Meet the Dentonite Biking Across America
Matthew Guzman took the move all of us are afraid to take. This week, while all of us get ready for work and school, Guzman will be starting his one-year journey across the United States by bike. The idea for the ride came to Guzman after he graduated from the University of North Texas in 2016.
“I had a pretty bad year in 2016 that made me reconsider everything I want to do with my life,” Guzman said. “For whatever reason, that lifestyle really appeals to me. So, I figured I have a degree, no career, no kids, my girlfriend and I were about to break up (which we did), so I really had no responsibilities.”
Upon telling his parents, Guzman said they were mainly worried for his safety. He said his mom understood the value in exploring, but his dad remained against his trip. Nevertheless, Guzman made plans to go.
Guzman chose a bike as his mode of transportation for crossing the country because he has been riding a bike for five years and is active in the bike community.
Leading up to the trip, Guzman lived on a friend’s couch for the month of January, worked temporary jobs, and planned his trip. He had a lot of help with the pre-planning. He built his bike in November at Sprockets with the help of the owners, who gave Guzman a good deal on the frame and most of the parts.
The next step Guzman took was buying a trailer at Velo Republic to hold his belongings. The owner there also gave Guzman great deals on the trailer, his gear, and apparel in exchange for recognition in Guzman’s YouTube videos and social media posts, which will document his trip.
For practice, Guzman rode his bike to Austin on a two-day, 200-mile trip. Guzman took a train from Denton to south Dallas, then rode his bike 100 miles to Waco and then 80 miles to Granger, Texas the next day. From there, a friend picked him up and took him to Austin.
“I've done a 100-mile ride before, but never with a heavy trailer attached to my bike, and have never done 80 miles the next day either,” Guzman said. “I've never been on before alone. It can feel pretty isolating to be 50-plus miles away from where you live and 50 miles to go till your destination. I found that it was less about fitness and more just about mentally being able to tough it out. So, I think it was a good experience. On the days that I'm going to be riding, I'll only be doing about 50 miles at a time, so I know I can handle it.”
Guzman is using the Adventure Cycling Association's maps to plan his route of the Pacific coast. Guzman originally had a partner who was going on the trip with him, but who eventually bailed. So he figured starting from Arizona would be the safest bet, since he has a brother who resides in Tempe. From there, Guzman plans to ride to San Diego, California and then all the way up to Seattle, Washington. After that, it’s a free-for-all.
You can’t get very far without some money in your pocket, so Guzman plans to pick up small odd jobs along his route. He plans to incorporate his bike into jobs such as helping small businesses and making deliveries via Uber, Rush, and Postmates.
Ultimately, Guzman’s plans to travel the West Coast deal with the opportunities that rest there.
“As far as finishing the trip, I want to find a career in the bicycle industry, probably on the digital marketing/promotional side of things,” Guzman said. “I'm totally open to the idea that I could be way too in over my head and I'd like to think that I'd be able to be smart enough to swallow my pride and go back home. But, I could also see myself continuing to travel.”