By David Fleet
On Tuesday afternoon, Lynn Wummel was in Cambridge, Id.—59 days and 2,597 miles east of Yorktown, Va.
Just 500 miles to go.
Wummel along with a CMU college classmate are biking the Trans American Trail spanning more than 4,000 miles over nine states.
“We made a few wrong turns,” laughed Wummel, who contacted The Citizen on Tuesday evening. “This was my first extended biking trip and I had little training but you get used to it real fast.”
Wummel, 19, is a 2016 Brandon High School graduate and is raising money for each mile with a goal of $4,288, for the Sierra Club. The organization works to provide cleaner, cheaper energy, protect the environment, and save animals being threatened with extinction.
Wummel’s biking trek started on the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia on May 13, and concludes in the coastal town of Astoria, Or. sometime later this month.
“Most riders on the trail go from west to east—we’ve crossed paths,” she said. “We did it the other way—east to west and the winds did become a factor.”
The designated roads on the Trans American Trail, route bikers on less traveled thoroughfares—often through the countryside on two-lanes, said Wummel.
“Most cars are pretty respectful of us,” she said.
“There are a few that really don’t give you much room on the road. But I stay on the white line on the road no matter what—honestly the trucks are the worst, they sometimes come really close.”
At the beginning they would travel about 70 miles in one day, said Wummel, who purchased a used 1990 era Trek 520 bike that carried her 30 pounds of gear including a tent, sleeping bag along with some food.
“In Kansas its so very flat, we could go 80-60 miles—we even ‘kicked-it’ to 100 miles per day,” she said. “The wind is a major factor we never considered. As soon as we hit Wyoming it was just the worst. It made us go so slow—it’s a challenge sometimes just to move. It’s really mental more than physical. We started on climbing the Rocky Mountains near of the City of Pueblo. They’re absolutely beautiful. But actually, biking through the Appalachian Mountains in the east is a lot tougher then out west where the roads and passes are a lot more gradual.”
The bikers stayed anywhere they could find—including woods, campgrounds and parks all pretty easy to find along the road.
“A lot of churches let you stay for free,” she said. “Many will feed you too. There are signs on the church doors that read, “Bikers welcome.” Just call the pastor and they come over and open their church for you. We meet so many interesting people who you’d never get to meet unless you’re out there biking across the county. It’s cool to cross path with just random people and make connections. I’ve seen first hand the kindness of humanity—I focus on what is in front of me. The pristine regions of the United States are just amazing.”
Not every place along the road were kind to the bikers, said Wummel.
“It was raining really hard one night in Colorado,” she said. “It was about 11 p.m. and we were sleeping under a pavilion in a park to get out of the rain. Someone came in and told us to get out or they’d call the cops.”
Wummel is no stranger to outdoor adventures. Last year at just 18-years-old Wummel took on 14 states and the 2,189 mile Appalachian Trail the longest marked trail in United. She completed the hike in August then headed to Central Michigan University where she is studying Spanish and environmental studies.
After months on the Appalachian Trial, Wummel says she feels more comfortable in the woods then in the more populated areas.
“On the bikes we are in civilization all the time and I can get ice cream every day here,” she laughed. “Three and four times a day we pass though or stop in a small town. That’s where we get our water and many times that’s where we sleep each night. We really are not away from it all, rather in the midst of it all. On the (Appalachian) Trail it could be days before you saw anyone. I find it fun being homeless in the world—I’m a vagabond. I love having everything I own on my bike. It’s faster than hiking too. It’s nothing to cover 70 miles on a bike. Hiking, maybe 10 to 15 miles in a day. It’s way more luxurious on a bike and if it rains I stop at a gas station until it’s over. But, if you’re in the woods you have nothing. Biking provides options that just aren’t on the trail.”
Wummel is still looking for a way back to Virginia after they arrive in Oregon.
“If anyone can help us out with a ride back to get our car in Yorktown, Va. let me know,” she said.
For anyone looking to follow her journey, she will be updating a bi-weekly blog at wanderheart.life. Donations can be made at www.teamsierra.org/my-campaign/lynnewummel.