Mike Wang is a personal friend and inspiration to all of us at Aloha Sunday. He recently finished a coast to coast biking trip across the continental U.S. and stopped into the shop to reminisce about his experiences and share some personal insights as well as a collection of film photos he took along the trip.
Words & Portraits by Evan Schell - Film Photography by Mike Wang.
As Mike’s friends were planning college graduation trips to places like Europe and Southeast Asia, he began preparing for a bike trip across the United States. Having only left the country to visit Mexico, Mike figured a journey across the U.S. would prove to be just as foreign as an international trip. In early July, Mike and his college friend, Michael Fraguglia, left San Francisco, California with the goal of making it to the East Coast by December. They chose to travel a spontaneous route, which led them to an array of new and exciting environments.
Each day consisted of riding an average distance of eighty miles and they never quite knew where they were going to end up. Some nights they would camp in state parks, other nights were spent in tents on strangers’ front yards, and often times they would find a nice hidden area to stealth camp. About a month into the trip while in Montana, Michael Fraguglia, decided he was going to spend some time with his family in a nearby town.
Michael’s departure from the trip forced Mike to reevaluate how he wanted to spend the rest of the trip. He began spending more time in the small towns he traveled through, which proved to have a lasting impression on his life. The generosity and kindness that he experienced throughout the country is one of the most remarkable aspects of his whole journey. While fixing a flat tire a stranger handed him a hundred dollars and insisted that he go spend the night in a hotel.
Traveling alone through the Midwest posed unforeseen challenges including accessibility to fundamental resources like food and water. One of Mike’s most trying experiences came to a head while biking in South Dakota. As his water supply began to run low his need for a water source became increasingly dire. This day ended up being one of his longest days of riding totaling just over one hundred miles. Mike recounts his search for water as being one of the most stressful parts of his entire journey. Luckily, after hours of scouring the horizon he spotted a farm pump in the distance on a nearby field.
Weeks later while traveling northbound Mike crossed over into Canada, came face to face with a full grown moose, encountered colder weather, and had to purchase some old fashioned maps in order to navigate the foreign roadways. A couple weeks later I met up with Mike in Brooklyn, New York where he ended up completing his ride. In total he spent two and a half months on the road, navigated through fourteen states and two countries, and through his experience he has been inspired to pursue opportunities outside of his comfort level.
Mike says that throughout his trip he was constantly interacting with strangers in foreign places, which forced him to look past his previous social anxieties. While reflecting on growing up in San Diego, Mike acknowledged the great deal of comfort that he has become accustomed to, but now he wants to move past it. Living in a unique state void of the comforts of home has helped him look into a new career opportunity in Alaska. This winter Mike will be collecting data and conducting research for Alaskan fisheries management. His work will be a part of a collaborative effort between Alaskan fishermen and scientists in order to create management decisions for local fisheries. His training begins next month and in January he will be living and working on fishing boats in the Bering Sea. As Mike prepares for his training in Seattle next month, we wish him the best of luck as he embarks on another inspiring chapter in life.
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