On April 20, Ocean Park resident Jim Lawson packed his belongings, jumped on his bike and began pedaling his way to New York City. Lawson has made a safe return to Santa Monica last night.
Lawson has been a resident of Ocean Park since 2009 and joined Ocean Park Association in 2011. Since then he has served as President for three years.
He began planning his dream bike ride across the country years ago.
“The idea of riding across the country entered my mind a few years ago. The fact that I have two Los Angeles raised children who both live and work in New York City was my main motivation,” said Lawson. “I also turned 60 on April 16, and I thought this would be a good year to do the ride.”
He mapped out his route, as it took him through Barstow, the Mojave Desert, Flagstaff, Albuquerque, Amarillo, Oklahoma City, St. Louis, Indianapolis, Dayton Ohio, and then many small towns through Pennsylvania. Finally reaching New Jersey and New York City on June 30.
“Before I start, there’s a little feeling of anxiety,” said Lawson. “I guess it’s the fear of the unknown, but when I get out there things seem to fall into place.”
Overall, he traveled 13 states and spent the night in 35 different towns. The journey from Santa Monica to New York City took 40 days, as he rested for five days in between. He traveled a total of 3,116 miles.
His days consisted of an early rise, and a small breakfast and not long after he hits the road again for 6 to 7 hours. Every day Lawson would strive to complete 80-100 miles, with his longest ride throughout the journey being 127 miles.
“When I arrive at my destination, the routine continues. I charge my electronics, get cleaned up, do laundry and then have a big meal,” said Lawson.
He does not pack anything that is not necessary. Lawson carries with him his backpack, his multiple gadgets from his Garmin watch, his GoPro and his everyday necessities.
Throughout his ride he encountered rainy days, winding roads, and plenty of hills, completing 109,000 feet of climbing.
“Pennsylvania was the most difficult state, because of the hills,” said Lawson. “However it provided some of the most beautiful scenery.”
He explains the objective of this ride was to travel across the country as quickly as possible, as he viewed this journey more as an athletic event.
Throughout his travels he continued to stay in contact with family and friends through Instagram, allowing people to keep up with his journey, visually. He also sent out e-mails whenever it was possible to send out a message.
In each email he describes multiple interactions and connections he made with people throughout the country, even met a woman from Newport Beach walking her way to Maine.
“I have met many wonderful people along the way,” said Lawson. “Many of them are in disbelief but all of them encouraging.”
After arriving in New York on Tuesday, June 30th he was able to spend time with his children. After spending a week in New York, he shipped his bike back to Santa Monica, and jumped on a plane.
He landed safely and is back in his Ocean Park home and is happy to say it was a great experience.
“There are many emotions that come with a ride like this,” said Lawson. “Particularly a solo ride. No headphones and a lot of time to think. Cycling is a very personal experience that puts you intimately close with people. “