As Adam Nguyen approached graduation from Mississippi State, he realized he wanted to do something out of the ordinary before entering the workforce. Always an avid biker, he decided to plan a transatlantic bike journey. For a year, he learned about long cycling trips, and he bought all the necessary supplies and equipment. After graduating in 2021, he finally set out on this adventure of a lifetime. “When you’re graduating, everybody asks “what’s next?” Nguyen says. “It felt empowering to tell people that I planned on riding my bike across the country.”
Nguyen bought a one-way ticket to Virginia Beach and rode by himself, ensuring he’d have the freedom to choose where he wanted to go. On his own, he also felt less pressure to keep cycling when he needed to rest. During the first month of his trip, he took his time, giving his body the opportunity to get callouses in the right places and acclimated to riding all day. “After the first month, that’s when my body became a machine. I could just get on and go.” But to Nguyen, the journey was never about the physical accolades. “I just wanted to see America from the seat of a bike,” he says.
Over 118 days, he biked through almost every kind of terrain – mountain, prairie, forest, and desert. He especially loved his ride through the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. “On a bike, from every direction you look, you’re immersed in the environment. It was hard to even think about the riding because my eyes were locked in every direction around me.” Often, after hours of riding uphill through rugged passes, coasting downhill felt like a reward. “It was the closest I’ve felt to flying,” he says.
Nguyen relied on the help of family, friends, strangers, the wilderness, and his own ingenuity – even sleeping in bear boxes and camping in the backyards of welcoming families. “There’s an online resource for people hosting bicycle travelers,” Nguyen says. “As I followed the trail, I’d cross-reference hosts in that area and see if anyone would be willing to host me for a night. That was amazing, because I met people from all walks of life, in every stage of life. I always got a shower, sometimes I’d camp out in their backyard. One time I camped on a trampoline. Many would provide breakfast or dinner.” Through this experience, Nguyen recognized a reality sometimes forgotten. “There are a lot of really kind people out there. Watching the news might make you think that doesn’t exist anymore, but getting kindness from so many different strangers, friends, and family restored my faith in humanity.”
Wherever he went, he met the same response when telling others about his travels. “So many people said they’d wish they’d done something similar. That was a positive affirmation that I was doing the right thing,” he says. “The most important thing that I have is time. I can always make more money, I can always buy more things, but I’ll never be able to get more time. I want to make sure I spend that time wisely. Going on that trip was one of the best things I’ve done for myself.”
Nguyen now uses his cycling expertise as a manager at Biloxi Bicycle Works. On his next adventure, he wants to bike from California to Argentina.