We’re Doug and Kristin, a couple of thirty-somethings from Washington, USA with a love of the outdoors and a passion for travel. What began as a handshake agreement to take a simple mid-life “gap year” has morphed into the open-ended bicycle trip this site now chronicles. After years of planning, saving, and dreaming we’ve finally quit our jobs, sold our house and belongings, and moved a few prized possessions into a small storage unit. Fittingly, we chose April 1st of 2014 to embark on this fool’s errand, pedaling east from our adopted home in the foothills outside Seattle, to who knows where. It won’t be our first bicycle tour — we’ve done several shorter ones ranging from three to twelve days in length — but it will undoubtedly be our longest.
Ours is a tale you don’t often hear anymore. We met in college, on the first day of freshman orientation, and were married shortly after graduating in 1997. Originally from New Jersey, we lived for five years on the coastal plain of North Carolina, then moved to the Pacific Northwest in 2002. Since then, we’ve explored nearly every corner of Washington, both on-road and far off of it. Though we haven’t a guess as to where this trip will ultimately lead, when it will end, or how it will change us, we suspect the pull of the Cascade Mountains will one day draw us back to the northwestern corner of North America.
This was all Doug’s idea. Having spent the past thirteen years writing videogame strategy guides or, as he describes them, travel guides to fictitious places, he was determined to finally live out his own adventure in real life, IRL as the kids say. And yes, probably write a book about it too. Doug authored well over one hundred official strategy guides for publisher BradyGames in that time, covering nearly every major franchise including Halo, Diablo, Bioshock, Gears of War, and Borderlands, among countless others. A lifelong gamer who always dreamed of a career as a writer, it was the perfect gig. The hours were intense, but he got to work from home, set his own schedule, and enjoy a steady stream of unreleased games delivered right to his door. So long as he could continue to crank out 300+ page manuscripts in a month’s time…
Doug grew up in Carteret, NJ and earned a track & field scholarship to Lafayette College in Easton, PA where he earned a B.S. in geology. He never did break four minutes in the mile, but wouldn’t trade his years spent trying for anything. Graduate school lured the couple to North Carolina where he soon discovered his love of cycling, particularly mountain biking. Doug and Kristin were active in the triathlon and trail running scene in North Carolina, but the mountains of Washington state beckoned. In 2002, during a business trip to Nintendo’s headquarters in Redmond, Doug called Kristin to say he wasn’t coming home. Though not exactly an honest threat (so he says), the two packed up a U-Haul trailer and moved across the country a month later. Once in the Seattle area, Doug became heavily involved with the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, where he led countless group rides and served on the Board of Directors for two years. A brief addiction to endurance mountain bike racing provided him with the stories linked below.
- Leadville 100 MTB Race Across the Sky Race Report
- TransRockies 7-Day Stage Race Report
- 24 Hours Round the Clock
Forever restless, Doug has spent an inordinate amount of time dreaming about this trip — and the pursuit of happiness and freedom out on the open road. Doug believes strongly in the kindness of strangers, that everyone ultimately wants the same things out of life — health, happiness, and love — and wants to meet his neighbors from around the planet and hear their stories first-hand without the filter of a frightened, hyperbolic media machine. But above all, he doesn’t believe we should settle for the one-size-fits-all life that has been prescribed for us. He doesn’t believe in “living for the weekend” and “thanking God it’s Friday.” He doesn’t believe in putting off the things we want most until that mythical retirement age finally hits — and hoping we’re still around to enjoy it. This trip isn’t just about trying to cycle around the world. Far from it. It’s about taking control and experiencing life on one’s own terms.
Yep, this was Doug’s crazy idea and the timing of the initial discussion, about seven years before leaving, was even worse. Kristin, after working for ten years as a chemist, quality assurance manager, and ultimately a Director of Operations in the biotech industry, was offered a chance to return to school for her MBA. She was excited for the opportunity, though wary of the time commitment required, only to then leave to cycle the world just a few years after graduating. Nevertheless, Kristin took advantage of the opportunity knowing it would all work out in the end (fingers crossed). Kristin’s company laid her off eighteen months after she graduated, but thanks to connections made in business school, she quickly landed on her feet. Switching industries to Information Technology, she started as a Project Manager for large infrastructure and construction projects at Expeditors International, a shipping and logistics company. While most aspects of the corporate environment fit Kristin quite well, there never seems to be enough vacation time for extended travel.
Kristin grew up on the East Coast bouncing around from Connecticut to Georgia to New Jersey and finally to Pennsylvania where she attended Lafayette College and met Doug. They were married in August after graduating and moved to Greenville, NC, where Doug’s graduate school search and Kristin’s job search matched up. After five long years in NC, the couple decided to give the Seattle area a try and have never looked back. Kristin enjoys the outdoors year round, whether it’s snowshoeing and skiing in the winter, road biking in the summer, or trail running regardless of the weather. She’s even finished several 25K trail races and a few 50Ks. In her free time, Kristin also volunteers with Domestic Abuse Women’s Network (D.A.W.N.) in teaching basic life skills to women to help them stay on the path of independent living and not return to their abuser. And last but not least, Kristin loves all animals and deeply misses the two Siberian Huskies, Kimo and Annana, that she and Doug adopted as tiny puppies in 1998 and 1999, respectively. Kristin spent many hours hiking with them both with Doug and while he was mountain biking and has wonderful memories of outdoor adventures and camping trips as a family of four.
Why does Kristin want to do this trip? The trip will be a challenge, physically, mentally, and emotionally. It takes her way outside her comfort zone and allows her the opportunity to experience life in a variety of cultures, climates, and landscapes. Every day will be in a new place, meeting new people, learning new things, and facing new challenges. Living in a world of constant change is intimidating, but she loves knowing that she and Doug will be taking every pedal stroke together.