A journey of 3,500 miles: Ilan Levine adventures across America


By Julia Brooks

gone. Someone stole my back wheel, so I’m like, ‘Ah I was about to start training too.’ Probably not, though. I trained a little bit on the stationary bike at the gym,” he continued.

An average day of biking was 70 miles. With his longest ride being 130 miles, Levine explained some of the obstacles he encountered on the bike.

“Along the way, there was always something that was hurting. It was either at the beginning of the trip learning how to deal with a touring bike, a road bike, because I had never rode a bike with handlebars that twist,” he said.

Levine explained that there were only a few days that were particularly difficult.

“There  were two really hard days for me  one was in the high 30s, raining the whole day with high winds, which is something you really appreciate while on the bike. You learn to really hate the winds going against you because it slows you down a lot. The other day was when we had finished our first century ride, so my butt was really sore. So I did about a 50 to 70 mile ride pretty much standing up on the bicycle, which is really painful,” Levine said.

Although Levine said that downtime was relatively rare, he explained some of the things that he and other riders did while off the bike.

“I guess the biggest downtime parts were either during the day when you were taking a break—which was usually eating or sleeping. And then if you go really fast, you get in early, and then if you settle down and shower and still have some time before dinner, then you can go out and explore the town,” he explained. “Out in the West it was fun to check out dive bars. We were in one where the roof was literally leaking because it was raining outside. It was hilarious.”

Levine reflected on meeting many friendly and interesting people along the way. “I met one guy who claims his name was ‘Smiley.’ I think this was in North Dakota maybe. And after talking to him for a few minutes and telling him what we were doing, he asked where we were going. So we said, ‘we’re going to Washington, D.C. to the White House.’ He gave us a really serious look for a few minutes and said, ‘That’s a real place?’ and we said, ‘Yeah, yeah!’”

Levine also said he had an experience with a group of Native Americans. “We met some drunk Native Americans who promised to pray for us on the next full moon. It was kind of freaky at the time.”

Along with experiencing new faces, Levine believes he got to experience many parts of the country in a truly unique way.

“It was really remarkable to get to, in general, see what America is like on the ground. A lot of people just focus on the big cities, which is certainly a big focus and it was a big focus on my trip; people don’t really focus on the in-between parts,” he said.

“One thing that I would say a big takeaway is, a lot of people fly across the country, and that is really remarkable in itself to be able to see, from a distance, the whole country and to be able to grasp it all in a few hours. And slightly less people drive across the country, and that is also really remarkable; you get to see a ground view of the whole country,” he explained.

“If you bike across the country, one thing I took away is that you really feel your surroundings—you really feel connected to where you are,” he explained.

“When you’re biking, you’re in the environment. You appreciate every hill and notice every rut in the road. You really notice all of the roadkill too. And you get to smell the fresh air all the time. That was really my reason for biking and not just driving,” he continued.

Levine concluded by saying that he wouldn’t be against completing the trip again, or maybe changing the starting and ending points. He even said he may try it unsupported.



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