Biking to United States Capitols

In 1984 my father started a quest, albeit unconventional. He was 47 and his mission was to go to the capitols of the decrease 48 states on foot, beginning in Illinois, the place we lived, following a counter-clockwise roadmap of his personal making. By age 72, he’d trekked to 23 capitals strolling roughly 4,085 miles.

Sadly, at 87, my father won’t end his quest. Subsequently, I’m assuming my father’s mantle to finish the final 26 capitol routes –– with a small tweak. I’m going ahead by bike.

I used to be 14 when my father began his uncommon pursuit, which made me an embarrassed and pissed off teenager. No teenager needs ‘bizarre dad and mom’. And this was only one other thing in a protracted line of traits that made my dad and mom ‘bizarre’ in my teenage eyes!

I had no concept what motivated my head-down midwestern engineer father to embark on such an unorthodox journey. I couldn’t clarify it to my mates, and I knew we couldn’t presumably share something in frequent; I simply needed to slot in, he needed to at all times be doing one thing completely different.

However I’m beginning to imagine I used to be fallacious all alongside. Sarcastically, I grew up and undertook my very own uncommon nomadic quest, quitting my IT analyst job at 36 years outdated to journey to over 75 nations and stay location-independent for 11 years. The older I grew to become, the extra I needed to blaze my very own path, skip the traditional elements of life, and be completely different. Abruptly I used to be my dad.

By persevering with my father’s quest to go to all the capitols in an unconventional approach, I hope to look at my evolving relationship with my dad and mom extra.

Biking to the US state capitols

Capitol to Capitol Route and ‘The Guidelines’

Capitol to Capitol map and route

Each massive quest wants some guidelines. When my dad began this – he had sure ‘guidelines’ that he adopted. Many of those guidelines have been created out of necessity. My dad labored full time and needed to work on this quest little by little throughout his time without work and weekends.

  • You needed to stroll into and out of a capitol
  • You didn’t need to do it suddenly. He might stroll 3 days on a route after which not get again to do extra on that route till 3 years later when he might stroll one other 4 days.
  • You didn’t need to do them so as or wait to complete one to start out one other. He had a number of routes in progress without delay. The truth is, when he stopped strolling, he had 7 routes that have been in progress.
  • You by no means took a trip. Boots on the bottom your complete approach.

YouTube Capitol to Capitol Docu-Collection

Once I began the hunt, I knew I needed to cowl it otherwise than my regular running a blog. I requested one in every of my greatest mates and previous enterprise companions, Michaela Potter, to assist me with protecting this documentary fashion. It could be an opportunity for me to document what my dad and mom completed all these years in the past in order that it wouldn’t be forgotten after they have been gone.

So we headed to South Dakota, dug maps out of the attic, and began to doc this loopy quest.

Produced By Michaela Potter at Wanderlust Productions
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Why Stroll Capitol to Capitol

The burning query on everybody’s thoughts is why…why did your dad do that? That’s a terrific query – but I don’t have a stable reply.

Once I ask my dad this query immediately, I don’t get the reply I’m on the lookout for – some massive revelation, emotional, touching, relatable ‘why’. As an alternative – I get precisely what I ought to know I’ll get from my dad – pragmatism.

He says he merely appreciated massive tasks, and why cease at one capitol – why not stroll to all of them and make it an enormous undertaking? No, there was no occasion that sprouted this concept; no massive life change, no mid-life disaster – he simply wakened at some point and determined he would stroll from Springfield Illinois to Madison Wisconsin.

This has led me to imagine that my dad was Forest Gump earlier than we had Forest Gump.

My dad was a variety of issues…however he was by no means emotional, sentimental, and even talkative actually. He was and nonetheless is a tough employee. My dad and mom have a German Lutheran background which mainly equates to a household tradition of emotional blindness. We aren’t over-expressive, we are likely to hold our ideas/emotions inside and to ourselves, we don’t confront, we don’t analyze our existence, and attempt to create which means out of it…we simply are.

Subsequently, it didn’t actually shock me that my dad didn’t have some significant reply to why he determined to stroll from capitol to capitol.

Why Cycle Capitol to Capitol

I can’t reply the why for my father, however I can reply it for me. I’m re-starting this quest at 52 years outdated – not too far off from the age my dad was when he began strolling. I’ve thought so much about why I’m doing this – as a result of I do study my ideas and emotions always – most likely an excessive amount of! However the important thing right here is that each one of those ‘whys’ are integral to who I’m – it’s the stuff that drives me; it’s the substances to what makes me Sherry Ott.

cycling to the US capitols


I stay for having function in life. From 2016 ahead, I had been shedding my function little by little. By then I had been touring and running a blog about it for 10 years, and fairly frankly – it was getting predictable. The world of running a blog and social media was morphing into one thing that I used to be pissed off by, and I felt like I used to be floundering to seek out my place in it. I didn’t really feel like I had something that was driving me to rise up daily. I used to be devoid of function and flirting with melancholy.

As soon as I made a decision to take over the Capitol undertaking, instantly I had function once more. Very similar to my dad, all I wanted was an enormous undertaking to latch onto. However not like my dad – a part of my pleasure of function is that I get to share it with folks and hopefully encourage folks.

This undertaking is so massive that it may be overwhelming at occasions, but it surely additionally offers me a purpose to rise up each morning, be inventive, push myself, and have a singular function once more.

End What Was Began

Mother and father form and mildew you – whether or not you prefer it or not. My father influenced me to be a tough employee, be productive, be a Cornhusker fan, and my mom influenced me to be caring, like to cook dinner, and have a inventive creativeness. Each of them additionally instilled in me to complete what we began.

Once I was in highschool, I needed to stop the basketball crew. However there was no approach that my father would enable me to stop in the course of the season – irrespective of how sad I used to be. I completed out the season and didn’t check out once more the subsequent yr. For my dad, that was an instance of methods to be a very good human being.

cycling route 66

I used to be at all times a bit unhappy that my father by no means completed his distinctive quest. It appeared to go in opposition to his DNA. The ‘by no means stop’ trait that my father instilled in me performed an enormous function in why I made a decision to resurrect this quest.

It Scares Me

I’ve a magnet on my fridge that claims “Do one factor that scares you daily.” These are phrases I stay by. I hate being fearful. And I discover that the one solution to recover from worry is to tackle the factor that scares you. Generally you soar into them, and typically it’s child steps…however it’s essential to confront it.

Concern may be motivating. For this reason I left my job in 2006 and traveled around the globe on my own. It’s why I moved to Vietnam for a yr in order that I might discover ways to trip a bike within the scariest site visitors I had seen on the planet. I additionally did the Mongol Rally as a result of I used to be scared to drive in overseas nations.

The idea of biking throughout America on busy highways, and backroads, and relying solely on my growing older leg energy scares me. As well as, to tug this off, I have to persuade folks to assist me – and asking for assistance is one thing I’m not notably good at. However I do know there is just one solution to recover from it and construct my confidence as a bicycle owner – I simply need to confront my worry and do it.

It’s Distinctive

I hated my dad’s undertaking as a teen – I believed it was a humiliation to me personally! As a twenty-something – I simply kind of ignored it and chalked it as much as one other bizarre factor my dad did to be completely different and troublesome. In my 30s, I feel I began to develop some admiration for it as I began nearing center age and began my lifetime of journey and discovery. In my 40’s I grew to become impressed with it.

There are few concepts on this world which can be actually distinctive – and in some way my dad began this distinctive quest again within the 80s that nobody has ever accomplished by all of those years.

That’s simply downright superb to me – to have provide you with an concept that nobody else has accomplished and it has stood the check of time. I’ve accomplished analysis and haven’t discovered any details about anybody else making an attempt to stroll from Capitol to Capitol within the US.

Nevertheless – sadly I’ve discovered that there’s at the least one one that has cycled from capitol to capitol – and that almost wrecked me and stopped this undertaking immediately for me. Sure – I’m simply that loopy about eager to be distinctive. However as I thought of it, I nonetheless needed to complete what my dad began, even when somebody had accomplished it by bicycle earlier than. In any case – this joint quest was nonetheless completely different and had a variety of which means to me.

Journey and See the US

I’ve been touring everywhere in the world as a profession since 2006 – I like touring and visiting new locations and distant cultures. Journey is in my blood. Nevertheless, that doesn’t imply that I don’t get burned out on journey. When the pandemic hit, it pressured me to take a seat nonetheless which I desperately wanted. As I survived these 2 years of little journey, I spotted that I spent 14 years touring internationally, however little or no time touring domestically.

I had an enormous curiosity in seeing extra of the US, at a gradual tempo. The Capitol to Capitol quest was the proper approach to do this. It could primarily take me by the agricultural elements of the US the place I might take in that lesser-seen American tradition. I’ve a love of touring to lesser-known locations, and this undertaking would take me by the center of America and people less-seen areas.

Promote the Capitol Cities

The capital of Illinois is Springfield, not Chicago. The capital of California is Sacramento, not LA. The capital of Florida is Tallahassee, not Miami. Typically occasions the state capital cities are obscure, smaller cities. And nothing makes me happier than touring to and selling journey to locations that individuals typically overlook.

I knew that as a journey blogger, I needed to advertise extra of the 2nd and third tier cities in America and this undertaking would just do that.

Biking is New to Me

I’ve a robust dependancy to ‘new’. It’s the rationale I fell in love with journey, why I stayed nomadic for therefore a few years, and why I moved across the US in my earlier company profession – I like experiencing new issues and locations.

Biking is totally new to me. I began biking throughout the Pandemic as a solution to get out and discover my metropolis. However quickly my love for studying about biking paths, gear, etiquette, cyclists, and instruments, was all swimming in my thoughts – and I liked it. It has been a terrific journey for me to find out about this new sport and on every capitol route there’s something extra I study!

new to cycling

Mix all of these items – and it’s the proper recipe for an enormous epic journey for me. One which motivates, excites, and challenges me. That is the stuff that makes me pleased.

Examine my different Huge Initiatives and Epic Quests I’ve accomplished
Mongol Rally – Driving London to Mongolia in an inappropriate automotive
Niece Mission – Taking every of my 6 nieces touring with me
Rickshaw Run – Driving an Indian rickshaw throughout India 2000 miles

Biking Capitol to Capitol

The hunt has began! And I’ve already skilled each kind of emotion I can about it. I’m scared, pleased, fearful, assured, pissed off…you identify it. However with this I really feel alive and purposeful once more.

I’ve already discovered a lot about bike journey, route planning, and biking in site visitors. And one of the best half is that each time I end a route – there’s part of me that’s unhappy that it’s accomplished. Who is aware of how I’ll really feel after doing 26 of them?

Logistics Queen and Help Automobile

I enlist the assistance of a assist individual for every route. My ‘Logistics Queen’ drives my automotive and is there when/if I want assist, meals, water, assist, cheerleading, and so on. I’ve traveled everywhere in the world solo, and I stay my life fairly solo (single, no youngsters). That’s nice, but it surely’s additionally a problem and I get bored with doing all the things alone. Having a Logistics Queen offers me a accomplice – one thing I hardly ever have. I discover a particular pleasure in experiencing these routes with one other individual – it actually is a crew effort.

I want them for bodily and emotional assist in addition to comradery – and for that, I’m so grateful for the Queens.

This Capitol to Capitol quest will not be solely a approach for me to honor what my father and mom got down to do again earlier than know-how dominated our lives, however to know them and, in doing so, study extra about how we relate to our household by our lifetime. That is an journey about what drives us, our household connections, rural cultures, and the lesser-seen United States – how we’re all completely different, but perhaps extra alike than we predict.

I hope you’ll be part of and assist me on this quest.

Generally Requested Questions Concerning the Capitol to Capitol Quest:

Why Capitol Buildings?

My father selected to go from Capitol Constructing to Capitol Constructing as a result of it was a particular place inside a metropolis that presumably wasn’t going anyplace over time.

How will you full Alaska and Hawaii?

My father at all times deliberate to do the decrease 48 states plus DC – he by no means deliberate to do these two hard-to-reach capitols. At present, I’m following his plan.

What number of miles do you might have left to complete the hunt?

I should bike about 8000 to 9000 miles to complete his quest!

Has anybody ever accomplished this earlier than?

Nobody has ever walked from capitol to capitol earlier than, nevertheless, there was somebody who biked from capitol to capitol. However in fact, this undertaking is exclusive to my household.

biking capitol to capitol

How lengthy will it take you to complete biking to the capitols?

I don’t know! At present, since I nonetheless have to work and make cash – I plan to do about 4 routes a yr. At that fee, it’ll take about 7 years.

How do you establish your Capitol routes?

That is likely one of the hardest elements of this quest – determining my biking route between capitols. In contrast to my father who might stroll off-road pretty simply – I can not – so I’ve to stay to cycle-friendly roads. I at the moment use a mixture of Komoot – an app that helps me plan multi-day routes to start out route planning. Then I take that and use Google Avenue View to see the standing of the roads. It’s a really lengthy and tedious (and worrying) course of thus far!

Will you write a ebook about this?

I hope so…however I can’t decide to it but. Proper now my focus is to get the Docu-series going and hopefully get it funded to assist with bills.

What bike are you using?

At present, I trip a Ladies’s Trek Checkpoint ALR5. It’s a gravel bike that permits me to have some decisions in my routes which is vital on a quest like this. I like my bike!!

trek checkpoint ALR5

How Can I Assist?

Thanks for asking! You possibly can assist in any variety of methods…and I admire any one in every of them you are able to do!

  • Be a Logistics Queen for me. Electronic mail me for more information on how and what it entails. I hold a operating checklist of people that wish to be future Queens.
  • Subscribe to my YouTube Docu-series. Subscribers assist me monetize my channel.
  • Observe my stay adventures on Instagram every time I try a Capitol route and cheer me on…I want a cheering part!!
  • Present locations to remain alongside my route. These journeys may be costly and I’m at the moment funding all the things myself – so any assist in lowering my bills is appreciated.
  • Assist with publicity – Know any writers, editors, podcasters, information exhibits, or magazines that will be inquisitive about protecting this story? Please inform them about it – and cross on their data to me to observe up.
  • Trip with me! Are you a bicycle owner? Need to trip with me for a day – or a whole route? Electronic mail me for more information on becoming a member of me!
  • Inform your adventure-loving, bike-loving mates about this. Viewers is king in my world of attempting to safe sponsorships, and so on.
  • Are you aware a model or firm that wish to sponsor a route, a video episode, and so on? Please let me know and I’ll be pleased to observe up!

Capitol to Capitol Quest Protection

Capital Journal Newspaper Pierre South Dakota: Continuing the Joitalurney – Daughter Picks Up Father’s Journey to Pierre and Beyond

Murphology Podcast: Sherry’s Biking Capitol Building to Capitol Building

Foxnomad Podcast: Biking Across America with Adventurer Sherry Ott

KFYR Bismarck ND: State Capitol Honor Ride Years in the Making

KXNET Bismarck ND: Travel Blogger Takes a Unique Journey to North Dakota