A cross-country bike ride

The+picture+at+the+top+shows+Ayoub+at+the+beginning+of+this+trek+on+the+east+coast.+Bottom+picture+shows+Ayoub+at+the+end+of+his+journey+on+the+west+coast+in+Oregon.+
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A cross-country bike ride

The picture at the top shows Ayoub at the beginning of this trek on the east coast. Bottom picture shows Ayoub at the end of his journey on the west coast in Oregon.

The picture at the top shows Ayoub at the beginning of this trek on the east coast. Bottom picture shows Ayoub at the end of his journey on the west coast in Oregon.

courtesy of Evan Ayoub

The picture at the top shows Ayoub at the beginning of this trek on the east coast. Bottom picture shows Ayoub at the end of his journey on the west coast in Oregon.

courtesy of Evan Ayoub

courtesy of Evan Ayoub

The picture at the top shows Ayoub at the beginning of this trek on the east coast. Bottom picture shows Ayoub at the end of his journey on the west coast in Oregon.

Marin Guta

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As 26-year-old Evan Ayoub biked up one of the many steep hills in Anniston, Ala., he came to two realizations: his knee was in excruciating pain and he was only 200 mi. into his 4,850-mile tour.

For the Macon native, his chances of tasting the salty Pacific Ocean air were beginning to look slim.

“I remember getting up that hill was so painful,” says Ayoub. “I just had to push and push. I mean, I was in my easiest gear standing and pulling on this bike as far as I could and barely could ride up this hill.”

With some dogged determination followed by a period of rest, Ayoub continued toward the Pacific Ocean.

The dream to bike across the United States found its roots during Ayoub’s middle school years when he marveled at his next-door neighbor’s bike.

After pleading with his mother, Ayoub finally got a bike. He’s been pedaling ever since.

For seven years, Ayoub worked at Bike Tech, a bike shop located on Vineville Avenue, where he heard constant talk of bike touring from customers and staff. This fostered Ayoub’s dream of one day touring the country.

After graduating from Mercer University in 2010, Ayoub started making plans for his epic bike tour. An unfortunate hip injury forced Ayoub to press the brakes on his dreams instead of on his bike.

For three years, Ayoub juggled a job working computers for an air conditioning company and another job working at a local bike shop on weekends.

After years of waiting, Ayoub started buying essential bike parts for his tour. “And, finally, I was like ‘it’s time to go,’ and bought all the stuff I needed and put it all together,” says Ayoub. “I gave my bosses the heads-up and then said, ‘this is what I’m doing.’ And they said, ‘when you get done, head back.’”

On June 5, Ayoub loaded his Cannondale T4 with 115 lbs. of basic living essentials, including a sleeping bag, tent, food and water.

Ayoub biked to Savannah, Ga., where he snapped a photo of himself on Tybee Island near the Atlantic Ocean. He then biked back to Macon to rest for couple of days before leaving Georgia’s red-clay hills behind.

From Macon, Ayoub worked west toward Peachtree City, and then 80 mi. in a day to Alabama. That’s when his knee started to hurt.  “You should (prepare), but I really didn’t, and I paid for it pretty bad with my knees,” says Ayoub.

Ayoub continued his tour through the Southeast, managing to breeze through Mississippi in a day. His next physical challenge: Arkansas’ Ozark Mountains.

“Arkansas – it’s neat, but I felt like I was getting hazed,” says Ayoub. “You ride, and they would just go vertical, and you would just climb a thousand or two-thousand feet in just a couple of miles. It was just awful.”

In Kansas, Ayoub came across his first group of touring cyclists, a group of missionaries called the Anti-Baptists, a religion influenced by Mennonite and Amish philosophy.  “For a touring cyclist, I had a very large load, but these guys were stacked because they lived on their bikes,” said Ayoub.

 

The bicyclist navigated his way using ACA maps, or Adventure Cycling Association maps. He found free camping sites on the map to set up his tent. Ayoub mainly lived off of fast food, peanut butter sandwiches and Swedish Fish.

After braving a hail storm on top of a 11, 542 ft. mountain at Hoosier’s Pass in Colorado, Ayoub made his way to Fairplay, Colo. where he met Sarah and Pedro Sousa, a Portuguese couple, who were on a two-year honeymoon tour, and Gary Loughlin, an Irish bike rider. The group of bikers steadily grew to 10 people.

The group of cyclists visited Glacier Park. “Everything is just on an epic scale. The mountains are just tall, jagged, and there is a big, blue sky,” says Ayoub.

Ayoub decided to ride through the park. “Part of my philosophy is riding every inch,” says Ayoub. He later enjoyed a scenic lunch on the top of Logan’s Pass and rode down the Pass alongside wild horses.

The rest of Ayoub’s trip went downhill from there. As the bicyclist rode through Washington, he said he hated the gloomy weather. “I got rained on every single day. If it didn’t rain, it was so humid that I had so much condensation inside my tent, it was raining in my tent,” Ayoub said.

Things soon went from bad to worse. When Ayoub entered the customs office in Canada, he was interrogated by the customs official, and his spirits were dampened. “I’ve never been treated like a criminal before, and that’s exactly how he treated me, and that really bugged me,” says Ayoub. Customs permitted Ayoub to visit for only one day.

The bicyclist left Canada and continued south through Washington. As he was riding through congested traffic in Seattle, Wash., a car came too close causing him to veer his bike off the road into a traffic cone. The cone got stuck in his back wheel and the drive chain exploded. Ayoub thought his trip was over.

“I’m about to get a cab to catch a flight home when this guy stops and says there is a bike shop down the road. When I got there, he bought all the stuff.” It was moments like this that restored Ayoub’s faith in humanity during his trip.

After 70 days on the road, Ayoub finally reached Greyland, Ore., his final destination. He was ready to go home and take a shower. He flew down to Macon and met his girlfriend, Krissie Campbell.

“He had one major setback, but he was lucky to not have even more. I just felt lucky to be a part of this,” Campbell said.

Now that he’s back in Macon, Ayoub misses having the vast stretches of asphalt ahead of him. “I sit in a windowless office and a bit of my soul dies every day,” says Ayoub.

But don’t worry, he will be biking cross-country again – one day. “It’s going to be a long time before I go on a tour again because I have to save up money.”

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