PT Eric Morton just recently finished a 13,000 mile/20 month bicycle tour of the US. He has been interested in racing the 2,745 mile Great Divide route for some time. He figured what better time than the present, when his body is conditioned to long days in the saddle, to take a shot at the race. He is currently working at a bike shop in Moab, UT and using the local terrain to prepare for the Great Divide race this June. What does one do after seeing so much of the US under their own power?
EM It’s hard to say. Being on the road for that long kinda puts you in constant wanderlust mode. It’s hard to get back into “the real world” and the “9-5″. Luckily I get to work in an industry I love (bicycles & the outdoors). Being on a trip this long definitely makes you more humble, and a lot stronger (both physically and mentally). I do want to keep travelling; and have plans to continue to do so while working in my desired industry. Long term plans: I hope to eventually open my own hostel/bike shop.
PT What led you to long distance cycling? Did you begin with / are you into any other sports?
EM I’ve always been into cycling. (About 12 years now) Working in shops in Charleston, SC, I’ve gotten to meet and even host a few cycle tourers. I always wanted to do an east to west on the trans am route. But every year was something else in the way; bills, new job, etc. So when I finally got the opportunity; I took it. I originally thought I was going to be able to finish my tour in a year. But the more I toured; the more I wanted to see. And since all I needed to do was feed myself and buy supplies; I kept the tour going, knocking off more and more of my traveller’s bucket list. I would stop here and there to find another job, then keep going.
PT Did you have an idea of what might come next when you began Epic Tour?
EM Not really. Like I said; I thought this tour would be a year tops. But I’m super stoked at how much more “epic tour” became. I’ve learned SO much on this tour than I could have even imagined. And I’ve more than doubled my knowledge in the bike/outdoor industry by having the opportunity to work with and learn from companies all over the country.
PT Care to share an important moment from the tour? Personally transformative, reinforces faith that humanity isn’t doomed, really made you laugh, met someone who’s become an important part of your life etc.
EM Wow. More moments than I can even tell right now!
The everyday kindness of people I’ve never met definitely reinforces my faith in humanity.
So many moments that are laugh worthy too!
And most of all; there is a whole new group of people that are super important parts of my life now! Not to mention being able to reconnect with old friends/family across the country, who are now closer than ever.
PT How long have you typically stayed each time you stopped in a city to take a break and earn some cash?
EM On average, about a month or two. But the stops have varied from two weeks to three months. It always depended on how hard it was to find work, how much I needed to earn, and/or how much there was to see and do in the areas I’ve stopped.
PT Is stealth camping the way to go, or more of a means to make the whole thing work?
EM Stealth camping was harder in some areas more than others. I love camping and staying outdoors. But the east coast was much more limited. West of the Mississippi became a lot easier to stealth camp. Also; stealth camping becomes necessary when you start to add up the cost of paying for campgrounds and parks all the time. ($5-25 a night adds up real quick when you camp most of the time) warmshowers.org was a huge help too; such a large network of fellow cyclists across the country who are more than happy to accommodate another cyclist for a night or two.
PT Any idea what’s coming up after the Divide?
EM First off; coming back to Moab to regroup. Earn some more money, pay off the gear I had to accumulate for the Divide, continue to help my new job finish off the season, and start to plan the next adventure.
I’m already looking at new endurance events and tours to do soon
PT We won’t geek out too much about bike gear, and besides you’re still getting that dialed. We’ll just have to wait until after to ask what’s still in your bags! However, what’s the move for lighting on this trip?
If you can offer Eric some support as he begins his next journey, check out his gofundme page here: http://www.gofundme.com/rb142s