Life after high school will begin with a 3,750-mile bicycle trip across America for Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School senior Isaiah Maynard. Inspired by his dad’s stories of two similar cross-country bicycle trips, one in 1984 and one including both his mother and father in the early 90s, Isaiah has planned his own. His father is Hudson Maynard of Vineyard Haven. His mother, Jessica Maynard, lives in Port Townsend, Washington. The younger Mr. Maynard has a twin sister, Willoe. They live in Vineyard Haven.
“The idea began, I think, with my dad telling me stories about when he did it,” he said. “So the idea has always been in the back of my mind. However, I really considered it when I decided I don’t want to go straight into college — or any time soon, for that matter. I wanted to do something cool and productive, something where I could grow as a person. This trip kind of answered all my needs — adventure, freedom, thinking time, a cool story, a physical challenge. It’s going to be amazing.”
Isaiah will set out after graduation from his mother’s home in Washington in June. He plans to take about two months, arriving on the Vineyard in August.
It will be a solo trip. ”I am choosing to go alone because it is a personal trip,” Isaiah said. “I plan to spend time enjoying nature and thinking about what I really want to do with my life.“
His plan to pay for the trip begins with saving the money he earns working as a lifeguard at the YMCA after school and on weekends. He is also selling tee-shirts with his website name, “Follow Me Across America,” emblazoned on the front to help finance the trip.
The trip will have a philanthropic purpose as well. “I believe you have to give something in order to receive something,” Isaiah said, so he will be accepting donations for the USANA True Health Foundation, a nonprofit supported by USANA, a health supplement manufacturer and retailer, whose mission, according to its website, is to provide the human necessities to those in need.
“I have an ambitious goal of raising $10,000,” he said. “Honestly, I’m still trying to wrap my head around how I’m going to do that. I am planning on getting people to pledge donations per mile I bike, or something similar.”
For the two months on the road his constant companion will be his bike. He will be pedaling his new steel frame Trek 520 touring bike, set up for the road with fenders, a back rack and panniers. “It is really sweet; I love it,” he said. “I even kept it in my room for a few days after I bought it.”
Isaiah expects to fill some of his time listening to audio books during his hours on the road. “I really like listening to audio books, and I should be able to go through as many as I can afford to buy.”
Isaiah said that his father’s experience has convinced him he can pack light for the journey. “I am not going to be making my own food and really ‘camping out,’” he said. “I will be staying in national parks, hostels, people’s houses, churches, you name it.” He also intends to use a website called warmshowers.org that bills itself as “a community for touring cyclists and hosts” that helps connect riders and people willing to give them a place to stay.
His bike has two stickers. One, a prompt, reads “Patience.” The other, a proclamation, is “Cycling. Living. Giving.” His bike bags, called panniers, carry the slogan “Everything we do helps you love life and live it.” They will hold a change or two of clothes, some comfy shoes, snacks, a sleeping bag/tent, and accessories — a camera, solar charger, bike tools, and a journal.
His route is about the most northerly route a cyclist can take and stay in the United States. He sets out toward Glacier National Park, 650 miles from his mother’s home, climbing over the Sierra Nevada, via Route 2. He will continue east across northern Montana, then through North Dakota, across Minnesota and northern Wisconsin and into upper Michigan, then south through lower Michigan, across northern Ohio and Pennsylvania, through New England, arriving on the Vineyard sometime in August.
Isaiah’s experience as a member of the high school track and cross-country teams will help him with the endurance he will need to cover the 80 to 100 miles a day he plans to ride, but he is not relying on that alone. “I am training for it, just by getting as much riding done as I can. In actuality though, nothing can really prepare me for being in the saddle for eight hours a day, biking up mountain passes. But all the riding I can do now will really help out.” He also rides a stationary bike either before or after school at the Y.
He has plotted his route on his website, followmeacrossamerica.org, where he intends to chart his progress. He already has several sponsors listed on the site, including Holmes Hole Builders, owned by his uncle, Gary Maynard of Chilmark. Tee-shirts can be purchased and donations may be made on the website as well.