Saturday, October 15, 2011

2822 Miles, 35 Days, $252. 51

Friends: For the record here are the official stats for my Telluride to Chicago ride:

Thirty-five days, 2822 miles through nine states (Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois) at a cost of $252.51 ($7.21 per day or 11.1 cents per mile).

The bulk of my diet consisted of seven gallons of chocolate milk, twenty-seven cans of baked beans, eleven loaves of bread, eleven burritos, sixteen bananas and sixty-two packs of ramen noodles.

I had two meals in restaurants--hotcakes for breakfast--and camped wild each night.

I picked up $2.87 in loose change and had one  flat tire.

I passed fifty-six anti-abortion signs (Jesus Once was A Fetus Too) and  fifty-eight stray bungee cords.

I read five books ("We Need To Talk About Kevin" by Lionel Shriver, "A Map of the World" by Jane Hamilton, "Napoleon" by Felix Markham, "The Elephanta Suite" by Paul Theroux, "The Matter of Wales" by Jan Morris) and searched out twenty-eight Carnegie libraries (one in Idaho, eight in Montana, four in North Dakota, nine in Minnesota, five in Wisconsin and one in Illinois).

Here are the day by day stats--where I camped, distance traveled, miles per hour and money spent (all on food other than one dollar on a book and two dollars to use the Internet):

Sept. 10 after Uravan, Colorado 72 miles 15.32 mph $3.86
(pint chocolate milk, can baked beans, can of spaghetti)

Sept. 11 after Fruita 97 miles 13.69 mph $8.19
(bread, baked beans, two cans spaghetti, yogurt, can of ravioli, Fanta, burrito)

Sept. 12 before Rangely 74 miles 12.08 mph $4.89
(two yogurts, half gallon apple juice, hot dog, soda, chips)

Sept. 13 after Vernal, Utah 63 miles 12.85 mph $15.27
(2 qts. choc. milk, peanut butter, honey, baked beans, ramen, burrito)

Sept. 14 after Manila 62 miles 10.24 mph $9.23
(burrito, bread, ramen, baked beans, grape soda)

Sept. 15 after Carter, Wyo. 63 miles 12.67 mph $7.43
(book, burrito, tortilla chips, 3 yogurts, baked beans, ravioli, 2 ramen, grape soda)

Sept. 16 after Cokeville 78 miles 12.11 mph $11.39
(3 lbs macaroni salad, qt. choc. milk, baked beans, 2 hot dogs, soda)

Sept. 17 after Alpine 87 miles 12.83 mph$7.57
(2 qts choc. milk, corn flakes, 2 cans baked beans, ramen, burrito)

Sept. 18 after Idaho Falls, Idaho 87 miles 12.57 mph $5.27
(bread, oatmeal cookies, 2 bananas, Dr. Pepper)

Sept. 19 after MacKay 81 miles 12.11 mph $4.54
(2 qts choc. milk, baked beans, 3 ramens)

Sept. 20 before Salmon 87 miles 13.43 mph $4.63
(potato salad, 3 ramens, baked beans, ginger ale)

Sept. 21 before Darby, Montana 79 miles 13.07 mph $8.08
(hot cakes, 3 ramens, baked beans, qt choc milk)

Sept. 22 before Lolo 61 miles 14.60 mph $16.72
(hotcakes, bread, honey, baked beans, burrito)

Sept. 23 after Bonner 30 miles 13.27 $5.76
(6 ramens, 2 boxes pop tarts, baked beans, 2 bananas)

Sept. 24 before Sims 105 miles 13.51 mph $2.75
(baked beans, spaghetti, Shasta cola)

Sept. 25 before Big Sandy 121 miles 15.58 mph $14.46
(peanut butter, 12 ramens, baked beans, cookies, burrito, 32 oz soda, 44 oz soda)

Sept. 26 after Harlem 91 miles 15.94 mph $6.08
(qt. choc. milk, bread, creamed corn, 2 baked beans)

Sept. 27 after Glasgow 111 miles 15.63 mph $5.44
(qt. choc. milk, banana, potato chips, Dr. Pepper)

Sept. 28 before Bainville 114 miles, 16.12 mph $5.66
(qt. choc. milk, baked beans, tamale, banana, Pepsi)

Sept. 29 before Stanley, N. D. 96 miles 13.56 mph $7.26
(2 qts. choc. milk, bread, pop tarts, cookies, 2 cans baked beans)

Sept. 30 after Minot 78 miles 11.19 mph $2.00
(Internet Minot library)

Oct. 1 before Devil's Lake 94 miles 14.28 mph $6.69
(qt. choc. milk, 4 ramens, baked beans, hot dog, juice)

Oct. 2 before Grand Forks 91 miles 12.83 mph $8.69
(qt. choc milk, baked beans, ramen, grape jam, burrito, Dr. Pepper)

Oct. 3 before Fertile, MN 56 miles 11.50 mph $6.65
(qt. choc. milk, bread, 2 bananas, corn puffs, juice)

Oct. 4 before Detroit Lakes 69 miles 10.56 mph $8.33
(qt. choc. milk, 12 ramens, Dr. pepper, cinnamon roll)

Oct. 5 before Motley 74 miles 12.26 $5.18
(bread, coconut cookies, 2 cherry pies, tortilla chips)

Oct. 6 before Richmond 71 miles 10.98 mph $3.46
(2 yogurts, baked beans, 2 bananas, sport drink)

Oct. 7 before Hutchinson 49 miles 8.18 mph $6.91
(qt. choc. milk, macaroni salad, ramen, creamed corn, peanut butter)

Oct. 8 before Mankato 70 miles 10.80 mph $12.19
(choc. milk, bread, honey, corn, 3 bananas, lemonade mix, burrito)

Oct. 9 before Hayfield 82 miles 12.07 mph $9.36
(2 qts. choc. milk, 2 lbs macaroni salad, 2 baked beans, 12 ramens, Dr. Pepper)

Oct. 10 after Rushford 83 miles 12.20 mph $7.11
(qt. choc. milk, bread, banana, cookies, cheese puffs)

Oct. 11 before Richland Center, Wis. 88 miles 12.7 mph $4.43
(qt. choc. milk, four muffins, burrito)

Oct. 12 before Belmont 70 miles 11.96 mph $9.65
(qt. choc. milk, salami, 2 lbs macaroni salad, 2 baked beans, 2 bananas, cookies)

Oct. 13 after Rockford, Ill. 108 miles 14.13 mph $3.03
(qt. choc. milk, burrito)

Oct. 14 Chicago 80 miles 14.82 mph $4.35
(qt. choc. milk, bread)

I gained a few extra calories, though not many, from occasional offerings from others and found food along the road and dumpster diving.


RossCannon said...

welcome home George. you show us all that traveling by bike across the road is doable.....for most of us.

Matt said...

Wow. Love this list. People could learn from this. You have it down to an art and a science.

Steven M. said...

choc milk, etc. Haha, awesome diet.

george christensen said...

several of the 20 comments posted at

as a touring cyclist myself, i have to say that his diet sucks. half the fun of touring is all the eating you do. all he's eating is baked beans and ramen. no thanks. pick up some fresh veggies, tasty cheese, something saucy to pour over them and something like tortillas to transport all this to your mouth and you are seriously eating a "gourmet" meal.
posted by rainperimeter at 11:26 AM on October 17 [1 favorite]

How the hell is he riding 100+ miles on less than $5 of food? His diet is literally a diet - most days he seems to get less than 1,000 calories. WTF?

Anyway, the rest of it is a fun if rambling travelogue.
posted by GuyZero at 11:33 AM on October 17

I read this guy's meal plan and really wished he had provided pre- and post-ride weigh-in numbers. I went on a long tour and probably shed 15 lb—and I wasn't overweight to start with.
posted by adamrice at 12:15 PM on October 17

His diet makes me dry wretch just to read it. Pop tarts, fanta and cheese puffs? *hurl*
posted by Joe Chip at 12:26 PM on October 17

George is my new hero. I'm hoping that my next big adventure is a cross-country bicycle trip. I'm not the cycling enthusiast that he is, but I can understand his philosophy of constantly challenging himself, seeing the world, and living through rich experiences.

I completed a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail last year, so I can relate a lot to the post and the man. One main thing to take away is how cheaply he recently biked. It breaks down to about 9¢ per mile. A good figure hiking the AT is about $2 per mile. I can't even imagine how cheap it is compared to staying home and living a normal life.

To me, the moral of the story is that it isn't how much you eat, how much you spend, but that you come out of it a fuller person.
posted by RobMaule at 9:38 PM on October 17 [1 favorite]

When all you need is more calories (assuming other nutrition is taken care of with the baseline diet), calories can be gotten very cheap. Pancakes made from scratch or fried potatoes or peanut butter (the cheap kind with all the sugar) will get you the extra calories dirt cheap.

Also, in terms of energy usage a bicycle is the second most efficient way to get from point a to point b (second only to a barge).

Regarding this guy's energy intake, the trip to Chicago from Colorado has a lot of downhill. I would not be surprised if he would have eaten 3x as much travelling in the opposite direction.
posted by idiopath at 2:51 AM on October 18

The thing to understand is that George has been cycling for so long and under so many different situtations and conditions that by now he knows exactly what his body needs including calorie intake, etc. A novice may not want to follow his diet to the letter but I would think that just about anyone would figure out what they needed if they were cycling thousands of miles.

But the key to the post - really - was to emphasize George's intrepid spirit. There are few travelers who head off to China or Turkey or South Africa without a rigid itinierary or lodging reservations. George dives in [or cycles in] and takes it as it comes day by day. And he does it at a relatively minimal cost. I think there is something admirable about that. So if he wants to eat pop tarts and cheese puffs every so often then more power to him.
posted by Rashomon at 10:27 AM on October 18

george christensen said...

comments at

Nice ride, Rain Man. :)

[–]Jonny0stars 2 points3 points4 points 2 days ago

I love this guy's metrics its exactly what I do on my tours, keep counters of pointless things eg. Number of sheep that replied to my general melchett.

$7 a day is pretty impressive but I would need more than that for food alone, then again I eat 2 chocolate bars a day just for snacks

[–]byronm 2 points3 points4 points 2 days ago

All those baked beans would have had me farting across america..

[–]bennasaurus 0 points1 point2 points 2 days ago

wouldn't need to pedal as much.

[–]Devoured 2 points3 points4 points 2 days ago

This is kinda stuff i joined this sub for.

[–]memorylane[S] 1 point2 points3 points 2 days ago

Found the link via metafilter.

[–]bisforbiology 0 points1 point2 points 2 days ago

this guy is a machine.

[–]bisforbryan 0 points1 point2 points 17 hours ago

How the hell does this guy ride all day with only eating, a can of baked beans and a few snacks?! That would be my breakfast and then I would be starving after 3 hours of riding.

[–]george6567 0 points1 point2 points 1 hour ago

I would generally begin my day with a quart of chocolate milk, that's a thousand calories, and a peanut butter and honey sandwich, and snack on oatmeal cookies until my next sandwich or burrito or whatever came along a few hours later. My diet was also supplemented by gifts of food here and there, as happens to every touring cyclist, and also some occasional dumpster diving. The dumpsters on this trip never contributed much more than a little fruit--peaches, blue berries, straw berries, tomatoes. I'm sure I was taking on four thousand or more calories a day. I've been traveling the world on my bicycle for nearly 35 years, ever since a coast-to-coast ride in 1977 and understand fully what it takes to fuel me. I don't bonk. I nibble all day and then for a couple of hours in my tent at night. Only once in 35 days did I wake up in the middle of the night with a hunger pang. I started the trip weighing 145 pounds and ended it at 140.

george christensen said...

From Zekeriya in Turkey: I read your last blog and I am not agree with those who calls you an idiot. I think you did a great think. Actually camping and eating like that is like the soul of cycling. I cannot imagine a cyclist who has been cycling all day and then goes to a 5-star hotel for dining and spend the night. However, my only concern might be that if I am getting enough protein to buld on my muscles. When we were cycling we usually prefer to eat tuna fish sandwiches that we make from canned fish.