Even die-hard cyclists can get intimidated by long-distance bike touring—let alone a cross-country bike trip. For many, that kind of a ride feels like a fantasy. It’s the sort of trip that you plan to tackle when you retire, or on your sabbatical, or during your next job transition. Or maybe only in your dreams. That is, unless the Search Brigade has anything to say about it.
The Search Brigade is the second annual cross-country ride organized by the Manhattan-based cycling apparel and sportswear company, Search and State. The team takes off from Times Square on June 1 and heads for Santa Monica straight through the heart of the country. But get this: They want you to join in. No need to pay—just show up.
Of course, hopping on a bike for a 40-day ride isn’t something everyone is able—whether logistically or physically—to do, especially not at a moment’s notice. But with the Search Brigade, you’re welcome to join for any length of time, whether that means a few days or a few hours. (They’ll be passing through the beautiful red rocks of Arizona around the Fourth of July, which sounds like an ideal way to spend a long weekend.) This year, the small-but-mighty group has five bikers who plan to complete all 3,000 miles, and about 50 more will be joining along the way for shorter stints.
No matter how long you’re in for, this isn’t a casual bike ride. It’s real, adventurous bike touring. The Search Brigade provides a mapped-out route, ride leaders, and a passionate, awesome community of cyclists. You provide everything else—your own bike, camping gear, food, water, and stamina (the group will be covering between 75 and 100 miles a day). Passing through small Midwestern towns and stopping at lesser-known national monuments, the Brigade will be digging deep this year. Despite having mapped out a few extravagant route possibilities, Search and State cofounder Daniel Golden says they finally settled on a central route: “We didn’t want to be too far off the grid this year. We wanted to meet more people, see more things along the back roads, and really get to the heart of the country.” They even plan to spend a night camping on the lawn at the Wild Turkey distillery. “We’re cutting the mileage short that day so we can really get a taste of what’s going on,” Golden says.
And while some of the more dramatic scenery of the West—the mountains in Colorado and the deserts of Southern California—will be clear highlights, Golden’s just as excited about the first half of the trip. “I’m really looking forward to winding those dirt gravel roads in the middle of the country.”
Now in its second year, the Search Brigade is a labor of love for the Search and State team. “We’re not just a design company or a clothing company; we still need to ride our bikes and get out there and get inspired,” says Golden. And sure, biking across the country would be inspiring for anyone, but last year’s ride had some tangible results for Search and State, including a soon-to-be-released, packable, hooded expedition jacket.
If you can’t make this year’s ride, mark your calendar for next year—Golden notes that they plan on continuing the journey in the future. “I think it’s just part of our DNA. The trip is unexpected and full of unknowns, but that’s the beauty of it for us,” he says. “If you’ve got the right stuff, I think it’s amazing what the human body can do and what you can do with the spirit of adventure.”
Interested (and maybe even still a bit intimidated)? Check out the Search Brigade page on Search and State’s website. There you can find a full route with key dates and a live-updating group locator, as well as great links about bike touring and a wanderlust-inducing reading list.