I’m biking across America this summer and taking a picture of everyone I meet.
If you ever doubt such thing as kindness in strangers, hop on a bike. (Jim Quinlan)
If anything, pedaling across the United States from Seattle, WA to New York, NY in 2008 confirmed to me that bicycle touring is the best possible way to see the world. I have a long list of reasons but towards the top is the people. There was the mother and daughter in Michigan who let us camp out in their tree house when there was nowhere else to stay. There was the couple who found us in 105° heat and decided to haul back a CostCo pack of frozen ice pops for us to enjoy. There were the campground owners in Montana who upon finding out that it was our leader’s birthday, brought us a makeshift watermelon “cake” with a flower in it. These are the kinds of people you are much less likely to meet in practically any other form of transportation because bicycling takes you through the backroads.
In the summer of 2017, I decided to take on the feat again, mostly along the iconic TransAmerica Trail from Yorktown, VA to Seattle, WA. Inspired by the fond memories from my 2008 trip, I set out to photograph the people I met along the way. Their portraits and stories form an infographic of what this diverse, kindhearted cross section of America looks like. In the aftermath of the U.S. 2016 presidential election, it was reassuring to experience firsthand the generosity and warmth that fills this country.
I'm happy to report that those 4,000 miles were just the beginning. This series has become the perfect vehicle to get to know a place and celebrate the ways the bicycle brings people together – which is why I've decided to take it around the world.
In the summer of 2018, my friend Erik Douds and I will continue this series into Alaska where we'll be biking 1,000 miles. Following the trip, we'll be producing two magazines and a short film.