miles… and you can
  • Our country varies so much, the people, the towns, the landscapes… nothing is the same and that is consistent
  • Laughing with strangers is under appreciated
  • Small miracles happen everyday
  • We are just a small part of the earth, but can touch lives and do our part to spread goodness in ways that can multiply
  • A bar in a small town is the best way to get the truth out of a town
  • Other than the bar, don’t believe the locals; they will tell you it’s “all downhill” and the weather forecast is “perfect for the next 10 days”
  • The best way to find yourself is to be lost on an adventure, immersed in chance and embracing the others that come into your life… you can only know yourself when you are at your lowest and watch how you react to getting yourself up again
  • Don’t plan on planning, let each day bring with it new adventure… planning gets in the way of the freedom to let life and adventure unravel …These are the best moments!