Brothers complete cross-country cycling trip
SALEM – They figured it would take 70 days to bicycle across the United States from San Francisco to Virginia. Brothers Laven and Riley Newsom of Salem made it in 60.
On July 27, they dipped the wheels of their bicycles in the Chesapeake Bay off Yorktown. They started out by dipping them in the San Francisco Bay near the Golden Gate Bridge.
The two called their trip, “Two Brothers, Two Bikes, Two Coasts, Too Little Sense.” By the time they got back, they had ridden a number of 100-mile days and were impressed with Americans.
“So much of the news is negative,” said Laven, 21. “A trip like this restores your faith in humanity. I can’t tell you how many people drove us next to us and cheered us on or offered us a place to stay. The whole thing was experiencing so many nice people.”
He admitted he was the less athletic of the two, as far as bicycling was concerned. After the first 10 days of going from sea level to 8,000 feet in the Rockies, he found himself enjoying not having any responsibilities other than to get up and ride.
“All you had to do was get on that thing and bike,” said Laven, who gave all the credit for how smooth trip the more-than-3,600-mile trip was to younger brother Riley, who turned 20 while on the trip, in St. Louis, Mo.
They only had one flat tire each, and Riley had a broken bike spoke a couple of days before they got to Yorktown.
“Everyone we talked to had horror stories of how many flat tires they had, bad sunburns, saddle blisters and other things. I don’t know if it was the bikes or our gear, and we had a lot of luck. Riley planned the trip by himself. He did a fantastic job organizing everything and picking out what we needed.”
They got back sooner than expected, in part, because they rode the last stretch with two new friends, Arthur Luchowski from Pennsylvania and Alex Leason from outside San Francisco.
The brothers met those two in Kentucky, and they were accustomed to riding more miles per day than the Newsoms. “They kind of pushed us,” Laven said in a July 31 interview with the Salem Times-Register. When interviewed, he was on a ferry in Maine for a few days of relaxing.
The brothers went to Virginia Beach for two days after finishing their ride. Riley is staying a few more days with a friend in Newport News.
Their parents, Sam and Damon Newsom, plan to meet them in Pennsylvania for a few days before Riley returns to classes at Virginia Military Institute where he is a rising junior.
Sam and Damon drove a motor home as a support vehicle when their sons started off. “Mom and Dad took the RV out there and we threw all our gear in it. They were with us for about 10 days. Without their moral support, I don’t know if I would have made it,” said Laven.
He admitted many of his friends were betting he wouldn’t finish the trip. “All my friends, they had odds – In California it was 16 to 1 – whether or not I would actually finish,” he said, laughing.
Kansas was their least favorite part of the trip. “It took six days, and they were the hottest. It was 115 degrees and it felt like your brains were boiling,” Laven said. “We were on the road every morning at 4:30 a.m. and spent a lot of time in public libraries, public pools.
Has he had enough bicycling for awhile? It doesn’t sound like it.
On his Maine trip, Laven said, “I brought my bike with me. It’s in my car.”