Casey Miller hadn’t even touched a bicycle since elementary school, and yet here he is, riding his recently purchased road bike, not even two months old, all the way to Boston, Mass.
“I never really liked riding a bike,” Miller said. “But I moved to San Francisco and I was trying to figure out what to do. I don’t know anything about biking, but this is the best thing I’ve ever done.”
He left Portland, Ore. on Aug. 8 and made his way east. Miller travels 60-80 miles a day and takes his time, drinking in the beauty of the nation.
“I’m on this bike ride to see why people get up in the morning,” Miller said. “How do they find meaning in life?”
So far, he has talked to 200 citizens and from those interviews, has established the six and a half characteristics that provide happiness. Miller is saving the list for a book he plans to write at the conclusion of his journey.
Miller is also teaming up with ChildFund, an organization that helps deprived and poverty-stricken children. He has raised nearly $5,000.
After only training for one week, Miller began his cross-country tour.
“Physically, it’s hard,” he said. “Your butt gets sore and mentally, it is a challenge. It’s a challenge to be with yourself all the time. When you are on a bike it’s just you and you get to know yourself very well.
He was planning on making multiple camping stops along the way, but has only had to rough it three nights. More often, people will invite him into their homes or will offer to pay for a hotel.
“The people I’ve met, have been so genuine and kind,” Miller said. “There are so many good people in this country. You have to really love yourself and it has to come from the inside. You have to love it so much that you can give it away. I’ve found those are the happiest people.”
The 31 year-old has made his way through Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Tetons and many other gorgeous destinations. Not much planning went into the trip, and Miller spends seven to eight hours a day enjoying the scenery and taking as many photographs as he can. His original goal was to travel the trans-American highway, but that idea sort of fell through.
While re-connecting with an old, high school friend, Miller found his way to northwest Iowa. The friend mentioned to him if he makes his way through Iowa, he has to stop for the Clay County Fair.
Normally, Miller doesn’t stay more than a night at a single location. But, he allowed himself the weekend in Okoboji and traveled to Spencer for the first weekend of “The World’s Greatest County Fair.”
“It’s not a race,” he said. “When I started my trip I weighed 210 pounds, I’m now down to 193. The whole package between my bike, bags and gear, weighs about 300 pounds.”
Miller said the trip has improved his sense of smell and opened his eyes.
“This bike ride has really opened up my five senses,” he said. “I really wanted to get raw, and being on this bike ride, I am really raw to the world. The bike makes me vulnerable and awake to life.”
Miller grew up in Los Angeles, attended school in Minnesota and Boston. The far-flung background has helped spark the rider’s passion for travel. He has been to 31 countries and plans on visiting many more.
His favorite trip, by far, has been the current nation-wide trek, but it hasn’t come without it’s fair share of bumps. He’s even thought of giving up.
A few days before arriving in Iowa, winds gusted at 35 miles per hour near Spearfish, S.D., and came after Miller had been on the road for 11 hours.
“It was miserable,” he said. “When I got to town, I sat down and literally started looking for flights home.”
But, he had connected with “Warm Showers” a tourist biking community and was united with a physicist who invited him into his home. They talked nearly four hours about quantum physics and the meaning of life, and Miller’s mindset changed.
“I’ve experienced every emotion under the sun,” Miller said. “From physical exhaustion — I literally fell asleep on my bike for a moment — to one day I soaked in a sulfur stream. The next day my bike and I got in a fight and I pushed it down a ravine. Then there are times when every pedal stroke is easy and I just glide.”
Miller plans on making it to Boston in the next 30 days, if everything goes as planned.
But, as he has learned so far in his journey, life’s road has its own twists and turns. Sometimes it’s best just to keep the wheels turning.
by Brandon Hurley — Staff Writer
Dickinson County News