Reed across America

Traveling the world is a dream that many wish to pursue at some point in their lives. By land, air or water, the means by which one can travel are nearly endless.
Jim Reed, husband of chemistry teacher Angie Reed, has dreamed of traveling through the United States for several years. However, Jim Reed will not be making his journey in traditional fashion.
Having a passion for cycling, Jim Reed began a two-month long journey on his bicycle this past February, attempting to travel across the Southern United States.
Angie Reed explained that when Jim Reed originally brought up the idea of going on such a trip, she was unsure if he was serious.
“He has wanted to do something like this for years. Cycling is a huge part of his life and it has been for quite a long time. We took a trip to Italy just so he could cycle in the mountains—that is just the crazy world we live in. Cycling is a huge passion for him,” Angie Reed said.
However, for Jim Reed, his dream was always moving one step closer to becoming a reality.
“I have been thinking about [going on this trip] for a long time and I do not really have a reason why I am doing this; [I] just want to go and try something different. I have been riding my bicycle for a lot of years for fitness [purposes] and I just want to go out and see America the slow way—meet the people and [see] the cultures of the southern United States, a place I have never really spent a lot of time in and eat some of the local food,” Jim Reed said.
After planning his trip for two years, Jim Reed decided that he would fly down to Jacksonville, FL where he would begin his two-month expedition in touring the Southern United States.
Jim Reed will travel anywhere from 40-80 miles daily while on his trip, depending on when he stops and whether or not there are headwinds to boost his speed.
“I have always had this fantasy of going across the country. I always thought, because I have a commercial driving license, that I would just take a load from here to New York, drop it off and pick up another one and then head on back but that is not going to happen,” Jim Reed said. “I like to bicycle, it is one of my hobbies and my passion and I figured ‘well, I have the fitness and I have the time to do it so I am going to try and ride across the country or as far as I can go.’”
Jim Reed will be travelling on the Southern Tier route, a nationally-recognized route provided by the Adventure Cycling Organization. Jim Reed explained that there are maps available for every route, along with mile markers, spots where you need to turn, what roads to go on, hotels, camp grounds and restaurants. His original plan was to stick to the route, except when he wants to deviate off the beaten path and discover places on his own.
While the trip will include numerous exciting opportunities, on any journey such as this one, there is the possibility of something going wrong. Angie Reed shares some of her uneasiness concerning her husband taking this trip.
“My biggest concern is probably the drivers… [or] him getting hit by a car. The shoulders are small in certain areas so when a cyclist is riding, they get buzzed by cars easily. He has had a couple close calls [during this trip] but he has had a couple of close calls here too. I just want him to be safe and to come home,” Angie Reed said.
Jim Reed has been preparing for his journey by riding his bike to work daily, emphasizing that most of his strength will be gained while on his trip.
“I ride my bike to work every day just about; it is 12 miles one way and I ride on the weekends. You really cannot train for something like this because you really cannot just go out and do 50 miles a day with 75 pounds of biking gear. The rule of thumb with bike touring is you basically ride yourself into shape. You kind of come with a little bit of a base so you do not just start out right off of the couch or you would never be able to do it. As the trip goes on you get stronger,” Jim Reed said. “I am prepared physically. I think the hard part will be being away from home for so long. It is not like I am 18 years old going into the military like I did but two months is a long time. That is about the only thing besides getting some kind of injury or just really bad headwinds which are really hard to ride through.”
Angie Reed and her husband keep in close contact by exchanging text messages each day and phone calls twice a week.
Reflecting on how her life has been impacted by her husband’s trip, Angie Reed explains how her family dynamics have been altered with his absence.
“I am like mom and dad right now in our household. Even though my son is 14, there are a lot of responsibilities. When you find a partner in life, you kind of divvy jobs,‘this is my job and this is your job so I will go grocery shopping and you can mow the lawn’ and things like that…so now I have to do both jobs,” Angie Reed said.
Despite her concerns, Angie Reed expresses how proud she is of her husband for being dedicated to bike riding.
“There are very few times in your life that you get to cross something off of your bucket list…So many times in our lives we [say], ‘when I retire I am going to do this’ or ‘when I turn 20 I will do this’,” Angie Reed said. “We just keep putting things off in our lives to the point where when you actually get to that point, you are too old to do any of them. I am really proud of him for taking the initiative and the drive to do what he wants to do.”
Acknowledging how previous hardships have inspired Jim Reed to pursue his goals, Angie Reed advises others to chase their dreams in order to make them a reality.
“My brother-in-law had a stroke [about a year] and a half ago when he was about 43 and I think that kind of helped Jim [realize] that he has to live life while he can. If anything, I hope we can push [students] to live life while you got it. Do not wait until you are out of high school to try and plan. Do not wait until you are out of college to try and plan. Live now. You will never see high school again and you will never see college again once you are out of it,” Angie Reed said.