FAQs


Inevitably I have received the same dozen or so questions from a dozen or so people throughout the past year.  Even though I’ve answered these question multiple times, it never gets old.   50% of what I talk about these days is this ride and I love every moment even if it’s a repeat of the moment before. So if I’ve missed any questions, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll add to the list!


Where did you get the name Steeling West and what does it mean?

Steeling West is the simplest way I could describe what it is I’m doing. Steel is the ideal material for touring bicycles (for more on why, I suggest Google). I wanted a new and interesting way to describe bicycle touring and Steeling sounded good. The reason for including West was at first because, well, I’m traveling West! I’m pretty content with this answer but for those with a more romantic state of mind, I remind you of the days when the West was a dangerous mystery, kind of like it is to me! Except lucky for me, I’m quite sure it’s much safer now than it was back then. That is also why I chose to go with the western font type in the logo.

Are you doing this for a charity/cause?

There is no cause associated with this ride like many other cross country expeditions (i.e. Bike and Build, Smiles for Miles, etc.). I recently encountered someone who lost complete interest in my ride once they heard it wasn’t for a cause! I wish I could have explained to them that while the goals of this ride are more selfish than selfless, I am making an honest attempt to inspire others to do something they previously thought they couldn’t do. It doesn’t have to be on a bike and you don’t even have to go anywhere. Write a book, build a car, do something amazing while you still can!

Then why are you doing this?
This is my “amazing something while I still can.” If you’re up for the read, the About page should explain this fairly well. The short explanation is because I hope to learn more about new places, new faces and a find another spot to call home.

What route are you taking?

Like my friend and inspiration, Jesse Steiner (The Transcontinentalist), I’m making my own route. The map on the Route page is simply a line connecting all of the places I’d like to visit. How and whether or not I get to them is only something time will tell. Yes, there are many mapped out routes for bikes with campgrounds and resources along the way but as you already know, this ride isn’t about getting across the country, it’s about getting into it! I have an assortment of electronics that will help me easily research safe and interesting roads (usually) before I set out on any given day.

How long will it take you?

To this question I love answering “However long I want it to!” but I know that answer is about as helpful as gibberish. Barring injury, I’ll ride until one of the following things happen: Run out of money, interest, time, warm weather. It’s hard to leave something like this completely open-ended so I’ve chosen Los Angeles as the “end point” but will strive to keep an open mind to opportunities that might lie beyond it. Give or take a week, here are are a couple of milestone spots and my ETA to them:
Philadelphia, PA: May 1st
Chicago, IL: June 1st
Denver, CO: July 1st
Seattle, WA: August 1st

Los Angeles, CA: Sept 1st

Update (8/12/11 from Burley, ID): It should be apparent now that I’m well behind my anticipated schedule. I’m about 3 weeks “behind” due to the 3 weeks I spent in Chicago, Fort Collins and Salt Lake City. Each extended stay was well worth it and would not be traded for the world.

How many hours and miles will you ride each day?

Having not started the ride and therefore unsure how fit I’ll become, I estimate an average speed of 10mph. I hope to be in the 13-15mph average range a couple weeks in but 10 is an easy and conservative number. With that said, I imagine daily mileage will vary between 40 & 80 with a couple outliers here and there. This puts me in the saddle anywhere from 4 to 8 hours a day. I hope my new Brooks saddle will be kind to my butt…probably not.

Where will you sleep?

I have a tent and sleeping bag so that I can take advantage of public and stealth camping opportunities. When at all possible I will enjoy the company of people I already call friends and hopefully the company of new friends that I meet on the road or through Couchsurfing, Warm Showers (member name – lms4498), or other social networking sites.

Are you going with someone?

The first leg of the ride to Chicago will be done with my friend, Hannah Johnston. She expressed interest when I happened to post a comment online (half-jokingly) asking if anyone wanted to do it with me. UPDATE as of 5/14/11: Hannah has now decided to stop in Cincinnati at her mother’s home. She’s completed her goal of getting “thighs of steel.” While I’m excited to continue on after Cincinnati, I am truly going to miss her company and continuously good spirits.

Have you been training?

I trained during the month of April by riding with all of the gear I planned to take. By packing everything that I planned on taking, I had to relearn how to ride a bicycle. It truly is different than riding an unloaded bike. In total, I only road about 100 miles in the entire month of April. Much of the other time spent was for gathering, organizing, packing and repacking gear into the panniers. This was enough to feel comfortable that I could begin the ride with the understanding that my body would strengthen over the first several weeks and a rhythm would develop for riding, eating, sleeping and everything else I do.

Are you going to be carrying all of your gear on your back?

As mentioned above, I will be using panniers, or saddle bags, that hang off of racks that are mounted over each wheel of the bicycle. Images of this can be seen throughout my pictures.

Why not use a hammock (in place of a tent)?

This one is quite simple. I cannot be sure that everywhere I think I may travel will have trees or other objects upon which to hang a tent. Additionally, my tent allows me to store my panniers in the tent with me for easier access to my gear as well as keeping it safe from theft (which really isn’t an issue if you’ve got any common sense)

So what will you do after you’re done?

I’d like to find a job as a mechanical engineer somewhere in the United States. My general area of interest involves the design of products that involve significant human interaction. Examples include prostheses, sports equipment and, no surprise, bicycles! The most satisfying job would be as a design engineer in the bicycle industry. Will the offers be lined up at the end of this ride? Doubtful but I’ll try!

How much does your gear and bicycle weigh?

The bike weighs about 35 pounds, which isn’t bad considering the frame, fork, and racks are all steel. My gear weighs anywhere from 45 to 60 pounds depending on the amount of food and water that I’m carrying at the moment.

One Response

  1. Kathy and Ed Carter

    Good luck to you Lowell! We’ll be tracking your progress!! Be careful- and we can’t wait to hear all about your incredible experiences! Enjoy every moment! Kathy and Ed (Dr.) Carter

    June 8, 2011 at 10:53 am

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