Two brothers, two bikes, two coasts
SALEM – On June 1 two brothers from Salem will dip the wheels of their bicycles in the Pacific Ocean and set off on a 3,784-mile trip across the country. In about 70 days, they plan to dip their wheels in the Chesapeake Bay off Yorktown, Va.
They laughingly call their trip “Two Brothers, Two Bikes, Two Coasts, Too Little Sense.” Laven and Riley Newsom got the idea of making a bike trip together across the United States from a newspaper article in the Salem Times-Register about young men from Salem who made a similar journey two years ago to raise money for the widowed sister of one.
Now that Laven, 21, has graduated from Wake Forest University and Riley, 19, has the summer off from Virginia Military Institute where he is a rising junior, they’re turning the dream into reality.
The Salem High School graduates are starting from San Francisco near the Golden Gate Bridge and ride the Western Express Route to the Transamerica Trail in Pueblo, Col., riding across Kansas and east.
Readers can follow their route and their adventure on the Newsoms’ blog Riley created, www.lnewsom.com. They’re also posting twitter updates on Bike America.
“The Adventure Cycling Association maps are awesome,” said Riley. Everything is mapped out for them, including routes, campgrounds, bike repair shops. They plan to average about 60 miles a day, except while crossing the Sierras and other mountains.
Unlike some cross-country bike riders, the brothers are riding alone, with no support van following them, and carrying all they will need for two months on their bikes. Riley spent months researching what they would need, from the 2011 Marin Toscana bikes of choice, the panniers (bike bags for their supplies, including bike repair tools), down to designing a T-shirt with a logo.
“Our parents are financing our trip,” said Riley, “and picked up our bikes while they were in California recently on a business trip. They are the sons of Sam and Damson Newsom of Salem and grandsons of Muffy and Wayne Herkness of West Virginia.
Wayne Herkness founded The Damon Company of Salem, which provides machine shop services and now, laser-engraved metal parts and tags. Sam Newsom is president and CEO of The Damon Company, and runs the Shrewd Archery division, which produces world-class archery equipment.
Outfitting their sons has been an experience in itself, their mom said.
“It’s expensive when you start buying two of everything,” she remarked.
The young men and keeping down expenses by camping most of the time “and every 10-12 nights, stopping at a motel so we can get a real shower,” explained Riley, who was at home last week in Salem with Laven’s dog, Bear, before his brother arrived.
Eagle Scout Riley is the athletic one of the two. He was on the SHS soccer team and ran indoor track.
Laven was on the SHS tennis team in 2008 that finished second in the state.
Riley earned a Boy Scout badge for long-distance trail riding, and is accustomed to it.
Laven isn’t, and friends are betting whether he will finish the trip.
Their mother knows he will. “If his little brother is ahead of him pedaling, Laven is going to do it,” she said.
She added that Laven is focused on Riley, who is fair-skinned, “not getting a sunburn, which could be a trip stopper.”
Overall, the brothers are looking forward to seeing the country, “stopping where you feel like stopping and seeing what you want to see,” Riley said.
And he added, “I like the feeling of having everything you need on the bike with you.”
In California, Riley and Laven are staying with their dad’s sister, “Aunt Chipps” in Mill Valley, and a friend of his, Bill Robbins in San Francisco.
Their parents aren’t overly concerned about their sons’ trip across the country. But there is one stipulation: “They have to call me every night,” their mother said.