Two Baldwin County friends are on an epic bike tour across the United States.Kristy Eubanks and John Boyle dipped their rear tire in the Pacific Ocean March 18 in San Diego, and if all goes to plan, …
Two Baldwin County friends are on an epic bike tour across the United States.
Kristy Eubanks and John Boyle dipped their rear tire in the Pacific Ocean March 18 in San Diego, and if all goes to plan, will dip their front tire in the Atlantic Ocean in St. Augustine, Florida, 75 days and 3,177 miles later.
Eubanks grew up in Fairhope after her family moved there in 1977. Her love of the outdoors led her to Asheville, North Carolina, where she completed her bachelor's degree in Outdoor Education and master's degree in Parks and Recreation at Montreat College.
Over the years, Eubanks worked in dog grooming and pet care and even owned a grooming shop. After 15 years in Asheville, she returned to her roots in Fairhope in 2015. While her love of biking grew on the mountain trails of North Carolina, her love of bike touring took over and occupied her free time. Weekends were spent on the saddle of her bike, but a lack of like-minded friends kept her from venturing on longer trips.
Boyle was born and raised in Michigan and was the middle child of nine. His passion for biking began as a senior in high school when he purchased his first 10-speed bicycle with the dream of riding across the country. His dream was postponed by a career in corporate advertising and raising a family. In 2007, a cancer diagnosis and treatment changed everything.
"I had to address the cancer very quickly, and then a year after the cancer, I looked at the bike I bought in high school and realized if I didn't do this touring thing now, I was never going to do it," Boyle said.
In 2010, Boyle started touring and has been ever since. His retirement from active corporate life in 2017 has afforded him the time to work in a bike shop where he has learned more about maintaining bikes and an opportunity to tour through 23 states from east to west.
Eubanks and Boyle's meeting happened by chance one day when Eubanks was at Infinity Bike Shop in Daphne and the two became fast friends and tour buddies.
"I had been wanting to do long bike tours for years, but I couldn't find anybody to go with me. There are a lot of cyclists around here, but not a lot of them do bike touring. I was at Infinity Bike Shop in Daphne and John pulled up and had a touring bike on top of his car. I didn't look at him or even let him get out of his car before I asked him if he was a bike tourist. I scared him because I was so excited to meet somebody. He happened to live in Daphne, and that was it. We started getting together and planning trips," Eubanks said.
Bike touring is a blend a blend of riding and backpacking. Bikers utilize paved roads, trails and gravel paths along various routes. Bike touring can be self-supported, meaning the biker carries everything they need on their bike; credit card touring means the biker rides from hotel to hotel; and supported touring involves a follow car that carries all the equipment.
Eubanks and Boyle are utilizing a combination of self-supported and credit card touring. Each bike will carry an estimated 60 pounds of equipment ranging from winter to summer riding gear, tent, food and anything else needed along the route. They have a few hotel nights scheduled throughout the route and have towns they will pass through and resupply, so they do not have to carry two months' worth of food.
Eubanks and Boyle are currently taking the Southern Tier route that runs 3,177 miles through eight states from California to Florida. They are relying on the Adventure Cycling Association's mapped route. The group publishes maps with bike routes all over the United States. The maps include information about each town along the route with hotels, hostels and campgrounds. The Warm Shower Organization is another resource the duo is relying on. The nonprofit is a resource for cyclists all over the world and connects bikers with people offering hot showers, yard space for camping, shelters or even couches.
When asked why they are wanted to take on such an epic journey they each had a different reason.
"Because it's there. This ride is the holy grail for cyclists. It's the gold standard and something people in our mindset reach for," Boyle said. "Riding across the county has been something I wanted to do ever since I bought that 10-speed back in high school."
For Eubanks, the desire to tackle the cross-country trip came from the excitement of finishing a shorter journey.
"After I did the Natchez Trace, which took two weeks and 500 miles, I was so excited. It was the best feeling I had ever had. Just being out there and being free," Eubanks said. "After that trip, I decided I had to go cross-country on a bike. It has been a dream of mine for 30 years, ever since I started cycling. I have watched other people do it, and now I get to do it."
The duo has a plan in place for the number of miles they will cover each day, but they also have the flexibility to adapt and change if they so desire. They have also made sure to include time for tourist spots, National Parks and exploring the cities they will pass through.
"The people that you run into while touring really restores your faith in humanity. They want to know how you are going, tell us to stay safe and want to talk about what we are doing. The people you meet are amazing," Eubanks said.
You can follow Eubanks and Boyle on their trip via a Facebook group called "Kristy and John's Epic Adventure Along the Southern Tier 2022." Each day they update with their status, photos and the interesting people and things they encounter along the way.