Like most recent college graduates, Nikiski resident Tyler Peek wanted to embark on an adventure before settling into the reality of the working world.
Peek, 21, spent his summer touring every U.S. state. Not by car or train, but by pedaling on two wheels. After graduating from Eastern Washington University with a psychology degree in May, Peek came up with the idea while on vacation with his parents in Hawaii. Peek decided he would bike through every state by the shortest route possible.
“I figured this could potentially be the only chance I have to leave everything behind and not have to worry about getting back,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to travel and do something I would remember for the rest of my life.”
Peek biked through every state in the Lower 48, a distance of more than 6,850 miles. He completed the journey arriving in Maine on Oct. 15. Over the 111 days of the trip, he averaged nearly 62 miles per day.
At first he thought about running across the United States or biking the southern tier from coast to coast but figured the summer heat would have been too brutal for the lifelong Alaskan.
After doing some research, he came across a blog called “Fifty, Swiftly,” by Stephen Von Worley, which maps the most efficient road trip through every state starting from Maine to Montana. Peek said he used the route as a guide, but veered off the course through any bike paths he could find.
“The trip is somewhat of a blur,” he said. “I remember daily rides along highways dodging cars and rocks.”
Equipped with camping gear and a hybrid touring bike, Peek took off from the western border of Montana on June 26 with the initial goal of logging 100 miles a day. He soon discovered that grueling pace was unsustainable and only twice on his trip did he reach 90 miles.
On the first day, as he set out west through Idaho to Washington, he biked uphill over two mountain passes. As tiring as it was, he said the downhill sections made it worth it.
“I never got so tired on the trip to where I needed to take breaks but tried to take it easy and pace myself through difficult stretches,” he said.
From Montana he traveled west to Washington, south to the northeastern edge of California, then east to the four corners of Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado. Then he cut diagonally across the Midwest north to Minnesota and backtracked through the central states to Texas then east to the northern tip of Florida before completing the journey up the east coast to finish in Maine.
Peek rode through blazing heat in the southern states and a heavy rainstorm in Oklahoma where a nearby tornado whirled.
“I saw all different kinds of weather except snow,” he said. “I’ve seen enough snow in my life.”
Along the way he met other cyclists and interesting characters at gas stations and RV parks. Peek said the most memorable rides were on the East Coast in the fall. He didn’t alter his trip to view many landmarks, but did ride into Washington, D.C., to see the White House.
“After spending so much time riding inland to see the Atlantic Ocean was incredible,” he said. “The color in the changing leaves was beautiful.”
The trip wasn’t without its share of hiccups. A couple times he had to repair a flat tire. A few nights he woke up with fire ants in his tent and needed to buy spray to exterminate the pests. The sound of animals outside his tent kept him up some nights, he said.
Peek used an online community forum, warmshowers.org, an interactive map used by touring cyclists that helps people search for places to stay. He camped overnight wherever he would find a place to pitch his tent. For food he survived on gas station food and energy bars — easy food he could eat while riding, he said.
He said the entire trip cost him about $3,500 for food, bike repair supplies and camp fees. He kept in contact with his parents when he stopped to rest, and they could follow his trip on an app, “Track My Tour.”
After he arrived in Maine he celebrated his trek by eating some ice cream. He said arriving in Maine he felt a sigh of relief.
“People think a trip like this takes a ton of preparation,” he said. “It really doesn’t. I just jumped on a bike and took off and figured things out as I went along.”
In his last blog entry Peek said he came back from the trip a changed person.
“I know now more than ever who I am and who I want to be,” he said. “I’m confident people will see me as the same old Tyler, just with a bit more determination and confidence. … I hope I can contribute with my knowledge and eye for improving everything in order to help change the world.”
Find information on Peek’s journey online at: