Keys to Freeze
Few things bring me greater joy than following long distance bike tours on Instagram. The photos of loaded up bikes at sunrise, the sunburnt faces with smiles full of road grit, and constantly evolving landscape transport me far away from wherever I am. That is why I was so happy when friends put us in touch with Megan Healy. At PDF, we are so excited to share the story about her epic cross country trip from the Florida Keys to Alaska. Starting this February, she’ll be sharing her Keys to Freeze story right here.
February 25th marks the date that I, along with five friends, set out from Key West, Florida en route to Deadhorse, Alaska on a six month 9,000 mile ride from the southernmost to the northernmost points of the United States reachable by road.
I’ve come a long way since my dad taught me how to ride a bike. This is no easy feat as as I spent my first couple weeks in the driveway, biking directly into the basketball hoop upon each attempt. I don’t even remember truly getting the hang of it. The next thing I remember was the hand-me-down purple and mint colored bicycle that came from a cousin. I thought it was just about the coolest thing in the world! I don’t know if I ever got to ride it; it wasn’t too long before the mail truck ran clear over it leaving the wheels slightly less than true.
Bikes would play no part in my life until I was 21 and I started collecting cross-country rides. Over the next few years I’d bike across 40 of the 50 states. Now, at 26, I am looking at adding six more states to that tally, by attempting my most ambitious cross country ride yet.
Keys to Freeze was born in late 2013. I was catching up with an old friend, and I realized we’d both been wanderlust day dreaming about a similar adventure. It was as if Keys to Freeze just walked into my life! Now, with five friends by my side, we’ve worked up quite the script for this epic story.
We will take to the roads of North America, passing along the Gulf Coast, spending time in New Orleans before heading to Austin, then onto Albuquerque and Santa Fe, and heading into the beautiful tour of national parks from Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, to Zion, Death Valley, and Yosemite, then onwards to San Francisco, tracing the west coast up towards Seattle and beyond into British Columbia, the Yukon Territory, and then the sought after Alaska to reach the finish line.
In the spirit of my tumbleweed ways, I have managed to simplify my bike collection from six down to two bikes: a road bike and an everything-else-bike. For this trip, while I’d love to be on a dedicated touring bike with all the bells and whistles, I’ll be using my Surly Straggler aka the everything-else-bike. I’ll have a hybrid touring bike packing approach: rear rack and panniers, larger seat bag, frame bag for a 3L hydration bladder so a backpack won’t be necessary, a handlebar bag, and two anything cages on the front fork holding a couple dry bags. I’m a minimalist at heart, but know that packing for a trip like this involves a bit of extra gear and a touch of creativity.
Often we hear it can’t be done, but that won’t keep us from trying! For the next six months we will carry everything we need with us on our bikes. The side of the road will become our favorite coffee spot, our Sunday brunch will be prepared by camp stove, our sleeping bags will become our comfiest beds, and we will see and experience North America by bike.