By Nicole Brodzik
The first time a bicyclist decides to take off on a 100-mile trek usually comes after planning and plenty of training. For Minnetrista’s Sydney Morical, it came after Kindergarten.
Sydney Morical and her father, Keith Morical, have been biking together since she was just starting grade school. Now an adult, Sydney Morical joins her father once again on a 4,200-mile trip across the country.
“Sydney did her first 100-mile trip behind me in our tandem,” Keith Morical said. “She was five.”
“I just remember getting lots of snacks,” Sydney Morical said.
This time around, they’re eating five meals a day on their eight-week journey between Seattle and Boston and going just under 100 miles each day on average. They spend most nights at campsites in small towns across the U.S., where showers and laundry facilities are rare.
“We’ve bathed in a lot of very cold rivers,” Sydney Morical said. “You don’t get as clean as you want to when you’re just focused on getting out of the water as fast as possible. You’re really pushing your boundaries in a lot of ways.”
“There’s physical discomfort too,” Keith Morical added. “There are times that you have to decide if you have to give your body a rest or keep going. Like in the Cascades, or worse, when we had strong headwinds in North Dakota.”
Keith Morical said the trip is as much about exercise and pushing themselves as it is about family bonding.
“We really wanted to do this as a family unit,” Keith Morical said. “We’ve been able to stop along the way and see most of my family members.”
When they first started in Seattle, Keith Morical’s sister Wendy came along for some of the ride and helped provide food, rest stops and companionship. Sydney’s partner, Jared Smith, also decided to come along for the ride, and he plans to go the whole way.
“I told him about the trip and told him he was welcome to come with us,” Sydney Morical said. “He’s not a heavy biker, but he jumped right in and has been with us the whole time.”
Keith Morical said he sees that as being the beauty of biking. Anyone can do it, and with whatever equipment they have available.
“There’s 87 years between our three bikes and we’re doing just fine,” he said. “You don’t need fancy equipment or years of experience. It’s one of the few things were you can train as you’re doing it.”
The trio made it through Minnesota just about a week ago and said that while the whole trip has offered great views and trails, the best, by far, have come in their home state.
“There are just way more bike paths and better roads,” Sydney Morical said. “From my biased perspective, Minnesota has been the best state by far to bike in.”
While they’ll be happy to come back to their favorite trails in a few short weeks, for now, Keith, Sydney and Jared say they’re enjoying a chance to experience the country in a completely different way.
“When you’re on a bike, you experience the world in a much more intimate way,” Sydney Morical said. “Usually you get in the car, jump on the highway, get out. We’ve ridden through so many towns that the highways have cut off. You just interact with people on a much more personal level.”
Keith Morical said he believes that comes with small town living, as the biggest city they saw between Spokane, Washington and Minneapolis was Fargo, North Dakota.
“By the time we got to Minneapolis, big cities seemed so unnatural in comparison to the many days when the biggest main street we saw had eight buildings on it,” he said. “Most of America, in terms of acreage, is small town America. It’s so different from where we live but you really learn to appreciate it on the ride.”
After this trip, Sydney says her future plans don’t involve any more major trips for a while, but her dad isn’t quite on the same page.
“I keep threatening to hit the East Coast and just turn around,” Keith Morical said. “I just love being out here. No matter how old or inexperienced you think you are, this is something everyone should try.”