Q & A

Has your bike broken very often?

Nope! Not once! The Surly LHT has been incredibly good to me. My racks on the other hand broke in the middle of nowhere which could have been a disaster! Ive since switched to Tubus racks and they are really great.

How many times have you cried on the side of the road?

More than a few haha! Most of those were in the Mongolian steppe when my racks kept snapping and everything seemed to be going wrong.

How did you choose routes?

I don’t really plan much ahead of time. I’ll take a look at the map the night before and draw out a route on MapOut or ask other cyclists which way they liked.

How old are you?

Turning 26 on December 16

How awesome have your travels been on a scale of 1-10?


Whats the weight of your bike fully loaded?

With food and water it can be up to 40kg

Whats the most unnecessary thing you carry?

My ukulele, but I’m so happy I have it.

Whats your budget for this trip?

I started with around $3,500. At about 8 months in I have around $60 left of it haha.

When do you think you’ll reach Spain?

Summer 2019 is the most specific I can get right now.

Whats your favorite meal thats easy to cook while traveling?

Pasta with lentils and tomato sauce

What is the Happy Kids Center and why are you fundraising for it?

Learn more about HKC here!

What the one food you miss the most?


Whats your plans for the winter season in Georgia?

I’m renting an apartment on AirBnb. I plan on teaching English and getting back into rock climbing.

Whats first shower or food when you reach a town?


Will you ever live a normal life?

Mmmm. Not sure!

Any ideas for the next big trip after reaching the Atlantic?

I have a few ideas stirring. The pack raft+bike packing combo is really intriguing, as is traveling by van, horse or something of the same spirit.

Do you cowboy camp or do you use your tent?

Usually in my tent but I think I’ll try sleeping out under the stars when its becomes warm again.

Favorite piece of gear?

Either my kindle or my sleeping bag.. Tough call.

Did you skip parts of the way or did you really cycle every meter?

Definitely got rides. Sometimes for visa reasons or broken gear or just because its too hard to pass up the offer.

How many hours would you cycle on an average day?

5-6 hours on the saddle. A lot of cycle touring is just packing and unpacking our damn tents and stuff!

Are you scared sometimes to get your bags or bike stolen? Is there a risk?

I lock the bike up every night but its not out of real concern, just good habit.

From Georgia are you riding through Turkey or taking the ferry across the Black Sea?

Not sure yet! We’ll see how I feel about it after winter.

How has the more traditional touring set up been on the more off road sections?

Difficult. Often, I have to get off and push but for the kind of trip that i’m doing I wouldn’t change a thing with my set up.

Any dog bites?

No, but we get chased quite often!

Do you have a daily budget?

Not really, because it will very country to country and whether i’m in a remote area or in cities.

Will you got to Latin America by bicycle?

Its not in the plan now but you never know. 🙂

What uni did you go to?

Penn State University!!

Will you go to Iran?

Unfortunately not. Its not currently possible for US citizens to get visas to Iran, though its a shame because its supposed to be an incredibly beautiful country.

What has been the most surprising thing on your journey thus far?

Probably just how normal its become. Before I started, I was terrified! I couldn’t have imagined such a journey become normalized but its just a lifestyle now!

How can I get a sticker?

I don’t have any stickers currently but if you want a t-shirt you can contact me here!

How are you able to post?

I just wait until I’m somewhere with wifi.

Strange Sleeps in Xinjiang

In my last post “Alone In China” I mentioned being ushered from foreign hotel to foreign hotel. In Xinjiang Province, there are certain hotels specifically for foreigners. They are a rare find, however.

One afternoon, for example, I was taken in a police van for 200 km, past four different cities, in search of a foreign hotel. Once we finally reached the intended city, the border patrol told us that, in fact, there was no foreign hotel here, either. It was 11 pm at this time and I actually started laughing out loud. “HAHA Why did you take me here!!!?” They were just doing their job, I understood that, but REALLY?! Isn’t that something that you’d check before driving for hours?!! It was a bit comical, but I had a situation on my hands. Camping is forbidden, but there is no foreign hotel. What to do?

Then, I saw him. A tall, lanky, string bean of a man with white hair, sun tanned skin and micro mini pink short-shorts. I probably scared him half to death when I ran over screaming “HELLO! WHERE ARE YOU FROM? YOU’RE THE FIRST FOREIGNER I’VE SEEN IN DAYS! WHEN DID YOU GET HERE?” It was a bit much. But I was so unreasonably excited to speak to someone and have a big ole laugh about what we were going through separately but together.

His name is Marcel, or something like that. He’s an adventurer from Belgium that was traveling by tricle (trycle?) The point was to race other Europeans to Beijing using only solar power and human power.

Anyway, overwhelmed by my energetic presence or not, Marcel and I decided to persuade the guards to let us pitch our tents at the border where they could see us and we’d be on our way early morning. They reluctantly agreed and we started unloading our things.

Marcel didn’t have a free-standing tent so I offered for him to share my tent. He looked trustworthy enough. We spent the night sharing tales of the road and about our lives before this adventure and at some point in the conversation we drifted to sleep. Thank the universe he wasn’t a creep or a snorer. We slept well, despite the occasional truck headlights illuminating the tent and were both up at 7 am saying our goodbyes and riding our separate ways.


I had many a strange sleep in Xinjiang Province, the last, however, was probably amongst the strangest. It was my last day in the province and I had spent that day zooming downhill through a lush gorge with waterfalls, horses and small yurts tucked between rock walls. Finally arriving to the border town, Khorgas, I searched for a foreign hotel to sleep. It was near nightfall and I had been to about 15 hotels which had all rejected me. “No foreigners allowed” they said. Strange for a border town. So, I went to the one place that I had been avoiding for the past week– the police station, to ask for help. They accompanied me to 3 or 4 more hotels until eventually, they also gave up. I was nearly in tears, exhausted from the day and from the constant rejection.

A woman who worked in the last hotel was watching and listening as the police officers tried to decide what to do with me. Eventually, she approached. She spoke to them in Chinese, left, spoke to her boss and returned. They chatted some more amongst themselves until eventually, they told me she’d let me sleep in her room beneath the hotel. “Is that okay?” They police asked me through their phone translators. “Yes, thank you!!! Any bed at this point is fine!!”

The woman led the police officers and me to the back of the hotel through an alley way that smelled of piss and cigarettes. Rats scurried from behind boxes when they heard our footsteps approaching the backdoor. It creaked open with difficulty and we proceeded down the dark steps and into a hallway lit with flourecent flickering lights and finally into her bedroom. There was a single bed with colorful bedsheets and a dresser with photos of her friends and family, a hairbrush and some make up. In the corner of the room were a couple of pairs of clothing and her uniforms.


She told me I could stay for free and that she would go to a friends house for the night. “The shower’s just there” She pointed to the room next door. “Sorry about the smell.” It was, indeed, repulsive. But I hadn’t showered in a few days so I held my breath and made it a quick one.

I slept well that night, got up in the morning, and got the hell out of China.

Alone in China

On the 23rd of July 2018 I wrote

“I’m doing it! I’ve been cycling since 10 am. Its now 3 pm. Four scorching hours on the highways are starting to get to me but I’m listening to Eye in The Sky by Radio Lab and that helps. I still have 45 km to go today but this break in the shade of a bus stop is more than needed. I’m going to let my phone charge but then I’ll be ready to go again. My feelings are overall great toward my first riding day solo since partnering up with Jerry a few months ago. Hopefully, I can find a nice camp somewhere tonight. I’m feeling up for it, for sure. I only have a bit of petrol but these veggies need cooking! Ah, I wish it wasn’t so damn hot on this highway.”

Life was moving along and all of my fears about continuing without Jerry were starting to roll off of me with each turn of the wheel. “I can do this. I am doing this. Everything is fine- more than fine!”

Little did I expect that by the time the day was done, I’d be taken to two different police stations and escorted in two police cars to unknown destinations, sans passport nor any idea of what in the world was going on.

My happy-sweaty-full-face rode off from my slice of shade on the side of the highway for about 20 kilometers before I arrived at my very first police checkpoint. These checkpoints, as far as I was aware, were set up to monitor movement and “control” the Uygher people, an ethnic minority primarily living in XinJiang Autonomous region of China. They wouldn’t care about a random American cycle tourist, I ignorantly thought as I strode in to give my passport to the desk clerk. She looked at my face, and then at my passport and then at my face again and starting rattling off a multitude of sentences in Chinese. “So sorry” I said. “I don’t actually speak Chinese!” With a subtle look of confusion she turned to her partner who barked “Where from?”

“Wo she Meguo ren” I replied in crumpled Chinese before repeating it in English. “I’m American.”
Both faces lit up “AH! MEGUO!” they exclaimed with great surprise. “Tu-rump-uh!” The two began discussing with each other at length about, what I assume, was what to do about me. They spoke, sent some messages on WeChat and told me to sit down. Happy to be inside a semi-cool and shaded building, I sat and accepted the hang up as a chance to relax and cool down before continuing the ride. I waited for one hour, and then two, being fed watermelons and gifted ice cold bottles of water the entire time, when eventually the desk clerk said “come.” I stood up, thanking everyone for their generosity and headed out the back door. A big police van was outside with the back door slid open.

“Oh no..” I thought to myself.

I unpacked my bags from my bike. Sweat started beading all over my face both from the heat and a new pang of nervousness. “Where are we going?” “Why would it be a problem for an American cycle tourer to pass these parts?” “Is this for my safety or for theirs?” Questions began circling around my brain. My VPN wasn’t working in this region which meant Google was off limits, as was Facebook, Instagram or any other western apps that filled my color coordinated iphones folders. I was left to my imagination.


“Come” They said, mostly expressionless. Two men got in the front and my bike, my bags and I were put in the back behind a barred gate— not the most comforting ride I’ve ever taken. We drove for a few minutes in silence and then they pulled off at a shop. The driver got out and in a couple minutes returned with an ice cream and two bottles of water for me. “Okay? They wouldn’t give me ice cream and all of these gifts if I were in any real trouble.” I thought, delighted with my new coconut flavored ice cream. I sat in peace for the rest of the ride to, what turned out to be, the second police station. I was held there for three hours, ate 5 more slices of free watermelon and practiced English with one of the officers. They looked at my passport again, called some people, asked me questions and eventually ushered me into another police van.


“Carry you to Hotel” were the words on the screen of the Chinese version of Google Translate. Finally, some answers. “They’re taking me to a hotel! Great!” I got into the front seat of this police car. The driver was an older man– much more stern then the two Chinese officers who escorted me on the last ride. He was intimidating but kind. We didn’t speak much. Until, we stopped… on the side of the highway… at around 8 pm. He got out of the car. I stayed in. When he motioned me to get out, I was quite confused. “They said you were taking me to a hotel!” I wrote in a translator. “Bu ren” he replied. I was to get out and cycle as the sun was setting. On a highway. And I had no idea where I was. I quickly checked my map and saw there was a city about 8 km away. If I really rushed, I would make it before sundown. So, not so cheerfully, I repacked my bike, got on and pedaled hard in the golden light of the day toward a city.

I found a hotel that accepted foreigners, which was a big surprise and success, as most do not, took a glorious shower and fell asleep chuckling. “What a day… what a life…”

This day was to be repeated throughout my time in Xinjiang Province of China. I would cycle in the morning, feeling strong and empowered until about midday were I would be “escorted”, sometimes by 5 different police cars in one day, to checkpoint after checkpoint, foreign hotel after foreign hotel. A 10 day ride turned into 3 as they ushered me toward the border as quickly as possible. But why?

Since 2016, hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs have been subjected to imprisonment, torture and death. Xinjiangs “reeducation camps” or rather internment camps operate secretly and outside the law and can detain anyone without any trial. The United Nations and other human rights organizations claim that there are an estimated 1 million people in these camps being “reeducated” as a means of stopping extremism and terrorism.

The Uyghurs who are not imprisoned, essentially live in an open air prison, as well. They are monitored severely and have had their passports taken from them. They are not allowed to leave their province, let alone the country. What does this have to do with a young American girl cycling through? I’m not entirely sure, but I assume that the Chinese government would be very displeased if a foreigner were to see these camps or converse with locals and spreading “Western Ideologies.” Just an assumption.

When traveling slow through the world, you pick up on the subtleties. You see things you shouldn’t see, go to places that the government doesn’t necessarily want you to go. On a bicycle you are kind of free. You get to see things as they are– really are, in that present moment in time and space, instead of being ushered in tourist buses to the pretty faces of a country. After two months and a half cycling in various parts of China, I have seen many faces of the country. Some so beautiful you feel like its otherworldly and an example to other nations, some that confuse me, and some that make my stomach turn.

My experience in Xin Jiang Province was a bit of a mix. At a time where I was finally alone again, feeling free and empowered, I had the juxtaposition of being controlled and man-handled by Big Brother China. I was experiencing great kindness from the police officers who were just doing their job but also feeling contempt for the same structure that was responsible for oppressing so many people. However many contradictions I felt leaving China, I am grateful that I have the option to move fluidly from country to country and to continue to learn and unlearn through experience. Onwards to Kazakhstan.



Seeing In Silence


We set up camp a few kilometers outside of Dasichilen, where we had resupplied earlier that day. The smell of onions, garlic and cabbage wafted from a sizzling pot that sat expectedly, under Olivers care. Janis Joplin’s “Me and Bobby McGee” mixed harmoniously with the crackling fire and the sound of an air mattress being inflated, as if they were born from the same star, cut from the same cloth, birds of the same feather or what have you. Everything felt in its right place, and I, the observer and participant sat still and absorbed it all. I sat still, and the bread i’d kneaded a few minutes prior rose, slowly, like the yellow/white moon above. The sky began to change color, as did the song. Geese began to make their way home and the horses have all cleared out of the pastures. As if right on queue, we turned our faces toward the sound of a motor in the near distance. “They’ve found us.” Claudia stated, slightly disheartened.

Its tempting to feel alone in the Mongolian countryside— to set up camp “stealthily” looking down the meadows seeing no one in sight for miles. Almost always, the nomads know we are there. Almost always, right as dinner is nearly ready, someone arrives. So he did. The Mongolian man rode over on his motorbike, dressed in traditional nomadic horse riding clothes. Essentially, its a really big coat with a sash around the waist and homemade leather boots. With no emotions, he comfortably walks over to us and squats, just watching, as our Mongolian visitors seemed to do. Claudia, Oliver, Jerry and I, being used to these visits by now, assumed our normal roles in the interaction. They all kept to their tasks and I made a fool out of myself, pantomiming, showing pictures, playing ukulele and throwing up nonsensical hand gestures to try to explain whatever it was that I was talking about. In the end, I was pretty much having a conversation with myself. He didn’t even crack a smile. So, giving up, I, too, tended to my task of baking bread. It had fully risen by now and was ready to be put on the dying out campfire. Finally, the stone man moved. He walked over to my bread, gave a nod, got on his bike and road away.

This isn’t “not normal.” In fact, this kind of interaction was a daily occurrence. Mongolia’s nomadic people remain a mystery to me. After two months in the country I’m still unsure. “Are we friends?” “Are you mad?” “Are you okay?” Back home in the States we have a way of expressing ourselves so outwardly and loudly and energetically that anything less than that feels dull, angry or sad. Maybe, the magic in Mongolia lies in its subtleties and nuances. Maybe, it was a positioning of the feet, the amount of blinks of his eyes, or his passiveness that communicated what, back home, would normally manifest as “WOW! This is so cool! Soooooo nice to meet you!” Or maybe not. Maybe, he truly didn’t care. I, however, like to play with the idea that, in a place so remote as Mongolia, the mere act of coming over, and sharing company, in the silence and stoicism of a sacred ritual, is simply enough. It is enough to communicate the “I see you.” Not just physically acknowledging our existence, but “I see you” as in “I listen. I smell. I see. I hear. I understand.” I think of my role in the interaction, how conditioned I am to try to create a sense of jubilance, of animation and energy—that extra layer, if you will. I think of how unnecessary and probably foolish I seemed, trying to kick up dust in the silence, when the silence held everything already, and more.