By Joseph Robertia
Youth is squandered on the young, as the cliché goes. But is it frittering away your days if, after finishing school, you have an adventure unequivocal to anything you’ve yet experienced in life? Seeing vast and different parts of the country, far away from the part in which you grew up, and achieving something no one else you know has done? Tyler Peek, of Nikiski, doesn’t think so.
The 22-year-old recently returned from a bike tour of the U.S., in which he rode through all 50 states, following the shortest route — rather than more-popular, established paths — to cover 6,850 miles in 111 days, in just under four months, completely on his own.
“Going through every state would mean I’d be the first at something. Either I’d have the fastest time or the shortest distance for a self-supported cyclist, or I’d be the most amateur to do it, or I’d be the first person in 2014 to do it. These potentials are what sold me. I know it wasn’t a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but it felt like it,” Peek wrote in his blog.
Peek said he had long known he wanted to do something after graduating college on June 15, before the responsibilities of life snared him into a routine from which he couldn’t escape.
“I knew once I started a career I couldn’t just take off for months, or leave my wife or family, so this seemed like my only chance to do it,” he said.
Peek knew he wanted to challenge himself in some way, but hadn’t narrowed down exactly what. After his parents took him to Hawaii on June 17 for a postgraduation gift, he used the time to focus and begin his personal odyssey. He and his family went on a tour of a volcano in Maui and rode bicycles down the summit cone. It was an ah-ha moment for Peek.
He did some research and plotted his planned route, but coming from the age of technology, he bought a smartphone and relied on Google Maps, rather than atlases or printed road maps, to find his way.
“It told me where to go. I used driving maps, but with the bicycle option, and avoided freeways and high-traffic things like that,” he said.