Biking the TransAmerica Trail
“For my first bicycle trip, in 2016, I bought my bike about two months ahead and maybe biked 15 miles (24 km) prior to actually starting,” Marinella admits. “The training happened on the trip! One of my other life philosophies is to take all opportunities that come and try all things. You never know if you don’t try.”
The TransAmerica Trail is a popular route for people on bicycles, motorcycles or other off-road vehicles to travel cross-continent. It is almost 4,000 miles (6,500 km) of mostly unpaved roads with scenic farm roads, forests, and even desert. It is more popular to travel from West to East, but Marinella and her father travelled from East to West.
“I liked the idea of traveling East to West because that was how the country was founded,” Marinella says. “I knew I wanted to travel after graduating but I didn’t have a plan yet, so I thought, why not join my dad on this trip?”
Growing up, Marinella and her father did many road trips around the United States. Her dad was in his early 50s when he decided to try something different from traveling by car. After considering getting a motorcycle, he ended up taking up biking.
“My dad was in his early 50s,” Marinella explains. “I think it was part of a midlife crisis in the sense that he knew he was getting older and just wanted to prove to himself that he was still young. My dad has inspired me to do most if not all of my traveling. He introduced me to hostel life, backpacking, and camping. What keeps inspiring me is to collect as many memories as possible while I still can.”
Biking from Alaska to Washington State
Back in 2007, Marinella and her father went on a road trip to Alaska, and they fell in love with the state. In 2018 her father embarked on a long bike ride from Alaska to the South of Argentina and asked her to join. Living her philosophy, she agreed to do part of the route.
“On both trips, the first week was full of crying and asking myself why I would do this to myself,” Marinella says. “But, as time went on and my muscles got used to it, it got easier and easier. We started both trips with shorter mileage in the beginning. After six consecutive ways of biking, the 7th day is always a rest day.”
The Alaska trip was not without its difficult moments for her and her father. They started their trip at the most northern point of the state that is reachable by road. While there aren’t too many plants or wildlife in the Deadhorse/Prudhoe Bay area, it is full of mosquitos.
“These mosquitos seemed like they were on steroids,” Marinella says. “I would wear bug repellent and several layers of clothing and they still managed to pierce through everything. On top of this, we couldn’t out-bike them! They kept up with us in a cloud behind us just waiting for us to stop. I never knew mosquitos could fly that fast.”
Later on the trip, in the Yukon Territory, the father-daughter adventurers experienced a scary run-in with a bear. They were playing cards in their tent in a campground when they heard other campers shouting, running around, and slamming car doors.
“We freaked,” Marinella recalls. “It was a bear, and since we only had our tent, we barely had protection. Luckily, the bear just wanted to poop in the middle of the campground and then leave. He was too used to people to be bothered.”
Future Plans and Bucket List Adventures
“For my next long-distance trip, I plan to join my father for the end of his biking trip,” Marinella says. “I started with him in Alaska and would like to join him in Chile to bike through Argentina and finish together.”
She also has plans to bike around Europe and has several appealing trails to consider. In particular, she is interested in biking along the Danube through Serbia. She’s used to international travel after living abroad and traveling to help her learn languages as well as work abroad.
“I own a marketing agency, which allows me the freedom to work when and where I want,” Marinella says. “I am a few years away from 30, which freaks me out in the sense that I still believe I am 23. However, I am looking to make my 30s as exciting as my 20s!”
While she loves long-distance cycling, Marinella also enjoys skiing and scuba diving. She traveled to the Philippines to experience unique dives among shipwrecks and sharks. She hopes to scuba dive in more exciting locations around the world such as the Great Barrier Reef.
“Although this isn’t a travel adventure, I also enjoy pole dancing,” Marinella says. “Part of my bucket list is to try pole dancing classes in different countries.”
Tips for Safe Travels
“I had a bad fall in Alaska. I was riding fast on a rocky road and fell after hitting a rock and was lucky to only get a bruise on my hip and a few scratches on my hand. It hurt to walk for a few days but I got back on the bike the very next day.”
Getting insurance for travel is always a great idea. However, regular insurance often doesn’t cover certain sports and more adrenaline-packed activities. Marinella used regular travel insurance during her two years of living abroad. For a month or two of more risk-taking travel, she got special insurance for adventure sports travel.
Marinella stays safe on her travels simply by not putting herself in dangerous positions. She avoids walking down dark alleys, keeps her purse in front of her and takes other logical precautions. On more adventurous trips she makes sure to tell someone where she is going or has a buddy so that they can keep an eye on each other.
“I don’t bike on unsafe roads or go too fast, I don’t scuba dive without a buddy and I ski within my own personal speed limit,” she says. “I always wear a helmet when skiing and biking.”
Bad experiences don’t scare Marinella, who believes that all experiences are positive because they are new lessons. She doesn’t have regrets as long as she can take something away from a negative experience.
“There are always choices, and each choice stems into more choices. We have to pick a path and go with it. There is no wrong answer, just a different set of options. Go outside of your comfort zone, but stay within your own personal limits.”
She is an advocate for trying new activities as long as you feel safe doing so. She recommends slowing down or considering other options to make trying new things feel more comfortable. Research is also important in order to have relevant information and to stay safe. Get ready to experience some things that you didn’t plan for.
“Going outside of your comfort zones means that you are trying new things, not that you should get anxiety attacks. Be flexible, keep an open mind and remain calm.”
Read more on adventure tourism from the author.
Photos: Marinella Yule