Then we come to the last measure of the venture: money.

I am a stingy bastard, and this looks to be an expensive trip by my humble standards. I expect I shall be able to afford it. That does not mean I shall not be looking for opportunities to cut costs everywhere I may.

GOOD NEWS: I already own a bunch of stuff.

BAD NEWS: Much of it might not be appropriate for the mission, once closest scrutiny is paid to everything needed.

GOOD NEWS: I have an excellent bike.

BAD NEWS: It is not a touring bike, and might well not be worth risking use.

GOOD NEWS: The only expenses I shall likely incur on the road are food and bikely incidentals – both of which I’d need to buy even if I spent the summer at home.

BAD NEWS: I’ll be burning 5-10 THOUSAND calories per day, thus rather increasing my food expenditures. Likewise I will probably need to eat out at least once per day, even to get an omelet at a diner, lest I die of GORP poisoning. If I suffer a major breakdown, or part failure, there might be a bit of an adventure in replacing the part. Which, if I break down in the middle of nowhere, could be more expensive than I care to think about.

GOOD NEWS: Tent + sleeping bag = no need for other lodging expenses!

BAD NEWS: If I get sick, or minorly injured, I might need to spend several days in a hotel somewhere – which is ungodly expensive, even in the back-end of nowhere. Or perhaps there won’t be a place to camp. Or the weather will be just too awful to desire it.

BAD NEWS: During the entire summer it’s unlikely I’ll earn a dime to offset costs.

GOOD NEWS: This would be true even if I were at home. (For certain very small values of “good”)

…as a result, I am going to need to prepare a series of projections, ranging from the best case to worst.

Here they are in the roughest outlines:


I am able to outfit my entire expedition for about $400 – tent, sleeping bag, rack, a few bags, and that’s about it.

I live on $15 per day – a Grand Slam Breakfast, apples and peanuts – and never require major maintenance or hotels.

I am on the road for 115 days.

115 * 15 = 1725

…+400 = $2125.

Thus the entire project – four months’ a-ride – will cost me about two grand. Which is assuredly not much less than I’d spend just on personal upkeep were I to remain at home for 16 weeks.


I determine that I need to buy a new bike. It is only available new, and thus I have to drop $1250 on a Trek 520 or Surly LHT.

Setting myself up with all equipment costs $500. BUT, as I lose weight, I am forced to purchase new clothing – possibly several times along the trip – doubling this figure.

Ten THOUSAND miles of biking requires the replacement of the casette, possibly twice. As well as several other trips to bike shops along the way. Call it a grand total.

It costs me $20 a day in food, and say one hotel room per week – call it $50 per week.

1250 + 500 + 500 + 1000 + (115 * 20) + (16 * 50) = 6350.

Even if a middle path of these two things is taken, that’s still four grand. A thousand dollars a month just to bike around. A hell of a lot of money, that would seem to have terribly little possibility of ROI.

On the other hand, if I got a non-paying summer job at the White House or on Wall Street, it’d cost me twice that amount just to take it.


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